Thursday, June 30, 2011

Our children were not "planned" part 3

This is part can read parts 1 & 2 by simply scrolling down...

But, money does factor in.  We live in a society with emphasis on responsibility…and we very much want to be “responsible.”  But what does that really mean?  As my husband and I process through the idea of future children/family planning….money is always the issue.  I’m perplexed….because I hear the commandment “be fruitful and multiply” & yet it’s as if there’s a “when your bank account is full” that is now attached to that statement.  We consider families big when there are three or more children, we tell people not to have children until they can “afford” them (what does that even mean?  Can I afford a child if I can feed them….or dress them in designer clothes…or fully fund their education?) we* laugh when someone announces a pregnancy while still nursing a baby & we encourage people to wait several years before “trying” for a family.  Is any of this wrong?

I don’t know.  I truly don’t.  I’d be lying if I said I don’t feel a little uneasy about some of it. Have we as a christian community somehow gotten it “wrong”?  Have we lost sight of the idea that “children are a blessing from God”?

**I use “we” because I lump myself into the group that does these things.  Even with all my questions…I probably am the most hypocritical person ever.  Just sayin’…


We had one positive pregnancy test as soon as we physically stopped trying to prevent (sure, we could have gotten pregnant while using the pill…but I believe God wanted us to take that step of obedience.)  We had another positive pregnancy test while preventing pregnancy….but also praying for God’s will in that area.  Right now?  Right now I simply don’t know. 

The one thing I know for sure is that our children were planned.  Planned by God…ordained to be with us at this very moment in time.  They were welcomed with great anticipation & love…and are celebrated every day in our lives.  Our future children, Lord willing, will be no different.  Even if our financial situation never changes, I pray to God that I will welcome every child with the same, if not more, anticipation and joy….and appreciation for His timing. 

This is where I sit…wrestling in my heart.  As my husband and I pray through all of this, we’re met with the reality that financially and worldly speaking, another child would be “irresponsible” at this point.

 On the other hand, we’re faced with the undeniable truth that God has had perfect timing with our children and set into motion a beautiful faith journey and legacy.  We battled through some tough stuff in our marriage the first year or so…and having a baby girl on the way made us more committed than ever.  Would we have made it through without a baby on the way?  Probably...but I believe without a shadow of a doubt that God has used our children to stretch us & push us so far out of our comfort zone into the unknown...and into His arms.   Learning to trust in God’s timing and providence has been (and probably will be) a daily…if not hourly…battle for us for the rest of our lives….and He has used our pregnancies and our children to push us into deep intimacy with Him.  For us, that is worth any worldly sacrifice we may have had to make.

Thanks for allowing me to process…this is an area that my husband and I are always in prayer over.  I don’t have the answers…I just have loads of question…and hopefully equal amounts of trust.  This is just me sharing the wrestling of my heart over this issue....

questions?  comments?  concerns?  email me at rachelonrewind at

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Our children were not "planned" part 2...

(this is part 2 of can read part 1 by scrolling down....)

…my faith in the whole “let’s trust God’s timing” began to shift.  I found myself laughing it all off in conversations where I had to answer those hard questions.  There was so much more to the decision to stop birth control…and yet it never felt right to go so deep into the reason I felt I was obeying God and allowing Him access to every area of our lives.

Our daughter was born and we again wrestled with the “what should we do now?!?”  My husband had gotten a full time job after deciding Seminary was no longer a path he was being called to.  I stayed home with our daughter and worked part-time both in and out of our home.  I went on the mini-pill & went off it a few weeks later….(how had I not learned my lesson before….hormonal pills just DO NOT work with my body...and we will NEVER be using them again.)  We used natural family planning and eventually switched to barrier methods. (sorry family members who aren’t interested in the specifics!)  We so desperately wanted to trust God…but we were broke.  We prayed that the Lord would make it known to us when to “try” again, but we mostly believed it wouldn’t be until financial situations changed.

My husband had taken a day off shortly after our daughter turned one to paint our guest room and work on other projects in our new-to-us home.  I joked that I might be pregnant and that’s why I couldn’t help paint.  We both laughed, thinking it was impossible considering we were utilizing methods that are like 98% effective?  On my drive to Wal-Mart to get groceries…I suddenly thought through the last few days and came to the quick realization that I actually could be pregnant.  I bought a test and took it right there in the Wal-Mart restroom.

 “pregnant.”  I think I might have laughed as I sat in the bathroom.  I drove home and handed the test to my husband, who, at that point thought I was handing him a positive test from my first pregnancy.  When he realized I was serious, the largest smile I have ever seen stretched across his face.

