Wednesday, February 26, 2014

my birth control story

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For as along as I can remember (in my married life), I have been the person that women come to with questions about birth control. I think it's because I'm vocal about it and have been for a long time. Not necessarily how I feel about it ethically, but just in general. I'm knowledgeable on the topic and so, as a young married woman, I tended to talk about it often.

I'm not afraid to talk about anything related to sex. Especially with fellow Christian women. I mean, why does it all have to be so taboo anyway? Look, I don't want to hear about the details of your personal sex life, but to stay absolutely silent on the topic, I think, can give young Christian women the wrong idea about sex. And also leave them with a ton of questions. Bottom line: God created sex. It's a good thing. We are supposed to enjoy it within the proper context (heterosexual monogamous marriage). There is an entire book of the Bible dedicated to a husband and wife enjoying each other, sexually.

But back to the topic.

I guess it all started when Ben and I were first married. I got on the pill immediately. Because, well, that's what you do when you don't want kids right away. I hate that I did it without researching or asking seriously important questions, but as many women do, I did. No questions asked. The first kind of birth control I took was Yasmin. Ya know, the one that is under scrutiny and was sued for dangerous side effects. Within a couple months I noticed it was causing some harsh side effects in me. Mostly that for at least a week straight during my cycle, I was continuously running to the bathroom to throw up, as if I was experiencing morning sickness. It was not good.

From Yasmin, my doctor switched me to Ortho Tri Cyclen. Although, I'm pretty sure it was the generic because I'm cheap like that. For a while it was fine but then I started noticing some of the same side effects. It was during this same time that Ben returned home from a deployment to the Middle East and we were moved to Camp Pendleton, which meant I would see a new doctor. During my first appointment with her, I asked if there was a lower dose birth control pill that she could recommend. Her answer was, "well, have you tried Ortho Tri Cyclen- Lo?" I responded that yes, I knew of it, but what were my other options? And this is where my interest in the topic of birth control was piqued.

She didn't have an answer.

Granted, she was a family practice doctor and not an OBGYN. But still, she was prescribing birth control pills to I'm sure, hundreds of women on Camp Pendleton, and yet she could only tell me about one brand of birth control pill: Ortho Tri Cyclen. I was a bit baffled. It seriously made me question how much doctors really know about the drugs they are prescribing.

Eventually we landed on trying the Nuva-Ring (yet another birth control company currently in a lawsuit). I guess she knew about other types of hormonal birth control, just not different types of birth control pills.

And this is what set me off as far as birth control goes. I used the Nuva-Ring for 3 months. Almost immediately I noticed a change in my hormones. I had zero interest in sex. Zero. My husband was getting ready to leave for Iraq for 7 months and I didn't want to have sex. Something was not right.

Something needed to change.

While Ben was deployed that time around, I moved up north to Sacramento to live with a friend and finish my Associates Degree. One of the courses I took while there was Human Sexuality. And while it was obviously a very, well, sexually explicit class, it was very eye-opening. Not only did I learn about all forms of birth control, but it caused me to want to dig deeper into the subject of birth control, how exactly each type worked, and what the options are outside of hormonal drugs. I started to ask questions about why my doctors hadn't offered other options. Why hadn't I heard from anyone about what I should and shouldn't consider as an alternative birth control method?

And that's when I began to talk about it more and more with my friends. I was curious about what other couples were using for birth control. How did they come to that decision? And in turn friends began coming to be for advice and suggestions.

It was around this same time that Ben and I stopped using hormonal birth control altogether. You can read more about why we decided that here. We instead opted for barrier methods until we felt it was time to start trying for kids. It was also around that time that I began counseling at a crisis pregnancy center. One of the topics we often discussed with the young women in our center was birth control, because many of them were on it or considering using it in the future. There were several different pamphlets we used and I really took the time to read each one and educate myself further. It was at that time that I learned how the IUD actually works, that it's different from other hormonal birth control methods.

