March Scripture Reading: Anxiety & Fear

Anxiety and fear are two emotions constantly clawing their way into our minds. Battle those negative feelings with March Scripture Reading: Anxiety & Fear

March scripture reading

Spiritual Amnesia

There is something unique about fear, anxiety, and worry. It creates in us spiritual amnesia. We forget about all the times God has rescued us in the past. We fail to remember that God has worked out our problems again and again. Fear creates spiritual amnesia. In other words, we forget how good God really is! But don’t think you’re alone. The apostles went through it too.

Jesus Calms The Storm

I love the book Fearless by Max Lucado. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. The first chapter uses a bible story we all know very well – Jesus calming the storm. The story can be found in three of the four gospels. Each one says Jesus is asleep in the boat and stays asleep even as a great storm arises. Why is he asleep? Because He’s in control of it! Our “storms” don’t scare Him. Furthermore, there is something unique in the gospel of Mark. As waves crash into the boat, the apostles cry out in fear.

“Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

As Lucado points out, these men have been traveling with Jesus for years. By this time, they have seen Him cast out demons and heal the blind. He has raised Lazarus from the dead and fed a crowd of 5,000 with just a couple of fish and a few loaves of bread. And yet, as soon as they were fearful, the spiritual amnesia sets in. It’s like they totally forget that He is Lord. They don’t ask Him to calm the storm. Instead, they question his character. “Don’t you care if we drown?” And don’t we do the same? When fear overtakes us, don’t we forget that He is Lord and in control of it all?

Our Small Prayers

The truth is, we limit God with our prayers. Allow me to share something deeply personal. My husband and I are currently going through a season of anxiety and fear. In August, my husband will be losing his job. His employer is closing down his office. Currently, we are scrambling to find an engineering job, but in particular one that will not uproot us from my hometown.

So I began praying, asking God to send us something here that would match his salary. After a few weeks of praying, God revealed truth to me. – one that I had forgotten. I was limiting God by my prayer. I’m not saying we shouldn’t ask God for what we specifically want, but we limit God when we do so.

You Do Not Have, Because You Do Not Ask

Read what the apostle Paul writes :

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

Boldly! Some translations say “confidently.” To be confident means with no doubt. That is the first point I want to make – that we can confidently go directly to God and ask for help and be assured that He will indeed help us.

But wait, it gets better. One of my favorite verses in the bible is Ephesians 3:20. This verse is why I say we limit God with our prayer. Ephesians 3:20 is why we should pray “Your will be done, Lord.” Here is the truth: Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,”

Ephesians 3:20

That’s right. God can do more for you than you can possibly imagine. Even better, He wants to! And if you don’t believe me, read John 10:10: A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.

This doesn’t just mean in heaven. Eternity has already started, my friend. His will is the best for you! It’s bigger and better than you can imagine. When you get scared or anxious, don’t run away. Instead, run to God and listen to Him comfort you in these scriptures.

Scripture Reading Anxiety & Fear

This month, I’d love for you to join me in scripture reading, anxiety and fear. I pray these verses bring your peace and remember that God loves you, He is in control and wants the best for you.

Anxiety & Fear

Colossians 3:15
Mark 5:36
1 Peter 3:14
Deuteronomy 3:22
Zephaniah 3:17
Psalm 34:7
Isaiah 35:4
Psalm 55:22
Proverbs 12:25
1 Peter 5:6-8
Psalm 56:3
Romans 8:38-39
Revelation 1:17
Exodus 14:14
Psalm 118:6Isaiah 41:10
Philippians 4:6-7
Isaiah 35:4
Psalm 34:4
Proverbs 3:5-6
Luke 12:22
John 14:1
Joshua 1:9
2 Timothy 1:7
Isaiah 41:10
John 14:1
Psalm 94:19
Jeremiah 17:7-8
Matthew 11:28-30
John 14:27
Psalm 23

In the comment section below, please tell me how I can pray for you in this season of anxiety & fear and I’ll add you to my prayer list.

Join me next month for April’s Scripture Reading: Grief and Depression. Also, if you missed it, see also February’s Scripture Reading: Love & Kindness

How Happy Planner Changed My Life

I know what you’re thinking. My title is dramatic! It’s just a planner. Wrong. It’s a Happy Planner and true to it’s name, it actually made me happier! Here is how Happy Planner changed my life.

Happy Planner Changed My life

One Hot Mess

With an appointment based job, I had always used a planner. When I left the workforce, I remember throwing away my dull, black hourly planner. After all, I was going to be a stay-at-home mom. What did I need a planner for? Stay-at-home moms have all the time in the world, right? Seriously, I thought there would be time for Netflix, Beachbody and scrapbooking. I know…I was clueless! Believe me, I learned the hard way.

Can I be really honest for a second? It’s going to sound awful. But for the first part of that first year, I really hated being a stay-at-home mom. I had lost my identity. But worse, I felt like I was failing at everything!

Mounds of laundry stared at me from my couch. Hampers were spilling over. Dishes were piled in the sink. I’m a hard worker. But I was seriously failing at every chore and responsibility I had. I double-booked myself all the time and flat out forgot my appointments. Also, I was struggling to adjust to only having one income supporting us. I was a mess.

Nothing Else Calmed the Chaos

I tried putting appointments in my phone. After all, this thousand dollar iPhone has to be good for something, right? It can set an alarm to go off so you don’t miss things. Honestly, half the time I forgot to even put things in it. I’ve always worked better with paper, where I can scribble thoughts and write notes to myself. The phone’s calendar really doesn’t allow for that. I even went back to my boring planner, but I had no motivation to open it up.

