2014 Prayers for our Family

One of my awesome friends, Jen, started doing an annual, one word prayer for each of her immediate family members. I loved this great idea and adopted it as well. It is wonderful because it is simple enough to actually “do” and keeps my focus for our family.

Joe – Vision. It seems in life we can come to time periods where we’re just going through the motions, but not overly excited or pursuant of anything huge. I pray that the Lord would restore Joe’s vision-for himself, for the ministry the Lord has put before us, for our family and for our business.

myself – Stewardship. I’m praying that the Lord would help me be a better steward. A better steward of my time, my talents, my resources, my home, my belongings, etc. That He would help me to be more organized and intentional in my efforts. And that I would seek Him for contentment, not more things.

Ashley – Spirit. Mommy confession on my behalf…in some ways, I fear that I’ve broken my daughter’s spirit with my unnecessarily critical nature and my desire for her to achieve. In my struggles and failures, I fear I’ve broken her drive, confidence and beautiful (although differently wired from my own) spirit. My prayer is that the Lord would restore (and even flourish) her spirit over this next year, and that there would be a sense of healing and peace in her heart and in our relationship.

Jacob – Strength. Jacob is consumed with concepts and questions of strength these days. “See how strong I am,” or “Are you this strong,” etc. My prayer is that Jacob will learn to use his strength to be a help and a blessing, as opposed to simply holding power over someone else.

Isaac – Gentleness. Isaac is quite a silly little boy, and loves to play a little ornery. He is quite tough, and doesn’t seem to feel pain in quite the same way the rest of us do. We pray that over this year, he will learn to be gentle and tender to others.

Homemade Greek-Style Strained Yogurt

Its been a while since I last posted anything on here-in fact, a year and a half since the eventful birth of our son Isaac. It’s been a busy year and a half, full of many ups, downs, and deep, tough, life lessons. However, I’m now at a place where I’m feeling inspired and encouraged to write/share again on here.

I met my friend Behnaz about a year ago. She, being from Iran, knows some practical culinary things that I had yet to learn. Thankfully, she has taught me. My favorite culinary skill learned from her thus far is making yogurt.

I find many people asking questions about this mysterious world of yogurt making. I tell them about it when they’re curious about it, then I re-tell them when they’re feeling bold enough to try it.

Now I’m going to record the simple steps to serve as a reference point for my friends as well as any others who may stumble across this post or who are curious about the wonderful world of yogurt making.

Homemade Greek-Style Strained Yogurt

1. Heat, uncovered, 1 gallon of milk in a large pot to 180 degrees, just before boiling. This kills off the good bacteria in the milk, that if not killed off, would compete with the cultures you are trying to grow in your yogurt. I use either 2% or whole milk. I have yet to try it with skim or 1%, but have no reason to believe that it wouldn’t work.

On medium-high heat, it takes about 20-25 minutes on my electric range, but on a gas range, the time is closer to 15-20 minutes. Sometimes I try to set a timer to help me remember I have a pot of milk boiling on the stove. I am notorious for starting one project, and then forgetting about it and going and playing outside with the kids, and then returning inside to a pot of milk that’s boiled all over the stove top. Burnt milk…how I despise cleaning thee!

2. Partially fill your sink with cold water, and then set the pot in there to cool. Be careful not to fill the sink so high that the water goes over the edges when the pot displaces the water.

3. Let the milk cool to 110 degrees (the ideal temperature for the cultures to reproduce).

4. Add your yogurt cultures in at this point. For me, this involves stirring about a 1/4 cup of existing plain yogurt into the cooled milk. When you first start, if you already have some plain yogurt, just spoon some in. If not, buy a small container or ask for a few scoops from a friend. Then, after you make yogurt this time, pull some out and place it in a container so you can use it as your starter for the next batch.

5. Place a lid on the pot, and wrap the pot completely in a bath towel.

6. Wait about 4 hours and you have yogurt. (Remember to scoop out a 1/4 cup of starter for next time).

7. If you want to strain your yogurt, line a colander with a flour sack cloth. Pour your yogurt into the colander and let it set (I place my colander over the pot and then put a lid on it) in the fridge for 4-8 hours.

8. The yellow-ish liquid that has strained off is whey. You can use this to make whey bread, etc. Sometimes I dump mine, other times I use it. Here is a link to the recipe I use to make Italian Whey Bread.

