Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Love Yourself Challenge . . . week 5 (It's time for your Dear Body Letter)

We are only two weeks away from completing the Love Yourself Challenge. This week marks the beginning of week five! I am excited about this week and the journaling assignment. 

Week 5: A Letter To Yourself
I highly encourage you to take the time to write this letter. We are all busy and have a million items on our "to do's" but I believe the benefits of reaffirming yourself in a letter like this is simply irreplacable. The dishes and laundry can wait a few extra minutes.

I plan to write mine and share it on the blog after the challenge is complete. Will you share yours, as well? If so, please do post it on your blog and link up in the comments section.  We will all be blessed! 
Happy Journaling!
Make it a  GREAT day! 

Related Posts:

Friday, January 27, 2012

Crossing Over Our Jordan River

I really enjoy blog posts from the website in(courage). A post this week, Remembering Whose We Are, really spoke to me and I wanted to share a piece of the post with you today. For the full post click the link above. The author of the post has struggled with brain cancer and recently lost her nine year old daughter (just a fresh nine months ago). The piece below is from a book she read when first diagnosed with brain cancer. Such encouraging words when we find ourselves in the midst of such loss, confusion or period of waiting. I hope the words inspire you as it did me. 

Crossing Over Our Jordan River

We don’t know when God will get us over the river. We don’t know how God will dry the riverbed and allow us to cross. But we do know, by faith, that he will act on our behalf. And while we wait,we remember. 
We remember our Red Seas, the places where God has parted the waters for us, the impossible places where God came through and the Enemy was defeated. 
We remember who brought us through. 
We remember whose we are. We belong to Christ! 
We remember that God’s delays are not delays of inactivity, but of preparation. He delays, but he does not deny. While we wait He prepares us for His answer according to His perfect, preordained plan. 
We remember and link up with like-minded, stronger people who are going in the same direction. We cant afford to attempt the waters of Jordan alone. 
We remember to tell our children, and our children’s children that they may see the mighty hand of God and take courage for the rivers they will have to cross. They piggyback on our faith when we share the stories of God’s mighty acts in our lives. 
We remember to offer encouragement for our friends who walk beside us along the way.
 - taken from the book, Stones of Remembrance

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Love Yourself Challenge. . . week 4

Week 4: A change in Attitude 

What have you learned over the last three weeks of journaling? This week, kick those negative thoughts to the curb, once and for all. You are more than societies view of beauty. God doesn't judge you by societies standard so why do you use this form of measurement? You are perfect in HIS eyes.  Celebrate yourself today. 
Happy Journaling! 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Love Yourself Challenge . . . week 3

I'm a few days late in posting a reminder but we are already in the midst of week three of the Love Yourself Challenge. Have you been reflecting on the challenge and journaling your thoughts? Feeling all warm and fuzzy from all the self love coming your way? Have you been sharing your reflections with a friend, family member, mentor or spouse? 

Week 3: Secrets

Are you holding on to any guilt and/or shame related to secrets in your life? Do you continually beat yourself up for past mistakes? If so it's time to Let. It. Go. You will never be able to really love yourself if you are constantly focused on what was or what could have been. 
Take some time to honestly reflect the prompt for this week. 

Happy Journaling! 
Make it a GREAT day! 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

24 week pregnancy update. . . papaya baby

It has been four weeks since our big gender reveal ultrasound. We have been busy thinking about all things baby girl and are so thrilled that things continue to go well. I say this in each pregnancy update but I cannot believe how fast time is passing. 
We are 24 weeks along. . . crazy!
I go Tuesday 1/17/12 for my next OB appointment and glucose test. I don't suspect that my glucose levels will be a concern but then again, you never know. Either way we will just take it one day at a time. No sense of worrying about anything I cannot (ultimately) control, right? Right. 