…Here we were, actively preventing and yet still very much pregnant.  I braced myself knowing I would face more questions…and more unspoken judgment.  This time I was able to answer the  question of “planned vs unplanned” but I still continually felt like I missed the mark.  Sure, we weren’t planning to get pregnant…but we had also prayed that God would make it known to us when we should have a baby…so, yeah…the pregnancy was planned.  9 times out of 10 I just answered “nope!”and laughed at the idea we had become pregnant while spending money trying to prevent that from happening.

Through this all I felt increasingly uneasy.  In every conversation in which I talk about having two babies in less than two years, I’m always met with surprise…and I get that!  I share in their surprise!  But, I feel uneasy because I’m never able to articulate how unbelievably sure my husband and I are in the timing of our current children.  Sure, the money is even less there than it was a year ago….but God has so faithfully timed when these two beautiful babies would enter our lives, that the whole money equation shouldn’t even factor into it.....

I feel like if I'm to trust God...and allow Him sovereign control over every area of my life...including whether or not I get pregnant....shouldn't I also believe that He is big enough to walk through the journey with us and provide for our needs...even if it isn't in ways we expect?  I mean, He's already proven Himself faithful in why do I worry now?


(stay tuned for part 3!)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Our children were not "planned"

(this is part 1...I wrote so much it needed three separate posts!)

No, in fact, they were wonderful answers to prayer.

 Before I go any further, let me say this…..this is our journey, our faith story, our convictions, our struggles, our wrestled with thoughts.  Please hear it as such, and not as anything else.

 When I walked down the aisle almost three years ago, my soon to be husband and I were in agreement that we would start thinking about trying for a baby when we celebrated our two year anniversary.  He would finish Seminary while I continued to work full time.  We would save as much money as we could and we would hopefully be in a house by that point.  While we knew we wanted a large family, we also wanted to enjoy married life without being burdened with children yet.

 About a month later we were driving home from a wedding of some dear friends.  I had been struggling a lot with feeling as though God was tugging at my heart.  I began to share these struggles with my husband.  Imagine my surprise when God had been nudging him about the exact same things!  We both felt trapped.  We felt as though we were so certain of how the next 2.5 years of our marriage would work out that we were leaving very little room to truly trust God to work in our marriage and lay the foundation of our future.  We felt convicted about our attitude towards not wanting children…yet.  We felt uncertain about our future career plans…(this would later be made QUITE clear that this was not an intended direction after all.)  We felt….we felt we needed to surrender one particular area of our lives to God.

I went off the pill….almost as quickly as I had went on it.  Honestly, it was making me sick and causing a whole host of other problems.  We believed our doctor when she said it could take several months.  We were not trying, nor were we preventing.  We were trusting.

Two sweet pink lines showed up on the same day America elected Barack Obama to office.  I was shocked, scared & delighted….all at the same time.  We were starting a family, and yet, we had barely unpacked from our Honeymoon. 

Thoughts of “what will people think” flooded my heart before the test was even dry.  I knew what they would think….because I’ve been on the opposite side as well.  And we had to answer questions…the worst was/is “was she planned?”  There were several times that I cried to my husband that people would always think our daughter was an “accident.”  In our minds, she was just the beginning stage of a deep faith journey God was about to take us on. 

She was planned by Him…a gift to us….to know Him more…..

stay tuned for parts 2 & 3

Friday, June 24, 2011

An update on that one little challenge....

(There are a number of posts “in the works”…things I want to blog about that I’m wrestling with…stories I want to share….but while those all sit in “editing” mode, here’s a mini update)

Remember when I said I was putting our family on a strict $50 a week budget and we would NOT be eating out the entire month of June?

Well, here’s a little check-in on how we’re doing. As a reminder, we have bought groceries on $40 a week in the past. This ONLY included things we could actually eat, and at the time we had a freezer full of meals   & we were eating out at least once a week.  This month, I set out to determine whether or not we could live on a $50 a week budget for all groceries, household items, paper products, personal care items & any disposable diapers/wipes we might need. And as of right now, we are successful at this goal!

We started on May 29th—and will run for 5 solid weeks. This gives me an overall budget of $250. When it’s all said and done, I do believe we will go slightly over budget, and that’s really ok. The fact is, we’re most concerned with continuing to cultivate discipline and good stewardship in our lives. It is the desire of our hearts for God to mold us into financially responsible individuals. While we have made many financial mistakes in the past (mainly credit cards) we are working hard to be responsible in every other area.

