February 28, 2013

Praying Circles

For those that don't know, I'm a bookworm.
I absolutely love to curl up with a good book. 
In fact, I love it so much that it has become a habit to go to bed 
when my hubby does and after he falls asleep I head for a hot bath and read until I know I won't be able to function the next day unless I stop. Guilty!
I normally don't read just one book, either. At any given time
I probably have at least 3 going. Depends on my mood 
which one I will choose to read at any particular moment.
All that rambling to tell you that I've been reading a book 
called The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson.
I will try to say this carefully and attempt not to offend anyone... but I'm typically a skeptic about "formulas" for anything related to my own personal faith. I don't like to be given a recipe on how to pray in order to manipulate God into giving me what I want. 
(Actually...I guess I don't follow recipes for much of anything-cooking included!)
Let me assure you that this book is NOT a recipe/formula type
of prayer book. He does say things to stretch the reader beyond his/her comfort
zone but I appreciate the way he continues to let you know that 
ultimately God is in control and there's no magic formula that we can use to manipulate God.
One of my favorite things about the book so far, is that Batterson encourages us
to pray big. He says that our "safe" prayers (the kind you are confident God will answer)
are almost insulting to a God that is bigger than all of our dreams. He urges the reader to pray beyond the safe stuff. 
I love that.
Isn't it so true that we often hesitate to ask God for the big things because
we fear that we will appear to be crazy when they don't happen?
I won't continue to tell you all about it, in hopes that I've told you enough to make you want to read it. It is such an encouraging wealth of knowledge and great perspective about prayer and God's desire for us. Mixing this book with my favorite verse about faith in prayer, I'm feeling incredibly uplifted today. I'll leave you with Matthew 17:20...
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” 

February 1, 2013

While I Wait....

I've never been accused of doing it well.
In fact, I know of very few that could accurately accept that accusation. Its not in our nature to be patient. But it seems that our lives have been nestled deep within a season of waiting. 
Waiting on decisions to be made on our behalf....
waiting to make decisions on behalf of our household...
waiting to be free from the financial struggle we've walked through...
waiting for miracles for those we love and pray diligently for...
waiting for answers.
Our worship leader at the church we've been involved with for about a year and a half now is an awesome songwriter. He's written so many powerful songs, some of which are sung all over the world. (Pretty cool in my opinion!!) This week he is hosting a CD release party that we are so excited to attend. As we were all buzzing about the release, we were looking at a series of videos/stories on the website that you can watch here: Let Hope In
and something Taylor (his wife) said just really hit home.
She said that God spoke to her and told her all she was responsible for was letting hope in. She made the choice to keep hoping in her Savior who wants the best for her...and who loves her. 
Wow. So powerful.
Not hoping in the circumstances or even in anticipation of a desired outcome.
Not hoping that we are correct in what we think God has for us. 
No. Just hoping in the One who created us. The One who created hope to begin with. 
So as we watch each day pass... as we wait for answers, outcomes, babies, money, or whatever else you might fill in that blank...
I pray that along with me you can also learn to let hope in.
So many things I wait for right now I really can't even guess how they will work out. God may orchestrate something beyond my comprehension at this time. Regardless of what the final 
outcome looks like, I will put my protective wall down and there I will see hope flooding in.

"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:18
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1 


December 27, 2012

Well, it happened again....

It seems like no matter how many times I tell myself I won't stray away from blogging, I blink and I've done it anyway. 
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out obvious reasons why I might not slow down to journal my thoughts with three busy girls, but honestly I think its beyond the obvious and expected. I feel like many of my thoughts are best shared through transparent writings. I know that my story has a purpose-one that has and will continue to glorify God. It needs to be shared. So it only stands to reason that the enemy will toss any hindrance my way to stop me. 
Now, I'm not one to blame the devil for every crummy moment...each time I stub my toe I don't feel personally attacked. But I'm aware of spiritual warfare and with or without reading The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis one can still use a small amount of biblical knowledge and logic to determine why Satan would want to stop anything God calls us to. 
With all that said, I'm making an effort to find balance between my top priorities as a wife and mother to also honor my vow to share my story.
For now, a partial update:

This past year I believe I've lost my mind. At least where my plan-it-all nature is concerned. I dove completely into something I said I'd never...homeschooling. God called...I answered and no matter how much I argued how ridiculous it was kindly disagreed, He was persistent. Borderline nagging. So I obeyed. Can I just tell you how good God is? This is one of those things I am so glad I decided to trust God on. We love it. And while its not always rainbows and butterflies, I wouldn't change it for anything. 
Its been a crazy year. Terrifying at times. Financially, emotionally, relationally....I've felt drained. So many things have transpired that I never would've imagined we'd see. But God has proven Himself faithful again and again. 
The most recent events of our life are sort of delicate and not appropriate to be shared in great detail but I will just sum it up. We've had the hardest year financially that we've ever had. We've made less money for the year than in many recent years. But we've managed to pay off more debt in the last 2.5 years than we were ever disciplined enough to do in our entire marriage. We've managed to budget down to the penny each month using our little Dave Ramsey tools online. And we've grown together leaps and bounds because of these trials. God showed up recently in a crazy way and relieved us of some crazy financial and emotional burdens. Y'all. These were life changing things that we were anticipating. Basically in one giant swoop (within about a month) he has relieved that stress. 
We are looking forward to January with hope once again. And "....From everyone who has been given much, much will be required...." (Luke 12:48 partial verse) We've been praying for some time now about a few things we'd love to do if things ever turned around for us financially. Some of them I'd like to keep private for now, but generally speaking it involves blessing others. 
The other major discussion has been adoption.
 I'm thrilled to finally say we are beginning that journey in the coming weeks. I'm sure more details will be shared along the way, but for now we covet your prayers that God will order our steps and protect both our biological children and our child we have yet to meet. We also appreciate prayers for continued provision as we trust God in this next chapter.

