Doula Certification Approved!

I am so excited to share with you that my certification as a Birth Doula through DONA International has been approved!

Timelines vary, but for me this process took almost two years. I attended a training in January of 2016 and checked off my childbirth class as well as the breastfeeding class. I also served the first client whose labor would count toward my certification. Over the following months I read seven books and supported five more births. Finally, this past fall I felt ready to compile my certification packet and send it in.

This has been an amazing and beautiful addition to my life. In total I have served seven laboring women, and have another scheduled for March. I have experienced labor in three different hospitals with Midwives, OBs, and Family Physicians attending. I’ve seen mothers dig deep to find strength and endurance they couldn’t imagine was there and I have witnessed women making brave choices to ensure their best birth possible.

Empowering women to make their own decisions and to be their own advocates is the reason why I entered this line of work, and I am proud to be a part of supporting these heroes as they take on the challenge of bringing life into the world!


Charity Sandstrom CD(DONA)


The Team That Screams the Loudest

When I was in school, we would often have pep rallies where teams or grade levels would throw a cheer back and forth, getting louder every time until all the students in that section were screaming at the top of their lungs. There was only one rule, the team that screams the loudest wins.

As I think about all of those poor vocal folds getting cracked and torn (it was a badge of honor to lose your voice because of your intensity) I am also pondering the issues surrounding internet communications. These lines of text are called social media, but I really have a hard time referring to a field of battle as anything approaching social. I’m feeling ranty and today’s my day off, so of course I am blogging about it.

Yesterday in a Facebook group someone shared a screen-shot of an actual conversation between two people who live just over 90 miles from me. The interaction was the worst of the worst of trolling, name-calling, accusations, stereotyping, all that was missing was ALL CAPS! What made matters worse was that one of the people involved in this vicious behavior proudly displays on their public information that they attended a university loosely affiliated with my denomination.

To understand why that even matters, I have to tell you that there aren’t that many Quakers walking around the US these days. We have a good reputation with most people who learned about our involvement with abolition, women’s rights, and the peace movement. Social justice is a pretty big deal to those who cherish our history and look to influence the world today. When a person even tenuously associated with our name gets it wrong, it makes a big splash.

The person posting brought this up. At that point I had a choice to make. I could defend this person’s ridiculous behavior or I could disown them, or I could say that not all Quakers believe the way he does. I suppose the other choice would be to scroll by and say nothing…but we all know you can’t let someone be wrong on Facebook.

I can not even begin to count the number of interactions I have seen in internet communications that leave me shaking my head at the bruised fingertips and cracked nails that fall victim to the ideology planted in our formative years that the team that screams the loudest wins.

Does it? Does it really?

Some days I think so. Those days are depressing. Those are the days that I don’t want to get our of bed or interact with other humans. I can’t stand the thought that so much of our lives, our futures, our children’s futures are being determined by who is shouting the loudest, and often the vulgar-est, and often the hateful-est. It is mob rule at its worst.

There are other days when I have faith in the subversive forms of love and service that hide their glory behind the scenes bringing peace-filled moments into the darkest places. On those first days, I try to duck my head and involve myself in those second day kinds of activities. I’m determined to be part of the solution, and shouting louder is only going to cost me my voice, and maybe my heart, and possibly my soul.

What if we gave up shouting for our teams and starting serving one another in love?

What if we stopped identifying by our ideology or our politics or our class and started living into the faith we profess? (I’m mostly talking to my Christian sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers, cousins and relations–those who claim as master the one who said the absolutely greatest thing is to love God and the second to love the person next to us.)

What if we did choose to scroll by those wrong people on the internet and whisper a prayer for them instead of shouting them down with the greatest insults?

I am all for standing against injustice. I think we ought to speak the truth. I also believe the best way to do so is in person with full accountability for the things we say and do.

If I post about homelessness and do not love the homeless, I am a noisy gong or clanging symbol.
If I post about racial reconciliation and do not love individuals and communities other than those like me & mine, I am accomplishing nothing.
If I post about a cause that matters and am not actually doing anything to make things better myself, personally, on my own time, I am nothing.

