Our Year and What’s Ahead


I have been stirring over this blog post for a little time. I anticipated it’s arrival. The last year has completely changed us.

There’s so much I want to say, but I will try to keep it short.

This past year.

Blindsided is the first word I thought described the year, but then growth came to mind. 

This time last year the journey was just getting started. July 3rd we found out we were expecting and by July 29th our whole world flipped upside down. We would go on to lose that pregnancy on August 9th. 

The medical term was “blighted ovum”. Human terms is the fertilized egg attached to the uterus, a sac formed, but the baby never did. My body never caught on and never naturally miscarried. In my own mind I thought my body had tricked me to thinking, feeling, living like I was pregnant. My heart totally broke when I had that first ultrasound. 

I don’t know, maybe I never properly grieved. I didn’t know how. We never really talk about these things. What’s normal? Was I crazy to feel hurt? I picked myself up and I moved through the next 6 months as best as I could.

Hope returns… I thought.

January 27th, we got those 2 pink lines again. Anxiety rushed through me like a hurricane, but I honestly thought God wouldn’t do that to me again.

This time at 6 weeks 4 days we had a heartbeat! We were told it was a little low, but nothing to worry about. So I did my best not to worry, but I worried. I worried I’d feel that heartbreak again.

9 days later, on Nick’s birthday it all fell apart… again. As tension filled the room, we were told there was no heartbeat. As I type this, I can feel that break in my heart like I am sitting in that Doctor’s office. We moved forward with a surgical D&C the day before my birthday. I was sent on my way with some pain pills, hormones that were about to plummet, and left to make sense of it all. I felt empty.

I turned to God because I really didn’t know what else to do. I knew I couldn’t do this on my own

Moving forward

Outside I tried to keep it together, but in these 4 walls I was a complete mess. Countless times Nick had to peel me off of the carpet just so I’d stop getting snot and tears on it. I traded the carpet for his shirt and eventually got it together.

I was confused and hurt. I had all the support around me, but felt so alone.

Did I hear God wrong? Maybe He intended for me to rescue all the puppies in the world and be a dog mom. I’m pretty good at that.

“Maybe we shouldn’t try again.” I’d tell Nick. I couldn’t do the HOPE then heartbreak thing again. 

Was something wrong with me? I read and read and read God’s word. I listened to worship music which totally changed my perspective. I KNEW, I just KNEW He intended more for me. There was no way He intended to break my heart without having a plan.

Between God, His word, my INCREDIBLE husband, our family, friends, and my work family, I was supported. I was loved. I was hurting, but I was supported and loved.

Life continues on

There’s a lot of in-between moments, but I really want to get to this next part. AND I know you have things to do and can’t be reading this ALL. DAY. LONG.

The last year has been a rollercoaster, but a beautiful transformation. While we are so grateful God has moved us in ways we never expected, we look forward to the year ahead.

I have to first tell you that my incredible Nick in the last month was accepted in to the store manager training program. A promotion he has worked so tirelessly at. A promotion we prayed and prayed for. I am inspired daily by my husband’s patience, hustle, and heart.

At the right time, I, the LORD, will make it happen. – Isaiah 60:22

We’ve learned a lesson in God’s timing and God’s blessings. He has fulfilled His promise to us.


After every storm comes the sunshine and we are so grateful to say our
SUNSHINE BABY IS DUE FEBRUARY 2, 2018!

Memorial Day we got our two pink lines for our sunshine coming in February! Almost 14 weeks in and our little one is growing as he or she should be. Twirling around in there and giving us first pumps on the ultrasound! A strong heartbeat and already SO loved!

We are so excited to welcome God’s gift… our littlest Panda… our Sunshine… Baby Bear early next year. God is so, so good and FAITHFUL.

I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him.
– 1 Samuel 1:27


 If you’ve made it this far, thank you! If you’ve prayed, hoped, or believed for us this past year… THANK YOU! Prayers are still welcome for a healthy delivery and for this Momma’s anxious heart. 🙂

A final thought.

Preparing to write this was hard. I had no idea how, what, when I would share our news. All I could think about was the women who were in the exact same position I had been in months ago. 

