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How Do You Know If You're Really in LOVE?

     "17 Steps to Know if You’re in Love.”  “13 Scientifically Proven Signs You’re in Love.”  “Top 10 Signs You’re in Love.”  These are all articles found on the web.  How do you know you’re in love?  Can anyone really tell you?  When it comes to love, you may think you’re following your heart…but you’ve got it all going on in your brain.  Studies have shown that in the first two years of a romantic or dating relationship, your brain is producing high levels of hormones that give you a “butterflies in your stomach” feeling or intense desire towards another.  You’re kinda not really seeing the person as they are because you’re blinded by LOVE (the hormones).  Short term, others may be telling you that he’s/she’s no good for you…that’s because they are not as emotionally unreasonable in their assessment as you are.  On the other hand, maybe you’ve taken time to really get to know that person, you started out as friends, and the relationship has blossomed into something sweet.  Regardless, you need to logically look at the relationship and utilize another part of your brain to determine if it’s true love or infatuation.

     By definition, infatuation is like a crush; it’s caught up in (short lived) physical desire.  Love is based upon a mutual commitment and intimacy.    Both of these are much more complicated than a simple definition, though. 

     Fast.  Few.  Destructive.  Not consistent or predictable.  Withers away.  Frequent.  Severe.  I/me/my.  Selfish.  These are some of the descriptive words used in a relationship based on infatuation.  They are answers to logical questions about a relationship:  How did the romance start?  Fast.  How many things attract you?  Few.  How consistent is your level of interest in the person?  Interest varies; not consistent or predictable.  What is the effect of the romance on your personality?  Disorganized, destructive; you are not yourself.  How do others view you two?  Few or none approve of the relationship.  These are just a few of the questions you should ask yourself about your relationship.

     Using the same logical questions, a relationship based on true love takes into consideration a slow progression of getting to know each other and appreciating the total personality.  When you are together, you’re a better person in all aspects of your life…you’re organized, constructive, etc.  Because of the positive impact on your life, others heartily approve of your relationship and everyone gets along.  A very important part of true love is that there is true commitment to the other’s thoughts and feelings and there is an attitude of giving, sharing, and wanting to serve the needs/wants of the other.  Likewise, they consider your thoughts, feelings, and desires for your life.

     Does it feel like love?  It may be difficult to separate logic from your feelings.  Though you think it’s the real thing, you have to logically look at the relationship to determine if it’s true love or infatuation.  BTW...hold out for true love.

Meet Our Volunteer, Ebby Shanks

Meet Ebby Shanks, RN

What is your volunteer position and how long you have been here?  Client Advocate and Registered Nurse at Portico for almost a year

What exactly do you do at Portico?  I work as a Client Advocate doing pregnancy tests, talking with clients as well as nursing responsibilities, teaching, giving prenatal vitamins and soon ultrasounds!!

What is the most rewarding part of volunteering at Portico?  Getting to sit with and talk with clients, hear their stories, encourage them and love on them.  I also get to work with some incredible women who love Jesus and have a heart for the brokenhearted.

What are your hobbies?  I love reading, baking/cake decorating, working out and spending time with the people I love.  Oh and hiking Radnor Lake.

What does your day look like when you’re not at Portico?  Hiking, cleaning, decorating my home, spending time with friends and lots and lots of cake decorating.

Do you have a favorite quote or life verse to share?  I love prayer so 2 Corinthians 7:14 “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways then I will hear from Heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.”

If you could eat or drink just one thing for the rest of your life and never get tired of it, what would it be?  Cake! I love love cake!  Or anything Mexican.

What is something that you just can’t do no matter how hard to try?  I can’t bend my pinkie finger without bending my ring finger as well…it’s very frustrating.  I also cannot get my family to tell my twin sister and me apart…we are now 30 years old and they STILL haven’t gotten it right.

What do you love most about living in your community?  I live in Nashville and love the community I live in. Everyone is friendly and active.  People are always walking, running, hiking at Radnor Lake.

Conversations to have before college (Part 2)

Hopefully you have read the first part of "Conversations to have before college." Now we have a few more great suggestions....

Seek advice from a current college student.  You may think you know everything there is to know about college, but you might be surprised.  It’s always good to talk to someone who has recently gone through the transition so you know what’s ahead.  Probably one of the best things to ask is about what to expect during your first semester.  What surprises did he or she find?  What mistakes were made?  Talking to a current student should provide a clearer picture of life on campus.

Talk to your roommate.  You will be living with this person for 10 months out of the year.  Get acquainted with him/her before you actually move in.  Some things that you’ll need to figure out include:  Who’s going to bring the tv (or rather, who’s got the biggest tv)?  the gaming console?  the mini-fridge?  the Keurig?  What will the décor be like?  For girls, it is quite a detailed conversation about coordinating things; and for boys, it’s a simple decision between blue, black or khaki color-scheme.  Another important thing to know about your roommate includes if they are a morning person or night-owl which determines if there are early morning classes which, in turn, means early morning alarms.

Be open to new experiences.  Staying cooped up in your dorm room is not the best way to live the college experience.  Look around at all the different groups, clubs, activities and opportunities open to you.  These are all based on a common likes, interests, issues and skill sets and the people who are involved have these similar interests.  Sounds like the beginning of beautiful life-long friendships!  Organizational groups include those focusing on religious affiliation, outdoor recreation, areas of study, philanthropic endeavors, performing arts, school spirit, intramurals, Greek life, etc.  Pick something that looks interesting to you…that’s how you meet people and become involved.   Also, go to sporting events and become a fan of your school’s teams!

Have a “dating in college” plan.  This is another character issue.  What are you going to do…or more specifically, what are you NOT going to do on dates?  “Dating” in college seems to be on a faster track than dating in high school, so you need a plan.  You’ll have temptation like you’ve never experienced:  dating, parties, drinking, sex, etc.  These are interconnected and can progress out of control quickly.  Share your plan with friends so they know to lend help if needed.  It’s reassuring to know that there are those who have your back when you get in certain situations.  Be vigilant with your friends and know their plan, too.
The difficulty transitioning from high school to college is often uncertainty.  Students need a clear sense of what to expect in college before they get there.  

Conversations like these can begin to paint a clearer picture of what’s ahead and help to alleviate anxiety caused by this transition.  

Much of this information was from the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding, and for more college transition resources visit the CPYU’s College Transition Initiative at CollegeTransitionInitiative.com.

Conversations to Have Before College (Part 1)

Conversations to have before College (Part 1)

An important time in the life of a young person is when they head off to college.  The years between 18-25 have been called “critical years” because during this time many life-forming decisions will be made. Students attending college have more questions than answers and can benefit from a clear sense of what to expect before they get there.   Conversations like the following can help alleviate anxiety caused by this transition.  

We’ve done a little research on some important conversations that a young person needs to have before they head off to college.  And we’ve added a few more from our own experience: 

Have a conversation with yourself.  Take a look at yourself in the mirror and ask hard personal questions about the next four years.  Being on your own is a challenge unto itself.  Never mind the studying with which you’ll be responsible for initiating and keeping up.  You will be responsible for your free time, too.  How are you going to spend that?  What kind of person are you going to be while in college?  Are you going to be so different than what you have been up until now?  What character traits are most important to you?  Chances are you’ll need to remind yourself of these from time to time.  While you are technically considered an adult, your brain is still developing so you’re not quite there.  The part of your brain that is still developing is the one that can discern situations and make decisions.  You may not make the best of decisions every time, but how you recover from those situations is what will help strengthen your character.  You may get hurt from your decisions, but that will cultivate a fortitude which will eventually make you stronger.

Speaking of the whole reason you’re at college, remember to keep academics at the center of your college experience.  What do you hope to accomplish through the area of study you’ve chosen?  What do you hope to accomplish through the individual classes you’ve chosen?  Get to know your professors beyond an emailing/texting relationship; they want to get to know you and they want to genuinely help.  Pay attention to your study habits and find what suits you best.  Develop those study habits early and they will carry you through the four (or more) years successfully.

Have a conversation with your parents.  You’ll be changing a lot while you’re in college!  It will be productive for you on the home front to know your parents’ thoughts and hopes for you while you’re in college.  And, maybe, what their plans are while you’re away.  When you’re back home for a “visit,” what are some of their expectations of you?  Will you have a curfew?  Will you be expected to have family time?  Can you bring home a mound of laundry?

Seek advice from someone you know and trust who is 20 years removed from college.  And it would be best if this person isn’t one of your parents.  Hearing from someone who has “gone before” will help you to make the most of your own college experience.  Ask him or her a few questions:  What did you value most and least about your college experience?  What would you have done differently?  What were the most important things you learned while in college?  What were the biggest challenges you faced?  Also, ask him or her what they have observed in your life and based on that, what are their concerns for you?  What does he or she think are your strengths and weaknesses?

Check back in with us next week to read the second half of the blog and learn about a few more conversations you should have before starting college.

Early Signs A Relationship Might Become Abusive

Early signs that a relationship might become abusive…

Many people can identify an abusive situation when there are the overt signs like when a guy has left a bruise on his girlfriend’s face, if he tells you she has punched him, if he has raped her, if she throws things at him, if one of them screams and calls the other names…. Or any of the other obvious signs that someone is in an abusive relationship. Studies have shown that only 33% of teens who are in an abusive relationship actually ever tell someone.  Also, about 80% of girls who are in an abusive relationship continue to stay with the abuser.  This is why it is important to be aware of some of the early warning signs that a relationship might turn into an abusive one, so that you can get out before you are hurt.

(I am going to use the pronoun, “he,” for the potential abuser, but know that both men AND women can be the abuser in any relationship.)

Jealousy and Possessiveness- Some of you might have a tendency to feel like this is “romantic” or that “he must really love me.” It can also make you feel important and boost your self-esteem when your partner is jealous of others in your life. But jealousy, especially when unwarranted, is a warning sign that your partner may become abusive.  He may begin to get upset or possessive of time that you spend with others…family, friends, maybe even your own children. You may be accused of flirting or cheating. He may want to check your phone calls, texts and other social media messages.

Social Isolation- He may try to find more activities for you to do at home together, just the two of you, away from others.  He may begin to tell you that your friends or family do not like him. He may tell you not to talk to a certain person or say that he or she is a bad influence on you.

Constant Contact- He may constantly text or call you wanting to know where you are or who you are with. He may often show up to see you when you are not expecting him.

Mood Swings and Anger- He may be prince charming one minute and the next get very angry about something. He may have a short temper, be easily irritated or overly sensitive to things that are not a big deal to most people. He might throw things or break things when he is angry. And he may minimize his anger or become defensive when confronted about his attitude.

Road Rage- He may become angry and overly irritated while driving.

Blaming Others- He tends to blame others for his actions or his life circumstances.

Negative View of Women- He might talk about how his past partners cheated on him, or he might talk negatively about them or women in general.

Threatens to End Life- He might threaten to end his life if you say you are going to break up with him.

These are just some of the signs to look out for.  Anytime you feel uncomfortable with something going on in your relationship, please talk to someone about it.  If you have a friend whose personality or habits seem to be changing due to a relationship or there is something about the relationship that is concerning you, please talk to her or him about it, or tell someone else who is influential in your friend’s life. Abuse of any kind needs to be taken seriously.  Every person is important and valuable and never deserves to be abused by anyone.

Living Together

Did you know that almost HALF of all unmarried women are either currently living with their partner or have in the past?  That seems like “the thing to do” for so many now.  Perhaps you want to test out the relationship before getting married to see if it is going to work.  Maybe you think you can be just as committed as a married couple, but you just aren't interested in getting an actual marriage certificate.  Or maybe you are waiting until you are both settled in great jobs and have money for the big wedding you have always dreamed of….

Research has shown that, in most cases, the relationship won’t last, whether it is before you ever make it to the altar or after you eventually do.  Many studies found that couples who live together before marriage are 50%-80% more likely to end up getting a divorce than couples who were not living together first.

Even though you may feel like it is the same as being married, really it isn’t.  The same level or commitment just is not there, and it can lead to feelings of unhappiness and uncertainty in the relationship.  Someone usually has in the back of their mind that they can still walk out anytime they want to.  The rate of break-ups for co-habiting couples is 5 times greater than for those who are married, and the levels of sexual infidelity are 2 to 8 times higher.  Couples who live together tend to have more difficulty with communication and resolving conflict.  The risk for serious physical and emotional violence is 2 to 5 times higher.

And remember that marriage is hard work and an adventure.  You will continuously be learning more about your spouse each day for the rest of your lives.  That is some of what makes it exciting!  So although it might be tough to learn how to live with someone and deal with all of their quirks  and habits, living together first isn’t really going to help you be as prepared as you think it might.  So, hold off on living with the one you love until you are married.  You and your partner will reap the rewards.  Begin your story of living together after you say “I do.”  

*Some specific statistics were taken from Focus on the Family’s “Living Together” booklet.

Parents...How to Make Your Kids Feel Special

Show them love and make them feel special...

This is the time of year that there is so much talk about LOVE… We see heart shaped balloons, red and pink boxes of chocolate, stuffed bears holding hearts that say I love you… Mostly in regards to our spouses, boyfriend or girlfriends or our “crushes.”  One of the most important people we can love, however, are those who all of that “stuff” might not be as important to… our kids.

While most kids probably do love sugar, balloons  and toys, they’d probably rather you show them your love in different ways….

Spend time with your kids.  Have fun with them.  Laugh with them.  Be silly.  Try new things together, or take them to the park or for ice cream. Teach them, and watch them as they learn to figure things out on their own.  Let them see that they are more important than all of the tasks you have to do around the house.  And if you do really need to get things done around the house, let your kids do some of those things with you.  You will not only be showing them that you want to spend time with them, but that they are important and capable of doing things as well.  But you don’t necessarily always have to DO something with them….

Listen.  Let them talk, and let them know you are listening.  It doesn't matter if they are 3 years old or 16… Whether it is listening to them try to get a new word out as they are just learning to talk or if it is listening to them complain about how their teacher gives them way too much homework.  Don’t do so much talking…. Let them know that what they have to say is important and that you care about how they feel about things.  Listen to them… even when you don’t agree with what they are saying or understand how they feel.  And while listening is just as important…your sharing is vital as well….

Teach them.  Maybe you have had wonderful parents who taught you all the right ways to do things.  Perhaps you have made many mistakes in your life but have learned from them, or maybe you have just experienced a lot of things in your life… You are older and in many cases, have been in their shoes.  Teach them the things they need to know to grow.. physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.  So, one day, you can let them go, knowing they can take care of themselves… Don’t be afraid to share with them about mistakes you have made in the past.  Be vulnerable and open.  When they make bad choices, help them to learn from it.  Encourage them in who they are and who they can be.

Do little things to make them feel special.  Give hugs.  If they are crying because they scraped their knee, maybe they just need you.  Maybe they are leaving for school and don’t necessarily “want” a hug; sometimes you just have to give them one anyway.  Leave a note for them in their lunch box or an encouraging text during the day.

And love doesn't come without sacrifice… It may mean you don’t get to watch your favorite tv show or go out to dinner with friends.  It may mean you lose sleep…whether it is because your 7 year old had a bad dream and cant sleep, or you are waiting for your teenager to get home from a party, so you can hear about it.  Maybe it means you don’t get a shower that day.  All these things you can do when your kids are out of the house…

If all of this seems difficult or doesn't seem to be working… keep trying.  Always PRAY for them!  And pray for yourself that you see them and love them the way that God loves each of us. 

Meet our volunteer, Joni Downing

Joni Downing, Volunteer Client Advocate for over 4 years

What, exactly, do you do at Portico? I am a client advocate. I great clients, give pregnancy tests, talk with clients and get lessons ready for Earn While You Learn; then help them shop.

What is the most rewarding part of volunteering at Portico? Getting to know our clients and seeing Portico make a difference in their lives.

What are your hobbies? Painting portraits and exercise 

What does your day look like when you are not at Portico? Different every day, but I do love shopping when I get a day for that.

Do you have a favorite quote or verse to share? Do Psalm 42:1 “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.”

If you could eat or drink just one thing for the rest of your life and never get tired of it, what would it be? Tacos- hot and spicy

What is something you just can’t do not matter how hard you try? Make Grandmother Downing’s cream candy

What do you like most about living in the Murfreesboro community? It feels like a small town, although it is growing leaps and bounds. You get to know people at restaurants and regular shopping spots.

Last word… So many young women that come through Portico just don’t know how valuable they are in God’s eyes.  Many of them will break down when you share that with them, and that makes my heart happy to know they leave here knowing that. 

It's NOT too late.
It’s too late, I’ve already had sex…
When I go into the area schools to do Asitia (Portico’s prevention program), this is a common phrase that student’s give me when I talk to them about choosing not to have sex.  I HATE this phrase.  “It’s too late.”  Too late for what? 

For some reason, in our culture, we feel like if we’ve “lost” our virginity that sex no longer matters.  Our sexual choices are now all of a sudden set in stone, and we have no choice but to continue in sexual activity.  Why?  Why do we feel this way?  For a culture that likes to stigmatize “virgins,” it sure does seem to place an awful lot of importance on virginity. 

I’m not saying virginity isn’t important.  It is, and more power to you!  But by making abstinence from sex all about “saving your virginity for marriage” we make it seem like anyone who doesn’t, no longer has value.  That just isn’t true.

Your past decisions don’t have to define you.  Peers, the media, your girlfriend or boyfriend, might try to define you by them, but YOU get to choose who you are.  It doesn’t matter if you have had sex once or 50 or 500 times, you can still choose to not have sex.  And by choosing that now, you’ve just limited the number of people you potentially would have exposed yourself to.

You are more than your sexual past.  Whether it was a choice or choices that you made, or whether that choice was made for you.  You still have value and your sexuality still has value.

At Portico, we believe in 2nd chances (or 3rd or 4th or 50th chances).  We want to help you as you write the story of your life. We see lives that are made up of chapters, some good, and some not so good. Often those who come to us feel trapped by their circumstances, living in a chapter that has caused pain and shame. They have been convinced that their story doesn’t matter. That it isn’t worth telling. That no one cares.

At Portico, we’ve each experienced our own difficult seasons. And through those we’ve discovered that no matter how painful a chapter is, there is beauty in the story waiting to be discovered. And we’ve found that as each story is being written, restoration and redemption are available. We’ve experienced this in our own stories, and are compelled to listen to and uncover those themes in the stories of others.


Create Family Traditions

Family traditions.  What do those words mean to you?  Do they bring up warm memories of happy times spent with friends and loved ones over the holidays or other special occasions?  Or do they bring up thoughts of loneliness and disappointment because you don’t have happy memories? 

We were having our single mom support group Christmas party last week, and I brought up this topic to our moms.  I told them that no matter what their own experience might have been, they have the ability to create wonderful, warm traditions and memories for their children.  We talked about why traditions are important, and how they benefit our children.  I found a great definition of family rituals, or traditions, from Rebecca Fraser Thill in “About Parenting”:

“A family ritual is a set of behaviors that is repeated and that is symbolically meaningful. Family rituals provide families with a sense of identity and belonging. They often stir up strong emotions, and are frequently reminisced about and discussed within the family. Family rituals also provide a sense of continuity across generations. In other words, they are a way of transmitting family values, history and culture from one generation to the next. Another term for family rituals is family traditions”

We all have the desire to belong; to feel cherished and loved, and to feel like someone cares about us.  Creating family traditions is one way of making that a reality in the lives of your little ones.  What are some easy things you can do to start that pattern in your own family? Christmas gives you the perfect opportunity to create life-long traditions for your children.

Start the Christmas season with cookie baking or making fudge!  Turn on some favorite Christmas music and sing along as you bake and make a mess!  Find another family and decorate your trees together, first at your house and then theirs.  Add a pot of chili and serve some of those cookies you baked, and a tradition is born!  My own family has done this for over 30 years with the same family, and we cherish and look forward to it every year.  Find an evening during December to drive around looking at lights, or invite another family to go Christmas caroling with you.  Drop by to see elderly people who can’t get out to enjoy the season…sing to them and leave them some of those cookies!  On Christmas morning, cook a special breakfast and sit around the table together talking about what their favorite gift is! 

You get the idea.  It doesn’t take anything major or expensive.  It’s time spent together. It’s the sense of belonging that comes from knowing that your family has patterns…rituals…traditions that are unique to your family.  It is so worth the time and energy you will invest, and you will build a bridge of connection between you and your children that will last a lifetime.  

Care for Baby Gums and Teeth

Care for Baby Gums and Teeth

Early recognition of the need for baby gum and teeth care is very important.  We are well aware of the need for wellness check-ups, immunizations, and physician visits when sickness arises.  How much do we think about the oral care for infants?  Is it really that important at an early age?  Will introducing oral care to my infant be beneficial for his/her future?  Let’s talk about it!

Starting oral care at a very early age can help in establishing a lifetime of reduced dental problems and a healthy mouth.  Baby gums should be wiped gently at least two times a day with a soft, moistened washcloth or wet gauze.  Doing this after an infant is fed and at bedtime are ideal times.  This helps to wipe off bacteria and keeps it from clinging to the gums. 

If your baby is bottle feeding please remember these tips:
1. Don’t leave your baby with a bottle of milk or juice overnight.
2. Try to send baby down for a nap or to bed with a water bottle only.
3. Avoid the addition of sugar, sugar products, or honey on pacifiers.

Baby’s first toothbrush should be soft, with a small head and a big handle.  As baby starts to “teethe” introduce the brush, perhaps with only water at first.  With the first tooth put only a very tiny drop of tooth paste on the brush.  Gently brush the tooth, front and back.  There are many kinds of tooth paste for infants to start with.  Some people recommend waiting to use fluoride tooth paste until the toddler is old enough to recognize not to swallow it.  Please consult your pediatric dentist.

Baby’s first dental visit is recommended from 1-3 years old.  Topics of interest to discuss with your dentist may include:  teething, thumb-sucking, use of fluoride and dental care. 

It may be 2-3 years before all primary teeth come in.  As one breaks through in the mouth, this is called teething.  The process can be a very uncomfortable time for baby and parent.  Babies can cry and be “fussy” for days.

Teething symptoms may include:
1. Drooling
2. Swollen gums
3. Slightly elevated temperature-shouldn’t be above 102°.
4. Runny nose
5. Decreased appetite for solid foods
Common symptoms, but less frequent:
6. Increased biting and chewing
7. Facial rash-on the face only
8. Gum rubbing
9. Ear rubbing
10. Sucking
Management and Relief of Symptoms include:
1. Cool teething rings, one piece, solid
2. Cold washcloth
3. Parent’s clean finger used to do “gum rubbing”
4. Chewing hard, sugar-free teething crackers
5. Frozen fruit pieces, bagels, or cucumbers-small mesh pouches with an attached pacifier handle may keep large pieces of food from being a choking hazard (Always supervise your child when giving food for teething relief.  Make sure they are mature enough/ready to try these methods
6. Tylenol may be used if approved by your pediatrician
7. Natural product by Orajel is available in tablets, gel and nighttime formula
8. After 2 years of age, some pediatricians/pediatric dentists may allow use of Benzocaine-containing teething products-please be sure you check with your physician first before using

Your goal will be to have your child eventually be able to brush, rinse, and spit on their own as they take over their oral care.  This is usually possible around the age of six years.  Until that time, Mom and Dad, be committed to helping your child develop great oral care and healthy teeth to last a lifetime!!!!!

***As always, consult your pediatrician or pediatric dentist before using medications both oral and topical for your infant.

C. Harrelson, Nurse Manager.

Life-long Commitment to Faithfulness: Love

Love is in the air!  This being the month of Valentine’s, love is on everyone’s mind.  “Love” takes an effort from both partners in a relationship.  Making a commitment to one person through marriage may be a difficult step for many.  Marriage is a life-long commitment to faithfulness, between a man and a woman that is bound by law.  Today’s millennials are very interested in the commitment of marriage and are looking for someone who is faithful, trustworthy, honest, kind, loving, hardworking and respectful.  Having love last a lifetime is explored below…

We fall in love by CHANCE; we stay in love by CHOICE  author unknown

Unconditional love called agape, is the most self-sacrificing love there is between a husband and a wife.  Sometimes your commitment to a married relationship engages your brain instead of following your heart.  Being sacrificial involves making deliberate logical decisions or choices that have nothing to do with “feelings,” but have everything to do with commitment.  For example, if you’re mad (feeling) at your spouse because you can’t come to a decision on where to live, you have to make the decision to stay in that relationship and work things out (logical decision).  You have to work it out either on your own or with the help of counselors instead of giving up and getting a divorce.  It’s the very commitment you stated in your wedding vows (for better or worse).  Unconditional love says “I am going to stay with you no matter what happens.” 

