Thursday, June 30, 2011

Double Denial

A friend requested that I do a little pregnancy update over here on the blog, so here I am to give you a peak inside some of the twin-mama brain activity (or lack there of) happening right now.

Pregnant with Twins at 25 Weeks:

The other day, my sister-in-law asked Devin and I what stage we were at in regards to preparing for the twins (meaning – nursery set-up, shopping, names, etc). Without even looking at each other, Devin and I answered her question in a sort-of dazed deadpan. “Denial,” we said in tandem.

Yep major, big time, not-much-is-getting-done-because-of-it denial going on over here. Seriously – the babies could arrive in 12 weeks (hopefully no sooner) and we gotta snap out of this. Which would probably be easier if we weren’t both so exhausted (Devin from working at 3:00am, me from not sleeping well and growing two humans inside of me). 

What's more, according to all my twin-mama friends, that little burst of nesting energy in the second trimester just doesn't happen with twin pregnancies. Which is a bummer because I was kinda counting on that. Instead I've got denial and an ever-increasing pile of To Do's.


I should probably be stocking up on all the money-saving, baby item deals that my mama friends keep sending me. But when I see the deals I think, “We’ve got time, I don’t need to get that just yet.” Then by the time I’ve convince myself that we don’t in fact have a ton of time, the deal is already gone.

I should probably be reading some sort of literature (even if it’s just one book) about what to do after the twins arrive. I’ve educated myself on how I’d like to get them here, just not what to do with them once they arrive. Now, I’m the oldest of five and was thirteen by the time sibling #2 arrived, so I did my share of diaper duty, bottle feeding and rocking fussy babies. I know that I'm probably more prepared than many first-time mamas, yet I still feel something akin to panic coming on.

I should probably do something about our half-baked nursery that doesn't even have the basics ready. The crib for example - I've heard that's kinda the number one basic to have ready. However, the one-of-two cribs that is assembled is currently being used as storage space for all the baby stuff that I have no idea what to do with or where to put (which is pretty much all of it). 

So all of this - and a slew of other To Do's - have landed me in this state of overwhelmed-to-the-point-of-inactivity called "denial." It doesn't help that there are some potential events such as bed rest or early labor that could cut down my "get it done" time considerably. You'd think that would motivated me - but no such luck. 

There are a few things that are getting done - I'm eating healthy, I'm exercising, I'm going to my doctor's appointments and natural birthing classes. So my "pregnancy" basics are covered. Which is to say, I'm certainly not in denial that I'm pregnant, just that this pregnancy is inevitably due (har har) to produce two infants. And that, my friends, is something I just can't get my brain around enough to prepare for.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Goal #53 COMPLETE - What is True Financial Peace?

More progress on my Project 101 in 1001 list. Read about my journey here.  
Goal #53: Attend Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class with Devin - COMPLETE

I am blessed to be married to a frugal man - which you've probably figured out if you've read my blog for very long. Devin and I both love a good deal, we both enjoy fun, creative, cheap dates and we're both content to live a simpler lifestyle in order to give more to others.

By American standards, we don't have a ton of money, but it has never really bothered us. Our frugality has less to do with our financial resources and more to do with our desired lifestyle, our passions, our personalities and our beliefs.

Devin and I had similar upbringings in the area of managing money and we each heard (often) the following tips (or commands - whatever) from our parents: "Don't go into debt." "Credit cards will get you in trouble." "Never take out a car loan."" Buy used." "Save up for the things you want." "Brand names don't matter." "Pack your own food for a vacation to avoid eating out a lot." (Yes, both of our families brought coolers full of food into the hotels we stayed in during family vacations.)

Devin and I grew up knowing these were smart ways to handle money and those lessons are ones I am grateful we both brought into our marriage. (Ironically, we learned recently that our parents did in fact have car loans and credit card debt during the time they were teaching us these money lessons, but were wise enough to instill a better way of doing things into the lives of their children.)

So you might wonder why a young, frugal couple with a savings account and no debt (I had school loans, but paid them off about 19 months after graduated - after I did the math on the devil that is compound interest and got my rear in gear paying off those suckers) would feel the need to take a course on handling money wisely and getting out of debt.

