Friday, October 25, 2013

Hope Spoken Link Up


My name is Anna Joy French.  I am a wife, mom, soon-to-be college graduate, trained graphic/web designer, and a self-taught seamstress.  I recently married my boyfriend of 8 years and the papa of my son.  That is a whole God redeeming story that deserves a post on it's own.  I am a mama to a very energetic and independent 4 year old who loves to build legos and puzzles.  I am about to graduate from the University of Texas at Arlington with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Communications AKA Graphic Design.  I will start work full time as a graphic/web designer for a marketing company in December.  And last but not least, I run For The Love of Joy, where I made Child's Name Pillows and Patchwork Boppy Covers for the last 4 years.  This next year, I will be focused more on designing quilt patterns, fabrics, and teaching what I know about quilting to others who are just starting out!  I live in Texas and love being outdoors camping and hiking with my family.  I love animals and wish I had a farm and could do that full time.  I am a "crunchy" mom that buys all organic foods, drinks raw milk, and rubs essential oils on her family.  And that's about it!

I am so excited to go to Hope Spoken.  I recently found out about this conference a couple of months ago.  I had no idea that it was happening mainly in part because I haven't read blogs or followed much of anyone awesome in so long due to my busy-ness.  But when I found out about it and that it was in Dallas, I knew I had to go!  From this event, I hope to take away stronger relationships with women I already know and build new relationships with friends I will make through Jesus.  I pray that we can experience together an amazing, in your face, God moment that we will remember always.  I hope to be broken and renewed when it is all over.

I am a shy person.  As in, I don't like to open up about my personal life.  I can talk about anything else but when it comes to my heart, it is very hard to share...even with my own husband and closes friends.  I am trusting in the Lord and giving Him that fear daily because I know the story he has written for my life is very important to share.  I know He doesn't want me to bottle it up and because I love Him, I will tell everyone what He has done for me.  And I hope my story glorifies Him and encourages others!

Something random about me...I drink coffee morning, noon, and night without it affecting my sleep cycle (probably cause I am immuned to caffeine!), I always choose the food I eat by how crunchy the texture is...the crunchier the better, and sometimes I wish I could be on the cast of SNL because I think to make people laugh is the best.

See you all at Hope Spoken!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

One Of Those (Our All Natural Food and Lifestyle Journey)

Yup, we are one of those people.  The people that shop at farmers' markets, eat organic foods, drink raw milk, rub essentials oils all over themselves, use all natural cleaning products, make their own deodorants, promote breastfeeding, and the likes of that.  And to tell you the truth, I never thought I'd become "one of those" but I did and I am so thankful that I am.  To boil it down as to why we decided to walk this path almost 5 years ago is simply this: to be healthy, free of sickness, and to care for the earth as best and humanely as we can.

That's what it comes down to.  To live a long and healthy life for me and my family.  I know the Lord could take us away any time, any day.  But I know I can also try to avoid and prevent sickness and disease from being one of the reasons of leaving this world.  If you knew how to do that, wouldn't you do it?

This whole journey started for us when Gavin was born.  I believe that's when a lot of moms started realizing the food they were eating and were about to give to their babies.  It is pretty terrifying to learn what is actually in processed foods, what chemicals are laced on our produce, and the type of treatment and poison that is being fed to the animals that are inhumanely slaughtered and then given to us to eat.  I watched the documentaries and cried and vowed to change our ways.

Obviously, this doesn't happen overnight.  It took us 4 years to become 100% organic in our consumption.  It is very costly BUT let me put it to you this way: I would rather spend the extra money upfront to be healthy rather than spend that extra money later on medical bills.  You get what I'm saying?  We changed our budget around to make food one of the top priorities of where our money goes to each month.  That means no getting nails done, hair done, clothes shopping for me except here and there.  We only eat out once every other week.  I can't even tell you the last time we went to see a movie.  I pack lunches everywhere we go.  And I'm very happy to do it.

Do we slip on our diet occasionally?  YES!  Very much so.  Especially when I'm in school and can't cook all the time.  But that's where the oils and vitamins and supplements come in whenever our diet is not very good.

