Saturday, April 23, 2016

Postpartum Baby Blues

In the baby/pregnancy world online you can't get too far without running into someones thoughts and advice on postpartum depression and baby blues. This is not one of those posts. Why? Because I have no advice to give.

So why would I even take the time to post anything on the topic? Well, because right now, I am all about being real. The truth is, I am fairly sure I am dealing with some form of baby blues. Not sure if it is just the blues or full on postpartum depression, but it is something.

Instead of pretending that I have it all together (I don't) and that everything about being a second time mom to a precious baby girl is all roses and dandelions (it isn't), I am just gonna leave this blog post here as a place to hopefully just start some discussion.

I am not looking for sympathy or for "it's all gonna be ok" from anyone. I am looking for real, honest discussion on the issue from women just like me all across the online world.

Through church, women's ministry, and the women blogging communities I have been blessed to be a part of, I understand that there is power in communities of women. There is strength in hearing other people's stories. You don't have to always have an answer for someone. Just sharing your story and letting others know they are not alone (or crazy) can be the difference that changes lives!

So, how about it? Do you have a postpartum experience that you would be willing to share? Leave a comment and share your story.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Welcome Baby Brooklyn

A week ago today, we welcomed into the world the newest member of our family. A sweet, precious baby girl. I love her to pieces, but I will be the first to admit this newborn phase and postpartum stuff is no joke.

Our son is 12 years old, so while I am a second time mom, it really feels like I am starting all over again. I don't remember much from when my son was a baby. I am tired, I am recovering from a c-section, and I am just a hormonal, emotional mess.

Walking through this postpartum road one day at a time!!!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Where Has the Time Gone?

I can't believe it has been so long since I last posted here on the blog (March of last year is way to long). Where have I been? WAY TOO BUSY!!

I work a full time job. Outside of that, I got tied up in many different volunteer activities and decided to go to Graduate School!! More than anyone should take on at one time, I can tell you that much. I honestly just completely lost track of this blog and had no time or energy to even think about it for a while. I still don't know how regularly I will post at this point, but things have changed again in my life, and I am craving a creative outlet again!!

What has changed? Well, I am not going to Grad School this semester. I only need two more classes to finish what I was going for, but I can't do it this semester. I have started letting go of many of the volunteer activities that I have been doing. I am still working full time, however, most of the extra's have been let go in my life.

Why would I give up so much all at once? As of yesterday, I am 25 weeks pregnant with our second baby!! This was definitely a surprise for us and we did not plan on it nor were we expecting it.

What does this have to do with the blog? As I travel this road of dealing with pregnancy and the coming a new little one again, I am finding my mind all over the place and needing a place to gather my thoughts, experiences, DIY attempts, nursery delimas and anything else to just clear my mind a bit.

I hope that you will enjoy the rest of this pregnancy journey with me and welcoming our little one into the world!! Who knows, maybe my creative outlet and clearing my head will inspire someone or help someone else along the way!!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

An Epic Word

I was walking around our local Christian Bookstore the other day looking for a Bible small enough to carry in my purse so that I could have one with me all the time. I couldn't decide which one I wanted. I kept picking them up and putting them back.

There was one in particular that I kept returning to. It was a great size and the cover was pink and brown, which I thought was cute. It had Phillipians 4:13 engraved across the cover.

"I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength."

Now, this is a great verse. It has always been an encouraging one for sure. But, I found myself asking God what is it about this Bible, about this verse, that You want me to see.

The response I felt the Lord was giving me was epic really. I don't use the word epic often, but it will totally revolutionize your thinking if you let it!

For me, in the current season of life I am in, I didn't view that verse as a life verse, or a game changer for me. Not one worth having permanently on the front of my Bible. I have always thought of that verse in terms of actions or accomplishments, until God answered my question.

This was what He said:
"Everything, means EVERYTHING!!"

Now, that might not seem like a game changing statement, but hang in here with me for a minute.

Everything doesn't just include what we are supposed to be doing. It also includes all of the things we are supposed to not do. Things that, I'm just gonna be real, are hard for us females to not do.

Maybe you are in a season of waiting. Waiting is not easy... but you can "wait patiently" through Christ who gives you strength.