 "Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” Luke 1:45


September 19, 2012

Hello and a giveaway!

Hey! Its been a while!

Things are crazy busy around here with so many changes in our lives right now. I'll hopefully be back soon to share about some of those things. But first, one of the new things is that we've completely lost our minds and decided to start making our own bread from scratch. This of course involves grinding the wheat to make the flour-made much simpler with an electric grain mill. I'm currently in the process of saving to buy a mill but for now I am using a friend's mill each week.

There's a great giveaway on a Nutrimill right now, so for those of you that want to join me on this crazy journey, go on over to  Heavenly Homemakers to find out the details on entering to win!

I'll be back soon with more!


August 8, 2012

I love you Mommy....

"Mommy.... I love you..." Sweet words uttered no less than 15 times per day. This child just melts my heart with those random "I love you"s.

She's three years old today. How is it possible that my baby, my youngest child is three?

This child that I wasn't prepared for. This child that surprised me in the most unusual way, while I was still nursing Ansley.... Adalyn sort of just "surprised" us all. With only 13 months between them, they are incredibly close. Its a normal day when we are asked if they are twins.  I never thought I'd be crazy enough to have two children so close in age. Now I know I'm crazy, but I'd totally do it all over again if I could!

My little peanut.... You've rocked my world a time or two. I am so thankful for you...and that spitfire personality of yours. You keep me laughing. You have the sweetest little nose. The tiniest little hands! But man, do you pack a punch!

I love seeing the world through your eyes. Your perspective often stops me in my tracks.

From your insisting to wear pajamas every day-all day long, to insisting that you are BIG... you never allow us a dull moment! You have your Grandaddy's eyes and a silly little giggle. You are a little stick of dynamite, feisty and mighty sure of yourself. Your daddy often says that you haven't figured out that there isn't a whole army behind you. I love that determination!

Your birthday list this year included a firetruck, a firefighter outfit, a motorcycle (that you think you will ride in the road-ha!), a ladder-so you can reach your "stings" (things), and a baby Lori from the store. You are rockin' that list, girlfriend! Here are a few pics of your prizes so far:

Most importantly behind all your shenanigans, mischief, and boldness you are a tenderhearted loving little princess. And we can't imagine our world without you! Happy birthday Peanut!

June 19, 2012

4 Years Ago Today...

I had just finished having a lovely discussion with my charming ob/gyn. Something along the lines of "I'm telling you I might explode if you don't get this ginormous kid out of me!"...He then proceeded to tell me I was OCD for being able to provide him with an exact date of conception, but since I could-he would move up the date a few days in order to safely avoid the c-section he was sure I would have. And that conversation, wasn't even the beginning of my difficulties.

You see, in August 2007 we lost our precious second baby at only 16 weeks gestation. We were told by our doctor that due to the healing needed, I should provide my body with a minimum of a 3 month break.

But God had other plans...
The very next month, I was pregnant again-and so scared. We had several "possibilities" of what may have happened to cause the loss of the previous pregnancy, but none confirmed. Knowing that, and knowing that my body was not given ample time to recover, I was worried sick. (Not to mention terrible "morning" sickness!) We had several ups and downs during the pregnancy, complete with tests revealing that our child would have intellectual disabilities, discovering the cause of the previous loss and our inability to prevent it from happening again, loss of control-knowing that either decision we made could be a 50/50 chance of being the wrong choice...the list goes on.

Fast forward to June 2008. We made it through the pregnancy-with stretch marks in places I didn't know they could exist- and were anxious to meet our second baby girl. With my first pregnancy we induced because my doctor felt that with my frame I would have difficulty delivering a baby over 8 lbs. (She was 7lb13oz) So in June, at 37 weeks I was sent to the hospital for an induction of a LARGE baby. She fought us through the induction, with multiple decelerations, and was finally born. The cord was wrapped around her neck 2 times, with a complete knot, cutting off the blood supply. She was gray from head to toe.. The room was hushed. I worried about permanent damage, gripping my husband's hand. My mother and my best friend Erin were there too, and Mom thought she was dead. That scary minute seemed to last for way too long. And as quickly as the room hushed, it filled with joy. She was fine. (And no-there's no intellectual disabilities or any other ones either like we were told.) She quickly gained her color. The doctor's first words? "Holy cow! Throw that baby up on that scale! I'll be she weighs 10 lbs!!!" (Spoken like a true fisherman. Our doc LOVES deep sea fishing.) He wasn't too terribly far off. This momma that "shouldn't deliver over an 8 lb baby" just delivered a 9lb 1oz beautiful baby girl.
This was taken the September after she was born. Allison (left) was almost 3-notice how big Ansley is!