I'm just here to write my testimony, not write out the facts.  I'll leave you a lot of links to websites for that!  My testimony is this: Ben and I have not been sick in over 2 years except for the occasional colds and Gavin hadn't been sick in over a year (and he goes to school full time).  Gavin hadn't seen his doctor in over a year except for his wellness check-ups for his birthdays.  And we don't get the flu shot.  Ben has digestion issues but when we stick ot a gluten-free and paleo diet, he has no problems at all.  I break out in rashes quite often but if I stick to gluten-free, my flare ups are few and in between.  Isn't that amazing?

God is so good.  When he made us, he gave us everything we needed on this earth to care for ourselves.  That is not to say we don't see the doctor - we do!  I am so thankful for doctors, surgeons, hospitals, I truly am!  I believe that there are some amazing life saving things that they are able to do in an emergency and I am so glad that they are there.  But our doctor is not who we call up right when we get the sniffles.  We battle out the sickness with foods and oils first and 9 times out of 10, that's all we need to do.

So to all of you that are "one of those", I made two prints that are FREE to download.  They're my two favorites when I think about this lifestyle that we are on.



I love the first one.  Knowing that food is your medicine is not a new thing.  We've forgotten that food heals us but as technology advanced, we've focused one how to do things faster, how to make more of it, and how to make it cheap, food is now destroying us.

The second one should ring true to most of us.  I travel to a lot of different grocery stores every week to get food.  Or I'll drive to somebody's house to pick up co-op meat or produce.  And then once every other month, I will drive 2 hours away to a raw milk farm to buy gallons of milk and eggs.  Who knew that all this traveling for food would be bibilical?

You can download the Hippocrates here and Proverbs 31:14 here.

Resources
Documentaries to watch: Food Inc. and Food Matters and they're both on Netflix.  Netflix has a lot of great food documentaries so just watch them all. :)

Living Water Health and Wellness: My dearest friend, Brandy, writes an amazing blog about her journey in holistic and biblical living.  She has a lot of great posts for those who are just starting out on this journey.  She is my #1 resource for anything and everything!  



Young Living Essential Oils: we buy and use Young Living essential oils for headaches, tummy troubles, fevers, muscle soreness to helping you sleep, giving you energy, and taking away stress.  I cannot live without my oils!  And word of advice, don't buy the oils that are carried in the stores...they are not 100% therapeutic and most of them have other chemicals mixed in...yikes!

Modern Alternative Mama: This is another great blog with a lot of resources and articles on holistic living!

Make your own deodorant: did you know aluminum is now linked to being with of the factors that causes breast cancer?  You can read about it here.  I find that the natural deodorants in the store don't keep the BO away and you'll need to reapply often.  I've started making my own and it works SO MUCH BETTER!

Against All Grain: my favorite paleo and gluten-free recipes can be found here.  This is how we eat at home.  And Danielle's story is amazing!  If you or someone you know suffers from Ulcerative Colitis, please read and share!

If you guys think of anything else I should post a link to, let me know!  And if you ever have questions, you can email me at ftlojoy (at) gmail (dot) com.

Good health to everyone!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Hello, Let's Talk About Breastfeeding (And A Sale)

So it’s been awhile. Over 8 months to be exact. I got engaged and that was the end of blogging for the time being. I didn’t want to stop but with taking care of my family, going to school, working on FTLOJ, and planning a wedding, it was necessary. I even stopped reading other people’s blogs. That’s when you know you’re REALLY busy.

A lot had happened. One being I got married to my best friend and baby daddy of 7 years. The other being that I am retiring all custom orders. I will talk about both of these soon but today I wanted to share my breastfeeding story. If you didn’t know, August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week. I had never written about my breastfeeding experience and thought this was the perfect time to share and to offer encouragement.


4.5 years ago, when I was pregnant with Gavin, I knew right away I wanted to breastfeed. At that time, I knew nothing about living naturally like I do now so my decision to breastfeed was not because of the nutrition and health of my baby. My husband (then boyfriend) and I were two college students, working part-time, making minimum wage, when we got pregnant. I wanted to breastfeed because it was FREE. Nobody told me how hard breastfeeding was. They told me how hard the labor and delivery would be but never told me about breastfeeding. I read pamphlets about nursing and thought, well that’s that. Uh, WRONG. When was born, the doctor gave him to me to nurse right away and he had a very good latch. The boy loves to eat and still does today so he was a pro at nursing me from day 1. It was me who had the problem.