The course of true love never did run smooth  William Shakespeare

Is it easy?  No way!  Specifically written into traditional wedding vows are “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health….”  There are ups and downs in any marriage, but the true test comes in the form of how you handle the give and take of a married relationship.  You promised to take that person as your spouse “from this day forward until death do us part.”  True love perseveres through it all.

Love is patient.  Love is kind.  the Bible

The most basic characteristics of love are patience and kindness.  Think about this:  the person you love the most is the person with whom you should be most patient…and to whom you should be most kind.  Let those words sink in.  Is that the case in your relationship? 

Patience and kindness are not “feelings,” but are actions that you must make a concentrated effort to do.  With patience, you have to show self-restraint without acting in a negative way; without becoming angry if things aren’t going the way you think they should.  When you display kindness, you’re being friendly, generous and considerate to your partner…isn’t that nice!?

So this is love, so this is what makes love divine  Cinderella

When you are in love and it comes together in all the right ways, it is good.  True love is in a healthy relationship that admits attraction for all the right reasons, takes time to get to know each other, demonstrates a commitment to certain values, accepts each other’s personal standards and involves faithfulness.  Love like that…love in a life-long committed monogamous relationship we call marriage… is simply divine!




Skin to Skin Care for Infants

Skin-to-Skin Care for Infants

So, what is this skin-to-skin care for newborns?  It is a method of “snuggling” or “pouching” if you will, a newborn baby.  Some refer to it as “Kangaroo Care.”  The baby wears only a diaper and maybe a cap for his/her head.  The infant is placed on Mom between her breasts or Dad on his bare chest.  Then, a blanket or some article of your clothing is covering the baby’s back creating a “pouch-like” effect.  It is similar to that of a mother kangaroo’s pouch for her “Joey.”

What are some of the noted benefits of this approach?

Skin-to-skin contact can assist babies in:
1. Maintaining their body warmth
2. Regulating of cardiac and respiratory rates
3. Crying less and improving sleep
4. Breastfeeding well and gaining weight

Skin-to-skin contact can assist parents in:
1. Bonding with their infant more quickly
2. Caring for baby with an increased sense of confidence
3. (For breastfeeding moms) Improving breastmilk production
4. Providing a sense of overall well-being in the care of your infant

A healthy newborn may be placed on Mom right after delivery.  The infant can then hear Mom’s heartbeat, vocal vibrations and feel her touch.  If your newborn requires neonatal intensive care for some issue, just know that skin-to-skin care may still be provided and perhaps will be extremely helpful to this new, little one.  Check with your medical personnel on when you and baby may have some “snuggling” time together.  Don’t be afraid of the medical paraphernalia attached to baby.  Ask for assistance in securing baby to you, if you need it.  

Newborns need touch to thrive in their new world.  Mom and Dad can provide a great transition by employing the practice of skin-to-skin care with their infant.  Go for it!

*As usual, if there are any extenuating circumstances with the delivery of your baby or your own health needs, please check with your obstetrician or pediatrician for advice.

C. Harrelson, Nurse Manager.     

Dos and Don'ts During Pregnancy!!!!!

Dos and Don’ts During Pregnancy!!!!!

Would you like to have some guidelines for a healthy pregnancy?  Well, here we go!

DO take your prenatal vitamin every day, particularly in the first trimester.  A lot of baby development is going on during that time.

DO exercise during your pregnancy unless it is contraindicated by disability or your physician.  Even walking for a few minutes a day can improve your health.

DO eat a variety of foods including fruits, vegetables, grains, lean protein, and dairy.

DO follow your doctor’s advice.  He/She evaluates many things about the progression of your pregnancy and your health status.

DO enjoy the companionship of friends and family members that will be supportive and encouraging to you during your pregnancy.

DON’T indulge in alcohol, tobacco, and drugs during your pregnancy.  If you are a smoker try to reduce your smoking or stop all together.  We really don’t know of safe alcohol levels during pregnancy, so avoid drinking.   Of course, drugs are not safe for you or baby.

DON’T get tattoos while you are pregnant.  You wouldn’t want any type of infection or complication to deal with while you are pregnant.

DON’T over eat during pregnancy.  You may find that you have a “big appetite” but try to choose healthy snacking foods without a lot of caffeine and sugar.  Your doctor will be monitoring your weight and provide healthful suggestions. 

DON’T spend time with abusive people.  Your focus should be on being healthy for both yourself and your baby.  Mental and physical abuse is harmful and damaging. 

DON’T miss out on all the fun and excitement there is to have while you are expecting!  Read about helpful hints on parenting, and baby development .  Find a friend or friends that are pregnant and share the journey.  

Do have a great time enjoying your newborn and if we can help, don’t hesitate to call!

C. Harrelson, Nurse Manager.

Relationships and Singleness: Boro Bella with Mandy Hale

In the month of August, Boro Bella is focusing on relationships. We will be talking with and hearing from different people from our community as they give encouragement and advice on different areas of relationships. 

First, we met with Mandy Hale, New York Times Bestselling author and creator of The Single Woman. She offers hope to those who are single or who are in a relationship but don't want to find themselves settling. She shares that there is "beauty in singleness," and that there is meaning and purpose for your life whether that is inside of a relationship or not. 

We want you to know that YOUR story matters! YOU matter! ... No matter what chapter of your story you are in.

Why Do People Stay in an Abusive Relationship?

Why Do People Stay in an Abusive Relationship?

We have all wondered at one time or another why a person would stay in a relationship that would be hazardous to their health.  Why would someone go to their home knowing that harsh verbal abuse and/or violent behavior might just be the evening’s event?  Our immediate thought is “Why don’t they just get out?”

Well, there are many reasons why abused people stay in relationship with a violent partner.  It may take time, patience, soul-searching, and many other things before an individual is prepared to take that step.  Here are some of the reasons given:  *

1. The victim is afraid the abuser will increase or elevate their violence.
2. The abuser threatens to kill her/him, significant others, family or themselves.
3. The victim loves the abuser and believes that he/she will change.
4. The victim may believe that abuse is normal behavior.  The victim may have come from previous relationships of abuse.
5. The victim has no means of financial support.
6. The abuser has threatened to take the children away.
7. The victim wants a mom and dad relationship for the children. 
8. Religious or cultural beliefs make this option unacceptable.
9. The victim has low self-esteem and may actually blame her/himself for the abuse.
10. Abuse may be considered an embarrassment, if others know.
11. The victim may have nowhere to locate if he/she leaves.
12. The victim may fear retaliation from friends and family members of the abuser. 

If you encounter a person struggling in an abusive relationship, please be a listener/supporter, and be ready to provide assistance when the person asks.  

*This information was modified from an article by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.  NCADV.  (2015). Domestic violence national statistics.  Retrieved from www.ncadv.org

Call The National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or online:  DomesticShelters.org

What you can expect on our ICU Mobile Unit
What You Can Expect On Our Image Clear Ultrasound Mobile

Many of you may already know that we have a mobile unit “on the go” during the week.  It is called Image Clear Ultrasound Mobile or ICU Mobile Middle Tennessee.  You may have seen it in one of our many locations.

Soooo, what can you expect if you go to the mobile unit for care?  Well, first of all, it is staffed by some of the nicest medical and volunteer personnel you would ever want to meet.  They will invite you in and have you fill out an “intake” form, asking the basics-name, type of service you need, etc.  Your visit will be based upon what you need.  Pregnancy test? Ultrasound? Peer Counseling?  Referrals?

After you have determined your service needs, the staff will work with you to provide those services or recommend another agency to better help you.  This is done with respect and confidentiality.  We care about you. 

You will be surprised at how convenient and well prepared our unit is for your visit.  The ultrasound room is equipped with the latest mobile system and a high-definition monitor for viewing images of your pregnancy.

The staff will be with you every step of the way.  So, don’t hesitate if you see the ICU Mobile Middle Tennessee unit in your area.  If you need our services please pick up your phone and dial (615)663-5322.

Walk-ups are also welcome.  Just knock at the door and someone will help you as soon as possible!

(Watch our video to get a look inside!)

10 Great Dates Ideas...

10 Great Date Ideas

Tired of sitting at home? Are you wanting to take a special person out on a date but can’t come up with anything to do? We have come up with some simple, fun things for you to do this summer….

1. Hike to a waterfall and have a picnic.
    Hiking spots in TN with Waterfalls:
         Cummins Falls State Park in Cookeville, TN
         Fall Creek Falls in Spencer, TN - Also has Zip Lining.
         Burgess Falls in Sparta TN
         Rock Island State Park in Rock Island, TN- near Warren and White County
         Colditz Cove State Natural Area - Jamestown, TN
         Ozone Falls - Cumberland County, TN

2. Go to an Escape Game with friends, or Murfreesboro’s new Escape Rooms has one for just two people!

3. Dancing in the Park at Centennial Park for FREE from 7:00pm to 10:00pm (dance lessons start at 7pm, music starts at 7:30pm)
         July 9: The Lynn Beal Band
         July 16: J. Bradley Big Band
         July 23: The Moonlighters
         July 30: The Jerry Vinett Big Band
         August 6: Debi Bailes & Her Band
         August 13: The Paul Ross Orchestra
         August 20: The Establishment
         August 27: Music City Swing

4. Watch Movies Under the Stars in Murfreesboro for FREE.
    They show a movie most days during the week, with a different movie each week.
         Mondays- Cason Lane Trailhead
         Tuesdays- Cannonsburg Village
         Thursdays- Siegel Neighborhood Park
         Fridays- Mitchell Neilson Primary
         Saturdays- Hobgood Elementary School

         June 27-2  Apple Dumpling Gang
         July 5-9  Goosebumps
         July 11-16  Flipper’s New Adventure
         July 18-23  Wall-E
         July 25-30  Honey, I Shrunk the Kids

5. Do some painting at Painting With a Twist or Faithful Strokes and get coffee before or after.

6. Be active, and go play a fun sport together: bowling, racquetball, disc golf, mini golf, roller skating or indoor ice skating, batting cages

7. Go to Friday Night Live on the Square for FREE, and get some ice cream while you are there. Music starts at 6:30pm.
         July 1st- Mosaic Rhythm
         August 5th- CJ Vaughn and Highway 58
         September 2nd- The O’Donnells

8. See a play at Center for the Arts or MTSU’s Tucker Theater.
         Center for the Arts:
         June 17-26 Beyond Therapy
         July 8-24 1776 The Musical 
         August 12-28 the Legend of Pocahontas
         September 16-25 Suite Surrender
Tucker Theater will begin having performances once the Fall semester begins.

9. Have a water balloon fight! Have one with a group of friends or just the two of you…

10. Take a day trip to Chattanooga; there are so many fun things to do there: hiking, the aquarium, zip lining, walking or biking around town, hang gliding, Rock City and Ruby Falls, Lake Wini Amusement Park 

*We would LOVE to hear your great, unique or fun date ideas…maybe you want to share the best date you have been on, or one you would love to go on… Please send us your ideas!!  Twitter, Instagram, facebook, youtube @ porticostory or comment on the blog. Be sure to #borobelladates

What About Zika Virus and Pregnancy?

What About Zika Virus and Pregnancy?

Researchers from several different countries are now looking into how Zika is affecting pregnancy.  Since May of last year, there has been an increase of births in Brazil in which the newborn has microcephaly.  (small head)  They believe that these occurrences are related to the pregnant moms having acquired a Zika infection.  

The CDC has recently reported that there is enough supporting evidence to conclude that the Zika virus infection during pregnancy is a cause of microcephaly as well as other severe fetal brain defects in babies. They have also seen a link to problems such as: eye defects, hearing loss, and impaired growth.  The scientists are studying for other potential health problems that Zika infection during pregnancy may cause.

What do we know about the infection?
1. Pregnant women get the virus primarily from the bite of an infected mosquito.
2. Zika virus can be given by a man to his sex partners.
3. A pregnant woman can pass the infection to her fetus/baby.
4. The virus can be passed during pregnancy or at delivery to fetus/baby.

What we do not know:
1. If a pregnant woman is exposed we don’t know her chances of becoming infected with the virus.
2. If a pregnant woman is infected we don’t know how it will affect her or her baby.
3. We don’t know whether or not her baby will have birth defects.
4. We don’t know when in the pregnancy the infection can cause harm to the baby.

There is more information being acquired as researchers continue to study this Zika virus infection and it is wise to listen and read resources periodically to understand its potential, prevention, and implications on the health of families here and in other countries.  Meanwhile, let’s follow practical, commonsense guidelines as pregnant women in the United States.  We live in an area of the country in which mosquitos reside so just in case, let’s be smart.  

1. Whenever possible, avoid exposure to mosquitoes.
2. Remove containers of water or drain areas of your property where “ponding” occurs.  These make delightful habitats for them.
3. If you are sleeping in an area heavily infested with mosquitos please use additional protection such as netting over your bed, cot, etc.
4. Out in the woods, wear long sleeved shirts and long pants to protect yourself.
5. Last, but not least, be sure and check with your obstetrician about the type of mosquito repellant he/she recommends during your pregnancy.

Stay Safe!
Nurse Manager, Candi Harrelson.    

Boro Bella at MTSU
Portico's Boro Bella went to the MTSU Campus to get to know some of the students a little bit. We wanted to hear what brought them to MTSU and what their majors are... We care about their stories, your stories. At Portico every story matters. So check out some of the clips from our day on campus, and then let us know what brought YOU to MTSU and what YOU like about it... Post on twitter, instagram or facebook or comment on our blog, youtube or facebook. Be sure to hashtag your comment with #borobella 

Marijuana and Pregnancy

Marijuana and Pregnancy

More and more states in the United States are considering making the use of marijuana legal.  In fact, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Washington , D.C. have already done so.  

Even though it’s being legalized and “decriminalized,” there still remains health problems and problems at large for the public.  Users report feelings ranging from euphoria, happiness, silliness, foolishness, to anxiety, panic and/or psychotic symptoms.  

*Laboratory experiments found dose-related deficiencies in attention, reaction time, information processing, perceptual coordination and motor performance.  Imagine how this plays out in drivers behind the wheel of a car or other vehicle.

What about the pregnant marijuana user?  Is there any impact on the pregnancy?
**48 to 60% of marijuana users continue to use during their pregnancy believing it to be fairly safe and less expensive than tobacco.  

It is found that many pregnant users are more often underweight, and are less likely to use folic acid supplementation than their pregnant counterparts.  Prenatal marijuana exposure has been correlated to a decreased attention span and behavioral problems in children.  
Adverse neonatal outcomes such as:  
low birth weight and greater likelihood of neonatal intensive care admission is associated with marijuana use.

Because of concerns about impaired neurodevelopment and exposure of mom and baby to the adverse effects of smoking, it is recommended that marijuana use should be discontinued during pregnancy.  The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has published a “Committee Opinion.”  Their recommendations are as follows:

1. Before and in early pregnancy all women should be screened regarding their use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs, including marijuana.
2. Women stating use of marijuana should be counseled about potential for adverse effects on pregnancy with continued use.
3. Women who are pregnant or are considering pregnancy should be encouraged to stop the use at this time.
4. Pregnant women using marijuana for a medicinal purpose should be counseled to seek alternative therapy with better safety data.

We will continue to encourage moms to discontinue use of marijuana as they come to our center for information on pregnancy.  Our concern is for their health and safety as well as the life they carry!

C. Harrelson, Nurse Manager.

*Glessner, Thomas. Stout, Audrey.  NIFLA.  Clinic Tips, Volume XIII Number 4, April 2016, “Use of Marijuana During Pregnancy:  Health Concerns for Women and Their Unborn.” 

** American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.  Committee Opinion, Number 637, July 2015, “Marijuana Use During Pregnancy and Lactation.” Accessed from:  http://www.acog.org

Uncovering Domestic Violence


Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, sexual assault, and other forms of physical abuse perpetrated by one intimate partner against the other.  It is a systematic approach for power and control in a relationship.  It may include physical or sexual violence.  It may include threats, emotional or psychological abuse.  The severity and frequency of such acts varies greatly.

Why is it of such concern? “In the United States an average of 20 people are physically abused by intimate partners every minute.”  This equals around 10 million abuse victims a year.  On a typical day domestic violence hotlines receive about 20,800 phone calls!

We must remember that this type of violence is most common for women ages 18-24years.  It is correlated with a high rate of depression and suicidal behavior.  It can also cross from one generation to the next and last a life time.  Domestic Violence affects people in all walks of life and in every community.  Regardless of age, gender, status, education, race, or nationality, domestic violence is a possibility.

The more we can do to expose this type of behavior and to assist women/men found to be in these types of relationships the better.  What do we do to help those with this problem?

1. Become aware of the severity of the problem.
2. Educate clients/ others that this is not normal behavior.
3. Provide hotline numbers, information on how to seek help.
4. Be a listening advocate for our clients.
5. Ask questions, provide information, identify agencies for assistance.
6. Be ready to help when the time is right.*

*This information is a modified version from the NCADV, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, (2015).  Domestic violence national statistics.  Retrieved from www.ncadv.org

Call The National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
Or, online go to DomesticShelters.org

Boro Bella
Portico is starting a new video series, Boro Bella.

We want to get the word out about Portico, and we hope to do that through these videos...

We will be out in the community listening to YOUR stories... because we care about YOU and what is going on in your life...as well as sharing some Portico Stories...

Volunteer Appreciation!

It's Volunteer Appreciation Week! 

We love and appreciate our Portico volunteers so much! 

It really takes much dedication to be a volunteer at Portico, and our ladies and men do this so selflessly and lovingly. All of our volunteers go through an in depth training, orientation, time of shadowing and observation. Then once they have been trained, they give of themselves each week; some of these coming even after working 40 hours a week jobs or with families at home.

Some of our volunteers, our Client Advocates, come in to Portico and listen to the stories of hurting young women as they come to find out if they are pregnant. These volunteers speak the TRUTH in LOVE. They ENCOURAGE, LOVE and offer HOPE to the women they see. Many of them stand beside the women as they see their baby for the first time through ultrasound…offered to them by our Medical volunteers, who with great COMPASSION and EMPATHY for clients always continue to try and improve their life-affirming skills without complaint.  We now have Client Advocates and Medical volunteers providing all of this on our ICU Mobile Unit as well.  Our Client Advocates are also in Portico building RELATIONSHIPS with moms and dads who come in to participate in our Earn While You Learn program. They help them to learn valuable information that will enable them to be better parents and EMPOWER them to be the best of themselves.  We have one faithful volunteer who goes through every baby item that is donated to us and organizes it all so beautifully for our clients to shop through. 

Some of our volunteers, who are with Asitia our Abstinence Education program, go BOLDLY into the Junior High and High schools in our community. Our Asitia volunteers make up an education team that brings a FAMILY life to the students in Rutherford County.  Each volunteer selflessly gives time and energy by building and cultivating relations with students...and speaking TRUTH about the importance of abstinence, healthy relationships, wise choices, etc.  Asitia volunteers are BRAVE, OUTSPOKEN, cool and awesome!

Then our CORE Character Education Program volunteers help elementary students in our community build a strong FOUNDATION OF CHARACTER for their lives.  These volunteers provide character-based assemblies and classroom presentations. Whether they are brainstorming about the presentations, or setting up and tearing down the sets, or rehearsing on Saturdays, or teaching students about the CORE value of the month, our CORE volunteers truly exemplify the BODY OF CHRIST working together to make a difference in the lives of children and families in our community.

Our volunteers are the heart of Portico. They are the LIGHT and LOVE of JESUS to the clients and students of the community. We value and appreciate them more than we can say…

If YOU want to serve as these volunteers do, please contact us at 615-893-0228. We will also be having our next Portico volunteer orientation on May 10th at 7am or 7pm if you want to find out more about Portico and our opportunities to get involved. 

(Pictured above are just a small number of our volunteers)

Meet Beth Reynolds

Meet Beth Reynolds

Beth has been serving as a Client Advocate at Portico for almost 9 years.  She loves, encourages and listens to the stories of clients who come for pregnancy tests in both Portico and on our ICU Mobile unit. She also works with our moms and dads who come through our Earn While You Learn parenting program as well.

We asked Beth a few questions about herself….

What is the most rewarding part of volunteering at Portico? Being in the ultrasound room when a mother sees her baby for the first time.

What are your hobbies? Volunteering, reading, spending time with family and friends

What does your day look like when you’re not at Portico? Volunteering with numerous organizations or working at my business- On the Move, Moving and Storage

Do you have a favorite quote or life verse to share? Jeremiah 29:11 “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Also, Luke 12:48 “To whom much has been given much is expected.”

If you could eat or drink just one thing for the rest of your life and never get tired of it, what would it be? Coffee with vanilla and cinnamon

What is something that you just can’t seem to do no matter how hard you try? 
Roll my tongue- I can not pronounce the Spanish “rrr” no matter how much I try!

What do you love most about living in Murfreesboro? The wonderful people and amazing number of worthwhile causes and organizations with volunteer opportunities

What else would you like to share.... I am very grateful to be a part of this inspirational ministry and to be able to meet women where they are in their time of need.

On Being A New Mother...

Thoughts on Being a New Mother

Being a mother is one of the most rewarding parts of a woman’s life.  Being a mother is one of the most difficult parts of a woman’s life.  How can both of these statements be true, much less being mentioned together? 

If you’re about to be a new mom, have you ever considered how it’s going to be played out in your life?  One of the best things you can do is to learn everything you can from others…from those who you think have done or are doing a good job at being a mom.

Here are some thoughts on being a mother from some women who we think have done a pretty good job at it…

What advice would you offer a first time mother?

Enjoy every moment because they grow up very quickly.  Let your children know how valuable they are and that you love them unconditionally…be their number one cheerleader.

Choose your battles…sometimes grace is the best response.

Take a deep breath and chill…with the baby.  Having a newborn is exhausting.  Let go of the normal routine of your life when you have a newborn so you can take in, get to know and love on your new baby.

Give nursing your baby a really good try…it bonds you like nothing else, it’s so good for your baby and it’s free!

What sorts of things do you recommend to do in order to relax as a new mom?

It’s okay (and very relaxing) to hold your child while he or she is sleeping.

Everyone is full of advice, but do what YOU feel is the right thing for you and your child.

Make calming and relaxing music a part of both your lives.

Sleep when the baby sleeps.  How many times did I hear that?  But it’s true!  And, let the housework go…

Whom did you ask for help around the house when you needed it?

My husband.

My mother stayed and tried to help around the house.  Actually, I don’t think I let her do a lot, but that was a huge mistake…I recommend letting your mother help. 

What has been one of the biggest challenges you faced as a mother?

Being a parent to a college-child who still lives at home.

Watching what I said, what I did and how I acted because I knew that my child was always watching and would mimic what I say and what I do.  Being an example of a good person so that he will grow into a good person.

Realizing I can’t do it all…

What do you wish for the next generation? 

That parents will put down their cell phones, computers, tablets and other devices and spend that time paying attention to, playing with and nurturing their children. 

I wish that the next generation would learn personal responsibility; that they are accountable for their own actions…good or bad.

Are You With a Drug Dependent Partner?

We will review some of the signs and symptoms of relationships that are not healthy.  These are partners that can do damage to themselves and to the people they love.  It is the hope of the Portico staff that after reading this blog, if you find yourself in a threatened position, you will seek help immediately.  We are always ready to listen and provide a community referral if we can’t help you.

Drug dependent partners...

Are you in a relationship with someone that is frequently using drugs and/or alcohol?  Does their “use” take time away from your relationship?  Do you find your partner emotionally “distancing” themselves from you?  When you do have a conversation does it end in arguments or verbal fighting?  Do those arguments sometimes turn physically violent?

