Taking Back the Internet!

Many of you probably aren’t aware, but I’ve been vlogging my life for almost a year now on YouTube. If you are interested in watching, catching up with what we do on a daily-basis (family or not), or you just like YouTube in general, you should go subscribe & follow us 😉 I try to make light of life in a quirky, redheaded, Jesus-lovin’ way – so go and see if it’d be something you’d like!
I’m constantly amazed everyday that I have such a loyal group of subscribers & friends that follow my life everyday! ..and some days I am super shocked with that as well LOL! But I am seriously honored. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
In almost a year I have made it to 165 subscribers – and I am so grateful for that! While that’s an AWESOME step forward, I am still wanting to grow my channel tremendously; and make it a part-time/full-time gig! It’s been challenging.
Since March of 2016, I have worked countless hours (too many to count) editing videos, filming daily & interacting/networking with other YouTubers/influencers on the socials/interwebs. Like, a lot. It’s exhausting. I’m up wicked late. I fall asleep editing. Still haven’t made any money. But I keep on pushing on!
There have been MANY days when I honestly felt like quitting or basically, “what’s the point?” And even though I have a goal to make this channel into something that could potentially bring my family income, I sometimes wonder if it ever will. Honestly.
But I’m glad that I’m doing it for the memories – because those are pretty priceless.
Also, I’ve been a victim of comparison too many times to count. I feel like that’s honestly the hardest part about this YouTube game. Legit hardest part. Like on the verge of tears hardest part (I know, lame), BUT I keep doing what I’m doing; putting my faith in the one person who I believe is THE most important person out there – Jesus Christ.
I have NO DOUBT that many of you find it weird that I’ve chosen to do this. Even if you don’t mention it to me personally, I can tell. I mean, it’s obvious. But honestly, what else would I do – or can I do? Before I started this channel I was just your average SAHM. I love being a mom – seriously. It’s amazing. It’s life-changing. It’s challenging ..(boy, is it challenging!?). But was I going to win souls by being stuck at home changing diapers all day? Nope.
On the contrary, I am a very expressive, loud & obnoxious person (that LOVES JESUS) – so why would I want to sit at a front desk job all day answering phones? Sorry, just not me (but I’ve done it).
I feel like I’ve honestly found where I need to be. I’ve found a place where I can share the love of Jesus with others; and that place is on YouTube.
The internet is full of crazy these days. You know it is. However, my goal is to take it ALL back! We can sit around and preach all day about how social media is HORRIBLE or BAD or RUINING our society and/or the church – but what is THAT doing? Absolutely nothing! Yeah, I said it.
So instead of sitting around and letting social media RUIN everything, I’ve chosen to do something about it. That’s right.
Booyah!
I know I may sacrifice growth (or recognition) in my work, but that’s okay. It’ll be hard, but I’m not giving up. Not yet. I know that people may not like me, or what I stand for (or what I’m doing) but I won’t back down. Why, you ask? Because of Him.
Nobody’s going to Heaven with a “YouTube Play Button” or “Shorty Award”. Heaven’s for soul-winners. And I wanna be one! I wanna win souls, and not awards ..but if I win awards WHILE winning souls, that’s cool too 👍
I’m taking the internet BACK for Jesus ya’ll!
You with? 😉

The Vlogger Life – A YouTube Story

Wow – so it’s been forever since I wrote a post ..and SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED!! Ellia is now 10 months old, Jonah is 3 years old & the Autumn season has officially begun (yes, I had my first pumpkin-spiced item the other day) – don’t judge me 😉 A lot has been going on, and there will be even more to come in the coming months with the holidays coming, but I wanted to write a simple blog to tell you about something called a vlog. Yes, vlog. It’s the video-version of a blog. Back in March of this year I started on a journey of daily-vlogging my life. You know, on YouTube; that weird online video site. Yup. I started uploaded one video everyday. Literally, everyday. I would film what we did, edit that night & have it up on YT by 10am. Yes, I was doing that. After about a few months, home life started to get pushed to the wayside and I wasn’t spending NEARLY enough time with Brian and the kids (well, I was spending time with them BUT it wasn’t as much as I should’ve been), and so Brian and I had an amazing discussion and then came up with a game plan – I would vlog MWF! What the change in schedule did was not only free up my time on the homefront, but it also took a lot of pressure off of myself in regards to content. Content on the internet (especially YT), can either make you or break you. I had the thought of “well, if I put something out EVERYDAY, then that would gather more interest to my channel”. While having a significant amount of content helps your channel, it can also leave you a little helpless. I would be up until 2-3am every night of the week to edit these vlogs so that they were PERFECT (and they are still far from it). By switching it up to every other day, I’m able to have a little more free-time, still do what I love to do and also have great content. I’m not scraping by trying to figure out how to make my wicked boring vlog AWESOME  ..usually that comes naturally 😉

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The Leighty Life – on YouTube.

YouTube is weird. And I am too. I guess that’s why it works for me. Everyday of the week I pick up my $140 Sony Camcorder (that we bought to film Ellia’s birth) and basically just film everyday-life in my house. I literally am telling the world what I did that day, and what I’m planning to do that day or that week. Somedays it’s boring, somedays it’s interesting (with TONS of montages) – and somedays it’s full of the subject of poop (I mean, I do have young kids). All in all it’s just my life. The Leighty Life. I enjoy doing it & I want my viewers to enjoy it as well. I don’t really put on an act on-camera. I pretty much act the way I do if you were to engage in a normal conversation with me. I am honestly very hyper at times (I’m a high”i” personality), but I feel you sort of have to be a LITTLE interesting, and have a little bit of a personality if you’re going to do this.

