Sunday, February 20, 2011

A tree planted by rivers of water

Psalm 1:1-3
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,

but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by rivers of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.

In the summer of 2010 I was very clearly drawn to the first chapter of Psalms, which soon became thematic for my life. I memorized the first six verses and recited it often, unsure really of the deeper meaning of the words. One thing I knew without doubt, I did not feel like a tree planted by rivers of water, nor did it seem that we were truly prospering in all that we were doing. (And by prospering, I do not mean financially, though that subject could certainly be considered in reference to this passage). The daily grind with our business was lackluster. Though our customer base was ever-so-slowly growing, the impact that we were having seemed short of prosperous. At the time I had a head full of ideas and struggled having so many passions and interests, none of which I was sure how to act upon.

Over the past seven months, I have been “chewing” on this passage, reading commentary and reading Biblical reference material, reciting it to Jimmy, sharing revelations, asking God for understanding, and trying to see opportunities for application in my circumstances. Though I’m confident there is much greater truth to behold than what I have experienced, God has revealed to me nuggets of truth from this scripture passage. Learning from the Holy Spirit is the most exciting education— each revelation bringing spiritual edification and application right into my life!

One of the first opportunities for application was the acquisition of a second pest control business. Through a series of unbelievable events, God confirmed His desire for us to lengthen our cords and strengthen our stakes. Hurst Pest Services doubled overnight. The work has been strenuous, but rewarding. We are both learning to become more efficient so that God can continue to grow and use our business for His glory!

Starting to feel more like a tree by rivers of water…

Secondly, I met a friend, Elizabeth, who shared my love of childbirth and who also planned to become a birth doula. We agreed in the first ten minutes of meeting each other to be accountability partners in this journey— a week later we were signed up for a doula training course (compliments of my Type A personality). As a true visionary and natural encourager, Elizabeth has nurtured my love not only for assisting women in childbirth, but also for prenatal yoga, allowing me the opportunity to lead her and four other women in stretching and relaxation throughout their pregnancies. It has been an incredible experience, and I look forward to helping many more women enjoy the benefits of yoga in the childbearing years!

Elizabeth and I, along with her sister, Becca, have pooled together our passions and resources to create a local doula network serving women and families in Lake Wales and the surrounding area. Doulas of Lake Wales, (as part of— an information resource for mothers and birth professionals) will be launching soon, offering birth doula services, water birth pool rental, prenatal yoga, and placenta encapsulation.

Here is a preview of the “About Us” page of our website:

Doulas of Lake Wales is a network of like-minded women seeking to serve women and families in our local birth community with love and humility. Confident in the God-designed birthing process, we aim to share with women their options for childbirth and to support them in making informed choices about their bodies and their babies.

We believe that women can embrace ideas and methods outside of the mainstream birth paradigm without compromising their faith or intuition! We encourage mothers to envision and prepare for a gentler, more satisfying birth experience for themselves and their babies. Our job is to support them every step of the way!

So what makes our Doula group unique? We are three women with distinctive personalities, strengths, and experiences whose lives have collided for a greater purpose. We are called to love and serve women and families with hands of acceptance and hearts of grace. This means meeting people where they are in their views towards birth and life— joining as they confront fears, concerns, and past experiences, and joyfully embracing their new hopes and expectations for birth. We serve women in hospital, birthing center, and home births and are honored to support women through both medicated and unmedicated labor.

For the city of Lake Wales and surrounding Central Florida area, we hope to see openness to preserving the beauty, empowerment, and miracle that birth really is. Doulas of Lake Wales looks forward to loving and supporting women during the glorious transition to motherhood.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

"We're Going to the Fair..."

Anyone who's ever lived in Gainesville or spent any amount of time exposed to the radio airwaves of North Central Florida is familiar with THE fair song. "It's magical! It's wonderful! It's all right there . . . The Alachua County Fair. We're going to the fair... the Alachua County Fair..." If you know the tune, you're mad at me now, because you'll be singing, humming, or tapping the song for days! Muhahahaha!

The Florida State Fair could learn a few things from those Alachua County folks... like how to choose a theme song to torment your prospective visitors and then slowly lure them in. Fair food and Cracker Country were enough to lure me to the State Fair this year, and I was tickled to share the day with my favorite girl and two of her wonderful grandparents! A surprise visit from cousin Cathy was icing on the cake!

First stop: learn how to prevent forest fires. Thanks, Smokey!
This chick will find herself a seat.

Enjoying some good ol' country gospel music in Cracker Country.

And meeting friends along the way.

Trying out some dance moves compliments of her new friend.

Chickens, goats, horses, cows, a kangaroo, and even a temperamental giraffe who refused to eat the carrot no matter how high or obnoxiously BeBe waved it in the air. Bummer.
Grace Louise definitely saw her share of animals and even got to pet a few furry friends.

I was so excited to see Grace Louise experience her first carnival ride! The carousel was sure to be a hit, I thought... not so much. She was content to be in Pops' arms beside the horse.

