Rush: Five Minute Friday

It’s been two weeks since I last crafted a post for the Five Minute Friday link-up. The past two weeks have been a whirlwind, so it is really only fitting that today’s prompt is Rush. I try to join in every week with the link-up where writers all over the world free write for five minutes on the same prompt. I love linking up and reading the unique posts that come from the same inspiration. So here is my post:

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Three weeks ago we stepped off the plane and have been rushing around ever since!

The long, relaxing trip to England cut us all off from the overloaded schedules and chores back home. There were no meetings, practices, or expectations while we stayed with my in-laws. There was only taking life slowly and enjoying the time we shared with people we love.

It’s been three weeks, but something about the lifestyle we lead while overseas appeals so greatly that I miss it already. It’s caused me to question certain aspects of my life back home. I’ll leave you with some of the questions I’ve been wrestling with lately…

Why do we fill up so much of our time?

Living rushed is the American way, but is it really a healthy lifestyle?

In creating full schedules are we remembering to pencil-in time for ourselves?

In the midst of all the rushing are we taking time to notice all the miracles, blessings, and beauty around us?

The Ameri Brit Mom

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Clinging to Promises

Romans 8:18-30 (NIV)

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. 

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified he also glorified.”

Wow! That’s a lot of great text. It’s scripture penned and gift wrapped by Paul. The promise of glory and the blessed hope we all can possess really got me through some of the hardest months of my life. At times I felt like I was sinking. All I could really do was cling to the promises in this passage. Promises like:

-our suffering now does not compare to the glory we will one day see

-liberation from bondage

-redemption of our bodies

-hope

-the Spirit intercedes for us

-God works for our good

All of these promises of God became mantras for my soul. Whenever the darkness crept in I sang these words or repeated them over and over to myself. And it is by the grace of God that I am able to stand on and claim those promises instead of letting despair have the last word.

Two weeks after giving birth to Aleah I started getting out and moving around. My c-section healed nicely, and I went to the doctor and was cleared to do most activities. The day of my first venture out of the house I remember thinking how blessed I had been with this delivery. Things went fairly smoothly and Aleah was as healthy as could be. When I awoke that morning my leg was a bit sore, but I didn’t think too much about it because I had been almost sedentary for two weeks.

Fast forward to the night time.

The girls were both finally asleep and my husband and I were settling into bed ourselves. Out of no where I had this feeling that something just wasn’t right. Yes, my leg was sore, but it just seemed like a charley horse…nothing serious. I turned out the lights and tried to sleep. But the tossing and turning I experienced I realize now was the Spirit trying to get my attention. After a bit my leg hurt more and more and I decided I needed to get to the hospital. Quickly!

Sure that I was over-reacting I told my husband to stay home with the girls and I phoned my mother to take me into the Emergency Room. I kissed him good-bye and thought I’d be home a few hours later with nothing but a diagnosis of paranoia.

I presented my symptoms to the nurses who felt my leg. There was no visible symptoms, but they decided since I was two weeks out from surgery that they would run a couple of tests. They skipped the d-dimer test which usually is the first step in diagnosing a blood clot, because my c-section would certainly cause that test to show positive. A CT scan was run and a couple of blood tests.

After nearly an hour my doctor (who minutes before was talking about discharging me) came into the room and started with, “Don’t shoot the messenger…” (a very odd way to deliver a diagnosis I must add)

What I felt in my leg was in fact a blood clot, but it had broken off at least in part and traveled to my lungs. My diagnosis was a Pulmonary Embolism, a life threatening condition. I was admitted and almost immediately started on heparin, a blood thinner. In that time I was so thankful for my mother. From the moment I found out about the clot until about three days later I was in shock. The fact I had this clot and was only two weeks past delivery really messed with my hormones and mental stability. I barely spoke for days and my mind went to a fairly bleak place.

I let fear in as I tried to cope. I saw the doom and darkness over the redemption I had been given. I tried to have a heart of gratitude that the Spirit had gotten me the help I needed in time, but in all honesty I couldn’t do much but tremble with fear. I thought about how my family would be taken care of if I wasn’t there…and let me tell you–those are not happy thoughts. I was messed up, my spirit was broken. But through it all I called out to God.