Not only is YouTube weird, but people get SOOO weirded out about the internet; especially when it involves their children. And I get it, that’s understandable. Of course when we’re out in public I usually try to NOT get shots of other children/families but sometimes it’s inevitable. It happens. I do think some people think I’m a creeper, so I always try and make it apparent that “hey, I’m their mom and I’m filming them”. I usually try and yell out to Jonah and just talk about what I’m filming so that people are aware that I am not filming them. I’m not sure that they still believe me , but I try. Another thing people get weird about is just the exposure/exploitation of their children worldwide. I mean let’s face it – it is the World Wide Web, so yes, there are a lot of crazy/creepy people out there. Of course I don’t film a lot of personal stuff, or the kids in the bathtub but I’m busy making memories – I don’t worry about everything evil in the world. If you start worrying about everything you just get caught up in all the craziness. I’m trying to be His light in the darkness, and I love the ability to share my life with the world around me. It’s weird, I know. I’m pretty sure I have family members that don’t agree with what I’m doing online & my mom really didn’t like the idea of me putting my life out there on the internets. Even though she was (understandably) nervous with me using YouTube like this, she also understands that I don’t share my WHOLE life on there. I also try to respect my friends and family, and won’t (usually) put them (or their kids) on the vlog unless it’s okay. I’m still learning that a lot of people (even family), don’t like this “form” of media. I honestly don’t think it’s any different than posting something on Facebook. Once it’s out there, it’s out there. It’s the internet. Regardless of what you think, everything you put online isn’t 100% private. Sure, you can set your profile to “friends only” or limit the amount of items you show “publicly” on any medium, but it’s out there. Forever.

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My Snapchat Code – ADD ME!

Speaking of social media, I absolutely LOVE IT! I have whole-heartedly embraced the world of Facebooking, Instagramming, Tweeting, Snap Chatting, Vlogging, YouTubin’, Musical.lying & have most-recently got on the “Vine-train”. I do have to say that I miss good ‘ole Tom on Myspace though (oh – and we must not forget that infamous “LiveJournal” site); that’s where it all started for me 😉

Overall, Vlogging has definitely opened up a world of new relationships/friendships & opportunities. The majority of people still don’t really understand what I do and why I do it. I guess you have to be in this “community” of YouTube to truly understand what it’s about. I sort of feel like it’s some sort of private club or something. Seriously. Vloggers get each other when most of the rest of society doesn’t get you. Even my family can be weird about stuff, and quite frankly it’s annoying. They honestly probably have NO clue that this is actually something I’m trying to grow into a career (while just making memories and having fun). Actually, I’m pretty sure the majority of my family are not even subscribed to my channel; which is annoying. Forgive me – I need to be more like Jesus in this area …

When I started to vlog back in March, Brian (being Brian) told me that I should set a goal for myself in regards to my channel. What I came up with was for me to vlog consecutively (or in my case now MWF) for 6 months to a year. I would see where the , how many subscribers I had received & see where I was headed. I would have an idea of what my channel was becoming – if it was going to be something that I would take on a more professional-level (yes, people make money on YouTube). Overall I have changed a couple of things, and keeping things updated while maintaining a house (and running after children) can be pretty stressful at times ..but I’m doing it! In addition to the awesome amount of subscribers I have gained since March (77!), I have also received TON of views on the recent “Unboxing Videos” on my channel – Unboxing the NEW Apple Watch Series 1 & Unboxing the NEW iPhone 7 . This was an idea that Brian had for me when we both purchased these new Apple products shortly after they were publicly released a few weeks ago. And it was genius. I’m wondering if Brian should be called Brain instead.

vlogger-fairThrough YouTube I have also met some awesome (and sweet) people. Most of these people I have never met in-person, so I’m hoping that in November that will change. I have decided to attend VloggerFair in Seattle on the weekend of November 12-13.
This is one (of many) yearly vlogger/Youtuber conventions in the US; and I’m a little nervous. I sort of have the feeling that most of my family (and some of my friends) don’t think I’m serious about this YouTube thing. I mean, does it not seem like I am? I guess I sort of started on YouTube with the intention to just try something new, do something I love doing (video) & just have fun with it; however, once I saw the whole new level of creativity out there … things changed.

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A lot of times I wonder if people actually like watching my vlogs. I regard myself as pretty hilarious (at times), but with daily-vlogging there were somedays that I would come up without a lot of content. I mean, these vlogs are a view into my life. It’s what I do everyday. I’m a SAHM. I’m weird. I’m a Jesus freak. I have crazy kids. All of this goes into what my audience (“homies”) see everyday. However, the fact that I NOW have a couple of days of footage has honestly been A LOT better for my channel (although, there are times when even shooting video for a couple days turns out to be super boring), but I try 🙂 What can a girl do?

I know I probably annoy a lot of my friends & family with news about my channel. I’m constantly on social media trying to “subliminally” advertise & gain new subscribers. To be fair, that is the only way I can advertise The Leighty Life affordably 😉 Until I head out to Seattle & meet other vloggers and look into collaborating (and learning other methods), this is the way I’m getting the word out. So, apologies. I know some of you are annoyed, and honestly don’t care about my stupid vlogs. I get it. BUT on the other hand, if you had something you were working your tail off night and day to grow – I would honestly support you. True story.

Moving on. 

Like many YouTubers, I experienced my first “thumbs down” the other day. And yes, that upset me. I mean, it didn’t upset me in terms of crying – I just got annoyed. I have to constantly remind myself that it’s my choice whether or not I tell people my business online. And I can’t control what people think. People have the freedom to like and dislike anything they want in life. It’s all good. I can’t make something FUN and EXCITING if it really wasn’t really fun and exciting. So apologies on the boringness at times.

The thing with YT is this. If you don’t have subscribers, if you don’t get thumbs up/likes, if you don’t have any comments or activity on your vlogs or videos ..you really don’t have a chance of making it in the YT-world (or at least making any money). Like I said, I have been putting out videos since March, but I have yet to see any check. And I won’t – until my sub count is up, my videos are getting more views/likes/comments and/or I make some super awesome video that goes viral. I have talked with a couple other YouTubers online and may end up collaborating on some stuff there, so that may help. But right now it is what it is. And I was expecting that. I know it takes a little to get your content out. I mean it just takes you uploading it, but it takes a lot more to garner a following. I went into YouTube NEVER wanting to do one of those stupid “challenge” videos, but it’s changed my mind. Because let’s face it – they work. So be on the lookout for some Bean Boozled challenges ..and maybe something else that’s awesome (like those music videos I’ve been talking about since forever).