If you are answering the above questions with a few “yes's” then, it is time to take careful inventory of this relationship.  These are potential red flags when you or your “significant other” is engaged in one or more of the following due to drug or alcohol usage:

  1. Money management problems, staying out late, and neglecting responsibilities,
  2. Making up excuses or lies for someone unable to follow through on commitments, work, or other duties,
  3. Partner stating they drink or use in order to reduce stress or tension about arguments in the home,
  4. Drinking or using is the only activity you have in common,
  5. Physical violence when a partner is drinking or using,
  6. One or both partners need to be high in order to be affectionate,
  7. You become isolated from family and friends.


Sometimes there is a hope that things will turn around for the better without any serious intervention.  Usually, this is not the case.  Most of the time, intervention is required on several levels.  The individuals or individual with the problem must first of all deal with the alcohol or drug issue.  There also needs to be intervention in the relationship itself to help both individuals understand what has developed and how the relationship needs to change.

Pregnant moms please understand that if you are in an abusive relationship, the abuse may cause damage to your unborn child.  Also know that if you are using recreational drugs and alcohol they also have the potential of causing harm to your unborn child.  Once again, if you find yourself in a difficult situation please seek help!  We care about you.

*Some of the issues mentioned in this blog were obtained from a text written by:  Fals-Stewart,W.,PhD. Substance Abuse and Intimate Relationships.  American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy.  Further information may be obtained from the AAMFT web site. 

Need Romantic Gestures in Your Relationship?

Learning about romance…

Sometimes, in order to begin a communication, one has to begin with a word study in order to truly understand what you’re wanting to communicate.  And what is going to be communicated here is about romance…without sex.  It seems that by definition, romance does not include sex.  See what you think.  From Dictionary.com to Miriam-Webster, here’s what was first found out about romance:

ro·mance  [roh-mans]  noun:  a romantic spirit, sentiment or desire; a romantic character or quality; to court or woo romantically; to court the favor of or make overtures to…from Dictionary.com 

romance:  an expression of one’s strong romantic love or one’s deep and strong emotional desires to connect with another person intimately or romantically…from Wikipedia

Which leads to looking up romantic:

ro·man·tic  [roh-man-tik]  adjective:  displaying or expressing love or strong affection; passionate…from Dictionary.com 

ro·man·tic  \rō-‘man-tik\ adjective:  thinking about love and doing and saying things to show that you love someone…from Merriam-Webster

The line that best explains romance without an actual definition was expressed by an unknown writer sharing that “true romance is doing something special or unexpected for someone you love, even though you don’t have to…romance is showing the person you love that you’re thinking about them.”

There are tons of ways to get ideas for romance with a simple search on Google/Bing, Instagram, Pinterest (especially on this platform), Twitter, or Facebook.  Have in mind the very person that you are trying to “woo” by keeping in the forefront their particular interests, passions, favorite songs, schedule, class load, work schedule, what they like to eat, where they like to go, etc.  Add to that an unexpected and exciting way to express your love and affection…and you have:  a random text in the middle of the day saying “I love you,” a big bear hug when you meet up, taking an exercise class together, playing on the swings at a park, hand holding during a walk across campus, exploring the great outdoors, a love note slipped into a backpack or purse.  You get the idea and can come up with so many more on your own.Pair that with some thoughtful, creative ideas and you have one very successful Valentine’s Day on any day.

A thoughtful gift to express love for the one you love would be to print their favorite quote and get it framed (or put on a chalkboard), steal their phone and put a small playlist together of favorite songs, show up at their place for an impromptu trip to Wendy’s for a Frosty, purchase a special charm that has meaning for the two of you for a bracelet, put together a romantic indoor candlelit picnic with favorite foods, hand write a letter or poem stuck inside a card, bring flowers (especially in front of other people/friends), or print a picture of the two of you framed for a desk.

The key for a romantic gesture is that YOU make the plans, don’t ask “what do you wanna do?”  BTW…start making plans now and you can have Valentine’s all week.  And…you may want to make this a regular part of your life for a lifetime of romance!

Never Shake a Baby!!


Caring for your baby is hard work at times.  It may mean long hours.  They need care night and day which includes:  feeding, changing, cuddling, communication through touch and other ways.  Sometimes in all this “caring,” parents may get little sleep.  It may make you tired, short-tempered, or stressed.

Babies also cry.  This is their way of communicating their needs.  However, some babies may cry a lot.  You may not be able to always find a solution to that crying.  That is when parents can get worried.  Am I a bad parent?  Is my baby sick?  Why is he/she crying all the time?  Many parents have these same questions and feel frustrated, tense and worried.  But, it is never okay to take those frustrations out on your baby.  Never shake your baby!

Even shaking your baby one time can hurt him or her in a permanent manner.  Shaking your baby can lead to:  brain damage, blindness, bleeding, retardation or death.  Their little head and neck muscles are still weak.  So, to be safe don’t shake them, play rough or jerk them by their arms or legs.

What can you as a parent do to stay in control of your emotions?  Here are a few suggestions:   
1.  Take a break.  Make sure your baby is in a safe location.  Go to another room.  Take some deep breaths or use some relaxation techniques or exercise moves.  
2.  Ask your partner/friend/family member to help for a few minutes.  
3.  Be patient.  Realize that this is not a personal attack on you as a person.  He/she is not trying to upset you. 4.  Check the basics.  Does he/she need a diaper change, hungry, lonely, too hot or cold.  
5.  Go outside and take yourself and baby for a walk.  
6.  Stay close.  Some babies have a need for more touch, holding, gentle rocking, and/or carrying.

As usual, always consult with your physician, health care professional, or support group for parenting.  These people can offer suggestions, support, and encouragement to you as a new mom or dad.  Here, at Portico, we have parenting classes that cover these types of topics.  Check us out!

*Information taken from the Tennessee Department of Health, Traumatic Brain Injury Program.

Candi Harrelson, Nurse Manager.  

What About Folic Acid?


Eating a healthy diet before, during, and after pregnancy is helpful for both you and your baby.  It helps assure that you are receiving the nutrients that you/baby need.  So, let’s focus on one vitamin that is very important as we consider pregnancy.

Folic Acid (Folate) is a B vitamin that helps prevent or reduce the risk for birth defects of the brain and spine called Neural Tube Defects(NTDs).  The neural tube of the baby is the part that becomes the brain and spinal cord.  When it doesn’t close completely, a neural tube defect can occur.  Some studies are also indicating that folic acid may help prevent heart defects or cleft lip and palate of the baby’s mouth.

Many health care professionals and others are advocating that women take folic acid even if you are not trying to get pregnant.  We know that nearly half of all pregnancies are unplanned, so taking folic acid before and during the first few weeks of pregnancy can help prevent NTDs.

How can you get folic acid? 

One way is through the use of prenatal vitamins.  Portico offers “prenatals” by the nursing staff.  Your health care provider will also recommend a prenatal for you.  You can get prenatal vitamins over the counter at your local pharmacy.  That does not require a prescription.

Certain foods also provide folic acid (folate) in them:  Here are some good sources:
1. Beans-pinto, lentils, black
2. Leafy green veggies-spinach, romaine lettuce
3. Citrus fruit-oranges, grapefruit
4. Peanuts, if you’re not allergic!
5. Enriched grain products-cereal, bread, pasta, rice
6. Asparagus and broccoli

Even if you are eating the foods rich in folic acid, continue to take your prenatal vitamin as well.

We are still learning about all the benefits of folic acid.  But, we know it’s important for you during your child-bearing years to be diligent about eating and supplying yourself with important vitamins.

*Always check with your personal health care provider for guidance.
**Information for this article was taken from the March of Dimes, “Take folic acid before you’re pregnant.”  ChooseMyPlate.gov, “MyPlate Especially for Expecting Moms.”

C. Harrelson, Nurse Manager.

What is a Mobile Medical Unit?

What is a Mobile Medical Unit?

A mobile medical unit is a functioning medical facility that has the ability to travel around to various locations and deliver services as specified.  It affords patients or clients the opportunity to have medical services they might not otherwise be able to have.

For Portico, we now operate a mobile unit called, Image Clear Ultrasound, Mid-TN.  On the mobile unit we offer pregnancy tests, prenatal medical history and vitamins, limited ultrasound, and several informational and referral services.

Clients may call the number on the unit to schedule an appointment or simply go to the unit when it visits their neighborhood.   Our services are provided in a non-judgmental, non-political, and non-coercive manner. Qualified staff is on board to work with each person.

The services are free and confidential.  And, although the space may be smaller than in a “bricks and mortar” building, we still provide privacy.  For extended or additional services, a client may be offered a visit to Portico.

If you have a friend or family member that might need our mobile services have them call:  615-203-5399.  We are now serving clients in the communities of Nashville, Smyrna, and Murfreesboro.  You are always welcomed to call Portico to find out our weekly schedule.

Safe Children During the Holidays

Have you been hearing about all of the terrible things happening nowadays?  I’m sure you have and just like me it gives you pause for concern for family and friends and everybody, right?  We can often feel powerless, anxious, and uncertain about the days ahead and how to protect the ones closest and most vulnerable. 

Since I know you want to be the best parent you can be, then considering safety of your children is at the top of your list.  Let’s take a look at some of the logical, wise decisions we can make during the upcoming holidays for our children’s lives to reduce the risks of needless exposure to harm.

Here we go:
1.  Always make sure you really know the people that baby sit or care for your children.  It’s not smart to rely upon someone else’s evaluation of care takers-check it out yourself.
2. Keep your children within visual distance of you in a public venue while shopping, sightseeing, or event attendance-soccer, basketball, etc. games.
3. Moms, watch those babies in those grocery carts!  A topple out of one of those baskets could cause some serious injury.  Look for the child’s safety belt or use one of the carts designed with children in mind plus the safety belt.
4. Don’t assume safety in your most frequented stores, restaurants, etc.  The holidays with crowds and congestion bring opportunity to “street-wise” criminals.
5.  There is an increased exposure to fire hazards during Christmas.  Those yummy-smelling candles and beautiful lights are very enticing!  Teach, moms and dads, how we respect electricity and fire and/ or use safety plugs and baby gates if needed.
6. The holidays are times laced with great emotional energy for both parents and children.  Please remember that your ultimate goal is to show love and respect.  Don’t set those expectations to unreachable heights for you and your children.  Simple things sometime produce some of the most special memories!

Have a Blessed Christmas and holiday season.  Share the love you’ve been given.

Merry Christmas!!!!!!!
Candi Harrelson, Nurse Manager.

Relationships at Christmas

Relationships At Christmas

I love watching Christmas movies.  Some of my favorite are It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, Jingle All the Way and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  As I began thinking about this blog, images from these and some other Christmas movies came to mind.  George Bailey thought he was ‘worth more dead than alive.’  As he had the rare chance of reflecting on the impact his life had made in relationships with those around him, he realized he really did have a “Wonderful Life.”  In Miracle on 34th Street, the lawyer befriended and believed in an elderly man, and through their relationship they proved to the world that Santa really does exist.  In trying to find the real meaning of Christmas, Cindy Lou Who reached out to the community’s outcast.  Through their relationship, the Grinch’s heart grew ‘three sizes.’  In Jingle All the Way, Arnold Schwarzenegger spent all of Christmas Eve driving alone from town to town looking for a toy for his son, only to find out later that all his son really wanted was to be with his father. 

At Portico we believe that relationships matter.  At Christmas we have opportunities to spend time with friends and family.  Sometimes we find ourselves with people we have not seen for years.  We come together with all the emotion of the year’s events, some happy, some sad.  Relationships can be tested, tried, nurtured or sometimes damaged.  As we prepare for our family gatherings, both large and small, let us remember how the movies end.  George is surrounded by people who truly love him.  The lawyer finds the love of his life and gets married.  The Grinch is no longer alone at Christmas, and Arnold becomes his son’s true hero.

The holiday memories we carry with us the longest are those of family togetherness, tradition, and giving to others. Christmas should be a reminder to us all that relationships matters and that we care about each other — with that group extending to all of humanity and those who are less fortunate. That human connection is much more powerful than material gifts, and will endure well past the season.

The Flu and You

The Flu and You
Flu season is upon us. Many local offices have already had patients who have tested positive. It is important to remember that the flu can be debilitating and dangerous for many people. This is especially true for babies, pregnant women, and the elderly. There are a few steps you can take to protect yourself and your family. 

1. HANDWASHING! This one small step that is often overlooked. Anytime you or your children are sick, have contact with sick people, or are out in public be sure to wash those hands. Public door handles, grocery carts, etc are prime hot spots for germs. 

2. Get your flu shot. Not only does the flu shot help protect you, but it protects those around you. For example, any baby younger than 6 months old cannot get the vaccine, so that baby relies on family members and friends for flu protection. While many of us, who are healthy, are just inconvenienced by the flu, it can be deadly for some. One thing to keep in mind: the flu shot will not give you the flu. It does however take up to two weeks to be completely effective. So, if you are exposed to the flu shortly before or after receiving the vaccine it is still possible to become ill. 

3. Maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine to keep your immune system at peak performance. 
If, despite these few precautions, you or your child develops high fevers and body aches, please see your medical provider right away. There is a simple in office test that can detect the flu. While there is no “cure” for the flu (as it is a virus), there are medications that can be given within the first couple days of becoming ill to decrease the severity and length of illness. 
Dr. Heather Carter, DO

Relationship Advice From a Mother to Teenaged Boys (...and girls for that matter)

Advice From a Mother to Teenaged Boys (...and Girls For That Matter)

In a recent high school class comprised entirely of teenage boys, we had a discussion on the sequence of events in the development of a relationship from their perspective.  It took some coaxing, but they shared about first making eye contact with a female and how the interaction progressed from there with a lengthy back and forth of texting, “talking,” and exploration on social media.  We’re talking about high school freshmen.  On a bigger scale, dating is as much about finding out who you are, who or what you want, and who or what you need in life as it is about having fun or “liking” someone’s Instagram.  Before you get started…or start over, here’s some advice from a wife of 30 years, a mom of 21 years and an abstinence educator of 9 years that will help you “figure out” what you need to find the right person:

  1. Decide what you want to do of importance in your own life.  It could be athletics, schoolwork, music, friends, grades, chess club, God, photography, etc.  Make sure that what you’re doing is good, moral, upright, virtuous, beneficial and advantageous to your life.  Focus on that.  Don’t let your friends talk you out of what you have a passion for or what’s important to you.  Set long-term and short-term goals and go for it.
  2. Figure out what is important to you when it comes to your standards (ethics, morals, ideals, principles).  What are you going to do on a date…or rather, what are you NOT going to do on a date?  How important is sexual purity to you?  Is it important that the person you date respects your (and your family’s) values?
  3. Seriously think about and make a list of what are important characteristics to you in someone you date…and in someone you may marry.  Realistically, these should be the same lists.  They are the specific characteristics in a person’s thoughts, beliefs and behavior…like LOVE, TRUST, FAITHFULNESS, HONESTY, etc.  But come up with a longer list; and make sure you consider sexual purity.  Be picky.
  4. Use that as a checklist.  Make sure you can check everything off your list from #3 with the person you date…even if you’re not going to marry him/her.  Be picky.
  5. Don’t base your self-worth upon a relationship with someone of the opposite sex.  Just because everyone else is dating, you don’t have to.  Forget about others’ expectations and focus on living your life based on the standards from #2 (your ethics, morals, ideals, principles).  Experience life to the fullest through school, extra-curricular activities and close friendships.  Take this time in your life to get to know your strengths, and learn to use them to your advantage.

There is a reason that the word “important” is used so often in the above referenced points.  Important is an adjective meaning “of great significance or value; likely to have a profound effect on success, survival, or well-being.”  They are critical points to consider when finding that special someone…the right person.

Do I Really Need to Take Those Prenatal Vitamins?

Do I Really Need to Take Those Prenatal Vitamins?

Many times clients aren’t quite sure if prenatal vitamins are important or are really needed?  Some pregnant moms may even delay a while after finding out that they are pregnant before they start taking those vitamins. So, let’s talk about what we know to be the best plan for baby and mom.

First of all, eating healthy as an expecting mom is very important for you and baby.  Hopefully you started and maintained healthy eating habits even before you got pregnant!  There are many general guides as to what to eat and the portions you should be eating in first, second, and third trimester.  Go on-line to myplate.gov, a web site with free information on healthy eating if you think you need a plan.  We also have information for you here so that you can keep yourself on track.

Secondly, as soon as you know that you are pregnant or in your pre-planning stage, pick up some prenatal vitamins and begin taking them as directed.  The prenatal vitamins can “fill in the gap” if your body is lacking in any of those vitamins and minerals necessary in fetal development.  These are a complement to your healthy diet.  Also, please know that development of fetal organs begins early in the first trimester of pregnancy so don’t delay.

If you are one of those moms that are plagued by “morning sickness” choose a time of day to take your prenatal when you are least likely to be nauseated and are able to hold down a little food.  If it seems impossible to take them, please check with your obstetrician for advice and other forms of relief that he/she might recommend.

Avoid dosing yourself with large quantities of vitamins or supplements that you may have heard about from the internet, family and friends.  Always, always check with your health care provider before adding to his/her prescribed regimen for your pregnancy.  

Remember, this is about the best plan for your pregnancy and your baby.

***Also remember that if you have chronic illnesses or injuries that compromise your health, check with your attending physician(s) immediately after learning of your pregnancy so that they can advise and guide you in your medication and vitamin needs. 

Internships at Portico

Portico LOVES MTSU and college students! We love participating in events on campus, like Tunnel of Love and Meet Murfreesboro, but one of our most favorite things that we are proud to be a part of is their internship placements. Almost every semester Portico has at least one student completing an internship with us. We have actually had students from quite a few different colleges or universities, although usually they do come from MTSU.  We have had interns from Child Development and Family Studies, Community and Public Health, Social Work, Nursing and Psychology, but we are always open to students from any major or department when they feel they can benefit, learn from and add their own strengths to Portico.

We currently have two interns (pictured above) with us this semester. They want to share some of what they have experienced with us so far.

Paige is interning in our Peer Counseling side of things. She says, “While interning at Portico, I have learned a lot about how to help others that are in need of being heard. In my time here, I’ve noticed the people I work with are very passionate about what they do and always care for each and every client. This is a place where people come that need answers and guidance and leave feeling loved and cared for. I am blessed to have met and work with them and they have taught me so much.”

Terrica is interning in our ASITIA, Abstinence Education program. She shares that she, “Chose Portico because they have a mission to help women in their time of need. Portico is a safe place for women to get counseling and figure out the next step in their life. People at portico have a good heart… So far I've experienced life changing tools and how to better assist people who might need to hear about what the organization does. I've learned a lot about myself and the children we've met with. It touches my heart to hear the different ways they think and things they say.”

We also wanted you to hear some thoughts we gathered from just a few of our past interns.

Corie Gouge says, “I loved and learned so much by working with so many different people and personalities. I think learning to listen and love people were the most important lessons I learned. Most patients just wanted someone to talk to. Sometimes you can love on people just by the way you treat them, and help them through their situation. It was a great experience to work with all walks of life. It was amazing to see how the community rallied around Portico to provide donations, and that there were volunteers there donating their time every week. I'm very thankful for the time and experiences I had while working at Portico.”

Jessica Wheeler shares, “During my time at Portico, I got to work with women and men who were experiencing unplanned or difficult pregnancies. I learned how to talk with them about their circumstances and offer guidance on resources and assistance available to them. I was able to share my faith with them, in the hopes that they would be impacted by more than just the resources we could provide. I worked a lot with the Earn While You Learn program, which taught these new parents invaluable life and parenting skills, while enabling them to “purchase” things they would otherwise not be able to afford. I learned a great deal from the staff and other volunteers; women whose unique life experiences somehow led them all to counsel the families who walked through our doors. I loved every minute of my time there and am so grateful for the learning opportunities I had; I gained wonderful experience that absolutely helped in my current career...This was a wonderful, fun, and life-impacting internship and I would absolutely choose to do my internship there again!”

I will close with experiences Jamie Legg shared. “I had such a great experience serving as an intern for Portico. The staff and volunteers were all so good to me and took me in as one of their own. I had the opportunity to participate in training to help counsel women and many of those experiences made a lasting impression on my life. Getting to serve others and assist them in their time of need taught me so many things about life that I never could have learned from a textbook. I also completed administrative duties such as answering phone calls, filling out paperwork, entering data into the computer, and helping with parenting classes. All of the tasks that I performed helped prepare me for my future and I can honestly say that the skills I learned volunteering at Portico helped mold me into the person that I am today. I felt like my internship at Portico was extremely beneficial because I was able to learn so many different professional skills all in one internship.”

Parenting with Purpose

Parenting is not for the timid. There will be moments of joy, heartache, irritation and plenty of other emotions on a journey existing without a perfect map. Most parents seek to do their absolute best as mom and dad from the birth of their first child. Life becomes about things such as which diapers to buy and what brand makes the safest car seat. Whatever a parent can do for their child intentionally, they will. But sometimes, as the child grows, parents can lose sight of that careful nature they took on when parenting felt so new and a baby, their baby, felt so fragile. Enter parenting classes equipped to offer assistance for the parents of kids ranging from birth to eighteen years of age. Although I haven’t taken any myself, I find the specifics of what I read fascinating. There are genres such as parent development that claim to help with general issues parents will face in different age ranges. Also, reflective parenting that aims to help parents react positively towards their children in the midst of the most trying situations. Speaking of trying situations, there are parenting classes towards unruly children whether it’s an issue of attitude or a question of how in the world do I get my child to focus in class. So how much does it cost? They can be pricey, but certain organizations offer them free of charge, such as non-profits like Portico. A sure benefit of parenting classes with multiple parents in attendance is the social aspect of knowing how many parents are going through the same feelings and motions with their children. Overall, from what I have heard from parents and read myself, parenting classes offer enough great advice for each mom and dad to choose what works best for their lifestyle and child.  With all the phases of parenting, it may be something worth looking into.

Back to School for Parents Too...

Back to School for Parents too . . .

It’s that time of year again . . . time for back to school.  As I’ve spoken with people this week, it seems that they are either rushing to make all of the necessary back to school preparations or making a determined effort to savor the last remaining days of summer break.  As I’ve communicated with my teacher friends this week, I’ve heard “How can they ask me to prepare a presentation on the last two days of summer break?” Another friend, referring to herself in third person, said, “The end of her summer got here too fast!”  Whether you are making the mad rush toward the school supplies aisle or spending a day or two on the beach, when the children are dropped off for the first day of school, we will all breathe a collective sigh of relief.

During the first semester of the school year, our character education program, The CORE, will be presenting the value of “initiative – seeing what needs to be done and doing it.”  Our assembly team and classroom presenters will be teaching our elementary-aged children about achieving their goals, helping with tasks at home and school, and taking action when they see a need. 

Students will learn that initiative is “seeing and doing.”  As we think about back to school this year, I would like to invite you to think about goals you may have set for yourself but never accomplished.  Think about things you’ve always wanted to learn but never taken the time to do so.  Think about books you’ve wanted to read but never gotten around to reading.  Think about opportunities you would like to have in your life.  When your children go back to school this year, it is a good time to think about your own learning and take initiative to do what needs to be done to prepare for those opportunities.  Whitney Young, Jr. says it this way, “It is better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than to have an opportunity and not be prepared.”  In January, I met a lady in Nicaragua who, later in life, learned to ride a bicycle.  When a job opportunity came, she was prepared and had transportation to and from work on her bicycle.  Initiative is seeing what needs to be done and doing it.  As your children go back to school, what do you see that needs to be done in your life and what will you do about it?

Client Story...

A few years ago, I feared I was pregnant with my second child, and I was told about Portico.  I walked in the doors… afraid, overwhelmed, and I just didn’t know what to do.  I was in my twenties, new to Murfreesboro and was in an abusive marriage.  I felt like abortion was the only way.  The woman at Portico sat and listened to me share my story and my feelings as I sat there and cried.  She gave me information, referrals, encouraged me and gave me hope.  I could tell that she truly cared about me and my situation.  She also told me information about the baby that was growing inside of me.  I left but came back again to talk with her as I continued to process and think through my circumstance and decisions.  That last time that I spoke to her when I was pregnant, I was still unsure of what I was going to do.  Then about a year later, I decided to go see her again.  This time I had my baby girl with me.  I wanted to tell that woman at Portico how much she changed my life and to thank her for helping me give life to my baby.  I wanted the woman to see my daughter.  I also wanted to tell her how every time I look at my precious baby, I am reminded of her face and how if it weren’t for her, I might not have this precious blessing that I am holding now.  I continued to come to Portico to get things for my baby and to talk and share what was going on in my life until I no longer needed their assistance.  But they will always hold a special place in my heart.

