Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Testament Tuesday: Ruth

So far, reading through “A Lineage of Grace” has been a reminder of the daily renewal of God’s mercies and the strength of believing in His promise. The fact that Ruth, along with Tamar, Rahab, Mary, and Bathsheba were chosen to be in the lineage of Jesus. What extraordinary women!
Ruth has a book in the Bible dedicated all to her story. Because of this, I was intrigued as to what her story entailed. When I was younger, I thought, “Oh cool, a women has a book in the Bible…” Now I think about what her story has to teach me because it is a powerful one.
Here’s a synopsis, but you can find her entire story in the book of Ruth and of course in Francine Rivers “A Lineage of Grace”…
Ruth was a Moabite women.  She married one of Elimelek and Naomi’s sons. Another women named Orpah ( not Oprah!)  married the other son. Long story short, Elimelek died as well as both of his sons leaving Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah as widows. Naomi decided to go back to Bethlehem and told her two daughter in laws to go back to their mother’s homes. Orpah went but Ruth wanted to stay. The NIV version of the Bible said she “clung” to Naomi. She also told her, “Where you go, I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God, my God” (Ruth 1:16b). So they went together to Bethlehem, just as the barley harvest was beginning.
Now Noami and Ruth needed to provide for themselves. Ruth went to the fields to pick up leftover grain if anyone allowed her. She comes across the field that belonged to Boaz who happen to be a relative from the clan of Elimelek. He was impressed with Ruth and what she did for Naomi, found her a women of noble character, and  allowed her to pick up extra grain.
Naomi wanted to find a home for Ruth where she would be well taken care of. Ruth was sent to Boaz after he had eaten and drank and was in good spirits.  Ruth needed to convince Boaz was a guardian-redeemer in the family, so he is obligated to redeem a relative in a difficult trial. Through this, Boaz was able to buy some land Elimelek had and gain Ruth as a wife in order to maintain the land. Through their marriage,  Ruth bore children which became Naomi’s sons.
Yes there is a lot going on, but what a story? Ruth chose not to go back to her mother’s homes and follow Naomi and her God. She served Naomi in such a way where if I were in her shoes, I don’t know if I would be able do it. Ruth even bore children for Naomi so she would have sons! She went from being a widow to being provided for and serving our Lord. Talk about life changing.

What life-changing events have you experienced? Who helped you through these events?
Getting married, having a baby, moving across the country are all experiences that have been life changing. I probably have overused this in a lot of discussions but having my son tops it all when it comes to life changing. Of course becoming a momma changes you but what we went through as far as my son being in the NICU for the month and being born early, and the state of my health before giving birth to him was an experience that strengthened my relationship with the Lord. As I mentioned in my birth story, if it weren’t for Jesus, my husband, and sisters in Christ help, it would have been a totally different experience.

Do you identify with Ruth or Naomi? How? Why?
I feel like I identify with both women. I can relate to Ruth in needing something to cling onto during difficult situations. Like God’s word or a friend’s encouragement. Now, Ruth’s obedience is something to be admired and something I need to work on. She is a great example of obedience. I also can relate to Naomi in wanting to take care of things and making sure my family is taken care of. She made sure that Ruth would be provided for and the Lord greatly rewarded her for her efforts.

From whom do you draw support and wise counsel?
As I have mentioned, I draw my wise counsel from God’s word. His word has answers and encouragement all wrapped up into a love letter written for me. Love you too, Lord! (Anyone get that Beth Moore reference?) I also draw toward the important relationships in my life. My husband, friends, family. When I can’t think clearly, God is my clarity. When I I am being irrational, my blunt and to the point hubby gets me on track. When I am going insane a short vent session and some perspective from Kacie always helps. Praise God and the people he puts in my life.

I love Ruth’s story. Every time I have read it, I have found something new that the Lord is teaching me.

What is the Lord teaching you through Ruth?
Are you a Ruth or Naomi? Both?


Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Favorites: Baby Ball Pit

Is it just me, or are the multipurpose baby toys not the best thing ever!? We were blessed to receive a play mat/ball pit at our baby shower. It is by far one of June's favorites.
When she was itty bitty and not moving around, the bright toys strung across the top held her attention more than anything else. When she started to wiggle around, putting up the sides of the ball pit created a small ring for her to spin around in. She loves the soft mat with the colorful characters.
Now that Little One is scooting all over the place, the walls definitely don't keep her in or out of the ball pit. But the challenge of rolling in and out keeps her entertained for quite awhile. She's still working on sitting up by herself, but once she's more stable we can sit her up in it with the walls up and all the balls around her. Can't wait!
It's just an all around entertaining toy. Definitely worth looking into! It grows with baby and it's fun to watch her develop and utilize different parts of the play mat as she matures.

Do your kids have a multipurpose toy that they love?
I know some babies don't like their play mats. Any other play mats out there that your Little Ones love or hate?

If you have any questions about other toys that we have or if you're not sure what to register for/buy for your Little Ones, just let us know! We're happy to help!

God Bless,

Thursday, September 18, 2014

First World Problems

Have you ever heard the phrase, “First World Problems”? Here are some examples….

My husband and I would have conversations that go a little something like this…
ME: Ugh, the internet is so slow!
HUSBAND: First world problems.

Or I would see Facebook statuses that go a little something like this…
“So bummed. My Starbucks isn’t selling the Pumpkin Spice Latte yet!!!!”