I've been off hormonal birth control for 7 years (I was on it for 3 and couldn't find a single one that didn't have a negative side effect). We have 2 kids, and I'm currently pregnant. In total I've been pregnant 7 times (you can read about our pregnancy loss experiences here) and you know, not a single one of those pregnancies was an "accident." I put that in quotations because I believe that no child is an accident. God is sovereign over all wombs. He opens and closes them at His will. We need only to seek His guidance and trust His provision. But my point is that we weren't surprised by any of those pregnancies. None of them were unexpected.

Currently, well, we don't use birth control because I'm pregnant. Which is a great method by the way! The only method, other than abstinence that is 100% effective. I assure you, you won't get pregnant while already pregnant! But when I'm not pregnant, we use Natural Family Planning (NFP) and if I'm nursing, I use the Lactation Amenorrhea Method (LAM). Both work fantastically well. Neither requires a woman in inundate her body with synthetic hormones, which are considered by the WHO to be a Class 1 Carcinogen. Natural Family Planning allows us to work with our natural biological processes rather than changing them altogether.

If you are considering NFP, which I highly suggest you should, this is a great resource to begin with. You can take a quiz to see which method of NFP would work best for you. There are also a number of great apps to help you track. Most recently, Kindara has received a ton of praise for helping 10,000 women get pregnant. But it works just as well to keep you from conceiving. I also recommend reading Taking Charge of Your Fertility. Know your body. Learn how to work with your body. God created it and He created fertility.

So I'm curious, what is your birth control story? Are you on it? Not on it? How did you decide that? Have you had crazy side-effects from birth control? If you don't feel comfortable discussing it in the comments, please feel free to email me! I really enjoy discussing this topic and answering any questions about it.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

living for this moment: causes and civic engagement VLOG

Thanks for joining us this month for the Living for This Moment VLOG link-up. Today we're discussing the causes that matter to us and the level of our civic engagement. The link-up will be open for 2 weeks, so if you don't have a post for today, feel free to come back and link-up with us later this week! We'd love to have you join us and I would really love to hear what cause or causes matter to you.

A few things I talk about in the video:
  • If you want to follow along with what's going on with Nevadans for Life, you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
  • If you are wondering how you can be involved in the pro-life movement, but don't know where to begin, this post has a list of suggestions.
  • More about how the evangelical church can and should be involved here.
  • The scripture I refer to at the end is 2 Chronicles 7:14:
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Link-up your vlog or blog post below. Your link will appear here and also over at For This Season.




Next month we will be talking about our morning routines. We will still post the prompt a week in advance, but be thinking about:

Do you have a morning routine? And is it working for you?
What sort of things do you do in the morning to motivate you for the day?
What do you want to change about or add to your routine?
What does an average morning look like for you? Feel free to document your morning routine with a day in the life post!

We encourage you to evaluate your current morning routine and make changes if you feel they are needed.
Then join us back here next month, Tuesday, March 25, with another vlog linkup.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

we don't need birth control for gender equality

For years it's been argued that birth control closes the gap in gender inequality; that until birth control was widely available to women, we were still unequal to men because of that one thing that can happen to us as a result of sex that doesn't happen to men: pregnancy. Oh the horror!

A woman who is pregnant or rears children faces considerable challenges when it comes to continuing or seeking a career. Will she be hired? Will she be fired? Will she be able to take time off from work when baby is born? How can she afford childcare when she wants to go back to work?

And those are all legitimate concerns for a woman who works.

But why is it that being able to work or have a career, particularly outside the home, is what makes women equal to men? Seriously, why is that our standard? (Because, in my humble opinion, that is a low standard). Women are far more valuable than the title they carry or the career they choose. My worth as a woman comes from something more than the job I do. And my equality has nothing to do with my paycheck, my career or even my purpose. Instead, it has everything to do with the Creator who made me.