Meet Portico's Nurse Manager, Candi Harrelson
Portico’s Nurse Manager, Candi Harrelson

This is what I do at Portico… I take care of pregnant moms and dads. I supervise other nurses in doing the same.

My favorite part of my job is… Showing life of a baby! and talking with young moms and dads about parenting.

The story of what brought me to Portico is… I have been an obstetrical nurse for several years and when we (Portico) decided to include medical services, I asked to be a part.

When I’m not at work, I like to… read, hike, travel, craft, exercise, decorate, watch sports and be with family.

My favorite quote is… “That deep emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God.” –Albert Einstein

If I could eat or drink just one thing for the rest of my life it would be… Chocolate, followed by chips and salsa!!!

No matter how hard I try, I just can’t… draw. Alas, I’m not an artist L

What I love about living in Murfreesboro is the… Availability of activities and services by friendly people without the overwhelming “Big City” feel.


Last word… Never give up hope!


Observations For The College Girl in a Hooked-up World

Going to college?  For many of us girls, it’s the first time in our life when we’re totally on our own, making our own decisions and doing our own thing.  The freedom feels good.  The freedom is fun.  We have our whole future before us beginning to fulfill dreams of an education, career, husband and family.  Girls do that…they dream and think through and become emotionally involved in the unfolding details of their lives.  That’s what’s so special about being a girl…we care. 

You want the truth, though?  Girls have a way of messing things up, too.  In an effort to be in a relationship or to be attached to a guy, we “give” too much.  When we “love” the guy, oxytocin is released into our bodies and it feels good and we begin to bond with him.  So, we give more of ourselves.  Trouble is, we’re giving but the guys aren’t.  They aren’t typically in the relationship for an emotional bond…they’re in it for other reasons (namely, sex). 

Psychiatrist and author Dr. Miriam Grossman wrote something to share with young women going off to college from her own experience…and she’s seen it all and heard it all from those she’s counseled.  Girls get involved with the wrong guy and become infected with genital warts or herpes, fall behind in classes, miss a great scholastic or job related opportunity, fail a midterm, etc.  The pattern is that you’ll consider it a full-blown crisis…whatever that looks like for you…but it doesn’t have to happen like that.

Let those of us who have gone before you, give you some advice.  A good resource is Dr. Grossman’s Sense & Sexuality it’s “a girl’s guide to real protection in a hooked-up world.”  Here’s the real word on protecting yourself emotionally and physically taken from Sense & Sexuality:

1.  Intimacy promotes attachment and trust…

2.  Science confirms:  alcohol makes him hot when he’s not…

3.  A hook-up usually leads to regret…

4.  A younger cervix is more vulnerable to infection…

5.  He may not know he has HPV or herpes…

6.  The rectum is an exit, not an entrance…

There’s more on each of these subjects at http://cblpi.org/senseandsexuality/

If this is where you are in life, proceed with caution!  There ARE rewards of sex…with the right guy at the right time.  Take up the challenge to wait until you’re in a loving, monogamous relationship (marriage) to have sex and, in the meantime, look for that special guy who has decided to do the same.  

Learn all you can and empower yourself with whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is strong and whatever is right.

A Message for Dads

Almost a year ago I became the father of 3 children by adoption. To be clear, I wasn’t a father before that. In other words, I went from zero kids to three kids over night. Yes it was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. So, taking parenting advice from me would be like consulting a 6 year old who’s incredible at Legos about building an actual space ship that will travel to Mars. It’s probably not wise. So rather than advice I want to relay some wisdom about being a father that I’ve learned from my childhood.

Kids want to play. They want to play all the time. So even though my 5 year old son couldn’t catch a ball if his life depended on it, he wants to play catch. Even though I’m absolutely terrible at “playing pretend” (de mentiras as it’s known in my Spanglish speaking house) my youngest daughter still invites me to have tea with her. As for my oldest teenage daughter, well, it’s not cool to need daddy for anything; that is unless a debit card or cash is required. Well, there are the few moments here and there when she wants to play basketball. She has no idea that I’ve hated basketball since childhood mainly because I’m awful at it. They want to play and they want to play with daddy.

So what do I do? Even when I’m busy, I try to stop and play. Now, I don’t do it perfectly every time but I try to let the majority of my responses to play with them to be “yes”.

Here’s why I do that. Kids usually just want you present for a couple minutes. They’re not asking you for an hour but just a few minutes to connect with them. Though they can’t express it, they want to know that they’re important and valued. And usually after about 10 minutes they’ve decided they want to play something else anyway.

And you know what? Rarely do kids remember the big grandiose things you want them to remember. They remember the small stuff. Think back to your childhood. You might remember that one big vacation or Christmas gift that you got but I bet you remember the small stuff more. I remember the day my dad brought home a BB gun for me and we spent 15 minutes shooting some cans (don’t worry; I still have both of my eyes). I remember the day my dad pitched a baseball to me and I hit it out of the backyard. It was that day I decided to play baseball, which I played through high school. I remember the day we sat on a picnic table in the midst of the rain falling through the trees and thanked God for the ways he had blessed us. I could go on and on.

Dad, your kids just want a couple minutes of your time. You can afford that.


The above blog written by Portico volunteer, Jeremy Young 

Need Baby Items?

In need of items for your baby??  Portico can help…

At Portico, we have a wonderful program, called Earn While You Learn, where you (moms or   dads) can earn items for your baby, while learning valuable information to help you not only be a better parent but a more educated and empowered individual. 

In this program, you are able to choose from a list of over 200 topics, such as: 

Your Changing Body Newborn Care
Car Seat Safety Reduciing the Risk of SIDS
Parent-Child Relationships The Terrible Twos
Toilet Training Basics of Budgeting
I Can’t Do It All, But I’m Not Helpless Either
You then get to complete a 10-45 minutes lesson on the topic you chose.  Lessons usually consist of watching a video and answering a worksheet of questions on that video.  A peer counselor will be available to you to go over any information you did not understand or may have questions about.  You then will be given pretend money that we call, “Baby Bucks,” which you can spend in our baby boutique on items for your baby.  You will also be given the opportunity to do homework which you will earn “Baby Bucks” for as well.  You can take home items with you that same day that you come in for a lesson, or you can save your “Baby Bucks” for later.  We have many items in our baby boutique for children who are newborns to two years old as well as some maternity items.  Some of the things you can usually expect to find:
Clothes Diapers
Baby wipes Blankets
Baby food and formula Toiletries
Blankets  Bibs
Cribs Strollers
Car seats Toys and Books

We also have one additional gift for you to help celebrate when your baby is born!  You can come and pick up a newborn pack which includes some diapers, a couple of outfits, a blanket and some more little surprises inside for your little one.  We look forward to getting to know your story and your baby’s!

Letter to 14 Year Old Me

Dear Fourteen year old Me,

You’re headed to high school I see!  This is going to be one of several life-changing experiences you will go through.  Everything you do now will reflect how your future will be.  You will have many ups and downs in these four years and I hope this will help you along the way.

Here’s some schoolwork advice… do your very best!  Turn in all your assignments on time, do not cram at the last moment, give yourself small study breaks, find the way that you study best and if you fail one test - which is going to happen - do not get discouraged.  Move on and learn from it.  Whatever your grades will be, make sure it’s your best effort.  Sometimes mom and dad won’t understand that it can be difficult for you, but talk to them about it and who knows, they might know a thing or two about that subject.   It is okay to ask for help from teachers, too.

            One thing that will help you through high school and into college involves relationships.  Relationships with FRIENDS mean the most to you.  Friends will come and go, but you need them because people will make fun of you…how you act, how you dress, just about everything.   My advice to you is that it honestly does not matter what others think of you.  I know this is a hard concept because you want to fit in.  Be yourself.  Find groups of kids that you enjoy being around; look around for a youth group, sports team or social club and participate in it.  You will have lots of fun!  Then, and I hate to say this, some of these people you will never see again because you will have a totally different friend group when you get to college and these friends will become your life-long friends!  #hailstate

            Once you’re in college, you will be in a sorority though you won’t think you want to be in one, but that has been the best thing you have done.  You will make friends who become your roommates and they will bring you ice cream when you have a bad day or bomb a test, they will give you their honest opinions and will be there when you need them.

You are going to do great…have fun and stress less!  Lean on God more because He becomes more important to your life as the years go on.  Everything will work out perfectly.  Life is good!

Love, Twenty- two year old Me

By Mackenzie Lowe, of Murfreesboro, who is a student at Mississippi State University and is interning at Portico for Asitia this summer.



Get to know The Core Director, Tammy Burrow
Get to know Tammy Burrow

Job Title… The CORE Director

This is what I do at Portico… Oversee the CORE Character Education Program.

The favorite part of my job… Working with children and our amazing volunteers.

The story of what brought me to Portico… At the Fall 1997 Banquet, the challenge was issued to begin an abstinence education program in Rutherford County. The Lord called me to accept that challenge, and I began building the program as a volunteer in May of 1998.  I came on board as Asitia Director in January of 1999 and have been hooked ever since.

When I’m not at work, I like to… Spend time with my family

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

If I could eat or drink just one thing for the rest of my life it would be… Any kind of fruit, but at some point it would need to be dipped in chocolate.

No matter how hard I try, I just can’t… Understand how someone could purposefully hurt a child.

What I love about Murfreesboro is the… Location, quality schools and hometown atmosphere.

Last word... Bye!

STDs are Preventable

Are you a young person embarking on a long, happy life and who wants to make thoughtful decisions on the direction of your life?  You want to be empowered with information to make informed logical choices that affect your health and well-being?  Let us inform you, then.  April is STD Awareness Month.  The only reliable way to avoid getting a sexually transmitted disease (STD) is to NOT have sex.  Don’t have vaginal sex.  Don’t have oral sex.  Don’t have anal sex.  It’s that simple*. 

Good news!  There is a way to have sex and not get an STD:  wait until you’re ready to be in a mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner…candidly, that relationship is called marriage.  Understandably, it’s gonna take some discipline and self-control to wait.  When you’ve found “the one” and are ready to get married, you’ll have nothing to worry about.  That is, if the love of your life has also chosen abstinence. 

Some of the most common STDs are chlamydia, genital herpes, gonorrhea, human papilloma virus (HPV), and trichomoniasis.  And they are absolutely preventable.

  • Chlamydia – both men and women get chlamydia by having sex with someone who has chlamydia, and it can cause serious damage to a woman’s reproductive system.  How do you avoid getting chlamydia?  Don’t have sex...or be in a mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner called marriage.
  • Genital herpes – you can get the herpes virus by having vaginal, oral or anal sex with someone who has the disease or by being in contact with the herpes sores’ fluids.  How do you avoid getting herpes?  Don’t have sex...or be in a mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner called marriage.
  • Gonorrhea – an infection that both men and women get by having vaginal, oral or anal sex with someone who has gonorrhea.  How do you avoid getting gonorrhea?  Don’t have sex...or be in a mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner called marriage.
  • HPV – the #1 viral STD that nearly all sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives and it can cause genital warts and cancers.  How do you avoid getting HPV?  Don’t have sex...or be in a mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner called marriage.
  • Trichomoniasis – an infection caused by a protozoan parasite that triggers symptoms from mild irritation to severe inflammation.  It is more common in women than in men.  How do you avoid getting trichomoniasis?  Don’t have sex...or be in a mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner called marriage.

You can find that many reputable health organizations back the claim that NOT having sex is the way in which to avoid getting any STD.  It’s plain and simple*.  Here’s the CDC website saying so.

*Well, it’s not really that simple because you can also get an STD by being in sexual contact with someone who has an STD, i.e., touching or having skin-to-skin contact with an infected area.  And it’s going to take some discipline and self-control to abstain.

I WANT TO QUIT! -- Teaching the Value of Commitment
I WANT TO QUIT!  -- Teaching the Value of Commitment
This quarter, our character education program, The CORE, has been presenting the value of commitment to elementary students in Murfreesboro and Rutherford County.  Commitment is an important character trait because it encompasses all other core values.  It is important that we learn the value of commitment at an early age because so much of our adult life depends on our ability to put commitment into practice.

What we practice, we learn . . . 

This spring, every Saturday morning, I have had the wonderful experience of watching three year olds play soccer.  If you have never watched three year olds play soccer, you are missing out on a good laugh.  Most three year olds do not understand soccer, but some like to run and some like to play with a ball.  Some have so much energy that their parents are looking for an outlet, any outlet, for their child to expend some of this energy.  So, they register their three year old for soccer.  They sign the forms, pay the fee, buy the uniform and a new soccer ball, and tell their three year old how great it will be to play soccer.  They are committed!  Soccer, what’s soccer?  The child doesn’t know, but he is excited because his parents are excited.  It is time for the first game. The parents show up with their child, thirty minutes early, so the child can get in some “practice” before the game.  He checks out the big guy in the tee shirt that says “Coach,” and runs to join the other boys who are wearing the same clothes.  They run and fall over each other, kick the ball and run after it, fall over each other again, fall over the ball (because their legs are short and the ball hits them right below the knee).  This is fun!  Then it’s time for the game.  The game starts, they run and fall over each other, kick the ball and run after it, fall over each other again, fall over the ball . . . This is boring!  One by one, or sometimes the whole team, make their way to the sideline to find their parents.  I’m tired.  I’m hungry.  I’m thirsty.  I don’t want to play soccer.  The coach herds them all back onto the field, and all the fun begins again.  All the while, the parents continue to encourage and cheer for their three year olds and bring them back week after week for another exciting adventure in soccer. 

This is how we begin to teach our children the value of commitment.  When we love and support and encourage and cheer for our children, we teach them that commitment is important.  When they want to quit, we encourage them to go back for just a little longer.  When they are bored, we cheer for them to keep going.  We bring them back, week after week.  The more we learn to put the value of commitment into practice as a child, the more we are able to be committed as an adult . . . in our jobs, in our relationships, to our children.
What we practice, we learn . . . so practice teaching your children the value of commitment. You may just learn how to be a more committed parent in the process.

Meet Dawn Key


Get to Know a Little Bit About Dawn Key

Job Title…Office Manager

This is what I do at Portico…  Asking what I do at Portico is like asking a mom what she does at home, ha, ha! But to name a few things in particular, I take care of the books, head up the Baby Bottle Campaign, Direct the Character Chase 5k, Co-direct the silent auction, participate in the Core Character Education Assemblies and fill in as peer counselor when we are short on volunteers (or especially busy!).  Those are the big things.  Then there’s all the “other” stuff, like maintenance of our building and equipment, vendor relations, supply inventory, give building tours, one on one budgeting classes, assist co-workers, speak at churches…the list goes on and on.  I just…DO. 
Right now I’m promoting The Big Payback on May 5th.  The Big Payback is a community-wide, 24-hour online giving challenge hosted by The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. This charitable event will help Middle Tennessee nonprofits raise much-needed unrestricted dollars and bring awareness to pressing needs in our communities. 
How It Works:  Starting at 12 a.m. on Tuesday, May 5, lasting 24 hours, donors can make gifts to participating nonprofits located in or providing services in the 40 counties of Middle Tennessee. Donations will be amplified by matching funds, bonuses, and additional prizes. It will be a race to the finish!  Mark your calendar to donate on Tuesday, May 5th by going to www.PorticoStory.org , click on The Big Payback tab at the top right of the page.

The favorite part of my job is… Knowing I’m working for a cause greater than myself.

The story of what brought me to Portico…My husband and I sold our security company after 9 years of growth so I took about a year off to relax with my two young children while keeping busy doing odds and ends jobs.  The Pregnancy Center has always held a special place in my heart and through reading their newsletter, I learned about the middle and high school abstinence education program (Asitia) where volunteers teach kids the value of waiting until marriage for a deeply intimate relationship.  I was about half way through my volunteer training when I was approached about an opening on staff.  I’m still wondering why?!
When I’m not at work, I like to… Hang out with my people, have a clean house, work in the yard and connect with friends and family.

My favorite quote is…Well there are so many!!  Quotes speak differently to me at different times in my life.  “A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart, and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.”   I like this one because it reminds me we all have a song, a happy place in our heart, but we also all go through times when a cloud hangs over that happy place.  Sometimes it’s cloudy for a long time and people…friends can’t hang through it with you.  Those people are good people, but it’s the friends that can see past your cloudy days that can help sing happy back into your soul, those are the friends this quote is talking about.  That’s the kind of friend I want to be and this quote reminds me of that.  Which brings to mind another great quote, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, or how about this one by Thomas Edison, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up.  The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time”, or, “Wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it.  Right is right even if no one is doing it.”  Now that’s true!  See, I told you there are so many!

If I could eat or drink just one thing for the rest of my life it would be…  Who thought of this question?  ONE…Thing….The…Rest…Of…My…Life…?  I’d have to go with water and bananas.  Water because we are 80% water and can’t live without it and bananas because I heard those are the ultimate food and provide all the nutrients you need to survive on.  So there you have it person who wanted to know.

No matter how hard I try, I just can’t…Like cooking.  Sorry family, that’s not my area of gifting.  I CAN cook, I just don’t enjoy it and I wish I could enjoy it.

What I love about living in Murfreesboro is the… It used to be the size but that’s changing rapidly!  It was big, but not too big.  Murfreesboro still has a semi-small town feel to it right now, but as it continues to grow, I don’t know what I’ll do.  I guess I’m hoping for the lottery so I can buy a hundred acres near Milton or Centerhill.  I’d LOVE to have a 4 wheeler to play on all that land!

Last word… I love my job.  I love my co-workers…they are some great ladies!  I am blessed to be on the front lines of ministry and witness the power love and giving have.  I believe what we put into life is what we’ll get out.   The Lord has given me an aroma of friends, family, strength and love.  I hope the Lord is proud of me.

Ten Healthy Habits
Ten Healthy Habits

There are many philosophies/programs floating around today about how to be healthy.  But, does anyone plan have the best strategy for everyone?  Probably not!  However, there are some practical guidelines that most people can follow that will help keep them on the right track.  Here they are:
1.  Don’t forget that you have control of how much food you eat in a day and how much activity or exercise you do.  Keep a healthy balance between the two.
2. Always start your day with breakfast.  We need to jumpstart our brains in the morning.
3. Try eating more meals at home rather than eating at fast food restaurants.  You will have more control over your calorie intake.
4. You know those designer labels on the grocery store food items?  Read them.  They give you all kinds of important information when planning for a meal.
5. If you are doing your meal planning, (and try to be a part of that) remember to include fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain wheat and cereal, low-fat dairy, and lean meats.
6. Watch those beverage choices!  Some of the sodas can contain loads of sugar you just don’t need.  Choose water as your beverage often.
7. If you’re out during the day at work or school, bring your lunch.  Once again you will succeed in calorie and portion control.
8. Snack smart.  Avoid a high intake of caffeine and sugar.  Instead, opt for fruit, veggies, string cheese, frozen yogurt, graham crackers, or popcorn.  Eat them in small quantities.
9. For our pregnant moms, always check with your physician about your dietary habits during pregnancy.  Your lab work and weight as well as your overall health will be evaluated on your visits.
10. Last, but not least, never give up on becoming a healthier you!  We all “indulge ourselves” in ways that we later regret.  Start every day with a firm resolve to manage your activity and food intake wisely.

*Some of the content has been obtained from, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.www.ChooseMyPlate.gov.  (Go to this web site for more information.)


Happy Easter week!  Easter comes at a time when we have almost lost hope that winter will ever come to an end.  All of a sudden, trees begin to bloom, grass starts getting green and we can actually imagine that warmer days are ahead.  Spring encourages us not to lose hope.  Encouragement is a great thing…we all need it in our lives!  To encourage is to inspire, help, support, praise, boost, lift or to give confidence.  

I like being around people who encourage me, don’t you?  Maybe I’m feeling hopeless about something I’m going through.  Maybe I need someone to speak a kind word or offer some real help with my situation.  Maybe I just don’t want to feel so alone.  I need to feel like somebody cares and loves me.  That’s what encouragement is all about.  Hope….help….love.  

So, Easter and spring have a lot in common.  The hope of Easter is because of Jesus.  He came to earth and lived among us and taught us that loving one another is the best thing we can do.  He proved that point by loving us enough to give His life for us.  He encourages us to believe in Him so we can live, too…and can live abundant, joy filled lives.  He doesn’t want us to be without hope or to be alone or to feel unloved.  He doesn’t want our lives to be filled with despair.  Do you know what His word says?  It says that there is no greater commandment than loving each other.  And what does He tell us love is?  Love is patient and kind, it doesn’t brag, it’s not arrogant or rude, it doesn’t seek its own way, it doesn’t keep a record of wrongs or delight in evil.  It rejoices with the truth.  It protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres.  Love never fails.  That is who Jesus is…He is the personification of love.

Our biggest hope is that we will really know how to love as He has called us to.  If you need to be encouraged and to know someone cares about you, we hope you will come see us at Portico….He loves you and so do we.

Commitment to Parenting

Commitment to Parenting

This quarter our character education program, The CORE, is presenting the core value of commitment to our elementary school students.  Commitment is making a plan and putting it into practice.

Last night I watched the movie Chasing Mavericks which was based on the true story of the life of American surfer, Jay Moriarity.  When this 15-year-old surfing phenomenon discovers that the mythic Mavericks surf break, one of the biggest waves on Earth, actually exists near his California home, he becomes determined to conquer it. Jay enlists the aid of local surfing legend, Frosty Hesson, to train him to ride the Mavericks and live to tell about it. Training begins with Frosty explaining that in order to be ready to surf the Mavericks, Jay must be able to swim the 36 mile channel, hold his breath under water for at least four minutes, and he only has twelve weeks to prepare.  Jay made a plan and put it into practice.  He woke up early and paddled out to sea to build his strength and stamina.  He held his breath until he passed out in class.  He lived and breathed preparing himself to surf the biggest waves imaginable.  He charted his progress each step of the way.  He made sacrifices.  Despite the hardships of not having a father at home and sometimes supporting his alcoholic mother, he did achieve his goal of surfing the Mavericks.  He was committed, and to Jay, his life depended on it.  As Jay and Frosty carried out their quest to achieve the impossible, they developed a unique friendship that transformed both their lives.

Parenting is the most important commitment we will ever make.  Some people attempt to plan the time when they will have a child, defining the milestones they must achieve before they are “ready” – marriage, job security, settled into a home, making a comfortable income.  Some people are surprised when they find out they are going to be a parent, and like the Mavericks, the prospect of being a parent seems insurmountable, impossible.  Either way, parenting is commitment.  After almost thirty years of parenting, I have found that parenting is actually a series of daily, sometimes hourly, commitments.  Every day parents must make a plan and put it into practice.  Parenting requires sacrifice.  Every day we wake up early and plan for the day ahead.  We build our strength and stamina to make it through the sleepless nights, and no they don’t end when the baby starts sleeping through the night.  There will be hardships and obstacles along the way, but we are committed to helping our children grow and someday become self-sufficient adults.  Sometimes the journey seems long, but our children’s lives depend on it and, in reality, our lives depend on it.  

Our children are our most important work, and in the end our quest to achieve the impossible will be our greatest achievement.  Through daily commitment to our children, we will see progress along the way, we will experience the greatest form of love imaginable and our lives and our children’s lives will be transformed.

Bacterial Vaginosis in Pregnancy
Bacterial Vaginosis in Pregnancy
What is one of the most common genital tract infections in pregnant women?  Bacterial Vaginosis (BV).  It is believed that the cause of BV is related to a disturbance in the natural bacterial flora found in the vagina.  The “bad” bacteria overgrow the “good.” 

Lactobacilli are the usual residents in the vaginal canal.  They comprise about 95% of the bacteria found there. The lactobacilli actually provide a protective service by not allowing the overpopulation of infectious bacteria.  It is when there is a decrease in the lactobacilli and an increase in the infectious bacteria that problems may arise.

What causes the loss of this “good” bacteria in the vagina?  There are many factors that may create a loss:  use of certain antibiotics, vaginal medications, hormones taken systemically, contraceptive products, douches, vaginal intercourse and STDs.  Although BV is linked to sexual activity it is usually not considered an STD.