Discovering Happy Planner ®

I can recall the first day I discovered Happy Planner. It was an exceptionally rough day. I felt like a failure. I was at Hobby Lobby for some scrapbooking stuff and I stumbled across a Happy Planner. Let me say, this was years ago. Back when there was only a couple of covers to choose from. It was a simple black and white striped cover. I remember reluctantly putting it in my cart. Almost like it was a waste of money. Would I really use it? I specifically remember thinking, “maybe if it’s pretty and I can decorate it, I’ll want to use it.” (I’m pretty sure that is the business model of Happy Planner.) Isn’t that why many people don’t use a planner? They forget to open it up and use it!

And the sticker books? Girl, I was a Happy Planner babe before it was cool! Me and My Big Ideas had been around for a while. I had bought their scrapbooking stuff before. But this was still in the infancy of the Happy Planner. This is back in the day before value pack stickers even existed! There was a handful of 4 page sticker packs and the designs were fairly simple still. Can you imagine a time before metallic foiled stickers? It existed. I was there for it! These days, there are hundreds of gorgeous accessories!

Menu Planner

Happy Planner Changed My Life

It Got My Creative Juices Flowing

Switching to Happy Planner totally worked. If you are unfamiliar with it, the pages within are beautiful and cheerful. The monthly dividers are gorgeous and often have inspirational quotes and sayings. Just thumbing through the pages is like opening a book of happiness! And no….Eric Condren doesn’t even come close to measuring up! (Sorry not sorry, Erin). These days, the stickers are to die for…like so pretty you almost don’t want to use them! So pretty, you convince yourself you need every single sticker book. So pretty that you’ll stand near an empty display shelf while a Michael’s employee unboxes the newest release. (Yes, I’ve done that!)

But in all seriousness, it worked. I had no time for arts & crafts. I was a trained artist in Europe. Living without creativity in my life was depressing. Being able to decorate my planner totally made me feel like I got my artistic yearnings out everyday!

Happy Planner stickers

It Increased My Self-Worth

Let me be even more personal. Being a stay-at-home mom is really hard. There are no raises or promotions if you do a good job. There are no IDPs and annual performance reviews. No one is there motivating you to do better. You can feel alone and invisible.

I doubt the ladies over at Happy Planner know just how much those cute little motivational quotes actually do motivate me. No one was feeding me positivity…that is until I found Happy Planner. There are days where I totally don’t feel like adulting and I open my Happy Planner and see exactly what I need to get moving. And as much as I hate to admit this publicly, I need my “gold stars” for a job well done. I need to feel like it matters.

I know what you’re thinking. “It’s a planner for goodness sake!” Happy Planner changed my life. First, it keeps me on task and helps me accomplish things (duh, it’s a planner). Secondly, it’s a record of my motherhood journey – every playdate, every birthday party, their milestones and memories are lovingly recorded in it’s pages. I use their wellness planner to maintain a work/life balance as a mom. It helps me prioritize “me time” and has helped me with my anxiety and depression issues. Their fitness planner helped me track my Gestational Diabetes diet (even my OBGYN was impressed). Furthermore, I use their budget accessories to keep me financially disciplined.

Happy Planner Stickers

It Gave Me Back Control

When I first started staying home, I felt out of control. Frazzled. Overwhelmed. I was a steamy, hot mess! But using a Happy Planner has helped me gain control in every area of my life. I use the Faith Planner to help me maintain my relationship with God. Before the kids get up, I make my coffee, read The Word, and do my bible study. I use the Miss Maker one just for this blog. I use the Teacher Planner for our homeschooling. Honestly, I love it. When I wake up and am tempted to take a day off from homeschooling, all those inspiring teaching and learning quotes, make me want to get back at it and slay the day! It reminds me why I’m doing this! Happy planner changed my life.

It’s Flexible

One thing everyone loves about the Happy Planner is that it is completely customizable. It doesn’t matter if you need hourly, weekly, or a dashboard layout. They’ve got them all! But my favorite part is the discs. The innovative disc system allows you to remove and place any accessories where you want them. And boy do they have accessories! Plastic envelopes, dividers, folders, daily sheets, dry erase boards, more. I’ll be sharing more about the accessories in a follow up post on how to use a Happy Planner to get organized. My point is just that you can tailor it to work for you and your needs. Above all, I love that it’s so flexible to fit my needs.

Over the last few years, I’ve converted so many people over to Happy Planner: friends, family, old co-workers, other moms – even my husband. I had to find a way to make it less girly for him, but he was anxious to see if would help him since he saw a miraculous transformation in me. It worked for him too. I’m so enthusiastic about Happy Planner because it really did help me plan a happy life.

I do not sell Happy Planner. I’m making no money with this post. I simply want to share an amazing product that helped me stay organized and reach my goals.

25 Questions to Reconnect With Your Spouse

Every now and then, we lose a deep connection with our spouse. Busy schedules, kids, and work are often to blame. Get conversation going with 25 Questions to Reconnect With Your Spouse

25 Questions to Reconnect With Your Spouse.

It’s very easy to lose that close connection with your spouse. If you have kids, it’s almost bound to happen. Trying to juggle their schedules, work, and trying to squeeze in time for yourself and your spouse, is really a tireless effort.

Sometimes we disconnect without even meaning to. I mean, come on! Somedays, I don’t even know if I’ve showered! Gross, I know, but it’s the truth. Parents have little time for date nights and romantic evenings. In fact, we don’t even have a regular babysitter so our date nights are solely on Valentine’s day or our anniversary. Therefore, we try to do a lot of our date nights at home once the kids are in bed.

How to Reconnect

I’ve learned that time to reconnect has to be scheduled. I know how sterile that sounds! But hey, if I were to wait for it to happen organically, it would never happen! Am I right?

I find, I have to make it a priority and pencil it in like any other thing that is important. Reconnecting isn’t expensive. Sometimes it’s as simple as just having a conversation together and redefining where you want your marriage and family to go. It’s about learning your spouse. After all, people grow and change. Our goals and dreams change. If you aren’t growing together, you’ll grow apart.

It’s not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.