When we entered this challenge, our stockpile was quite low. Jonathan and I were both on our last stick of deodorant, there was no “extra” toothpaste or men’s body wash & our pantry was also looking pretty bare. We had no extra chicken or beef in our freezer & little in our cleaning supplies stockpile. I’m delighted to say we have been more than able to take care of all these areas.

As for the eating out…we have failed in this area. But---only twice! Two meals out in five weeks time is a record for us…especially with a freezer empty & Jonathan working an extra 20 hours a week in the evenings.

What I’ve learned:

-While our family could survive on $50 a week (or less) just by buying what we need that week, we are better stewards of our resources when we put the time in to stretch that $50 further (and we get FAR more for our money!)

-in order to make this happen, I need to plan ahead and always keep an eye on where our stockpiles are---to make sure that we are buying items we need as cheaply as possible (or free)

-I will need to shop at least three stores a week/or price match items at Wal-Mart & I need to utilize coupon deals even more so than I was in order to get the best deals and stretch our money.

-It takes a LOT of planning & organization….but the result for our family is worth it

-even if I only make it to Wal-Mart, I can still save lots of money.

-some weeks our shopping trips will look strange (like the week I bought 8 lbs of cheese, several boxes of pasta, and multiple packs of toilet paper) That’s ok.

--by exercising such careful planning, I can purchase little indulgences (example, my husband loves tic tacs & we never purchase them. After a doubled coupon, I was able to pick up 8 packages of them for free.---a small treat, but fun for him! I love smoothies, but make them from scratch, with a sale and a coupon, I was able to pick up four packages of Yoplait smoothie mix ready to be blended for free!)

--I LOVE being able to share with family/friends. I’m not buying 100 bottles of mustard like you might see on TV, but when I find a great deal for free items…I certainly will stock up. It’s been nice this month to be able to share some of our free purchases with family.

--MOST importantly….We are doing what we feel is right for our family. We like saving money and stretching our dollars. We believe we are being good stewards of our money by living this way. Not everyone is going to understand why we do what we do, people will inevitably not understand or agree with how we use our resources & some will think we’re crazy and not really be interested in adapting a similar lifestyle…. that’s ok. It’s worth our time.

And if this sounds like I’m bragging…I’m sorry!  I am incredibly proud of the hard work my husband and I have put into continually breaking our budget down more and more. For the last two years, we have tracked every penny in and out of our account…we have drastically cut our spending over these two years, and yet made our money go further at the same time. There is not a day that goes by that we aren’t trying to think up a new way to save or make more money. I am thankful that he works hard outside the home and he is grateful that I work so hard to save us money and make $50 go far. I am blown away by the discipline God is cultivating in both of us & excited to see how we can be stretched farther! 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

toilet tips?

When I departed for college nine years ago, my mind was made up with what I wanted to be when I “grew up.” Over the course of four years, my mind (and major) changed about a dozen times. (At one point I was seeking a Women’s Studies minor, true story.)

My diploma will tell you that I paid a whole lot of money to become an expert in “Family Studies & Human Services.” What does that expertise get you in the real world? Not a whole lot. In my home, however, it has given me valuable insight into marriage, pregnancy, childbirth & raising children. I took courses labeled “Human Development”, “Intro to Human Sexuality”, “Choices in Childbirth”, “Early Childhood”, “Family Relationships & Gender Roles”, etc…

Now, my husband has a diploma that indicates he’s an expert in “Criminal Justice,” however, his real life job has put him into lots of trainings that correspond with what I learned as a college student…so, often we are on the same page when it comes to parenting topics. We are both always searching out additional resources to challenge us, make us question, give advice, etc when it comes to marriage and parenting

Bottom line, becoming a wife & mother has brought to my mind several things I learned during my time at college. The most recent topic of conversation in our home has centered on potty training. With our daughter nearing the age of 2…and subsequently developing a fascination with taking her diaper off, we have been talking through when/how/what when it comes to our approach to potty training.

Drawing from my time at college, I can remember developmental cues to look for…what DOESN’T work & when NOT to potty train (forcing a child before they are ready, training during a transition at home, etc…) I’ve refreshed my memory on some things from the Sears & Sears “The Baby Book.” And while we are in NO rush to even attempt the process, we are starting to see a few signs that encourage us that maybe potty training can begin in the next few months. (side note, in our opinion…when we actually start to train…we want to be very serious and intentional about it…as in, not potty training for months on end. If it doesn’t take quickly, we’ll be stopping and trying again a few months later)

We came home a few weeks ago with a stack of big girl panties passed on from an older cousin….the same cousin is donating her princess potty chair to the cause! We have started talking about the potty, where we go when we need to do those things & giving names to what she is doing. Lucy already has a LOT of naked time at our house…usually before and after baths when she runs off quickly…so we’re still doing that to help her recognize what’s happening to her body….even if it means sometimes getting a little pee on the floor….and we let her be naked in the backyard last week while we were playing with the pool. And we’re playing dress up with the big girl panties, even adorning her elephant with a pair.