How would I know if I have BV?  There may be no symptoms or a woman may complain of a foul, fishy smelling discharge.  Intercourse may worsen the odor because the semen reacts with the bacteria and releases odorous chemicals.  The discharge may be thin, gray in color, and bubbly .  This may cause irritation and itching in the external vaginal area of some women.

Does this have any potential impact on my pregnancy?  Yes, it could.  BV in pregnancy has been correlated to some serious pregnancy complications:  premature rupture of membranes surrounding the baby in utero, preterm labor, premature birth, infection of amniotic fluid, and uterine infection postpartum.

What can I do to prevent this kind of problem in my pregnancy?  You can’t always prevent BV.   But, you can follow the advice of your physician about medications and products that you use during your pregnancy.  Show up for your appointments.  Even routine tests, like a pap smear, will sometimes pick up an unexpected infection.  If you develop any symptoms please call your physician’s office and/or go in for testing.

If you need treatment, your physician will determine what is needed and have a plan of action!

Site Source(s):  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  www.cdc.gov.  /std/bv/stdfact-bacterial-vaginosis.htm
Healthline.com. Infections in Pregnancy:  Bacterial Vaginosis
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise.  Bacterial Vaginosis During Pregnancy.  Healthwise Staff, March 12, 2014.

Commitment in Relationships
Commitment in Relationships

This quarter, our character education program, The CORE, is teaching the core value of commitment to our elementary students.  Commitment is making a plan and putting it into practice.

When we begin a new relationship, we never plan for it to fail.  When a couple gets married, they don’t usually walk down the aisle thinking, “I can’t wait to get a divorce.”  So what happens?  Why do so many relationships and marriages fail?  Because we also don’t plan for our relationships to succeed.    Commitment is making a plan and putting it into practice, and commitment is the foundation for lasting relationships.

Do you remember when you first met your boyfriend/husband?  Maybe you saw him at school or met him through a mutual friend.  You wanted to get to know him better.  You found out his favorite color, and wore it when you were going to be with him.  You found out his favorite food, and cooked it for him.  You did the things he liked to do, even if you didn’t really enjoy them yourself but you enjoyed being with him.  You made a plan to get closer to him and put it into practice.  You placed him on an imaginary pedestal.  You honored him.  You made an effort to please him.  You were committed. 

As time passed, maybe you became bored. Maybe he stopped noticing when you wore his favorite color, so you stopped wearing his favorite color.  Maybe he didn’t thank you when you made his favorite meal, so you didn’t cook his favorite meal as often.  Maybe you decided it would be more fun to hang out with your friends.  You began to focus on the things about him that irritate you. He’s no longer on your pedestal.  It’s difficult to honor him.  You may still be committed, but you’re no longer putting your plan into practice.

So how can we plan for and have successful, lasting relationships?
• Commit to one another.  When my husband and I married, we made a commitment that we were in this for the long haul.  Divorce was not an option.  Remember, you can’t plan for a successful marriage when you are planning for separation or divorce.  A relationship built on the foundation of commitment provides safety and security and an environment of trust.  
• Continue to honor each other as you did when you first met.  Who we honor is who we love.  Keep putting your plan into practice.
• Make daily decisions to love one another.  Every relationship has peaks and valleys.  That’s why we include “for better or worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, and forsaking all others” in our marriage vows.  Every day, we must recommit ourselves to one another.
• Focus on what you love about your partner instead of what you don’t.  We all have faults and personality traits that bug each other.  In most cases, these are small and insignificant in the big picture.  When we constantly focus on the negative, our view of our relationship becomes skewed.

Today, make a commitment to yourself and your partner that you will have a great, lasting relationship.  Together, make a plan for how you will do it, and put it into practice every day for the rest of your life.

HELP! My kid's face is glued to the screen!

HELP! My kid’s face is glued to the screen!

Heard that one before? Perhaps you’ve said it yourself. Today’s kids are consumed with screens of all types and sizes. Whether it’s high-definition TVs, laptops, or mobile devices, many kids interact with screens more than they do other individuals. Is this healthy? How can I ensure my son or daughter’s safety? Or more importantly, how do I reconnect with my kid? 

It’s easy to get overwhelmed – either by the wealth of ever changing information, or by your child’s digital habits that have begun to concern you. Be encouraged. Don’t give up. Your son/daughter needs you. Here are five keys to navigating the digital world with your kid…

1. Remember you’re the rock star! No you may not hear your kid say it – but it’s the truth. Why? No one else has more influence on your child’s life than you. Don’t believe the lie that you’re second string to someone else. They look to Mom/Dad to learn about life.

2. Be informed – You’re the expert in your house! Do the homework and discover all you can about your kid’s world.  Why’s that game so popular? What does this app do?  Ask your kid questions and learn from them. Sometimes they can be your greatest teacher!

3. Develop Boundaries – most teenagers spend every waking hour of their day connected to media of some kind. Help your child learn the benefit of margins in life. Establish guidelines. Use Parental Controls. Communicate what you expect and why.

4. Set the example – this is HUGE. Far too many parents complain about their kid’s screen habit, when they’re the one that modeled the habit in the beginning. I’m guilty of this myself. Force yourself to shut off the screen. Look each other in the eyes. Foster mutual accountability. They watch you and repeat what they see.

5. Embrace community – you’re not alone. Parents all around you face the same struggles and ask the same questions. Look for those that can support you. Be humble enough to ask for help when you need it.

Brian Housman, author of “Tech Savvy Parenting” says, “The goal isn’t to abstain from screens. Instead, your desire should be moderation and responsibility with all technology in your child’s life.” 
Parenting isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s a race that lasts a lifetime.

The digital world in which we now live changes every day. But as far as your kid is concerned, there’s one thing that will never change - Mom/Dad is the rock star. And if you hang in there, you’ll hear them sing your praises when they become parents themselves.

Helpful Sites:

The World of the Unborn Baby
The World of the Unborn Baby

Do you ever wonder what a baby’s world is like before they are born?  What can they hear?  Do they respond to touch?  You will be amazed at how they are responding to their surroundings in the first few weeks of life.  So, let’s explore what baby is doing in their own special place inside Mom.

Touch is the first sensation that baby experiences around eight weeks.  They can feel a very light stroke of a single hair on their face.  All those areas that are particularly sensitive to touch later in life, such as:   palms of hands, soles of feet, abdomen and buttocks can be found to already be developing in a fetus.  By around thirty-two weeks gestation, the fetus is sensitive to “light stroke” on nearly every part of their body.

Motion is another area the baby in utero is experiencing.  At around twenty-one days after conception, the embryo heart begins to beat.  As weeks progress, the little baby can stretch, rotate his/her head, and move arms and legs.  Baby will begin to make hand to head, hand to face, and hand to mouth movements also.  Movement can be spontaneous stemming from individual needs and interests.  If a baby is evoked into movement, that indicates sensitivity to the environment.  At ten- fifteen weeks of gestational age when mom laughs or coughs, the baby will usually move within seconds.

Listening and hearing is another attribute of the unborn baby.  The baby lives in a stimulating environment of sound, vibration, and motion.  Patterns of sound can reach a baby without being strongly distorted.  Music is also something baby can hear and respond to in their world.  Sound can impact baby heart rate.  Through study, it is found that a five second stimulus can cause changes in heart rate and movement.  Hearing is a significant information channel functioning for around twenty-four weeks before birth!

The baby’s world before birth is a thriving hub of activity.  So, Mom and Dad, get ready to move into action on that blessed birthday.

Source:  Chamberlain, David B.  “The Fetal Senses:  A Classical View,”  BirthPsychology.com.

Love on Your Kids
Valentine’s Day is approaching…but instead of all that mushy stuff, I like to think when is it not a good time to love on your kids? Acting lovingly towards your child provides so much benefit to their everyday life.  They will feel security and grow to understand boundaries as well as know how to respect others all because of your love. A good piece of advice I received was to continue “intentionally parenting” or “parenting on purpose” until you feel your child has reached adulthood. Michele Borba, Ed.D, author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions backs this theory up well stating “if you want to enhance your child’s learning abilities to eventually boost their academic performance, it will take consistency, dedication and patience.”  (http://www.parents.com/kids/development/social/raise-well-rounded-kids/) . Furthermore, it probably goes without saying, but make sure to encourage those little ones to show them you care and that you are their biggest fan.

As children develop into teenagers, it’s important to have this groundwork so that whether they choose to or not, they know you will listen and try to understand what they’re going through with compassion. One way you can encourage is through crafts and or games at home. I have a whole board on Pinterest dedicated to fun things like this that bring out laughter and creativity for the whole family. And don’t give up if your fourteen year old seems resistant to your efforts to make homemade flubber. They’ll have fun once they get over themselves. Who doesn’t enjoy being a kid again? Seeking out these fun activities will show those you love that you desire to create a strong bond with them and that mission as a mom or dad is priceless. A great resource I’ve found for parents who feel somewhat powerless towards their child or teenager is found at celebratecalm.com. 

One last thing, to love your kids is to introduce them to new things so that they may someday become well-rounded, adaptable individuals. Fuel their minds with good books, music they’re not used to hearing and new foods, possibly from different cultures. If you can’t travel right now, why not have an adventure to somewhere like India right in your kitchen? Their teachers aren’t the only ones with a good lesson to teach. Let them help you cook the meal, whatever it may be. Remember to smile while going through all the seasons of their lives. You set the tone for your home and I believe it will be a loving one. Happy child raising!

Suzan Slayden, Volunteer Peer Counselor
Volunteer Peer Counselor, Suzan Slayden
Meet one of Portico's Volunteer Peer Counselors, Suzan Slayden, who has been serving clients at Portico longer than any of our current volunteers.

What, exactly, do you do at Portico? As a Peer Counselor, I meet with clients who come to Portico for pregnancy test, ultrasound, and Earn While You Learn. I explore with her what her circumstances are, her feelings, beliefs, relationships. I guide her to look at her present situation as one chapter of her entire life, and the decisions she makes today and tomorrow will have a positive or negative impact on the future chapters of the rest of her life story. I hope to create an environment where she feels genuinely cared about and safe.

The most rewarding part of volunteering at Portico…  When a client comes in with an unplanned pregnancy and she feels alone, scared, confused and unsure of what to do. Then after one, two or maybe three visits at Portico and with an ultrasound she feels more hopeful. Then later seeing the joy on her face when she brings her newborn in to show us is priceless.

What are your hobbies? I love the outdoors and nature, so just about anything to do with those two things I love to do, especially on the farm. We have a lot of flat rocks on our farm in Rockvale, and I started painting verses on them last summer. I play golf, love to travel, love the beach. But my new passion is my 4 month old grandbaby, Maverick!

What does your day look like when you’re not at Portico? Working out or running, housework, cooking, working outside, playing with my dog and 3 sibling cats I rescued, and babysitting my grandson, Maverick
Do you have a favorite quote or life verse to share? (2) “My grace is sufficient for you; my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 and “He comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:4

If you could eat or drink just one thing for the rest of your life and never get tired of it, what would it be? My drink of choice is the vegetable/fruit juice we make with our juices. I don’t eat much red meat, but I love a hot juicy burger with cheese on it off the grill.

What is something you just can’t do no matter how hard you try? I cannot sing and quit trying years ago. I sing at church (quietly) but mostly with heart- God hears my heart singing praised to Him!

What do you love most about living in the Murfreesboro community? The friendships my husband and I have had for years, World Outreach Church, the amazing people I work with at Portico, and our farm.

Last word… "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. Fix His words in your heart and mind, teach them to your children. Talk about them when you sit at home, walk along the road, when you lie down and get up. Write them on your door frames and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many.” Paraphrased from Deuteronomy 6:5-9 and 11:18-21

Protecting Your Child: Human Trafficking Part 2

Keeping Your Child Safe/Human Trafficking Part 2

We have already defined human trafficking in Part 1 of this article as:  “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons:  by the threat or use of kidnapping, force, fraud, deception or coercion, or by the giving or receiving of unlawful payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, and for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labor.”* We also have suggested ways to help keep your children safe as they use internet devices.  Now, let’s talk about other ways young people are seduced into human trafficking and the signs and symptoms of potential victims.  This will help you to discern any situations that need further investigation with your children or others.

Boyfriends, particularly older boyfriends (10 years or greater) may seduce young women into trafficking by telling them that they “love” the victim.  He may point out that the parent doesn’t like them or care for them as much as he does.  He invests a lot of time into the relationship making the victim dependent upon him.

Females in school may actually do some recruiting.  They may “sport” expensive items.  They may discuss how great their job is and the benefits of travel.

A potential victim may be threatened with violence by a predator unless they are compliant with the predator’s demands.  At some point the victim may feel as if they can’t notify their family members because of the shame and humiliation associated with the situation.

Kidnapping is definitely a way for a predator to find his next victim.

Sadly enough, even family members have been known to “pimp out” another family member.

What kind of signs and symptoms might lead you to believe you have identified a human trafficked victim?  A potential victim may:

1.  Have very little control over their comings and goings.  They may work for very little or no money and the hours may be unusual and/or long.  They may have very large debt to pay and have been recruited under false pretenses about the work.
2. Be under the age of 18 and performing commercial sex acts.  Is in the sex industry and have a manager/pimp.  Activities and contact with other persons is very restricted.
3. May exhibit symptoms of anxiety, fear, flat affect, nervous/paranoid behavior.  May avoid eye contact and be afraid of references to law enforcement.
4. Show signs of being malnourished with unexplained injuries, untreated illnesses, and signs of physical and/or sexual abuse.
5. Demonstrate a lack of control over money, personal documentation, no personal possessions, and may have another person speak for him/her.
6. May exhibit a lack of knowledge about living arrangements, the state or town he/she is in, inconsistent stories about life circumstances and a loss of sense of time.
Any one of these may not indicate a trafficking situation, however, if several of these issues seem to be present in a person’s life then you may want to contact the national 24/7 toll-free Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888.  In case emergency measures are needed, then it is best to call your local police department or emergency access number.*

*The information shared in this article was derived from information provided from these two sources:  U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools,www.ed.gov/osdfs.  A Bridge of Hope, BuildingBridgesTogether@yahoo.com and www.ABridgeOfHope.org.

Keeping Your Child Safe

Human Trafficking Part 1: Keeping Your Child Safe

Every one of us desires to protect our children.  We caution and educate them on many topics as they grow and learn.  We talk to them about fire safety, traffic safety, and strangers they meet on the street.  We monitor their nutritional habits, dress them for weather conditions, and try to balance their physical activity with indoor leisure time.  However, I want to discuss the protection/security measures that need to be addressed with our children when it comes to “human trafficking.”

Human trafficking is defined as recruiting, transporting or receiving persons by coercive methods such as kidnapping.  It may also be by receiving payment or benefits from an individual who will rule or dominate another person for sexual exploitation or forced labor.

It occurs right here in the United States.  It occurs in Murfreesboro, TN.  The only way to keep our children safe and not vulnerable to this type of crime is to educate them on the behaviors of these malicious individuals and to help them recognize the signs of the “seduction.”

How would a trafficking predator connect with my child?  One of the most accessible tools for connecting with children is through the internet.  Children have more and more exposure to the “world wide web” through gaming systems, hand held devices, home computers, laptops, and cell phones.  They can chat, show pictures, and exchange information at any time.

How do I minimize the possibility of my child coming in contact with a predator?  One of the most important things parents can do with children is to sit down with them and explore their internet accessible devices together.  As a parent it is your right and responsibility to point out the benefits and risks associated with your child’s activities.  It is also beneficial to set up parameters, boundaries, filters, and blocking devices to help children make the right choices.  Some browsers are designed with safety options for children.

Tell your children that if they see anything that makes them afraid, confused or uncomfortable to tell you or another responsible adult about it. Help them to see why privacy settings about their own personal information is important.  Inform them about only adding friends/contacts to their “lists” that they already know in person.  Assist them in choosing screen-names or nicknames that are appropriate.  Discuss with your children why they should never give out personal information without your knowledge and prior consent.

In addition, be sure your children review their own input to the “web.”   They need to ask, “Is this message rude, embarrassing, inappropriate, harmful or dangerous?”  If so, then push the delete button and rethink your message.  If someone has sent them something inflammatory, teach them to not respond in like manner but, bring it to your attention so that it can be evaluated.  Be diligent and careful as you guide them!


*Much of the information included in this article has come from these sources:
Keeping Kids Safer on the Internet, Tips for Parents and Guardians, 2011 National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. 
A Bridge of Hope,
BuildingBridgesTogether@yahoo.com, www.ABridgeofHope.org

Meet our new staff member...Allison French

Allison French

Job Title…Education Assistant

This is what I do at Portico…In a nutshell so far, I assist the CORE and Asitia directors with program needs such as keeping social media current, continuing and growing relationships with teachers and school board members, as well as participate in classroom presentations when needed for both programs.

The favorite part of my job is…The people. Whether they be one of my supervisors, coworkers or a volunteer, I can learn valuable lessons that will grow me as an individual and a professional.

The story of what brought me to Portico…A friend of mine was hosting a Portico event at her church and told me about some of the organization’s passion to help women in crisis pregnancies. I was drawn immediately and couldn’t wait to start the training to become a peer counselor. During the six week “Equipped to Serve” lessons I gained wisdom to strengthen my communication with people living out many different situations. Once I started volunteering and meeting with clients of Portico, I couldn’t have felt more blessed. That was in February of last year (2014). Now that I’ve begun this new journey with both The CORE and Asitia programs, I realize God has more planned for me than I imagined, which is usually His way. These days, I am in a constant state of worship to have the opportunity to speak to children and teenagers. I could not feel more honored to represent an organization that truly is seeking to have such a needed societal impact.

When I’m not at work, I like to…Spend time with my husband in our first house mainly cooking and organizing stuff from our still packed boxes. Also, I enjoy talking on the phone to many of my loved family and friends who reside in other states. 

My favorite quote is…”He that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul; he that keepeth understanding shall find good” – Proverbs 19:8 KJV

If I could eat or drink just one thing for the rest of my life it would be… Hard one, my husband and I enjoy eating tasty stuff…. I’ll say my Mema’s turnip greens. Total southern goodness.

No matter how hard I try, I just can’t….. fully understand men, haha. I have read books, taken a gender communication course in college and have a wonderful father, step-father and husband all of whom I actively communicate with. However, we perplex each other from time to time and it’s amazing when they have heard something completely different than what I said. I’m convinced that the Lord knew he would grow patience in the human species by creating two different genders .

Last word…Portico supports loving those in need through actually doing it. Whether it’s a volunteer spending time listening to a woman’s story or a Portico employee visiting a classroom of eighth graders discussing ways to deal with the opposite sex or even discussing what commitment means to a crowd of fourth graders through a fun, energetic skit, this organization encourages the positive self-growth that our world needs more of.  

Alcohol during Pregnancy

What We DO Know and DON'T Know About Alcohol Consumption in Pregnancy...

This is the time of year when there is an increase in the number of parties, celebrations, and get-to-gathers.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year are special times to be shared with friends and family.  Alcoholic beverages are frequently served at these social events.  But, is it safe to drink alcohol during pregnancy?  We are finding that some moms believe it to be okay.  

Research indicates that women have misconceptions about alcohol and drinking during pregnancy.  They may think that certain forms of alcohol are acceptable to have during pregnancy.  Some women believe it is okay to drink during the third trimester of their pregnancy.  Others believe alcohol in moderation, during pregnancy, is not only acceptable but affirmed by their health care providers.  However, before you take that celebratory drink, let’s take a look at the information we have.  

What we DON'T know:

1.  A safe level of alcohol during pregnancy.
2. A safe developmental stage of fetus for maternal alcohol consumption.
3. A safe type of alcoholic beverage to drink during pregnancy.
4. The true numbers of children impacted by maternal alcohol consumption during the pregnancy.

What we DO know:

1.  Alcohol use during pregnancy can affect a child’s growth, cognition, physical appearance and behavior over a life time.
2. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is not a diagnosis but a descriptor of the many adverse effects that alcohol can have on the unborn.
3. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, the most serious, is the leading cause of preventable birth defects and mental retardation in the United States.
4. Alcohol freely passes to the placenta so that baby’s blood alcohol level equals that of Mom’s.
5. All fetal organs seem to be sensitive to alcohol effects, the brain being particularly vulnerable.

These disorders are preventable if a woman doesn’t drink during pregnancy.  Please remember that if you have an alcohol problem and can’t stop on your own, consult a physician for assistance as soon as possible.  You want to do everything you can to deliver a healthy baby.  Why not avoid the risks associated with drinking alcohol?

*This article was written from a compilation of data from these articles:
1.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Preventing Alcohol Use During Pregnancy and FASDs:  CDC Activities.”  Referenced from American Journal of Health Education.  July 2013;44(4):177-190.
2.  Mark B. Mengel, MD, MPH, H. Russell Searight, PhD, Keely Cook, MPAS, PA-C, Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, Sept.-Oct. 2006 Vol.19 No. 5494-505.
3.  WebMD, “Alcohol and Pregnancy:  Is ‘A Little Bit’ Safe?”  Sources:  National Institutes of Health:  “Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.”  Many others cited at the end of this article.

How You Can Help Babies though Portico

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.  I’ve heard it many times and I believe it!  Who doesn’t love a yard sale or auction?  The hardest part is getting past the fact that I’m rooting around in someone else’s stuff.  But then I just remind myself that I was invited to root around and it becomes fun, a challenge even, to find an unexpected treasure.   Oh!  And I have found so many through the years.  My husband and I started housekeeping on furniture from yard sales.  That was over 26 years ago and I still use several of those pieces today.  Our kitchen table is from a yard sale, simple, nothing fancy.  I can show you marks on it from my children learning to write to learning “the cup song”, and I love it.  I’m so thankful for those who thought about my plight without knowing me. 

As a Christian, I always think about the verse in the Bible that talks about leaving some grain in the fields to be gleaned (picked up bit by bit) by the poor.   I think of it in the same way I would think of having a yard sale or donating things I no longer use or need.  Someone somewhere has a need and I can help in this small way.

We have a program here at Portico where moms and dads learn parenting skills and in return they can shop in our baby boutique for unexpected treasures donated by those who have much or who have received much.  Bring your donations of maternity clothes, and anything necessary to raise a baby through age 2.  Our clients have many needs and this is an easy way to help!

The crib I laid my sweet, precious babies in was a hand-me-down, as was the changing table, car seat, swing, and many other things.   Someone else took the burden of paying full price for something I could not afford and after they were through with it, they simply gave it to me, expecting nothing in return.  Things have changed for us since those early years.  Now I can give for others to glean from.  Who is more blessed?

This Christmas season, if you’re shopping on Amazon, go to www.AmazonSmile.com, choose a charity and they will receive a percentage of all your purchases!  This is a way for the charity of your choice to glean funding so please take advantage of it!  If you type Murfreesboro, TN in the search bar, it will display all the charities that have applied for this assistance.  It’s up to you, but make it all count for something worthwhile.  Make a difference.  By the way, you’ll find Portico on that list :)

Depression During the Post-Partum Period

Depression During the Post-Partum Period

Depression, especially during the post-partum period, may affect as many as 1 in 10 women and can have significant negative impacts on the mother, the baby, and the family as a whole.  Pregnancy can be a stressful time, especially if the pregnancy was unplanned.  There can be stress related to medical issues and the otherwise normal discomforts of pregnancy.  Financial and relational issues can add to the stress levels.  The changes and fluctuations in hormone levels also can contribute to depression. 

Making the diagnosis of depression can be difficult since many of the symptoms of depression are also facts of life when a newborn is present in the home.  Sleeplessness, fatigue, irritability, and changes in appetite as well as increased worrying are all things that anyone who has cared for a newborn will recognize as a normal part of life.  The diagnosis can also be more difficult to make because women are sometimes reluctant to share their struggles. They may believe that everything should be happy and wonderful and that since they do not feel that way, they have failed on some level. 

When depression has already been a part of a woman’s life, or when it begins during the pregnancy, then the chances for significant postpartum depression are much higher.  Depression in the post-partum period can result in added stress in the home as well as neglect of the newborn and at worst—the potential for self-harm or harm of others.  Recognition and treatment of post-partum depression is vital for women and their families.

Screening is the most reliable means of identifying patients at risk of post-partum depression.  Our local hospital here in Murfreesboro is one hospital which uses an effective screening tool prior to the patient’s discharge from the hospital.  This type of survey can identify patients who are already depressed or at risk of developing post-partum depression. 

