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12.04.2012

The Rescue Plan

Well, I did a really poor job with my Thanksgiving posts. I was bummed I didn't keep up with it but life happens, right? Every time I write I post, I think Wow! I'm so glad I did that. I feel lighter. But for some reason, it's just not my go-to thing like it used to be. That aside...

I'm SO excited for this Christmas. Last year, Amelia was ten months old. She walked around and got into the wrapping paper and boxes. She loved the lights and decor. But there wasn't much interaction with Christmas beyond that. This year, Amelia is almost two. And oh my goodness, she's loving the Christmas season so far. Everything about it. As her mama, I'm loving it, too! It's amazing how different the perspective of a child is and how much lovelier it makes life seem. This hit me yesterday as Danny and I were doing our Advent activity with Amelia.

amelia's little nativity
We are reading the Jesus Storybook Bible Advent plan to Amelia along with doing a new activity everyday. Yesterday we sat up her Nativity toy set while I read her "The Terrible Lie". To be honest, I actually hesitated in reading her the story at the same time we set up her Nativity scene. We had just been super happy about Baby Jesus and how excited we were to celebrate His birth. Then comes this story of how sin entered the world and it was awful... you most likely know how it all goes.

After telling Amelia who the characters were in her Nativity scene, I said, "We are going to learn in the coming days why we are so excited about Jesus' birth! And why He is so special."

Then God said to me, "You need to read the story now." I got nervous! What the heck? So I opened her Bible and began to read. She saw the serpent as I was reading and said, "Not nice!!" We read on and she would repeat some of the words I was reading out loud. The more I read, the more it sunk into my heart that the reason I had to read the story then, in that moment, was because the sadness of sin entering the world must be paired with the joy of our Savior being born. It just has to be.


Yes, Adam and Eve sinned. They listened to the mean snake and they ate the yucky fruit, I tell Amelia. And because of that we couldn't be close to God anymore. But God had a Rescue Plan so that we could be close to Him again! And the reason we are SO excited about Baby Jesus is because He is our Rescuer. He will save us. He will bring us close to God again.

That's why they have to go together. 

I know Amelia doesn't get most of this yet. But she knows that snake is mean, not nice! She knows we love God. She knows that Jesus is someone very special. That little Baby Jesus figurine gets lots of loves, believe me. She enjoys our meal time and bed time prayers. Yet I was so afraid to read her the truth... the joy verses the sadness, in case it might make her worry or be upset. Instead, she just soaked it up! And you know I did as well. I choked back tears as I finished the story. I've been a Christian for eleven years and my heart so needed to hear the Rescue Plan again. It needed to hear the truth of our Promised Savior, born that man no more may die.

   "You see, no matter what, in spite of everything, God would love his children - with a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love. 
    And though they would forget him, and run from him, deep in their hearts, God's children would miss him always, and long for him - lost children yearning for their home. 
    Before they left the garden, God whispered a promise to Adam and Eve: 'It will not always be so! I will come to rescue you! And when I do, I'm going to do battle against the snake. I'll get rid of the sin and the dark and the sadness you let in here. I'm coming back for you!'
    And he would. One day, God Himself would come." The Jesus Storybook Bible, Sally Lloyd Jones

Come, let us adore Him!

11.10.2012

Let Us Give Thanks - SAHM

We can all agree that it's easiest to give thanks when life is going comfortably for us. It's easy to give thanks for people that we love and care about deeply. It's not so easy to give thanks in the middle of a stressful day or to give thanks for a job that isn't that great. But as I read God's word, I'm told to do it anyway.

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." 
Philippians 4:4-7 {emphasis mine}

This season of life hasn't been easy for our family. We haven't had any one major thing that has thrown us off. It has just been the daily grind of life doing what it does to families... grinding away. Danny works a commission's based retail job. This means the job itself is high pressure and stressful. Also, the hours are not typical by a long shot. He tries to work some overtime every week just to help our monthly budget. It's not uncommon for Danny to get home after Amelia has gone to bed and I'm exhausted from the day. He misses out on a lot of social activities with our friends. Not to mention the inconsistent schedule from week to week. It's a challenge, no doubt.

i ♥ puffy postpartum face.
only because that baby is so perfect.
To be totally honest, my heart has not been grateful for Danny's job in the recent weeks. I get tired of long days without him. But today, I am choosing to give thanks. I am doing so because even though there are difficulties with this job, there are blessings as well.