At the time these situations were funny and another status on Facebook to read. Let’s be honest, these weren’t problems, just something to complain about. I am sure there have been other petty “problems” I have complained about, but the worse part of it is that it came out without a second thought.
I am ashamed. I don’t need fast internet to live.  I am blessed to have internet to keep me connected with family and friends, to look up baby food recipes, and share on this very blog. Quite frankly, these problems that I face, are not problems at all. The world will go on with slow internet and the pumpkin spice latte will make it to your Starbucks soon enough.
 I am by no means trying to condemn or judge anyone. I just want to get back to what it means to have a heart of gratitude. We have so much to be thankful for and we are on a daily basis, but when little complaints creep into our lives we slowly start to lose sight of gratitude and instead of dwelling on what God’s grace has provided for us, we become complacent to what really matters. We can be thankful but we need to be aware of it. We can praise God for all He’s done but we just can’t go through the motions. When we do this, it shows what really matters in our lives, and it’s not God. It’s everything but Him.
Friends, can I invite you to make a return with me? A return to living off of God’s grace? To have heart of gratitude? My husband and I used to think of 3 blessings every night before bed and share them with each other and praise God. We had to choose 3 things, even if we had a bad day, because every day has God’s grace in it. This is by no means an excuse, but life got busy, we moved and our night time ritual was pushed aside. I challenge myself and you to take time each day to glorify God and praise Him. For me, doing this means getting back into what my husband and I started by praying, finding 3 blessings that don’t repeat day after day, and praising Him. I don’t want another day to go by where I am not wholeheartedly praising the Lord.
This will sound cliché but I have a roof over my head, food in my belly, good health, a son and a husband that love me, and the most loving God. I AM BLESSED.

"And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."
Colossians 3:17

What will this look like to you?
Will you join me?


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What We Made Wednesday: Kitchen Remix

The husband and I love to build things together. It's such a great bonding experience. Are you picturing two people smiling and laughing as they create something together? Well don't. :) Don't get me wrong, I'm madly, head-over-heels in love with my best friend. Working together creates an opportunity to work through some things in our relationship that we wouldn't discover on a normal day. It's like really cheap couples' therapy!

We've built several things together including a house and separate litter box for our feline companion. Now that was rough! We've realized something new about ourselves and each other every time we work together. I'm a controller. Sometimes things HAVE to be done MY way because your was is dead WRONG. I'm working on it. I also have a hard time conveying my thoughts. They make sense in my head but I just can't explain them out loud. Working on it. The hubs is...well he...he's patient, supportive, hard-working...maybe it's just me who needs to get it in gear!

Our most recent undertaking was a play kitchen for our daughter. Can a 7 month old appreciate a homemade kitchen? Probably not. But all the parts were taking up much needed space in our garage so we thought now was as good a time as any!

Below are the pictures and some instructions on how we renovated a small microwave stand. The project took a lot longer than I thought it would due to painting laminate. I should've done more research on how to handle this part better. Overall, we spent $105.61 (an amount that could drastically change based on your starting piece and what grade of supplies you use). Sound like a lot? It is! But we believe we're investing in not only a good quality toy for our kids to enjoy for years to come, but also in the experience of creating something together. Here's the breakdown:

Microwave stand: $14 at a garage sale
1/4" thick board x2: $12.94
5/8" square dowel x3: $7.32
Plexiglass: $4.78
Nails/screws: We had some in the garage that worked
Large mixing bowl: $6.47
Faucet: $19 (This was a splurge. They make much cheaper faucets, but they look cheaper. I suggest shopping around before purchasing. Our faucet fits a drinking spout and was the perfect size for our project.)
Drawer handles: $4.97
Wooden knobs: $3.94
Key hook: $5.97
Tension rod: $2.47
Curtain fabric: I had some scrap fabric that we based the whole color scheme off of
Chalkboard: $2.97
Wood for top shelf: We had some extra from a previous project
Quart of paint: $13.97
Craft paint for burners, knobs, and accessories: $4.14
Paint brush: $2.67


Glue/screw square dowel pieces to create
places for additional shelves

Cut holes for mixing bowl and faucet. We kept our
 shelves loose so that they could be removable

Attach plexiglass to a cutout in one of the
doors, sew curtain, and then
paint, paint, paint!

We even have a few accessories thanks to
some good garage sale buys!

What do you think?

What toys/furniture have you made for your kids?
We can't wait to watch June play chef! (Even if it won't be for another year or so...)
Our next project is a work bench for the little one! Can't wait to show it to you!