Once the diagnosis of depression is made, there are a variety of treatment modalities that can and should be considered.  The patient’s health care provider should ensure that, with the patient’s permission, her support system is evaluated and those who are around her are aware of her struggle so that they may be most effective in terms of providing emotional support and assistance with newborn care and other responsibilities.  Counseling is also an important part of therapy for some women and referral for psychological evaluation and support should be considered.  Some patients will also need medication, and a variety of pharmacological choices can be considered.  For those mothers who are breast feeding, there are safe choices for the newborn as well. 

Women who struggle with depression frequently feel that they will be stigmatized if they discuss their struggles with family members or with their health care providers.  While this may have been more likely in the past, today’s obstetric providers are well aware of the frequency of depressive disorders during and after pregnancy and are eager to see patients do well following their deliveries.  

Guest Blog by Dr. C Brent Boles, Medical Director of Portico

How do I tell my parents I'm pregnant?

If you have just found out you are unexpectedly pregnant, there are probably a wide range of emotions and questions you may have.  You might be feeling overwhelmed, anxious, nervous or excited.  One thing that might be on your mind is your family…. Whether you live with your parents or grandparents or you are planning to go home for the holidays and tell your family the news, one question you might be asking is, “How do I tell my family I’m pregnant…?”

First of all, try not to stress yourself out TOO much about telling them before you KNOW how they will respond.   But at the same time, be prepared for a not so happy reaction.  This is news that will affect their lives as well, so expect them to possibly go through emotions like sadness, anger, disappointment etc. But also, feel hopeful that, more than likely, those negative feelings are not going to last forever.

It might be a good idea to think of someone who can go along with you to tell your family… Maybe a sister or brother, a close family friend, an aunt…  It might come in helpful to have someone there with you who can support and encourage you and possibly be a sounding board for you and your family.

You might want to bring along any information you have gathered about your pregnancy and plans you might be considering or have already made. 

If you and your family do not communicate well… or at all, you might want to consider delivering them a letter.  This will help you to express your feelings and thoughts, and it might enable them to receive all of the information before reacting.  Although a letter might be a good idea, I would strongly suggest NOT announcing your pregnancy to your family through text message over the phone.

Although, you have the responsibility of telling your family, know that Portico is here for you no matter how they react.  We are also here for them if they need us.  You are welcome to offer for your family to come to Portico and talk with a peer counselor about the feelings they may be experiencing.  We truly desire to walk through this with you and help make sure you successfully get to the other side of this situation… feeling hopeful, strengthened and empowered.  Your story matters to us, and we are excited to see the next chapter…

"Healthy Pregnancy" During the Holidays...

Holiday celebrations include lots of food:  Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's.  How delicious...right?!  But what’s the right way to indulge and still have a “healthy pregnancy?”  Let’s start with a few basics:

     Based upon your pre-pregnancy weight, your doctor will monitor your gain or loss at each visit.  Sure, you need more calories and nutrients to keep you and baby healthy, but don’t overdo it.  Many physicians think about 300 extra calories a day is good.  In terms of weight gain, two to four pounds in the first trimester followed by three or four pounds a month in the second and third trimester is suggested.  (Your doctor will increase or decrease your caloric intake as he/she monitors your weight.)
     You’re taking your prenatal vitamins aren't you?  Don’t forget.  Take one a day, unless your doctor adds to this with some other supplement.
     As long as you have no dietary restrictions, choose a variety of foods from each food group:  Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Protein, and Dairy. They will help supply needed nutrients-particularly iron and folic acid.
Remember to choose foods that are low in sodium, added sugars and solid fats.
     Now, on to the Celebration!  Is it okay to “splurge” once in a while or to follow that pregnancy craving for a snack or a meal?  Yes!  Just remember to keep your overall goal in mind:  A healthy mom with a healthy weight gain increases the chances of a healthy baby.
     Please have all of your drinks for the holidays to be of the non-alcoholic variety.  Alcohol in any amount has the potential for causing problems for your baby.  Milk, juices, water, and punch (be careful about too much caffeine) will substitute just fine.

     Parties, Christmas shopping, Holiday cheer with friends or family!  Here’s some food safety advice:

  1. Make sure food preparation is being carried out in a clean environment.  Good hand-washing, cleaning prep stations for foods, rinsing fruits and vegetables with removal of any dirt, Keeping cooked foods and raw foods separated on clean plates, and using clean, separate utensils for each “dish” is important.
  2. Check the internal temperature of that turkey.  You can’t tell by looking!  A food thermometer is what you need.  The turkey (and the dressing) need to reach a temperature of 165 degrees F.  
  3. Always bring back to a boil the sauces and gravies you are reheating.
  4. Don’t sample, taste, or eat anything that might have raw eggs in it.
  5. Refrigerate those leftovers!  Don’t leave foods out for very long.  Bacteria can grow rapidly at room temperature.
Now you are ready for those great days ahead that bring special memories.  Bon Appetit!


*The information given is for healthy, pregnant moms.  Please be advised that in the case of gestational diabetes, and/or other health issues, your physician is your guide for food selection and quantity.  You should always follow the personal health plan designed by your doctor.

What is My Responsibility As a Parent?

What is my Responsibility as a Parent?

This quarter, Portico’s character education program, The CORE is teaching the value of Responsibility.  Responsibility is defined as ‘showing you can be trusted with what’s expected of you.’  Responsibility is a simple concept to teach elementary children.  You simply do what you say you will do, but for a new parent, responsibility and expectations can be somewhat overwhelming.

Depending on where you look, expectations for a new parent can be daunting and leave us feeling hopeless and helpless.  We feel that we are expected to know all the answers, that we are expected to dress our children in name brand clothes, that we must live in a big house and have a lot of money. We can sometimes feel like a failure when our child misbehaves or gets in trouble in school.

As a parent, it is helpful to understand what we are responsible for and what we are not.  So here are some thoughts on what you are responsible for. 

Obviously, you are responsible for providing for your child’s basic human needs – food, clothing and shelter.  Despite the television commercials and advertisements, these needs are basic, not extravagant. 

You are responsible for loving your child unconditionally and for encouraging your child to become everything he or she was created to be.  This is not necessarily what you want him or her to be.  If you are a great ball player, but your child prefers drawing or painting, praise your child’s artwork and hang it on your refrigerator for all to see.

Unfortunately, children do not come with an instruction manual, but the Bible is a good source for starters.  You are responsible for teaching your child.  The Bible tells us to “train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”  This is a wonderful promise for parents, but what is the ‘way he should go?’  Deuteronomy 11:18 gives us the answer – “Commit yourselves completely to these words of mine.”  (God’s instructions.)  “Teach them to your children.  Talk about them when you are away on a journey, when you are lying down and when you are getting up again.  Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, so that as long as the sky remains above the earth, you and your children may flourish . . .”  So here’s a promise, you and your children will flourish when you teach your children the Word of God.

Here are some thoughts on what you are not responsible for.

On the website empoweringparents.com, Sara Bean, M.Ed., shares that parents you are not responsible for making sure your child is always happy.  You are not responsible for getting the approval of others.  No two children are exactly the same and what works for one may not be effective with another.  Trust your instincts.  You are not responsible for controlling your children.  Just like you, your child was born with free will.  You can help your child make smart choices, but trying to control him will only lead to rejection or rebellion.  You are not responsible for doing for your child what she is capable of doing herself.  When my daughter was eight years old, I realized that I had always brushed her hair even though she was fully capable of doing it herself.  We fail to teach our children the value of responsibility when we try to do everything for them.  And finally, remember that you are not Superman or Wonder Woman, and rest in knowing that your responsibility as a parent does not require you to save the world.

"6 Second Challenge"

The 6 Second Challenge

We challenge you to take “The 6 Second Challenge” to change someone’s life for the better.  This is taken from handsfreemomma.com and came about when a mom was observing the dynamics of her children and how they responded to someone doing something kind…in a mere six seconds.  It may affect someone’s story for the better.

In 6 seconds you can kiss someone like you mean it.
In 6 seconds you can hold open a door.
In 6 seconds you can wait for a little straggler to catch up. "I'll wait for you," you can even say.
In 6 seconds you can take a deep breath.
In 6 seconds you can let it go. "It's not worth it," you can say.
In 6 seconds you can tuck a note in a lunch box or in a pocket. It takes 2 seconds to make a heart.
In 6 seconds you can say you're sorry.
In 6 seconds you can cut yourself some slack.
In 6 seconds you can throw away that picture, that pair of pants, that inner bully that keeps you from loving this day, this you.
In 6 seconds you can feel the sunshine.
In 6 seconds you decide it's time to stop looking back.
In 6 seconds you can whisper, "It's gonna be okay," to yourself or someone who's scared.

I used to sound like a broken record. "I don't have time," I would always say. But then I realized what could happen in a mere 6 seconds.

It's enough to make a bad day good ...
It's enough to bring life back to your weary bones ...
It's enough to change someone's story ...
It's enough to remember what really matters in the midst of so much that doesn't.

Guest Blog: Benefits of Breastfeeding

The Benefits of Breastfeeding

The following is a guest blog written by Dr. Brent Boles, the Medical Director of Portico who also has an Obstetrics and Gynecology practice with Covenant Healthcare for Women.

Babies are born to breastfeed.  God designed breastfeeding as a system that the baby would instinctively begin, and through which would be provided with what is quite likely the most perfect nutrition for a newborn.  Breast milk not only provides the necessary calories, proteins, vitamins and minerals, it also provides immunity to a wide variety of infectious pathogens.  The breast milk perfectly supports both the immune system and the digestive system.  Babies who are breast fed will have fewer ear infections and less colic and diarrhea.  Premature babies in the NICU, when fed with the mother’s breast milk, will only rarely get a serious infection in the intestines that is actually quite common in premature babies fed with formula. 

It is even possible to enhance the immune system boost that breastfeeding provides.  When a pregnant woman gets a flu shot during the pregnancy, or has a Tdap booster, or takes a vaccine called Pneumovax, then the baby will have less chance of the flu and whooping cough and ear infections.  These benefits are clearly shown by the data we have available. 

We also know that babies who are breast fed will have less obesity as they grow, and are less likely to develop diabetes. 

There are also numerous benefits for the mother.  Breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancers, and women who breast feed will also have less heart disease and diabetes as they age.  Most women are also concerned about returning to their pre-pregnancy weight.  Breastfeeding helps some women lose those pregnancy pounds more quickly. 

You may be apprehensive about breastfeeding.  Don’t be…it is a natural process.  Most hospitals now have excellent lactation programs.  Many will employ nurses whose training and expertise is in the area of lactation counseling and they will work with the mothers after they deliver and coach them and ensure that they are well equipped to nurse when they take the newborn baby home.  If at first you experience some frustrations, don’t give up quickly.  Most challenges are easily solved, and you can quickly achieve a comfortable routine.

There are non-medical benefits to breast feeding as well.  In terms of convenience—you never have to sterilize bottles or get up and go to the kitchen at night to warm up some formula.  The economic benefit is perhaps the most often overlooked advantage.  One study which I have seen shows that families whose mothers breast feed a newborn for the first year will save anywhere from $3,000 to $6,000 since they won’t be buying formula and bottle and supplies and will have fewer visits to the pediatrician’s office for illnesses and fewer prescriptions for antibiotics.

Finally, breastfeeding provides bonding time with your newborn.  You will more easily be able to calm a crying baby, and everyone in the house will be happier with that.  Hormones produced in your body during the breastfeeding process will also help you feel more calm and connected with your newborn.

written by Brent Boles, M.D.

How Do I Comfort a Crying Baby???

How Do I Comfort a Crying Baby????????????????

Crying is a way for a baby to communicate with the world.  Some babies cry when they need a diaper change or exposed to cold.  Most babies cry when they’re hungry and want to be fed.  But, what about those times when all their basic needs seem to be met and there is still crying?  What can I do to comfort my baby?

First of all, rule out any possible problems that might require medication or a doctor’s visit.  Does the baby have a fever?  Do you notice any physical symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, runny nose, ear-pulling?  These need to be evaluated.

If the healthcare provider doesn’t find a medical intervention need, then you may find some of these suggestions helpful.

Upset stomach is one of those uncomfortable scenarios for your baby.  One of the first things you can try is to position baby to make him feel better.  Maybe an over-the-shoulder hold, over the knees or cradled in your arms face down for a few minutes.  Try wrapping up baby in a blanket or swaddling. him.  You also might like to try a car ride.  Applying some warmth to baby’s tummy may make him feel better.  (Not Hot!)  Holding and rocking your baby may help.  Be sure to burp baby frequently during feedings.  If you’re breastfeeding, avoid gaseous foods.  They create more stress for baby. Don’t over feed your baby.  It may make them even worse.

Diaper rash discomfort?  Do periodic diaper checks during the day to keep the skin clean and dry.  Be gentle when changing your baby’s diaper.  Just dab or pat the areas to clean.  Don’t rub forcefully.  Apply ointments for rash if helpful.  You may consider having baby go without a diaper for a few minutes to air dry.  Check and make sure baby is not allergic to certain detergents, diapers, soaps, etc.

General fretting?  Try singing, talking, and walking with baby.  Skin-to-skin contact is important to young infants.  Try walking outdoors with baby to offer a distraction or if a young sibling is around, maybe it’s a good time for a gentle hug and interaction.

Each baby is a little individual.  Keep working Mom/Dad to find ways to comfort and help in times of distress.  If you have a reliable sitter, maybe they can relieve you for a little while so you can get some rest

Relationship with an Angry Partner

Angry Partner

Let’s talk about anger.  We all get angry at one time or another.  It is an emotion that all of us must deal with.  Being angry doesn’t make us a bad person.  But, if in our anger, we damage ourselves or other people, we have a problem.

If you are in a relationship with an angry partner, it’s time for an evaluation.  Take an inventory of your partner’s behavior.  Do any of these behaviors sound familiar?

1.  He/She has a hard time compromising or dropping a subject.

2. He/She always expresses anger in embarrassing, humiliating, hurtful, shameful or insecure situations.

3. He/She must always be in control of every situation.

4. He/She feels a personal attack from individuals that have a different opinion, idea, or viewpoint than their own.

5. He/She may use superlatives quite frequently.  ”I never get to do things my way !” “No one  cares about me!”

6. He/She may have a very strict standard about how things should be done which produces anger if it doesn’t happen.

7. He/She may jump to conclusions about what people are thinking, quite often accusing them of being degrading or disrespectful to him/her.

8. He/She may ignore anything positive going on around them in order to focus on things that are upsetting.

9. He/She may often look for someone else to blame when things aren’t going as desired.  Someone else is responsible for his/her happiness and he/she can’t take responsibility for what’s in their own life.

If you can pinpoint many of these characteristics in your partner, it is time to get him/her some help.  At the very least, a serious conversation is needed about what may be happening in their lives.  And, if he/she seems on the “edge” of being out of control, it is time for a professional that can assist your partner in finding an approach to dealing with this emotion in a healthy constructive manner.  The goal is a respectful, happy relationship!*

*Some of the information in these paragraphs is from an article entitled, “Anger Management,” HelpGuide.org.  Authors:  Jeanne Segal, PhD., and Melinda Smith, M.A. 

Parenting and RESPECT (Part 2)

Parenting and RESPECT (part two)

Yesterday at church we began a new series on Parenting.  The cover of our worship guide said, “No child, you don’t own this house.”  Do you sometimes feel that your two or three year old has taken over your home?  That no matter what you say or do, you children do what they want?  That your child doesn’t respect you as her parent?

Our pastor calls it the “Guilty Parent Syndrome.”  Our society is so busy with work, sports, and other activities that we have fewer hours each day to spend with our children.  We don’t want to spend that time disciplining our children.  However, the Bible says that a parent who does not discipline their child hates their child. It’s important that we discipline our children so they learn appropriate behavior and boundaries.  Discipline also gives our children security.  Dr. James Dobson says it this way, “I love you too much to allow you to behave this way.”

There are two things we have to teach our children.  We have to teach them to obey their parents, and we have to teach them to honor and respect their parents.  Obedience is the easy part, but honor and respect comes from a relationship where a child feels loved and safe.  

Here are some tips for nurturing obedience and respect with your children.

Authority, Fear and Respect:  Fear is not respect. Dysfunctional parents rule by fear believing this is respect. Healthy parenting rules with Authority. Demanding respect without earning respect often causes frustration, powerlessness, resentfulness leading to disrespect. Respect is nurturing, it feels safe, and a child is more likely to obey which lowers the need for discipline. Fear is toxic, destroys self-confidence in children and produces a higher incidence of discipline.

Acknowledge and Praise: Take notice when you hear or see your child making respectful choices, speaking respectfully and praise them. Also, acknowledge that your children are learning. Don’t expect from them what is not age appropriate. Know your child and what works and doesn’t work with them. Help them to find the respectful feeling words to express themselves and model the behavior that you are expecting from them according to their age and development.

Correct: Correct disrespect and defiance immediately by being firm and direct with your child that their response was disrespectful and will have a consequence if continued. For example: If your child is disrespectful and is acting out their anger, you can say, “I can see you are angry right now. I am pleased to pay attention to you once you use a respectful tone with me.” If they continue being disrespectful, you can either not say anything more and walk away and wait for them to approach you in a calm and respectful manner or you can say, “I can see you are angry and you have chosen to continue being disrespectful. You can either continue to be disrespectful and your choice will result in (name the consequence such as lose your privilege of your phone) or you can choose to calm down and be respectful and I will listen.” Allow them to “do over” in their response with an acknowledging apology. Apology is a way to show respect and understanding of how you have affected another person. Following the apology, discuss briefly what you expect from them in the future.

Teaching respect is deliberate.  It requires effort.  But our children are worth it.

(Some information obtained from http://www.facestkc.com/parent-logic-parenting-and-respect/)

In Case You Want to Know: Basic STD Information

In Case You Want to Know:  STD Information

Are you concerned about the direction of your life and want to make informed choices...especially in regard to your sexual health?  Do you want to be empowered with information that affects your health and well-being?  There is a lot of information floating around out there about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).  Physicians and others are continuing to sort out this data so the public will be informed and can make wise choices.  No wonder it's confusing if the medical professionals have a hard time keeping up-to-date with the information!

Some of the most common STDs are chlamydia, genital herpes, gonorrhea, human papilloma virus (HPV), and trichomoniasis.  The most common is genital HPV and here’s what we know about the #1:

  • Nearly all sexually active men and women (who are not in a mutually monogamous relationship) get HPV at some point in their lives.  It can cause genital warts and cancers. 
  • This STD is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact and the only way to prevent it is to avoid direct contact with the virus.
  • Condoms do not fully protect against HPV because the virus can infect other areas not covered by the condom.
  • Anyone who has had genital contact with another person could potentially contract genital HPV and give it to another without even knowing it.
  • Current studies indicate that the highest rates of genital HPV infections are occurring in young females, often of college age.
  • No amount of cleaning, douching, or meticulous toileting behaviors will prevent HPV.  
  • For many women HPV will resolve on its own in weeks or months.  However, if it does not, there is a possibility that over a period of time it may cause cervical cancer.  In men, it can cause penile or testicular cancer.

The only reliable way to avoid getting an STD – including HPV – is to NOT have sex.  Don’t have vaginal sex.  Don’t have oral sex.  Don’t have anal sex.  The good news is that there is a way to have sex and not get an STD:  wait until you’re in a mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner…candidly, that relationship is called marriage.  Understandably, it’s gonna take some discipline and self-control to wait.  When you’ve found “the one” and are ready to get married, you’ll have nothing to worry about.  That is, if the love of your life has also chosen abstinence. 

Please be wise and value yourself as a person worthy of respect.  Your health is important to you now as well as in the future.  Live your life as if every day matters...because it does!


Parenting and RESPECT

Parenting and RESPECT (Part One)

This quarter our character education program, The CORE, is teaching children in our elementary schools the value of RESPECT.  Our definition of RESPECT is showing others they are important by what you say and do. 

In his book Love and Respect in the Family, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs concludes that . . .Children need love.  Parents need respect.  It is as simple and complex as that.

Simply speaking, as a parent, if you fulfill your child’s need to be loved, you will get the respect you need.  The complexity comes with our preconceived notions and misconceptions of love and respect.

Fulfilling a newborn baby’s need for love is very basic.  When you comfort your crying baby by feeding, changing or simply holding her, you are meeting her basic needs to have food, clothing, warmth, affection and intimacy.  She feels loved.  As you care for your baby, she begins to trust you.  She trusts that you will be there when she needs you.  She trusts that you will provide for her and keep her safe.  She begins to learn RESPECT, and you get the respect you need.

However, when your newborn becomes a toddler, she begins to test the boundaries and express her need for independence.  Her definition of love is expanded.  This can be frustrating for parents and we begin to feel that we are losing control or losing the respect we need.  Children are not born with the ability to respect you as a parent.  You gain respect by giving respect.  Children learn respect from your example!  So, here are a few tips for teaching your child the value of RESPECT.

Model RESPECT for your child.  Our children are always watching us.  You model respect or disrespect with the words you use when speaking to your child and others.  You model respect or disrespect by how you treat people in the grocery store or driving in your car.  You model respect for your child by respecting yourself.

Be Consistent.  Set consistent limits and boundaries.  If you are not consistent, your child will not trust you.  If your child doesn’t trust you, she will not feel safe.  If she doesn’t feel safe, she does not feel loved, and she will act out and show disrespect.  Create rules that are easy to follow, set realistic boundaries with consequences so your child learns to make the right choice.  Consistency builds authority; authority builds trust and security and from this builds the respect you need.

Value your child.  Your child needs to know that she is valuable, and you need to show your child she is valuable.  Notice and nurture your child’s interests.  Pay attention when your child is speaking to you. Put aside the laundry, and your cell phone, and truly listen to your child.  Allow your child to make choices utilizing the boundaries you’ve created, and communicate positively with your child.

To be continued . . . additional tips for teaching your child the value of RESPECT will be posted on  September 15.  In the meantime, put these tips into practice and let us know how it goes.
(Some information obtained from http://www.facestkc.com/parent-logic-parenting-and-respect/)

Back to School Tips

Abstinence educators are going back to school this month in the classrooms of local middle and high schools presenting Portico’s education program called Asitia (as-ee-teé-uh).  Tennessee* requires an “abstinence-centered or abstinence-based approach that promotes sexual risk avoidance, or primary prevention, and teaches vital life skills that empower youth to identify healthy and unhealthy relationship, accurately understand sexually transmitted diseases and contraception, set goals, make healthy life decisions and build character.”  That is an exact description of the Asitia curriculum.  Based on this, Asitia volunteers have observed a few things in the classroom that are worth passing on to parents:

Know what’s being taught in your child’s classes.  Whether it’s the abstinence education program, art projects or “new” math, take an interest in what your child is doing in each class.  Get to know the method or the exact curriculum.   Copies of the curriculum are available for you to view from the teacher.  Information on abstinence is available at Asitia.org

Teach personal responsibility.  This is a year-round endeavor, but it’s especially important during the school year.  Whose responsibility is it to know where the backpack is?  Not yours!  Whose responsibility is it to fix lunch?  Preferably, your child’s!  Ultimately, whose responsibility is it to make sure they are out the door with everything they need for a successful day at school?  Your child’s!  Teach them to be accountable for their own actions.  It will contribute to them being hard-working successful adults.

Check the dress code at school.  Primarily, you’ll be following the rules if you know the dress code.  You can take it a step further by teaching your child what’s appropriate to wear at school.  You’re not being “old-fashioned” if you want your child to dress appropriately.  This is an issue with girls, in particular.  Author unknown of this applicable quote:  “If you dress sexy, you attract sex.  If you dress lovely, you attract love.”

Set standards.  Decide, with your child, what type of person they are going to be around and, eventually, who they are going to date and, ultimately, what type of person they are going to marry.  Take into consideration your beliefs, your value system…what’s important to you and your child.  Have this very important conversation on a continuous basis!

Set boundaries.  It doesn't make sense, but children want boundaries and rules and regulations.  First, they want to know that you care enough about them that you want them to be safe from danger or risk.  Setting boundaries protects them.  Second, it gives them reason to see that some things are right and some things are wrong.