The problem with arguing that birth control gaps gender inequality is that we are essentially claiming that women, by their very nature, are unequal and inferior to men. I don’t buy it. It's just not true. And it sells women short. We don't need the assistance of some pill, an IUD or an abortion to be equal. Why is that? It's because we are created equal. By our very nature, women are equal to men

To argue otherwise, to say we need birth control to be equal is to argue that women are created as lesser human beings. That we begin life at a disadvantage, hindered, burdened. Do we really believe that? Is that what we want our daughters to think about themselves? 

"Here honey, you aren't as good as your brother, but take this pill. It'll level the playing field."

For that reason alone, birth control is not empowering, but degrading

But I think the issue is more than our society viewing and treating women as unequal. The issue is that we have come to equate “inequality” with “different.” Do men and women have different rolls? Absolutely. Were men made to do things that women can’t and vice versa? Yes. This does not mean one sex is unequal to the other. Having a uterus does not, in any way, make me inferior to a man. Having the ability to become pregnant does not make me inferior to a man. Giving birth to children does not make me inferior to a man. Choosing to raise my children at home does not make me inferior to a man.

I’m disgusted that the idea of being pregnant, nurturing and supporting the life of a human being as it develops, breastfeeding and caring for children, have become a liability, a weakness. Why isn’t a man inferior to a woman because he cannot do these things? After all, men cannot bring new life into the world. Men cannot nurture and sustain a human life with milk that their bodies make. But I would never suggest that they are unequal, because they are simply different!

Instead of seeing these amazing, beautiful, incredible things as blessings, assets, and strengths, they have become weaknesses and deficiencies. Why is that?

It's because we have an aversion to children, especially multiple of them, as a society. Why else would abortion and birth control and sterilization be so popular? Apparently, pregnancy makes us inferior (thanks for that Margaret Sanger!). Bearing children and raising children are a weakness. Fertility is a liability so we suppress it as best we can. Oh how the stay at home mothers are attacked and chastised. It’s all so backwards. What happened to the day when fertility was worshiped as a goddess?

Women have a God-determined purpose to nurture life. To say we need to suppress that in order to be more like men does nothing for equality. It only denies the women-ness, the femininity, the very essence that God has given to each of us as women. The world needs both men and women. That’s why God said man shall not be alone and he created Eve. If all Adam needed was someone like him, He would have just made another man. But He didn’t. He made a beautiful and unique person, the crown of creation. He made a woman. And He made her as an equal, out of man's side, to stand next to him, only with a different purpose.

As women, we need to stop buying that lie that being a woman sets us at a disadvantage. It does no such thing! Think of all the ways you are unique from man. Why would you want to conceal and change the very things about you that make you a woman? Instead of fighting our femininity, we should do more to embrace it. 

We should work to build a culture that promotes, appreciates and praises femininity. 
We should view children, and the women who carry them, bear them, nurture them, teach them and raise them as blessings. 
We should seek to empower women, not by encouraging the use of a synthetic drug or the ending of their own child's life (those things do nothing to empower), but by educating women about their fertility, childbirth, breastfeeding, and the natural biological processes of our bodies. 
We should embrace those natural biological processes. 
We should teach our daughters to respect their bodies, and to demand respect from others because they beautifully and wonderfully and uniquely made.  
And most of all, we should each, as individual women, personally accept, affirm and value our call as women. 

Women, stop believing the lie that without the aid of something or someone else you aren't as good as someone else. You have as much value as every single other person on this earth. No assistance required. You were created equal, with just as much love, purpose, wonder and value as your husband, your brothers, your father, and your male co-workers. And yet completely unique. Embrace it.

For more information on how hormonal birth control can be dangerous and potentially unethical, read this post. And why we need to think twice before using an IUD.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

living for this moment - Causes and Civic Engagement

As homemakers managing finances, menus, children, cleaning, schedules and a plethora of things that come along with the title, it's also important for us to somehow be involved in our communities. After all, our culture, the events going on every day, politics and legislation that passes daily will have an effect on our families. For that reason we should seek to be both informed and involved.

That's not to say we need to run for City Council, attend every School Board Meeting or write weekly letters to the editor. Most of us would agree we don't have time for such commitments. And that's more than okay! But, as wives, moms, taxpayers, homeowners, and citizens, the things that we do, or don't do, will impact our children's futures, the future of our cities, states and the nation. And every little bit of involvement makes a difference. 