9. I typically place the yogurt in my blender to smoothen its consistency a bit. If its too thick, I add a little whey back into the mix. After blended, I pour some of the plain yogurt into a container to use for sour cream throughout the week. To the remaining yogurt, I typically add honey and vanilla and re-blend. I have found that it is much easier for me to eat yogurt when it is already blended and ready to go as it is, or with a little homemade granola and frozen berries sprinkled on top.

Mmmmm…homemade granola. I’ll have to share that recipe with you soon.

Cost wise, this method is certainly more effective than purchasing cartons of Greek yogurt. Essentially, you get roughly 8 cups of the yogurt for the cost of a gallon of milk ($2.99 in our neck of the woods). The cheapest store-purchased Greek yogurt I can find is at Costco, where I can get 2, 1 quart containers of the Kirkland brand Greek yogurt for about $7. So, this puts the cost at roughly half the price. Not to mention the neat fact that you can actually make your own yogurt. I never even knew it was possible until Behnaz enlightened me. I am forever changed…and I love the rebellious part of being able to make something that you’re “supposed” to buy at the store.

Isaac’s Birthday Story the (“He said” version)

Okay, so I will spare you many of the details that Emily shared in her post. In fact, my version is more of a recording (definitely the guy version) of the whole day for Isaac to laugh at later in life. (I actually recorded my version first but Emily blogged her version and said I should post mine on her blog so that there was a he said, she said version.)

Don’t worry, my version will likely not make you cry. Well, unless those tears come from laughing at my different predicaments so hard that you cry. I also wrote this after midnight the night of Isaac’s birth and have not proofed the doc very carefully. So, it may be a little rough. If I have some time later I will try to clean it up. Right now, I am operating on very little sleep and proofing at the moment will likely yield poor results.

So, here it goes:

Message for Isaac:

Isaac, since your name means laughter, it is only fitting that your first day of life be one that we look back at and laugh about. It certainly was a roller coaster of experiences and one that I will not forget.

The Good and Not so Good!
3:15 a.m. Emily wakes me…its early and we didn’t go to sleep until 12:30 or so. – Not Good.
3:16 a.m. Emily says she thinks we’re going to have the baby today (8 days overdue)…Good!
3:20 a.m. Wow, let’s get up and get the plan together. We’ve got window installers coming at 8:00 a.m. and they came from out of state and I don’t know how we would reschedule before they showed up  – Not Good.
3:25 a.m. I take a shower and while trying to pray and mentally prepare for the day…Good.
3:45 a.m. Moved furniture for the windows to be accessible. Argh, not planning on doing this with sleeping children in the middle of the morning. —Not Good.
4:20 a.m. Furniture moved, Emily cleaned a little in the kitchen and started some laundry. Don’t wanna come home to a dirty house, right? —Good!
4:30 a.m. Hmm, trying to decide if we should call my brother and sister-in-law….Very early and Katie, our sister-in-law is 8 months pregnant. We would rather now wake them until a more reasonable hour if possible. —Not Good.
4:45 a.m. We make the call. Katie, says she’ll be there soon! —-Good.
5:00 a.m. Talk to Mid-wife to let her know current state of affairs. 30 second contractions every 2-3 minutes. Mid-wife lets us know we’ve got time.—Good.
5:05 a.m. Eat breakfast, cram some Bradley birthing techniques from a book Emily had borrowed. You know, how to help her feel comfortable during labor, how to relax, how to coach, how to prepare the environment (later I found these bits of wisdom either applicable or just not practical for a 10 minute birth…considering )…Good.
5:30 a.m. Katie arrives…Good!
5:40 a.m. Finish getting a room ready for Katie to sleep in because it may be a bit before we need to go. Try to arrange a ride for Ashley to school at 8:30 but give details to Katie…Good.
5:41 a.m. Hmm, we’ve got our quarterly taxes, federal taxes and employee taxes to send in. Emily does not want me to put them at the box but would rather I take them to the post office…Not Good.
5:55 a.m. Returned from post office. (Saw, Dr. Jones (University President) on a run and thought it was funny because he ran by our place last time when Jacob was born and I said, “Hi Dr. Jones we’re headed to the hospital to have a baby.” This time I started to say that, but it was pitch dark and I think it spooked him, when I said, “Hey Dr. Jones” he swiftly headed down the road with a slightly started look. I opted to leave it at that.)
6:00 Things are packed and ready to go…Good.
6:01 Emily’s water breaks….Not Good!
6:03 Emily wants to rinse off and I check with the mid-wife, you’ve still got time. Good!
6:05 Strong contraction comes. Very intense and Emily is not able to get out of the shower…Not Good.
6:06 MIDWIFE or 911??? What do I do???? NOT GOOD!
6:07 Midwife realizes the contractions are strong and says we need to come immediately. I agree but not sure how this is going to work. The contractions are strong and Emily can’t step over the tub to get out of the shower. NOT GOOD!
6:08 Do I hang up on the midwife and call 911??? Emily screams, I see the HEAD! NOT GOOOOOOODDDDD! (Side Note #1: This was not covered in the 12-15 pages of The Bradley Method book that I crammed.)
(Side Note #2: Our 8 month first time pregnant sister-in-law was in the back making sure the kids didn’t wake and come to check on us. I’m sure she was greatly startled when she heard Emily scream from the top of her lungs. While thinking this was pre-labor.)
6:09 Midwife says, “Okay, it looks like you are going to have to deliver the baby.” What?!?! – NOT GOOD!
6:10 One strong contraction and then the head will come. Don’t worry it will only be  the head. Get a towel and do not pull. NOT GOOOOODDD! 6:10 Midwife says the second contraction will deliver the baby. Get ready because it will come quick. At this point, GOOOOOD I think!
6:12 Out comes the baby with great speed and into the towel while…thank God that he helpI made the catch because that was far faster and slippier than expected at the moment. Good, very Good. 6:12 Emily looks down and says, it’s a boy. Good, because we don’t have a girl name picked out.