The biggest blessing of all is me being able to stay home with our daughter. Danny interviewed with Verizon Wireless a week before my due date; he was hired for the job two days after Amelia was born. Up until then, we had planned on me needing to work at least part time so that we could make ends meet every month. We didn't want to do life that way but we really had no other options. It was such an amazing relief to leave the hospital with our new baby knowing that I didn't HAVE TO go back to work.

moments that make my heart so content

Being a stay-at-home mom (or "SAHM" as I appropriately included in the title of this post) has been the most difficult job that I personally have ever had. There's a lot of my work that goes unnoticed by the human eye. My uniform is not glamorous or cute AT ALL. My hair is pretty much always a mess. I don't get to do what I want all the time (i.e. it has taken me three days to write this post. ha!). But I do get to see all of the little moments in this sweet child's life. I get to see her excitement over the simplest of treasures like painting, pancakes, and pizza. I get to see her learn new things like the ABC's and riding a tricycle. I get to be the one that helps her learn how to handle big emotions in frustrating moments. All these moments plus more make up what I love about being her mom and being able to be home with her so much. Mostly though, I am privileged to show her Jesus, even in all my mess. Praise You, Jesus, for that. I can't imagine doing anything else besides training up this child (and our future children) to be disciples of Jesus as we live out our every day life together. I pray that I'm doing it well and for HIS glory.

oh, just the happiest SAHM snugglin' with her girl in pajamas. simply the best.

I know that not all moms can stay home with their kiddos. Bills have to get paid! Heck, I even know some moms that don't want to. They find contentment in the work they do outside of the home, alongside their work at home. It's beautiful that we can all do life so differently and still raise children together, right? What are some moments that make you stop and think, "Yup, this is why I wanted to be a mommy. This. right. here."? Let's give thanks for the joy of being moms... SAHM or not! :)

11.06.2012

Let Us Give Thanks - Amelia Bedelia

It's November, the month of Thanksgiving. So I'm trying to write daily about the many blessings in my life. I wrote about how thankful I am for my husband yesterday. It was gushy post... so what? I kinda love the man. 

Today's post is all about my sweet girl, Amelia. Oh man, where do I even begin?? Should I tell you a little bit about her, too? Ok, I will. She will be two years old in February. I think she is one of the smartest kids I know. But I might be biased. Amelia is a very social girl. If you put her in a room with our closest friends, she will stand in the middle of the room and spin. She'll fall down, giggle at the people giggling at her, get back up and repeat. Amelia is brave and very active. But it's not uncommon to find her sitting at her table, just looking through a book or coloring by herself. She has the goofiest sense of humor I've ever seen in a two year old. There have been nights where Danny and I will laugh at her as she does or says something so silly. Then she will laugh at us laughing. And it will continue like that for a good five minutes. It's a blast. Of course, being a girl, she's "sugar, spice, and everything nice". Do you like the how the spice is tucked in the middle of that... yeah, this kid is spicy at times. She wants to do things by herself: "I do it! I do IT!" (zippers, shoes, pen caps, etc). Amelia is a determined, strong willed child. Which is bizarre because Danny and I aren't like that at all. *Cue the chorus of our parental units laughing hysterically* In all seriousness though, it's tough at times to handle her big emotions and personality. But at the end of the day, I just sit and wonder about the things she will do for the Lord if she pursues Him with all that passion. It gives me chills just thinking about it. This kid could and probably most definitely will move mountains. 

may the Lord guide us as we guide you, sweet girl.

If you know us well, you might know that Amelia's birth was quite intense. If you don't know the whole story, I strongly urge you to just take a read {click here for her birth story}. The Lord's amazing grace and mercy is woven throughout the whole experience. And for that, we give Him unending praise. 