This month's Living for This Moment topic is about causes and civic engagement. We want you to consider what cause or causes you are passionate about. What is going on around you locally, nationally, globally in which you want to see change? And how can you be involved?

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Next Tuesday, February 24, meet Becky at For This Seasons and I back here for our monthly vlog linkup. We invite you to join us on this journey as we talk about the causes we care about. Make a short video, under 5 minutes, or write a blog post. Then come back next week and link up with both blogs! (Linking on one blog will link to both). 
Here is the prompt:  

Living For This Moment - Causes:

What causes are you passionate about?  

How are you currently involved in them?  

Do you have any plans to further your involvement?



Be sure to grab the button to add to your sidebar and/or post!
Living For This Moment Linkup


You can find past Living For This Moment link ups here.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

pro-life is a ministry

prolife is a ministry

One of the most common criticisms I hear from the left is that people who are pro-life only care about the baby. And they only care about the baby in the womb (although they, of course, would never use the word baby). Once he or she is born, we simply stop caring.

I have to ask, how did you come to this conclusion? I mean, have you ever even stepped foot into a Pregnancy Resource Center? Do you even know what they do? What their mission is? What services they provide?

I can only assume the answer is "no." Or the answer is, "what's a Pregnancy Resource Center?" Or that the only time you've heard the term was in an article from NARAL or Planned Parenthood that was entirely inaccurate.

But before I get into that, I want to consider the left's claim and show where they are incredibly wrong.

When a liberal says, "You don't care about the mom or the baby once it's born because you offer no support to them." What they are really saying is, "You don't care about the mom or the baby once it's born because you don't support the government supporting them." Do you see the difference there?

When a liberal says that we (the pro-life side) need to support these babies and mothers, what they are really saying is that we need to support broad, expansive government-run social programs. We should support welfare all the time. Because, you see, the liberal believes that the government is the best entity to help out the impoverished and the person in need.

And that is where their argument fails.

Just because we, conservatives, don't believe in government assistance for all doesn't mean we don't care. In fact, we care more than that. We care so much, that we dig into our own pockets, we open our own homes, we give our own time without compensation, to these mothers, fathers and babies in need. Why is that? It's because, we believe that the best charity, the best assistance, comes from individuals, from the church, from the community, from the private sector, not from the government. The liberal on the other hand, believes in charity so much that he thinks the government should use someone else's money to help a person in need. Not his or her own money.

Now, I could stop here and get into a whole long discussion about why the government is not good at running social programs and why charity should come from the people instead, but that would take this post in a whole other direction. Perhaps we'll revisit that at a later time.

Instead, I want to focus on what the pro-life community does to minister to mothers in crisis, fathers who are often left completely out of the equation and unborn babies whose lives are at risk.

I want to show how pro-life is a ministry more than it is a political ideology, belief or platform.

At the beginning of this post I mentioned Pregnancy Resources Centers. If you don't know what they are you can read more here. If you google it, Planned Parenthood will pop up and I assure you they are not a PRC. In fact, they hate what we do. They have launched campaigns across this country in an attempt to shut us down. They have been unsuccessful. In fact, there are currently 3 times as many PRCs in the United States as there are abortion clinics. That is awesome news.

A Pregnancy Resource Center (or PRC for short) is a non-profit organization that assists women in crisis pregnancy situations. These are mothers who find themselves pregnant and are considering abortion as either their last or only option. A pregnant mother who comes to a PRC for free services will receive a pregnancy test and a counseling session, all free of charge. In many cases, if the center is equipped, she will also have a chance to get an ultrasound and see her baby in real time. Often she can see and hear the heartbeat. Again, all services are free.

(Contrast that with Planned Parenthood which charges $25 for a pregnancy test and around $100 for an ultrasound).