Where there are tweets, they will cease.
Where there are posts, they will pass away.
Where there are selfies, they will fade.

But these remain:




And the greatest of these enduring forces is Love.


Put Your Money Where Your Heart Is…

We are all busy preparing for the holidays, for me that means Christmas lists and carefully planning the season so that I don’t overdo it too much. Because of my health, it is so important to prioritize how I spend my time. This only increases in importance when we enter busy seasons. (A little overdoing is par for the course. My goal is not to run out of energy and have a complete breakdown.)

Along with scheduling and planning, I have some shopping to do. We have a strict limit for gifts whether for Christmas or birthday. We want it to be enough to have a few gifts, but not so much that we will get pulled into the sensational items of the season. Budgeting is key, but we also want those gifts to reflect our values.

The source of the gift is important. I care about slavery and exploited workers. I care about the environment and want to be a good steward of my resources. How do I hang on to those core values when it is so easy to walk into a convenience mega store and buy the first five cheap gifts I come across?

Also high on my priority list is spending time with my family. My kids are growing and it is so important for me to spend time with them so that they know I love them. I need to impress on them just how important they are to me. It is hard to do that when meetings, events, and appointments fill every free evening and Saturday. How do I honor my family when my schedule is packed to overflowing?

I wrote a question to help me examine my choices this season, as I shop or plan my schedule, so that I don’t walk away with a holiday guilt hangover. It is too tempting to make the quick choice, the easy choice instead of the right choice–the one that reflects my values.

Here is the question I use: Does this reflect my heart?

Before I buy, does this reflect my heart?

Before I schedule, does this reflect my heart?

Is this gift or purchase necessary, is it ethically sourced, how far did it travel?

Is this event or appointment vital for me to attend, will I be missed, does it help me make a difference?

One thing we did this year as a family was drive to a fair trade store and shop together. We have a budget and allocated about half of the budget for each person to gifts from this store. It helped us to spend time together away from home and distractions. Shopping this way also guaranteed that the items we purchased were in line with our core values.

Now, I can tell you that I am not perfect. I am still learning and it takes a lot of effort and intentionality to remind myself at every intersection to stick to my priorities. I am a people pleaser, and it is hard to say no! I also don’t relish shopping, so the temptation is definitely there to compromise.

But my heart’s cry cannot be ignored for long. If I don’t listen now, I will be hearing from my hurting heart later!

Staying true to my values at Christmas.
Truly ReFreshing!


When Christians talk about salvation, we often give the impression that it is a moment in time in which we flip a switch that means we will go to Heaven when we die. While I believe Heaven is important, salvation is bigger than what happens when we die.

In the last Fundamentals post, we looked at humanity and sin. Sin broke our good relationship with God, with our fellow humans, and with creation. Salvation brings an opportunity for restoration of those relationships as well.

Walking with God

God has always wanted to walk with us. He created us to be in relationship with himself. In the days of the Garden, he walked with the man and woman in the cool of the day. It was his habit. Through the times of chaos, the patriarchs, and the early law, God reached out for fellowship. The Old Testament writers spoke again and again about a time when God would write his law on our hearts and the need for external coercive measures would fall away. A time of restored relationship with God, and a renewed sense of fellowship with him.

Jesus came, announcing a fulfillment of prophecy and the nearness of God’s Kingdom.
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand…” The response that Jesus calls for is repentance and belief.

Repentance is a concept that gets a lot of bad press. At it’s core, though, it is simply a call to change your mind and change your direction. We do it all the time without even thinking about it. I was using a particular brand of laundry soap, it gave me hives, so I repented of using that soap and switched to one that didn’t.

Photo by linder6580

Photo by linder6580

My daughter had a choir concert out of town a while back. It was important that we get there on time for the rehearsal because I was driving 2 other girls to this event. I followed the directions and couldn’t find it. I drove back and forth, up and down the same street for a half mile in both directions and couldn’t find it. Finally I rechecked the directions and realized I had turned right when I should have turned left. I repented and went back to where I made the wrong turn and took the right one. We got there right on time.

