Monthly Archives: September 2012

A Year Ago

A year ago today I found out that I was pregnant with baby Matthew.  It was such an exciting and scary moment.  At that time we had one loss under our belts and we were nervous but excited for the future.  We were so very hopeful that we would give birth in June.

A year later, I’m glad that I didn’t know now what I know then. I’m glad that I was able to be happy for a short period of time and enjoy that pregnancy while it lasted.  I’m glad I spent most of the 10 weeks excited, rubbing my belly, and loving my beautiful baby boy.

I’m sad that I didn’t get to meet Matthew in this lifetime.  I will always wonder what life would be like with Matthew here with us.  What would he be doing now? Would he be smiling? Would he laugh at Daddy’s silly songs? Would he love to cuddle with mommy? I won’t get to meet Matthew in this life, but my hope lies in the fact that he is waiting for me in a far, far better place, and he is being loved on by Jesus.  I can’t wait to join him in paradise.

Right now, I’m grieving deeply.  Work was a good distraction but when I got home I was alone with my thoughts and I couldn’t help but remember how happy I was a year ago – how in love I was with my precious baby.  I tried to watch a television show to distract myself but it didn’t make me feel better and in fact made me feel worse.  Gluten free chocolate didn’t help either.  I finally realized that I needed my ultimate source of comfort, Jesus.

He has been with me through every tear during this long season of grief and he continues to comfort me daily.  When I cry out to Him, I can feel His presence with me and know that I am loved and cared for.  If you’re also going through a hard time, I hope you’ll turn to the ultimate source of comfort, Jesus.  I hope you’ll know that he is always with you.

Blessings,

Amber

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Easy vs Hard

Something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is the choice between doing something easy or doing something hard.  Most often, the easier path is more desirable but doesn’t give us any kind of success or satisfaction.  The harder path requires much more effort and is therefore not as desirable.  But the harder path almost always leads to a reward far better than if we chose the easy road.

For instance, now that I’m working I don’t have as much time on my hands as I did when I was staying home, but yet I still have to manage the home.  Every day, I have to make the choice to spend time taking care of my home or relax and watch tv or play on the internet.

When I choose to relax and spend most of my night watching shows and getting on Facebook and pinterest, I’ve come to realize that the house gets messy quickly, dishes don’t get done, and then I’m not always able to feed my husband and myself a nice healthy meal.  Sometimes I will stay up late doing nothing productive with my time, and the next day I’m overcome with the stress of trying to make up for that lost time.

When I choose to take the time to do the dishes, clean up the house, exercise, make healthy meals for the week, and read my bible, I notice that life is far more peaceful.  My soul rejoices in the benefits of my efforts.

Sometimes when I’m sad, I have to choose between taking that feeling to God and taking the time to deal with my grief or stuffing my feelings with activities that distract me from having to deal with it.  There are various activities that people use to distract themselves from dealing with grief, but my go-to activity is pigging out on junk food.

Today was an another easy vs hard day for me.  When I woke up, the house was a neglected disaster from a week of making poor decisions (choosing that attractive easy road).  I was still feeling tired though I couldn’t sleep a minute longer and I desperately wanted to drive to Starbucks and pick up a delicious pumpkin spice latte and a piece of coffee cake.  I pushed through the desire and instead decided to make eggs and bacon for breakfast for myself and husband.  It required more effort but in the end I enjoyed it and my husband was pleased.

My body felt weak and tired but I knew that if I didn’t exercise in the morning, it wasn’t going to happen.  My husband even tagged along with me.  We didn’t make it more than 10 minutes, but I was proud of myself.  I’m never proud of myself for spending 10 minutes on Facebook.  There is something wonderful about being able to feel proud of yourself for working hard.

We just recently joined a small group through our Sunday school class and we will be meeting twice a month for fellowship outside of church.  Jonathan had to work today and I was nervous about going by myself and I knew that there were a few pregnant members in our group and I get anxious about how I will respond to pregnancy talk – sometimes I can handle it and other times it breaks my heart.

I wanted to take the easy road, make an excuse about being tired, and stay home and relax.  But I decided to be brave and head to the meeting.  I had decided in my mind that I wasn’t going to share any of our miscarriage struggles because I didn’t want anyone to feel bad for me and I didn’t want it to be awkward.  It would be far much easier to pretend that I’m perfectly happy and it would be easier to talk about fun happy things.

As a church we are reading through the Story over the course of 31 weeks and doing bible studies together.  Tonight we were having a discussion from the first three chapters and we were talking about going through trials in life that made us feel like God was punishing us but we later realized were in fact a gift of grace.

