2019: A look back

As I began to write this I sat in bed holding my little girl while she peacefully napped away. I started to ponder all the changes that have happened in the past year. It’s the end of a year and the end of the most significant decade of my life. This decade brought me my marriage to my amazing husband and brought us our beautiful baby girl.

We started off 2019 impatiently waiting for our sweet baby girl who decided to skip right over her due date to arrive a whole 9 days late. She also arrived counter to the birth plan I had in my head. We would end up waiting two full days from the moment we were admitted to the hospital to our sweet baby’s arrival. It took a failed induction, a moment where the medicine needed to begin the induction process would stress out our little baby but thankfully that was quickly remedied, iv pain meds, an epidural, and finally a C-section as I only had progressed 4 cm and my contractions weren’t strong enough.

I still cannot believe how quickly we went from the decision to have a C-section to having a baby in our arms. It took all of 20 minutes. It was hard, I remember feeling nauseous after I got moved to the operating table in the cold operating room and needing an alcohol swab under my nose to help but even that didn’t keep me from getting sick. I remember our Doctor singing along with “I just haven’t Meet You Yet” by Michael Buble and then finally meeting our little girl, checks and all!

I never imagined needing to stretch my arms on a cold table to bring our daughter into the world. I faintly remember that in the briefest moment of clarity I was able to unite it all to Christ’s suffering.

God has lead me through so many ups and downs in this first year of motherhood. I’m learning how desperately I need to cling to Him in prayer to have the graces I need to love well, especially when I’m tired. I cling ever the more to Our Blessed Mother wanting just a mustard seed of her motherly Grace to get me through the longest of days. This year I have seen just how much my heart has been changed through loving our daughter. How God has used her little heart to lead me to trust in Him a little more every day. It is not an easy road but the joy in my daughter’s eyes when she looks at us is worth more than gold. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings and all the moments we’ll share with our daughter as she grows, yet I desperately wish time would slow down.

I thought it would be fun to write down some of my favorite things from this past year.

Favorite Book: The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek

Favorite Song: Run to the Father by Matt Maher

New to me Favorite artist: JJ Heller

Favorite Food: Detour Doughnuts

Favorite trip: It’s too hard to choose between seeing tons of family in Florida (and them meeting Baby A) and surprising the in-laws this Thanksgiving and them finally meeting their Granddaughter.

Favorite baby product: Earth Mama diaper balm

2020 Word of the year: Engage

Happy New Year! May God bless you and your family! Thanks for stopping by my little corner of the web. I hope to start posting on here every week! Wish me luck!

New Year, New Me

At the beginning of the year, I starting eating Keto/Paleo. Keto itself is a high-fat, low-carb diet while eating Paleo is focusing on real foods. The thing I found the most helpful in preparing to transition into Keto was Leanne Vogel’s The Keto Diet.

I have been eating Paleo now on and off for the last 4 years. I just feel better avoiding gluten and dairy. Which became even more important after being diagnosed with Hashimotos a couple of years ago. And yet even with eating healthy foods, I fell into the trap that I was eating too much of the good stuff. Thus I’m currently at my heaviest weight. I have a history of knee issues and have developed planters fasciitis. I knew that I needed to do something to turn the ship around for myself and for my family. Based on my research I decided that Keto is right for me, right now. I wanted to use my blog to share my experience with others.

Week 1

Day 1 & 2 – The hardest part of this transition to Keto: FAT. Eating enough of it to meet my macros goals. And figuring out how to reach my macros every day. Right now I’m using My Fitness Pal and entering what I eat after every meal. I was already tracking before transitioning to Keto and I had a relative idea of what food are high carb. But actually having to factor in macros (fat, protein, carbs) is completely new.

One of the things we purchased in preparation was a spiralizer. We have a little handheld one that I never use because it’s too tedious and you waste a lot of the vegetables. We got the Inspiralized and love it! In the first week, we used it twice thanks to this recipe from The Healthy Foodie: Ground Beef over Zoodles: https://thehealthyfoodie.com/ground-beef-over-zoodles/

Day 3 & 4 – CARB CRAVINGS. These were the days where I found myself craving carbs. As I was going to sleep on Wednesday night I found myself thinking about HG Supply’s flourless chocolate cake with whipped cream and strawberries. And as we’re making plans to go out this weekend and trying to find a new restaurant to try. I found myself thinking a LOT about french fries. I am definitely looking forward to incorporating carbs ups in a few weeks. For more information check out Healthful Pursuit.