God Bless,

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Testament Tuesday: Rahab

“A woman with a past whom God gave a future” –Francine Rivers

Today we get to take a look into the life of Rahab, the second book in, A Lineage of Grace. Taking place during the battle of Jericho, Rahab took a chance at creating a better future for herself and her family by following God and leaving behind her life as a prostitute. She put it all at risk in order to follow God.
Here is a little overview…Moses had just died and Joshua was now in charge. He sent two spies to the walled city of Jericho to scout it out. The spies ended up in the house of Rahab. Now word got out that these two spies were in the house of Rahab and the king of Jericho sent a message to Rahab to turn these men in, although she had other plans. She hid them and helped them safely escape Jericho and told the king they had already left. Before the spies had left, she made an oath with them. The oath was that they would spare her and her family in the destruction of Jericho. The spies agreed so long as she does not betray them and told her to leave a scarlet rope as a sign so that Jews would find and protect her. Then for seven days she waited as the Jewish armies marched around Jericho. On the seventh day, Joshua told the spies to keep their promise and brought Rahab and her family to safety.
You can find Rahab in the Bible in the book of Joshua 2:1-14, 6:15-25 and Hebrews 11:31
Even in a story written long ago, I find myself relating to Rahab more than I thought I would, I can’t wait to share with you, let’s dive in:

Most of us will never face an invading army as Rahab did, but we do face overwhelming situations of other kinds. What kinds of problems are you facing right now? What kind of choices do you have?
My husband and I are trying to choose a church where God wants us to be. We want to find one to call home and serve in. We get so overwhelmed with finding a church that sometimes we feel defeated and skip church a weekend and in turn feel empty. It is at that moment that Satan will take that opportunity to keep us from growing closer to God. With this new season in life of becoming parents and the busy atmosphere of military life, we want to be strong in our relationships with the Lord not at a place where Satan can keep us down.

Rahab and her family members were locked up inside her house within the walls of Jericho—waiting patiently for the promised rescue. In what ways are you locked up?
I see myself being locked up by discouragement. I convince myself that we will never fit into a church or that maybe I should just stay home at watch church online. I know God doesn’t want this for us, but those thoughts always seem to creep in. But seeing how faithful God was to rescue Rahab and her family, I know the Lord will take away my discouragement and help us choose a church to call home.

When your world is falling apart and things are not going as you planned, what do you do to try to regain control?
When things fall apart, I try to take control, I blame myself and wallow when instead I could be turning to God for help. When my son was in the NICU and his progress seemed slow, I started blamed myself a lot for not being able to keep him in long enough. He went through so much in the month he was in the hospital when he was born and I didn’t want that for my baby. When I didn’t get into the teaching program at WSU my first try, I was devastated. I cried and thought of everything I should have or could have done. Eventually, I turned around and gave these things to God. My little boy went home sooner than doctors were expecting him to and I eventually got into the teaching program with God’s timing. Giving God the control to let Him work things out for His good, not what I want has taken a lot of humbling prayer time with the Lord.

Who have you chosen to rescue you?
I choose Jesus! No matter how many times I have tried to rescue myself, the Lord always comes to my rescue and is there for me. I didn’t know God until I was a Sophomore in high school. He rescued me from making decisions that would have led me on a path of destruction and sorrow. It was the best decision I have ever made in my life.
Rahab’s story is an amazing story of having faith and patience in the Lord. From the get go she allowed God to work through her situation and He was faithful to save her and her family. Wow. What a gracious God we have!

What has reading about Rahab shown you about your life? We’d love for you to share!


Monday, September 15, 2014

Mommy Monday: A Day In The Life Of June

June's been bugging me to share her side of what her day looks like. So here she is in her blogging debut: Baby June.

Hi there! I thought you'd like to know how I spend a typical day at home. It's pretty exciting, so hold on tight!

I woke up this morning at 7:20am. I don't have a usual wake up time because I like to keep Mommy on her toes. Sometimes it's 6:30, sometimes 8:15. It's one of my favorite games.

I usually play in my crib for a little bit and get the vocal cords warmed up. I talk to myself and play with my best friends, the crib bumpers. Once I'm bored with that, I yell really loud and Mommy magically appears in my room!

She takes me downstairs, gives me a bottle, and changes my diaper. I don't like to sit still during diaper changes so it's probably a good thing she does both at the same time.

Yummy breakfast!

After that, Mommy usually eats some baby food. At least I think it's baby food. It's in a small container and says "yogurt" on the side. Whatever it is, I want it. The dog and I wait until she's done.

"You can have it first dog. But then it's mine!"

Mingo's favorite snack!

Probably the best toy ever!

Mommy and I play for a little bit, but I get tired pretty fast in the morning. Somehow she always knows when I'm ready for a nap when all I do is rub my eyes a couple times.

In the spirit of keeping it loose, I like to change up the length of my naps. Sometimes I take quick 30 minute power snooze, and other times I pass out for 2 hours. Today I opted for the 1 hour nap. Although I usually wake up happy and refreshed, I just wasn't feeling it today. A few screams later, there was Mommy again!

After a wardrobe change, she let me play in the jumper while she worked on her sewing machine. Now the jumper and I have a love/hate relationship. Today I decided I didn't like it. So we went downstairs for some more playtime. I stopped for a quick snack then I was back to work! I practiced sitting up and drinking out of a straw. Not really sure how I feel about that for now.

"Sorry Bouncer, you're too awesome for me today."

"How do the big people do this?!"

After awhile I started getting sleepy and decided it was time for another nap. How long should I sleep for this time? Hmm guess we'll just wait and see!

An hour seemed to do the trick this time. I didn't wake up cranky and I think Mommy liked that. Because I was in such a good mood, I decided to watch Monsters, Inc. I like to snack when I watch movies, too.

Right after the movie ended, Daddy came home! I love it when he comes home! He helps me practice sitting up and he's really good at making me laugh. He makes the silliest noises!

"I've got some big shoes to fill!"

Before I knew it, it was time for another snooze! I made this one a short catnap so I could have enough energy to go play again. When I got up I got to watch a Robert Downey, Jr. movie. Not sure what it was, but I'm pretty sure I could watch him all day. Hubba hubba!