Houston, We Have a Baby!

6:13 Wait, I need to hear something. Our other two came out screaming… Not Good.
6:14 Isaac cries. Good…I think…yes, Good.
-Katie hears in the back and text my brother (OMG I think I just heard a baby cry)
6:15 Did I just deliver our baby? Awesome.
6:16 The cord has a knot…Not good.
6:16 Midwife says, don’t worry the baby is out and crying, since it went so quick that will not be an issue. Good.
6:20 After birth comes out. —-Not sure what to think but I got a bowl (I’ll leave it at that)
6:21 Holding Isaac and a bowl. Very Good, well not the bowl part but holding Isaac.
6:23 Hang up with midwife, she is coming to us from Rockwall.
6:25 Let Katie know that it’s a boy and we won’t be going anywhere.
6:30 Shock and disbelief. We were not planning on a home birth and I was certainly not planning on delivering. Consider posting on our website, “Luminous Productions, now delivers.” :-)
6:45 A little mess to clean up in the bathroom. Not Good, but who cares the baby is out and breathing.
7:00 Midwife arrives…Good.
7:10 I cut the umbilical cord. Might as well finish what we started.
7:15 Midwife checks out baby and everything is looking good. Great!
7:30 Midwife checks out Emily. Things are good, but she needs a couple of stitches…Not Good.
7:45 Kids wake up and get to meet Isaac. They look on in disbelief and keep asking who’s baby? Our baby? I guess they thought the midwife just brought a baby for show in tell. We inform them that this is their brother Isaac. Middle name unknown. They are extremely excited and get to hold him. Very Good!
7:55 Window installers show up with a crew of 5 guys. I inform them that we just had a baby. No really, a little over an hour or so ago. The guy is thrown off by the comment. I ask if they can start in the back. Then we will rotate to the back and they can do the front of the house. They generously accommodate all request and do a good job of minimizing and cleaning messes…Good.
8:30 Katie takes Ashley to school and she get’s to share the news with friend. She went to bed and woke up and we had a baby…Good!
9:20 Midwife does another check and give us our to-dos. (Emily should remain on bed rest for two day….trying to imagine Emily resting for two days…not likely) Midwife finishes cleaning up and does a little laundry. Good.
10:00 Midwife leaves and we return to state of shock.

End of Birth Story 
1:00 Mowed some of the yard with Jacob. Good.
2:15 Pick up Ashley from school and headed to the airport. Good.
3:00 Missed exit to go to COSTCO to pick up a few things Emily asked me to pick up. Not Good.
3:55 Made it to the airport just before Emily’s mom’s bags arrived. Good.
4:30 Decide to try the south route home becuase I noticed traffic piling up on the way in. We hit traffic. Not Good.
5:00 Made it to Costco to pick up a few things on Emily’s grocery list. Good.
5:05 Realized I somehow lost the list. Not Good. – Surprisingly, remembered everything on the list. – Good.
6:30 Returned home and saw my parents and younger brother. Good.