Day 5 – Early day for me. Rocket Fuel latte, flax seed bread for breakfast. Man was this a long day. But that’s probably cause it took me forever to fall asleep and not Keto. Side note: since doing a Whole 30 a couple years ago I’ve been extremely sensitive to caffeine. I’ve only been able to tolerate drinking decaf. 😦 But in the last five days, I’ve enjoyed some regular coffee with coconut oil. So that’s exciting!

WEEK 2

I’m now into week two and I’ve seen both weight loss and non-scale victories. It is

I’m loving both the scale results and my non-scale victories. It’s been easier to hit my macros and eat food that I love. I can’t wait to see what the next month of Keto has in store!

“My soul rests in God alone, from whom comes my salvation. God alone is my rock and salvation, my fortress; I shall never fall.” Psalm 62:2-3

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Shine Bright

It’s certainly has been a while since I blogged. But here I am again, trying to lean in and trust in God’s plan for this little blog. I wrote the following for a CRHP fellowship meeting, and I wanted to share it here as well.

Matthew 5:14-16

“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid.  No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

Light, we take it for granted. We can flip a switch and a dark room is illuminated. Yet, in our lives, the light that only comes from God gets so easily dimmed by this world. We are bombarded with images, social media, advertising, tv shows and movies that show a world that looks glamorous but leaves us with a God-shaped hole. These are the same influences that play that negative soundtrack in our minds, you know the one, “I not worthy, I am not loved, I’m not pretty enough, that we simply aren’t enough.” But that’s not the life that God wants for us. He loves us with such an intensity that our human brains will never be able to understand. The same God who allowed His Son to die for our sins also gives us the Sacraments that give us ammunition to fight back against the darkness. We can sit in front of the true Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ and feel his peace. We can participate in the most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that gives us a glimpse of Heaven and allows us to be one with our Lord. And he gives us forgiveness over and over again in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. He truly overwhelms the darkness when we allow him into our lives and surrender to his everlasting love.

In my own life God shined a light on my heart to allow me to heal brokenness I didn’t truly realize I had. Three years ago I left teaching. It wasn’t an easy decision, but I left after much prayer and consideration and I was happy, and I still am. What I didn’t realize is that leaving teaching left me with a loss of my sense of identity. When asked what I do for a living a can no longer say that I am a teacher. In our culture, we’re asked from a very young age, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Not having an answer to this question, had allowed a darkness to live inside my heart and has kept me from growing as a daughter of Christ. God has been teaching me is that my identity is not rooted in anything the world can provide me or any title I can be given. I am worthy and loved by my Heavenly Father. I am the daughter of the one true King. That He is my light, my hope and my salvation and nothing can separate me from his love.

The challenge is to learn how to continue to put oil in our lamps so that we can burn brightly. In our day to day life, we can remember to do small things with great love, as St. Therese of Lisieux and Mother Teresa did. Everything we do from driving to dishes, to laundry, to putting the kids to bed are all ways we can glorify God in every moment and live in the light of Christ.

Secondly, we need to remember that we are not alone.

Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God.”

The Saints can be a source of encouragement and intercede for us to God (such as when we ask family and friends to pray for us) and through the Saints, we learn that God uses every vessel to build his kingdom

St. Ignatius was a womanizer, St. Therese of Lisieux fell asleep while praying the Rosary, and “St. Augustine of Hippo is the patron of brewers because of his conversion from a former life of loose living, which included parties, entertainment, and worldly ambitions”, before he gave his life to God.

Just as we can ask for the intercession of Saints, we are blessed with the people around us to aid us in our journey.  Within our communities, God provides us with here on Earth and the Saints in Heaven, we are never without someone we can share our struggles with. In turn, we are provided with encouragement and prayer.

