Health

Joy Elizabeth Lydia Reilly

She is here! We welcomed Joy Elizabeth to the world on Tuesday, June 9th at 5:26 in the morning! We had an incredible birth in our very own home… the Lord was near me as I relied on Him for strength during all of the labor and birth of Sweet Baby Joy. I had mild contractions starting Monday morning (June 8th, her actual due date!) lasting throughout the day and was able to go to sleep Monday night in hopes of getting some rest in case they started stronger. Before closing our eyes, Ian and I prayed together, giving the Lord our heart’s desire to meet our precious daughter before sunrise… before our 3 other children wake up on their own. We prayed in faith, believing God would answer.

Night before Joy's arrival...the kids are excited to meet their new baby sister!

Night before Joy's arrival...the kids are excited to meet their new baby sister!

At 1 am I awoke to a strong contraction that caused me to jump out of bed… I heard God whisper to me (not audibly, but in my Spirit), “Are you ready? Let’s go!” I then had another contraction in 3 minutes, then another one in 7 minutes, another in 4 minutes… they were all over the place and stronger. They leveled off at about 3-4 minutes apart lasting for a minute. Ian was such an incredible support and strength for me as I prayed and breathed through each one… knowing they were bringing us closer to meeting our Joy. Our friend, Holli, arrived at 2 am. She was such a great labor coach and advocate for me through the entire labor process. Together, Ian and Holli were there with me through every contraction and spoke encouraging words and empowerment to me… I felt well covered and supported through their teamwork! My mom was up for the night and we let her sleep as long as we could, as she would be helping with the kids as the time drew close to wake them up and meet their new little sister. We were very grateful for her presence and help with our other children… her support and prayers were felt! Our Midwives arrived at the house at 2:30 am. They went to work setting up the birth pool as I continued working through contractions while walking, sitting on the toilet, and ultimately taking a hot shower (which felt great!).

Here is a picture of me at 3 am with the pool being prepared in the background. As you can see, I’m feeling great and excited, soaking up every moment of laboring in the Lord.

June 9, 2009 @ 3 am

June 9, 2009 @ 3 am

For who is God except the Lord? And who is a rock besides our God? – the God who girded me with strength, and made my way safe. -Psalm 18-31-32

As I mentioned earlier, Ian was so wonderful as my labor partner… He is a silent, yet strong man who knows when to speak and encourage. Here we are at 3:22 am in between contractions… What a lovely face I’m making… I’m enjoying every moment and still being a goof.

June 9, 2009 @ 3:22 am

June 9, 2009 @ 3:22 am

Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. -Joshua 1:9

Around 3:30 am I entered the birth pool… The warm water eased the intensity of my rapidly increasing contractions. In between, I relaxed and felt as though I was in a hot tub on vacation! Ian was right by my side… Here we are at 4:01 am.

June 9, 2009 @ 3:40 am

June 9, 2009 @ 4:01 am

The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts; so I am helped, and my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. The Lord is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed. O save your people, and bless your heritage; be their shepherd, and carry them for ever. -Psalm 28:7-9

An hour later, at 5:05 am, my water broke. By 5:16, I was feeling the intense urge to push and at 5:26 she was here! What a blessed miracle of life is the process of labor and birth! Joy’s arrival was met with an emotional and sincere, “Praise God!” from myself… she’s out and safe! Jonas & Evelyn were there to witness her arrival and share in the joy! Elliot was soon awakened to meet his baby sister and was all smiles to see her!

Joy is here!

Joy is here!

The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. -Zephaniah 3:17

We are blessed!

We are blessed!

Joyful parents!

Joyful parents!

Sweet Joy Elizabeth

Sweet Joy Elizabeth

Tired yet proud big, big, big brother!

Tired yet proud big, big, big brother!

A happy big, big sister!

A happy big, big sister!

And a super smiley, new BIG brother!

And a super smiley, new BIG brother!

Happy little girl!

Happy little girl!

His JOY comes in the morning! -Psalm 30:5b

Potato Soup

I was in a bit of a “tizzy” this afternoon trying to figure out something for dinner. On our busy day – Wednesday – we typically do a crock pot recipe… it was 1:30 and I hadn’t started anything. I called Ian and asked him for help… any ideas? We had been discussing trying to do potato soup, but I hadn’t found a recipe in any of the trusted cookbooks we have at home. He did a quick search and sent me a link to one that only took 3 hours! Perfect! The kids and I got busy preparing the soup – Jonas peeling potatoes, Elliot waiting anxiously to help with carrots, Evelyn assisting mommy with onions and other prep items…. The recipe was easy and was an absolute hit with everyone! We were all pleased!

I decided to share the recipe here (and the story behind it). Bon Appétit!