Frederich Nietzsche

I remember our pastor talked about this to my husband during our pre-marital counseling. He said dating is like a high school diploma and you should always be learning about your spouse to earn other “degrees.” As the years pass, and as you invest more time to learning your spouse, you graduate higher and higher in your marriage. I like that analogy.

Reconnecting With Your Spouse

Sometimes I think we have exhausted all topics of conversation. Thats why today, I’m sharing 25 questions to reconnect with your spouse. Think of them are conversations starters. Learn if your spouse has changed their views. Pose follow up questions to understand them better. Interview their heart.

25 Questions to Reconnect With Your Spouse

  1. What scares you about our future?
  2. When are you happiest?
  3. What do you like to do, that you wish you had more time to do?
  4. What makes you proud as a parent?
  5. Is this what you thought parenting would look like?
  6. What traits do you love in our children?
  7. What is your best memory of our kids so far?
  8. Are you satisfied with our lovemaking?
  9. How can I help you with stress in your life?
  10. Do you feel like your needs are being met? If not, what can I do?
  11. What kind of vacations would you like to take with our family?
  12. Where do you see us in 5 years?
  13. Are there boundaries you think we need to put in place to protect our marriage?
  14. What would make you feel closer to me?
  15. What kind of activities do you want to start doing together?
  16. Is there anything about our kids that worries you?
  17. How do you feel about our finances?
  18. How can I help you become closer to God?
  19. Is there anything you want to tell me?
  20. What’s your happiest moment of our life together?
  21. How do you envision our retirement?
  22. What worries you right now?
  23. Is there something you think we should be teaching our kids?
  24. What is something you’ve always wanted to do?
  25. Do you have any regrets?

Every now and then my husband and I ask each other similar questions to try and understand our vision for our marriage, our family, and our lives. I’d love to hear what other kind of questions you think are good to ask!


If you’re looking for more topics on marriage, see my post on Setting Healthy Boundaries in Your Marriage

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Dear Husband, I Need to Thank You

Dear Husband, I Need to Thank You. This is an open letter to my husband, because…well he deserves it. SPOILER ALERT: Mushy PDA coming up. Not responsible for tears!

Dear Husband, I Need to Thank You

Dear Husband,

I need to thank you.

You Complete Me

I felt empty before I met you. Empty like a piece of me was missing and I was tirelessly searching for it. I knew I found it when I met you. I can’t even put into words the wholeness that I feel everyday knowing you are my husband. When I was pregnant with your boys, I felt special. I felt connected to you. I felt honored and chosen to carry your babies. We are distinctly different. You make up for all that I lack.

You are my home. You are my family. No matter what happens in our future, I am complete with you. I will go where you go. Your enemies are my enemies. Your God will be my God. Your family is my family. Your home will be my home. Forever.

You Understand Me

I feel very misunderstood by many people, but worse I feel most people don’t want to understand me. But you, you always seek to understand me. This past year was hard, for many reasons, but for one in particular – the loss of my circle of friends. You know my heart. You know that I always have the best of intentions. You understand me. You get me. In fact, I think you’re the only person who truly does. But only because you are the only person who has taken the time. You always know what I need to hear. You know what worries me and what scares me. You know my secrets. You know exactly what I need at exactly the right time. Best of all, you never pass judgement. Thank you for taking the time to know and understand me.

Dan kissing my hand

You Comfort Me

We’ve been through a lot together. Miscarriages. Addictions. Depression. Death. Birth. Jobs. Sickness. Despair. Moving. Globetrotting. Grief. Anniversaries. Birthdays. Beginnings. Endings. Through it all, you comfort me. You do it in a way that makes me “see” Christ in you, working through you. I’m proud of you. I’m proud of you for overcoming your strongholds. Even through that rocky, confusing time, you comforted me. Many men would have cut and ran. Some men would have given up. When we lost our babies, when I’ve gone through horrific bouts of depression, you comforted me. You many not have always known how, but I promise you – you did. Even if all you could do was throw your arms around me. If all you could do was cry with me, I promise – you comforted me. Thanks for never walking out on me when life got hard.

Monticello

You Are Merciful to Me

I’m choking up just typing this. This is huge – and you probably don’t know that I’m aware of this, but I am. You cover my faults. You hide them. It would be easy to expose them. The world tells us it’s okay “to vent.” People are quick to share how someone has let them down or done them wrong.

But you – you don’t even bring up my faults in conflict or arguments. You spare me. You extend mercy when I don’t deserve it. While others might look at my faults with a magnifying glass, you cover me with grace. You give me permission to be human. You are slow to anger and quick to forgive me. You let me “win” even at the cost of your own pride. You are malleable when I am obstinate. You are long-suffering when I am insufferable. You save me from the embarrassment of my own shortcomings. I notice. I’m grateful. I’m humbled.

You Protect Me

Protection, real protection is such an attractive quality in a man. I don’t just mean physical protection. I mean the kind of protection that is hard. The kind of protection that shelters me from verbal attacks, criticism, anger, cruel intentions, and more. When Jack was born, we faced all kinds of criticism and judgement. But you did your best to protect me from it, going so far as to accept the “sentencing” onto yourself. I never saw you more Christ-like. After all, isn’t that what Christ does for us? He took on our sin and paid the price for us, so we wouldn’t have to. I saw you do that for me. I saw you risk everything to support me. That is love.

But also, you set me strait. You rebuke me when I need correction, thereby saving me from going down a dark path. My bipolar isn’t easy to live with and yet, you do it with so much gentleness. You protect me even from that, as much as you can.

Us

You Serve Me

In the flesh-driven world, “service” to your spouse is so misunderstood. It’s thought of in feudalistic terms like serfdom or worse, slavery. But real spouses serve each other in love. As in Christ’s example, “I came not to be served, but to serve.” You go to work everyday to support us. You make huge sacrifices, always putting yourself last, so we can come first.

