Mother’s Day and Holy Moments

Happy belated Mother’s Day, Mama! I hope you and yours had a blessed one. I have lots of blog post ideas running through my head, but so little time to write! I am currently watching my daughter Lillian through a window as she is in Physical Therapy to fine tune her balance and walking.

Easter and Mother’s Day passed in a blur. We are in the process of creating new traditions with our children as our families expand. Sharing the holidays is a rhythm we are finding.

The past couple years we’ve done brunch with my in laws out at a restaurant. This year we hosted in our home, and can I get an amen that eating at home with kids is the way to go? The struggle of having little ones sit still for 1.5 hours out at a restaurant is real. We’ve enjoyed hosting as my MIL graciously cooks brunch and brings it to our home. The kids loving playing with their uncles and interacting with the family in their environment. Then later on in the day, after my youngest has napped, we head over to my moms to swim and eat. What a blessing to have a day off from cooking! I usually help bake an item for each family session, and am so thankful to indulge in some deliciousness I did not have to prepare.

Lets rewind (who remembers VHS?) back to Easter. Due to little ones and early bed time the past two years we have not attended the Good Friday service at our church. We’ve tried to be intentional about reading the story of Jesus’ beautiful sacrifice in our home along with creating sacred space of not running around like little chicks. We had multiple Easter egg hunts at Awanas, school, and family…trying to keep the focus on what Easter is about. What activities did you do for Easter?

It was tradition in the Urso home to get a new Easter dress every year, usually accompanied by big bows and gloves and frilly socks. Confession:this year I was too tired and didnt wash my hair or shave my legs. Shout out to maxi dresses to cover the hairy beasts! Years ago I was challenged when listening to a podcast that when I go to church, it’s  not about what I gain but about what I give. It was a privilege to serve in walker room at our church on Easter morning. My eyes often tear up in those precious moments with the little ones as we read the story or color.

The day before Easter, I went for a run and had a holy moment in the kitchen. I was sweaty, chowing down on carrots and guac and simply listening to a song on my iPhone with headphones. It was in that moment that I sensed the presence of God so strongly. Most of the times I encounter that presence it’s not in a corporate setting, but in the mundane of a car ride, run, or the normal day to day.

I love that Jesus is not put off by sweaty runny clothes. I don’t have to be in my best Easter dress to enter the presence of the Holy One, he accepts us all just as we are.

What did you do to celebrate Easter and Mother’s Day, Mama? Have you encountered any holy moments lately?

 

Confident for the Kingdom

“Well (insert classmate’s name here) didn’t raise his hand in school today. Even though he’s four I know more than him because I always raise my hand in school. AND I’ve been to school two times.”    -Aiden Jo, four years old, after his third day of VPK.

One thing my son does not lack is good self esteem. I’m not quite sure if he was born that way, OR if all the words of affirmation he’s received over the course of his life have helped shape him to be the confident young man he is.

His above statement led into a conversation of how we all might forget things every now and then. I gently reminded my son that he forgot which table to sit at that morning when he first walked into school.

This Mama is a firm believer in humility. After all, Michah 6:8 calls us to “do what is right, love mercy, and walk humbly.” The Bible is full of verses on the art of being humble. And let’s be real, no one likes a braggart.

We often have to give our sure-of-himself-son a dose of reality. For example, one day he stated that he was a better piano player than his daddy. His Daddy who was classically trained in piano for 15 years. Aiden is very passionate about music, but hasn’t quite caught up to his Daddy on this one, yet.

As parents, we exemplify humility to our children. Yet, we also strive to raise children to be confident in who God created them to be. This will result in them becomming kingdom movers and shakers

What if our children didn’t suffer from pride or false humility, but went through life fearless, hopeful, and courageous? What if they were bold in their gifts and talents, not second-guessing themselves or comparing their abilities to others?

As Mamas, let’s practice encouragement. Build up your child with your words. Call them into greatness.

I don’t know about you, but I desire to raise children that are confident for the Kingdom.

How do you build your child’s confidence, Mama? What gifts and talents do you see in them at an early age?

Saturday at the Simke’s

I love, love, love SATURDAYS! Mostly because it’s time for I, my Babes, and our kids to just be present and enjoy each other’s presence. We aren’t rushing through breakfast, hurriedly getting dressed, and dashing to the car.