Love me some RDJ!

Next I got to eat some yummy bananas. I haven't found a food I don't like. I love to eat! Then I got to watch some Baby Einstein. Sound like I watch a lot of TV? Don't worry, I have the world's shortest attention span so I never watch anything too long.

One of my favorite things is our evening walk to the park. I love to watch the dog play fetch and Mommy and Daddy even help me go down the slide sometimes. The grass is really green and soft and I love to crawl around in it.

Yes, I did change clothes again. 

I sure am going to miss this nice summertime grass!

"I'm a big girl! I can do it myself!"

Things usually happen pretty fast once we get home from the park. I make sure Mommy and Daddy don't get a rest until I'm sound asleep. First, I get super fussy until they shovel food into my mouth at lightening speed. Then I get whisked upstairs for my bath. Sometimes I like to play and splash for awhile. But other times, like tonight, I basically scream the whole time. Then we rush downstairs where I'm so impatient for my bedtime bottle that Mommy and Daddy have to give it to me before I even have a diaper on! After I eat I get dressed in some really comfy pajamas. Tonight I played for a hot second before I was too cranky to stay awake. Then it's upstairs for an early bedtime. I'll probably be up early to play with Mommy so she better go to sleep soon, too!

Who doesn't love a Jane-O-Lantern
sleeper in September!?

Well, I hope you enjoyed my daily routine. It's not much, but I sure do love it!

What do you like to do during the day?
Do you have a routine or do you like to keep things loose like me?

God Bless,

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Favorites: Honest Company Faves

Recently, I have been exploring the realm of all natural and organic food and products. I know it is a fad right now, but I have made this personal decision to better the health and well being of my family. Although, being organic and all natural can be pretty expensive so we are making these changes on a budget and very slowly.

 I wanted products that didn't have harsh fumes or chemicals and something I felt good about using my my son's toys and high chair. I also wanted to use products that  had all natural ingredients instead of things like parabens and phlalates, and have ingredients I could pronounce easily. 

One thing we have found is the Honest Company. I love this company and its products. Their goal is to create effective, yet safe, eco-friendly, and affordable products. For my budget, their product prices didn't exactly scream affordable but it was something I really wanted to try their products out. So through getting a bundle, I was able to save some money which definitely helps. Here are my favorites so far!

1. Fruit and Veggie Wash

Buying organic fruits and vegetables can get pretty expensive and we only buy them when we are able or if it is at a good price. So when we aren't buying organic, we use this wash. It has no odor and
 washes right off all the while taking off any waxy coating, chemicals, and residues. Even though the produce we are eating may not be organic, it is affordable for us and clean.

2. Multi Surface Cleaner

 I mainly use this for James' high chair and toys when I need to quickly clean them. (Note: It doesn't not replace sterilizing) Unlike conventional multi-surface cleaners, it isn't too fragrant, the smell is just right and it gets all of food grime or spit off of whatever I am cleaning. It leaves no residue and you are left with a clean surface. The cleaning products come in large 26oz spray bottles so you are getting your moneys worth while getting a safe, good quality product.

3. Nipple Balm

Mommas who breastfeed, this stuff is awesome. If you think lanolin works great, this stuff works even better. It is very soothing and easy to apply. You also do not have to wipe it off before baby feeds.

4. Healing Balm

Love this stuff like I do the nipple balm but you can use it anywhere on your body. Whether you have dry skin to diaper rash, this stuff works. I like to use it on the dry areas on my skin. A little goes a long way, I am still using the one from the free trial I received!

5. Wipes

I love these, but right off I will tell you that they are a little pricey for my budget so they stay in the diaper bag. I like how they can be gentle on baby's bottom yet you can use it to clean dropped toys, or wipe baby's face. They contain no chlorine, alcohol, and are biodegradable. Again, not the most affordable but I like the safer ingredients and versatility of these wipes.

If you are looking for a way to go all natural or organic with affordability, I would say this is a great way to start. The company does offer a free trial where you only have to pay shipping. It is definitely worth trying to see if it is something you would be interested in.

Do you have any organic or all natural brands to recommend? Or any homemade or DIY products?

Thanks for stopping by!


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Never Forget


I had originally toyed around with the idea of naming this post "9/11: What's The Big Deal?" because those were my exact thoughts in the days after the most horrendous thing I've witnessed in my lifetime. You see, I was only 12 years old at the time. My tiny little tween brain could comprehend how sad the whole thing was, but not the effects of such an act of terrorism. I'm not even sure I had ever used the word "terrorism" until that day. But I don't think using an offensive title just to get your attention is appropriate. Today isn't about gimmicks and puns. It's about remembering the lives that were lost on that day and those that have died, fought, and are fighting against terrorism since.

I don't personally know anyone who was killed 13 years ago today, but my heart aches every time I read or hear a story of a family who sent a loved one off to work or to catch a plane, only to never see them again. I cannot, nor do I ever hope to, comprehend how that must feel.

When we set up Throwback Thursdays for once a month, we had no idea that we would be writing a remembrance post about this day. I don't think this is a coincidence. I believe God wants us to "Never Forget" but to also move toward a brighter future. There is a difference in remembering and dwelling. To paraphrase Albus Dumbledore, "It does not do to dwell on [the past] and forget to live, remember that."