Have “the talk.”  Parents play an important role in giving information to their child about sex because they are the ones who care the most.  When parents have gradual conversations over a period of many years, their child is more likely to remain abstinent.  This subject is too important to be confined to a single conversation.


*TN Code Annotated, Section 49-6-1301

Ways to Reduce Stress for New Moms and Dads

Ways to Reduce Stress for New Moms/Dads:

As you are welcoming that beautiful, new baby into your hearts and home, there may be a little stress added!  You will have to consider the needs and desires of another person in your family.  There may be the need to find ways to cut costs or stretch the household budget, juggle work schedules, get some sleep, share in the physical and emotional caring for the newborn, keep the house clean, and prepare for the visitors that are wanting to see and hold your baby!  Whew!!!!!! How do you deal with all of this?  Well, here are some ways to help you try to reduce that stress when things begin to feel overwhelming.  If you’re smart, you will start planning and/or using these stress reducers before baby arrives.

1. Listen to relaxing music.
2. Call a friend that will be encouraging.
3. Eat a balanced diet.  Stress and diet are related.
4. Try slow, deep, breathes for a few minutes.
5. Laugh.  It releases endorphins that improve mood.
6. Sip some green tea.
7. Meditate on positive ideas or scripture.
8. Exercise, even for a few minutes.
9. Sleep 7-8 hrs. ,if possible.
10. Maintain your perspective that this phase will pass!

1.  Develop a plan with your partner-topics like:  Visiting in-laws, Who’s getting up in the middle of the night?  How do you feel about letting baby cry?
2. Postpone other major projects or changes for baby’s first year.
3. Plan for baby’s arrival before baby’s arrival.  What about date nights?  Do we have a competent sitter?
4. Rethink your priorities. 
5. Prepare easy meals.
6. Get hugs from your partner.  Stay connected!!!!
7. Balance information from the internet, not everything is right for your family.
8. Don’t compare your child with someone else’s.
9. Sleep when baby sleeps.
10. Don’t try to be a “Super” mom or dad.
11. Rotate night duty if possible.
12. Don’t dwell in guilt about what you haven’t done or do not have for baby.

If you will follow some of these simple guidelines, you may discover that parenting doesn’t have to be overwhelming.  If you find that you or your partner can not seem to get relief from stress or anxiety, it may be time to consult a counselor or physician.  Please remember that in order to raise a healthy, happy baby, you will need a healthy perspective yourself.

Isn't the Inside More Important Than the Outside?

Who Are You?

Who are you?  Is it reflected in how you dress?  Are you beautiful, creative, smart, athletic… fabulous?  Is that reflected in how you dress?  Or are you sexy, provocative…slutty?  Is that reflected in how you dress?  This isn't just another written piece about “modesty.”  That’s an old-fashioned word, anyway.  This focus on is dressing “appropriately” as you get ready to go back to school.

Society places a lot of value on how we look.  Which is kinda funny because when people are asked, they say that inner beauty is much more important…mainly because the outer beauty fades away.  Have we lost what it’s like to value how we are on the inside?  Young women today are vibrant, smart, creative, athletic, loyal, funny…and the list goes on.  So, do you want to be judged on character traits or how you look?  Do you want people to describe you on how you look?  Like “blonde, slutty looking and slightly big?”  Or do you want other people to know your abilities, intellect, emotions, creativity?

Today’s young woman wants people to judge them on their ability, talent and personality.  They know that the way you act and dress tells the world a lot about you.  If you dress with dignity and self-respect, that’s the way others are going to see you.  And its how others are going to treat you at school, in the workplace and in public…with dignity and respect.  Likewise, if you dress sexy and provocative, that’s the way others are going to see you.  So take the time to look at your wardrobe and how you present yourself.

Modern fashion is designed for sex appeal, but you don’t have to buy into the notion that you have to look sexy when you step out.  There’s a difference between looking sexy and looking trendy.  You can find plenty of clothes that look cute and trendy without looking sexy.  Challenge yourself to find cute and trendy clothes that are appropriate or that you can make appropriate.  Challenge yourself to not show a lot of skin:  your midriff, cleavage, etc.  Maybe you’ll put together an outfit that doesn't show your bra straps or spaghetti straps by adding a tank under that particular top.  A cami goes a long way to help a low cut top.  Channel your inner stylist and put together your own outfits!

People in the fashion industry are beginning to take notice that young women want to change the way they view fashion.  One woman, who is a fashion industry veteran, encourages girls to think that what you wear shows others what you are, “if you dress sexy, you’re going to attract sex and if you dress lovely, you’re going to attract love.”   Do you really want to draw attention to yourself based on sex appeal?  

When you walk out the door, are you dressed appropriately?  Take a look at what you’re wearing and see if that communicates who you really are.  First impressions really do matter.

Meet Laura Messick, Portico's Executive Director

Meet Laura Messick who is the Executive Director of Portico.  She also happens to be one of the founders of Portico.  Here’s her story.

This is what I do at Portico…As Executive Director, I am responsible for all aspects of what goes on at Portico which includes setting and implementing the vision and goals, all of our programs, advertising and marketing, donor relations, and fundraising.  Fortunately, we have great program directors, wonderful office staff and dedicated volunteers who all make things flow smoothly which makes my job so much easier! 

The favorite part of my job is…It gives me joy knowing that people leave here feeling loved and encouraged.

The story of what brought me to Portico…I am one of the founders of Portico, so I’ve been here since the beginning.  Several of us had a desire to have a place where women could come and feel loved, encouraged and empowered to make the best decision possible during difficult circumstances.

When I’m not at work, I like to…read, go to movies, hang out with my husband and our friends, and visit my grandchildren in Missouri and Texas as often as possible!

My favorite quote is…

“He has told you, o man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”  Micah 6:8

If I could eat or drink just one thing for the rest of my life it would be…mint chocolate chip ice cream and sweet Mickie D’s tea!

No matter how hard I try, I just can’t…Draw.  I don’t have an artistic bone in my body!

What I love about living in Murfreesboro is the…I love that it still has a small town feel, but is big enough that we have great shopping, restaurants and other amenities.

Last word…Sometimes life is really hard, and it's difficult to deal with by yourself.  Having someone to listen and encourage you can make a tough situation easier to walk through.  We want you to know you really do matter to us at Portico.

The Influence of Sexual Activity on the Brain

We always want to think about sexual activity as being an exclusive event that’s being caused by our emotions...straight from the heart!  We want to be caught up in the romance, right?  However, the brain plays a significant role in our sexual activity.  When the brain receives an “attraction” signal, which by the way doesn't take long at all, certain chemicals and hormones will be released.  When we engage in sexual activity, additional hormonal release is present.  These chemical/hormonal releases are pretty powerful and hold a strong influence over our behavior and thinking, even for our future.

Pheromones are chemicals released in human males.  Females unconsciously detect these and they influence her attraction and sexual satisfaction with the male.

Estrogen is released in females with an increase right before ovulation.  It drives the female’s desire for sexual intimacy and may make her attractive to many men.

Dopamine is sometimes called the reward signal.  It mediates pleasure in the brain.  It is released during pleasurable or exciting events such as sexual activity.  Unfortunately, dopamine can’t determine healthy from unhealthy acts or occasional from habitual to addictive acts!

It seems that two very strong brain events always seem to happen during sex.   One of those activities is attachment or bonding to the sexual partner.  The other is the desire for repetition of the sexual acts.

During intercourse there is a large release of oxytocin in the female brain.  According to some of the research, oxytocin evokes feelings of contentment, reduction in anxiety, feelings of calmness and security around the mate, social bonding and trust.  Estrogen stimulates the role of oxytocin and helps intensify the desire for bonding.

Males also have the release of oxytocin.  And even though men are sometimes portrayed as individuals who do not attach to their sexual partners, they really do but in a different manner than a woman.

Vasopressin is another hormone released in the male brain.  It promotes a desire in him to stay with his mate after intercourse, a protective sense about her, and protection of his territory and his offspring!

We need to remember that as young adults the brain is still developing in the prefrontal cortex.  That is important because this is where judgment and rational behavior, controlling our impulses and being able to understand the rules of social behavior occurs.

So, you can see that as young adults, below mid-twenties, we may exhibit poor judgment in terms of sexual behavior and not even realize the consequences ( physically, socially, emotionally) of random sexual activity with numerous partners.

It was suggested by one article that repetitive bonding and separation may leave an individual compromised in terms of being able to establish a long term relationship-finding the lessening of oxytocin in the current relationship not satisfying.  They feel the need to “move on” to the next partner. This is sad in light of the fact that there are many benefits to monogamous, long-term, relationships according to research.

So, the next time you find yourself being swept away in the passion of the moment, consider the consequences!  Use your brain...seek out that rational friend that always helps in the tough decisions.  If you can’t get a hold of her, call us here at Portico.  We are always willing to hear your story and guide you to some healthy choices.

Information provided by Portico's nurse manager Candi Harrelson, RN utilizing the following references:

· Freda Bush, M.D.  “Unintended Consequences:  HIV and Sexually Transmitted Diseases.”  Light University.

· Magon, Navneet and Kalra, Sanjay, “The orgasmic history of oxytocin: Love, lust, and labor.”  www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles

· O’Brien, Kelly, “Oxytocin, Vasopressin and a Tale of Two Voles.”  www.thenewviewonsex.blogspot.com/2008/04

When Should I Leave This Relationship?

When Should I Leave This Relationship?

There aren’t any perfect relationships.  Every relationship will encounter some difficult times.  We can’t really compare our relationships to our friends’ relationships.  Some have more difficulties than others.  So, how do we know when to get out of a relationship? Let’s take a look at some red flags that indicate a very “rocky road” ahead!

Do you have a relationship with someone that is on the “fast track?”  Even though you have only been dating for a few weeks, he wants to spend the night with you.  He keeps applying pressure to stay or move in with you.  You know that living together doesn’t equal a stable, long-term commitment.  It’s more likely that there will be “affairs,” break-ups, potential for STD’s, and children with emotional problems.  It’s less likely that you will get married.  It’s decision time!

Do you have a relationship with someone that is demanding sexual activity?  You had decided to save sex for marriage after the last painful relationship.  Now, here you are again being pressured to go further physically than you intended.  You realize that if you wait to have sex, you can avoid STDs, early pregnancy, and the emotional trauma of an ended partnership.  It’s decision time!  If your partner is unwilling to respect your decision to wait, it’s time to get out.

Do you have a relationship with a leach?  Does your boyfriend live with you, but can’t seem to ever find or keep a job?  He’s comfortable and has many reasons why he hasn’t found one.  He spends most of his time at home while you work.  There is no shared responsibility.  He has food, a place to live, and likes the sexual relationship.  He’s nice but lacks respect and love.  It’s decision time.  It’s time to have him move out, get a job, and plan for marriage if this relationship is to thrive.

Although it can really be hard to remove yourself from a relationship, sometimes it’s the only thing to do.  Here are a few examples of when you need to just get out:

1. Verbal and/or physical abuse

2. Unfaithful partner

3. Relationship is based solely on sexual activity

4. You are being used for housing, food, and sexual activity

Lastly, if you are living with someone, make the commitment to stand before witnesses and get married.  Demonstrate to yourself and your partner that you love and respect them.  You plan on a long-term commitment with the best friend you’ll ever have.


*Some of the information in this article was revised from:
*”When Is It Time To Get Out?, 2010 Heritage House ’76,Inc.

Things To Do With the Kids This Summer

Surviving Summer with the Kids...

I find it ironic that the title of this blog is “Surviving Summer with the Kids,” since my favorite time of year is summer and my favorite people in the world are kids.  Summer and kids make me happy!  As I thought about this blog, my thoughts were drawn to my own childhood summers…to playing outside all day with friends, to freezer pops, to making mud pies, to running through the sprinklers, to catching lightning bugs, and to falling into bed at night exhausted from the day’s activities.  I remember spending days and hours on a lawn trailer with one of my friends.  That trailer was a boat, and we were pirates or stranded on a deserted island.  That trailer was a castle, and we were princesses getting ready for the big dance.  The amazing thing about that trailer is it was something different every day, and we were someone different every day.   I also think of the summer days with my children when they were growing up.  Surprisingly, memories of their summer days are very similar to mine. 

So how do you survive summer with the kids?  Remember your childhood summer days.  Remember what it was like to run through the grass barefooted, and even how someone took care of you when you got stung by a bee.   Share those experiences with your children.  Laugh.  Create memories.  Start a new tradition. 

A few days ago, I found a plaque which I think sums up how to thrive, not survive, through the summer with your amazing children.  Remember the Bible says, “Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.”   Realize how blessed you are to have this summer to spend with your children, and . . .


Ride Bikes...

Kiss your mom (and your kids)...

Pick dandelions...


Build a blanket fort...

Play dress up...

Wish upon a star...

Jump in mud puddles...

Catch fireflies (lightning bugs)...


Watch the clouds...

And by all means, make some mud pies!

Meet Laura Brown

Get to know Laura Brown, serving patients at Portico for 13 years

Job Title… Patient Services Director

This is what I do at Portico… I talk with and listen to our patients as they come in for pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, parenting lessons, to shop for baby items or attend our support groups.  I try to encourage, empower them and offer them hope and unconditional love.  I also train our peer counselor volunteers, and encourage them as they minister to our patients as well.

The favorite part of my job is… I absolutely love my job!  I love being able to connect with patients and encourage them in a difficult time of their lives.  I love knowing that God uses someone like me and my experiences to give them hope.  Another favorite part of my job is the relationships that I have with the volunteers and staff and being able to see how God uses each of their stories to pair them with the client He wants them to speak with.

The story of what brought me to Portico… I became pregnant when I was 15 years old.  I was offered hope through Jesus and encouragement that He could still do something wonderful with my life.  And with the help and encouragement of my parents and others in my life, I was able to continue with the goals that I had for myself.  I was able to turn my life around, and God has blessed me beyond measure. And what I thought at the time was the “end of my life,” turned out to be one of the best things that has ever happened to me.  Since then, I have always wanted to offer that same hope to others who might be going through many of the same things I did.  I completed my internship here when I was in college, and I continued volunteering for over a year until it became my full time job in 2003. 

When I’m not at work, I like to… Spend time with my husband and two sons.  And I enjoy photography as well.

My favorite quote is… “For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day. For poise, walk with the knowledge you'll never walk alone. People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anybody.”  -attributed to Audrey Hepburn

If I could eat or drink one thing for the rest of my life it would be… Hmmm it’s close…. water and vegetables or a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard :)

What I love about living in Murfreesboro is the… I love that it is so family-oriented.  I also love that all of my family lives here as well as my City Church community.

Last word… Portico staff and volunteers sincerely love and want the best for the women, men and children who come through our doors.  We really do believe that every person is special, unique and has great potential.  Portico truly cares about the chapters in each person’s life and believes there are many whose story is not yet finished being written…

Five Keys to a Healthy Relationship

Relationships matter...but let's face it, they are HARD!  So, here are some “key” principles that will provide a foundation for a healthy relationship!
  1. Commitment
    Loyalty.  Being reliable.  Commitment is choosing to work together through the good times and the bad times.  Commitment is a daily choice that you make whether you feel like it or not.  Commitment is #1 on this list because it applies to all the other “keys.”
  2. Honesty
    Honesty builds trust.  And healthy relationships require trust from both partners.  It is difficult for us to connect with someone if we don’t trust them.  Sometimes it’s easy to think we’re protecting someone we love by keeping things from them.  We tell ourselves, “It’s not technically a lie. More like an omission.”  But in many cases, the truth eventually comes out, and the doubt and distrust it brings into the relationship is more painful than if we had addressed it early on. 
  3. Communication
    Effective communication involves many different aspects.  Part of good communication is being able to give voice to your thoughts and feelings.  Communication also includes body language and tone of voice.  People largely interpret what you say based on your tone and your body language.  (Perhaps this is why there is so much miscommunication in the digital world.)  Sometimes we associate talking with communication, but it isn't all about talking. It’s also about listening. Is it a coincidence that listen and silent have the same letters? (Probably, but it makes for a cool quote to put on Pinterest.) 
  4. Self-control 
    You may not be able to stop yourself from feeling certain things, but you can control your response to those feelings.  Self-control is not about repressing or denying your thoughts or feelings, but about choosing to act in the best interest of the relationship.

Maybe it means controlling the way you speak to your partner. Not calling each other names when you’re angry. “YOU ARE SUCH AN ANGEL!  I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU WOULD DO THAT BEHIND MY BACK, YOU BEAUTIFUL CREATURE!”  Ok, those may not be the names you’re calling each other, but you get the idea.  Self-control helps us communicate our feelings without lashing out in violence, whether that violence is verbal or physical.

If you’re in a romantic relationship, maybe it means controlling how you interact with other people you find yourself attracted to.  Not giving any room for even the possibility of pursuing that other person.

Or maybe it just means not eating the last cookie because you want your loved one to have it… Now that’s control, people.

  1. Love
    Love is a choice.  It’s not just a feeling.  The decision to love someone is a commitment.  Loving someone is wanting to see them succeed in life, and offering your help along the way.  This is one of my favorite descriptions of love from The Message:

“Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.”

Putting them to good use:
For a healthy relationship, both parties need to be on the same page.  If one person is 100% committed to these key principles, but the other is only 60%, it won’t work effectively.  It’s also important to note these qualities don’t just apply to romantic relationships.  They definitely do, but they also apply to our relationships with our friends, our co-workers, our families.

What are some other “key” principles that are important in your relationships?

Let The Dog Days of Summer Officially Begin!

The end of school marks the unofficial beginning of summer…SWEET SUMMER!  We can all relate to the excitement of the end of a school year, but there’s nothing quite like the feeling of fun, carefree days ahead.  As adults, we have the responsibility of managing our kids’ free summer days.  Hopefully, you’re able to plan some memorable activities with your kids.  Does it have to cost a lot of money?  Nope.  Usually, the most special moments have been the simplest. 

Movies Under the Stars in Murfreesboro…family-oriented flicks that will be shown at 8:30 p.m. between June 2 and July 21.  The free outdoor shows are Monday:  Cason Lane Trailhead; Tuesday:  Cannonsburgh Village; Thursday:  Siegel Neighborhood Park; Friday:  Mitchell-Neilson Primary; and Saturday:  Hobgood Elementary School.

Linebaugh Library Summer Reading Program and Events…June 2nd is the summer reading kick-off.  To see the calendar of events, visit their website

Friday Night Live Concert Series…on the square June 6, July 4, Aug 1 and Sept 5th from 6:30-9:30pm

Main Street Saturday Market…on the square every Saturday 8am-noon, June through Oct.

Saturday Morning Stories at the Museum…connect with history on June 7, July 5, Aug 2, Sept 7, Oct 4 and Nov 1!  Cozy up for a story in the Sam Davis Home Visitor Center and participate in a related craft.  Story time begins at 10:30 a.m. and is free of charge.  No reservations required.

Boat Day with Stones River Watershed Association…June 28th, 9:00 a.m. until noon, at the Manson Pike Trailhead.  Learn boating basics, paddling strokes and boat safety while you try out different types of canoes and kayaks with help from volunteers from Stones River Watershed Association.  Paddles and personal flotation devices will be provided.  For more information, call 615-893-2141.

Bicycle Tours of Stones River National Battlefield…join a ranger for a 90-minute bicycle tour of the battlefield, 9am every Saturday.  For more info, see www.nps.gov/stri

Hallowed Ground Lantern Tours of Stones River National Cemetery…for more info, see www.nps.gov/stri

June 7 (make reservations 6/2) – tour time:  7:45 PM

June 21 (make reservations 6/16) – tour time:  7:45 PM

July 5 (make reservations 6/30) – tour time:  7:45 PM

July 19 (make reservations 7/14) – tour time:  7:45 PM

August 2 (make reservations 7/28) – tour time:  7:30 PM

August 16 (make reservations 8/11) – tour time:  7:15 PM

August 30 (make reservations 8/25) – tour time:  7 PM

Celebration Under the Stars…July 4th at McKnight Park.  For more information, please call Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation Department, (615) 890-5333.

Uncle Dave Macon Days Ole-Time Music Festival…July 11-13 at Cannonsburgh Village.

TN State Barrel Racing Championships…Aug 15-16 at The Heritage Center on West Thompson Lane in Murfreesboro.  See website.

Cowboy Mounted Shooting Eastern Championships…Aug 29-Sept 6 at Tennessee Miller Coliseum on West Thompson Lane.  See website.

Last, but not least…it’s always cool on The Murfreesboro Greenway System!  Take a picnic lunch and explore all our greenway has to offer.  Be sure to download the Greenway Scavenger Hunt before you go for some family fun.

Start planning your summer.  We’ll see you around town!


Dating the Bad Boy


Does the image of dating a “bad boy” hold some appeal for you?  After all, if you watch that wide screen that handsome, angry, hostile, troubled, hunk recognizes his mistakes and the pain he’s caused.  Doesn’t he begin to correct his mistakes, apologize profusely and do a complete personality makeover in just thirty minutes?  Okay, maybe an hour? It would be great if it was that simple, right?  

Dating a “bad boy” can be equated to being in a high-risk relationship.  That means that the relationship could expose you to real danger or serious problems.  It’s like putting yourself in an unreliable roller coaster car.  Sure, there may be some thrilling moments during the ride, but you never know when your car is going to derail!!!  You never know what the damage is going to be.

Let’s take a look at some of the behaviors that a “bad boy” might have.  Then, seriously consider if you really want to team up with someone like this.  A partner with:

1.  Heavy usage of drugs and/or alcohol

2. Anger management problems resulting in destructive behavior

3. Dominating power and control issues

4. Physically and verbally abusive behavior

5. Addiction(s)-Alcohol, drug, gambling, etc.

6. Untreated psychological disorders

7. Criminal behavior

Young men with these kinds of problems didn’t develop them overnight.  They won’t be resolved in a period of thirty minutes.  Your kindness, deep love and affection for these guys will not change their behavior.  They will require professional care that should last months to years.

Be careful out there friends.  We want you to be safe and healthy.  Make safe and healthy decisions when it comes to close relationships.  Don’t ignore the risks of dating the “bad boy!”

Please call Portico if you want to talk about a relationship or need a referral.  We are here to listen.

Nurses Help at Portico Every Step of the Way

Nurses at Portico personally serve young women by assisting with pregnancy testing, counseling, ultrasound and prenatal assessments on-site.  May 6 starts National Nurses Week so we recognize the contributions that our own nurses make to the women who seek help at Portico.  In addition to volunteering in their spare time, our nurses are credentialed as Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs), Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSNs) and Registered Nurses (RNs) working in local healthcare facilities.  

In general, registered nurses manage and provide patient care, are involved in patient education, and offer advice and emotional support to their patients and families.  While our nurses work in hospitals and doctors’ offices full-time, they are also loving moms, wives and caregivers to family and friends.  Here’s a glimpse into their personal lives:

What are your hobbies?

Debbie Richmond – “hiking, traveling, music and cooking.”

Ophelia Langford – “gardening, foreign missions, Bible study.”

On the most rewarding part of volunteering at Portico:

Wendi Roper - “serving with such wonderful people.”

Nila Casto – “being able to show the miracle of life and how awesome it is and how precious life is.”

Tell what you love most about Murfreesboro:

Ophelia Langford – “the presence of the Lord lived out in the hearts of this community.”

Candi Harrelson - "availability of activities and services by friendly people without the overwhelming 'big city' feel."

What does your day look like when you’re not at Portico:

Debbie Richmond – “working at SurgiCenter providing anesthesia.”

Nila Casto – “running errands, helping a friend with Alzheimer’s, placing Bibles and visiting the sick.”

What is something that you just can’t do no matter how hard you try?

Ophelia Langford – “play basketball.”

Debbie Richmond – “sing.”

Nila Casto – “stay on a good exercise program.”

Last word:

Wendi Roper – “in my job as a nurse and in my service at Portico, I always try to treat people with love and respect.  It is important to speak the truth, but equally important to treat a person like a ‘person who has a story that matters.’”

Portico honors these nurses and recognize their caring service to this community.  “Nurses:  Leading the Way” is the 2014 theme for National Nurses Week and at Portico, they are here to help every step of the way…


If you are a nurse and would like to volunteer at Portico, please contact Portico's Nurse Manager Candi Harrelson at 893.0228 or candi.harrelson@PorticoStory.org

Six Ways To Manage Pregnancy Nausea

Some women have problems with nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.  Moms may wake up with a queasy feeling.  Some may develop nausea later in the afternoon or evening.  Others may have episodes of nausea randomly throughout the day.  Whatever the case, let’s explore ways to combat those waves whenever they hit you. 