Week 24

Size and development of baby:
Clara is the size of a papaya this week. This is a fruit that I sang about a church camp every summer (do any of you have a clue what song I am talking about?) but never really knew what it looked like, until I got my bump.com email this week. I don't think I have ever tasted a papaya either? Anyways, she is growing each day and I can't wait to hear her heartbeat again on Tuesday! Week 24 is the first time I really started feeling her move around! The flutters are now more frequent & she has also pressed (or kicked?) on my belly hard enough where Brandon was able to feel her too! 

Baby's skin is becoming more opaque as the fat starts to pack on. And, thanks to the formation of small capillaries, her newly thick skin is taking on a fresh pink glow.

How I am feeling and How I am changing:
I feel like a broken record but I feel great! I could not have asked for an easier pregnancy thus far. Of course I am starting to experience normal symptoms that come with being farther along but it is nothing out of the ordinary. At the end of a long day my lower back is sore as well as my feet. A few days last week, after the weather was especially hot, I got home from work and noticed that my feet were starting to swell. I just try to elevate my feet when I'm relaxing at home and have soaked them a few times in hot water and epsom salt. That seems to do the trick. Oh and I mentioned this in my 20 week update but I still have those reddish/purplish patches around my ankles. They are starting to spread more and I plan to ask my OB about this Tuesday. It doesn't itch or hurt so I'm not too concerned and I read that skin changes are normal during pregnancy, as your body is adjusting to new hormone levels and a higher blood volume. My hair is still falling out in crazy handfuls. Good thing God blessed me with a head of hair for 20 people so even with all that I am loosing, it is hardly making a dent.  

I recently had several people tell me "Wow, you really look pregnant now." Yes I sure do. See below. It seems that over the last four weeks my belly has, without a doubt, popped out. I absolutely love it. Doesn't bother me a bit. Nor does my weight that is creeping up on the scale. 
Praise God!

24 week belly shot

What I am eating and What I am thinking:
I have some days when I feel ravenous all. day. long. I have other days when I hardly feel hungry. Regardless I try to make healthy choices and nourish my body well, with occasional spoonfuls bowls of this amazingly addicting treat thrown in for good measure. 
To balance it all out I try to make these green monster smoothies at least once a week. Sound gross? It isn't. Despite the bright green appearance, you cannot taste the spinach at all!! The key is using frozen banana and fresh baby spinach (not frozen spinach!). I usually add a spoonful of peanut butter too. It tastes just like a banana peanut butter smoothie. 
Don't knock it till you try it! 

Foods that sound delicious:
cold cereal, hummus on toast, chickfila nuggets (have I listed this each time??), homemade stir fry, chips and salsa, red meat, cashews, and trail mix

Foods that do not sound delicious:
Salmon (weird b/c pre pregnancy I LOVED it, now... not so much) and other seafood

What has been on my brain lately? Tackling the overwhelming process that is the baby registry. Seriously, who knew there are 800 types of bottles, bibs, pacifiers, car seats and strollers? Um yes it's true. Thanks to some advice from my older sister, good friends, and Consumer Reports, I think we are done!!! I have also started researching and calling around to pediatricians to ask questions and see if they will be taking new patients come May. I got us preregistered at the hospital and signed us up for childbirth classes the end of March. Oh... and we selected our baby bedding. A big thanks to my mom and dad for ordering the main four piece bundle as a gift, and to Brandon's parents for ordering the elephant wall art and mobile. I LOVE IT and cannot wait to start painting the nursery (probably the green you see here) and setting things up. 

We spent the majority of last weekend cleaning out the junk room/office that will be the nursery. We even have the entire closet cleared out. For any of you that know how packed that closet was pre clean, I am sure you stand amazed. I have no idea how we did it, but it's checked off the list! I say we have done a lot over the last few weeks. A big thanks to Brandon because of course he was a team player and helped out so much! 

That wraps up week 24. 
Hope you all are having a lovely day!

PSALM 139:14
"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, 
I know that full well.