Mainly, because there are a lot of money-sucking situations that will be a new part of our lives in the next couple of years. Namely: two kids and a house. Thus, we wanted to learn how to wisely prepare for those circumstances before they arose. Which is where the desire to attend Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University came from.

Overall, I would venture to say that this course is fantastic. Devin and I have learned more about finances in our thirteen-week class than we have in our entire 52-combined-frugal-years of life. We were given all kinds of useful knowledge on things we had hardly a clue about (life/health insurances, investments, retirement plans, mortgages, savings accounts, etc). I am glad to have learned what we did at this early stage in our lives.

(Plus - Devin took over managing our budget and he is KILLING IT! Seriously, that man understands the details, planning and discipline of a good budget way better than I ever could and I am so grateful that he has taken over this task for me.)

However, there are definitely some points of tension between what we learned in our FPU classes and our personal beliefs about money.

Dave Ramsey's steps to reaching "Financial Peace", when boiled down to the bare minimum, are three fold (and in this order):  
       1) Get out out debt and stay out of debt
       2) Build wealth
       3) Give generously 

These teachings are presented with plenty of common-sense wisdom, a challenge of integrity and a number of biblical principals. Still, I have a love/hate relationship with what Dave Ramsey teaches.

I endorse 110% percent the get/stay out of debt thing. I even think it is wise to have a small amount in savings for emergencies and retirement (retirement as in, "I can't work any more," not as in, "I'm choosing not to work any more so I can sit back and enjoy life.") I'm obviously down with the "give generously" part (though I was disappointed that this lesson came after all the lessons on building wealth).

But I have a sick feeling in my stomach when I look at the needs of the world around me and hear Ramsey talk about building wealth (in seven-digit figures no less). Even if he totes the motivation (in part) as "building wealth in order to give more," my question is: Why not just give more to start with and not worry so much about the building up wealth part?

Yes, there is financial peace in not having stressful money issues (such as debt and no savings). There is also financial peace in trusting in God's provision. Yes, financial peace can come through wise planning. It can also come through the wisdom of understanding that possessions don't matter that much. Yes, financial peace can come through taking care of the needs of your family. It can also come from making sacrifices as a family in order take care of the needs of those in more difficult situations then yourselves.

Like I said - tension.

All this said, I would still recommend this class to just about anyone, but would also recommend finding a balance between preparing for your own future while still meeting some of the here-and-now needs of others. It is a balance that each individual or family should decide on after reflecting on God's purpose for their life and how to responsibly use the financial resources He has entrusted them with. We will each be held accountable and we each have to make a decision that we can live with here and in eternity.

Thoughts? Comment? Rebuttals? I'd love to hear your take on this topic.

P.S. Many thanks to our parents for teaching us so many good lessons about money - your instruction has already made our lives so much easier and given us a great foundation for the things we learn in FPU.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Goal #33 COMPLETE: Summer Preggo Pedi

More progress on my Project 101 in 1001 list. Read about my journey here. 

Goal #33: Get a pedicure on the first day of summer - COMPLETE

Well Happy Toes to me and Happy First Day of Summer to you!

I can probably count on one hand (or foot) the number of pedicures I've received in my lifetime. It's not that I don't like them - I most certainly do. I'm just plain, too darn cheap to spend that kind of money on my toes unless something really special is happening (like getting married... which was the occasion for my most recent pedicure... a year-and-a-half ago.) 

Even though this was one of my more self-indulgent goals, I didn't feel all that bad about completing it. In fact, this little bit of non-necessity pampering could not have come at a better time. Mainly because the difficulty in reaching my toes is increasing daily and my normally neatly trimmed and painted-at-home "piggies" were ready to cry their gnarly selves "wee, wee, wee" all the way to the spa.

Also - it's morbidly hot in Phoenix right now and being quite pregnant, I feel gross, sweaty and greasy most of the time. It was nice to get something "pretty" done to my rapidly blossoming body. Even if it was just to the toes that I will not be able to see soon.