A while ago, I was sharing Amelia's birth story with a friend. I explained how right after she was born and her lifeless body was laying on my chest, I began to pray. And as they took her away from me seconds later while my midwife was asking, "Does she have a pulse?", I prayed harder. Moments later, they replied, "It's faint." The echoes of them performing CPR on my newborn baby still ring in my ears as if it was just yesterday. Our doula told us that she just needed to hear our voices. So I began to tell Amelia to breathe, that Mommy and Daddy were right there. When she didn't respond, one of the nurses scooped Amelia up in her arms and ran out of the room, down the hall, and into the nursery where they could work more intensely to save our daughter. While they performed CPR on Amelia, I yelled and screamed this prayer: "Lord, please give her life! Breathe life into her!" As I retold this to my friend, she said something that was so profound to me {paraphrased}, "There is power deep within us that I don't think we realize is accessible until those intense moments surround us. You may have started out praying for Amelia, begging for God to save her. But it seems to me that as you prayed, your words were no longer a request. They became a command, in the Name of Jesus. You commanded life into the body of Amelia." To God be the glory for He is the giver of life. There's a reason Job 12:10 is so near to our hearts: "For the life of every living thing is in His hand, and the breath of every human being."

I share that because almost two years later, I see the LIFE that our daughter has and can't help but shed a tear while praising Jesus. Amelia is vibrant, joyful, spunky, full of the perfect breath of LIFE that our Father gives us. For all that she is and the life that she has, I am eternally grateful. 

see, i told you. life. ♥

Tell me about your children! What are some things about them that make you smile? What are some spicy things that make you flustered but make you smile later? 

11.05.2012

Let Us Give Thanks - Danny

I really wanted to start this five days ago. But alas, life happens. Plus, it's never too late to stop and give thanks for all the blessings in your life. That's what I want to do in November. I really want it to be a heart attitude that lasts throughout the whole year. Wouldn't you agree that this is a great place to start? My goal is to write every day for the rest of this month about the people and things that I am thankful for.

I want to start my Thanksgiving list off with my husband, Danny. If you met him randomly, he would introduce himself as Daniel. If you saw him at work, he would introduce himself as Dan. Whatever we agree to call him, I call him wonderful and all mine forever.

no place else I'd rather be than doing life with this man ♥

Most people reading this know Danny in real life. But for the few that don't, let me just tell you a little about him. He's been known by friends as a big teddy bear. He stands tall at 6' 3" and is a broad man. I think he's the type of build that appears threatening. But the instant you talk to him, you know that Danny is kind and gentle. He always smiles. And he has a big laugh. Danny has a heart for people and serving them. He works as a retail sales representative at Verizon Wireless. All day, he sells phones and troubleshoots and talks to people. He doesn't like the job all that much. But if he's able to help a person save money or understand their phone while also providing for his family, he's excited. He works a lot and doesn't get to serve with our church very much. But he has always viewed work as a sort of mission field for him. Danny has always kept Colossians 3:23 as his motto when at work: "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters..." And the thing is, people have noticed. On the rare occasion that he does get to serve at church, he will always be behind the scenes. He's the guy setting stuff up, tearing stuff down. He's the humblest man I know.

I could write about him and us forever because I just adore him. But today I just want to say a few random things: I'm thankful for his unwavering faith in the Lord that has built me up and up over the last ten years of knowing him, eight years of a relationship with him, and over four years of marriage. I'm thankful for the way he has lead our family through the fiercest storms of life as he follows the Lord. I'm thankful for the sweet, goofy, and firm daddy that he is to our daughter, Amelia. I'm thankful for the sacrifices he's made because family always will come first to him. I'm thankful for the friend that he is to those around him. I'm thankful for how he gets mad at me when I criticize my body. I'm thankful for how he spurs me on to be a better wife, mother, and friend just by simply living his life and loving me. I'm thankful that our children have Danny to look up to as they wonder what it means to be a faithful servant of the Lord.

I'm thankful for all of this and so much more!

Are you reading along and feeling thankful? Then tell me some things: if you're married, what is it about your spouse that you are thankful for? If you're single, tell me about the people in your life that spur you on to be a better version of yourself.

{photo credit: anthem photography, April 2012}

9.10.2012

Seeing Baby #2 & Our Birth Plan

We announced a few weeks ago that we're expecting our second baby! We found out at about 3.5 weeks. Then we made our first pre-natal appointment at 4 weeks. We had to wait until I was just about 10 weeks pregnant before we finally had our appointment. Well, that was today! And it was SO wonderful.