PSALM 13:6
"I will sing the LORD’s praise, for he has been good to me." 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Old fashioned communication & a Day Spring product review

There is something about a hand written note that cannot be replaced. As email, text message, face book and twitter grow in popularity with those of all ages, less people are taking the time to hand write a note of thanks, congratulations, encouragement, hope or sympathy. Some call it old fashioned. I call it irreplaceable. 

Confession : I do love receiving hand written notes. It just says a lot about a person who in todays technology ridden society will take the time to hand write their thoughts, place that note in an envelope with a stamp and walk it to the mailbox. 

Confession : I am guilty of, just yesterday, writing an email to a friend who was celebrating a birthday, when I could have easily written and mailed her a birthday card days in advance. Sigh. 

There is something about reading someones handwritten words that speaks louder than reading text off my phone. I can think back to several times during our fertility journey when I received cards from friends letting us know that while they did not understand what we were experiencing, they were thinking about us daily and lifting us up in prayer. I remember on one particularly hard day picking up one of these cards and reading it over and over again. Something about holding that card in my hand and reading the writing just brought another level of comfort and peace.  I am sure many of you have been there, too and understand the comfort that I am talking about here. 

That being said, I jumped at the chance to partner with (in)courage and Day Spring as one to participate in their (in)spired deals January product review. 

Day Spring sent me these cards for free although the opinion below is 100% my own. 

I truly love these cards. They are a nice size with plenty of space to write an in depth note while also filled with words and scriptures should you want to keep your note on the shorter side. I also really enjoy the bright, bold colors that fill each card. The bright red, pink, blue, and green designs are bound to make the receiver feel alive and loved. I would absolutely love to receive any of these cards in the mail. The words are uplifting and the scripture selection is perfect for that special person who needs an extra dose of hope and encouragement. You truly cannot go wrong by purchasing these and mailing to friends and family. 

I thought the card below would be the perfect card to send to my grandmother, who resides in another city and who I do not see very often. I hope the words bless her and bring a smile to her face. 

Inspired to bust out with a handwritten note and participate in some good old fashioned communication? Head on over to the Day Spring product page and check out the 15 card assortment packs offered. Day Spring also offers a wide selection of gifts - office supplies, calendars, books, journals, totes, mugs, crosses, baby gifts, jewelry and home/art decor. 

A big thanks to (in)courage and Day Spring for allowing me to participate in their January (in)spired deals review. I cannot wait to put the rest of my cards to use in the near future! 

"Encourage one another."
Hebrews 10:25, NIV

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Love yourself Challenge. . . week 2

I hope you all are having having a great week and are continuing on with the Love Yourself Challenge.  We are now two weeks into the challenge. Did anyone journal last week, during week one? Learn anything new or interesting while journaling? 

If you are thinking..."What in the world is the Love Yourself Challenge???" Click this link for the info!  

Missed week 1 and need the 4-1-1? Click this link for the info!  

Week 2: Love yourself as you love others. 

It's not too late to make TODAY the day that you start giving yourself some lovin! 
Make it a GREAT day! 
Happy journaling! 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

First ever guest post . . . Sarah from Bearing Eating Being

I am so excited for todays post! A little bit of background info. . .

When I was struggling with my eating disorder one smart decision (ok the only smart decision, besides recovery) I made was to research and read blogs of other women who had been, at some time or another, in my shoes. I wanted to hear from women who had experienced, firsthand, what it was like to struggle with anorexia and who truly understood the dynamics of the illness and how it has the ability to overtake any and every area of life.

Although I don't remember when exactly, at some point I stumbled across the blogger Sarah who writes over at Bearing Eating Being. I remember reading her posts and thinking "wow, this girl DID IT." She overcame what (at that present time) felt like hell on earth. What struck me even more? She incorporated GOD, JESUS and the HOLY SPIRIT into recovery and into her story. Praise God she was willing to write and share with random blog stalkers (me) because little did she know she was having a HUGE impact. 

Fast forward a few years. . . I am totally stoked that Sarah has agreed to a little guest post here on A Joy Renewed. I hope you find her story as touching and inspiring as I did and still do!