In any case, I love the internet. I love the ability we have (as online creators) to create what WE want with the Freedom WE have WHEN we want! I absolutely LOVE outlets like YT to get your content out WORLDWIDE! Whether it be gaming videos, those boring surprise egg videos (someone likes them) or daily vlogs. I may not be the next Casey Neistat (not even close) BUT I am a creator. That’s what Casey is. We create online content for people to enjoy. To me it’s about making memories & having fun; all while showing the love of Christ. I’m not a fancy cinematographer or stunt woman. I’m just Cara Leighty. I make funny, honest, somewhat-humble (somewhat boring) vlogs about my life as a SAHM and photographer. I love Jesus & I enjoy all aspects of media –  filming, editing, cameras (nerdy stuff); all while showing off my crazy (and super random) personality. And I am grateful to God for Blessing me with it 🙂 Maybe I’ll get big, maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll eventually make money, maybe I won’t. In any case, I’m that weird redhead on YouTube.

So won’t you like, subscribe & comment? 😉

SUBSCRIBE to The Leighty Life on YouTube!

THE SOCIAL STUFFS!
Tweet Me on Dat Twittah: https://twitter.com/mrs_leighty
Snappity Snap Me on Muh Snapchat: caraleighty
Enjoy My Musical-Craziness on Musical.ly: mrs_leighty
Beam Me Up on Dat Beme: mrsleighty
Loopity Loop Me on that Vine: mrs_leighty

 

Wow. Two?!

So the last time we talked (or actually, I wrote) was the birth story of my beautiful daughter Ellia Gianna ❤ Let’s just say a lot has happened since that early-December day; a lot of AMAZING things 🙂

For starters, things are starting to calm down a bit on the home-front! Ellia has been adjusting well to life outside of the womb, and Jonah is adjusting to life with Ellia. Brian and I, while sometimes wanting to rip our hair out, have been doing amazingly-well these past two months in raising our TWO (!!) little ones. Now, I’m not going to lie ..it’s been rough some nights, and honestly why does a baby cry so much …for no reason? Anyone?! But all-in-all we have been Blessed and we are so thankful to God for giving us the opportunity to raise such beautiful children!

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Ellia just LOVES him!

In early December Brian started a new job (at Emeals – http://www.emeals.com) and it’s been going quite well! He’s (thankfully) 2 miles down the road from the house, so he is avoiding all of that dreaded Atlanta traffic!! WOO HOO!! I’ve been surviving off of lots of coffee lately, and breastfeeding (and pumping) like CRAZY!!  Taking care of 2 under the age of 3 is quite the challenge somedays, and sometimes I ask myself why I did this ..but alas 😉 No, really I’m very Blessed and fortunate to be able to stay at home and watch these kiddos! It will be nice though once I can actually venture out of the house (on my own) and do something for me 🙂 A pedicure has been sounding really good lately ..we’ll see!

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He’s a handful, but he’s so SWEET ❤

Jonah is something else. He absolutely LOVES his baby sister! He can’t get enough of her ..unless she’s crying and he so boldly responds with a “don’t cry” “too loud” or if it’s interfering with his show a “I can’t watch my show” comes out of his mouth! Oh, the things Jonah says! He cracks me up! Just this morning (after making him some scrambled eggs) he proceeded with a “wait a minute – I need ketchup” before he took a bite of his eggs 🙂 I just love my little man!

Ellia is getting chunkier (and cuter) by the minute! She’s a fan of mommy’s milk, long naps, short naps, lots of sleep, no sleep & her brother! She’s quite a mommy’s girl – so much so that I really can’t be anywhere without her crying (more like freaking out) in order to be with me. Only me. I have to say – it’s a little overwhelming because Jonah wasn’t really like that ..I guess it’s a girl thing. Who knows.

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Ellia with Martha (Mills) – the midwife that delivered her – at my 6/7 week postpartum visit!

The cats? Well, let’s just say they are getting to be annoying. I never thought I’d say that I don’t like my cats. I’m a cat person – always have been ..and probably always will be. But mine? They are super annoying. Between rubbing, butting their heads on us to get our attention, puking right after a meal (or running while puking) & leaving a mess with their STANKING cat litter (with the occasional cat-spats in-between) I’m really about to call it quits with them. I remember always being the person (it’s lame I know) that was like “oh Brian, I hope they’ll be okay when we’re away for a couple of days” ..or “do you think they’ll be okay” ..and now it’s like “uh whatever” “oh did they eat today? Who knows”. I mean seriously, if you want to have my attention and get me to like you ..quit being annoying. Period. Anyone want a cat?!

So basically that’s mostly what’s been going on here lately! This weekend marks Ellia being 2-months old! She is already a 12-lb baby (Brian weighed her), but it doesn’t surprise me! She’s also being dedicated to the Lord this weekend – so I am super excited for that! Also, Allyssa will be a married woman soon!! Gah! So between taking care of the kids, helping Allyssa plan a wedding & being a wife ..I’ve been busy! Whew!

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What I’m giving McKenna!

Oh – I have also gained my status as a “cow” again (milk-wise), and will be sharing some milky-goodness to my friend Summer’s newborn baby girl (adopted daughter) McKenna! I cannot wait to Bless this little baby!! Boy – I do make a lot of milk though! Whew!

Although there have been some amazing times these past few months, the first of the year started out not-so-amazing. I recently I lost my grandfather, Norman Lafortune (after losing my grandmother in April of 2015). Even though it sucks losing a loved one, looking back I am so thankful to have been able to share most of my life with him. I remember our “potato chip picnics” on Darcie Drive, going over his house in Foxwood and watching “Flipper” on TV after school, and how he always mixed his cereals together;

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Papa & Grandma with a little Jonah!

especially if he had a little left of each. He always told me how proud he was of me, and that’s definitely stuck with me. Also, he definitely wasn’t afraid to speak up on any subject (I think I get that from him), and I think that’s what I’m going to miss the most! I just loved how blunt he was ..although at times it was probably not so good 🙂 I just hope that his children (including my mother) find comfort in Christ during this time. That’s the time when we need Him the most it seems ..in the not-so-good times 😦 I know I do!

To end the blog all I have to say is that we are SUPER Blessed and grateful for EVERYTHING that we have – and we thank God for that! Even though I complained (earlier ..and technically I’m supposed to be on a no-complaining fast) I am very grateful for all of my Blessings; including the cats. I am so grateful that I live in a free country, and that I am able to Worship the one-true King – Christ Jesus. I am thankful that I gave my life to Him and for His purpose and I am so thankful that He’s entrusted these two beautiful children to my care ..and I’m thankful to Him for my wonderful husband and (sometimes crazy) family – this is what He’s given me, and I grateful for it all 😉

 

 

Birth Story: Ellia Gianna

So, Ellia’s birth was cray! That is the only way (and word I can use) to describe it! I was due to have her by Saturday, November 14th, 2015. Even though it’s just an estimated due date, I was truly hoping to go into labor and have her then. I was ready! Instead, Brian, Jonah & I went to our usual Saturday night service at church (as we had gone the previous night as well for a healing sermon). We made it through most of the service and then I started to get wicked bad contractions. I had been getting prodromal labor contractions for at least a week off/on, but these were a little different (and more painful). Once I told Brian what was happening, we both agreed to start heading home before the sermon ended. At this point I was pretty much losing focus on what Bishop Joseph Garlington was saying anyways, so it was probably the best thing.  