I pray that today be a memorial to those whom we have lost and that those left behind who are hurting seek solace in God's love. I pray that we can come together as a nation and as human beings to heal what has been broken.


 God Bless,

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What We Made Wednesday: A1 Rib Roast in a Crockpot

We are heading into crockpot season soon but my husband and I couldn't wait for it. So a couple weeks ago we made an A.1. Rib Roast in the crockpot. In our household, A.1. and red meat just go together like a PB&J sanwhich. We cannot have one without the other. So we found a tasty recipe that has both. It takes about 15 minutes to prepare and in about 8 hours you'll find yourself eating a a nice hearty meal.

Here is what you'll need...
  • 3/4 cup A.1. Sauce
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 packet of onion mushroom soup mix
  • 1 boneless beef chuck roast (2lbs to 2 1/2lbs)
  • 1lb baby red potatoes, halved
  • 1 16oz package of baby carrots
  • 1 package frozen pearl onions

How it's done...
Mix the A.1., water, and onion mushroom soup mix and set aside. Stick your roast and vegetables in the crockpot, and then pour the mixture you set aside over all the the meat and veggies. Set you crockpot on low and check back 8 hours later for a yummy meal!

The recipe looked great as is, but we made a few changes. Like I mentioned before, we love A.1., so we added a little more than the recipe asked for. We also love pearl onions instead of a regular onion and plus no tears! Our potatoes could have gone in whole but they were a little on the bigger side we we halved them. Lastly, our roast was too big for our pot so we had to cut it up. In the end, it was more of a stew but the meat was still tender and juicy. We love veggies so I would have added more as well!

What kinds of other veggies go well with a crockpot roast or stew?
How would you add your own spin to this recipe?

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Testament Tuesday: Tamar

Welcome to the first post in our Lineage of Grace book study! For the next 5 weeks we'll be taking a look at the women featured in this Francine Rivers book. Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary are the women we'll be studying. The questions listed below are but a few picked from the study sessions after each story. We hope that by answering some of the more personal questions you will be inspired to dig deeper into your own heart and God's love. Here we go!

"Betrayed by the men who controlled her future, [Tamar] fought for her right to believe in a loving God." - Francine Rivers

Tamar married the oldest son of a family who was torn between two faiths. However, Tamar's new husband did not please God so He killed him. Same for the next man she married. When it came time for Tamar to be married to a third man, the youngest in the family, her father-in-law told her to wait. But he soon forgot about her and Tamar had to take things into her own hands. With God's help, she summoned the courage to stand up for what she deserved. Tamar's story can be found in Genesis 37 & 38. 

How do you deal with jealousy? with conflict?
- Unfortunately, I can be a jealous person. Especially in my marriage. I have no problem with the women in my husband's life, I trust them and him. But I find it hard sometimes when his job takes him places that I won't ever be able to go. While this can be a good thing (I don't feel particularly inclined to visit war-torn places), some of the destinations are quite lovely. I'm working hard to remember that he has worked very hard to get where he is and I have worked hard to be where I am.
Now when it comes to conflict, I'm pretty hands-off. I don't handle it well. Until something happens to someone I care for, then the gloves come off. I still don't handle it well, but I do fight for the ones I love.

Where do you turn with life's struggles-to yourself? to family and friends? to comfortable patterns? to God?
- I do try to turn to God...when I remember to. But when I forget that He can handle anything I throw at Him, I try to handle it myself. I take on the burden that He could easily lift from me. It's something I'm working on.

Judah was grieving over the past as well as the present, and he was gripped with fear of the future. What fears grip you?
- I have phobias that may or may not be normal. Snakes, heights, public speaking...but one thing I fear above all else: losing loved ones. I've faced many deaths through my life and it never gets easier. Lately I've been conflicted on this topic. When someone we know who loves the Lord and has given their life to them passes, we should celebrate, not grieve. And maybe even be a little jealous. They now get to experience heaven while we're stuck on Earth. But we still mourn. I'm not saying we shouldn't feel the loss of loved ones, because even Jesus wept when Lazarus died. Maybe we should just try to get to the celebrating a little faster.

How do you deal with fear?
- I'm a planner. I think out the worst possible scenario and what I would do so that if/when it happens, I'm at least somewhat prepared. Whether this is a small fear or a great one, like losing a loved one, I think I handle it better when I've already mentally gone through it.

Do you know the One who gives life in all its fullness?
- Yes siree! I strive to know Him more every day!

Will you accept His invitation?
- I have. Will you? Learn more here.

Up to this point in Tamar's life she had been abused, used, abandoned, and forgotten. Have you ever been treated unfairly? How have you handled broken promises?
- Who hasn't been treated unfairly? I tend to hold grudges. I'm initially a very trusting person and I find it hard to understand why people purposely do the wrong thing. It's hard for me to trust them again.

In what ways do you identify with Tamar?
- Honestly, she is a much stronger woman than I am. I wouldn't've been able to wait all the years she did. Especially after seeing Shelah (Judah's youngest son) and learning about Judah's wife's death. And even if I was patient enough to seduce Judah, I would've immediately thrown it in his face. Either that or I would've just resigned to being a widow the rest of my life.

Have you ever run ahead of God and tried to fix things yourself? If so, what was the outcome?
- Only all the time! It either goes drastically wrong or the problem is only temporarily fixed.