Maybe you feel very strongly about something but the Lord is asking you to hold your tongue and not speak about it right now. You can "keep quiet" through Christ who gives you strength.

Maybe there are situations going on in your life that you just want to grab by the horns and change. You want to do something about it, but there really isn't anything you can do.  It is completely out of your control. You can "be still" through Christ who gives you strength.

There are a multitude of times in our lives where God doesn't ask us to do anything, He asks us to do nothing. He asks us for the absence of things: the absence of speaking, the absence of doing, the absence of trying to fix it ourselves. He asks us to just be still and wait on Him. Those can be some of the hardest moments for us as women. Not because we don't trust God, but because we as women, are just wired to worry about and fix everyone elses problems. We mother everyone and want to make everyones problems go away. There are times when no amount of mothering can fix the problems we face... only God can.

In those times, know that you CAN step back and let God work without you trying to help Him out. And, He can give you the strength you need to wait patiently and quietly while He works.

Friday, February 13, 2015

50 Shades

I have read so many great articles this week about the movie hitting the big screen today in theaters around the world… 50 Shades of Grey.

It is quite clear that there are varying opinions on the subject and a variety of concerns and issues to discuss based around this one movie. I have read articles siting various elements of concern including the mainstream acceptance and promotion of bondage, abuse, rape, pornography, and more as the reason that this movie is so disturbing. Those things are disturbing, that’s true.

But then, this morning, I read this article over on “grace every day”.

I don’t know if the blogger at grace every day will ever see this post, but I want to publicly thank her. Not for being another person who is against this movie… but for understanding and publicly sharing the bigger concerns that we all SHOULD have with this movie.

I will not be going to the movie theaters this weekend. I will not go see this movie, ever. So, some people would want to know, why then do I care? “Just don’t go see it if you don’t want to and leave the rest of us alone". 

There is just one problem with that… 50 Shades is not leaving me alone!!

As a mom, I am opposed to this movie. I am not going to go see 50 Shades, but I can’t keep it out of my house unless we become a family who disowns their TV and gets rid of it completely. We don’t have cable or satellite TV at our house. We have an old TV with a digital converter box and an antenna on it. We get a limited number of channels with limited options of what to watch. I can turn the TV off, sure…

Here is my problem. Even if we got rid of our TV sets in our home, 50 Shades would still be infiltrating our lives… Because, my house isn’t the only house on the block… I have an 11 year old son. I can promise you, the other boys in his class have seen the commercials on TV for this movie. I can promise you, it is peaking their curiosity. And I can promise you, they will likely be talking about it. He rides a bus to school that is a mixture of elementary, middle school, and high school students. I can promise you, the older boys on his bus will be talking about it.

Even more disturbing, is the thought that when this movie comes out on DVD and Blue Ray, where it can be rented or bought… this movie will end up in my sons friends’ homes. Some of my son’s 11 and 12 year old friends will probably see this movie before the end of this year… That genuinely hurts my heart to think about.

As a wife, I am opposed to this movie. I have to tell you, you can be married to the most amazing, wonderful, Christian man in the entire world. One who will never cheat on you, never cross a line physically… That does NOT mean that he will never face an internal struggle to stay pure and faithful to you in his heart.

I absolutely hate commercials. I always have. Wish we could just skip them. There are certain commercials that should not be on local television stations, but are. Victoria Secret Commercials, the Hardees Commercial that came out not too long ago that sexualizes a hamburger (that one was just ridiculous), and others that I am sure I am forgetting in this moment. And now we have a commercial that is advertising 50 Shades of Grey; a visual enticement into a fantasy world of physically dominating and abusing women for a man’s pleasure.

The media is calling this “mommy porn” giving the impression that it is a movie for women. That is just a lie. It is pornography, period. There will be daddy’s who will become just as infatuated and just as trapped because of it.

I cannot speak for every man in the world and I am NOT speaking for my own husband when I say this… But it concerns me that our loving, faithful, Christian husbands, have to endure these commercials coming on TV every day. How many loving, faithful, Christian husbands will have to fight a battle of purity and faithfulness in his marriage because of this movie and it’s commercials that won’t leave us alone?? Not because they chose to go see the movie, but because the movie is being pushed into our living rooms every day.