Ingredients:

* 6 potatoes, peeled and diced
* 1 cup chopped onion
* 2 carrots, thinly sliced
* 2 ribs celery, thinly sliced
* 4 cups chicken broth
* 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
* 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
* 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
* 1/2 teaspoon pepper
* 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 1/4 cups cream or half-and-half
* real bacon bits, optional

Preparation:
Combine first potatoes, chopped onion, carrots, celery, chicken broth, basil, parsley, salt, and pepper in a slow cooker.

Cover and cook on HIGH for 3 hours, or until vegetables are tender.

Stir together flour and cream or half-and-half; stir into soup. Cover and cook 30 minutes longer or until hot. If desired, sprinkle bacon bits over each serving. (We didn’t have bacon bits, but we did add some shredded sharp cheddar cheese!)
Makes about 2 quarts

The Truth of the Matter

I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately. I could probably blame it on the pregnancy hormones that are racing through my body, but the truth of the matter is, I’m just not believing God. I’m not believing Him to help me in the mundane, everyday tasks that are wearing me down. Especially in the challenging job of teaching a 3 year old to have a bowel movement in the toilet. Yes, I said bowel movement and toilet. Our 3 year old’s “matter” just can’t seem to make it into the potty and consistently lands in his underwear. He has the other aspect of potty training down, so yes, I am grateful and am not a complete failure of a parent. But what I am feeling absolutely frustrated and “slumpy” in is that I am having to clean up at least 2 -4 dirty underwear “accidents” a day. I have been angry, depressed, and absolutely overwhelmed with this perpetual stress. Needless to say, I’ve been in a slump.

Amongst all this “slumpiness” I’ve been questioning God and telling Him “I can’t do this anymore!” I’ve also wondered “why does he have to struggle with this bowel discomfort and awkwardness?” This morning, I got up early enough to have a little time before kids got up and sensed Isaiah 45 being where I needed to turn. This is what I found…

Woe to you who strive with your Maker,
earthen vessels with the potter!
Does the clay say to the one who fashions it, ‘What are you making?’
or ‘Your work has no handles’?
Woe to anyone who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’
or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labour?’
Thus says the Lord,
the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker:
Will you question me about my children,
or command me concerning the work of my hands?
I made the earth,
and created humankind upon it;
it was my hands that stretched out the heavens,
and I commanded all their host.

-Isaiah 45:9-12

All of this brings to the forefront that God knows what He’s doing and why. I need to trust Him and allow God to shape me (I’m sure this is a part of shaping/molding me into a vessel that can glorify God even more). Even amongst the muck and the mire (literally!) I must turn to the Lord who created all humankind (including my 3 year old son) and knows all of their functions and dysfunctions. He is the Master, Creator, LORD God Almighty… and He is also the Sustainer, Savior, and Comforter. I desperately long for His Sovereignty and Comfort throughout the day. This is my prayer…

In you, O Lord, I seek refuge; do not let me ever be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me.
Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily. Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me.
You are indeed my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake lead me and guide me,
take me out of the net that is hidden for me, for you are my refuge.
Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.
-Psalm 31:1-5

Marathon Anniversary

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.

He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.

Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;

but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

-Isaiah 40:28-31

One year ago today, I experienced running my first marathon. The 26.2 mile journey was truly a test of physical endurance and spiritual reliance. Even in training, I enjoyed learning what God was teaching me through the simple discipline of getting up and running. What joy there was in watching the sun rise and hearing the birds celebrate the coming of a new day as I pounded the pavement. And discovering new routes to take was fun and brought adventure to the “one foot after another” routine.

Truly, running a marathon is more than a physical experience… it is a parallel to our spiritual journey in life. There are moments where we feel as though we are “soaring like eagles” and can “run and not grow weary” and then we have burn out, become tired and just have to remember to take one step at a time, even if it’s shuffling our feet. There is a focus destination, a final goal… a finish line to cross! This life we live and “run” through has an ultimate destination… for those who have Jesus and know He is Savior, our finish line is in Heaven… our true Home. When we hope in the Lord, whether in life or while running, or even in anything we do during our time here on Earth, God gives us strength to keep going, to press forward, moving always towards our heavenly goal. May we focus our eyes on Him who IS hope, joy and most of all, is LOVE.

Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
-Philippians 3:13-14

A New Book to Look For

I am very excited about a new book that is going to be released in early March!  As previously written on our blog, we have become encouraged through the work and writings of Dr. J Matthew Sleeth and his organization, Blessed Earth. I am currently reading his book, Serve God, Save the Planet, which I must say that within the first 10 pages I was brought to tears and moved so greatly to get up and do something (even at 11 o’clock at night!). Well, Dr. Sleeth’s wife, Nancy, has written a book entitled, Go Green Save Green. This book looks like it will be a useful tool in everyday living, yet inspiring and down to earth (pun intended) in taking action towards living a greener life.
Book information from the Blessed Earth site:

ggsg-cover

Many people want to “go green” but put it off because they believe it’s too time consuming and too expensive. Not so! Nancy Sleeth and her family have been living an eco-friendly lifestyle for years saving both time and money. Now, for the first time, she divulges hundreds of practical, easy-to-implement steps that you can take to create substantial money savings while protecting the earth. Sleeth also demonstrates how going green helps people live more God-centered lives by becoming better stewards of financial and natural resources. Chapter titles include: (1) Home; (2) Lawn and Garden; (3) Work; (4) Transportation; (5) Food; (6) Sabbath; (7) Holidays; (8) Entertainment; (9) School; (10) Church; (11) Nature; and (12) Community.