Have you ever been privately confronted about something you did or said that was wrong? If so, how did it make you feel?
- First, guilty. Second, thankful. When I'm confronted publicly, I tend to get defensive and try to blame anything or anyone other than myself. But when I'm approached privately, it's easier to own up to what I've done and apologize.

When Tamar was openly confronted, she presented the truth (as she knew it). When Judah was confronted with the truth, he repented. He had run away from both his family and his faith. God used the consequences of his choices to bring about repentance and restoration. In your experiences of being confronted with something you did wrong, what were the consequences? If you had it to do over again, how might you respond differently?
- I've faced consequences ranging from someone being disappointed in me to almost being kicked out of school. If I could redo some bad decisions, I would think things through more before acting. Maybe my actions wouldn't change, I am human after all, but I might be more prepared for the consequences.

Just as God worked in the lives of Judah and Tamar, He works in our lives today. In what ways is God revealing Himself to you?
Through worship and fellowship with others, love has been on my mind. God's love completely overwhelms me and yet I crave it more and more. I see His love everywhere I am.

As you have worked through these lessons, what changes do you sense you may need to make in your life?
Patience is something I've been working on. Patience with my child, my husband, myself, and God. When I'm more patient with my family, arguments become conversations and fights become open discussions. I need to take the time to listen to others and think about what needs to be said before blurting out the first emotional thing that pops into my head. And God's plan doesn't run by my watch. Having patience will help me be ok with that.

Like Tamar, we all have hopes and dreams for the future. What kinds of things do you hope for?
I dream of a big family. My husband and I hope to have children biologically and by adoption. June already has several "Aunts" and "Uncles" through the Air Force and we can't wait to add more! We're starting to get involved in a church here in Washington and are becoming part of that family. And all too soon our little girl will be making friends at school and we can add them to our list of "children"! Just because we're not all blood relatives doesn't mean we can't be a family!

How do you want to be remembered?
I'm a pretty simple person. I don't need to be known for world-famous talents or a celebrity status. If all people remember of me is that I live a life of love for the Lord, my family, and friends I'll be just fine.

We hope you've learned something from the story of Tamar. She was a true Superwoman with courage beyond what we can imagine. Come back next week when we study Rahab!

Before I go, I'd like to put a prayer request out there. There are many families out there who have suffered a miscarriage and are feeling the loss. Our hearts break for those families and we pray that God will place His healing hand on their hearts and bodies. May He ease their suffering and give them hope for the future.

God Bless,

Monday, September 8, 2014

Mommy Monday: Why Mommy Dates at Target are a MUST!


Over the weekend, Kacie and I went to Target. All I mentioned was Target and you got a little excited right?! We even went without the kiddos and our husbands. The boys stayed at home to Watch the Texas Longhorn vs. BYU game.

Yes it happened, and yes it was relaxing and glorious. Don't get me wrong, I love doing errands as a family, I mean my favorite thing to do with my husband is grocery shopping. But, there was something about taking our time through the baby and girly isles of the store without hearing, "What do you need that for?" or "Are you almost done?" We were good and only wandered around half of the store, brought home pizza for our men, only mostly bought things we needed, and relieved them of their daddy duties afterwards. So here are some legitimate reasons why mommy dates at Target are a must.

1. Who else can you talk about baby stuff without getting annoyed?
 Both our little ones are at the age to start exploring the sippy cups, so we checked out the baby section. We spent about 15 minutes alone in the sippy cup isle. We literally spent that whole time talking about sippy cups since there were 50 to choose from. Who knew that so much could go into choosing a sippy cup? We talked about straw suction, spillage, functionality, cuteness, and price. It was all important and if my husband were to have me talk his ear off about all this stuff, he would have left and ran to the electronic section 30 seconds into the conversation.

2. You can look at mommy clothes without feeling bad.
Chances are if you're a mom, you have mommy style. If you are one of those mommies that are put together and have time to get dressed all pretty, I applaud you. I am nowhere near that yet! Loose clothing that if pulled on doesn't reveal anything, tank tops, and comfy workout clothes are my wardrobe. We walked through women's clothing section looking at v-neck shirts, cardigans, tank tops, and the clearance section. My kind of shopping trip! When I go with my sister (who is 22 years old) she heads for the young spunky stuff and buys cute stuff not on sale. Truthfully, she is working and going to school so she can spend that money on herself. I miss those days. As for me, if I can't nurse in it properly and if my child can expose my boob, it's staying on the rack.

3. You have someone to laugh at things with. 
We went to go look at bras. No shame here. Women can look at bras together freely like they look at clothing. There was one bra that was on the hanger Kacie saw that said it was a 36B but in no way was it that size. We looked at the tag and it was a 32A. We both laughed and joked that if that was truly a 36B then Kacie and I were in the triple letters in bra size. Now it is a little less funny, but instead of laughing awkwardly to myself I had a good laugh with a best friend.

4. The random stuff are a must to look at.
I love to hit up the random dollar section at Target. It is almost a ritual to make it my first stop upon entering Target. I also like to look at the cute little notebooks and the chocolate section as well. I love how these things are also things that matter to Kacie. It's the little things.

5. Sharing a cart helps.
Now as much as we would love to go crazy at Target and buy every little thing that catches our eye, we do like to be responsible and not spend money like it's the air we breathe. Sharing a cart so you both can put your stuff in it instead of taking two carts and filling both up, saves the bank and keeps us accountable. And plus, sharing is caring right?