Society today has this thing they do where they want Christians to stay out of their business. They want us to stay out of their way and let them do what they want to do, without trying to stop them. If we don’t, they start calling us haters. They tell us that we are trying to take rights away from them.

Where are our rights as Christians? Even non-Christians who don’t agree with 50 Shades, where are their rights? I can’t stop people from reading the books or watching the movie, but why do I have to deal with it showing up in my house, uninvited, and unwanted?

My main concern is not for the people who will go see this movie. I am concerned for them and I pray they will see it for what it is. But my MAIN concern is for my family and my fellow Christian families. My main concern is for our children and our husbands.

Satan uses whatever he can to attack families, and this is a major attack. So, whatever I can do to “fight” 50 shades isn’t about 50 shades at all. It isn’t about fighting those who are in favor of the movie. It is about taking back our families and fighting the schemes of the enemy. That is something that we must do as Christians every single day of our lives. This day is no different.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Patience is More than a Virtue

Several years ago, my son went to the same school as one of my coworker’s kids. Our desks were literally right next to each other and our kids went to the same school. The afternoons were intriguing to me as a certain phenomenon would happen over and over again. Here’s how the afternoons would go.

Quittin’ time!! We both would walk out to our cars together and we both would pull out of the parking lot one behind the other. She would speed down the road, weaving in and out of traffic, at times getting far enough ahead of me that I couldn’t see her anymore. I would choose the lane I wanted to be in and stay there.

It never failed! Nearly every day we would end up turning into the parking lot of the school one behind the other, exactly how we left the parking lot at work. No matter how fast she weaved in and out of traffic, it didn’t get her to the school any faster.

I know that we live in a fast paced world. Everything is instant gratification and even that isn’t fast enough. We are always looking for the newest and greatest inventions to make our lives easier. Most of the time, when we say that, we mean that we want something that will get the job done faster.

Why are we so focused on speed? Why is faster better? Why is waiting and patience so difficult for us? Why do we insist on finding a quick fix for our problems?

The truth is, God often asks us to wait, to be patient, to endure until His perfect timing comes. In fact there are countless lessons in scripture that show us that God rewards those who patiently wait for the fulfillment of His promises. There are just as many lessons that show us how impatience leads to disaster and disappointment.

Take Abraham and Sarah for example. God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations, yet he had no children. Instead of waiting on God to fulfill His promise, they took it upon themselves to find a way (without God) to have a son. This son that Abraham had with Hagar, Sarah’s servant, and not with Sarah, was Abraham’s son, but he wasn’t God’s promise fulfilled. It was a human solution to a God promise and it neither fulfilled God’s promise nor did it create a happy healthy family environment. Sarah began resenting Hagar and it caused strife in their family.

Abraham and Sarah made poor choices because they focused on the waiting instead of the promise.

Now, let’s look at Jacob. Jacob had a dream and it was to marry Rachel!! The Bible says that Rachel was beautiful in every way and Jacob wanted her! He went to her father Laban and asked to marry Rachel. Laban agreed but only if Jacob worked for him for seven years first. Jacob agreed. Genesis 29:20 says:
“So Jacob spent the next seven years working to pay for Rachel. But his love for her was so strong that it seemed to him but a few days.”
This tells me that Jacob was not focused on the waiting; he was focused on the promise!

Jacob spent his time working for Laban and although Laban tricked him into marrying Leah first, he did end up marrying Rachel as well. (If you don’t know the story, go read it in Genesis 29).

Where we put our focus matters, and it matters big!! If we spend our lives focusing on our problems instead of God’s promises to us, we are setting ourselves up for heartache. But if we focus on God’s promise to us, we can rest assured that He will fulfill it and we can live a much more peaceful life.

God is asking us to stop weaving in and out of traffic and speeding down the road. He wants us to slow down, stay in His lane, and keep our eyes on Him!

You see, we both made it to the school. It isn’t that I made it and she didn’t, but our journeys to get there were vastly different. Her journey was full of uncertainty and caused anxiety (especially for those cars around her). My journey was calm and peaceful.