The story of humanity making a wrong turn at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil begins with an idea that we need to be more like God. There is just one problem.

Only God can be God.

We’ve displaced God, taking on the role of owner of creation and judge over ourselves and others. We’ve often trashed creation, and we do a terrible job of judging rightly. We tend to see our wants as needs, and the mistakes of others as much greater than our own. Salvation begins the process of restoring God to his rightful place in every aspect of our lives.DSC00977

Relationships Healed

The way to restoration in our relationships is taking on a new view of self and others. A realistic view that Jesus talks about in his parable about the speck of dust and the log. The Holy Spirit helps us discern where we’ve gone wrong and begins to form in us the ability to see through the lens of grace. We have to know who we are in our brokenness and receive God’s healing grace for ourselves when we find we are not able to live up to a perfect standard. Only then can we begin to extend that same grace to others. That is how we find healing in ourselves, forgiveness for our mistakes and the ability to offer the same healing forgiveness to others.


Creation Care

In the beginning we had a job to do. We were to be stewards of creation. When we walk in sin, that relationship is broken as well. Paul says that creation cries out for redemption. It is our job as Christians not only to administer grace to our fellow human beings, but to care about all of creation. That means asking God how we can participate in stewarding creation in our daily lives. It means caring about things like waste of resources, mistreatment of animals, and even climate change.

You and I can’t fix these things on our own, and that is not our job. But it is our job to care and to do what we can to manage this gift well.

God desires to do more than give you a ticket to heaven. God wants to bring restoration to your daily life, your relationships, and the whole earth.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17


Below is the statement on salvation from our regional Faith and Practice.


Salvation is a personal matter between people and their Maker. It consists of forgiveness for sins as well as sanctification or the cleansing of sinful human nature. People can be redeemed because of the atoning death of Jesus Christ and the direct work of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit restores people to fellowship with God the Father and enables them to love Him wholeheartedly. Salvation does not depend on outward ceremonies or symbols. Sanctification is the work of God which is accomplished through the baptism with the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer who is yielded totally to God. The believer is thus empowered to witness to the living Christ. Sanctification is both an act in which one’s heart is cleansed and a process in which the life is continuously disciplined to God’s holy standards.

Summer Chores & Activities!

Once again school is out, and we are rebooting our Pick Five chore system. Here is the skinny on the stroke of genius that has gotten us through 2 summers of my working full time from home with three kids (now 12, 9, not quite 4 years old) and keeping my sanity!

These are the benefits I’ve seen in the two summers we’ve used this system:

  1. A set of chores and activities that they can choose and do on their own.
  2. Self-regulated screen time.
  3. Built in reading time.
  4. Simple rules: do your 5 chores anytime you choose, one TV show, one 30 minute session on any other screen, additional screen time is earned by doing extra chores.
  5. Kids that contribute to the household chores!

Here is a link to the original post from May of 2014:

Here’s our updated chores and activities for our growing kiddos!

Chores And Activities

Chore and Activities 2016

Still a great system, and still adding refreshment by the score to my life. Enjoy!

New Year, New Challenges, Let’s Do This!

My 2016 has begun with troublesome symptoms and not so great news from the doctor. I have been experiencing heart palpitations. This would not necessarily be such a bad thing, but lately they have come almost every day. Scariest of all have been a few times when I have felt them while running. So I called the doctor.

My visit was routine, blood tests and a heart monitor for 24 hours were ordered. I got right in for the monitor, and the next day my test results came back. Everything was great, except my cholesterol. My LDL levels made it to the rare “Very High” category. I always wanted to be a high achiever, but this is not what I meant. Currently I am waiting to schedule an appointment with a cardiologist.

Cover Image graur razvan ionut

You have to understand a few things to know why
this is gigantically challenging for me.

First, I eat healthier than probably 90% of people I know. I am a weekday vegetarian, maybe consuming meat twice a week. I don’t use a lot of butter and cheese, although ice cream and I have had a long and beautiful friendship.