When it was my turn to share, I stated that I was currently going through a trial in which I often feel like God is punishing me or wonder what I’m doing wrong.  I said that I wasn’t sure if I was comfortable sharing the full details but the group reassured me that I could share without fear and so I made the hard decision to share that we’ve suffered many miscarriages and I’m struggling through periods of times where I either trust in God’s faithfulness or doubt that anything good will come from this pain.

We ended in prayer and one of the members took a moment to pray for me and Jonathan and it was such a kind thing to do.  She prayed that as a group they would be there to offer us support and that meant so very much to me.  Since all of this has started, I have felt like I have been suffering in silence.  I never share with anyone how hard this journey is for me and it is a huge burden on my shoulders to carry alone.  It means the world to me to know that someone is praying for me and someone wants to support me through this.

So while it was terribly scary to go to this thing alone, and while it conjured up feelings of sadness over the difficulty of my trials, my soul is rejoicing in taking the hard road.  My soul rejoices that I chose fellowship with other believers who now know what I’m going through and are going to be there to pray for me and help me through it.  My soul rejoices in the fact that through the pain of tears, God brings forth healing.  My soul rejoices in the effort that produces beautiful, good fruit.

Blessings,

Amber

Linking up with Courtney at womenlivingwell.org

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Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

I love this homemade spaghetti sauce recipe – it is a little time consuming, but most of the time is spent with the sauce simmering away on the stove top while you relax or do other things in the kitchen.  The worst part of this recipe is really just chopping your garlic.  A tip for you: Washing your hands with baking soda helps take away the lovely garlic smell.

I’ve adjusted the original recipe just a bit for our personal taste preferences – the only difference is that I added half a chopped onion, omitted the grated parmasan cheese, and used less dried basil.

Step 1: Chop your garlic and onion (if you are using your onion)

Step 2: Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the chopped garlic (and onion if using) and basil (I used 2 tablespoons instead of 3-5) and heat for 1 to 2 minutes

Step 3: Add crushed tomatoes, pepper, and sugar (you can add more or less sugar depending on your personal preference.  I think the 1 tablespoon tastes just fine). Stirring often, bring to a low boil.

Step 4: Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 to 3 hours, stirring often.  For the first half of the simmer time, do so with the pot uncovered, and then cover.

Step 5: If you are adding the cheese, do so after the sauce has cooked for 3 hours and simmer for an additonal 5 minutes. A tip for the grated parmasan: get a block of parmasan cheese and grate it yourself so that it is fresh and delicious.  You can use the rest of the cheese to make meatballs and to top on the spaghetti.

This makes a huge batch of spaghetti sauce which is great for freezer cooking.  I used to eat yogurt and I saved my yogurt containers for freezer storage – it works perfectly for my spaghetti sauce.

Another tip for freezer cooking: use tape to label

I forgot to take a picture of the spaghetti that we had for dinner this week, but thankfully I have a picture from before where I made spaghetti and meatballs.  I didn’t make meatballs this week, but I’ll share that recipe soon as well.

I hope you enjoy,

Amber

Spaghetti Sauce Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 large cans of Hunt’s crushed tomatoes
  • 4 cloves of garlic (pressed or finely chopped)
  • 1/2 a white onion (you can omit this if you like)
  • A bunch of dried basil (2 to 5 tablespoons – I think 2 is more than enough)
  • Black pepper (about 1 to 2 tsp)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (more if you want it sweeter)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup grated parmasan (you can leave this out to save even more money)

Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the chopped garlic, onion, and dried basil and heat for 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes, pepper, and sugar.  Stir often and bring to a low boil.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 to 3 hours, stirring often.  For the first half of the simmer time, do so with the pot uncovered and then cover the second half.
  4. Add the cheese and stir in and simmer for an additonal 5 minutes.
  5. Serve and enjoy!
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Grocery Shopping and Meal Plan_September 15

I’d like to start doing a weekly series (possibly every other week depending on the stress of my work week) sharing my groceries and meal plan for the week.  I like to plan meals that are healthy and frugal and now that I’m a working girl, planning has become an even more important part of my life.

Spending extra time on the weekend doing meal preparation can be a huge factor in keeping our budget low and our bodies filled with healthy nutrients.  When I don’t take the time to meal plan and do food preparation for the week, I have found that we end up going out to eat.  This is hard on the budget and obviously horrible for our bodies.

Grocery pictures:

Kale, broccoli, a yellow onion

Red bell pepper, peaches (for my peach-loving husband), gala apples, sliced mushrooms, lemons, baby carrots, squash and zucchini

Whole chicken, chicken breasts, bacon, turkey and cheese (for my husband’s work lunch – he doesn’t have access to a microwave because he is a police officer.  Otherwise, I would send him leftovers).