My milk didn’t come in for 5 days. He was losing weight too fast and the doctor didn’t like that. I went to a breastfeeding consultant and she told me I was doing everything right but didn’t know why my milk hadn’t come in yet. She told me to keep nursing him when it was his time to eat for at least 20 minutes on each side and then supplement him with formula. Again, I didn’t know anything about formula like I do now but back then I knew I didn’t want to give it to him. It looks processed and unnatural (duh, cause it is!). But I was a worried, tired, sore mama who wanted her hungry baby to eat.



Can I say how painful it is when your milk first comes in? I had a pretty easy labor and delivery (hospital, epidural, pushed in 12 minutes, done. However, if we have another baby, it’ll be birthing center, no pain medicine, and hopefully still push in 12 minutes. Or better yet, I hope the baby just falls out!), I was healing really well from my delivery, I was surviving alright on less than 3 hours of sleep a night. But the milk? Holy Cow. I cried. I Ibuprofened. I took hot showers. I pumped. I guess my body had stored up so much milk since it came late that it all just flooded down at one time. Eventually, it got better but I still remember to this day how painful and uncomfortable it was.



Yay, milk was here. All would be better now, right? Wrong, again. I was not making enough milk for my hungry little baby. I was on the feeding schedule like everyone had suggested. Every 2-3 hours, 20 minutes on each side. But it was not enough. He wanted more, more, more. I was a first time mom. I was also the first one of my friends to have a baby. I had no support group at that time, no church community to contact. I was basically on my own and didn’t know what to do. I wanted to give up. Itwould be so much easier to give up. Life would be wonderful if I didn’t have to deal with this anymore. He could eat however much formula he wanted and finally be satisfied. But deep down, I knew I couldn’t do it. I was this boy’s mama. God gave me the body to grow him and then to nourish him. I wanted to nourish him for a long time.

For the next two months, I threw away his feeding schedule and nursed on demand. I literally nursed every hour, every day, for two months. I nursed all day long. That boy was on a boob all the freaking time. I nursed all night long. Me and my husband were sleeping on a full size mattress and it was not enough room for us and a baby. So I had to kick out the husband basically every night so Gavin could sleep next to me and nurse me any time he wanted. Poor husband had to sleep on the couch cause we only had one bedroom at the time!


Finally, it happened. I don’t remember the day when I realized this but I finally had enough milk for every feeding that I could finally space out his eating times. I can’t even tell you what a sense of accomplishment I felt. My body was finally in sync with my baby and it was a great relief.

When he was 9 months old, I went back to school and he stayed with a good friend of mine who is a stay at home mom. I pumped a lot for those times I was gone but it wasn’t enough. I eventually started losing my milk supply. I had to eventually start supplementing with formula again but during this time, I had learned a little bit about natural living and was giving him organic formula. He was almost a year old when I nursed him for the last time. I remember his last feeding and it was the saddest day. Our favorite time to nurse was in the morning right when he got up and in the middle of the night when the whole house was quiet. I still remember those sweet little noises he made when he drank and just the way we would snuggle and bond during that time. He’s almost 5 now and I just cannot believe how fast the years go by. It is truly bittersweet.


So this is my breastfeeding story.  Now I know not every mom can nurse on demand every hour like I did.  I was working at home at the time so I was still pretty busy but I still had the time to be able to nurse him the way I did.  When I was at school, it was too hard to just run out of class and pump which is why my milk supply started to dry up. And I know lots of moms out there are in that same situation where you have to go back to work and you can't take three 30 minute breaks to pump during your shift.  And I know there are a lot of moms who are struggling much worse than I did with nursing.  Besides the first time my milk came in, my breasts were never sore and never got infected.  I've seen first hand from my best friend how painful it can be when that happens.  Pain that is unbearable and you just have to grit your teeth to get through it.  There are many reasons, not excuses, to why moms have to give up breastfeeding even though they tried really hard.  It is a heartbreaking situation. 