From that point forward, she will be supported during her pregnancy and long after the baby is born. No, most of these centers are no equipped to offer prenatal care, but if she is in need of medical care, the counselors will help her find any programs for which she qualifies in order to get assistance and they will refer her to a local, pro-life OB/GYN. If she is in need of a home, they will assist her in finding one. Many cities also have pro-life maternity homes for teenage, low-income or at-risk pregnant mothers. The people who run these homes are amazing and I think have the biggest hearts of all. If the mother is in need of work, the center can help her find job training or a job placement company.

During her pregnancy, the mother will also be offered parenting classes, prenatal care classes, information about WIC (women, infants and children) and she'll be directed to other informative classes she'll need like CPR and infant safety, infant massage, breastfeeding, prenatal exercise, etc. If she needs maternity clothes, many centers offer these as well.

But, as the left claims, I suppose that is where our assistance to these mothers ends.

Wrong. Way wrong. If you spend any time at a PRC, any time at all, you'll notice one thing that occurs on almost a daily basis: Mothers who chose life for their babies come back to visit. Often. Many of them continue to attend weekly classes for free and in doing so earn items that they desperately need for their children: clothes, diapers, formula, toys, books, bouncers, cribs, you name it, they can earn it.

Many PRCs use a program called Earn While You Learn. It's amazing. I would encourage you to take a minute to look around their website, especially at the broad range of curriculum. The purpose of a program like EWYL is to assist mothers in need by also educating and empowering them as parents. Could we simply give them free stuff? Absolutely. The pro-life community is amazing at donating items. In fact those are the very items these women and men (yes, the fathers are often included) earn. However, we find that working for something is so much more empowering and meaningful. And in this case, the work these parents are doing is incredibly educational and beneficial, especially to their children. So by working to earn material items, they are also learning how to be better parents to their babies, toddlers and so on. And that will impact a child's entire life.

But that's not the only assistance we provide as a community. I received this email (all names and addresses have been whited out for privacy reasons) last July:

prolifeministry letter

It's not uncommon to read something like this or hear it through the grapevine among the pro-life community. Stuff like this happens all the time. Families opening their homes to mothers in need, others writing generous checks for assistance or buying months worth of groceries. This happens whenever the need arises. But I'm sure the left is completely ignorant of it. Willingly, I'm sure.

There is also the wonderful blessing of adoption. You may or may not be familiar with a story from last fall in which a mentally handicapped woman became pregnant and was facing the possibility of the court forcing her to abort the baby. During the course of the investigation by the county and the court proceedings, several couples came forward to adopt the child. In the end, the court ruled she would be able to carry the child to term and in the end, the beautiful, sweet baby girl was in fact adopted.

But aside from giving material assistance, free education, food, housing, and a number of other services, aside from stepping up to adopt babies who need homes, there is one thing that PRCs do that is indispensable. It is the most important ministry of them all. Pregnancy Resource Centers share the gospel of Jesus with their clients.

I'm absolutely positive that the left would not consider the gospel and the hope of Jesus, the salvation of one's eternal soul, to be the support these women and children need. However, we know the opposite is true. And for this reason alone, pro-life is a ministry.

Consider a young woman, pregnant, scared, alone. Perhaps, from a Christian, perspective, she lives a questionable lifestyle. This woman doesn't know where to turn for help. Her friends are of no assistance, her family wants nothing to do with her and she hasn't stepped foot into a church in over a decade.

Where does she go?

I assure you, in most cases, she will not be walking through the doors of a church. She knows, or at least she assumes, she'll be judged in that place. People will look down on her and even if they are nice to her while she's there, she knows they will whisper things about her once she's gone. At least that's her perception. And honestly, I'm not sure she'd be wrong.

This is where a PRC comes in. You see, Pregnancy Resource Centers are an extension of the church. Whether the church recognizes it or not, what we do is exactly what Jesus called us to do. We help the needy, without judgement, and we share the gospel. We save lives, both here on earth and for the sake of eternity. A woman who might never walk through the doors of a church for assistance would easily find herself in the counseling room of a Crisis Pregnancy Center. And while in that place, she will always receive the love of Christ and more often than not, she'll hear His good news as well.