The Plumbing Disaster
7:00 Had a plugged up toilet. Jacob flushed a wet wipe and half a roll of toilet paper. Not Good.
8:00 Really losing the battle to the clog. Plunging inadvertently sent gray water (to put it nicely) into both backroom bathroom tubs. The pressure also broke the wax ring of one of the toilet making it leak. Not Good.
8:20 Really, really, losing the battle! Mess everywhere….I mean everywhere. I pulled the toilet off. The tubs started draining and coming out of the toilet drain that I removed. NOT GOOD!
8:45 After about 5 trips of 5 gallons a trip of special “gray” water being dumped out the front door while I ran as fast as I could with a shop vac back and forth the bio-hazard was contained. DISGUSTING!!!
8:50 Wal-mart run- I buy all equipment I can find for removing blockage and return home…Good …I hope! (I remember doing something similar to this the week before Ashley was born. I did a post midnight Wal-mart run buying everything imaginable for a installing toilets and fixing their guts. – We  had just moved in and were remodeling at the time. We had three bathrooms and by the middle of the night I realized the drain issue rendering the back to useless was more than a simple clog and I was going to have to re-install the master bath toilet – We just installed flooring and removed the toilet. While installing, the fill valve broke shooting me in the face with water than came up like a fountain until I got it contained.)
9:20 Snake the line with a toilet auger just purchased form Wal-mart and out comes baby wipes that Jacob had flushed after he ran out of toilet paper. All of this from a couple of baby wipes, and a half a roll of toilet paper. Not Good…but problem appears to be solved...Good.
9:45 Clean up and debris. (Cross plumbing off of any sort of potential career path)
10:30 Emily’s mom disinfected our bathrooms and prepared them for use again…Good.
11:22 Isaac and I watch the end of the Mavs triple overtime game. Mavs lost. It’s okay Isaac, you’re here and the toilets flush. What more can you really ask for. Good.
12:00 Started recording the events of the day. Whew, it is done.

Isaac’s birth story (The “she said” version)

PLEASE NOTE: for those who are weak of stomach, or not real comfortable with the medical realities involved with giving birth, spare yourself and don’t read this blog post. Here is the abbreviated version for you. Our son, Isaac, was unexpectedly delivered by my husband in our home on Monday, April 16, around 6:12am. The end. :) For those of you who like details, and understand that the birthing process isn’t exactly glamorous, but is still amazingly beautiful in its own way, feel free to read on.

Sunday night, April 15th, our bedtime story with Jacob and Ashley was “No Foal Yet,” by Jos. A. Smith. It’s kind-of become my traditional story to read to the kiddos when it nears the time of the birth of the next addition to our family. And little did we know, that sooner than we thought, we’d have our baby.

During that night, around 2:45 am, Jacob came in and woke me up needing to go to the bathroom. I helped him with that, put him back in bed, and then went in to use the bathroom myself. Soon after laying down, I felt what I thought was just really painful gas radiating around my stomach and back. I got up, went to the bathroom, and then realized that I was starting to have some bloody show. After another “painful gas” feeling, I realized that I was actually having contractions. This was around 3:00am. After about 30 minutes of these contractions, which were measuring to be 4 minutes apart, Joe stirred a bit in bed. I wasn’t wanting to wake him unnecessarily early for fear of it being a very long day. But since he was starting to stir, I didn’t hesitate to tell him that I was in labor. We waited in bed through another contraction or so, and then decided that we ought to go ahead and get up and get some things ready and in place for the trip to the birthing center and for the day, since we were also having window contractors come that morning at 8am to install new windows in the house.

We both took our showers and got dressed. Joe went to the back to take care of a few work emails and then to pack up his computer to get it away from the windows so the contractors would not have to deal with moving it. I switched over a load of laundry and started another, swept the kitchen floor, and got the final things things together for the birth center bag. We moved the bed away from the windows and Joe got the vacuum out to vacuum some of those inevitable dust bunnies that collect under one’s bed. Joe got some breakfast ready, and asked me where the Bradley birthing book was, so he could BEGIN reading/preparing. Ha! I told him it was in the bag for the birthing center. He asked if I had highlighted or marked some areas he should focus on. I directed him to one area to start in.