After the carousel ride, we weren't sure the cars would be hit; after all, none of us could squeeze in one with her. She was a champ, though, and drove her little red car like a big girl!

And now for the clown car show!

This is me trying to encourage the dare-devil in my daughter. No hands!!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Yeast Beast

For those of you who have had the joy of knowing about our recent diaper rash dilemma, I have good news...The yeast beast has been defeated!!! For those of you who have been deprived of such yeasty information, let me bring you up to speed. So, Grace Louise had a diaper rash that persisted and worsened for 15 days!!! I tried your usual zinc oxide diaper creams, Vaseline, cornstarch, a combination of the three, neosporin, triple paste. No diapers, cloth diapers, disposable diapers, sensitive disposables. And then there were the baths... baking soda, chamomile tea, raw milk, and apple cider vinegar (my go-to remedy for EVERYTHING, but that's a post of its own). In a two hour goose chase I even hunted down the mother of all diaper creams (at Publix of all places), California Baby Calendula Cream- ringing in at a whopping $13. All to no avail.

What works in a pinch?
I Google searched some ideas for remedies and I came across the suggestion to use Lotriman or some kind of anti-fungal cream. Sounded a little harsh to me, plus I didn't think she had a yeast infection because she didn't seem to be having internal vaginal pain or irritation. At this point, however, I was ready to try anything. At church on Sunday, a friend saw the rash and suggested anti-fungal cream as well. Okay, enough confirmation for me. Definitely my next step. Picked up a tube of Lotriman on the way home and started applying it right away. Saw slight results overnight and then noticable healing between Monday and Tuesday. Each day there is improvement. It's Thursday and I'm still applying Caldesene powder, neosporin, and the anti-fungal cream.

Good to know.
After succumbing to the Lotriman remedy, I decided to do more "research" on yeast infections. First of all, I learned that the rash itself can be caused by yeast and can be solely external. A yeast rash doesn't necessarily mean an internal yeast infection (the kind women are so familiar with). I also learned that yeast can be persistent and should be treated for two weeks, even if physical symptoms have disappeared. Failure to do so could lead to resistance to the anti-fungal cream... kind of like antibiotics with a bacterial infection. I can't even imagine how scary the mutated version of the Yeast Beast might be!

So how do you tell if your baby has rash caused by yeast (vs a skin irritation)??
The yeast beast will typically appear as raised red bumps, appearing to even have fluid under the skin... like tiny blisters. Continued irritation from urine and feces, along with wiping, can easily lead to loss of skin integrity and open wounds. Ouch! Another way to tell if the rash is from yeast fungus is spreading from contact (for example from the outer labia to the inner thigh) or if it is found in the folds of the skin. Skin folds are typically spared in the case of a contact (non-yeast) diaper rash.

Natural Relief for Yeast
Ideally, I would have treated her yeast rash with natural methods, instead of using the Lotriman, but after almost two weeks, immediate relief was important. Thankfully, the anti-fungal cream delivered on its promise. I've since learned that a drop or two of tea tree oil on her cloth diapers will keep yeast at bay. Note to self: buy tea tree oil and avoid ever having to encounter the yeast beast again. Tea tree oil is naturally antiseptic and anti-fungal with loads of medicinal uses.

Garlic is also AMAZING at killing the yeast beast. Grace Louise ate two whole raw garlic cloves chopped up in yogurt. Poor thing- never even saw it coming! (Though afterwards I sure did pay for it...Peeyoo!) I'm hoping this garlic boost allowed her body to give ol' Candida a good kick in the rear! Consuming probiotics in yogurt, raw milk, or even pill form, is also important for killing yeast infections/rash. The body needs plenty of the "good guys" in order to prevent an overgrowth of Candida.

Obviously, keeping baby's skin dry puts up a great defense against yeast, as well as contact diaper rash. A wet and warm, anaerobic environment is like the Hilton for yeast, when what we really want to give them is the Motel 8.

Thanking God today for answering my prayer and providing a remedy to bring relief to my baby girl!

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Trip to Horse Country

A couple of weeks ago we took a family trip to Ocala to visit some friends from college, Heather and Ken. They have a beautiful home in the country with acreage, and best of all, a couple of four legged friends. (*sigh) Really beautiful four legged friends. And not the kind that bark or meow. (though they do have those too...)

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. -Prov. 18:24

We arrived in the evening, so although Grace Louise got to meet and play with her new two legged friend, Briana, she didn't meet the horses until the morning. A crisp and lovely morning.

Hi, I'm Emily. And I'm a country music singer. Welcome to my ranch where I spend the summers riding into the sunset, holding hands with my husband.

(sorry... the crossed legs and leaning on the fence post made that caption irresistible)

Spending a little time with my munchkin.
(Hoping my love for horses and riding will rub off on her).
"Pops, I want a real pony!" We practice that often.

There's that two legged friend!
Briana is going to be a big sister soon and was practicing her big sister skills with Grace Louise. She's going to be great!