Second, I am active. I run, last year I had a blast doing 2+ hours a week of cardio between Aqua Zumba and walking with a good friend. Right now I am training for my second half marathon, my first was about 18 months ago.

Third, I am only 36 years old. I have three beautiful children, and a wonderful husband of 17 1/2 years. My life is full of wonderful good things.

Fourth, and finally, my resting heart rate is under 60bpm, and my blood pressure always around 117/67. The thought that I might have already started down the road to coronary artery disease is unfathomable.

But here I am.

stone heart1129356_63316491

I am Warrior-Woman-ing up and facing this challenge head-on.

My weapons in this fight are as follows:path
*Near-vegan eating, with the exception of fish oil,
*Losing 15 pounds,
*Fish oil,
*Hemp oil,
*Continuing to train for my half marathon in March,
and I am going to start drinking regularly. No, seriously, red wine every day.

My hope is to turn the tide, rebuff the advancing artery-clogging plaque, and win.

Wish me luck. Pray for strength.

Facing the truth, forming a plan, following through.
Challenging, but ReFreshing


Silencing the “Shoulds” & Taking Back Your Schedule

I wear many hats. With every hat comes a list of things that I have to do in order to be a responsible hat-wearer. Unfortunately, most days there are just too many things I should do, and I am (by far) not the busiest person I know.

How did we get here and how do we do all of this without killing ourselves in the process?

Here is what I SHOULD include in my day:

Work is important, at least 8 hours a day
Health is important, 1 hour of exercise
Not smelling is important, 30 minutes to shower and get dressed
Mental health is important, 1 hour of reading
Spiritual health is important, too. 1 hour of prayer and meditation
Eating well is important, 1-2 hours cooking, 1-2 hours eating
Keeping house is important, 1 hour of cleaning
Spousal relationships are important, 1 hour of relationship building
My 3 kids are important, 30 minutes isn’t too much to ask for each of them, 1.5 hours of kid time
Having friends is important, 45 minutes of catching up
Helping others is important, 15 minutes of being a good neighbor
Clean clothes are important, 1.5 hours of laundry
Relaxation is important, 30 minutes of “me” time
Sleep is important, 8 hours to recharge

A full day, and it only took me 30 hours to accomplish it all. Good thing I don’t have to commute.

Reality dictates that the day has only 24 hours, and you only have a certain amount of energy to make it through each day. We have set ourselves up for so much heartache when we stack our plates with unrealistic expectations. There simply isn’t enough time in the day to do it all. I know that sometimes we can multitask, but even with those multitasking fixes, we easily end up stealing from tomorrow’s energy to accomplish today’s goals. Realistically, we cannot keep up this pace without having a breakdown along the way.

So what is likely to get laid down first? Anything that takes extra brain power or will power. This is why the typical American diet is horrendous. This is why our physical activity is lacking. This is why our houses get cluttered, or our relationships break down. We have to put energy into everything we do, so how do we begin to bring some sanity to our overloaded schedules?

Redistribute the workload. There are things you have to do, no one can exercise for you, but if you have a spouse, or kids, or a roommate, household tasks can be shared.

Simplify. Fewer things means fewer things to take care of. Fewer clothes means less laundry. Fewer dishes means less to load in to the dishwasher.

Remove or modify the things that correspond to someone else’s expectations. A lot of what drives our schedules comes from guilt or fear of not living up to what others expect. Set your priorities and let the rest go.

Don’t kill yourself trying to be HEALTHY! Health includes your stress levels. Make changes incrementally, simplify your diet and exercise routines. Healthy choices only count if you can actually follow through with them.

Don’t be afraid to plan. Sometimes I fear that if I actually see everything that I am doing written on a page I will faint from exhaustion. Planning ahead can really help us stay on task and not waste precious time and energy on things that will be important tomorrow instead of the things that must be done today.

If we don’t take the time to ponder our priorities, we get swept along in the riptide of demands on our time and energy. We run ourselves ragged, or we shut down and nothing (important or not) gets done. Take a deep breathe and start planning a new year of less stress and more health by taking control of your chaotic schedule!

Now that’s ReFreshing!