She's Here...Announcing Elizabeth Hope!

(1 hour young)

Elizabeth Hope
Gracefully entered our home on Wednesday, September 23, 2009
at 4:41PM

8 pounds 12 ounces

20 1/2 inches long

brown hair (can you believe it?!) and dark blue eyes

I awoke at 3am with consistent contractions occurring every 10 minutes or so. I got up ~ laundry called ~ and then I woke Mark around 4:30am. We called the midwife and that was the beginning of her journey.

Of course, I have been anxiously awaiting and trying to reconcile when she would actually come. Now I can say...our due date was Saturday ~ my birthday ~ September 19th. How sweet the thought was to have a baby for my birthday...God's plan was obviously different.

This was actually happening...not according to my plan...which would have been in the wee hours while children were sleeping, awakening to their newest little sister, but God was teaching me and growing me in His sovereignty over ALL things. This would NOT be a night birth, it would NOT be while my children were nestled in their beds soundly sleeping, it would NOT go quickly ~ according to my time table, BUT would be ALL in accordance to HIS perfect plan.

Contractions were VERY manageable, my water did not break and things moved slowly, but easily along throughout the day. Our home was very peaceful, as the children were blessed to spend the day and evening with a friend (and their friends). Our midwife and her student assistant spent the duration with us, also awaiting for the appointed moment of her arrival. I still struggled believing that this was the day ~ for goodness sakes...I could carry on conversation easily, my water hadn't broken...was this really going to happen? Amy Carmichael's poems put to music were softly playing throughout the labor to help still my mind...(beautiful CD and one of my favorites)

Yes. By 4:00pmish I was around 8cm dilated and now needed to focus during contractions (with each one I purposefully gave thanks to the Lord). By 4:30pm a contraction and my water broke. Two concentrated pushes (almost completely dilated...but my body said 'push') and "welcome to the world"...she here. Of course, she has loved her hands from the time she found them in the womb and why would she change that during delivery? That first push was a delivery of head AND elbow...a doozy, but God is good!

I will say that despite the growing process the Lord taught me during this labor (releasing the plans of myself and resting in His perfect ongoing lesson)...the actual labor was one of our best ones...beautiful, peaceful pregnancy and an equally beautiful and peaceful birth.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

The 9 Smiths ~ Thursday, September 24th (16 hours young)


I normally would not pose for any pictures this far along in the game, let alone post them, however for Elizabeth Hope's sake I wanted to have one to show her. So here it is...9 months, profile shows an all-consuming baby, but she literally is all out front and unlike some of her siblings has not ventured to spread around my mid-section or ever up under my ribs. Truly a beautiful pregnancy and a very gentle girl. The Lord is gracious and we are all excited to meet her.

Candid and raw... (also not something I do very often)...This past week has been a stream of emotions (I am not one to weep, however I have not been able to control the tears some days...ugh). Not to mention the lack of long-suffering I have had...I have been staying busy to keep my mind focused, but anticipation has been overwhelming at points.

I KNOW and rest in the Lord's sovereignty over all things. I KNOW that He has planned the day she is to arrive...He knows every detail of the upcoming delivery and orchestrated it to be so according to His perfect purpose. It is a battle for my heart and mind to merge these truths sometimes.

Those of you that know me, know that I am a 'planner' so you also know how births are so not something that can be planned...they are unpredictable. Sure you plan for having baby things ready, you plan for having your home in order...laundry current, cleaning done, belongings tidy, food stocked, etc....but you can not plan for when the delivery will actually occur. Will it be (for me ideally) when all the home is quiet and asleep or will there be activity all around? Will the day be one in which I have had rest (which has not happened for the past several weeks...5 hours per night and choppy at that) or will it be after a full day of caring for the children, teaching, home responsibilities, helping my husband, etc.? Will the delivery be peaceful and quick or difficult and long? So many factors that are not able to be answered until that moment happens.

My encouragement and hope must be drawn from the Scriptures. I pray for His strength: "The Lord is my strength and my shield, in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. Psalm 28:7"; steadfastness: "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. James 1:2-3"; for Him to be glorified: "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, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20"; endurance: "More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5".

So, with the remaining days, I will continue to pray (and covet your prayers) for God to be ever-present in my mind, for rest (physical and spiritual), and for the actual home-birth (our mid-wife, health, strength/endurance, peacefulness, focus and the presence of the Lord through Scripture and song).

Looking forward to exulting God through answered prayers and the announcement of Elizabeth Hope's arrival in the near future...Lord willing, my next post will be THE ONE. :-)

Thank you for your love, prayers and encouragement ~


Menu Plan Monday

We are on Week 3 of our family's rotating dinner menu, so here's what should be cooking this week. :-) (Of course, this may change if baby comes during the week...bigger smile.)

Monday: Beef tips with beef gravy over egg noodles; California blend veggies; bread; applesauce

Tuesday: Grilled pork chops; garlic and butter pasta shells; corn (hubby's favorite); rolls or biscuits

Wednesday: Grilled smoked turkey sausage; Lima beans over rice; sliced pears

Thursday: Spaghetti with meatballs; green beans w/ garlic n' almonds; Texas toast

Friday: **Sante Fe Soup
with toppings

Saturday: Birthday....normally would be Chicken n' Dumplings; mixed veggies; applesauce

**Sante Fe Soup freezes well, so I usually prepare extra, freezing any leftovers for a quick meal or to use for making 'Chili Dogs'.