A few days after I came home a friend shared the scripture above on Facebook. I remember crying as I read it, because I needed it. I hadn’t really spoken much yet and I didn’t even really know what to say, but I was comforted by the words, “the Spirit intercedes for us,” and “all things work for good.” This spoke to me because when I sat trembling at the hospital I sensed the presence of God there. At the time I didn’t know what to pray, but I know the Spirit interceded for me. The Spirit knew my heart and God answered my terrified prayers.

The more that time passed the more I began to see this situation as a miracle. Not everyone with this diagnosis lives. In fact, a third of them don’t. My symptoms were not typical, and when I first entered the ER the nurses and doctors thought everything was fine.

Six months later I am hoping to glorify God with my testimony.

I am clinging to the promises of Romans 8:28. God has saved my soul and my body to live according to His purpose. Knowing His Word and reading it daily has equipped me to overcome the struggle.

I can’t tell you how many times I sang, prayed, and quoted scripture in those days. Being immersed in His words gave me the strength I needed to make it through and it is continuing to help me move forward. I am encouraged to share what he’s done for me, but it all starts with the time I spend with Him everyday.

The next three months I took blood thinners and was on a first-name basis with the receptionist at the doctor’s office because I visited so frequently. I ran the gamut of tests, but in the end I was cleared! I prayed that all blood tests would come back normal, and they did. No blood disorders! And I am now at no-elevated risk for recurrent clots and I am no longer on blood thinners. The clot was likely caused by the combination of surgery and heightened estrogen levels post-partum. No matter the cause or the purpose I know that my God is good and He works everything out according to His good will.

The Ameri Brit Mom

PS-This picture was taken the day of my PE…just goes to show that everything looked fine, but before long I would learn that it definitely wasn’t. Also…can you see the baby I’m wearing? I was trying to figure out the holds for a newborn and snapped this picture to show that I got it wrong, so don’t worry I didn’t carry her around all day like that!

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Good

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Some days are worse than others.

Some nights seem like they will never end.

Some breaths are heavy.

Some worries are dark.

But through the fog of anxiety I can see a flicker of light. If I focus hard enough I can see illumination. Like a lighthouse, God’s Word calls my heart home. There are moments of paralyzing fear, but they are followed by moments of remembering. I remember that I am a Child of God. I remember that I am His and so there is no need to fear. I remember that HE IS GOOD.

I may not understand all of the pain, but I can rest in knowing that God’s will is perfect and His purpose is good. I pray for beauty to come from this season and for light to overcome darkness. Through it all, the Lord is good!

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

Well, We Survived!

Week one of school is in the books and all four of us survived. Naps were essential, and sure, there were some meltdowns, but we made it! Life is starting to settle into routines and each day gets a little easier. For me, I started my eighth school year teaching ninth grade in a public school. My husband started his seventh year of teaching elementary school and my daughter is now in kindergarten at his school!

All in the first week we experienced: the end of my blessed maternity leave, a new sitter for the baby, Arianna’s first lost tooth, Sam’s first week of coaching Arianna’s new soccer team, and a new season of AWANA at our church.

It’s been a crazy week, but I love it all!

I love watching my girls flourish and I am actually really happy to be back in the classroom. The school year is off to a great start!

 

The Ameri Brit Mom

Loved: Five Minute Friday

It’s Friday and I’m joining my usual Friday link-up with the other writers at Five Minute Friday. Every week we gather as a Christian writer community and craft short posts all centered around a common topic. This week our topic is Loved. Below is my unedited five minute post.

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This week has been exhausting.

I made my return to the classroom after a seven month maternity leave, my oldest started kindergarten, my baby went to her first sitter, and I am still a little jet lagged from a month abroad. Everyday we’ve taken naps as a family when we get home. All four of us are experiencing the “first week drag.” But in the midst of the fatigue I must say that I feel loved.

I feel loved that so many people have been praying for me or checking on me during this time of transition. I feel loved that so many have offered to help. I feel loved that our daughter was welcomed into school by amazing teachers and friends. I feel loved that the Lord would call me to educate the next generation in my classroom.