Soon thereafter, as I was having a contraction in the kitchen, he was standing there with his bowl of cereal in hand, kind-of just watching me. I made a comment to the effect of, “it would be okay if you touch me or massage me or something, instead of just standing there staring at me like I’m a crazy person in pain.” He told me, “I wanted to, but what I just read in the book said not to start massaging you when you are starting a contraction.” I told him that sounded crazy and that I wanted him to be touching me or something to support me through these. We laughed at the situation and the dilemma he had faced in that moment and decided that me leaning forward on him through the contractions seemed to be the most helpful in getting through them.

Around 4:30, we discussed what our plan should be, in so far as waking the kids and taking them to the Cole’s house, or having Jon or Katie come over. We decided that having Jon and/or Katie here would be best, so we wouldn’t have to call off the window contractors and then Ashley could still go to school that day (after all, she is “snack helper” this week). Joe texted his brother at that time, but since we hadn’t heard back yet, we went ahead and called Jon and Katie just before 5am.

After timing, and actually writing down, contractions for about 15 minutes, I decided to go ahead and call Tina, our midwife. I called her at 5:21am and talked with her for a few minutes. The contractions were consistently 3 minutes apart, but only about 30 seconds long. Since I was still doing pretty well, and pretty chipper, she told me to go get some rest, and that “I’d know when I need to come in” for help with the pain management, etc. I told her we’d probably head to our friend’s house in Royce City and then we’d only be about 15 minutes away for when it came time to be getting to the birthing center for help. She confirmed that was probably a good plan for us.

After breathing, leaning forward on Joe,and stamping my feet through another contraction, I went ahead and laid down on the bed to rest between them. I had just laid down when Katie arrived at just after 5:30 am, so I didn’t get up to greet her. I felt bad, but I also felt the need to focus. Joe greeted her and let her know that she could go rest in one of the back rooms, since it was still so so early in the morning.

We needed to send off our tax payments still, and I felt better about them being placed in the mailbox at the post office, rather than just in our own mailbox at the road, so Joe went ahead and drove downtown to drop them off. I had told him that the contractions felt painful to the point that they made me feel like I wanted to vomit, so he brought the bathroom garbage out to put beside the bed, should I need to use it.

I rested really well between the contraction, but when the contraction actually came after laying down, I was up on my hands and knees in the bed, trying to work through the pain. It was not feeling fun! In fact, I remember thinking to myself, “Why did I sign up for this way of labor. Next time I’m just going to the hospital and having an epidural.  Then I can just go there, get the epidural, and sleep until they tell me to push.”

This contraction made me feel like I needed to go to the bathroom again, so when I thought it was finished, I got up to go to the bathroom. However, in sitting there trying to go to the bathroom, I realized that I must not be finished with the contraction, because it still hurt when I tried to go.

Though Joe was probably only gone for 10 minutes or so, the two contractions I had while he was gone made it feel like he was taking forever! He got back and came in to check on me. I had just gotten out of the bathroom and finished the contraction while leaning forward on him. I laid down again, and he took the camera bag out to the Highlander and went back into the kitchen to read more of the Bradley method book. I rested well again, but when I felt the next wave of contraction coming, I quickly called for him. He heard me on the second call, and came in quickly. I was up on hands and knees again on the bed, and then leaned forward on Joe’s shoulders. Within seconds of doing this, my water broke with a very unexpected gush, all over me, Joe, the bed and even the rug on the floor. Joe and I kind-of laughed because it was so unexpected and such a new experience. My water with the other two had broke in the hospital, while laying down in the bed. We both very heartily agreed it was time to head to the birthing center. I told him that I first needed to get my legs rinsed off and clothes changed and then we could head out the door.

He pulled the sheets and mattress cover back off the bed so the moisture wouldn’t absorb into the mattress while we were gone. He then changed out of his pants too. While I was in the shower, trying to get rinsed off, things seemed to intensify. I never could get rinsed off. As my level of pain increased so suddenly, Joe called Tina at 6:01am to let her know my water had broke. I knew she was going to tell him that sometimes it still takes a while, etc., etc. but I wasn’t in a position to stop his call (and I’m glad I didn’t). While they were talking for the next 3 minutes, the next wave of pain came, and she heard me hollering. When she realized that the noise in the background was me, she told Joe we needed to be in the vehicle on the way there. He said he was trying to get us in that direction. Joe hung up with her and tried to help me with managing the pain and getting out of the shower. He reminded me to stay calm and to breathe, but I was kind-of beyond those calming thoughts at that point.