I thought I would also include our Weekly Snack Menu to give you an idea of how we try to handle the afternoon munchies in our family. This keeps it simple, provides reasonable snack boundaries which helps prevent spoiling dinner and 5 different snacks a day between the kids. :-)

Monday: Usually our planned co-op day (for next year) so whatever is shared at co-op;
otherwise a snack bar

Tuesday: Cheese stick or graham crackers

Wednesday: Apple or yogurt

Thursday: Small bag of microwave popcorn or cup of non-sugar dry cereal (a treat for my kids)

Friday: Cup of cheese crackers or cup of animal crackers

Saturday: Cup of pretzels or spoonful of peanut butter

As with all our menu plans, this is flexible depending on the day's events, grocery store sales, etc. I have snack time allotted for between 2 PM & 3:30PM to give balance to the afternoon and once again, not too late as to not spoil dinner. This generally holds them over and is after the little ones nap time. I try to buy snacks in bulk (to reduce costs) and always try to have animal crackers on hand as a staple...the kids like them, they are not high in calories or it's fun to play with the animals and trade for the younger ones. :-) Enjoy and be blessed around your meal table this week.

Blessings ~


The Organized Mom Shop Giveaway : Org Junkies Product Reviews

The Organized Mom Shop Giveaway : Org Junkies Product Reviews

As several of my recent posts have focused on organization (be it school, homes or our lives) I thought this might be a fun and motivating opportunity to get started. This giveaway is for a $50 store credit to use at The Organized Mom Shop. Deadline to enter is Monday by 6PM Pacific Standard Time, so jump on over, browse the store and leave a comment on their site as to what you might use the credit's that simple! If you win, do share what you decided to use the credit for and what organizational project you will tackle. :-)

Blessings in ordering your days!


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Fear, Disorganization and Anger...Book Review

My recent afternoons have been a time of rest and renewing, as I have pulled out a book that was an encouragement to me in the past. As this school year has resumed and with a new baby soon to be welcomed into our family, I have felt the need to review Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit by Teri Maxwell.

Additionally, I have been assessing activities, routines and general out-of-the-home involvement in an attempt to simplify and eliminate "stressors". There are MANY good things one can be involved with, however there are seasons we should factor in to that involvement. Don't get me wrong - I am not saying if you have a heavy/burdensome season that you should 'shut down'. On the contrary, the Lord gives us instruction regarding this:
  • "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2
  • "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing." 1 Thessalonians 5:11
  • "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!" Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
  • "Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." Proverbs 12:25
  • "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17

The Lord is good to give us verses such as these as a reminder that we are not meant to be alone, but to be in fellowship with Him and other believers. In doing so, we guard against believing lies of the Master Deceiver ~ which are much easier to believe if we are in the midst of a trial or heavy season of life.

Instead of feeling overwhelmed by a season, I was reminded that I am not powerless because Christ is in me and He is NOT powerless! "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." Philippians 1:6 Also, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 2 Corinthians 12:9 Additionally, I was encouraged by a well known verse Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me."

I am most definitely weak, due to remaining flesh. Flesh that is at battle with the spirit. But to be reminded recently that His strength is made perfect in my weakness and that when I take every thought captive, that I am also applying Scripture to those situations and overcoming what my flesh would attempt to do.

Teri's book reminded me to assess what robs me of the meekness and quiet spirit I desire through a page of question prompts in her book (not an exhaustive list but one to provoke thought) for me to assess. In assessing many of the 'meek and quiet spirit robbers' it is noted that they usually fall into one of the following three categories: FEAR, DISORGANIZATION and ANGER.

Oh how, I have succumbed to all of these in the past (still needing to gird up and will never on this earth overcome them). They have truly taken me backwards instead of pressing on toward the goal of the upward call. I have found that I can easily allow fear to invade my peace due to taking my eyes off of Christ. Fear about what "others" may think or fear of "failure" or fear of "being weak". There are so many Scriptures that speak on fear...healthy fear (fear of the Lord) and the crippling effect of fear if we focus on the fears of this world.

Regarding disorganization, I can relate to when I may lack in diligence to stay on top of my daily responsibilities and how that has a domino affect into other areas of my life. Due to my personality of desiring to do everything thoroughly and completely, sometimes it can actually hinder me from doing something at all. If I fail to plan, I feel like I am constantly playing 'catch-up'. Although I am generally organized, I am also sinful and not immune to falling short in this area, too.

Anger...oh Scripture speaks on this topic. Each of the following verses are convicting and challenging (in a good way) to me. I can never out love or out forgive the Lord and how much He loved me and how much He has forgiven remember that when I feel tempted to become angry.

  • Numbers 14:18 "The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression..."
  • Proverbs 14:29 "Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly."
  • Proverbs 15:1 "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."
  • Ephesians 6:4 "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."
  • Colossians 3:8 "But now you must put them away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth."
  • James 1:19 "Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires."

These are just some of the reminders that this book review has provided me...I hope each of you will be encouraged by His word where-ever you may be in this season of life. I am far from an authority on any of these topics, but only desire to share what I am learning and being challenged by as a means to encourage fellow sisters in Christ.

By His Grace ~ Jarnette