From there, she'll be encouraged to take a discipleship class. Earn While You Learn offers a great one. Other centers use other great studies. From there, she'll be encouraged to find a church so that she can get plugged into her community, serve others and continue to be bathed in the truth of scripture.

But let's consider another young pregnant woman. This woman is also scared and feeling alone. Yet, she is a Christian. She's already in church every single week. At one point in her life she believed in Jesus and got saved. But slowly over time she fell away even though she continued to attend church. She found herself doing things she regretted immediately and spending time with people who were not building her up and edifying her. And suddenly she was in a place that she would consider to be rock bottom. She's pregnant and considering abortion. After all, it's the only option that she has to hide her sin of sex outside of marriage. What will the people in the church think when she begins to show and after she has the baby? They will certainly judge her and whisper things about her when she leaves the room.

Where does she go?

I assure you, in most cases, she will be walking out of the church. And again, this is where a PRC comes in. A woman in this situation, who would never seek assistance or help from a church would find herself walking through the door of the Pregnancy Care Center down the street. She will receive the same love and care as the previous woman described. All women who come into a PRC receive the love of Jesus. Because, we are the hands and feet of Christ! She will be offered all the assistance she needs to carry her baby and give her life. And she will also be encouraged to join the discipleship class where she can return to Christ and seek His forgiveness, His love and His redemption.

You see, the pro-life community is about so much more than simply saving the baby, although, that in itself is a worthy cause. We believe that all life is precious: the baby in the womb and after he or she is born, the mother who needs love, compassion and assistance, the father who doesn't feel like he has a voice. They all deserve respect and hope. And guess what, we don't just believe, we do something about it, we act on our beliefs.

But to those who are pro-life because that's simply what you believe, I challenge you to act on those beliefs. I challenge you to see pro-life as a ministry, not just an idea. There are a zillions ways to be involved, to make a difference, to serve, to minister, to show the love of Christ, to be His hands and His feet to those in need (if you need some ideas, start here). Because, it's only when we work together to care for those in crisis pregnancy situations that the "crisis" part will be eliminated. And with it, the perceived "need" for abortion.

If you are pregnant and considering abortion, or know someone who is, please know that there are other options. You can find a local pregnancy resource center here. And if you have abortion in your past, know that there is always hope and healing available to you if you repent and believe that Christ died for you. Please go here to find a local resource center and get the help you need.


Friday, February 7, 2014

lazy lunches / 003

We're still on breakfasts and lunches for now. I promise I'll get to some dinner ideas. But you should know that both of the kids eat what we eat for dinner. Sometimes I have to deconstruct a soup for Eli or eliminate something if it contains dairy or egg, but for the most part, whatever we're eating, they're eating.

Breakfast
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Sprinkle waffles, a handful of blueberries and milk. Simple. Easy. I make waffles using the bisquick recipe (although I have to adjust it because of his allergies, similar to the pancake recipe I use here) and I add sprinkles to make the waffles fun and colorful!

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Vanilla, cinnamon, apple oatmeal and a cup of raisins. This is basically what my kids eat for breakfast every single day. It's quick, easy and flavorful. I start feeding my babies this for breakfast around 9 months old.

For the oatmeal:
Boil 1 cup water on the stove
Add in a dash of cinnamon and a few drops of vanilla extract
Once it boils, add 1/2 cup 1-minute oatmeal
Stir, turn of heat, put lid on pot and allow to sit a minute or so (until it reaches desired thickness)
Then stir in apple sauce- this serves to both cool the oatmeal down quickly for tiny mouths and also acts as a natural sweetener.

If you don't have applesauce, you can always mash a banana to add or add small chunks of an apple that you've softened in a steam basket. And almond milk is another great way to cool it down. Isaac always insists I add raisins as well. Seriously, there are a thousand things you can add to oatmeal!

Oh and the most important part! For the older kiddos, sprinkle brown sugar on top.