I felt so badly like I needed to go to have a BM, but I didn’t know if this was just the pain of a hemorrhoid or what. It was so intense, I couldn’t ever get out of the shower to get into clothes to get to the vehicle. I leaned forward on Joe’s through that contraction, and bless his heart, I even bit his shoulder for a second before I realized I was actually biting him. I was just trying to have something in between my teeth as I gritted through the intense sensation. Next thing I knew, I felt very unmistakably that the head was there. I screamed this to Joe. When he first heard this, he didn’t think it was possible, but he squatted down and confirmed what I was feeling and, at this point, seeing. (Aside: This was my first time seeing a head at that position, and the way it looked really surprised me. It looked like a brain, with no skull. In my heart, for a little bit, I thought that perhaps we were delivering a baby that wasn’t viable. However, there wasn’t much time to ruminate on that thought, so I just had to get my mind back in there and stay focused, knowing we could deal with that, should it be the reality, after the baby was completely out.)

He said he was going to either call Tina or 911. He chose Tina. So, at 6:09 am, he called her to tell her that the head was right there and that we were not going to be making it to the birthing center. Since it was on speakerphone, nobody could hear well with the shower water still running in the background. Joe was able to get the shower water turned off for us, and that helped a lot. At first Tina told him that he needed to get me laying down on the bed. Joe tried, but I just couldn’t go anywhere. Tina then told him to get a dry towel and to be ready to catch that baby. With the next contraction, the head was out, and Tina was letting him know that with the very next contraction, the baby’s entire body would come out. And boy did it ever come out quickly! Joe said he nearly didn’t catch him. He was thankful he had the room between the height of where I was standing and the bottom of the tub to catch. And there he was, Isaac William Shipman, born at an estimated 6:12am on Monday, April 16, 2012. The pain was gone immediately, and we were filled with excitement and awe and SHOCK!

We continued on the phone with Tina, as she talked us through what to do next. Joe wrapped Isaac up in the towel and I held him, while I stood there still bleeding and in disbelief of all that had just happened. Tina kept insisting that I needed to get laying down to help the bleeding stop. I understood, but just had to get rinsed off before I could even comprehend moving anywhere. Joe had headed to the laundry room to get some dry towels to wrap Isaac in, since all we had in the bathroom at the point he was born were the damp towels we had just used for our showers that morning. I finally got about two steps out of the shower, holding Isaac, when I asked her about what we do about delivering the placenta. I started asking her if it was normal for it to feel like the placenta was about to fall out. And as I said that, I just stepped my way back to the shower, just in time for the placenta to land in the tub. I then let her know, nevermind, it had been delivered. At that point, she had Joe go get a bowl that about 2 pounds of meat could fit into. He came back with a stainless steel bowl and we put the placenta in there.

I had some chuck pads remaining from Jacob and Ashley’s births that I had in a bag near our things for the way to the birthing center, so I could put them down in the vehicle, should my water break there. I let Joe know where those were, so he could put those down on the bed, since we had already stripped the sheets back from the water breaking incident, and I didn’t really want to ruin the mattress with blood now. He was able to find those and get those all laid out.

Since Isaac and I were now detached, he took the swaddled Isaac and the placenta bowl to the bed and I was able to get rinsed off and headed in that direction as well. And then, we pretty much laid there and I nursed Isaac while we awaited the arrival of Ms. Tina. Aunt Katie came in and met him too, while we waited.

When Tina arrived, she checked us out, first making sure Isaac’s vitals and mine looked good. Then she clamped the cord and Joe, as is our tradition, cut it. Then she checked me out and took care of a little stitching that needed to be done.

Right after that, around 7:45am, the window crew arrived, so Joe directed them to begin their work at the back side of the house, in light of the recent birth.