As the school year began the prayer I kept repeating was, “Lord, help my students to feel loved this year.”

I am praying for energy and strength to love even the most difficult student. I am praying that my classroom is a place of peace and refuge. I am praying that during the 180 days that I am given with this group of kids that each of them encounter God’s love in some way. As a public school teacher I may not be able to speak it, but I have every right to live it.

I pray that every student feels loved in my classroom this year.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Dear Daughter: Kindergarten Edition

Dear Daughter,

Six short years ago I dreamed of you. When I felt you kick in my tummy I knew you would be a girl who loved an adventure. You’ve been strong from the beginning and you’ve loved deeper than any child I know. Your fears are small and your courage is big. And no matter what you do I am always proud of you.

Today we set off on a new adventure.

Today you will walk into the school building as a brand new student. Kindergarten awaits you as do the many challenges that school will bring. But this Mama knows that you are brave enough and patient enough to succeed. The world is yours and you are already changing it for the better. 

You’ve been waiting for this day a long time. Ever since you were little and I took you to my classroom you’ve been excited to be a student. All summer you put in time to ensure you would be ready and now you’re reading and doing math. Just like riding a bike, you’ve picked things up so quickly. I couldn’t be prouder.

This day belongs to you.

When you see my tears know that I am just so proud of you. When I squeeze you tight know that it hurts a little to let you go. You will always be my baby. And I will always be your biggest supporter.

“You’re off to great places, today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!”-Dr. Seuss

Love always,

The Ameri Brit Mom

England 2018: Week 4 Review

Now that we are back home in Ohio it is bittersweet to look back and reflect on our last days in England. Our month abroad was our best trip yet full of so many memories with our girls and family. Here’s a look at our first three weeks:

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Our final week was full of good-byes and the emotions that come with knowing we won’t see loved ones for another year. Back home, a brand new adventure awaited us–our oldest starts kindergarten this week!

Despite the hassle of travel with two little ones and the canceled flights in Chicago on the way home (more on that in a future post!) spending a month in England each year is worth it.

Some Things We Did This Week:

-School supply shopping and a girl’s day in West Quay (Arianna is so excited to have supplies from England!)

-Sent my sister-in-law off on a month’s travel around Europe with a friend

-Participated in Story Time at the Eastleigh Library

-Visited with Sam’s aunt, Julie

-Broke down on the side of the road (punctured tire and overheated engine)

-Took Arianna on a two mile run around Fleming Park

-Visited Longdown Dairy Farm (Aleah was very interested in the ducks and even waved at them)

-Date night at Prezzos and to see Mama Mia 2 in the cinema

-Took another spin class

-Swam and relaxed at Mudeford Beach in the New Forest

-Attended a church service at Thrive

-Picnic at Itchen Valley Country Park

-Shopped for journal supplies at Hobby Craft

-Packed our suitcases 😦

Some Things We Ate This Week:

-kebabs

-Daim cake (my absolute favorite)

-several pub lunches

-Nandos

Milestones:

Arianna completed the Reading Challenge at the Eastleigh Library during our stay. She read six books in order to receive her award. Aleah started to wave in her own little way this week and she did it first while visiting the farm. She loved the ducks, goats, and chickens.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Woman: Five Minute Friday

Every Friday I like to join other Christian writers over at Five Minute Friday. Our purpose is to encourage one another through our writing and networking. This week the prompt is Woman. Below is my five minutes of unedited, uninterrupted writing:

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One of the hardest parts of being a woman is making the choice whether or not to stay home with your babies. Weighing the choice between raising your babies in the home or contributing financially through full-time work is a daunting task. But, I’ve learned that this doesn’t have to be a choice. You can have the best of both worlds.

This was lesson learned the hard way with my firstborn. At the time, I did not qualify for extended leave from my teaching position since I was fairly new to the district. Because of that, I went back to work six weeks after her birth. This time around, I was blessed to be able to spend seven months at home with my baby girl.

As summer winds down and I start to think about going back to work next week I can’t help but thank God for the time I had at home. Over the years I’ve learned that I wouldn’t do well as a full-time stay-at-home mom. My mind likes to be constant and creative and I find it difficult to express myself the way I was created to at home in that setting.