Even when you come home tired, because of my bipolar, you get up with the baby every night. You have for years. I am ashamed that I can’t do that without huge ramifications with my illness. But you never complain. You do it so willingly and drag yourself to work the next day. When I’ve had a rough day, you offer to bring dinner home even though I know you’d rather not spend the money. You’ve taken our boys to the emergency room and waited for hours there by yourself. You’ve used your vacation days, not for you, but for us. When our babies are sick, you’ll run out at all hours for medication. It’s thankless and exhausting.

Dear Husband I Need To Thank You

Dear Husband, I Need to Thank You

Dear Husband, I need to thank you. I need you to know how much I appreciate your sacrifices and tireless efforts. I want you to know it matters and it doesn’t go unnoticed. I love you. More than I could ever put into words. More than I could ever show you.


The post, Dear Husband I Need to Thank You first appeared on My Beautiful Mess

Learn more about She Does Him Good: Praying For Your Husband

30 Day Spring Cleaning Challenge

The newness of Spring makes us all want a fresh, clean house. Today, I’m providing a 30 Day Spring Cleaning Challenge. You’ll do just one task every day for a month to get your house in shape.

30 Day Spring Cleaning Challenge
Photo courtesy of Unsplash

If you’re anything like me your house gets out of shape during the holidays. Things like ceiling fans, windows and other things get neglected. Besides, just getting all the holiday stuff back in tubs and stored is already a huge chore! But after a few weeks, I begin to notice just how gross and filthy my house gets.

Did you ever notice how dusty ceiling fans get? Even windows and their screens get full of dead bugs, spider webs and other gross things. I’m always shocked how just washing windows can totally change the feel of your house from the inside!

30 Day Spring Cleaning Challenge

Therefore, today I’m providing a simple way to handle Spring Cleaning. I found that doing just one chore a day over a month works fairly well. Today, I’m providing a 30 Day Spring Cleaning Challenge with a FREE printable. Print it out and get started whenever you want. Let’s do this together!

  • Day 1: Wipe down all ceiling fans and chandeliers
  • Day 2: Dust all baseboards
  • Day 3: Wipe down doors and disinfect the doorknobs
  • Day 4: Vacuum drapery and/or blinds
  • Day 5: Clean grill / BBQ pit
  • Day 6: Purge unnecessary paperwork
  • Day 7: Shampoo Carpets
  • Day 8: Dust out all area rugs
  • Day 9: Reseal grout in bathrooms and kitchen
  • Day 10: Polish wood floors / Clean grout on tiles
  • Day 11: Clean porch / patio
  • Day 12: Clean outdoor furniture
  • Day 13: Wash windows
  • Day 14: Defrost Your Freezer
  • Day 15: Clean your garbage disposal
  • Day 16: Descale shower heads
  • Day 17: Clean oven
  • Day 18: Flip and rotate mattresses
  • Day 19: Disinfect children’s toys
  • Day 20: Change batteries in smoke detectors
  • Day 21: Clean dryer lint trap
  • Day 22: Wash indoor wastebaskets
  • Day 23: Wash bathroom rugs
  • Day 24: Clean refrigerator shelves and drawers
  • Day 25: Sweep out the fireplace
  • Day 26: Polish silver or other metals that tarnish
  • Day 27: Rotate seasonal wardrobe
  • Day 28: Vacuum stairs and wipe down spindles
  • Day 29: Reseal granite
  • Day 30: Clean scuffs and handprints off walls

That’s it! I sincerely hope that this 30 Day Spring Cleaning Challenge helps you enjoy your house more! For the most part, Spring cleaning can be a lot of work, but it’s worth it to have a clean, peaceful home.

How to Improve Your Toddler’s Speech Delay

If your toddler is struggling to speak, here are some of speech therapy takeaways to help us improve your toddler’s speech delay.

How to improve your toddlers speech delay
All photos courtesy of Unsplash

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The terrible twos are hard enough, but they are harder for the mom whose child isn’t talking. There are new levels of tantrums when your toddler is straining for you to understand him or her. I know. I’ve been there. We went through speech therapy that cost about $500 every two weeks. Today, I’m sharing the things that helped us and will hopefully help you improve your toddler’s speech delay.

Our Story

My toddler was two when I knew something was wrong. We had meltdowns multiple times a day when I struggled to understand him. He couldn’t articulate when he was sick, hurt, or angry. Therefore, these feelings manifested violent eruptions of emotion. I blamed myself. Was I doing something wrong?

But here is the thing, I’m a very hands-on mom. We homeschool. I sit and play with my little one. I read to him, talk to him and engage him. Sadly, I felt judgment from family and mom friends. My son knew his colors by 18 months and shapes by 24 months. He knew his complete alphabet by 30 months. His only delay was speech.

I took him to numerous doctors, starting with our pediatrician. The first specialist we saw was a Pediatric ENT since so many speech delays can be attributed to a hearing problem. Once that was ruled out, we went to a neurologist and neurosurgeon who assured us there was nothing wrong. Both told me they thought he’d benefit from being away from me (more on that later). We started speech therapy but it was ridiculously expensive because at two, insurance doesn’t consider it a true delay yet. While speech therapy didn’t work miracles, it definitely helped and here are the takeaways that helped us. Please know this should not be a replacement for medical advice. I’m not a medical professional. If you’re concerned about your child not speaking, consult a licensed medical professional for a diagnosis. There are physical and mental problems that can create a speech delay.

Focus on Beginning Sounds

When children start to babble, you may notice beginning sounds babababa and dadadada. As it turns out, children learn certain letter sounds before others. The b, m, a, h, p, n, w, t, and d are first sounds and first sounds are easy! Would you believe some sounds aren’t mastered until the age of 8? The J, Z, X, Zh, are some of the last letter sounds learned. Likewise, when children start forming actual words they also start with the same beginning sounds. Therefore, focus on words that start with the beginning sounds.