Hey all! I’m Sarah and I was so excited that Brittnie asked me to share a little of my story with you.  I’m currently writing this from my parents’ kitchen table in the midwest as snow falls outside--a far cry from Florida, where I’ve lived for the past 3.5 years.  
Being home for the holidays is a good thing...but it hasn’t always been.  In 2005, I spent my holidays wrestling with an eating disorder that my parents could see but I couldn’t.  That year, I tiptoed around my house.  I couldn’t sit still, I couldn’t get warm, I couldn’t feel the joy of Christmas.  I remember passing out at Target as I did some last minute Christmas shopping with my siblings.  I remember spending a few days in bed because I lacked the energy to get out of it.  My mom brought me eggs and toast and I feebly protested, until I realized: my options were eating or dying.          
That weekend was a turning point for me.  As I lay in bed, I prayed intently that God would help me figure out whatever was wrong in my life and fix it.  God seized that prayer and led me to medical help.  When I finally accepted the diagnosis that was obvious to everyone around me, I cried out for help, for understanding, and strength, because I knew I couldn’t heal myself or get better on my own.  
In return, He gave strength that reminded me of the manna sent to the Israelites: enough for the day. I wasn’t stockpiling strength somewhere for later and I lived my life vacillating between terror and calm, but He always gave me the calmness and strength that I needed to do the right thing when I needed to.  
This reminded me that the strength I was experiencing was not my own and taught me to rely on Him.  It also made me realize that recovery was going to be a process...and rightly so, because getting sick was a process.    
A few painful months later, the Lord gave me Psalm 107.  I connected so strongly with this passage that for over a year, it was my “about me” on Facebook because I felt there was nothing more to say.  Here’s a sample: (really, you should just read the whole thing--it’s amazing!)  
“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; 
   his love endures forever.
 Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story—
   those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
those he gathered from the lands,
   from east and west, from north and south...
...Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness,
   prisoners suffering in iron chains,
because they rebelled against God’s commands
   and despised the plans of the Most High...
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
   and he saved them from their distress.
He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness,
   and broke away their chains.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
   and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he breaks down gates of bronze
   and cuts through bars of iron.
Some became fools through their rebellious ways
   and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.
They loathed all food
   and drew near the gates of death.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
   and he saved them from their distress.
He sent out his word and healed them;
   he rescued them from the grave.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
   and his wonderful deeds for mankind. 
Let them sacrifice thank offerings
   and tell of his works with songs of joy...”
This Psalm gave me hope: I had already called out to the Lord.  Now I could trust Him to  be faithful to heal me, to break away my chains, to bring me out of darkness, to save me from my distress, to rescue me from the grave, to send forth His word to me, to gather me, to redeem me. 
Six years and a TON of work later, I’m pleased to report that I am healthier and happier than I ever was before. Having an eating disorder could have been the end of my life.  Instead, our Lord “cut through those bars of iron” and saved me. 
Psalm 107 ends with these words: “Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.” 
I invite you to do the same.  

THANK YOU, Sarah! 

I love that she literally is a living testimony of Psalm 107. And is some ways... aren't we all? I think we all have rebelled against the Lord only to eventually cry out to Him from our distress, from the bottom of our pit.  Don't we all  have some "bar of iron" that we need the Lord to save us from and to forever cut us free?

Questions: Do you have a scripture or set of verses that sum up an especially hard time in your life? Has God responded to your distress call by giving you a particular scripture passage of hope? Please do share in the comments section!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Love Yourself Challenge. . . week 1

Happy 2012 friends!

Don't forget that today, 1-1-12, kicks off week one of the six week Love Yourself ChallengeFor more details just click on this post. 

Week 1: You are worthy, beautiful and special. 

SOURCE for description above and pic below

So take a few minutes today and put pen to paper. Reflect on how YOU truly are a unique and amazing individual, and how you are deserving of the same self love you give to others! 

Happy journaling! 

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