So during my lunch break, while the weather outside was a blazing 105 degrees (at which point, in my opinion, summer is far beyond beginning and already in full, sweltering swing), I went for a pedicure. It was a delightful way to take a breather from an otherwise hectic (and hot - did I mention hot?) day at work. Bring on the crazy deadlines and the crazier clients - this mama's relaxed, beautified and ready for just about anything! (Except for maybe the heat.)

Bonus, Random Fact of the Day: Here's something you may not know, or care to know (but I'll tell you anyways) - If a person's second toe is longer than his/her big toe, it is called "Morton's Toe" of which, as you can see from the image above, I have a mild case of.

Monday, June 20, 2011

We have our "Lucky" winner!

Congratulations to Danielle over at chibidani for winning a free copy of The Husband's Guide to Getting Lucky. Hmmm... maybe the congratulations should actually be going to Danielle's husband...

Here's what Danielle had to say about what first attracted her to her hubby:  

I actually knew of my husband in 1998 (grade 11!). I started hanging out  with him and a bunch of his friends at the start of grade 12, in 1999.  We just got along, and could talk about lots of things. At Halloween, we  went with 2 other friends to a haunted house, and we ended up having to  wait outside in the rain for around 20 minutes to get in. We cuddled up  close to stay warm, and that was when we both realized that there was  some mutual attraction going on. What I really loved about him then was  how we liked a lot of the same things, and could just talk forever. 11.5 years later, we're married with 2 kids and loving it. 

Thanks Danielle for sharing your story!

If you'd still like your own copy of this great ebook - they are on sale today only for $2.99 (though the normal price ain't bad either at $4.99). Check it out at

Oh! One thing I failed to mention about the book is that all the proceeds are going towards getting Marla's whole family (Marla, her husband and her three little girls) over to Cambodia to love on some sweet orphan kids over Christmas break. It is going to be an awesome time of ministry and you can be a part of it by snagging a copy of The Husband's Guide to Getting Lucky! Telling orphaned kids about the love of Jesus and improving your marriage all with one simple purchase? Excellent.

* Winner was drawn through

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Steam-E, Sex-E, E-Book for Husbands

My cousin Marla wrote a book for Christian wives a few years back that was all about how to enjoy great sex with your husband. It was published before I even met Devin and I'll be honest, when I was panning through it - out of curiosity and supportive cousiness - I was blushing. Deeply.

While Marla's books are God-honoring and spiritually challenging, the stories she tells and personal events she relates to her readers are raw, honest and candid (and funny also - which makes for a great combination.) The book, Is That All He Thinks About?, which originally brought a bit more color to my cheeks, turned out to be an excellent resource after I got hitched and I would highly recommend it.

This book, and it's intriguing title, started to get a lot of attention from the husbands of the wives who were reading it. (Can you imagine as a husband coming home and seeing that book sitting on your coffee table, or better yet - your wife's bedside table? Hello! That would get my attention as a man.) I know my non-reader hubby picked it up and read most of it before I even got the chance.

Not surprisingly, the idea of writing a husband's version of the book began to come up a lot and I am excited to announce that it is finally here (and in an easy to discretely read e-book format)! Introducing: The Husband's Guide to Getting Lucky (Six Simple Steps to Great Sex with Your Wife

First of all - with a title and cover art like that, a husband would have to be in a walking comma to not notice this e-book should it happen to appear on his Kindle, Nook, iPad or Email (say, as a brilliant Father's Day gift for just $4.99). 

Secondly - if you're a wife, you will very likely make your husband's day (year?) by initiating the purchase of this book. 

Thirdly - if you're a husband, you will very likely make your wife's day (year?) by initiating the purchase of this book. So really - it's a win/win situation for everyone involved. 

Speaking of winning - YOU can win a free copy of the e-book for your very own self (or the self of your spouse). Details at the bottom of this post.

I interviewed Marla about her book, and here's what she had to share:

J: As a woman, why did you feel compelled to write a book about sex for a male audience?  

M: I didn't feel compelled. Not one little bit. At least not at first. See, in my experience, guys aren't big readers. I can count on three fingers (maybe two) the number of books Gabe has read since I've known him. Guys have e-mailed me every now and again since I wrote a book on sex for women and asked, "When's it our turn?" I always laughed it off. Until one week a few months ago when I got three e-mails from three guys in three days all asking the same thing. I decided to take it as a sign and give it a whirl. And it has been quite a whirl.