Once we got home, I had Brian get Jonah some dinner (I had made sauce before leaving for church that night), and get him ready for bed while I took a bath to see if things changed. They did – and they stopped! Even though my contractions stopped completely after having a bath, I was definitely getting excited at the progression I was having. Since I had called Allyssa to come over (in case we went into labor), she went ahead and spent the night at the house. The night was fairly normal, and we were able to get some much-needed rest!

On Sunday, things were pretty much like any other day. I didn’t really have too many more contractions – maybe I did but I don’t remember them being too bad, and we just went on with our day. We basically just took it easy, and then by the end of the night I had made Brian get me a Publix wrap for dinner (as well as some Chinese food for he and Jonah). After dinner we did our usual night time routine for Jonah (with some dancing in-between), and then went ahead and got him off to bed. By the end of the night I had already called Allyssa back to the house to come over and watch Jonah in case something happened that night. She came over with Melanie and we visited for a while. We got Jonah into bed, and I took a shower. In the shower I was having some contractions that were pretty uncomfortable but I was able to bear them.

After the shower, Brian and I went into the room to watch a show we’ve been watching on Amazon Prime called “Suits”. We were just starting up an episode that we had stopped earlier when the labor pains (contractions) hit again. Things were starting to get uncomfortable. Brian then contacted Zoe (our doula) and she insisted that I get into the tub to see what happens again. I obliged ..even though I had just taken a shower 🙂 This was about 10:30PM.

I got into the tub, but things didn’t slow down. I was getting wicked bad contractions while laying there – and some were to the point of me crying in pain. About 11:00PM I talked to Zoe on the phone so that she could see how things were going, and if this was it. Little did I know, that Brian had already been texting her and she had mentioned that she thought it was the “real deal, but don’t tell her that” 🙂

By about 11:20PM my contractions were starting to get more intense, and I started to shake. Not sure if this was because I was nearing transitional labor or if it was because I was cold. That is when Zoe said she didn’t trust my patterns and decided to head over to the house. Zoe told us to let us know what the midwife says once we get the call back, and to let her know if she needed to head to the hospital instead of our place. I told Brian I honestly just thought we needed to go to the hospital, and talking to Antoinette it was confirmed that we should come in.

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Allyssa helping me through a contraction by putting counter-pressure on my back! She was pretty dang good 😉

So Brian and I started gathering things together, left Allyssa to care for Jonah until the rents came and got him in the AM, and we left for Dekalb Medical Center. I will note that Allyssa did a very nice job of applying counter-pressure on me during a contraction before we left 😉 When driving (and before we even got to the interstate) I made sure to tell Brian to not “drive like an old lady”; as he does have a tendency to drive VERY safe, but it can be VERY slow! The ride to the hospital took us about 50 minutes. Brian drove the best he could, but my contractions started to get worse and worse! Luckily we made it to DMC in about 45-50 minutes give/take – and traffic was light because it was super late at night. As we were turning onto the main road to the hospital we saw a car beside us, and one that pulled in by us as we pulled into the women’s center – it was Zoe!

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When we first arrived in triage.

When we got to DMC, we proceeded to head up to L&D/triage to see the status of the baby. By 12:16PM we were at the hospital, getting checked for dilation, and being hooked up to some monitors in triage. Let me just say, hospitals are TERRIBLE with their check-ins. I don’t understand how you can ask a laboring woman to sign this paper and that paper and ask all these questions when they get there. Someone needs to change that…LOL! Once the nurse checked me, she measured me out to about 6cm; which was GREAT! I knew then that what I had been experiencing in the last week – and last couple of hours – was progression! Things for me in labor are super different. I honestly don’t think that I am able to have “normal” contractions. Contractions are hard, and everyone says they are ..but seriously, MY contractions with BOTH of my babies were CRAY! There seriously were no breaks, and they lasted about 5-6 minutes each. Every time one of the nurses or techs needed to ask me something, I honestly couldn’t respond to them. It was like that with Jonah, but it was worse with Ellia.

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In triage, working through contractions.

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Zoe, helping me through some more crazy contractions in our L&D room.

By 1-1:30AM, things were progressing and we were in our L&D room (#2003). When I was wheeled in (yes, wheeled in with the bed since I could NOT move my position at all), I heard peaceful music and the sound of water filling a super comfy-looking water birth tub. I was excited! Even though I couldn’t concentrate enough, or be aware of things around me as I worked through the pain ..this seemed pretty awesome. As soon as I got into this room, I went ahead and got naked. I don’t know what it is with me, I just don’t like things constricting me! And plus, all modesty is out when you give birth ..let’s just be honest 😉 I was soon able to get into the tub and BOY did it feel AMAZING!! The hot water was soothing, and it was nice being weightless as I labored in the tub! The funny thing is – I told them I had to pee right when I hit the water ..and I did. Sorry 😉 I was able to labor in the tub for a while, but the contractions I had were just horrible! 

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Very relaxing, warm birth tub! It felt amazing getting in this!

They checked on Ellia while I was in the water; as well as the nurses checking my progression. It was about 2:15AM when Loren (our nurse) had another nurse check my progression, but she accidentally broke my water; which was fine at this point since they did say that I had a pretty good bag of water in front of Ellia (like with Jonah).  

Before this point Loren was having a hard time seeing what my dilation was at. It didn’t help that I couldn’t really get into a good position for anyone to check. After the water was broken, the nurse pointed out that I was up to 7-8 cm in dilation. There was some meconium in the water (and I was a little freaked out), but things just kept on progressing ..and started to get more painful.

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As I was trying to push Ellia into an optimal position while in the birthing tub, I rested & was comforted by my amazing midwife Antoinette!