6. It's just a good ol' time.
Kacie and I are both women who need a little retail therapy once in a while. We still talk about our babies and miss them dearly. We talk about all things about being married, new mommas, and military spouses. We need the girl time and even it if it something as simple as going to our favorite store and browsing around, we have fun.

Lastly, we leave you with this video that explains what every mom feels going to Target particularly at 0:38 seconds, that was so Kacie and me. (On the inside of course)

Do you have a  girlfriend or group of friends that you love to go shopping with?
What store is your store of choice to have a mommy date in?


Friday, September 5, 2014

Birth Story Week: Little James Part 2 + Giveaway Winner!

Part 2

Saturday, October 26th, 2013
31 weeks, last bump picture.
Our days ran together with no windows in the room and my husband would only leave to make phone calls or get us food. One of our good friends had been keeping Bailee for us and kept everyone back in Enid updated. We kept our parents updated. Every so often, the nurse would come in and empty the contents on my catheter bag. The nurse was supposed to be doing a 24 hour urine collection but a miscommunication happen during shift change and she just dumped it all in the toilet. So we had to start over. But, I will tell you that it was God’s will and for good reason.
All day I would hear the BP machine tell me my blood pressure was too high. I was running out of places on my arms for the nurses to poke and prod me. All day, we prayed that God’s will be done. We tried to watch TV and movies to pass the time but we were tired from not getting any sleep. The magnesium made it so it was hard to look at anything bright and I felt so out of it. I kept trying to text friends and family checking up on me. My amazing hubby would help me eat, brush my teeth, and put my hair up. I almost forgot to take a 31 week bump pictures so we took one without realizing it would be my last one.
Today was just filled with waiting, praying, and being patient for this 24 hour urine collection to tell us just how much protein was in it.
Bake baby longer!

Sunday, October 27th, 2013
Thankfully, the sound of the BP machine going off is a far off memory of mine now. But on Sunday morning, I prayed so hard for it to stop. I hated the constant reminder of how my health and that my baby’s health was in danger. Hubby even turned the volume all the way down and we still heard it. With everything going on, my husband was my advocate and interpreter. I am sure I heard what the doctors would tell me but I would always have him repeat it, again with the side effects of magnesium.
We ate breakfast that morning but I just had no appetite for anything. Now, I wish I had eaten more because shortly after I was told to not eat until just in case I needed to deliver soon but depending on how baby and I were doing might be able to eat dinner. WHAT?! Nope. Delivering was not an option. We kept praying. My back also started to hurt quite badly. No position was comfortable.
Late afternoon rolled around and the doc wanted to do an ultrasound. I wasn’t getting any better so she wanted to see how little man was doing and see if he could practice breathing. He looked good and measured well. She asked me if I have felt Little James moved recently. Thinking about it, when I first arrived he moved and hiccupped like crazy. Although, now I had only felt him move here and there. According to the fetal monitors he was stable but she checked him out. He was very still and only had very slight movements but his heart rate was good so she didn’t look worried. Then we just waited to see if he would practice breathing, but nothing. She tried to jiggle my belly, pretty vigorously, to get him to move and breathe. Nothing. He was a very tired baby. She left the room. It was weird to us that she didn’t say too much after that.
A doctor and a nurse came into the room. They never came in the room at the same time. The doctor told me I would be induced. Little man wasn’t doing as well as they wanted him to and I wasn’t doing so well either so it was time. The doctor didn’t want me to get to the point where I would bleed out and my liver looked like I had been drinking alcohol non-stop. Usually with HELLP syndrome the only solution is a c-section but to vaginally deliver is better so I had the opportunity to labor. I felt that if there was one thing that was going to happen, I would get my all natural, unmedicated birth. The nurse tried to talk me into an epidural but I respectfully declined.
 I was started on Pitocin and as well as a cervical balloon dilator and my bag of water was broken. To the doctors surprise, I was already dilated 2cm and having contractions (which I didn’t feel). My body knew it was go time. But let me tell you, not being able to walk around and labor in the positions you want is pretty difficult. Baby's heart rate kept going down so I kept having to switch position with all nine machines and dripping medicine attached.
Monday, October 28th, 2013
After 7 hours of labor and being dilated to about 5cm, the nurse came in to explain to me that Little James wasn’t taking labor well. Changing positions was not helping and his heart rate just kept going down. We had 2 options. To take a break and stop the Pitocin for 30 minutes and then try to labor again but if he still wasn’t doing well it would probably end up in an emergency c-section where my husband wouldn't being able to come with me and see the baby and I would be put to sleep. Option number two was to go ahead and do a c-section now, have hubby with me and let him go up to the NICU with our son and I get the opportunity to see him. She left us alone to think about our options.
We prayed about it and were scared. We told God. We ended up in a situation far greater frightening that we ever expected. With God’s guidance, we decided to do a c-section now. I needed my husband with me and I needed him to be with our son when I was not able to.
They prepped us to get ready to go into the operating room. A NICU doctor came to brief us on what would happen to our son and complications he could have. The one thing I remember about the doctor is that she was a nice little French lady. Then it was almost time for me to go and shortly after they would come get my husband. I was still having contractions and still wanted to have him by my side, but I needed to go. I got nervous I felt like I was going to throw up and told the nurse to wait. My hubby reminded me that it was okay and to keep praying.
The operating room was sterile and cold. No amount of blankets could keep me warm, my teeth chattered the whole time I was in there. The nurse had me move from my hospital bed to the small operating table. It was the first time I been able to do something on my own since Friday. This time I had to have an epidural. I was dreading it because I wanted nothing to do with one from the very beginning but of course this time it was for good reason. The anesthesiologist was very kind. I had not responded on the right side and felt pain so he adjusted it and then I was completely numb from the neck down. Such a weird feeling. In the case that I had a c-section, my OB back in Enid found a cyst on my left ovary on our 20 week ultrasound so I was going to have that removed as well.
As they finished prepping me, hubby came in. FINALLY! He sat next to me and they began. We prayed. I don’t remember telling him this, but guess I told him I was tired and wanted to close and eyes. He kept talking to me though and didn’t let me. Our son would enter the world soon. All I wanted was to hear him cry to know he was alive and well. The doctor told me I would feel a bunch of pressure. I felt lots. I said “OW” even when it really didn’t hurt. All of a sudden we heard his cry! Hallelujah! They rushed him to the warmer. My eyes were blurry but I tried to see what they were doing to him. They wrapped him up and before taking him up to the NICU they asked brand new dad, my hubby if he wanted to hold him. He took him and showed me our baby. I saw him and said, “My sweet boy!” He was amazing! hubby's voice was shaky and he started crying. Never have I seen him cry like that. Our little boy only a few minutes old and had captured our hearts. October 28th, 2013 at 2:20am he was here. 3.4lbs and 16.7 inches, he couldn’t be more perfect.