Lunch
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Saltine crackers with tuna fish on top, pirate's booty and fresh fruit salad.

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Toasted bagel with cream cheese, sesame sticks and fresh fruit salad with raisins on top.

What did you feed your kiddo this week? Don't forget to tag your pics on instagram with #lazylunches. You can find me on IG @jessibridges.



Thursday, February 6, 2014

january book report

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I didn't set a goal on the number of books I wanted to read this month, but considering the number of books I checked out from the library, I knew I needed to get on it. In years past, I've set the goal of 2 books. And I usually fail, horribly. Like, by May I've only read 1 1/2 books. But this year I'm determined to stay on this whole reading thing. I feel like I fell behind in life last year all for lack of reading. Reading is so important.

In January I read 3 books and I'll talk about each one briefly. The Complete Book of Home Management, Journaling as a Spiritual Practice, and Every Good Endeavor.

The Complete Book of Home Management
This one was fun. I picked it up at a thrift shop several years ago and it has been on my bookshelf ever since. I think I attempted to read it a couple years ago and just didn't get into it. However, because of it being the beginning of the new year and because of some goals I'm working toward, all of a sudden it was relevant. It was written in the 80's so some of it is a little dated (like her decorating tips and her recommending using a cordless phone if you have one). But the general concepts, which are mostly Biblical, are totally relevant to any homemaker today.

I definitely recommend this book to any newlywed or to anyone who is in the beginning stages of getting their home organized. For me, home management has been serious business for several years and so a lot of what she writes about, I could totally have written. But I did glean some great ideas here and there and it was definitely worth the time I took to mostly skim the pages.

Journaling as a Spiritual Practice
This one was interesting. It's a book I just happened across at the library and since one of my goals this year is to journal more, especially journal through scripture, I picked it up. While I wasn't a huge fan of the author and I probably wouldn't recommend this book in general, there were some good take-aways. Some good basic tips on journaling and journaling prompts that I plan to use.

My favorite point that she made was that when we journal, we need to be free to write the worst junk in the world and to write without regard. I often feel like I'm wasting my time or paper when I journal randomly. I'm not sure exactly what I'm trying to say or it just doesn't sound right. But I think in that, if we are at that point but continue to write and push through, we can end up with some pretty good stuff. I also love that she talked about how journaling is a form of worship. And she's totally right. And that needs to be my perspective of journaling moving forward.

Every Good Endeavor
This is a Timothy Keller book. And he never disappoints. It was so good. And so encouraging. And so thought-provoking. I literally took 10 pages (full-sized notebook paper), front and back of notes. I think I could write 18 different blog posts about all that I learned and realized from it. But I won't. Instead I will just tell you to read it. If you are a small business owner, an employee, a stay at home mom, a work at home mom, an employer, a Christian, a person, read.this.book.

I do want to share just a couple of my favorite parts. The ones that really made me nod in agreement and rush to tell my husband about what I'd just read. He begins the book by talking about how the beginning of the Bible, the beginning of all creation is: God worked. He is a craftsman and we are made in His image as craftsmen to continue what He began. Only instead of making creation, we are cultivating our culture. We have an intrinsic need and desire to be productive. And through our work we discover our distinct abilities and gifts. But we have to get to work!

Oh man, he hammers home the point that all kinds of work has dignity and that work is essential to human dignity. In other words, no one is too good to work a $7.25/hour job. The work needs to be done by someone! And all of the work we do, as a collective, serves to subdue and cultivate our culture. "No everyday work lacks the dignity of being patterned after God's own work." Just wow. That encourages me as a mom, as a wife, as a person.

Ah! There's so much. But lastly, he talks in depth about working for the Lord, not for man. Making beautiful things of enduring value, doing our work better, deeper, fairer, more skillful and in a more ennobling way than it's being done now. He says: Our goal in work should be to increase the human race's capacity to cultivate the created world. 

Basically, I was super encouraged by this book and I encourage everyone to read it. Because it's a life-changer.

Okay, so there's January's book list. Done.

What did you read in January?