 

Antoinette (See Baby midwife) finally came into the room. My doula (Zoe) noted that my demeanor changed when she entered the room 🙂 At this point I couldn’t even talk to anyone (let alone LOOK around). She was able to check me as well and noted that it seemed like the baby was pretty high up still and I wasn’t fully dilated still. What she suggested next was seeing if when I bore down and pushed if Ellia would budge a little to move her position; as she said it seemed like her head was a little tilted/off-kilt. I tried doing that around 3:20AM; and even though the pushing helped me through the contractions, it didn’t do anything to bring her down. It was the strangest thing because once I was able to sort of push, some of my contractions seemed like they were a little more bearable – and I had some breaks that allowed me to randomly rest (in almost a sleep-like state).

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Doula Love.

Soon Antoinette wanted to try something different, so she had me get out of the tub (around 3:50AM) and sit on the toilet and try to push while I was in a more “open” position. At this point things were just crazy, and I tried it but it didn’t work. I think I hugged Antoinette more than I pushed. It felt so comforting having her there – she has such a sweet spirit. At around 4:15AM I was out of the tub and onto the bed. I was checked again to see any progression and I was at 9cm still ..and 0 station. Nothing had changed. My doula Zoe joked later that it was like I went through 5 different transitions.

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Me “hugging” Antoinette as I worked through contractions on the toilet. This seemed to be common-theme with me that day.

I think this was the most frustrating part ..the fact that she was just chillin’ up high, not moving down, not progressing and I was just getting these INTENSE no-break contractions over the course of 5-6 hours. All I know is that while I labored in the tub I kept saying “I couldn’t do it”. I would cry and scream it. I was literally crying my heart out because it was so intense. Usually when someone says that they can’t do it anymore, they are VERY close. Everyone was telling me it was close, but this lasted for a LONG time. So finally, to help with giving me a break in my contractions I was given an IV with fentanyl ..however that didn’t last too long. They also said I could get more, but would only last “x amount of time”; and I was just not having this pain anymore!

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All hooked up!

Since things didn’t seem like they were progressing, and I was just exhausted and needed a break/relief ..I opted for an epidural. This was at about 6:45-7AM. To be honest, I was really down on myself about it. I had Jonah with no epidural and had a forceps-assisted delivery, AND I am a super semi-crunchy natural birth advocate that “didn’t like epidurals” but knew they were needed in certain circumstances. I didn’t realize that that circumstance would be mine! I have to say that my doula Zoe, Brian & my doula-in-training Kristen were super supportive of me in everything. I felt horrible. I felt like a failure, but Antoinette agreed that even though Ellia was looking great on the monitors, if we did an epidural it would probably help to slow down some of the contractions; giving me a much-needed break for my body to rest and recover – and be ready to birth this baby!

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Me, getting some relief!

OMGOSH – as my friend Tara once said “Jesus loves epidurals”. And boy, was she right!! Even though I was having intense contractions before the anesthesiologist came in to do it, it was like HEAVEN to get one! It worked super fast, stung just a little (with needle numbing the area first, and pressure going in), but I was still able to slightly move my legs. It was pretty much the perfect epidural. Got rid of the intense, painful contractions I was having but I didn’t feel like I was “stuck” (as in unable to move my body completely). Obviously I couldn’t get out of the bed and walk, but it was great having the relief ..and I needed it! Plus, I really wasn’t into changing positions and/or walking around before the epi. I was pretty much over everything ..LOL!!

It was around 7:30AM when the epidural was all said and done. I was then able to get some rest off/on before having this baby! When shifts switched, we ended up meeting with Martha; as she was the next midwife on-call. I love Martha. She’s such a motherly-type, and it was great having her there. She didn’t push anything, was just so patient (even with cervical checks), and she was just a loving person. I also loved my nurse Julie – she was super sweet (and was an awesome red-head too). The rest of the day was just a combo of waiting, eating (although I couldn’t eat too much), drinking fluids, being pumped with some IV saline as well as the epidural, and just hanging out with the doulas. We talked everything from farts, to breastfeeding & Jesus. It was fun, and such a Blessing!

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The girls “pretending” to sleep for the camera 🙂

Around 11:30AM Monday, things started to slow down a little (as far as the distance between contractions went) and Martha suggested maybe a low-dose pitocin would help to just speed things up slowly. They started me on about 1 unit and that really made a difference! My contractions started to come at a closer distance and so they bumped me up again to see what it would do. The goal was to try and get my contractions moving the baby down more; as I was still stuck at about 9cm and was still at 0 station. I’d have to say that being at that position for so long, and knowing that she was just in an awkward position sort of made it a little frustrating. Even though it was annoying, I was honestly very thankful that neither of the meds were making her go into distress; as she was staying at a very healthy heart rate and there were no issues there. Martha made sure that I was aware of this constantly! Soon enough, the original epidural that I received was starting to wear off. I was thankful for them giving me another dose (bolus) intravenously that helped to numb things again so that helped! The “dreadful” contractions were starting to come back, so it was amazing getting the little boost again!

Because Ellia was sitting up high still (and still at her same positioning), Martha suggested the next thing to do was to try and start pushing to see if it would move her again. I’d have to say, the downside to getting an epidural really is the ability to feel “down there”. Even though my epidural did its job, it was hard to do mine. I did have a pretty decent epidural; as it was just enough to help with the contractions, but I was able to move my feet and not be so restricted. After trying to push (to get her move her position) for a good 2 hours, we decided to take a break. Martha said she had been in contact with Dr. Bootstaylor and that she was going to update him and see what we should do. At this point we just continued to wait again. This is when I started to feel a lot more pressure down there. Then at some point, my epidural started to wear off more. I then felt even MORE pressure. I was pretty much determined to go ahead and have this baby. This is why I love my midwives/doc – Martha didn’t restrict me from pushing at all. She said when I felt I needed to I could. I think I got a little obsessed because I just kept pushing. I was on my side pushing (versus on my back when originally trying to) – and I really liked this position. The only thing I didn’t like was the fact that I felt all of this pressure. I was in a lot of pain, and at some point asked Martha if she could “stay with me”. She did, and it felt so comforting! I knew she had another patient, but she stayed with me and encouraged me! She was the most amazing midwife EVER!

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Martha stayed with me & comforted me through contractions.