Alphabet

Consonant – Vowel Sounds

In addition to beginning sounds, children also do better when words are consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel. For example, ”mama” and ”dada” are both consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel. For instance, if your child is struggling to say train, model the word choo-choo instead. Over time, your child will master train.

Hold Things Close to Your Mouth

The speech therapist pointed out my son never really watched my mouth. He looked at my face, but he wasn’t studying my mouth to see how I was making sounds. So she had me hold objects directly to my mouth and repeat the word. The key is to get your child to focus on your lips all day.

Baby Sign Language

Studies show that babies who utilize baby sign language have an easier time transitioning to words. Baby sign language is not ASL, although there are many similarities. Many of the hand movements are simple so that a baby can do it easily. Baby sign language helps your child in different ways. It first teaches them they must communicate to get what they want. Grunts, pointing or whining will not make themselves understood – they can speak or sign. Intergrate signing into your everyday routine. Continue to say the word as you sign. Help your child by doing hand-over-hand teaching. In other words, grab your child’s hand and teach them how to make the sign. Signing helped us in the interim. It reduced tantrums because if he couldn’t say the word, he could sign it. Here are books I recommend for learning baby sign language.

Short & Sweet

Many people will tell you not to baby talk to your child. However, many children need things simplified into keywords only. Some children have a difficult time distinguishing where words begin and end in a sentence. To them, the sentence is just a rapid cacophony of sounds. For example, instead of saying, “Okay let’s go to the car. We need to go to the store and get stuff for dinner before daddy gets home” simply say “Bye Bye. Car. Store.” Let them clearly hear the key words. Over time, you’ll add additional words.

Say One, Add One

Which brings us to our next point. As your child says words, you will add an additional word. By modeling this, you demonstrate how to combine words to form sentences. For example, when your child points to the fridge for a snack, you might just model “open” at first because that is the most important word. Once your child masters “open”, you say “open fridge.” Once they can say “open fridge,” you might model, “open fridge please” or “open fridge snack.” The point is, once your child masters the word, you’ll add an additional word.

Don’t Correct

You read that correctly. I know what you’re thinking. Believe me, I had the same thoughts. I corrected my son all the time. He would say bapple instead of apple. So I would correct him and say, “no, it’s apple.” Many kids who are non-verbal also have confidence issues. They are less likely to talk if everything they DO say is wrong. The speech therapist said to model it correctly, but in a positive way. For example, “Okay, I’ll get you an apple.”

Read

This might seem like a no-brainer. But many non-verbal children aren’t that interested in books. In fact, when a child is watching TV, they hear 300 words less per hour. My husband and I are both avid readers. I read to my son every day as an infant. But once he learned to walk (12 months), he was no longer interested in sitting – especially for a book. I was so discouraged, but I kept reading to him. Well, it was more like “at him” and “over him.” Even if he was playing with something else, I read.

I got him reinterested in books, by finding “lift the flap” books, sometimes called “peek-a-boo” books. Books that kept his little hands busy as we read. He was bored otherwise. The other thing I did was just point to the pictures and say the word. In other words, instead of reading it verbatim, I’d point to the pictures and say “Dog. Dig. Grass.” Focus on the most important words.

Child reading

In fact, when a child is watching TV, they hear 300 words less per hour.

Play Time Is Learning Time

Playtime is a great time to teach your child because they don’t realize it’s a speech lesson! For instance, if you’re playing cars, drive the car along the track and say, “go, go, go. Stop!” If you’re playing with a baby doll, you can model words like eat, night-night, baby, etc. The important thing is to say the word over and over. Remember, stop and hold the doll or car up to your mouth occasionally when you say it. Stacking blocks? Use the words “up and down.” Take every opportunity to focus on vocabulary building. Submersion will ultimately help improve your toddler’s speech delay.

Even snacks can serve as teaching time. Instead of giving your child all their snack, give him or her a little bit and withhold the rest. This is a great time to teach the word and sign for “more.”

Outside Speech Help

As mentioned previously, there are lots of causes for speech delays, including hearing problems and mental delays. Children learning multiple languages (like English and Spanish) also can be delayed. You should definitely consult a doctor if you are worried about your child not talking. Speech therapists can work directly with your child, but it’s up to you to do the “homework” they give you. Ultimately, it’s up to you, the parent, to do this kind of teaching all day long. The public school education system also has resources for speech delays.

Today, my son is doing really well. He has made incredible improvements over the last year. Doing these things have helped exponentially! The last thing I want you to know is that it isn’t your fault. Sometimes there are no reasons. Children develop later than others. You’re doing a great job mama. I sincerely hope this helps you and your little one. Even if it isn’t on your time table, your little one will learn how to talk!


The post, How to Improve Your Toddler’s Speech Delay first appeared on My Beautiful Mess

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Gestational Diabetes Trackers

I had gestational diabetes with all my pregnancies. It can be overwhelming to manage your special diet. So today, I’m sharing a Gestational Diabetes Trackers to help you keep track of protein and carbs.

Gestational Diabetes Tracker

If you’ve been recently diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes, I know how deflated you might feel. You might feel that is incredibly unfair and it may suck away much of the joy of the joy of being pregnant. But I think the most common feeling is that of being overwhelmed. Because you will find yourself having to test your blood several times a day and adhere to strict a diet. Geez! Talk about taking all the fun out of being prego!

Before you get down on yourself, let’s talk about what gestational diabetes is. Being overweight may increase the chances of gestational diabetes, but it is not the cause. The cause is actually a protein secreted by your placenta that can make your body resistant to insulin. Insulin is a naturally occurring chemical made by the pancreas to regulate sugar in your bloodstream. High sugar can cause serious pregnancy complications. Since I’m not a health professional, I encourage you to speak to your doctor about the specific risks involved.