J: The wife’s version of this book, Is That All He Thinks About?, is pretty frank and gives a very transparent look into your own marriage and sex life: Will the husband’s e-book have the same kind of honesty? 

M: Yes and no. The husbands' book will definitely be frank and transparent, but as a girl (me) talking to a guy (the reader), I don't feel right discussing certain body parts and certain private acts in great detail. There's enough to keep it interesting though. I'll say that much. I'm not one to beat around the bush. And while it's not a bare-all memoir, I do share some of my struggles in the bedroom pretty candidly.

J: How does your hubby, Gabe feel about the level of personal openness you maintain in your marriage books?

M: For whatever reason, Gabe is completely okay with me sharing about our sex life (in book form and when I speak). I think he trusts me to honor him and to share details in a way that's not sensational but that benefits and blesses other marriages. Sex isn't dirty or shameful. It's a gift from God. And so is my husband. 

M: Thanks so much for the interview, Jen. I love your blog, I love your heart for others, and I love YOU. Blessings to you and your THREE boys! 

Thank you Marla! I'm so excited for this book and to see how God uses it to touch the intimate lives of the couples who read it.

How to win a copy: Simply leave a comment here on the blog and tell me what first attracted you to your spouse. (Make sure I have a blog link or email address to contact you with). Winner will be chosen at random on Monday, June 20th. 

How to buy a copy: Have I got you so tantalized that you just can't wait? Good news - for just $4.99, you can start reading the e-book in just minutes from now on you e-reader or computer. Just pop over to the book's website: to order.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Unique Approach to Prenatal Care

"Don't listen to anything the nurses tell you on the birthing tour about what to expect in the hospital - it's all rubbish." 

If I was not already confident that switching to midwifery care for the Twins was the right decision for our family, hearing those words come out of the mouth of our nurse-midwife served to solidify that we'd chosen the right person. A person who would be our champion as we attempted a natural, twin hospital birth, who would instill confidence in me that I was pregnant, not sick-and-needing-medical-intervention, and that unless something weird happened, my body was designed to birth babies and I would be just fine.

This conversation took place among other young, first time moms and dads at our Family Circle group prenatal care meeting - something I had never heard of prior to switching to my current provider, but would highly recommend to anyone who has the option. How this form of prenatal care works is this: all the moms and dads in our group meet on the same evening for their prenatal care (except for ultrasounds and special appointments) and the parents are hands-on involved the whole time. 

As a couple, Devin and I went to each "station" and recorded my blood pressure, my weight and even tested my urine for protein and glucose levels (yeah, that part was a little weird). All the stuff that the nurses normally do as you're waiting to see the doctor - we did ourselves. The coolest part however was when we had "tummy time" - a private meeting with the midwife to raise any personal concerns and to check the babies' heartbeats. But get this - not the midwife, nor the nurse checked the heartbeats - Devin did! They just handed him the doppler and he found and recorded the heartbeats (with a small amount of supervision as the second baby was a little harder to find than the first). It was such a neat experience and I absolutely love this hands-on, laid-back, confidence-building approach to prenatal care. 

After we all made it through the four stations, the couples had "group time" and we asked pregnancy-related questions, shared what's happened in our lives since the last meeting and had some prenatal and birthing education from our midwife instructor. There are about ten other couples in our group and there is a huge amount of diversity among us which I think will be a really neat ministry position to be in as we build relationships with them over the next few months. 

We had such a good time during this class and in addition to the the unique hands-on approach, we were all laughing our heads off at the antics of our hilarious, straight-forward, easy-going, British midwife as she taught the class. She is truly a hoot. 

This is going to be great. 

P.S. This is all taking place at Valley Women for Women should you live in area and be interested in something like this for future pregnancies. Also - it is not only for "young, first-time" parents, that just happens to be what our group is made out of.  