Worried she would never get pregnant again. A woman still experiencing the loss of her own child. Worried something was wrong. Worried she heard God wrong.

1 in 4 pregnancies will end with the heartbreak of a miscarriage. 2% of women will experience 2 consecutive miscarriages.  1 in 8 couples will experience infertility struggles. 

In all the statistics I know there are real women.. real couples… real families navigating this journey. I also know that 100% of the time, God has a plan.
 I want just one person to see, even in the heartbreak He is there. I want one person to get hope back and to keep pushing forward.

If you are moving through a season of unknown, hurt, waiting… don’t lose courage. Gosh, waiting was the ultimate word God chose for us this past year. 

If you are in one of those seasons or maybe you just need reassurance, can I share some songs with you? These songs got me through the toughest days… 

On the Throne, Desperation Band “For the Lord is
He is able, He is faithful
Higher than the mountains that I face
Every season, I will press on
For God alone, is on the throne”

Still, Hillary Scott “You’re parting waters
Making a way for me
You’re moving mountains that I don’t even see
You’ve answered my prayer before I even speak
All You need for me to be is still”

Take Courage, Bethel “Do not forget
His great faithfulness
He’ll finish all He’s begun
So take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul”

Do It Again, Elevation Worship Your promise still stands
Great is Your faithfulness, faithfulness
I’m still in Your hands
This is my confidence, You never failed me yet

I’ve seen You move, You move the mountains
And I believe, I’ll see You do it again”

THANK YOU FOR BELIEVING WITH US!

Ps… the pink dress is not a hint of any kind. 🙂
It’s just probably the last time I will get to wear that beautiful dress in the next year or two… or 3! 😉

 

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Surrender.

5 signs you might need a break from social media and a 7 day social media fast www.PanzaAvenue.com/SocialMedia

5 signs you might need a break from social media and a 7 day social media fast www.PanzaAvenue.com/SocialMedia5 signs you might need a break from social media and a 7 day social media fast www.PanzaAvenue.com/SocialMedia
5 signs you might need a break from social media and a 7 day social media fast www.PanzaAvenue.com/SocialMedia

I couldn’t go a full day without checking my social media. I felt left out and discouraged as I scrolled through the feed of my favorite social media accounts.
5 signs you might need a break from social media and a 7 day social media fast www.PanzaAvenue.com/SocialMediaImagine if we prayed as much as we got on Instagram or Facebook.

Those were actually the words that propelled me in to complete surrender and taking 30 days away from Social Media in April & May.  Something I truly never thought I would be able to do. I thought “If I am not on social media I will miss out!”…. “What about my blog? I really want to post on my blog!” My fighting and resistance was a clear indication it was time for a break.

Breaking an addiction.

Social media is easily an addiction. Well, I know not for you, right? You’re not addicted. I convinced myself I wasn’t either. That was until I took some time away and realized I was addicted. The first week I couldn’t believe how many times I reached for my phone to “scroll”.

Do you wake up and scroll? How about during your work day, your lunchtime, while you’re driving {gasp}, while you’re avoiding household chores, or even before you go to bed?

This is not a post to convince you to ditch social media, just to shed light on what came from a social media fast. I most certainly do not believe social media is all bad, I do however believe a break is necessary.

Sometimes the noise drowns out God’s message.

First of all, I had been hearing from the Lord to give social media a break for some time. I just chose to ignore the suggestion. We sometimes do that, don’t we? 

The weeks following my second miscarriage had brought me to so many emotional roadblocks. So many moments when I thought I was making progress and I was hit HARD emotionally by something unforeseen. I could see that social media was training me to compare my life to others and seek validation in likes and double taps.

Following my miscarriage I THOUGHT I had surrendered. I thought “eh, I’m not addicted to social media”. But I still asked, why wasn’t the Lord breaking me of the hurt and isolation I felt? I began to question myself. Was I doing enough?

April 24th while asking those questions I heard the Lord, “Sign out!”. It had been one of those days of another emotional battle, my pity party felt a little like drowning, “Will I ever? Do I measure up? When will it be my turn?”