Getting Started

Your doctor or nutritionist will give you specific guidelines to follow regarding the amount of carbs and protein you should have. It is important to note, you still need some amount of carbs. Ketosis is not the goal. The goal instead is to have steady, regulated blood sugar. Additionally, it is also important to note, your body is most sensitive to sugar in the morning. No more pancakes, waffles, muffins, French toast or donuts. I know! It’s no fun! Think protein heavy breakfasts like bacon and eggs.

Photo by Eiliv-Sonas Aceron on Unsplash

The first few weeks living with GD can be hard. Not every pregnancy is the same. My intolerance to carbs was different with each pregnancy. The foods also vary. I was able to eat thin crust meat lovers pizza, but a salad with some tortilla chips spiked my sugar. It will be a lot of trial and error in those first few weeks. That’s why keeping track of your foods and what they contain (carbs and protein) can be extremely helpful. Writing it down will allow you to see patterns in the food you eat.

When I was pregnant with my first son, I made these spreadsheets. There were weeks where I had some high blood draws. Having a diary of what I ate was helpful to show the doctor what had caused it. Sometimes, there were sensible reasons why it was high – and that it wouldn’t be happening again.

Using the Gestational Diabetes Trackers

The Gestational Diabetes Food Log contains three meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner. You will also noticed there are three snacks. Snacks are typical on a GD diet. Small snacks between meals may help stabilize your blood sugar. You are always required to have a snack before bed so your fasting blood draw isn’t high. Your health professional will tell you how many snacks you should have.

I’m also providing a Gestational Diabetes Blood Sugar Tracker. Most doctors will either provide a glucometer or provide a script for one. Some doctors may have you log your blood sugar results. That’s where a blood sugar tracker can come in handy. In my case my glucose meter stored the results and was downloaded by my doctor. Once downloaded, I couldn’t go back and look at old results. So writing it down was necessary so I could go back and remember which foods worked and which spiked my blood sugar. Either way, I know this will help you!



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The post, Gestational Diabetes Trackers, first appeared on My Beautiful Mess

Surviving Miscarriage

The feelings after surviving miscarriage are complex, but you aren’t alone mama. Surviving miscarriage is hard and I want you to know there is hope.

Surviving Miscarriage

Our Story

I was late. You see, I spent most of my 20’s as a doormat for meat-heads, young doctors and yes, even professional athletes. I dated sorry excuses for men. I didn’t believe men like my husband existed. In fact, it took nearly three years for us to get together and I did the asking. Although we had a whirlwind romance, by the time we married I was in my early thirties. Like many couples, we wanted at least one year together as a newly married couple. So at age 34, we began trying to start our little family.

We didn’t have to try long! I had stopped taking my birth control pill and didn’t even have one cycle. My expected period came and went. I recall laying in bed with my husband gleefully wondering if we had indeed become pregnant. After waiting a few days, I took a pregnancy test and nervously waited for those lines to appear. And appear they did! We were pregnant! That Sunday morning, my husband was still asleep before church. I woke him up, with that gross little pee stick behind my back. I could barely contain myself. It took him a moment, but he jumped out of bed. We were so happy.

You see, I almost couldn’t have children. A tumor and a pre-cancer scare left me minus one ovary. I had no idea if it would affect my ability to conceive. So when we got pregnant almost immediately, we felt like prayers had been answered.

Sharing the Good News

We immediately told our families, who were equally thrilled. We were so excited to announce it to the world. A few weeks later, I had the pregnancy confirmed by a doctor. Initially, I felt the early pregnancy symptoms: breast tenderness, nausea, etc. We immediately began planning.

Then a few weeks later, we went to my OB/GYN. I was about at week 9. As the doctor completed the vaginal sonogram, her silence told me something was wrong. We had lost the heartbeat. I tried to listen to her as she spoke to me, but the overwhelming feeling of grief and disappointment washed over me like an ocean. She explained, I could let the miscarriage occur naturally or I could under go a D&C. Honestly, the D&C sounded too akin to an abortion. I opted to go naturally. I went home and sobbed into a pillow.

Experiencing Miscarriage

Over the following weeks, the pregnancy symptoms faded away one by one. It was incredibly painful to experience. I didn’t know how painful miscarriage is. Nor did I understand the range of emotions I would feel.

We had planned a trip to Arizona to visit family and friends. Once there, I sobbed to my husband’s aunt, who told me of her own miscarriage some 40 years before. She insisted that despite having 5 live children, her thoughts still go back to the one she lost. She also encouraged me to name our baby so we didn’t refer to him or her as “the one we lost.” So after prayer, we named our baby “Gabriel (after the angel messenger) “Emmanuel (God is with us).

miscarriage fact

When we returned from our trip, I was 12 weeks into my pregnancy and still had not begun to miscarry. That is until one weekday afternoon around 3 pm. I felt the pain first. Then the contractions started and they increased in frequency and pain much like childbirth. I began to pass blood and tissue. I laid there on the bed weeping, moaning, and screaming into a pillow. My husband eventually came home and held me as it continued. We wept bitterly.

Grieving Miscarriage

Surviving Miscarriage includes the 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I absolutely went through all of them. The only way to get through denial is look at death square in the face. That’s why we have funerals. Funerals are for the living, not the dead. It allows us time to process grief. We need to see with our own eyes, they are no longer with us. That’s why I personally chose to go through miscarriage naturally. Even if you choose not to do that, you’ll find your way to “face it” because sadly, we can’t escape death.

Surprisingly, I felt angry at God. I was surprised to feel that way, but I did. I felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me. Later, I had anger at myself, which immediately moved me into the bargaining stage. This stage includes thoughts like “if only” and might even include asking God to bring them back in exchange for a promise on your part. The bargaining stage includes lots of self-blame. I wondered if I had worked too many hours or exercised too hard. Was it that glass of wine I had before I knew I was pregnant? Did I contribute to the death of my child? I felt like it was my fault. I felt like I had let my husband and our families down. It’s these thoughts that lead you down a dark road.