They said I could get another bolus of the epidural (as the pump was sort of a slow-flow deal), and I pretty much agreed on it. I didn’t want to feel “those contractions” again. While waiting, I just kept pushing. I guess the downside with pushing a baby out is once you’ve pushed and pushed, and you keep pushing ..it’s gonna be more painful and you’re gonna have more and more pressure. That’s what happened. But even though it was so uncomfortable (and felt like I had to take a huge dump) something clicked! It worked!! Martha checked me and said she had started to move down further and was closer! I was so thankful and relieved; as it was getting hard to wait on Dr. Bootstaylor to come (he was on his way) AND I was told the anesthesiologist was stuck at a c-section. I literally said out out “seriously!?” LOL! Cause at this point, things were really painful ..but now there seemed to be a light at the end of the tunnel – we were having this baby soon!

Soon enough, Martha got delivery protocols started and I started pushing. In the midst of pushing, Loren (our original nurse who was super sweet) came in on her next shift to check on things ..she walked in while things were “in progress”, but I guess with being a nurse it didn’t bother her ..it was funny though 🙂 I just said hello. And the other thing that happened is Dr. B came as well. Martha then told him that we were having a baby ..she hadn’t been able to tell him anything had started up on its own until he was literally there – so he had become a birth spectator and cheerleader per his arrival!

Pushing this child out was really hard. It was hard because I was so ready. I was so exhausted, and I was getting sort of tired of hearing my husband say over and over “you’re doing great” “you’re almost there” “this is it”. I mean let’s face it – this was the last stretch (literally), I knew I was going to have a baby ..but sometimes encouraging words (in the midst of labor) don’t really help and encourage some laboring mothers ..like me! I definitely love my husband with everything in me, I was just over it LOL! So what I started to do was just push and push and push. And things WERE progressing ..it seemed like it took FOREVER to get her to crown, but once I did it was exciting ..and a relief! Although I was so focused, and had my eyes closed most of the time, it was awesome having a great birthing team with me!

Ellia started to crown and things started to turn real, and before I knew it she came tumbling out and (as my doula Zoe said) “looking like lady liberty”. What this means is her hand was up beside her face (nuchal hand), and her cord was wrapped around her. This could’ve been one of the reasons why she was having a hard time coming through the birth canal! In any case, Ellia was finally here; making her entrance into this world at 8:39PM on 11/16/15! They had to take her over to the warmer to suction her mouth because there had been some meconium in the fluid right as she was born, so she wasn’t able to feed off of the placenta as much as her brother did in birth; however, I was grateful that she was here safe, precautions were taken & that I had decided to donate my cord blood anyways ..so all of that blood has now gone to some much-needed babies/kids dealing with all sorts of illnesses and diseases.

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Ellia, wearing her coat of vernix 🙂

Let me just say, Ellia was a big 8lb 14oz baby of cheesy goodness. She had so much vernix on her body it was crazy, but she was beautiful. And she was ours! I am so grateful that I had the team I had in her birth, and wouldn’t have chosen them any differently! God knew what He was doing! It makes a world of a difference when you have SUPPORT! And the times when I felt like a failure, and that my birth plan went kapoot – I was super encouraged ..and still felt like a super mom/rock star because of what I went through in 22 hours, and because of the wonderful support TEAM that kept on encouraging me; even when I didn’t really like hearing the encouragement! Oh – and I’m taking my husband up on his offer of a “push present” because I do recall him telling me (after her birth) ..”oh you’re definitely getting a push present now” 😉

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Me with my baby girl.

But all I have to say now is that God is amazing, and was during all of this. I am thankful and grateful for my Savior and for His help through this because I know that I couldn’t have done it without Him!

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So grateful for these two women! My Doula, Zoe Das (L) & Kristen Tapley (R); doula-in-training.

 

 

The leaves are changing ..and so much more!

Me, Allyssa & Melanie at Wormsloe State Historic Site in Savannah, GA.

Me, Allyssa & Melanie at Wormsloe State Historic Site in Savannah, GA.

Now that things have sort of “settled down” (per say) from the summer, we have already started kicking back into gear for the new season – not only with our personal lives (and the changes to come), but with our photography business! I finished up editing a wedding we did on September 12th & we have another this coming weekend (October 3rd), so my plan is to knock all of these out before baby comes! It’s a little more challenging doing a wedding (all-day) while “30-something-weeks” pregnant, but it’s not too bad! Between these weddings I got to enjoy a nice Hibachi dinner & homemade (Brian-made) cheesecake for my birthday!

Jonah having fun at his Elmo-themed 2nd birthday party!

Jonah having fun at his Elmo-themed 2nd birthday party!

Speaking of baby ..we did choose a name: Ellia Gianna. Ellia means “Jehovah is God” and Gianna means “God is gracious”. It took us quite a while to decide on her name – even more time than it took us to pick Jonah’s! I didn’t think choosing a girl name would be so difficult! We wanted something with meaning, but was unique (but not weird). I think we nailed it on the head with that name ..and it’s pretty Italian; which I’m sure will make my dad happy 🙂 Being 1/4 Italian, I have to represent somehow, right?!

With Ellia coming, things have been (surprisingly) not too stressful. We’ve put the crib up in Jonah’s room, painted letters for the wall, and I have received so many generous donations of clothing/baby items that I cannot even count! I just have to say, we have the most AMAZING church family/friends in the world! We are so Blessed! Around my birthday Allyssa & Melanie actually threw me a baby “sprinkle” (which is basically a smaller version of a shower), so I was able to get a few things at that shower that have Blessed us as well! I think besides finishing touches in the nursery, organizing and cleaning baby clothes (boy, do I love Oxyclean!!), and packing a suitcase I think we’re pretty much ready to take on this next journey!

Mmmm. Brian-made cheesecake is the best!

Mmmm. Brian-made cheesecake is the best!

On another note, a couple months back, I was actually diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes 😦 While it sort of ..well, it does pretty much SUCK ..I am still grateful that it is not pre-eclampsia or anything else more serious! And I’m very empathetic towards those that have to deal with having diabetes on a daily basis – it’s hard! I now have to eat every 2-3 hours, take my blood sugar 2-hours after every main meal, and just basically revamp the way I eat. Even though it’s a pain, and it does suck at times (because I love me some sweets), I think it’s been better for me and for Ellia in the long-run. Remember that cheesecake I just told you about? Well, Brian made it with honey, and I was still able to splurge ..and surprisingly my levels didn’t go as high! I am so thankful that I see a provider (See Baby/Dr. Bootstaylor) that really make things a lot easier than I think any other doctor would! They monitor me, but they don’t freak out. They have to make sure I know that having GD there are risks, but when I asked about the rates of cesareans in the practice with women that have it, I was told that pretty much none of them have had one ..besides some lady that wanted one 😛

Pictures from my 30-week U/S with Ellia. She's was already 4 lbs (measuring 37 weeks!! Gahh) LOL!