All women need to embrace self-care no matter what that looks like for you.

I’m learning what it means to be okay with working. Where I used to feel guilty I’m beginning to understand that I can be a good Mama while also being a working Mama. Part of my witness to my girls is that “you can make a difference” and I show them that by going to work each day and pouring into students and colleagues.

If you think about it please say a prayer for me this week as I return to the classroom. Not only that, but on my first day back my oldest daughter enters kindergarten. So, I’ll be leaving my baby for the first time and dropping the other one off at school for the first time. Any mom can attest to the mess of emotions that I’m bound to experience. Please pray for peace and strength as I enter this new phase.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Is Fair Trade a Spiritual Issue?

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While attending church this week in England I was personally challenged by the idea that our consumption has direct impact on the lives of thousands. The speaker went through examples of interactions most people have over the course of the day and how everything connects us to the world beyond our local market. For example, when you eat breakfast you are supporting farmers, factories, and workers worldwide. When you go to work you are in direct or indirect contact with clients, suppliers, adults, children, or any variation of that list. Every decision we make for ourselves no matter how small has an influence on the life of others.

So how does that relate to our spirituality?

In Psalm 33:5 the author states, “The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the Earth is full of his unfailing love.”

I won’t pretend to have much knowledge about fair trade. I have found the website for the Fairtrade Foundation to be helpful, but to be honest I never really thought much about the impact being a fair trade consumer can have on the world around me. By choosing to support small farms with our shopping we give farmers a voice in their market. The business world is focused on large brands and companies that receive large profits and in many cases their workers face harsh conditions and minimal pay.

I’ve never really looked at grocery shopping in this way. But one way I can contribute to the marginalized is to pay the extra fee to choose fair trade products whenever necessary. And why should I do this? Because God calls us to care for the poor, sick, injured, and those too weak to stand up for themselves. With the knowledge about fair trade options I cannot in good conscience continue to support businesses who treat their employees as less than the value they deserve. The right choice is always one that speaks love and hope. Giving small farms an opportunity to thrive is doing my part to foster justice in business.

I know it isn’t always possible, and there are times when we prefer products put out by the tycoons, but the more you investigate the issue the more disgusted you will become with the practices of some well known companies.

Once our eyes are opened to this kind of suffering in the world we can’t stand by and do nothing.

I am challenging myself this week to find one way that I can adjust my habits to support fair trade. For me, that starts with coffee–something I consume on a daily basis and one of the most abused markets for farmers. I plan to spend time researching coffee brands that I tend to purchase and make informed decisions moving forward about where and how to get my coffee fix. I know that research will really open my eyes and if you have insight into the coffee market specifically please feel free to offer your experiences. As time goes on I plan to expand my fair trade choices.

The treatment and livelihood of others rests in my choices. What costs me a little can save others so much.

Anyone else out there passionate about fair trade?

The Ameri Brit Mom

Anniversary: Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday is a weekly link-up where a community of bloggers crafts a post based on a common topic. This week the topic is Anniversary. To check out the rest of the community and their posts click here. Now on to my five minutes of uninterrupted, unedited writing:

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Next week I will begin my eighth school year as a teacher.

I cannot believe how fast time has gone. It feels like yesterday that my twenty-one-year-old self was nervously entering the teaching field. At the time I was unprepared and naive. I learned quickly to adapt to the demands of the job that college couldn’t prepare me for. My biggest challenge that first year was my age. My students weren’t much younger than I was. Because of that, I struggled with classroom management (although I’m pretty sure every first year teacher does.)

I did grow a lot that first year. By the end, I started to gain confidence.

Over the years I’ve fallen more in love with my job. My colleagues, friends, and students give me reason to go to work each day. I’m inspired by the people I’ve met and the kindness that exists at my school.

It’s been seven months since I last stood in front of a classroom of students. Those months were spent cuddling and bonding with my newborn. As I stare at the end of this blessed maternity leave I am reminding myself that if I have to leave my baby at least it is for something I love with people I also love. My teaching community will surround me with the love I need to get back at it. And I am looking forward to the adventures that this eighth school year will bring.

The Ameri Brit Mom