I decided to listen. Surrender.
5 signs you might need a break from social media and a 7 day social media fast www.PanzaAvenue.com/SocialMedia

Disconnecting meant more time alone.

I signed out of everything. Facebook. Instagram. Snapchat. I let my mom know so she wouldn’t take offense when I wasn’t “liking” the cute dog photos she tagged me in.

I committed to spending my mornings with the Lord, instead of scrolling social media. I committed to writing my journey in a journal. I committed to spending lunchtime reading a book. I committed to decluttering my mind. I was determined to hear the Lord speak to me and open my heart.

When I was wondering, He was answering.

5 signs you might need a break from social media and a 7 day social media fast www.PanzaAvenue.com/SocialMedia

5 signs you might need a break from social media and a 7 day social media fast www.PanzaAvenue.com/SocialMedia

I just couldn’t hear with all the background noise.

My broken heart was an opportunity to grow and learn. Learning so I could live and share with others a new lifestyle I have become so fascinated with. Learning and becoming inspired by the woman God wanted me to grow in to. My time away brought refreshed inspiration and new found passion for a new way of living. I began to read books on how I could prepare for “next time” and the child God had planned for me. I became inspired by women’s health. I learned God intended this journey for me to help other women overcome heartbreak and find empowerment in holistic health. The time away helped me grow.

Is it time for you to take a break? How do you decide when it’s time to step back?

5 signs you might need a break, too

  1. You can’t go a full day without checking your social media.
  2. Every morning when you wake up, social media is the first thing you check.
  3. You seek validation and worth by how many likes you get on social media. You feel bad if you don’t get any or as many likes as you thought you would. You check your phone constantly after you make a post to see who liked it.
  4. You feel left out, discouraged, unworthy, or question who you are after you have spent time in social media.
  5. You find yourself missing moments with people because you are too busy trying to capture the PERFECT photo to post.

5 signs you might need a break from social media and a 7 day social media fast www.PanzaAvenue.com/SocialMediaWhen so-in-so seems perfect on social media… when you’re watching the highlight reel of others, it is difficult to embrace the season God has you in. The season of waiting brings great growth. Growth is so much more valuable than “perfection” or who has the “best life” on Facebook. 

When “likes” and “perfection” are getting the best of you, it might be time to consider taking a break. Take a break to see just how much you are relying on Social Media. Take a break to find self worth in things other than people liking your status updates or photos.

If you are not ready to take the full plunge and sign out today, how about a 7 day social media detox. You can take a different step for 7 days to help disconnect from social media and “likes”.

5 signs you might need a break from social media and a 7 day social media fast www.PanzaAvenue.com/SocialMedia

It is easy to think that we don’t need time away from social media. It is easy to believe “that’s not me, I’m in full control”. I hope you can take a moment to really consider your relationship with social media and determine if a break is necessary. If you’re waiting to hear God speak, the quietness might be exactly what you need. 

Not all social media is bad and it definitely connects us as a culture. However, not all breaks are bad either and time away can really help shift your perspective.

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Living an Organic Lifestyle, On a Budget

What if I told you eating organic doesn’t have to cost you your life savings and 401k? Honestly, the expense of organic foods and misinformation is the reason why i never even researched the idea of living an organic lifestyle. I was so wrong about the expense.

I recently shared a blog post about GMOs and toxic diets. I shared how research is showing the negative impact of GMOs and non-organic produce and animal products on people’s health. More importantly, the last couple months I have been researching natural ways to improve fertility and just about every article talks about the negative effect of non-organic foods on our fertility. In addition, the negative effects on our children even long before conception.

For the last few months we have been purchasing only organic foods for our household. I knew organic foods were essential on our journey to making baby Panza. Yep, this girl on a budget has found away to eat all organic without breaking the bank.