Let’s choose the calm and peaceful journey. Let’s make up our minds now, that no matter what is coming our way, God’s way is the best way and He will never fail us. Let’s get in His lane and keep our eyes on Him.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sheep or Goat?

We’ve all been there. We pull up at a stop light and there standing next to our car is someone holding up a cardboard sign, wanting money, just staring at us while we wait for the light to change so we can hurry up and get away! You know exactly what I’m talking about. I know you have been there!!

We ponder what we should do. Should I give them money or should I just drive off and act like I didn’t see them? I sadly must admit, I almost always drive away and act like I didn’t see them. I would venture to guess, I’m far from alone!

Monday, I was driving home from a quick out of town trip and I made a pit stop about half way home. There she was. A woman standing on the street in front of the gas station I stopped at, gas can sitting next to her and a sign in her hand. She was trying to get home and needed gas (at least that was her story)…

Isn’t that what we always say? “At least that was their story”, like we are sure that isn’t the truth of the situation.

I saw her, I noticed, I went on in to the gas station. As I did, I felt an overwhelming urge to give her some money. So, as I left the gas station, I looked at what I had. I had a $20 bill, a $5 bill, and two $1 bills. I thought, maybe I’ll just give her the $2. Then the Lord said, “No, give her all of it”. So I thought, maybe I’ll just give her the $5. Again, the Lord said, “No, give her all of it”. Sigh…

I thought for a minute and I said, Ok. I’m supposed to give her all of the cash I have left. So I headed toward her. I had no clue what to say (I am quite terrible in situations like that; I never know what to say).

I walked up to her and smiled at her. She was in quite a state. She was either a woman in her late 50’s or 60’s or she was just a woman who had lived a very hard life. She was filthy. I mean, black dirt covered, nasty, dirty, filthy!! She was extremely skinny, you could see her shoulder blades sticking out, and she had no teeth. My honest, gut feeling told me that she probably was on drugs and that one part of me wanted to turn around and not give her the money. But, I was already standing there so I couldn’t do that. I also couldn’t really change the amount I was going to give her, because I had it in my hand already. And then there was the tiny little thing of just being obedient to God!!!

So, I handed her the money. I expected a thank you, and quite honestly, expected her to keep standing there begging for more. But what happened next genuinely surprised me. She looked down at what I had given her and she smiled so big. She said, “That’s it! I’m going home!! I’m going home!!”

It took all I had to choke back the tears. I hugged her and told her that I would be praying for her and that I hoped that she had a blessed day. Now, in hind sight, I wish I would have said MUCH more, but at the time, that’s all I had!!

She hugged me back and said thank you. Then she picked up her gas can and walked across the parking lot to a green car that was sitting there. There were other people in the car too.

I didn’t hang around to see if she filled up her car and left or not. Part of me wanted to, but it really didn’t matter. If she genuinely needed gas to get home, then giving her that money helped her get home. If she didn’t need gas and was standing out there begging for money for drugs or something else, well, that’s between her and God, but at least it got her off the street corner.

As I’ve been processing this moment this week, I’m taken back to two things. The first is obedience. No matter what I think in my natural mind about a situation or a person, that doesn’t change or negate what God asks of me. No matter what my flesh wants me to do, obeying God is far more important!!

And secondly, it takes me back to Matthew 25…
31 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”

I want to be a sheep, not a goat!!! This issue of caring for strangers in need is something that God cares about deeply!!!

This woman... this dirty, filthy, possibly drug addicted woman, is a woman that God cares deeply about!! I prayed most of the rest of the way home for her and I will continue to pray for her. I don’t know her name, but God does!!

Will I stop and help every person I ever see on the street begging for money? Probably not. But I hope that I will stop and ask God what He wants me to do in that moment. And when I do, I will listen for His reply and do what He instructs. I hope and pray that everyone who reads this will also do the same.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Win For Religious Freedom and Women’s Rights

It has taken me a few days to muster up the courage to actually put my thoughts on the internet concerning the recent victory for Hobby Lobby in their Supreme Court Case against Obamacare. Such a controversial subject, and based on the varying facebook posts and tweet’s I’ve read, it is a breeding ground for unwanted comments and a general feeling of nausea when I think of the remarks I may have to respond to after this is posted. However, I feel led to be a part of this discussion. It is an important issue and worth me spending time talking about and  using my online space to do that. Since we still have freedom of speech, that is what I am going to do.