Let us wait upon the Lord in the day to day struggles of laundry, dishes, crazy kids, and traffic. Let us see His glory and love in everyone. May these moments be used to renew our faith and allow us to see Christ in every person and in every situation. Let us turn to God when we have moments of darkness because his light will conquer the darkness in our own hearts and minds and all of the darkness in the world.

“It is Jesus in fact that you seek when you dream of happiness. He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; He is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is He who provoked you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is He who urges you to shed the mask of a false life; it is He who reads in your hearts your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle. It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be ground down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving your selves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.” Saint Pope John Paul II.

Beloved – Jordan Feliz

 

In You I’m Found

Nature PhotographyPoetry used to leap from my pencil onto the papers. I still have journals filled with poems from middle and high school. I have to admit that it’s something I’d lost touch with since “growing up.” But yesterday as I was spending some quiet time reading scripture and playing the ukulele, poetry started flowing once again. Though it could be a song/verse cause I wrote it to a tune in my head, and keep singing it on my ukulele.

Here’s something I worked on today:

In You I’m Found

I’ve been searching in all the wrong places.
I’ve been hoping in all the wrong things.
I’ve been longing in all the worldly things.
I’ve been hiding from all the things I know.

We go down this road together,
Oh so many times.
And even when I’m lost,
You’re still right by my side.

I go round and round in circles,
searching for the truth.
But it’s only in you I’m found.
Jesus in you I’m found.
Jesus in you I’m found.

And you’re patiently waiting,
For me to come right back home to you.
No matter how far I stray,
Your arms are open wide.

And you fill me with your love,
Fill me with your joy,
Fill me with laughter,
Fill me with a hope,
That only comes from you.

© 2016 Stacy Agcaoili. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

Do Not Be Afraid

In Matthew 1:20, an angel of the Lord tells Joseph “do not be afraid,” as he was betrothed to Mary who was found with child through the Holy Spirit.

I can’t even image how afraid both Mary and Joseph were after an angel of God came to them and told them that Mary would give birth to the Son of God, but still they both said YES to God’s plan for their lives. They knew that it wasn’t going to be an easy journey, yet they trusted in God’s plan. Even Joseph and Mary needed to hear those four words, “Do not be afraid.”

Today those four words was exactly what I needed to hear: “Do not be afraid.” 

Happy Birthday Mary!

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God’s Got Our Six

“God has huge plans for you – and before you can fulfill one of them, you have to believe that you were made for greatness.” Mark Hart

“Embrace this one solitary truth- you were born to become the-best-verison-of-yourself- and it will change your life more than anything you have ever learned.” ~ Matthew Kelly

Both of these quotes appeared on my On This Day news feed on Facebook today, and yesterday I wrote these words on my blog post: “I still have a lot to figure out, but I do know that God has amazing plans for my life. I just need to rest in the love of Christ.”Yesterday also marked the three month anniversary since my knee surgery.

These past few months have been difficult facing recovery and the unknown future that lay ahead of me. There are times in our lives that we need to be reminded of the plans God has in store for us and that we are meant to be the “best-version-of-yourself.” God is patient with us. He reminds us over and over again that he’s got our six. (NCIS reference, which is one awesome TV show! 😛 For those aren’t familiar with the term, God’s got our back!)

I don’t know what God’s plan is for my writing, all I know is that for know I’ll take it a day at a time. Starting with these daily reflections.

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Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Peace in the Darkness

Today I was reminded of the simple fact of Christ’s love for us.

I sat in my parish Chapel in front of Christ in Eucharistic Adoration riddled with questions. It didn’t take long for peace to settle in my heart. I didn’t magically have to answers to the many questions on my mind but sitting in that quiet Chapel I was at peace.
I was reminded of:

Romans 8:35, 37

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

I realized that I can conquer all things: doubts, fears, distresses, and anxieties, through the love of Christ who died for my sins. I still have a lot to figure out, but I do know that God has amazing plans for my life. I just need to rest in the love of Christ. Through Christ, we can have peace in the darkness.