Some of the reasons to go organic

  1. Buying organic produce that is in season not only is easier on your wallet, but it gives you the ability to incorporate all types of vitamins and nutrients throughout the year. This is how we were designed to eat. Studies have found that when produce is grown in season, it can have up to three times more nutrients than when out of season.
  2. Organic foods have more nutrients than their pesticide, GMO riddled friends. Findings from a review of 343 studies on organic nutrition showed organic foods, on average, contained more antioxidants. Organic foods are also grown in a better environment. onventional non-GMO crops can be treated with “biosolids”, which is literally the treated waste that’s flushed down the toilet, and waste from hospitals and industry. Biosolids, are not permitted in certified organic foods. Biosolids contain heavy metals, toxins, steroids, and more substances that can pose a threat to your health. Possible health risks from substances in biosolids include kidney damage, adverse effects to the immune system, hormone disruption, and even cancer.
  3. Organic doesn’t just apply to fruits and veggies. Did you know the meat and animal products you consume can easily contain antibiotics, GMOs, and hormones? 

    Antibiotics and hormones given to animals on conventional farms make their way into the foods those animals provide. The prevalence of antibiotic usage with livestock can lead to antibiotic resistance in humans.

    Hormones, such as rBGH, are injected into cows on non-organic farms to boost milk production. This can lead to various health problems with the cows, such as abnormal milk, fertility issues, and hoof disorders. In addition, rBGH milk has significantly higher levels of the IGF-1 hormone. This hormone has been shown to greatly increase the occurrence of breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men.

Okay, so now you are convinced, but you aren’t sure where to even start. Don’t let the idea of eating only organic overwhelm you and certainly do your best, but don’t kill yourself for perfection.

Transitioning to an organic, natural lifestyle shouldn’t increase your stress. Small steps are key to making a big change. My suggestions, start with what is most important to you and slowly work your way to the next step. For me, what we were eating was crucial and needed to be priority. After that I started transitioning out of plastics, changing beauty products, and finding alternative household cleaners.

If you desire to start with your food and what you are eating, I can help you. Here are some of my secrets.

Shop Costco

Yes, Costco! The land of bulk processed foods is also a GREAT place to find reasonably priced organic foods. What I love about Costco is their price labeling system. Most, if not all of their organic foods have a green tag on the shelf. This makes it really easy when you are trying to transition your household.

I purchase their organic fruits and veggies. I also purchase their frozen organic fruits and veggies. As well as their wild caught and grass fed/organic meats. 

Phone a friend

Let people your neighbors, friends, family, and people you work with know you are on the hunt for organic fruits and veggies. A lot of times you can find people who have fruit trees in their backyards and they don’t use any pesticides or treatments. Usually they are willing to give the fruit away at no cost. Some people may ask you to come and pick it yourself, but what a cheap price tag for fruit! 

Stock up and save

When produce or organic meats are on sale, stock up. When grass fed ground beef is $3.99 a pound, I make sure to grab extra and freeze it for later. You can save quite a bit of money buying seasonal fruits and veggies and freezing them for later.

Start with the basics

The dirty dozen and the clean 15! Sounds like a nursery rhyme, but it really does apply to the foods we eat.  

The U.S. Department of Agriculture found that nearly 70 percent of samples of 48 types of conventionally grown produce were contaminated with pesticide residues. The pesticides persisted on fruits and vegetables even when they were washed and, in some cases, peeled.

For the Dirty Dozen list is produce with the highest loads of pesticide residues. On the clean 15, relatively few pesticides were detected on these foods, and tests found low total concentrations of pesticide residues on them. However, this does not mean that if the food is listed in the clean 15 that it is free from GMOs. 

If you are starting to eat organic in an effort to reduce exposure to pesticides, this list is a great place to start.

Grow your own organic produce & herbs.

You do not need a ton of outdoor space to grow your own garden. I suggest starting with herbs. They are easy to grow and take up little room. You can even grow herbs on a windowsill or on your patio. These herbs are growing on my balcony window. 

Shop local & in season.

Shop the farmer’s market. Farmer’s Markets have locally grown produce and (usually) there are many organic options to choose from. Not only will you be supporting a local farm family, you will be able to buy in season organic produce. If you are not sure where a Farmer’s Market is near you, try this website to locate one! 