Monday, June 6, 2011


If you read my post on Friday and you prayed for me or left me a sweet comment on my blog, facebook or email - THANK YOU! I can not even tell you how much your words and prayers uplifted and encouraged me. I was truly overwhelmed by your response and support. Just about every message made me well up with tears and I flat out cried at a couple of them. You are all amazing - thank you.

There is still so much for me to think and pray about. Mainly, that I can discover a balance between getting so caught up in my own little world/family that I neglect the needs of others and on the other end of the extreme, getting so consumed by trying to minister to others that I neglect my own family. How this future could look is uncharted territory for me and as a planner, that makes me uncomfortable. But what an opportunity to learn to trust God more!

There are a few things that some of you mentioned in your comments that got me especially excited:

  • The faith journey that becoming a parent entails. (Already, I have seen my faith and trust in God be stretched because of this pregnancy - especially in regards to His provision financially and when I traveled to Uganda during my first trimester because I knew that regardless of the risks and the possibility of a miscarriage, God would be right there with me whatever happened.)
  • Taking time away from "active" ministry in order to strengthen my prayer life and to study scripture more - making me a better wife, mom, friend and witness to those in my life, both in the church and outside of it.
  • New doors being opened for relationships with other mamas in my community - both in the church and outside of it. To have the chance to learn from godly, "veteran" mamas and to hopefully encourage and offer hope to some mamas that might be struggling.
  • Raising these two little boys to be God-loving and others-focused. And as they grow bigger, to involve them in ministry opportunities with me. This one gets my heart pumping the most, but I know that it will also take time. However, the preparation for that season can start now!

Thank you again to all of you who offered your encouragement over the last few days - I am so blessed.

Friday, June 3, 2011

A whole lot of jumbled up nothing

I keep meaning to post something - anything really - of value on the blog. Some deep thought, or wonderful insight, or touching truth I'm learning. But I'm in a slump. My thoughts are all kinds of jumbled up right now and I keep feeling that while there is so much going on upstairs, it is just a whole lot of nothing that's getting me just-about nowhere.

I thought maybe blogging about some of it might help to bring something into focus.

Simply put, I feel consumed by preparation for the Twins - physically, mentally, financially, medically, time-wise, space-wise... it doesn't seem to end. I sometimes feel like its all I exist to do anymore and I'm struggling with that. Maybe I wouldn't be fighting with this so much if I had been "ready" for this whole situation. If it wasn't all so unexpected. What was expected seems lost now and I'm not sure how to handle it. 

Let me back up. In November, when plans for our Uganda trip were first in the works, my hope was that the trip would really direct our steps in regards to future ministry - whether here, there or somewhere else entirely. My hope was to come back from Uganda with a clear vision of how Devin and I could best serve God and others in a tangible way.

Then six weeks before we left, we got pregnant with the Twins. Twins who I love more than I thought possible. Twins that I'm excited to meet and hold and love on. Twins that I'm grateful for, even though I wasn't expecting this gift. But with all this joyful anticipation comes the question of, "Now what?" How do I serve God the way I wanted to (radically) with two twin infants in tow? 

I know, I know - being a mom is a ministry. I get that babies need to be cared for, nurtured, and as they grow, have parents who show them how to love God. I know that God created mothers to fulfill a big chunk of the child-rearing role. I understand that being a parent is a ministry, but I do not believe that being a parent is the only thing my life should be about. 

Which leaves me with the "What now?" and the fear that I will become so consumed by caring for my own little family that I neglect the needs of those who are truly in need. I feel like the passion God has raised in me for the poor and the needy is being dragged away and focused solely on the babies and I'm powerless to stop it... and I'm concern that this passion will never get back to where it was.

There is a quote from Franis Chan keeps coming to my mind:
"It is true that God may have called you to be exactly where you are. But, it is absolutely vital to grasp that he didn’t call you there so you could settle in and live your life in comfort and superficial peace."  (from "The Forgotten God")

I think this might be my greatest fear in regards to becoming a mother. I do not want to be so distracted by my own life that I never live for those outside my four walls.

If there are any other mamas out there with some advice or some stories on how they still lived radically for God and others amidst the chaos of raising a family (especially with infants), I would so covet your words of encouragement and wisdom. Even if you don't have advice, I'd appreciate your prayers. Thanks friends.