Marker. Oh...this child.
The excitement, drama, heartache, fear, joy...complete roller coaster didn't stop there. My sweet Ansley is 4 years old today. She was in my arms when I discovered a devastating addiction affecting a special loved one. She was on my lap the morning I got a phone call that my dad was being taken by ambulance to the ER. She was in my arms standing in that same ER as they told me my Daddy didn't make it. This sweet baby has been through some storms with me, and her sisters and Daddy too, of course. And along with those storms, she's been there during our biggest, loudest, most joyous moments too. She was in my arms when I shared that knowing glance with her Daddy, that we were about to add even more fun to our family with her baby sister-born only 13 months after her. She has walked in and out of more than 75 (that's SEVENTY-FIVE) houses in search for a home where we'd start our new journey 300 miles from the only home we'd ever known.
Allison and Ansley located the instant pudding in the pantry and helped themselves while I took a shower. Nice, huh?

She's the little girl who can get me to tears the fastest. She also knows how to push every one of my buttons. Ansley is loving, nurturing, tender, and considerate. She's fiery, loud, quirky, and "out there". My little Mommy. My right hand girl in the kitchen. A great baker. A thoughtful friend. She's my prayer warrior. She loves Jesus. She loves her family. She's simply beautiful. And today, I celebrate her. I love you sweet girl! Here's to sharing the ride on this coaster for many years!

I'll leave you with this:
My girls and I all have "our song". Each one is different. Mine and Ansley's song is by Gungor and its called "Beautiful Things". Knowing her story, I'm sure you'll see how appropriate. I never imagined God could take the ruins and devastation of my life and turn it into this. :)

Gungor-Beautiful Things

March 22, 2012

This is Dedicated...

To the one I love...

Today we celebrate our 9 year anniversary. We are officially stepping into our 10th year of marriage. I'm taking a journey down memory lane....thinking about who we were back then.

I was the girl that got married before many of my friends. I was the girl who had a big career planned, in addition to an even bigger plan to eventually be a mommy. Funny, I never introduced those plans to each other. I was the girl that took a huge "risk" marrying him based not on our history, but on our future. Based on trust, not in my future husband, but in a God that I knew had it all under control.

We didn't have the perfect love story. Parts of it were sweet and sappy. Take our family history for example. Our grandparents regularly met each other for breakfast at the local Hardee's restaurant back in the day. Awww. So sweet. But our actual relationship? It really had not proven itself to be ...sturdy. I'd say rocky at best.

In fact, I was dating someone else when he decided he wanted to marry me. We had the young and crazy on again off again relationship. I wouldn't exactly call it a "fun" game, but it was the one we played. Back and forth. Eventually I grew weary of that game, so I moved on. Dated an old boyfriend. Ara decided to join a young singles group at a church we didn't attend. They were doing a study on courtship, and he asked if I would come too. Ha! I told him I would come, and bring a friend with me. But I was not going as his girlfriend. I was going as a friend. That lasted about 3 or 4 weeks....each week more intense than the previous one. He would walk me to my car, ask me a bunch of nonsense questions about my future plans... Then one night after the class, he told me he thought we should get married. He knew I was who he wanted for the rest of his life. Did I mention we weren't dating? I said, no way. I'm not even sure I want to date you again...I'm dating someone else. Two days later I broke off the deal with the old boyfriend, you I could sort things out in my head. And less than a month after that, I had a beautiful diamond ring on my left hand. The history.

Little did I know, that our "history" (to date) would include many more heartaches and struggles than I ever could guess we would endure. This man, that I was praying I made the right decision to trust with my the same man that has shielded my heart from so much. He has held me up when I literally couldn't stand anymore. When I thought I might die from anxiety. We've laughed together...probably an unnatural amount of laughter. No really...he's SO. FUNNY. And we've cried together. Happy tears. Sad tears. Tears of devastation... tears of disbelief. We've celebrated huge milestones. We've moved 300 miles away from the only home we've ever known. Away from all our extended family. We've battled health struggles. We've conquered debt. We've survived devastating losses. (Yep...more than one.) We've remodeled an entire house together. We've watched in awe as our oldest started Kindergarten just this year. Through all of these moments, he has been my constant.

He's gonna be thrilled to see this pic. :) Love you honey!

Going out on a limb with this man was the best thing I could've done. Even then, knowing it was a big step to jump into a relationship that was yet to show stability, I still knew he was a great guy. I had no idea he would be the man he is today. I'm so proud to call him my husband. I can't begin to tell you how thankful I am that he's mine.

I love you, Ara. Thank you for being the most wonderful husband and father a girl could ever ask for. Here's to many, many more years of laughs.