Finding My Treasure

So I had intended this post was supposed to go out yesterday but here goes nothing…

Since May of 2007, I’ve had four left knee dislocations. The four culprits in chronological order: I’ve tripped when running, tripped upstairs when going to class, tripped on a sidewalk during VBS, and lastly I  dislocated my knee while doing jumping jacks.

Beginning in January, I experienced new pain in my knee on the left side of my knee. I took a break from working out trying knee therapy exercise instead but nothing worked. I scheduled an appointment with a knee specialist at the beginning of May. It took less than five minutes for him to recommend surgery after hearing my symptoms and viewing my x-rays. It got to where it hurt to walk as I waited to have the surgery.

On June 4, I underwent knee surgery on my left knee. I had a medial patella-femoral ligament (MPFL) reconstruction and arthroscopic chondroplasty. According to Emory Healthcare, “Medial patella-femoral ligament (MPFL) reconstruction is a procedure used to correct serious and recurring dislocation of the kneecap. MPFL is the major ligament which stabilizes the patella and helps in preventing patellar subluxation (partial dislocation) or dislocation.” Arthroscopic chondroplasy is done to repair an area of damage cartilage in the knee.

On Wednesday, my stitches were removed. I got to view the arthroscope images taken during surgery. The scope showed that there’s a spot on the underside of my knee cap that has a high level of arthritic damage (a four on a five point scale).

© She Writes With Hope

During the last four weeks, I’ve been focusing my time, thoughts, and energy on my knee and my recovery. While reading today’s Gospel, Matthew 6:19-25, the following verse stood out to me:

Matthew 6:21   “For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”

I’ve been focused on what all this stuff with my knee means now and began to loose perspective. While I was still praying, I lost sight of the grace and strength God can provide as I focus on my recovery. The verse reminded me that my treasure is not in things of this earth. While I could choose to  spend all my time focusing on my knee, I need to remind myself to balance my attention. I know that God provides for the smallest of creatures on earth and in that same way He provides for me. Each day I get stronger physically and spiritually, and each day I’m learning how to trust God with my knee recovery.

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Prepare the Way

As the season of  Advent concludes today, I take time to reflect on what Advent means to me.

Advent is defined as the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. Advent is a time to prepare the way of the Lord.

While reading Malachi 3:1-4,23-24, I was struck by the words “Prepare the way.” On this Christmas Eve, we are reminded to “prepare the way of the Lord.” In Malachi Chapter 3 reading God was sending Elijah, the prophet to prepare the way before God.

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Tonight we may already have family celebrating with us or we’re preparing for the celebration.  We have much preparing to do for the celebration. Laundry, cleaning, cooking, shopping, gift wrapping, packing, traveling . Despite the busyness of the Christmas season, we must stop and ready our hearts to welcome our Savior.

Have I welcomed Jesus with a joyful heart?

Have I stopped to ponder the true reason we celebrate Christmas?

My heart is full with great joy knowing that my God sent his only son Jesus Christ to earth, and the gift of salvation that is born with him.

God loves us. He loves us in our strengths and in our failures.

This Christmas may our hearts be wrapped in the love of Jesus, the true reason for the season.

May you have a blessed Christmas season!

"Gerard van Honthorst 001" by Gerard van Honthorst - The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gerard_van_Honthorst_001.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Gerard_van_Honthorst_001.jpg

Never Give Up

So I failed my first Write Chain Challenge and broke my chain after only 14 days.

It’s a failure. Yet I learned so much from those 14 days.

1. Never Give Up

The most successful people fail all the time. The difference is that they don’t give up. They keep trying until they discover what works. They keep working towards their goal even when it is hard.

So that is what I’m going to do, I’m not giving up. This time around I will get more than 14 links for the Write Chain Challenge 

2. Build a Habit

Building new habits is hard. There are called habits because they are something we do without thinking about it, good or bad. We have a habit to brush are teeth everyday. Driving a car is a habit. We do these things without having to think about every step.

Writing everyday isn’t an easy task. It is a habit that you need to build. You have to decide when’s the best time of day for you to write. I’m learning that it’s better for me to write in the morning because it ensures that it gets done and my brain is fresh.

3. I love writing.

It’s plain and simple. I love writing!

Never give up and

Dream without Limitations!