Everyone has an opinion and is entitled to it, but in an effort to build a small amount of credibility on the subject, let me share a little about myself. I am a born again, spirit filled, married, Christian woman. I also am a woman who has taken oral contraceptives for a majority of the last ten years.

The media headlines have been incredibly misleading concerning the case with Hobby Lobby. Hobby Lobby’s concern was not related to birth control in general. They did not file a suit regarding paying for birth control. Their concern was paying for specific types of birth control which are not preventative in nature, but abortive in nature. They are not denying all birth control, only those that essentially cause an abortion. So, from their perspective and mine, this was a case about them being forced to fund something that they are fundamentally against. And in all reality, the ruling takes nothing away from the women who work for them. Those women will still have 16 of the 20 available contraceptives covered in their health plan.

As a matter of religious rights, I absolutely agree with the Supreme Court decision and am thrilled that the results turned out the way they did. No one should be forced to pay for something that goes against their religious beliefs.

Some who disagree with the ruling do so based on women’s rights. This is an issue that I have always found vastly confusing as related to a woman's right to choose. I am a woman, and I believe in women’s rights, but not at the expense of another human life. Just because you are a grown woman and a newly fertilized egg is only a few days or even hours into development, it doesn’t take away the sanctity of that life. Claiming women’s rights (or a woman's right to choose) on the abortion issue is just making an excuse for murder.

To me, it is no different than a grown woman killing a 5 year old child. Their reasoning could easily be the same: raising them is too hard, they cost too much money, I just wasn’t ready to be a mom, kids are too much responsibility, I’m young, I just want to have fun for a while. If any of those excuses were given by a woman who killed a 5 year old child, they would be found guilty of murder.

But let's get real for a few minutes... My opinions don't matter. What matters is what God says. Jeremiah 1:5 tells us that we are valuable and created for a purpose and that God knew us and loved us even before we are conceived in our mother’s womb. Yes, even if you were called “a mistake” by your parents, you were NO mistake to God!

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. – Jeremiah 1:5

I know what some of the responses to that will be. I can hear it now. “God was talking about Jeremiah, not me, and not the "mass of cells" that is inside of me. He didn’t appoint me as a prophet”. Well, let me share a few more verses.

Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism”. – Acts 10:34

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever. – Hebrews 13:8

If Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever, and if He doesn’t show favoritism, than it stands to reason that if He knew Jeremiah before he was formed in his mothers womb and set him apart for a purpose, then the same is true of you and me.

God knew you before you were formed in your mother’s womb. Yes, even if you were the result of a less than ideal relationship, God still knew you and set you apart. Maybe you are carrying a baby that is the result of a horrific injustice to you, such as rape. If that is the case, I am truly sorry that you are dealing with that and I pray God's peace on your life. As hard as that situation will be to walk through, God knew your baby before that horrific act happened to you and He has a plan and a purpose for both your baby and you. That plan may include adoption, but it absolutely does not include murder.

The bottom line is that our own selfish wishes and desires do not justify taking the life of a baby, no matter how small or insignificant you may think they are. They are far from insignificant to God!

As a Christian company, these scriptures are only a small part of the justification for Hobby Lobby’s court case against Obamacare. As followers of Christ, asking them to pay for something that could cause an abortion, is asking them to completely disregard their core beliefs and to fund what they consider to be murder.

As a women who believes deeply in religious rights and lives a life based on my faith, a win for religious rights, is a win for women’s rights. If my religious freedoms are revoked and the government is able to force me to participate in something that I don’t agree with, then my rights as a women have been diminished. So, kudos to Hobby Lobby and to the five Supreme Court Justices who ruled in their favor.

Monday, May 5, 2014

A Wish Fulfilled

Left to Right: Angelia, Jenel, Thomas, Lexa
Meet my friends, Thomas, Angelia, Jenel, and Lexa Carpenter. This family is like none I’ve ever met, and I would venture to guess, I won’t meet another one like them in my lifetime. They ALL inspire me to greatness!

