In order to continue with the story of my journey, I need to include the spiritual side, too. My husband and I joined a new church when my third child, Danny, was about 6 months old. We were looking for a diverse church because we are a mixed-race family and I wanted my kids to be around all types of people. We found Celebration Church, pastored by Stovall and Kerri Weems. It was exactly what we were looking for and just what we needed. The first time we ever visited, May 2007, Christine Caine was the guest speaker. I mentioned her in my first post and the A21 Campaign. We were very excited and blessed when we became members of Celebration three months later.
One of the things that I've learned through Celebration is how to fast. Fasting wasn't something that I'd ever done and I wasn't sure that it was something that I wanted to do. Celebration church does a corporate(church-wide) fast every January called Awakening: 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting. Fasting is a way to remove yourself from the world and get closer to God. It works because all of the things that can get in the way and hinder your relationship with God are removed. You have to put your flesh aside and your spirit becomes your focus. "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit." (Romans 8:5) Instead of eating you pray, worship, and read the bible. I learned so much about my body and spirit during that first fast in January 2008. In order to prepare, I had to choose which foods I was going to give up. A traditional Daniel fast is what we did and that meant eating only fruits and vegetables and giving up meat and choice food. Basically you can't eat anything that normally makes you feel good or comes from an animal. It's a vegan diet in a way. I gave up fast food and junk food along with meat. I had to learn how to read nutrition labels and I had to learn how to cook vegetarian meals. My husband and I not only gave up meat and our favorite foods, we also gave up smoking and television. Giving up smoking and food at the same time was awesome and crazy! The first day of the fast was a liquid day, which meant we drank water and juice all day! The hunger pains overshadowed the nicotine cravings and we successfully gave up smoking for 2 years after that! We allowed ourselves grains and legumes during the days when we could eat solid food We also ate a lot of rice and beans, fresh fruit and vegetables. On the liquid days, we enjoyed home-made pureed soups and fruit smoothies. We'd never been so healthy before! I was already on a quest to be healthy and the fast gave me a boost towards that goal. I ended up losing 6 more pounds during the fast, which meant I had lost all of the baby weight from my previous 3 pregnancies!
At the end of the fast, during the last Friday prayer and worship service, God gave me the answer to one of my prayers. I had been asking God about whether or not to have another child and He made it clear to me that night that it was time. A lot of people said I was crazy but I believed and trusted in His promises to take care of us and provide for our family. Six weeks later, I found out that I was pregnant! I received a lot of negative feedback from friends and family as I broke the news to them about this fourth baby. I continued to trust God and tried not to let the negativity get me down. I was going to enjoy the pregnancy and I had already fallen in love with the baby. I continued exercising and eating healthy and everything went really well until I was 6 months pregnant. I injured my back picking up Danny, who was two years old at the time. I was unable to exercise after that and my doctor put me on painkillers and steroids for the pain and inflammation. I continued to eat healthy and the remainder of the pregnancy went well. During this time I was working as a preschool teacher, so I had off for the summer. I taught in the Florida Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten program for 4 year olds and when school started back up in the fall of 2008, it wasn't easy for me trying to handle working and taking care of a family while in my last trimester. My plan was to work up until 38 weeks and return to work in February. The baby was due the end of November. That was not God's plan however, and I ended up leaving work a week earlier and returning in January.
Eva Victoria was born November 19th, 2008. She was such a wonderful baby! Of course we barely slept during her first two months and we were stressed from having three older children but Eva made it all worth it. We enjoyed her and we still do. She has been a joy to everyone around us and she has melted the hearts of everyone that had negative things to say when we announced the pregnancy. I nursed her for about five months and it was so great! We bonded really well. Eva bonded with her daddy and her siblings right away, too! I was devastated when I had to go back to work early and I think I experienced post-partum depression too, even though I never sought out medical help (I should have, though). It was hard adjusting to working. I had to leave Eva, get back in to the classroom, take care of my large family. It was a lot to handle. I was under a lot of stress, I starting eating poorly, and I started getting sick all the time.
I have to end here for now...the kids need me:-)
To Be Continued...