Eggs, bread (for my husband’s work lunch) and brown rice.

We spent a total of $52.28.  Now I would like to add that I already had some items leftover in my pantry that will be used in this weeks meals.  My grocery budget will fluctuate depending on what I already have in stock, though I will usually try to plan based on items that I have in my freezer or pantry.

Meal plan for this week:

Breakfast for the week will be oatmeal or scrambled eggs and vegetables with bacon.  In the morning, I also like to have a cup of hot water with a tablespoon of local honey mixed in and sliced lemons.

Lunch for the week will be either leftovers from dinner, a kale salad with shredded chicken from the whole chicken and olive oil for dressing with soup made from homemade chicken broth (also from the whole chicken).  We can also have various vegetables and nuts to snack on (we had leftover pecans, walnuts, and almonds in our pantry).

When my husband is working he takes a turkey and cheese sandwich, carrots, an apple, and homemade trail mix (almonds, pecans, walnuts, and raisins).  He also has 2 camel backs that he drinks to stay hydrated.

Dinner this week will be (I’ll update throughout the week with recipes):

Do you like to meal plan and do you find that meal preparation helps you? Share your tips in the comments below.

Blessings,

Amber

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Update to my last post

In my last post I was a little emotional – okay hormonal would be more like it.  I know from God’s word that my feelings and what I go through in this life is not an indication of God’s love for me but rather what his word tells me.  It is a true spiritual battle determining to trust in the truth of His word or be deceived by lies from the one who comes to kill, steal, and destroy.

I really should read this post the next time I am struggling to remember that I am loved by my Heavenly Father.

Anyways, I just wanted to update you guys and let you know that I’m hanging in there – life is just a bit tough right now but I know I’ll get through it with God’s help and I appreciate your love and support.  I promise to have some exciting recipe posts coming at you soon.

Oh, another fun update, my husband and I are getting in contact with adoption agencies.  We would really like to adopt an older child through the state that is currently in the foster care system.  I just think, it would be so awesome to adopt a child who has been praying for a family for years – I know the pain that I feel when I am praying for God to give me a child and I can only imagine what it would feel like to not have a forever family.  Please be in prayer for our family as we begin this journey and for the child or children who might someday join our family – ah how exciting to even type such a sentence!

God bless you,

Amber

Unglued day=Time for Unglued Webcast

As much as I would like to pretend that I’m the perfect christian, with a perfect life, the truth is that I seem to come unglued way more than I hold it together.  Just ask my husband, lol.  He gets to see the “real” me all the time.

I’ve had a lot of trouble adjusting to working life after a year and a half of being a homemaker.  I’ve had good and bad days.  Today was a bad day.

The computer wasn’t working this morning and I couldn’t get anything done.  It was a problem because I had a lot of work orders to put in the computer, a lot of questions from our clients, and invoices to post. Papers were piling high, the phone was ringing off the hook, clients were upset, and I was getting more and more tense.

When I got back from lunch, my computer was finally working again, but I was so behind in work, and I was getting interrupted by phone calls constantly.  More upset clients, and a co-worker that gave me that cold shoulder, and I snapped. I snapped in my “stuffer” way. I went to the bathroom and cried for 5 minutes, came back out and pretended like everything was fine.  Though, I did yell at my computer and shake my fist at it 🙂

When I left work, I was still upset over the day.  I wasn’t even excited about the 3 day weekend.  I continued to dwell on the negative day.  After sitting in horrible traffic, I drove to the bank to put my pay check in and realized that the only pen I had, was out of ink.  I threw the pen on the car floor, sped off, and cursed (yes, how very not Christ-like of me, I know, I know. I’m just being honest here.) I think a woman even noticed my outburst and looked at me with wide eyes – the stuffer in me cringed that someone (other than my husband-he gets to enjoy my lovely outbursts on more occasions than I am willing to admit) saw my embarrassing reaction.

When I got home, I looked at Facebook and the first thing I saw was a video from the Unglued Webcast last night.  I thought, “Yup! I need to watch this right now!”

Have you ever had one of those lovely unglued days, where nothing goes right, and you just can’t seem to hold it together? I encourage you to check out the unglued webcast here. Next week at work, I’m going to try to remember to follow some of these great tips on managing my actions and reactions.

And please, share your stories of how you have reacted on an unglued type of day in a non-Christ like way.  Am I all alone in my crazy reactions? Or better yet, share your stories of how you were able to react to a bad situation in a Christ-like way.  I need some tips, my sweet sisters in Christ!

Blessings,

Amber