Features:
* Hundreds of simple, easy-to-implement money-saving tips for going green at home and at the office.
* Simple cost-saving formulas that allow readers to calculate their energy/financial savings as they go green.
* Helpful “try this instead of that” charts offering money-saving green solutions for everyday living.

Inspirational Scripture and quotes from church leaders (both historical and current) that support the biblically mandated stewardship component of going green.

Pre-order the book from any of these vendors:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Christian Book Distributors.

Our Journey towards Living Green

Through several God-ordained events, we were asked by the Blessed Earth Director of Communications, Will Sears, to share our story of moving towards greener living. We then discovered that we were to be featured in the Blessed Earth’s first edition E-Newsletter. We are truly honored and humbled to have been asked to write about our journey! If you would like to subscribe to their newsletter, click here. Below is the article as published.

Changed Lives: The Reilly Family
By Carolyn Reilly

The Reilly Family

Reilly Family - June 2008

Our family has not always been green. Some people who know us now are surprised to hear this when it comes up. Our family’s story of moving toward greener living has been a faith-filled learning process.

I guess you could say we were a typical American family: husband and wife with three kids, decent income and living beyond our means. We were recycling and thought we were “doing our part” in caring for God’s Creation, but the truth is, we were not being good stewards of all that He had given us, including our world. Over time and through different experiences we set out to save money and found that we learned along the way to be thoughtful caretakers of God’s handiwork, this planet we call home.

More and more we have come to the realization that the path to living green begins in our heart and our mind. Truly, it is a choice. We consider every purchase that we make, now thinking through the sort of imprint we will leave; whether from the waste a product has, to energy it takes to recycle something. Some of the most basic choices at the grocery store are items that are over-packaged. I have come to a point where I cannot even buy gum because of the packaging and waste that it has. I instead choose to buy mints that are NOT individually wrapped in a tin (that can be recycled). We have also stopped buying paper towels as the messes we used them for could be cleaned just as well with a kitchen towel.

Our quest toward greener living eventually brought us to composting and beginning a garden. This effort helped us save on the garbage we were accumulating, and growing our own herbs was a huge money saver for great cooking! Another way we have moved toward greener living is by purchasing used items as opposed to new. From furniture to clothing, toys and décor, there are many ways to save money by going green.

This past fall, we heard about a new Bible on National Public Radio called The Green Bible. I mentioned that I would be interested in having this and, lo and behold, I received a copy Christmas morning. After reading the Introduction by Dr. J Matthew Sleeth, I had to share it with the entire family (and several friends, too!). We were so moved by his testimony and willingness to surrender an extravagant life to care for Creation. Dr. Sleeth’s passion and zeal ignited us to look further into how can we greater make an impact, not only in our own family, but in our community, our church, and our country.

God has stirred in our family a desire to help share Dr. Sleeth’s timely message to those in our Church as I think that we Christians have been “behind the times” in acknowledging that God calls us to action in caring for the Earth. As Christians we see that moving towards green living is important for several reasons. First, we do have a planet that is in need of revival and care. Sadly, we are learning the consequences of past generations’ lack of stewardship of God’s Creation. Second, we are responsible for teaching the next generation how to be wise caregivers for creation. Third, and most importantly, we should actively obey God and honor the craftsmanship of His hands (Psalm 19:1).&n bsp; But will we? Let us rise to the call God has given us and believe that we will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13).

HFCS

Say what? Okay, you probably know it better as “high fructose corn syrup.” We’ve been trimming this “bad” sweetener out of lives as much as we can. When we started looking at the ingredients of everything we were buying (it’s been over a year now) to check if HFCS was in it, I was amazed (and still am) at how many “everyday” foods contain this fake way of sweetening something. Things that aren’t even sweet have it… many varieties and brands of crackers, bread, salad dressings, the list goes on and on. I have to admit, there is one thing I have struggled giving up that contains HFCS: Coke. I enjoy a tasty coke every now and then… if we’re out to dinner perhaps. It’s not something we buy at the store and keep in stock on hand. But… I’m definitely re-thinking anything I put in my body that may contain HFCS. I read this article and am wanting to share it with anyone who has the time (or care) to read it. Yes, it is an opinion article, but it is from an investigative journalist who has researched and knows his stuff. Click here to check it out on Natural News’ site.