Pictures from my 30-week U/S with Ellia. She’s was already 4 lbs (measuring 37 weeks!! Gahh) LOL!

Having an evidence-based provider is such a Blessing – and it just makes me excited for the labor/delivery! I know that nothing will be done (intervention-wise) unless it is ABSOLUTELY necessary – and that is such a relief! I trust Dr. Bootstaylor and his midwives with my life ..as I had a semi-scary labor with Jonah (with having pre-e); however, even with that birth I felt at peace. I know God is working wonders in that practice, and I am so grateful that I chose to follow Dr. B there! Right now I am 33 weeks and about 5 days, and I get another ultrasound/appt next week! Although I was a little overwhelmed (and disappointed) when I found out my diagnosis, I am actually very thankful in a sense because we get to see her more often 😉 The last U/S we had at 30 weeks we were able to see her practicing breathing; which they often look for at around 32 weeks. It seems like this girl already knows what she’s doing! And we are so Blessed! The only other things I have noticed with this pregnancy versus Jonah’s is that I didn’t have too much swelling at first, but now I’m starting to get more on one side (my right side) than the other ..and my leg goes numb! These babies are so crazy, but I am so thankful and Blessed to be able to carry them; and I ultimately thank God for that opportunity!

My awesome fairy-tale-themed Baby Sprinkle!

My awesome fairy-tale-themed Baby Sprinkle!

Now I am ready to take on this next season ..but I’m also ready to delve into some “pumpkin-spiced something” & watch the leaves change and the temperature drop too! This is my favorite time of the year, and I am so glad that I get to share it with the people I love so much ..and experience Ellia’s first! I do mention to Brian that I am glad she will come before the holidays ..especially having this condition. It just makes me look forward to the day that she is here ..but because she’s here and not because of that pumpkin pie 😉

…and baby makes 4!

Here she is!

Here she is! Baby #2 – Due 11/14/15

So, I’m pretty sure most of you know that we are expecting our second babe this November ..but just in case you didn’t know, now you know! On Tuesday (6/30/15) we found out that we are in-fact be expecting a BABY GIRL this fall 🙂 We cannot begin to describe how stoked we are to become parents to a little girl! We are super excited!! Things with this pregnancy have been pretty good. Although I did start off with a lot of sickness (which most people suggested that it was because I was having a girl), after about 12/13 weeks (and into the 2nd trimester) it began to wear off ..and I was able to get off of the Zofran i was on! I definitely didn’t like being on something like that, but I after weighing the pros/cons and also checking with my OB, I felt a little better about taking it. So now that the morning sickness (all day sickness really) is over, I have been mostly dealing with random cravings (pizza, sauerkraut, pickles, grinders, etc.) and just the usually tiredness & round ligament pain. Going to the chiro definitely helps, and if you have insurance or can afford it (and you are pregnant), I would definitely like to express ..or basically tell you ..that you should go! Not only does it help with the pain (I experienced low back pain with both babies so far), but it’s also so good for the baby in making sure they stay in an optimal position for birth. Since baby girl is moving around and being cray cray most of the time, she’s knocking me out of alignment ..so it’s been awesome being able to get adjusted and keep her from ending up in a totally awkward position once birth time comes!

Jonah announcing the gender!

Other than the basic pains and struggles of a pregnant lady, I’ve been so Blessed – I mean, I’m Blessed anyways but you know what I’m saying (if you’ve been pregnant/had kids). Jonah’s been doing pretty good, but has definitely started to show signs of his impending 2-year old birthday ..lol but honestly, he’s a very good baby! He’s so cute, and was actually telling us we were having a girl from the beginning; although sometimes he would say “boy” or “boyerrl” (boy/girl mixed) or just baby, but it is so cute seeing him say baby and kiss my belly 🙂 I’m not quite sure he really understands, but I’m certain that he will be such a great big brother once she makes her arrival!

Brian’s been doing well at his job – but has been having a lot of health issues these past couple of years. What started off as gastritis, has turned into other abdominal issues ..so we are trying to figure out if maybe his hernia surgery (and mesh placement) is making these issues. I know with God guiding us, we will know ..but we’ve done so many tests to try and figure it out, so at times it becomes rather frustrating trying to understand what is going on. It’s more frustrating to me (well, I’m sure it’s VERY frustrating to him too) because I feel like I can’t do anything to help him! He’s super discouraged, and we are hoping to get some answers soon (after a second opinion), so if you can think of it – pray for us ..well, more specifically him 🙂 It would mean to the world to us ..and to him! It’s hard seeing my husband in pain everyday (although it’s not excruciating) ..it still sucks (for him) because he can’t get a break. Furthermore, he doesn’t want to have to deal with this stuff once November rolls around! I know God has his hand on him, it’s just hard.

I know in all of this, He’s got a plan. I’m not sure what it is, and it’s hard waiting around for it ..but I know it’s there! We just have to remember to focus on Him and I’m sure things will work themselves out! God’s got our backs!

A Beautiful Exchange.

I don’t know why some people don’t understand Jesus. And don’t understand His love. It leaves me heartbroken and pondering where they stand in their walk. Yesterday my Facebook exploded because I posted something about Rob Bell – and his un-Biblical teachings and beliefs; that are going to hurt so many fellow believers – and hinder those that are still lost. I knew it was going to happen (the ranting and raving on my Facebook), but honestly I didn’t care. I don’t want to sit here idly and watch the world – and people I love – head into destruction because I didn’t say anything. Aren’t we supposed to help? Aren’t we supposed to love? That’s what I believe. Loving is not condoning ..love is loving – unconditionally, and in truth. Jesus loved us unconditionally, but He made it clear what will gain you access to His Kingdom. There are many things that can prevent you – even being really mad at someone because they “wronged you”. I have to admit, I have had my fair-share of grievances with people, but I don’t want my eternal life/salvation to be based on that “one time that someone was mean to me” or “cut me off in traffic”. It’s just not worth it.