She then moved on to doing the measurements of Isaac. She found him to be 21 ½ inches long with a head 13 inches in circumference. And just before she was going to weigh him, the kiddos came in with Joe and Aunt Katie. They got to meet Isaac for their first time, asking, “is this OUR baby?” It was so sweet. Jacob asked, “baby’s here, now Grammi comes?” They were both excited and curious, and definitely not expecting to wake up to our baby this morning at home. They got to see him be weighed, and we all learned of his whopping 8 pound, 6 ounce size. They kiddos got to hold him and love on him for a good little while.

Ashley headed off for school soon thereafter, Tina gave Isaac a bath, and then it was mommy’s turn to take a shower as well. Tina and Joe got the laundry cycling through, and sheets changed on the bed and everything in good working order (or as good as it can be when your room is all half moved around in being prepared for the window contractors to do their work). And, that was the very eventful start to an exciting day at the Shipman house.

Though the home birth was NEVER anything I had hoped for or envisioned, it was perfect in every way. God’s hands were in it-protecting us from what could have been a far less ideal situation-the baby coming while we were in transit to the birthing center. From the details of us having been at home, rather than still in the process of driving to the birthing center (45 minutes away), while was had this baby, to things like happening to have some chuck pads already there in our room to put down on the bed for us to lay down on after the birth, to the kiddos sleeping through my painful screams during the most intense part of the delivery, etc. What a blessing this experience was. And I am so thankful to be married to such a wonderful man, who could step up and both comfort and coach his wife, as well as successfully catch his own son. It was a great team effort, and it seems that experiences like these cannot help but to strengthen a marriage. And, I love that our little Isaac is already living up to his name-meaning laughter-as this story has certainly given us a LOT to laugh about. It was a wild adventure indeed.

My Strength…

Have you ever found yourself singing this song:

My life is in You, Lord,
My strength is in You, Lord
My hope is in You, Lord
In You, it’s in You.

But living like this:

My life is in Me, Lord,

My strength is in Me, Lord

My hope is in Me, Lord

In Me, it’s in Me.

As I was washing dishes tonight, this was my little “God-smack” about life. It seems that some of my hopes, and efforts toward such, have been rooted in ME. In MY ability to achieve those results. Needless to say, it didn’t work out that way. In fact, it seems to have blown up in my face.

Its amazing how easy it is to start placing our hope in our own abilities, in our own strength and in our own efforts. Though all those things are God-given, if we place our trust in what’s been given, versus the Giver, we’re sure to come up short at the end of our efforts.

So, may you begin humming this little song in your head and may it remind you to run your life, your strength, your hopes, and your efforts through the “me filter” so that they can be placed fully in the Lord.


This week for our Ladies Bible Study, we are studying the story of Deborah (see Judges 4 and 5). The author of our study

points out Deborah’s availability to be used by God.

A few years ago, my theme saying was, “just do it now.” This came back tonight as I read. I wonder how often God has things ready for us to do, and we may even be willing, but we’re not really “available.” You know, those times when we’re not exactly being responsible stewards of our time. We procrastinate for the sake of self pleasure; we put off to tomorrow, that which we could do today. Or maybe we just “clutter” our lives with the unnecessary busyness of life, as we wander a bit aimlessly. And as this all accumulates, we find ourselves consistently frustrated, overwhelmed and ultimately, unused. This leads to discouragement or maybe just stagnant in our walk with the Lord.

I guess my challenge for myself here is to pick back up this principle and get back to living in the moment, so that in the next moment, I am available when the Lord calls.


Today I was particularly blessed by an amazing group of women the Lord has brought together for a 3-month study of different women in the Bible. We’ve got ladies with life experiences all over the board. We’ve got ladies in places of joy on the mountaintop, and others in places of hurt, of confusion and of loss who are walking through the valley. But regardless of whether they are at a high place or a low place, they are ALL in a place of transparency.  I pray the Lord claims victory in this, that He uses it, that He holds each person tight and that together we can grow. Grow in  Him, grow in fellowship, grow in service to others.