Dark Thoughts

Depression hit me before I knew it. I no longer felt like a woman. What good was I if I couldn’t bear a child? Those thoughts seem extreme now, but my fatalistic thoughts seemed perfectly reasonable at the time. One time I broke down at bedtime. My husband asked why I was crying. “My child died alone in the dark. He didn’t even know his mommy was right there with him.” Now I know how silly that sounds. The fetus had no conscious thoughts yet, but that’s how badly grief terrorizes you. It’s confusing, overwhelming and it comes in waves. Like the ebb and flow of an ocean – one day you are good, the next day you aren’t.

miscarriage fact

We agreed to start trying again. We immediately got pregnant a second time. A few weeks into the pregnancy, I miscarried again. I was utterly devastated. It was hard to bounce back. Only after I started to share my story did I learn many women I knew had also miscarried. They’d dealt with it privately like a dirty little secret.

My husband and I agreed to take a break from trying and that’s when we conceived my oldest living son. I wish I could say, I enjoyed being pregnant, but honestly, I spent it terrified. I was always afraid of losing him. Miscarriage scars you by implanting deep fears. My pregnancies weren’t without complications. My placenta failed with both my sons. Both were born early – but both are amazingly awesome kids now.

Surviving Miscarriage & Restoration

Even though four years have passed, I still think of Gabriel and Daphne. I always will. I conceived them. I carried them. I was there when they died. Don’t let anyone tell you “it doesn’t count” because you lost him or her early in your pregnancy. Don’t let anyone tell you men don’t feel loss with a miscarriage. It is incredibly hurtful to them too. Let him know, he doesn’t need to “be strong” – it’s okay to mourn. Lastly, don’t let anyone tell you it wasn’t a baby. The sound of the heartbeat has always been used to determine who is alive and who is dead. If you’re a Christian, cling to Jesus. Seriously, He helped me out of the pit and restored me (Ps 40:2). Surviving miscarriage is hard, but survive it, you will.


The post, Surviving Miscarriage, first appeared on Forever and Evie

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How to Choose Job Interview Accessories

Please give a warm welcome to guest blogger Julia Alex Markle. In this post, she shares how to choose job interview accessories. If you’re a working mama or a stay-at-home mom reentering the workforce, I know these tips will help you! Please follow Julia on Twitter and on her website.

How to choose job interview accessories

Stats say that 65% of hiring managers choose the better dressed one between two competitive candidates. So, you know that your dress can make or break an opportunity for you. But how to decide which factors you should consider when dressing for a job interview? Tiffany Yannetta, who is the shopping director at Racked, says you should appear professional, fresh, and be comfortable.

Professional outfits

“You want to look professional,” she says and points out how, for women, it can be a little more challenging to decide what to wear. You should look serious about the interview and it should be clear that you have put an effort to dress too. Since your appearance will speak for you before your mouth does, be sure to make no mistakes here.

Since your appearance will speak for you before your mouth does, be sure to make no mistakes here.

How to ace a job interview

Job interviews can be overwhelmingly intimidating. You may find yourself overly anxious right before the interview and a wee bit too conscious during the interview. However, don’t let the nervousness trickling down your back make a home in your mind. The Muse recommends telling yourself you are excited rather than forcefully calming yourself.

The website also suggests you surround yourself with positivity and stop being overly self-critical. Apart from doing a good amount of research and prepping yourself up for the questions, put forward your most confident self in the battleground. Be there on time, be polite, and be smart. Maintain eye contact and ask your questions too. Oh and of course, don’t forget to dress the part.

Here’s how you can get ready for the job interview

What you wear depends on where you’re going. This is why it is essential to know about the dress code and environment of an office beforehand. A marketing company may require you to keep your look crisp and clean while a software house may not mind a laidback style. It all depends on whether the environment is business casual, business formal, worker or casual. Some tips that apply regardless of which environment the office has:

Candidates
  •  Less is more
  • Avoid being too loud with your outfit choices
  • Don’t expose too much skin

Typically, most offices require you to stick to formal style. So, let’s cut to the chase and discuss the main points of what you should wear for a job interview keeping that in mind.

1 – Dress

When it comes to what outfit you should wear to the interview, be sure you choose colors that are not too bold or popping. As per a survey, the best colors to wear to a job interview are blue and black. Orange, yellow, red, shocking pink and other similar hues are best avoided. You can also pick white and camel color. If the dress code is formal, go for a pencil skirt with a button-down tee.  Wearing slacks with a plain fitted shirt and a blazer on top is another good option.

Dress

2 – Handbag

The first rule that you should follow with the handbag that you can carry when headed to a job interview is that the bag should fit all your essentials. Don’t take a bag that is too sparkly or small. Avoid trendy handbags and stick to satchels and totes. Go for colors like nude, beige, brown, grey and black. Pastel hues such as powder blue and baby pink may also work depending on what you are wearing. Avoid clutches and cross body bags.

Handbag

3 – Shoes

Coming to what shoes you should wear, go for close-toed sandals that do not have very high heels. Never wear flip-flops for an interview and avoid platform shoes or very high heels too. In this regard, kitten heels are an appropriate choice. Slip-in pumps will also work well. Go for neutral colors, again nothing too flashy. Avoid shoes with straps or laces and give slip-on heels a preference. Make sure there is not even a slight trace of a design in the form of embroidery, a bow, etc. on your sandals.

Shoes

4 – Fragrance

Several people find themselves torn between whether or not they should wear perfume to a job interview. The answer is pretty simple – do not spray on a strong fragrance that annoys the other person. In some cases, there are policies that offices have stating that people should not wear fragrances. Be careful about that beforehand since several people are allergic to certain scents. Either don’t wear a fragrance but if you decide to wear one, go for a subtle scent.