On Saturdays, we take it easy.

On Saturdays, we usually do a variety of the same things.

We typically we make a big breakfast. Today’s menu included yummy vegan blueberry pancakes.

An active outdoor family outing is also included in our Sabbath regime.

Last weekend we did our first family run/bike ride/carriage ride. I am so proud of my Aiden Jo for riding his bike 3 miles! What a champ. Lil enjoyed lounging as she cruised along.

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Most summer weekends include swimming at the pool.

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All Saturdays include naps. Ahhhh naps. During Lil’s nap time today, Daddy and I fell asleep on the couch while Aiden played in his room quietly.

Our family is very musical. I happen to have the talent of music appreciation, while Babes and the kiddos jam. We enjoy worshipping together. Today’s band attire was simply bottoms…with lots of laundry on stage.

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We read a LOT on Saturdays (and every day). This is my personal favorite way to unwind, and the love has passed along to both my children.

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Good food is a must for our foodie family. This Saturday’s lunch was leftover lentil soup and a Vega/açai smoothie. Chipotle for dinner, to be followed by the best vegan cookies ever.

My favorite way to end a Saturday is on the couch chatting with my Babes.

How do you and your family like to spend your Saturdays, Mama?

 

 

What’s In Your Labor Bag? (Pregnancy Series Part 3)

Deciding where you give birth is an important and personal decision. Whether at your home, birthing center, or hospital, you need to be prepared with a labor bag! Here’s my top ten things to have in your labor bag, with some bonus items.

  1. Snacks: Can you imagine running a marathon and never eating or hydrating yourself? My labors from start to finish were an average of 14.5 hours. I am so thankful I had some nutrition to keep me going! While I didn’t want to eat a huge meal, I did snack a lot and often, especially early on to give me energy. I found having nuts, bars, smoothies, honey sticks, banana and peanut butter and other high protein goodies on hand to be helpful. Technically you aren’t allowed to eat or drink once you enter the hospital, so make sure you fuel up before you leave home! Having a few munchies packed in your bag can be helpful for the ride if your destination is away from home.
  2. Drinks: Drink up, Mama! You need to stay hydrated for yourself and baby! Water in a bottle with a straw was easy access for me to sip in between contractions. I also craved Coconut water in labor!
  3. Essential Oils: I love me some calming lavender. Putting a few drops in the diffuser helped soothe the environment and made it smell yummy! Clary sage is known to help induce labor, so be cautious in using this essential oil until its close to your due date!
  4. Tunes and Headphones: I got in the birthing zone pretty quickly with both babies…and stayed there for the majority of my labor. Having some good tunes to listen to helped me focus. I love, love, love Childbirth in the Glory soundtrack! This is a series of instrumental music and speaking life over Mama, baby, and the birthing process. If you haven’t downloaded it yet, do it right now! I listened to it the week before I gave birth and wish I had it sooner.
  5. Clothing for Mama: Comfy clothes for Mama during the early stages of labor. But let’s keep it real, those clothes get stripped off quickly when it gets intense. I liked wearing a bathing suit top for my first birth when I used a birthing tub. Nursing bras, flip flops for shower, and a cute comfortable outfit to go home in. Key word here is comfort. You aren’t going to squeeze back into your pre pregnancy clothes right away, so keep things loose and airy.
  6. Robe: This item of clothing gets it own category. I didn’t have a robe with my first birth, and I wish I did! I walked around with a blanket wrapped around me, so silly! I bought this super cute robe from TJMaxx and continue to use it. This is great for immediately after giving birth, because you can keep baby skin to skin without you or baby getting chilled.                                      IMG_4860.jpeg
  7. Big Undies/Depends and Pads: Let’s be real, Mama. Your female part down there goes through trauma while giving birth. It needs to heal, and can’t do that with tight panties or a thong. I purchased undies a size larger than I would normally wear, along with (ahem) depends. I am not ashamed to admit it. You will bleed after giving birth Mama, as your body just did something so miraculous, you brought a baby into the world! From my experience, I wore depends the first couple days and then switched to pads with the bigger undies until the bleeding stopped around 4-6 weeks post pardum.
  8. Baby stuff: Baby clothes, newborn diapers, wipes. The hospital provides a lot of these things, but if you are delivering at a birthing center or at home, you want to be stocked up. Also, if you plan on taking newborn photos, be sure to have those cute outfits ready!
  9. Toxic free toiletries for Baby and Mama: I didn’t give either of my kiddos a bath until they were at least a week old. I rubbed their vernix in and let their baby skin soak it up. However, I did thoroughly enjoy a quick shower after giving birth. My friends say it’s nice to have their toiletries on hand if they are away from home. I use Pure Haven* toiletries for myself, and they have a fantastic baby line. Currently I use Earth Mama Angel Baby body wash and lotion for my kiddos.
  10. Nursing Pillow: I used a nursing pillow early on, and eventually graduated to not needing it. This was also a helpful tool when my son wanted to hold his baby sister. Aren’t they the cutest?                                        IMG_5005.jpeg