First, we did our ultrasound. We were anxious for this because we really wanted needed to know if there was more than one baby in there. I have been ten times more sick with this baby than I was with Amelia. Not only that, but I am showing a lot sooner. So, the first thing I checked for was multiple little babies. And there was just one. 
 
our newest little love.

I was sorta kinda sad. But mostly relieved! Right away, I noticed the little arms and legs flailing around. Amelia looked at the screen and said, "Elmo!" I guess she thinks every computer screen must play Sesame Street! She wasn't too interested until the ultrasound technician let us listen to the heartbeat. When that loud thumping started, she stared wide-eyed at us. We explained that it was the baby's heart beating, just like Amelia's does! The tech moved on to measuring the baby. But Amelia frantically asked, using her sign language and saying, "More, more!!", to listen to the heartbeat again. So we did. The baby was very active the whole time!

We had our first ultrasound with Amelia at 7 weeks 2 days. We were absolutely amazed at the difference just two weeks made in the development of the baby! With that, we were okay waiting a big longer this time for our first appointment! Everything looked great. Our due date is April 10, 2013... just like we figured! I told Leah, my best friend's mom, about how seeing that wiggly little baby today was just as wonderful as the first time we saw Amelia. There's nothing that gets "old" about pregnancy except maybe for nausea and vomiting, duh.

My midwife, Regis, was busy seeing patients at the clinic and handling three labor patients at the hospital. So our appointment was a bit delayed. But once I finally saw her, we had a great conversation about our hopes and plans for this birth. She asked how I was feeling about giving birth after having such a difficult labor/delivery with Amelia. I told her that I have had moments of fear. I've had moments of bitterness. I've had moments of sadness. But overall, I'm very excited. I know so much more about myself and about birth in general. I do feel more confident this time because I know what my body can do! We are very excited to try water birth at the hospital we birthed Amelia. Regis thinks I am the perfect candidate for a water birth. She has been so encouraging since Amelia was born. She reassures me that my second birth will be very different. The most helpful moment during our conversation was when Regis asked me to identify what I felt caused the difficulty in our first labor/delivery experience. And she listened to my reasons very intently. To finally feel heard was AMAZING! To feel like the last 19 months of questions and concerns was validated gave me so much confidence for this next time. Our conversation ended too quickly as she needed to rush off to a delivery.

My appointment ended with typical lab work and meeting with the billing office to discuss payments for the fees of our midwife. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that our insurance covers 100% of the fees associated with having Regis for my pre-natal care and the delivery. What a huge blessing!

Our next appointment is in 4 weeks and we're already counting down the days!

8.08.2012

Pregnant & I know It!

GUYS! I'm having another baby! I've been wanting to be pregnant again since Amelia turned one back in February. But Danny had some reservations still. We talked about it off and on. Everyone knew I wanted another baby. I even blogged about it a little bit recently. Overall though, I have been fairly patient. We came to the decision that after we got settled into our new basement apartment {which we're moving to in less than four weeks}, we could begin trying to conceive. Danny wanted me good and healthy and not throwing up for the move. I was totally on board with him so we planned to wait.

Until one night, he's all, "I've been thinking... what's a couple months?" And I'm thinking What the heck? Where did this come from?? We talked about it more. He said that he felt silly for wanting to wait just two more months when it really wouldn't making that big of a difference. We had already talked a few months ago about what it would look like IF we had a baby while living with David and Lindsey. We came to the conclusion back then that it would work out juuuuust fine.

This is the best part! Then Danny said, "Plus, it's not like you're going to pregnant right away. It will probably be a couple months." I asked him, "Well, have you thought about what it would be like if I did get pregnant this month?" His response? "Then you would be pregnant. But like I said, you probably won't be..." Famous last words. :)

Fast forward a week and a half... I was feeling SO TIRED! I'm a night owl usually. I go to bed around midnight, at the earliest. And when I lay down, it takes me a few minutes to fall asleep. Last weekend, I was ready for bed at 10 pm. I'd stumble into bed, hit the pillow, and not even remember falling asleep!