Perfume

5 – Jewelry

Have you ever seen an employee wearing too much jewelry? We bet no. Therefore, don’t wear too many rings or bracelets. Just your wedding band and a watch will do. Keep in mind simple is sophisticated. Don’t wear dangling earrings or any ostentatious neck pieces, etc. Just wear small studs in your ears. Also, make sure the little jewelry you wear appears to be of high quality. Cheap jewels never leave a good impact. Lastly, don’t expose your tattoos.

Interview accessories

Things not to wear to a job interview

Wearing the wrong things is even worse than not wearing the right things. This is why it is essential to plan and prepare beforehand. To clarify matters more, let’s also jump into what you shouldn’t at all wear to a job interview:

  • Don’t wear something that makes you stand out but also doesn’t look boring
  • Strictly refrain from glittery or sparkly accessories
  •  Don’t wear clothes that you are uncomfortable in
  • Don’t wear clothes that not neat or smell of sweat or strong detergent
  • Don’t wear shorts or low-cut necklines
  •  Don’t wear low-rise pants. Your underwear must not be visible

Key takeaway

When headed for a job interview, appear serious and look professional. Don’t over-expose, keep it simple, wearing nothing too loud, and go for safe, solid and neutral colors. Appear classy but not so much so that you look over-confident. Be sure to be confident, though. Above all, know what the environment of the company is and if it has any set dress code in place. 

Author Bio: Julia is a self-motivated, having team player qualities with excellent communication and marketing skills and is self-employed from the past few years. Having vast experience in the field of marketing & Blogging.

The post, How To Choose Job Interview Accessories, first appeared on My Beautiful Mess.


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Covering Our Kids in Prayer

Please give a warm welcome to guest blogger, Jessica Schweikardt. Jessica’s blog, Forever and Evie, focuses on the highs and lows of motherhood and the things less talked about. Please be sure to follow her on social media and like her Facebook page. In this post, she guides us through covering our kids in prayer.

Covering our kids with prayer
Photo courtesy of Unsplash

As parents we all want to raise good people to leave for this planet. If you’re like me then you are a little bit scared that you’re doing it all wrong and you’re going to mess them up forever and whose idea was it to put these precious kids in your care anyway??

Well the answer is simple, God did. God gave you these little ones to raise and mold into kind and caring adults. He has entrusted them to you that you might bring them up in His word and teach them about His love. This is no simple task, especially in this day and age when this world is just waiting to pull our kids down with its dark weight. I, for one, know that I need help. I can’t do this alone, and even though my husband and I share the exact same goals for what we would love our children to become, we know that we are fighting against a force that we just do not have the power to battle without the help of the one who created everything.

Covering Our Kids in Prayer

So, I pray. I pray for my kids every single day. I pray for things that we are currently dealing with, situations that may arise in the future, and I pray that a love for God is sparked in my children and that they always seek to know and please Him. I pray against sickness, heartache, and anything that might be bring harm or pain to my children’s lives. I pray for their future spouses, future children, and for their future careers. I pray for next week, next month, next year. That my kids continue to grow up strong and healthy, and that they continue to learn and try new things.

Some of my prayers come from within my own head, and things I think about when they come up, but I also get a lot of my prayers from a couple books written by Aaron and Jennifer Smith. I highly recommend them. A few years back my husband and I started a 30 day prayer challenge, also written by the couple. So when I heard that they had written prayer books geared towards parents who want to pray over their children, I quickly snatched them up.

These books have a prayer for each day, for 31 days, as well as challenges and spaces to write down prayers of your own or any thoughts/gratitudes you might have. My plan is to use these books over and over throughout the years while adding in my own thoughts and prayers and I know that God is listening to my prayers for my children, and if it is His will, that He may bless us with all that we ask of Him.

Books

Some things I pray for that we currently face:

  • That both of my children continue to grow and develop and that I gain the wisdom to guide them through new life skills
  • That illness does not touch them this flu season, and if it does that I have great knowledge and discernment when taking caring care of them.
  • For my sharp tongue when I get frustrated or run out of patience. That I am always correcting and disciplining out of love, not anger. (I fail at this way more than I would like to admit)
  • That I am quick to apologize when I am wrong and that my children are quick to forgive my mistakes now and the many in the future I will surely make.
  • That I can step out of the way more often, and let my daughter learn by trying things on her own. 

Prayers For Their Future

  • That my son is respectable and upstanding, that he seeks and loves God, also seeking his council when starting a family of his own and values his wife and children above all humans or possessions.       
  • That my children are quick to forgive family/friends but also capable of standing their ground and speaking out for themselves or any injustice they may see.
  • That the anxiety that I face every day not be passed on to them but rather they first seek Jesus and his peace in every situation, and not worry about the outcomes.
  • That my daughter knows how valuable she is and that any man who is worthy of her, that seeks her attention, will first seek after and love God more.
  • That my son is respectable and upstanding. That he seeks and loves God, also seeking his council when starting a family of his own and values his wife and children above all humans or possessions.    
  • That both of my children bring up their own kids in the word of God, and they pray these things over and over again for their children, just as I have done. (And will continue to do for my grand babies as well!)
  • That both of my children know the value of hard work and dedication. That they work hard to provide a good life for themselves, not expecting anything to be handed to them.
  • That my kids are kind and loving, sweet and caring individuals that love others and will pray for and help anyone they can. That they are never intentionally mean to someone, or try to belittle or bring anyone down. That they are always uplifting and always a source of joy to others.

These are just a few examples of the prayers that have been/will be said for my children. It is so important to cover them with prayer, and speak life into them. I highly recommend the books 31 Prayers for my Son, and 31 Prayers for my Daughter by Aaron and Jennifer Smith. The prayers are more specific and more encompassing, and can be used over and over throughout the years, as I plan to do!

These books can be found on either of Aaron and Jennifer’s sites, The Husband Revolution and The Unveiled Wife


The post, Covering Our Kids in Prayer, first appeared on My Beautiful Mess

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