  1. Sometimes, having a little food “on board” at frequent intervals is the best choice for your meal planning.  Six small meals a day rather than the usual morning, noon, and night schedule will be better for you. 
  2. Carry healthy snack foods in your purse or backpack so that when you begin to feel sick, you can reach for something quickly and not have to rely on a specific location or others to help you out.  Many grocery stores carry prepackaged fruit, vegetables, and other foods in an individualized container.  Check it out!
  3. If your nausea hits you the first thing in the morning, try these ideas.  At night before you go to bed, eat a snack high in protein.  Another idea is to place some crackers at your bedside so before you even get out of bed, you can munch on a few.
  4. Be sure to avoid foods that have strong tastes or odors.  Avoid restaurants and markets that you know have powerful smells or food prepared with something that is not even agreeable on your best day.
  5. When taking your prenatal vitamin, make sure you have eaten something and take it with a glass of water.  If it increases your nausea, try taking it at night before you go to bed.
  6. If your nausea is constant and results in frequent vomiting, you will need to check with your obstetrician for other solutions he/she might recommend.  In cases of severe nausea and vomiting over a 24 hour period, notify your physician immediately.  Emergency measures may be needed.

For many pregnant moms, the nausea will subside after the first trimester.

*Remember to always consult your healthcare provider before trying any “special remedies” suggested by friends or family members.  Those of you with special health or dietary needs or chronic health problems prior to pregnancy need to closely adhere to the advice of your physician.  The goal is to help you with personal discomforts while maintaining a healthy pregnancy.  

Information provided by Portico's Nurse Manager Candi Harrelson, RN.  You should always follow the personal health plan designed by your doctor.

Meet One of The CORE's Friends...

The CORE is the character education program of Portico being presented to elementary-aged children in the Murfreesboro City Schools.  Each quarter, a character value such as honesty, respect or cooperation is presented during a high energy assembly of music, interactive games and skits.  To reinforce the lesson, classroom instruction is also offered.    The three “core” values for life taught in this program are:  treat others right, make smart decisions, and maximize your potential.

An added benefit to us at The CORE is being able to meet and work with many wonderful people.  One of these new friends is Laura Davis, School Counselor at Cason Lane Academy.  Mrs. Davis has been a school counselor for 26 years, serving 20 of those at Cason Lane.  Her favorite part of working as a school counselor is interacting with the elementary students, faculty, other staff and parents.  We asked Mrs. Davis to describe a typical day for a school counselor.  She stated “there is no typical day being a school counselor.  There is always something new, each and every day.”  She gave examples of students being bullied at school or on the bus or parents meeting about teachers.  Mrs. Davis said, “Being a school counselor is very intense and extremely busy.”

Originally from Memphis, TN, Laura has lived in Murfreesboro for 30 years.  She likes Murfreesboro because it is a mid-sized town, it’s close to Nashville, the weather is okay most of the time, and she works here.  When she isn’t working, she likes walking her dogs, gardening and crocheting.

Regarding The CORE Character Education Program assemblies and classroom presentations, Mrs. Davis says, “Assemblies are enjoyed by the younger students of Cason Lane.  The volunteers are so energetic, amazing, and they are role models for the students.  It gives our students hope that they can do it as well.  Presentations are helpful after the assemblies because they give the students a more in-depth concept of what the assemblies really mean.”

In Mrs. Davis’ final comments, she states that The CORE is an amazing program.  Cason Lane Academy reinforces the character traits every day by repeating them in the morning announcements, sending home the parent newsletters, and making sure teachers are talking about the values in their classrooms.  Mrs. Davis believes The CORE is very flexible with the crazy scheduling that schools have and she says, “They always seem to make it work.”  Next year she plans to focus the assemblies more toward the third and fourth graders.

It is a pleasure to work with Mrs. Davis as we help children in the Murfreesboro community build character by learning to treat others right, make smart decisions and maximize their potential.  If you would like more information on The CORE or would like to volunteer for the program, contact Tammy Burrow at 867-3900 or email us.

What Can You Do During Spring Break?

After the long winter we've had, who isn't excited about spring?  For teachers and students, spring break provides a much needed rest before the upcoming testing season.  For some parents, however, spring break brings questions of what to do when all the children are home together.  Portico’s character education program, The CORE, which provides assembly and classroom presentations to elementary students in the Murfreesboro City Schools, has some suggestions for how to enjoy spring break with your children.

Our core value this current quarter is FORGIVENESS – deciding that someone who has wronged you doesn't have to pay.  Check out the Parent Page on our website, www.TheCoreTN.org, for a copy of our Parent Newsletter, which is full of ideas and activities to do with your children at home.  You’ll also find a book list of recommended books, by age, about forgiveness.  Take a trip to the library together and see if you can find a few of these then have your children share what they've learned from their reading.  For those of us who like planting and gardening, the “Tips for Teaching about Forgiveness” section at the bottom of the Parent Page provides a great way to connect planting seeds with practicing forgiveness.  Pick up a few seed packs, allow the kids to dig up some dirt, and plant some special memories together.  This is especially fun because you will continue to create special memories as you care for your plants and watch them grow together.

Our color this quarter at The CORE is green.  When we "go green" it means that we become aware of the environment and look for ways to improve it. This month we will help spread that message.  Kroger and Publix Stores in Murfreesboro have donated 1,500 paper bags for an awesome project.  Fourth and/or sixth grade students in Murfreesboro City Schools will decorate paper grocery bags with environmental messages or pictures of the earth during The CORE's classroom presentations.  The bags will be returned to the grocery stores for use on Earth Day, April 22.  If your children would like to participate in the Earth Day Groceries Project, we have extra bags at the Portico office at 745 S. Church Street, Suite 801.  Take them home, decorate them and return to Portico by the end of the week.  Then, make sure you ask for paper bags when you shop at Kroger or Publix on or after April 22.  For more Information, go to Earth Day Groceries Project at www.earthdaybags.org.

Lanes, Trains and Automobiles is hosting a spring break fundraising event for The CORE.  On Monday, March 31; Wednesday, April 2; and Friday, April 4, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. they are offering unlimited bowling, laser tag and bumper car fun for $15.  A donation will be made to The CORE for everyone that comes.  Have fun with your children and help raise funds to continue character education in public schools. 

Enjoy your spring break!  Remember that children don’t stay children long…cherish every moment.

Recognize the Best in Your Child

As we begin to think about the end of another school year, everyone looks forward to receiving that one piece of memorabilia that will forever remind us of the 2013-2014 school year -- the school yearbook.  On yearbook distribution day, we can’t wait to open the book and see how many pictures we made it into and laugh about those pictures with our friends.  We ask as many people as we can if they will sign our yearbook, even saving whole pages for special people, hopeful with anticipation that what they write will be a true description of who we really are.  In the yearbook, a few people are highlighted for their academic or sports accomplishments.  A few more are honored for their artistic ability or for serving in a civic club.  And a select few are chosen as superlatives, the best of the best. 

When my daughter was in eighth grade, she came home in tears on the day superlatives were chosen.  She didn't understand why she wasn't chosen for most school spirit, even though she was a cheerleader and cheered her team on at every game.  She knew she was smart, but she wasn't chosen as superlative in academics.  She had goals and dreams for her life, but those who voted for superlatives overlooked those as they made their choices for most likely to succeed.  As a parent, I could never bear to see my child’s heart broken, so her brother and I decided to present her with Superlatives that Really Matter.  The next day, when she came home from school, we had a special superlative party, complete with cake, just for her.  She was voted Most Wonderful Daughter, Super Sister, Best Toddler Sunday School Teacher (yes, she taught Sunday School in eighth grade), Best Baby Sitter, Most Fun To Play With, Most Talented, Heart of Kindness, Most Willing To Help, Most Likely to Achieve Your Goals, Most Beautiful Inside and Out, Best Annie The Red Headed Doll (a role in a play), Most Sensitive and Most Special Gift from God.  I will never forget her face as she was being told how special, how SUPERLATIVE, she really is. 

At Portico, we believe every person is valuable and has a purpose.  Every child is a superlative.  Parents, tell your children how valuable they are every day.  Show your children how much you love them.  If possible, be there when your children wake up, when they come home from school and when they go to bed.  Pay attention to your child’s gifts and talents and point them out to your child.  Be your child’s biggest cheerleader.  And when they mess up or become discouraged, remind your children that they are a special gift from God.

The New You During Pregnancy

What's happening to the ME I used to know?

You’re pregnant and now your body is not what it was just a few months ago.  How do you deal with this new image and all the emotional ups and downs that go with it?

First of all, if you are a person that has always had a great self- image, this may not be that much of a personal hurdle to overcome.  Research indicates that women with a good self- image before pregnancy are better prepared to accept the changes of pregnancy.  However, there is always good information out there to keep you on the right track of thinking.

Secondly, for those of you that may have had self -doubts, and times of “self- loathing ,” the transformation taking place may be putting some extra stress on your already fragile ego.*
Let’s take a look at some of the Positive ways to think about and deal with those visible and not so visible changes going on inside of you!

1.  Educate yourself!  Check it out---what do all these changes in me mean?  A good reference manual on pregnancy will guide you through how the baby is developing and how your body prepares itself to accommodate this precious guest.  Try to view yourself as part of a wonderful process.

2. Socialize.  Don’t hide from your partner, family, or friends.  If they are your support network, share your feelings and doubts with them.  Let them reward you with encouraging words and acts of kindness.  Find other pregnant moms to talk to.  Chances are that you will find a lot in common.  Meet up with your peers for a “girls night.”

3. Wear clothes that are flattering.  Accentuate that baby bump.  Be celebratory about your pregnancy!

4. Concentrate on things that give you an emotional lift.  A new hair style, make-up, trendy jewelry, and fresh nail polishes are just a few ideas that give you a lift.

5. Exercise.  If you are a healthy mom without restrictions during pregnancy, remember that walking, mild exercise, and swimming are activities to enjoy.

6. Focus on being flexible.  You know that for a total of nine months the progressive physical changes that are occurring are out of your control.   You can monitor your progress, be positive and have forward thinking.  Do some goal setting for personal achievement after the baby is born.  This will help you keep things in perspective.

After you deliver that beautiful baby, rest and recovery are keys to a positive self -image.  Follow the advice of your doctor.  It will be specific to your personal needs. 


*If you are experiencing prolonged periods of sadness, and discouragement please seek the help of a counselor, clergy, or mental health care provider.

Portico Volunteers Take Spotlight in Murfreesboro

Portico partners with other organizations in the Rutherford County community that want to make a difference in the lives of those who live here.  We do that because in lots of different ways, relationships matter…between people and even among organizations.  Volunteer Rutherford is one of those organizations.  Their stated mission is “to build a stronger community through encouraging volunteer service and helping connect the citizens of Rutherford County to opportunities in which they can meet critical needs and make a difference.”

Volunteer Rutherford has the county’s best listing of charitable and service organizations for you to check out.  You can focus your effort toward a non-profit organization of your choosing and be connected to it through the Volunteer Rutherford website.  Many of the organizations list their monetary, technology, clothing, office and miscellaneous needs at the website.  Additionally, non-profits may list upcoming events.

A highlight of the organization is the Volunteer of the Week program that recognizes the dedicated volunteers of these partner organizations.  Portico supplied Volunteer Rutherford with the very first Volunteer of the Week…our very own Jennie Miller who works in the Baby Boutique!  Jennie, in her own words, “take(s) care of all the material donations that come into Portico organizing them for clients to purchase.”  Yes, our Baby Boutique is an important part of the experience for expectant and new moms at Portico.  Thanks to Jennie, it’s clean, neat and organized!

Portico is privileged in that a second volunteer has been chosen as the Volunteer of the Week in January 2014…Sherry Coate, one of our very dedicated counselors.  Sherry is involved directly helping our clients realize that there is hope and support for them and their baby.  And Sherry’s been doing it for more than 8 years!

Thank you to Volunteer Rutherford for bringing so many people together in Rutherford County.  If you’d like to be a volunteer at Portico, check out our Portico website, see how you can help, and get in touch with us! 

Volunteer Rutherford is an independent company that has no official affiliation with any specific non-profit organization.  


Five Things You Should Know About the STD HPV

Five Things You Should Know About Human Papillomavirus (HPV)


There is a lot of information floating around out there about genital HPV.  Physicians and others are continuing to sort out this data so the public will be informed and can make wise choices.  So, meanwhile, let’s focus on some of the “known's” about this STD, sexually transmitted disease.

  1. This STD is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact and the only way to prevent it is to avoid direct contact with the virus.
  2. Condoms do not fully protect against HPV because the virus can infect other areas not covered by the condom.
  3. Anyone who has had genital contact with another person could potentially contract genital HPV and give it to another without even knowing it.
  4. Current studies indicate that the highest rates of genital HPV infections are occurring in young females, often of college age.
  5. For many women HPV will resolve on its own in weeks or months.  However, if it does not, there is a possibility that over a period of time it may cause cervical cancer.


Please be wise and value yourself as a person worthy of respect.  Your health is important to you now as well as in the future.  No amount of cleaning, douching, or meticulous toileting behaviors will prevent HPV.  If you are a woman, it is important to have a Pap test as part of your medical check-up.  Live your life as if every day matters-because it does!

Information provided by Portico's Nurse Manager Candi Harrelson, RN

Meet Susan

Get to know Susan Louthan, a long-time Asitia volunteer who has become Portico's newest...

Job Title…  Asitia Director

This is what I do at Portico…
As Asitia Director, I coordinate the volunteers’ activities in the classrooms throughout Rutherford County.  Asitia is the abstinence education program of Portico.  We, the volunteers and I, teach the program in 6th, 7th and 8th grades and in high school.  There are five lessons for each grade level.  We present the case for abstinence from sexual activity until marriage.  It is to their advantage that young people wait...  

I’m new to this position so there’s a lot that I don’t even know, yet.  Then, there’s also a bunch of organizational business stuff that I’ll have to do like budgets, ordering supplies, volunteer recruiting, training, etc.

The favorite part of my job is…
Two things:  one, being in the classroom talking with students and two, interacting with and getting to know Asitia volunteers.  I'm thrilled to be doing these!

The story of what brought me to Portico starts with…
A mentoring story that started 10 years ago that became a passion for helping young people protect themselves from pregnancy and STD s which led me to be an Asitia volunteer.  Now, all this time later, I have a love for young people and I present a series of lessons that lead them to make good choices for their lives emotionally and physically.  I pray that I’m having an impact on lives.

When I’m not at work, I like to…  
Be with my family (husband Frank, son Michael and dog Alice).  Ride my bike (bicycle).

My favorite quote is…
These days, it seems to be “Relationships Matter…”

If I could eat or drink just one thing for the rest of my life it would be…
Iced tea and Lay’s Potato Chips (though I realize my life would not last long on these two things).

No matter how hard I try, I just can’t…
Snow ski

What I love about living in Murfreesboro is the…
Small town feel of a Saturday morning farmers’ market with the proximity to a city and surrounding countryside.

Last word…
Portico is a new name, but the people who are the heart of the organization are the same.  The staff and volunteers continue to stand by the core values of the organization:  everyone has value and purpose…we believe in second chances…relationships matter…  

Wanna be a part of this?  You can be a volunteer with Portico or with Asitia or with The Core…just let us know.  Contact us.

Baby Blues?

I just had a baby.... and I cry all the time.

The time leading up to having a baby is full of excitement, uncertainty, and expectations of what we think it will be like to become a mom.  The joys are immeasurable, but the reality is usually far from what our dreams were.  Not because we don’t think that baby is the most wonderful baby to ever grace the earth!  Our baby is beautiful, brilliant, special and unique from all other babies.  But the exhaustion of caring for a baby, coupled with the hormonal changes that you are experiencing, can bring on feelings of failure or inadequacy. You might be experiencing what is commonly called new mother blues, or postpartum depression. You might feel like crying along with baby from time to time.  This is normal and expected!  Here are some things to remember as you adjusting to this new life:

  • Bringing home a new baby is overwhelming.  Suddenly, your time is not your own, and this sweet little baby is totally dependent on you for everything. 
  • The first six weeks or so are the hardest.  You will begin to feel more like yourself as you get to know your baby and her personality, and as you and your baby begin to develop a schedule and a rhythm to your days.
  • Many days in those first few weeks, you won’t get much done other than caring for the baby.  That’s really ok! That is your top priority!
  • You need support and help.  Whether from baby’s father, your mom or sister, or friends, hopefully you have people in your life who are reaching out to you and offering help.  Ask for help if you need it! A few hours of rest or getting out to run some errands on your own can do wonders for your emotions!

Bringing home a baby is one of life’s truly wonderful experiences, but don’t feel guilty or like a failure if you are often fighting the urge to cry during this time of transition.  You have become responsible for another person’s life, and that is a huge adjustment!  Be sure and talk to your doctor or midwife about your feelings and emotions, especially if you feel like it’s becoming worse instead of better.  She will know how to help you if your new mama blues linger on and become more serious.

Motherhood is exhausting…and exhilarating…and exciting all at the same time!  Before you know it, six months will have passed and you’ll wonder how you ever filled your time before baby came to keep you so busy and entertained!

All is Calm, All is Bright
I was with my grandchildren over the Thanksgiving holiday for about 5 days.  Several times we were watching some of their little shows in the morning before their moms and dads got up, and every advertisement was for a different toy.  Little voices would ring out “I want that!” during each ad.  One of my little grands, who is almost 4, walked over to where I was sitting and looked intently in my eyes and said “Gigi, please tell my mama that I want all of those boy things”!  Oh my...what is a parent to do?   How do you make sure your little ones have a Merry Christmas without getting too caught up in the commercial end of things? How do you deal with their unrealistic expectations?

Set the tone that you want to create in your home!  Determine that you are not going to get frantic about every little thing, and they will follow your lead. Do little things to bring some of the magic of Christmas into each day.  I’m not talking about big stuff!  You don’t have to dress them all up in matching plaid outfits and take them to see the lights at Opryland.  Just pile into your car or walk around your neighborhood and look at lights, then come home and drink hot chocolate and sing Christmas Carols!  Bake cookies one night while everyone watches A Charlie Brown Christmas or White Christmas or whatever they choose. Turn out the lights and just sit and look at your tree lights…and talk to them. Create an atmosphere that is calm and peaceful; let them sit in your lap and just tell you whatever they want to tell you.  Tell them what Christmas is really about during those quiet moments.  What they crave more than anything is to be near you and have your undivided attention.

They won’t remember all of those silly commercials on Christmas morning.  Yes, hopefully you can grant one or two of their wishes, but the thing they will make Christmas magical for them is the traditions you create, the atmosphere of warmth and love that they’ll never forget and will want to re-create when they have little ones of their own.  

Love, Gigi


GIVE Yourself a Merry Little Christmas...

            We are “full on” Christmas now that Thanksgiving is over.  Hope your turkey was good…and that your figgy pudding will be good.  In observance of Cyber Monday, we give you our newest way to give/donate to Portico and that’s the Amazon Wish List named Portico Story.  We’ll keep it refreshed with a list of items that are needed by mothers, fathers and babies that we serve.  Click on the link to find out what we’ve listed.  What’s great about this is you can buy it right there on the spot then follow the Amazon check-out procedures.  Most importantly, you can have it delivered directly to Portico, and we’ll receivenotification that you’ve sent the gift…the ultimate on-line shopping experience for us all!

            “What else can I do?” you may ask:  Year-end tax deductible donations are a blessing to us as they will help get 2014 off to a good start.  No gift is too small…or too big!  If your gift is received by December 31, we’ll send you a receipt for your 2013 income tax deduction.  Ever heard of the Baby Bottle Campaign?  Check it out on the Get Involved tab.  You can also make sure that your United Way contributions support Portico (formerly the Pregnancy Support Center).  Furthermore, we accept donations in someone’s honor or memory anytime.

            And, lastly, if you have time to give, look again on the Get Involved tab for information on how to volunteer with Portico or any of its programs like Asitia or the CORE.  We’d love to have you join us!

            BTW…here’s a recipe for figgy pudding  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/warm-sticky-figgy-pudding-recipe/index.html

Keys to a Healthy Relationship

Five keys to great relationships
Relationships matter...but let's face it, they are HARD!  So, here are some “key” principles that will provide a foundation for a healthy relationship!
  1. Commitment
    Loyalty. Being reliable. Commitment is choosing to work together through the good times and the bad times. Commitment is a daily choice that you make whether you feel like it or not. Commitment is #1 on this list because it applies to all the other “keys.”
  2. Honesty
    Honesty builds trust. And healthy relationships require trust from both partners. It is difficult for us to connect with someone if we don’t trust them. Sometimes it’s easy to think we’re protecting someone we love by keeping things from them. We tell ourselves, “It’s not technically a lie. More like an omission.” But in many cases, the truth eventually comes out, and the doubt and distrust it brings into the relationship is more painful than if we had addressed it early on.
  3. Communication
    Effective communication involves many different aspects. Part of good communication is being able to give voice to your thoughts and feelings. Communication also includes body language and tone of voice. People largely interpret what you say based on your tone and your body language. (Perhaps this is why there is so much miscommunication in the digital world.) Sometimes we associate talking with communication, but it isn't all about talking. It’s also about listening. Is it a coincidence that listen and silent have the same letters? (Probably, but it makes for a cool quote to put on Pinterest.) 
  4. Self-control
    You may not be able to stop yourself from feeling certain things, but you can control your response to those feelings. Self-control is not about repressing or denying your thoughts or feelings, but about choosing to act in the best interest of the relationship.

Listen and Silent have the same lettersMaybe it means controlling the way you speak to your partner. Not calling each other names when you’re angry. “YOU ARE SUCH AN ANGEL! I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU WOULD DO THAT BEHIND MY BACK, YOU BEAUTIFUL CREATURE!” Ok, those may not be the names you’re calling each other, but you get the idea. Self-control helps us communicate our feelings without lashing out in violence, whether that violence is verbal or physical.

If you’re in a romantic relationship, maybe it means controlling how you interact with other people you find yourself attracted to. Not giving any room for even the possibility of pursuing that other person.

Or maybe it just means not eating the last cookie because you want your loved one to have it… Now that’s control, people.

  1. Love
    Love is a choice. It’s not just a feeling. The decision to love someone is a commitment. Loving someone is wanting to see them succeed in life, and offering your help along the way. This is one of my favorite descriptions of love from The Message:

“Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.”

Putting them to good use:
For a healthy relationship, both parties need to be on the same page. If one person is 100% committed to these key principles, but the other is only 60%, it won’t work effectively.

It’s also important to note these qualities don’t just apply to romantic relationships. They definitely do, but they also apply to our relationships with our friends, our co-workers, our families.

What are some other “key” principles that are important in your relationships?

Could I be Pregnant?
Here are six clues to help you answer the question:  Could I be pregnant???
  1. Have you missed your menstrual period? It was time, but it didn't happen?
  2. Are you having indigestion, and/or nausea?  Delicious favorites may not be appetizing, while other foods you normally wouldn't eat, sound yummy!
  3. Breasts tender, swollen, or have a tingling sensation?
  4. Do you ever feel dizzy or lightheaded?
  5. Do you think you’re tired all the time?  Has sleeping become a favorite pastime?
  6. Are you a frequent visitor to the bathroom to urinate?

If some or all of these questions seem to describe your lifestyle right now, it might be true.

When we are pregnant our bodies begin to change the hormone activity.  HCG or Human Chorionic Gonadotropin is one of those raging hormones responsible for a few of those “pregnancy” symptoms you may be experiencing.  The queasiness of your stomach or the need to frequent the bathroom can be blamed on the production of HCG.  Our bodies also try to begin adapting to pregnancy.  The “usual’ is no longer the “usual” for many of us.

Soooo, if you want to really begin to know the answer to this question, a pregnancy test should be your next step.
Want a free pregnancy test?  Come and see us at Portico!

Please remember:  a positive pregnancy test followed by an ultrasound will assist your doctor in making a pregnancy diagnosis.  For unexplained symptoms and/or a negative test result, check with your doctor!  We want you healthy.










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