Shopping for foods that are in season usually means that organic produce is on sale. A lot of times organic produce is the same price as conventional produce, in peak seasons. Check out your local store ads or see if they have an app to browse.

The journey to organic living should not become stressful or overwhelming. Start small and do your research.

Do you currently enjoy organic foods? How did you transition to an organic lifestyle? Share your ideas below to help others!

 

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He’s in the Waiting

Don’t interpret God’s silence as His absence.

Ever sat and wondered “Why am I in this season of waiting?”…”Why haven’t my prayers been answered?”…”Why does God allow such pain and hurt?”

I’ll be the first to raise my hand. In fact, I think just about everything in our lives right now is in a MAJOR season of waiting. Work promotions, home buying, the growth of our family.

It was something I totally resisted at first. “Lord, you have given so-in-so ______, why not me?” The season of waiting can easily win the award for one of the most uncomfortable season, on top of being kind of eventless.

The season of waiting, however easily earns the award for beauty, growth, and transformation. In fact, if you haven’t had a true season of waiting, I hope you do. Not for heartache, but to experience such magnificent growth.

I heard this song, Take Courage  and I wanted to share it with you all. Music for me delivers some of the greatest messages.

“Do not forget
His great faithfulness
He’ll finish all He’s begun

So take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He’s in the waiting
He’s in the waiting

Hold onto your hope
As your triumph unfolds
He’s never failing
He’s never failing”

Don’t interpret the silence or the waiting as God’s absence, He’ll reveal all to come.

Season of waiting look different for everyone, but one thing remains consistent GOD HAS A PLAN. Things we cannot see, sometimes things we don’t even expect… all a huge part of His bigger plan. 
In your season of waiting or heartache, choose music that is uplifting. I have a playlist on Spotify that I listen to for hope and encouragement.

In your season of waiting journal or find uplifting books to read. I have been reading Wait and See by Wendy Pope. When we want something to happen in our lives immediately and it doesn’t happen, we tend to doubt God. This book is excellent to help guide you through a season of waiting and those times when we think God isn’t answering us.

Let the season of waiting run it’s course. Resisting the waiting only makes it more painful. Trust me, I know. Surrender really is an every single day action. There are days that will hurt more than others, but He does not cause pain without allowing something new to be born. 

I’ve been completely inspired by the book of Isaiah. Words of encouragement. Like Isaiah 60:22… I have this one as my phone background…

 “At the right time, I, the Lord, will make it happen.”

OR

Isaiah 43:2
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.”

Stand firm in your faith and trust that all of this… ALL… A-L-L of this is for a purpose, even if we don’t understand. Even if it is so painful, feels suffocating, or is purely exhausting. Even when you question WHAT the purpose is, know it will be revealed in due time… in His time. And the most beautiful part, you will be stronger because of it.

I pray you found some encouragement today. If there is anything I have learned in my own season of waiting, it is that I am not forgotten. Sure, there are days I feel an earthly loneliness. Some days I do feel like people in the world have “forgotten” me and I feel a little isolated. But along the way I have learned, that the Lord doesn’t forget us. What he is doing is intentional, even when it hurts a little.

Do not forget His great faithfulness
He’ll finish all He’s begun

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When I fell in love with needles

Fell in love… that seems so dramatic, but it is so true.

First off, I cannot tell you how many times I have said I was going to go for a massage or pedicure or to a yoga class. What’s the reason?! Because I wanted to do something for myself to unwind or destress. Did I ever do it?! Nope! I think I have had a massage once or twice, but talked about it about 300 times. 

While I was recovering from my miscarriage, I knew I wanted to do something to relax and unwind. The body is so resilient! Ahhhh, it just makes me beam thinking about how amazing the human body is. It can recover from so much trauma and pain.

I am a researcher. I have researched and researched holistic and  natural ways to deal with recovery and stress. I have always been a little curious about acupuncture and how it could help me manage stress.