What's on the list for February? Craft, Inc., Hands Free Mama, and Grace Based Parenting.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

the story behind all the birthday hats

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You may or may not have noticed that when there's a birthday in our house, there's always a birthday hat. I'm a little bit obsessed with birthday hats. But who can blame me? They're so much fun and I mean, we're taking the entire day to celebrate the life of a very important person. Why shouldn't they get to wear an awesome hat all.day.long?

the story behind the hats
For years I have been telling Ben that I want to wake up on my birthday and have a hat to wear. Something special that I can wear all day, even if we go into public. Because, it's just fun. I have no idea where the idea came from. It was just something I asked for every year.

For years I think he just kept ignoring my request. I mean, I was a 20-something, grown, married woman. That's just ridiculous right? Well, I kept on asking and then finally, one year, on my birthday, I woke up to find this beautiful hat waiting for me:
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The man had gone to Hobby Lobby, all by himself. Bought all the supplies, all by himself. And made this awesome birthday hat. And I got to wear it all.day.long! It was perfect.

It started a tradition. The next year for my birthday, instead of making my hat, he convinced my mom to make my hat, since we'd be going to her house for dinner and cake for my birthday.
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For the kiddos I stick to crowns. They are super easy to make and so cute. For Eli's first birthday I just used puff paint to add some black and blue dots. Nothing fancy, but totally fun.
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For Isaac's 3rd birthday, which was just a week ago, I did something similar. I added a bunch of paint dots all over it and then stamped the front with an "i" for Isaac. He thought it was silly at first but then he kept asking for it throughout the day. He tries to act all cool, but I know deep down he loves the fun of it. He actually still asks to wear it a week later. So I know I'm not the only one who enjoys it!
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And so, that's the story of the Bridges birthday hat tradition. Nothing fancy, but totally fun. And you better believe we'll keep this tradition going until the kids are grown.

For some other cute crown ideas, check out Elise's blog. She is totally my daily creative and get-your-butt-in-gear inspiration.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

moxie in January

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My 2014 #onelittleword choice is moxie

If you're not familiar with one little word, I encourage you to head over to Ali Edward's blog to learn more. She began the project in 2006 and the minute I found out about it, I've been joining in.

I thought I should share how I've been incorporating that word, moxie, really that attitude, into my life so far this year. And so far, it's been good.

I chose moxie because 2014 is the year that I am choosing bold new adventures. I am choosing to follow God's specific and clear call on my life. There are some big things on my "to do" list this year and in order for me to get them done, I'm going to have to have an attitude that I don't generally have on a daily basis. It's something that requires me to step outside of where I'm comfortable, and really it requires me to step into wherever it is that God is leading me next. 

As I said in my initial one little word post, 2014 is the year for boldness, fearlessness, guts, spunk, tenacity, bravery, determination. But most of all, this is the year for moxie.

So how did I do in January? 

Honestly, I didn't do anything amazing or marvelous. But I took some good first steps. And for me, it took some guts. 

I sent some important emails, basically saying, "hey you don't know me, but this is what the Lord has called me to do and I'd love to hear how we can work together in this." 
I put myself out there and pitched a couple of my ideas to some friends and got some great feedback. 
I read 3 whole books. Three. That never happens! And all of them pertained to the goals I'm working toward. 
I began a journal and started writing down all the things swirling around in my head, especially the things that make me feel vulnerable, but that need to be written, need to be said. 
I deleted twitter and facebook from my phone. Ah! It's been awesome. 

And really, that's it. 

But you know what? God has seriously been amazing to me this month. I have had more inspiration, ideas and plans revealed to me than I could ever imagine. I have discovered (by His hand I'm sure) more organizations and people working on similar ventures than I could have dreamed of. And as an answer to prayer, He just continues to confirm my passion and my goal and nudge me forward a little more every day. 

For me, moxie is not going to mean that I take the biggest risk ever. It just means trusting God more and more, day by day and being fearless to do so; having the guts and the bravery to follow Him, wherever He leads and maintaining the determination to stay on track and on task.