Their son, Buck, died in a car accident in 2011, but his legacy is growing each and every day! Because of a wish Buck made in Kindergarten, Buck’s family is traveling to Africa to give toys to kids. I could tell you his story, but hearing it from his mom’s heart is better than me telling it.

On October 20, 2011 our 8 year old son, Buck, was taken to heaven in a car accident. Shortly after the wreck we were invited to Africa for a missions endeavor.

While preparing for the trip we came across a Kindergarten school assignment. Buck was asked to complete this sentence:
"I wish every kid could..." his teacher said without hesitation he replied, "I wish every kid could have toys to play with in Africa!"

As the Lord would have it, on October 20, 2012, we were in Africa on the "one year anniversary" of Buck's home going- passing out his toys to homeless kids. Then 10 days later, October 30, we visited an informal settlement called Red Hill. Again, we passed out toys in Buck's memory; this would have been his 10th birthday. This experience was a great work of Redemption for us!

Many toys have been donated to us for Africa even though we have never asked for one. God just sends them. :)

Last year the Chi Alpha group from UCA carried 50 bags of toys to children in South Africa. We also included a notebook, pencil, toothbrush and toothpaste. They deserve things they "need" as well! Lord willing 50 more bags will go with Chi Alpha students this year in May.

My husband, Thomas and I along with our two daughters, Jenel and Lexa will be going to Africa in June. This will be our daughters first time to go. We are looking forward to handing out Buck's Toys together!

This family has been a great encouragement to me. They have walked through hard times and faced them with an unwavering faith in God. They understand what it means to Trust God and they live it out each and every day.

They are still raising funds to get them to Africa in just a few short weeks. Here are some ways that you can help make a difference in the lives of kids in Africa!

Buy "A Heart 4 Africa" Necklace
I am making and selling necklaces to raise some money for their trip and for other expenses related to Buck's Toys 4 Africa. You can order one from my Etsy Shop. There are two different types to choose from.

Online Donations
If you would like to make a donation to Buck's Toys online, you can do so through the Special Touch Ministry Website at Choose Thomas & Angelia Carpenter in the missionary name drop down and put "Buck's Toys" in the notes column. Then enter the amount you would like to give and select submit and it will take you through the rest of the donation process.

Follow them on Social Media
Facebook - /buckstoys4africa
Twitter - @bucktoys4africa
Instagram - @buckstoys4africa
Pinterest - @bucktoys4africa

Share their posts
Help spread the word by sharing, re-tweeting, and re-pinning using the hashtag #buckstoys4africa.

Pray for Them
Pray for this family as they finish preparing to go to Africa and while they are there. If you will follow them on social media, you will get updates along their journey. Pray for provision for the remaining funds needed. Pray for safety as they travel and for divine appointments while they are there!

Here are a few pictures of their last trip to Africa in October 2011 and the Chi Alpha trip to Africa Summer 2013. 


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Candied Grapes

I am really excited!! This is the first food post I have written, ever for this blog, well just ever, period.

I have been on the hunt for ideas for snacks and other healthy recipes lately and Pinterest is one of my favorite places to collect them all.

I saw this idea on Pinterest for “Glittery Sour Patch Grapes” and wanted to try it. Mostly because it looked good and super easy! The other reason I wanted to try it is because my son is in a stage where he is constantly eating and the first thing he wants is something sweet. I’ve been on the hunt for some healthier alternatives that my VERY picky eater will actually eat. The pin said they tasted like sour patch candy so I thought for sure it was something to try.

Because I have a boy and anything “glittery” is girly, I just called them candied grapes. I also only used one flavor of jello instead of two. That is one of the great things about this recipe too, you can choose any type of grape and any flavor jello and the combinations would be limitless. Another plus, using sugar free jello would make this even healthier.

Candied Grapes

Grapes, washed and removed from stem (we used purple grapes)
1 pkg unprepared Jello (we used strawberry flavored)

All you do is pour the unprepared jello into a bowl or on a plate and roll the grapes in it. Put them in a container with a lid that you can refrigerate. Store them in the refrigerator or freezer if you like frozen grapes.

It’s just that easy!! Not only is it a healthy snack, but something fun and easy that your kids can make with you. My picky eater loved them and keeps asking for more!!