My ultimate goal in life is to be super zen, but without the hairy armpits and legs. You feel me?!
Here’s how acupuncture works: Fine needles are inserted in to the body by an acupuncturist. The needles are inserted into specific identified acupuncture points on “meridians”. Meridians run throughout the body and correspond to certain organs. The acupuncturist explained to me that these can be thought of as highways, he actually compared it to LA. The highways, or energy highway becomes blocked or congested. The acupuncture works by getting rid of the roadblock and allowing the energy to flow freely.

Acupuncture has been shown to release endorphins and releases natural pain killers. Acupuncture is used as a way to treat chronic back, neck, and other pain in the body. 

Here is why I tried acupuncture: I wanted a way to reset my body after our loss. I wanted to allow my body to recover, reset, and get a moment to just BE without being pumped full of medicine, anxiety, and fear. Not to mention, anything to help me manage my stress… SIGN ME UP. Stress is a constant factor in most of our lives. I see acupuncture as a way to release the negative energy and tension. Acupuncture is also used to help with hormone balance and fertility.

The amount of ups and downs by body has experienced with our 2 miscarriages is reason enough to do acupuncture. 2 miscarriages can create just a little bit a lot of stress. The acupuncturist explained to me our first goal was to reset the body and wait for my cycle to reset.

So what was it like?! We started with a consultation, much like a doctor’s office. I answered questions regarding my miscarriages, stress, daily habits, pain, and concerns. He checked my pulse and my tongue. I thought it was quite interesting when he took my pulse and said “you need more sleep” and “you are a worrier”. Not WARRIOR, worrier. 🙂 Both are pretty accurate. 

He pressed on a few areas in my abdomen and collar bone. After that, we were ready for the needles. Yes!

If you are afraid of pain, I can tell you I experience worse pain just doing the dishes or digging in my purse. Most of the needles, I think there were about 30 or so, I couldn’t feel. He placed a couple in my feet, shins, abdomen, chest, face, and ears. The needles on my ears I felt, but nothing worth saying “ouch” for. It really wasn’t painful. So if that’s your reason for not trying acupuncture, I promise you will be just fine. 

After the needles were in, he put warm red lights on my abdomen and my feet/shin area. He told me to rest/relax and he left the room. The room was dark with the warm glow of the red lights and the relaxing music playing. Within a few minutes I felt like my right arm just melted in to the table. The rest of my body eventually followed.

I laid there trying to focus on something other than work and the other irritations in my life. I actually felt a difference laying there, though I know I can get better when it comes to NOT thinking about stressful things. Always a work in progress. 

After 20 minutes he returned, took out the needles and discussed my next visit with me. I scheduled an appointment for a week later. 

I left feeling relaxed and very aware of how relaxed I was.

For the “moms” of the group… I know some of you might be worrying right now (Hi, Mom!). Yes, the needles were sterilized. They were taken out of a sterilized envelope, similar to the dentist office. The needles were put in to a biohazard needle bin afterwards. So yes, the needles were sterilized. My skin was wiped with a one time use sterilized cotton pad. Smelled a little like rubbing alcohol. The office was so clean and organized. Oh, and the restrooms too. It was just like a doctors office with the wax paper stuff on the bed and sterilizer spray to clean the room.

Okay, now that I have addressed the worriers… back to our normal program.

How much did it cost?! Okay, first, I was told most insurances cover acupuncture and most acupuncturists take insurance. Unfortunately where I wanted to go, doesn’t take Kaiser. I paid $90 for the initial consultation and treatment. Future treatments are $60, which I have researched and it is about normal. Since going to the acupuncturist, I was told Kaiser covers acupuncture. I emailed my doctor to ask her for a referral. Say some prayers and send good vibes my way because that would be AMAZING if I could just pay a <less expensive> co-pay. HOWEVER, with or without insurance I would still pay the $60, that’s how much I enjoyed it. 

I believe acupuncture is something that you have to keep going to to get the full effect. You wouldn’t go to one eyebrow wax and expect it to last you 6 months or forever, right?! You also wouldn’t go to one massage and never return again.

Holistic health is all about being proactive, aware, and preventative.

Have you had acupuncture before? How about cupping? I’d really like to try cupping. 

I share more of the day to day of my journey on Snapchat. Username: AnnaLPanza

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