Hospital Bonus Items:

Motrin and Colace stool softener. The hospital will overcharge you for everything. Bringing these items could save you a couple hundred dollars. You might want motrin for pain, because, you might experience a little pain after giving birth. And Colace stool softener because, you need to poop eventually. Subconsciously I did NOT want anything else coming out of me after I gave birth with my second child. When my midwife asked me if I had pooped 24 hours later, she recommended taking something if I didn’t drop a deuce in the next few hours. Thankfully nature took it’s course without any assistance.

Home birth Bonus Items:

Padsickles, peri bottle, and sitz bath. You can make your own padsickles by freezing witch hazel onto pads. Ahhhh relief. Prior to giving birth, I purchased sitz bath and had my husband brew it up and put a big batch in a pitcher in the fridge. I kept the sitz bath in peri bottles in every bathroom. Whenever I did any kind of business on the toilet, I would squirt some down there and it helped ease the tenderness.

That’s my top ten with a few bonus items. What was in your labor bag, Mama?

*Pure Haven is a toxic free company that produces house-hold cleaning products and toiletries that vary from toothpaste to skincare items. I am currently a consultant for Pure Haven. If you are interested in their products, feel free to contact me. http://purehaven.com/
This post contains affiliate links. 

What Makes You Squeal

Whenever my son Aiden takes a bite of something so yummy and delicious, he gets this goofy grin on his face and let’s out the HUGEST happy sound. A squeal of delight. He had gotten in the habit of doing it multiple times, and I thought to myself, “Where did he learn to do THAT?”

Oh….he learned that from me!

You don’t have to know me for very long before you discover I let off squeals when I’m excited. When I see someone I haven’t in a long time, I can’t help but give them a great big squeeze accompanied by my trademark noise of bliss.

Multiple months ago, a friend of mine shared a book she was recently reading, “Grace Not Perfection” by Emily Ley. I confess, I haven’t read it, yet. Buuuuut our conversation and my son’s squeals have gotten me thinking. What things do I delight in?

I enjoy…

the quietness of the early morning

the beach

long runs

a great workout

facemasks

pedicures

yummy healthy food paired with dark chocolate

new book releases by my favorite authors

I could go on…the author sheds light on the reality of motherhood. Sometimes we get lost in the diaper changes, night feedings, laundry,…or we get caught up what our children need, want, like/dislike. And we forget who we are. What do we like?

Today, I challenge you to answer the question, “What makes you squeal, Mama?”

It could be as simple as mango lipgloss.

Jot down a few things and set aside some time for yourself this weekend. Take delight and remember who you were created to be.

Speaking Life

Growing up, I had a Daddy and a Mama who consistently spoke life over me. I grew up knowing that I was loved, I was a blessing, and that God had good plans for me. I had a strong sense of purpose, not just for my own means, but because I knew God had good plans for me to carry out His kingdom purposes.

Speaking life starts in the very beginning. Way back in Genesis, God, the Creator of the universe, chose to use His voice and words to create. God said “Let there be light,” and there was. He spoke the planets, the land and sea, the moon and stars, every creature you could imagine, and humans into existence. He said “Let there be,” and then, there it was.

When God speaks, it matters. When we speak, our words also matter. The words that come out of our mouth have power.

In Proverbs 18:21, it says “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

We have a choice of the words we use- will we use words that edify, encourage, and create? Or will we use words that tear down, discourage, and destroy?

In James 3, the tongue is compared to a small spark that can set a whole forest on fire. That’s a lot of power!