The only down side for this to me was that the jello mix got on your fingers and stained them. My fingers were red for the rest of the day but after several washes, it came off.

If you try them, let me know what you think!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Jesus Bible, NIV

I received a complimentary copy of The Jesus Bible, NIV from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest and objective review. I can honestly say, I love this Bible and so does my 10 year old son.

This Bible is designed for kids ages 9-12 and it is definitely designed well for that age range. It is hardcover Bible which is great for kids to carry around without ripping it. The design is simple but “cool” for a kids Bible.

It includes several great features to help kids see Jesus throughout the Bible. There are 365 devotions included, each with a short prayer at the end. Each book of the Bible begins with an introduction to the book which tells kids how Jesus can be found in that book.

There are also application notes called “Live Like Jesus” to help kids apply Biblical truths in their own lives. I also really like the “Hints of the Savior/Jesus Revealed” sections. This section highlights promises and prophesies made about Jesus in the Old Testament and tell you where they are fulfilled in the New Testament.

I would highly recommend this Bible but what do I know, I’m not a 9-12 year old kid. My son however had this to say about it. “Mom, when you finish reviewing that Bible, I’m going to read it from Genesis all the way to the very end”!! That statement tells me all I really need to know about it. If it encourages my son to read the word and gets him excited about it, that’s all that matters to me!!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Trust, Joy, Miracles!

I have been incredibly blessed to get to know some fantastic women in Arkansas who spend countless hours sharing their lives online. Tell me what you want to know about, and I can probably find a woman in Arkansas who is blogging about it! Parenting, Marriage, Family, Food, DIY, Travel, and so much more!

One of the things I noticed at the beginning of the year was people sharing what their focus word was for the year. Different people may call it different things, but a focus word is a word that you are going to keep in front of you for the year. Something to help keep you focused on a goal you have or a habit you want to form (or get rid of). It isn’t really a new year’s resolution, but an effort to make your life better in some way this year.

Karen over at Tings Mom wrote about her word being less (Be sure to go read her post). Less stuff, less technology, less stress!! I could definitely latch onto that word too, but God has been putting different words in front of me.

Now that it’s the middle of February, I’m going to share my focus word(s) for this year (better late than never). There were three constant themes that kept recurring for me in January and I kept trying to decide on one to use as my focus word, but I just couldn’t shake any two of them. They all three are sticking.


Over and over again I am confronted with situations that have been overwhelming to me. Situations that I could not control and could not change. In the midst of that I kept hearing “trust me”. Sermons, songs, advice from friends all reminding me to keep trusting in the Lord and I will be ok. Trusting God is an ongoing journey for me. Not because I don’t have every reason to trust Him, but because it is a process of letting go of your human will and emotions and letting Him be in control.

 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

A friend of mine said a few weeks ago that her prayer for everyone this year is that their journey would be a journey of joy. I immediately said, count me in!! I haven’t shared my whole story on this blog and likely never will, but the last few years have been full of tears and sadness. I am ready for some joy in my life. This year I am going to seek out in my own life what it means to have the Joy of the Lord and for it to be complete.

If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. John 15:10-11 (NIV)

How many of you know that, as Christians, we serve a supernatural God? We serve a God who has the power to change situations and circumstances, but do we really believe that He can and will? I hear story after story of people being healed, delivered, and set free. I am ready to see myself and the people around me, be healed, delivered, and set free.

I know that God can and will, because He has done for so many people before me. I wrote a blog post a while back about this (you can read it here). Not only can we see miracles through the stories from the Bible, but people living and breathing and walking around today have amazing stories to tell.

This video is of Sister Martha Tennison preaching a mother’s day service in Adrian, Michigan. If you ever get a chance to hear her preach in person, don’t miss it! She will have you laughing and crying all at the same time and I promise you that you will leave changed in some way.

This entire message is on trust, but there is a story in this video that starts around 18:40 into it. It is a story she tells often of 16 red roses. I encourage you to watch the entire thing, but to get my point, at least skip ahead and listen to that story.

For Moses and the Israelites, the miracle was in the Red Sea. For Noah, the miracle was in the flood. For Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the miracle was in the fire. For Lazarus, the miracle was in death. And for Missy, the miracle was in 16 red roses and a man she had never met before.