 It was time for our son to leave. They asked if my husband wanted to stay with me or go up with little man. I told him to go up of course. Someone needed to be there with our little guy. I still needed to be closed up and have my cyst removed. This felt like an eternity. The cyst ended up being a dermoid cyst. It had hair on it, yes hair. The doctor suspecting it was left over from the baby’s yolk sac and it was about 6cm. He also tried to keep as much of my ovary as he could. It was funny when he saw the cyst, he was shocked at all the hair he saw, the nurse who stayed with me since hubby left laughed because it was so hairy. We now joke that, it was Little James' twin and he wanted to come out all by himself.
Finally I was all sewn up and ready to go back to my room. My husband was there waiting for me. I was excited to see him and get an update on our sweet baby. He took pictures and golly did our boy look exactly like his daddy. He was now in an isolette to grow.
Looking like his Daddy!
Nice and cozy in the isolette.

 I still had to be on magnesium for the next 24hrs which means I was bed ridden and couldn’t see my baby. It was the longest 24 hours of my life. I hated the fact that our baby was in the NICU all by himself without his parents so I constantly asked hubby to be up there with him. I also started pumping to provide breast milk for our son. Since Little James didn’t get to bake for a full 40 weeks, I wanted to at least make sure he was getting my breast milk and then eventually breastfeed. I was determined. Hubby was super dad, helping me pump and taking care of me as well as making frequent trips to see our little miracle. He is the best husband and father ever. 
And then remember how I told you that instead of collecting my urine, it accidentally got thrown out instead of saved for my 24 hour urine collect? Well if that didn't happen, little man wouldn't have been born at exactly 32 weeks. See, I later learned that babies 32 weeks and beyond do a lot better in the NICU. Praise the Lord for his timing and helping me bake our little miracle a little longer.
Daddy, our hero!

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013
2:20am on Tuesday morning, they asked me if I was ready to see my baby! Um, YES! But first I had to get my catheter removed, get cleaned up a bit, get my IV removed and move to my recovery room. I was supposed to walk to the bathroom to go pee. Hubby and my nurse helped me because I hadn’t walked in 5 days. The nurse said to take it easy and not push it. I tried, but I was on a mission to see my boy. If I could run, I probably would have. I got cleaned up and we were moved to a recovery room, with a window, yay! As my husband wheeled me out of room B2, I felt overjoyed. We were on the road to recovery.
Finally with my little boy.
Finally, we went up to see our son. my husband wheeled me up to the NICU. We stopped at the washing station to wash our hands. We continued onto see our baby. The floor was so quiet, filled with little babies. We finally reached Little James' room. I saw my precious, tiny boy. When hubby showed him to me in the operating room he was wrapped up so I didn’t really grasp how small he was. He was sleeping. He showed me what to do when we come to see him, he opened the isolette door and hand cradled him. Then I got to do the same. Oh, I finally got to hold him. He was hooked up to so many machines, like I was.  I wanted to do skin to skin with him. Then the nurse on duty came in and Little James had some jaundice and had to go under the bili-lights right away. So, I didn’t get to do skin to skin. I was losing steam, so it was time to go back to my room. Hubby wheeled me back. I didn’t want to leave our son but my husband reassured me that he would be okay, we’d be back soon. 

I ended up in the hospital for 8 days and Little James for a month. I’ll save his NICU stay for another time. But, I want to leave you with this. We are so blessed and grateful for the Lord who got us through this experience and put so many awesome friends in our lives who got us through this time! Things certainly didn't go as planned, but God got us through one of the scariest things we have ever gone through. Everything was out of control, but God was in control. God showed us what trusting in Him means. God is so good!
Photo Credit Audrey Weaver

Thanks for reading friends!

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