Tortilla Snowflakes

Tortilla Snowflakes

Since its winter here in Texas, but we’re seeing temperatures in the 60s (68 at the moment, and its almost midnight!), we’re having to do some things to help it feel like winter.
This last week, we made tortilla snowflakes. If you haven’t had the pleasure yet, here’s the very simple and fun recipe. Like real snowflakes, each one turns out different, depending upon how the kiddos create it. And, the best part, you get to eat them!
Tortilla Snowflakes
Flour tortillas
Vegetable oil
Powdered sugar
Warm tortillas in the microwave for about 15 seconds. Fold tortilla in half, and then in half again, into quarters. Using clean, kiddo scissors, let the kiddos cut their snowflake design, as if they were making paper snowflakes. Open the tortillas back up, brush lightly with oil and dust lightly with powdered sugar (you can dust with powered sugar before or after baking, we just tend to do before). Bake in the oven on a lined baking sheet, or in a toaster oven (our preference) at 400 for 3-4 minutes, just until crisp. Remove from the oven and enjoy! And, if you like, sprinkle with some festive sprinkles at this point as well.
Happy winter to all (especially to all those wonderful friends enjoying REAL snow today)!

There is a liar among us

Ever have one of those moments when you’re sitting around with a group of friends, and as you are all talking, you start piecing together that someone has been telling different lies to each of you, to somehow isolate you and keep you apart?

Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire: What Happens When God's Spirit Invades the Hearts of His PeopleWell, that was the way it was last week when a group of my sweet lady friends and I were finishing up a book review/Bible Study of the book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala (its been such a blessing of a book to read that I’ve got to give a little plug for it): 

Anyhow, as we talked, we could see how the big S had been working among us to divide and isolate each of us. He was using one person’s strengths to make another feel week and unwanted and alone, and using this same “trick” on each of us in one way or another. And He was whispering in our ears, just loud enough so that we would entertain the lies.

Thankfully, as we all sat there, we had one of those “ah-ha” moments as the lights came on and shone on the source of the deception and division. We got played by that crafty serpent. It was so sad for me to think of how much time has been wasted with us not all being united more in spirit.

Isn’t that just the way Satan works? He only has to get us off by a degree or two, because in the end, he knows that that one or two degrees will end up being a big difference. (see rough visual below)

We all start in the center, with our eyes focused straight ahead on Jesus’ goal for us, but if S gets us just a touch off, you can see that our end result is nowhere near the end goal.

Father, I pray that you would help us to recognize your voice more and more each day. I pray that you would also help us to recognize the voice of the serpent and that we would not subscribe to the lies (usually starting as small ones) he brings. May we resist the enemy with Your truth.

One of my new favorite things…

I’m in this mode of starting to clean out/go through/use-up random toiletries that have been collected, partially used and then stored under the bathroom sink for some ridiculous amount of time. Anyhow, in my “cleaning” this last week, I came across this silly razor that I’ve had for who knows how long. I’m pretty sure I didn’t buy it, but I cannot figure out where it came from. Anyhow, it has sat under my bathroom sink, perfectly packaged for several years, at minimum. It looked so different to me and with being a mom and the busy-ness that already comes with having little kiddos, I rarely have time for shaving as it is. So, I hadn’t been wanting to “waste” any precious time learning how to use this new razor. I finally decided, “what the heck, I’m going to “use this thing up and then get rid of it so it doesn’t continue taking up space in here.”

Little did I know that I would fall in love with this razor and it’s concept. I wish I had tried this razor sooner! It is the Schick Intuition Razor. Maybe I’m just way behind the times, sticking with my trusty ol’ Venus razor!?!

Here is a photo of it:
The Schick Intuition Razor. I imagine you can buy it at Walmart, but since I have no idea where mine came from, I can see for certain that you can purchase it, as well as cartridges for it (even pomegranate ones), from Amazon for a reasonable price. Just click on the picture to view its price on Amazon so you can compare them to prices at the local drugstore.

Schick Intuition Razor, Normal to Dry Skin

Anyhow, this has been working great for me in that I don’t have to bother with shaving gel in the shower, and then the all too frequent experience of half of it dropping off my legs either from mere gravitational pull or from water running down and washing it off before I get to that area to shave. This razor has the shave solution built into it, so it glides along your skin just prior to the blade crossing that particular area, preparing it for a clean, smooth shave. All you need is wet skin. I’ve even used it to do some quick touch-ups before heading to the pool and it has worked great after dampening the skin with a washcloth.

I am absolutely loving the time I’m saving each day in the shower. It has made shaving a breeze, which makes it much easier to keep up with all the shaving summer attire demands (or shall I say is preferred by those of us who do shave our legs and pits (and our husbands)!).

Although this razor will no longer be taking up space under my sink, I believe it has found a permanent home in our shower.

Blogs I follow