I know living in this world, and living this life dedicated to Christ – is going to cost me. It already has. Even though a BAZILLION of my friends on FB (and just in this life) haven’t “unfriended” me yet, I’m sure they would because of what I believe in – and WHO I believe in. But I am not going to just sit back and watch everyone head into destruction. And I will be the first to let you know what I believe in (if you ask me). God gave us the free will to do what we want with our lives. I don’t go around telling my homosexual friends that they are going to hell or that they are sinners. Obviously, that wouldn’t help them, or be loving for that matter. But it’s also unloving to keep my mouth shut, and just sit back and watch everything in their lives fall apart. Especially when I know the Truth. I want to make it clear that it is not my job (or right) to judge an unbeliever here on earth (1 Corinthians 5:12-13). I’m only trying to show them who He is, so that He will move them to want to change their lives (or their behaviors) – and escape the bondage of sin; gaining His salvation. It’s that simple. And if they don’t agree with me, then they can chose to ignore it, block me – or just agree to disagree with me.  I don’t conform my beliefs to make people happy. Last I checked ..

Galatians 1:10 –  “Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.”

I know that there will be a lot of people that will be deceived by worldly-views and just continue to parrot the Word of God. People want to hear what they want to hear. Not what God wants us to hear – or do for that matter. We want to be in control of our lives from the start – as we are human. We are selfish by nature. I had to learn the difference, and I know a lot of people that have had to learn that the hard way. I grew up going to church, but that doesn’t make me a Christian, a believer – or saved for that matter. That also doesn’t guarantee me a spot in heaven. I’m a good person (sometimes), do good things for people, I live to give, and I remained a virgin until I was married to my husband. But that doesn’t guarantee me anything either.

Doing good deeds (or good things for people) is the icing of the salvation cake, since faith without deeds is dead (James 2:14). But that doesn’t save you. Only Jesus saves you. I’ve made some mistakes, and almost did some things that I would’ve regretted – even while on the path to becoming a Christian. I used to cuss, ridicule/make fun of people & have had my own struggles here and there. But that wasn’t the end of the road for me, and definitely not the end of the road for a lot of you. Giving my life to Christ guarantees His complete salvation, but it doesn’t come without lots of hard work and perseverance. It’s not just one prayer you say, or that if you just “..believe in Jesus” you will be saved. It’s not that simple. That doesn’t cut it. Even demons (and satan) believe in God (James 2:19). You have to LIVE for Jesus. You have change your ways, walk away from your sins – and change your whole life to follow Him. It’s called sacrifice.

I know that most of my family disagrees with my beliefs. I’ve heard stories of family members poking fun of me and my sister Allyssa; who is also a Christian, behind our backs. They say we are “too religious” or things of that nature. Yes, it hurts. And that hurt runs really deep because it’s family. These are the same people that helped raise us, changed our diapers, wiped our tears and loved us. That is why it is so hard. But honestly, as I sat here on my bed listening and Worshipping God while the song “A Beautiful Exchange” by Hillsong played on my laptop, I cried my eyes out ..not because I am sad because people (including family) can be mean, intolerant and harsh – but I balled my eyes out because I cannot believe how much He loves me, and why He chose to die for me. I am worthless without Him. I am a mess, I am unforgivable (in my eyes), and a horrible person. No, I have never killed anyone or done anything the world would consider “bad”. I was just born this way. I was born a sinner, and I need Him badly.

I also balled because of the love I have for the lost, and feel that I am hopeless in saving them. Just hopeless. But I know through Him I can do all things (Philippians 4:13), and by seeing how much I am growing apart from the world – and apart from family members and friends living in the world – shows me that I’m doing the right thing. Regardless of what people say to me (or regardless of what people think of me), I will continue to press on in my walk with Christ. I will continue to pray for their salvation; as we do every night before putting Jonah to bed, and I will continue to love unconditionally; just as He did – because that is what I am called to do. Jesus was hated, ridiculed, and treated so horribly during His time here on earth. But He didn’t waver, He stood firm and pressed on.

John 15:18 –  “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.”

Also, I want to make it known that I am not in some sort of “cult”; as some of my family likes to view me as being in. I am a Christian. I am in a relationship with the One and Only – Jesus Christ. I have come to the realization that those that are parroting don’t really fully know who He is; as I used to do that. I have also come to the conclusion that you won’t know (or grow) unless you read the Word of God; as I am daily-reminded. I know that l will lose friends and family members in this life here on earth – and many will turn their backs on me. They did that to Jesus. It’s inevitable. But I have also come to know that this life is not my own – and it is only temporary.

When it’s all said-and-done, and if what I believe in doesn’t come true ..then my only sacrifice was losing their relationships; which isn’t that much of a loss in my opinion. And that’s only because I put Him first. I was never mean to anyone. I never hated anyone, or carried out hate crimes. I never cussed people out because they disagreed with me or my views, or picketed at peoples’ funerals because they were “living in sin”. All I did was obey the Word of God; showing love to everyone, but not compromising my beliefs. My gay friends, substance-addicted relatives, bitter family members, or my friends/family living in sexual promiscuity outside of the covenant of marriage are not judged by me. They are judged by the Word of God. I don’t have a say in their salvation, only God does. I do have a job though – to preach the Good News, and to share Jesus with them. I know I can’t change them, and they have the free will to do what they want with their lives; and believe me, they do. But in the end, I would rather risk losing these so-called relationships on earth by planting the seed of salvation, instead of losing my life to eternal fires in hell because I sat here and didn’t say anything to them. And didn’t do my part, or what I was called to do.

Matthew 10:35 & 36 –  “‘I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Your enemies will be right in your own household.'” 

For those of you who don’t understand Christianity, or those of you who just listen to what ‘everyone else says’, and then base your salvation on what you hear (or what has been passed down the grapevine), please hear me out! Pick up your Bible. Read it for yourself. Study His Word day in and day out, research all of those other religions you think are way better. I am certain you will not find a religion more loving, humble, gentle and forgiving as Christianity. And you will not find a person more loving, humble, gentle and forgiving as a Christian. Also, pray. Pray to God to open up your eyes to what He has. To show you that His way is “the way the truth and the life” (John 14:6). And ask Him to explain all of this to you. It’s worth it. He will show you.

Romans 12:2 –  “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”