I’m looking into other resources, but mostly…we’re just hoping to take a very laid back approach & not get too stressed out over the whole process. When she’s ready, she’ll train. I’m convinced of that. We’re just trying to start talking about things & get REALLY excited about the “big girl potty”

I know every family is different, but we’re always eager to hear what works for others. So, what helped you move your little one from diapers to underwear???

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Why facebook makes me a better person...

Just the sheer title of this post is likely to elicit a giggle or two….I get it. Trust me, I’ll be the first to confess that I waste obscene amounts of time on facebook, reading blogs & obsessively checking my email. Thankfully I live in a world where iphone’s exist & I can nurse my habit while nursing my baby. Anyways, back to my point: facebook makes me a better person.

I created my account in my cozy little dorm room during my junior year of college. I posted obscure status updates with hidden meanings like all the other cool kids and I profusely complained that “dead week” was never REALLY “dead” at all. I friended all sorts of people, joined countless groups & spent days trying to figure out just what “poking” was. (for the record, I still don’t have an answer and I still think it’s rather ridiculous.)

The truth is, I’ve been committed to my facebook account longer than I’ve been to my husband. And like any good relationship, my connection to the social network has evolved over the years. My facebook time used to be purely an excuse to put off reading assignments, waste time at work (gasp!) or even forego sleep to partake in affectionate stalking. It is now my outlet to the world, which, to some is just ridiculous and people will protest that no one picks up their phone (or their pen) to communicate anymore.

Have a question about a child’s illness? Need an idea for dinner? Trying to find a good deal on toothpaste? Within about five minutes I am guaranteed a response on ANY question I post to my facebook account. I am given the opportunity to regularly humble myself when I need advice & to gracefully respond to others as well.

When I’m awake (and irritated) at five in the morning because I’m feeding a baby I can pop on over & be thankful (and convicted of my negative attitude!) when I discover another friend is up with a sick child. When my friend mentions on facebook that her son broke his leg, I am able to pray for her every time she comes to mind…or pops up in my newsfeed.

When I recognize an opportunity to encourage a friend, I’m able to do so….even if it’s limited to a 500 word comment. Sure, I’d love to take her out for ice cream….but in that moment, I can do that one simple thing & pray that it’ll make at least a bit of difference. I know that after a hard day, those simple encouraging comments from other mommas can make me feel like I have the energy to get up and do it all over again in the morning.

Don’t get me wrong, I desire in person connection over internet-enabled ones any day! But for now, I am so thankful for any little outlet I can have with the outside world….even if I have to request to be your friend first.

Monday, June 6, 2011

I'm here....somewhere

The last few weeks have been crazy busy...and crazy emotional.

We held another garage sale in conjuction with my sister's family last week, my husband started a second job & Lucy is battling her second ear infection in the last month.  There's been a lot of other "things" that have taken place---and I have a whole host of topics/successes/struggles/soapboxes that I'll be writing about soon.

But for now, I wanted to let you in on a little challenge I've set up for myself for the month of June.  If you've read for any length of time--you know that I will work my hardest to find a deal on ANYTHING (in fact, I'll let you know how I landed free teeth whitening for my husband and myself in a few days).  After Jack was born, my couponing became survival mode instead of stock-up mode.  We recently purchased a subscription to our paper (more on that later) & with coupons coming to my door---I have jumped feet first back into stock up mode. 

Because last month was the first month since my daughter was born that we've had to rely solely on my husband's income, we struggled a lot.  He has since started a second job in which he brings home cash from tips each evening.  I've set a $50 a week budget for us the month of June to cover ALL groceries & ALL household expenses.  For us this includes any disposable diapers, wipes, soaps, paper products, laundry soap, food or misc. items that need to be purchased.  We've managed on a $40 a week grocery budget before---but that did not include household expenses, and at that time our freezer was quite full of food.  Oh, and did I mention I'm also determined to keep us from eating out ALL month?  For us that means no eating out, gas station sodas or shaved ice treats.

So,'s going to be interesting to see how I can transform $200 to cover all of our food & household expenses for the month.  I'll be using cash my husband brings home to fill the envelope up at the beginning of each week.

Last week was our first week.  We went over by about $3....which was because I really wanted a cheap sprinkler for my daughter to cool off in.  All in all, we've been successful thus far.

I'm looking forward to sharing with you how well we do!