God is in the miracle working business, and I believe that if we trust Him we will see miracles happen this year!

For me this year is about trusting God completely, finding Joy in Him, and not only seeing the miracles happen, but by my trust and obedience, being able to be a part of other people's miracles.

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Saturday, February 1, 2014

A Challenge to Obey and Encourage Obedience

Today has been quite an interesting day. In fact, I haven't had a day like this in quite a while. A day that has both challenged me and given me much to think about.

I had to go to Dallas for work, so I boarded a plane in Little Rock this afternoon and was on my way. The thought provoking moments began as soon as I hit the airport terminal, but those aren't the stories I want to tell today.

I flew on Southwest Airlines. If you have ever flown Southwest, you know that there are no assigned seats. They assign you a boarding order based on when you check-in for your flight. The first ones on the plane get the first choice of where to sit.

I was excited to see when I checked-in the day before online that I was in boarding group A and was 13th to board. I thought, "oh good, I can get a good seat". Well, we boarded the plane to find out that this flight was a connecting flight and was already VERY full when we boarded. I ended up going almost all the way to the back of the plane but I at least found an aisle seat.

There was a lady sitting next to the window on the row I sat on and that left a middle seat empty. As the flight attendants came over the speaker they told those still trying to board that only middle seats were left so please just take a seat in one of those. Two ladies who were flying together were trying to sit close to each other. One of them asked me if I would move to the middle seat (her friend was sitting across the aisle). Because just the idea of confrontation, especially with strangers makes me anxious, I obliged and moved to the middle seat.

The lady sitting next to the window leaned over and said, "that was very kind of you, but you didn't have to do that". I smiled, and said, "oh, it's ok". That started a conversation and I really enjoyed talking with this lady on the flight. Turns out, she was a flight attendant for Southwest and was returning to Dallas after working the last three days. I was delighted when she spoke of going to church in the morning and of listening to K-Love while she traveled. 

At the end of the flight as we were descending, the lady sitting in the aisle's phone rang. She pulled her phone out of her purse to see who was calling. Here is the conversation that followed between the off duty flight attendant sitting by the window and the lady sitting in the aisle.
  • Window Seat: "ma'am, your phone should be on flight mode or turned off". 
  • Aisle Seat: "really"? 
  • Window Seat: "yes, you should have put it on flight mode when we took off in Little Rock". 
  • Aisle Seat: (gave a dirty look and slid her phone back in her purse) "well, thank you". 
The lady in the window seat leaned over and said to me, "I guess it doesn't matter that she could cause the plane to crash, I guess she doesn't care about that". She proceeded to tell me that if she was working the flight, she would have done more, but that since she wasn't, she wouldn't make a scene.

This got me thinking. How many times do we live life like that? How many times do we do one of the following:
  1. Know what we are supposed to do, but don't do it. Know what God has asked us to do but we don't do it.
  2. When corrected, ignore the correction that is being given. When God reminds us what He has asked us to do, we ignore it or just straight up say "no".
  3. Look on someone else doing something that we know could hurt them and the people around them, but because we don't want to cause a scene, we don't do all that much about it.
Obviously, because I'm sitting here writing this post, the plane landed safely, but what if it hadn't? Had her phone caused any problems with the safe landing of that flight, it would have been due to the things above, her disobedience AND the off duty flight attendant not wanting to cause a scene.

Here is how this all challenged me, and my challenge to you. The next time you feel like your falling from the sky and your about to crash, take a good look at where you have been. Ask yourself if you have done anything in disobedience. Look to God to see what you need to do to make it right. And then be willing to obey what He tells you.

Also, if you are near people who are disobeying God and living life in a way that is detrimental to themselves and others, you have a responsibility to confront them in love. You won't always get results, but as followers of Christ, I don't think we can sit back and keep quiet when those around us are falling and crashing. Their wrong choices are not our burdens to carry (we can't live their life for them), but that doesn't mean that we should sit back and watch them crash without trying to help them.

Obedience isn't about what you can't do, it's about doing what God asks us to out of love to Him.

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments." John 14:15

Obedience is an act of Love toward God. Encouraging obedience is an act of love toward each other.