But you don't have to turn to commercial formula!  There is a much better alternative.  My best friend had to give up on breastfeeding her 4 month old daughter when she was pregnant with her son.  Instead of using processed, manufactured formula that is missing all the nutrition and vitamins a baby needs to grow healthy in all areas of their bodies, she started making Goat Milk Formula which is very close to mother's milk.  She would buy the milk from a farm and add good fats such as coconut oil and cod liver oil, Vitamin C,  probiotics for a healthy digestive system, and so on.  Her daughter is now 20 months old and has never been seriously sick and is a very healthy little girl and I attribute that to her goat milk formula and the natural and organic foods that she eats.  So if you need to stop breastfeeding, I would tell you to seriously consider making your own formula.  If I had known about this when I was supplementing, I would've done it in a heart beat.  It does take time because you are preparing it yourself, but I believe it to be worth it for your baby's health.  My friend made her recipe from the Weston A. Price Foundation.


The boppy cover was heaven sent for me.  I knew nothing about them until after I started nursing. Imagine me already distressed from nursing but also hunched over my baby with an achy back.  Also, Gavin would only nap on the boppy for about the first 4 months of his life.  The Boppy Pillow is definitely my number one recommendation for new moms.

One of my very first items I offered in my shop was the Quilted Patchwork Boppy Cover.  I started creating covers because I wanted my boppy cover to match my house and I figured most would want that too.  It became a hit and I think I've made hundreds of boppy covers in the last 3 1/2 years.  I am sad to say that on September 1, I will no longer be offering those.  I've created a new cover design and am taking my shop in a different direction design-wise so it's time to retire the patchwork covers.  However, there is still a month left!  And from August 1-7, 10% of all my sales will go to benefit the Tarrant County Breastfeeding Coalition.  Also for August 1-7, take 15% off anything in the shop using coupon code "IHEARTMILK".  Visit For The Love Of Joy to check it out!


I hope I have encouraged someone out there who is struggling with breastfeeding.  It is very hard work.  Not only did you sacrifice 10 months to carry your baby, but then you have to sacrifice almost another year to feed them.  Your body is so strong to be able to do those things and with prayer and perseverance, I believe you can conquer all your struggles!

Monday, November 26, 2012

50% Off Sale

Everything listed in the shop is 50% off today.  This only happens once a year so take advantage of it now.  Sale will end 11:59pm CST tonight.  Happy Cyber Monday!

xoxo,
Anna

Monday, November 12, 2012

Our Engagement Pictures

Last month we did our engagement pics with Beyond The Blue Studios, the photography business I design for.  Gara did such an amazing job.  I was smiling head to toe looking through all of our pictures.  I'm trying to decide which ones I should blow up to display during the reception.  They're all amazing!














If you are in the DFW area and don't already have a photography, definitely come check out BTB.  If you are a photographer in the DFW area, check out 3825 S. Bowen.  You can rent out her studio space and 3.5 acres of land for your sessions!  I've seen the photos that have come through there from multiple photographers and each one of them are amazing!

xo,
Anna Joy


Sunday, October 21, 2012

It's Been Awhile

Family.  School.  Work. Wedding planning.  That's been my life the last 2 months.  I finally found time to sit down and edit the pictures on my camera.  Enjoy.

Quilt and Pillow

Quilt and Pillow

Child's Name Pillow

Tooth Fairy Pillow

Boppy Cover

Quilt for Ani

Quilt for Ani

Child's Name Pillow

Boppy Cover

Boppy Cover

Robot Quilt with Atomic Starburst

Robot Quilt with Atomic Starburst

xoxo,
Anna

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

New Prints For Sale

I made new prints.  I love these prints and I think you will too.

These were made to look like the Child's Name Pillows.

Gavin

Paisley

And I just love initials.

G is for Gavin

P is for Paisley

And if your kiddos share a room with a sibling, these would be perfect for the decor.

B is For Brother

B Is For Brother

This one is my fave:
S Is For Sister

You can pick out your colors and patterns for me to make.  Isn't it awesome how you can customize anything in my shop? Wink, wink.

And if you own everything from me, your room might look a little something like this...

For The Love of Joy Decor

This is our guest room.  I kind of wish it was my own room. :)

So these are my new items for the shop.  Next month I have something else to showcase!

xo,
Anna Joy