I want to share three ways I’ve learned to speak life.

The first way to speak life is over yourself (myself).

In this season of life, I often speak that God has equipped me for being a Mama, that I am a Proverbs 31 woman who is noble, honorable, charitable, resourceful, kind, diligent, hard working…this is the woman I am, and the woman I am becoming.

The second way you can speak life is over others. When my children were in my womb, we spoke that they would be a joy and delight to all who interact with them. If you’ve met them, you know this has come to pass. We spoke health and completeness over each and every body part.

We are currently speaking a generous and hospitable heart over my son as he learns to share, and kindness and gentleness as he interacts with his sister. We eagerly await the day we see the fullness of these statements come to be. We speak healing and full hearing at all decibels over my eleven month old as she is currently wearing hearing aids.

As parents, we have the opportunity to pass on a generational blessing of speaking God’s word over our children’s lives.

Can you imagine what the next generation would look life if they grew up believing that they can never be separated from the love of God, they are established, anointed and sealed by God, they are God’s workmanship, and they can do all things thought Christ who gives them strength? They just might take cities and nations for Jesus!

As part of the body of Christ, we get to encourage each other by speaking truth. Speaking verses like: “You are the salt of the earth,” (Matthew 5:13), “You are Christ’s ambassador,” (2 Corinthians 5:20) and “You are chosen by God, holy and dearly loved,” (Col. 3:12) are good reminders we need to tell each other. This is who others are, and who they are becoming.

The third way you can speak life is over your circumstances. When my family moved back to Florida in 2014, we came as an act of faith. Derek had no job yet, but we were believing In Jehovah Jirah our provider. We would daily claim the Lord’s provision of a job, specific with what salary and benefits we needed to survive in Palm Beach County. After two months of doing this daily activity, we saw God meet everything we specified.

When my family was in a time of need a few years ago, I reminded myself (and the Lord) about His faithfulness to always provide for my us. I was claiming Philippians 4:19, that ALL my needs are met by God. The Holy Spirit whispered, “Look around, Christina! Don’t overlook what I have provided for you in this present moment.”

That’s the beauty of speaking truth and life. It does  change things for the future, but sometimes our perspective in the moment needs to be changed. Speaking out loud words of life and truth allows us to filter our personal circumstances through The Abba’s prism of truth.

This filter allows us to see ourselves as we are- men and women that God is bringing about to completion, finishing the good work that He began.

It allows us to see others as those deeply loved by God.

It allows us to see what God is already doing in our current circumstances.

In what areas of your life do you need to speak life today, Mama?

The Thousand Words Not In This Picture

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” is how the saying goes. Today I want to propose a different statement, “The thousand words not in this picture.”

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This picture captured a very brief moment of our Saturday this past weekend. I hesitated, as I often do, to post this picture on social media. Here’s why.

What’s not shown in this photo is…

Mama’s inability to find the tickets to the baseball game in her email inbox minutes before the game.

A hard fall on the sidewalk that led to dramatics by my (almost) four year old.

The tantrums due to not enough sleep.

The intense crying fit of an 8 month old going through a sleep regression (and teething!) on the 20 minute walk home from the game unfinished.

A frazzled Mama who didn’t use kind words and a kind tone when speaking to her husband.

Family friends who extended grace to our family in the midst of our messiness.

I personally find myself struggling to feel good about myself and my family when I waste my minutes scrolling through the news feed. How is it that everyone else has a perfect family, marriage, and kids who always listen and look cute? How do those other families afford to do fun outings every weekend and go on vacation? I often face feelings of  jealousy and insecurity after this futile exercise.

Here’s what I was reminded of this weekend. The pictures on social media are a brief moment, a blip in time.

This picture below is one of many attempts to capture a decent Christmas card photo in 2017. Let’s face it, kids don’t always want there photo taken.

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Now I am not saying that everyone should go on an Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter strike. I think when used appropriately, social media can serve a great purpose. The other side of the coin is, one could present themself as perfect on these platforms, creating an inaccurate picture of what’s going on outside the frame.

So, I propose a challenge. Post a picture that makes you feel vulnerable today. Maybe it’s you without makeup, or a house that’s cluttered. #mamaonarun and share it.

In what ways can you make yourself vulnerable on social media, Mamas?