I knew it. I was 3.5 weeks pregnant.

After three days of this extreme tiredness, I took a Dollar Tree pregnancy test. But I kind of did it secretly because I knew I was really early still. The likelihood of a positive was slim. And Danny would say I was impatient. :) {Well, I am.} It was so faintly positive that I wasn't sure if I was really seeing what I was seeing. So I very sheepishly approached Danny and said, "Um. So. I have a confession..." He knew right away. And he saw the line, as well! That was Monday, July 30th.

I took a test on Tuesday. Darker second line. Postive.
I took a test on Wednesday. Even darker second line. Positive. {4 weeks pregnant}
I took a test on Thursday. Both lines showed up at the same time. Definitely positively positive.

two lines = baby #2 on the way!

As I write this, I am 5 weeks pregnant. I'm excited to blog through this pregnancy!

6.28.2012

Giving Up On Good Again

"I have to do it all.
I can’t do any of it.
But Christ in me can." - Jessi from Naptime Diaries.
 
My friends ask me often, "What did you do with Amelia today?" They know I keep busy with her. But my answer is always something like, "Oh, I don't even know. We just kinda hung out. I didn't do much." It felt braggy to talk about it all.
 
So the other day I kept a mental list of all that I did. Everything from the morning diaper change and breakfast, to play time, to bath and bedtime. Not to mention chores and self care. Reality is, I do a lot. And I don't give myself credit. A bigger reality is that I can't do any of it well on my own anyway so Christ should get the credit. And Jessi hit that straight home for me today with her "Giving Up On Good" post. 
 
I'm confident of what the Lord wants me to be doing these days. The things I do daily are good. The fact that I don't recognize all that Christ is doing through me as I lean into Him is ridiculous though. As crazy as life has been lately, I've never felt closer to the Lord. BUT! I'm realizing more and more how much I still discredit the work He's doing right now as I learn about having to do it all. But not being able to. But realizing Christ can. And He's in me. So I can. Craaaazy!
 
This isn't the best thing I've ever written in my life. I just needed to say all that. I especially needed to reiterate those words written by Jessi and how much they just speak to my mommy soul. 
 
I'm giving up on my attempt at humbleness and embracing the fact that I actually do do it all. Because of Christ. So I'm still humble. :) Or something like that. 

6.26.2012

Waiting Without Complaining

"Rejoice in our confident hope. 
Be patient in trouble and keep praying."
Romans 12:12 {italics mine}

As far as life has gone for us recently, it's been pretty darn pleasant! We are having a blast watching Amelia learn and grow. Danny has steady work which means we have a fairly steady income. I've been a stay-at-home mom for over a year now and I still love it. Things are just going well. 

But of course, because I am who I am aka human, there's another side to it all. Today's scripture {see above, Romans 12:12} for the reading plan I am doing this month hit me square in the forehead. Now, I'm not saying we have "trouble" in our lives right now. We really don't. There's trouble in my heart though. And I know I don't pray about it enough. 

In all the loveliness around me, I'm finding myself impatient about a few things...

Like moving.
On August 24th, we're moving from our apartment {which we've lived in for over three years} into the bottom story of our friend's home. We are VERY EXCITED about this. The space we'll be living in is bigger than our current place. Not to mention the money we are going to save so that we can buy our own house next year!! But you see, it's still two months away. We have started sorting and packing all of our stuff. We may live in a small place. But dang, we have some stuff! Photos are off the walls. Decor is down. It's all in boxes and walls are bare, which I already said. I really love my photos, can you tell?. Suddenly, I feel like I'm living in a box... not my home. The thing is, nothing compares to the time spent here as a family. The walls may be empty and stuff may be stacked all around. But Danny and I have some awesome memories in this place. We were just newlyweds when we moved in. As we move out three years older, three more years into marriage, two job changes, and a child later... we see the way God has walked with us and grown us.

Then there's baby.
This is me when I was 26 weeks pregnant with Amelia. The ultrasound, taken at 18 weeks 2 days, told us we were having a girl! And on the date my midwife told me I was due, our little bug, Amelia was born. I have not been on a more challenging journey than motherhood. I LOVE LOVE LOVE being a mommy. But oh man, there's been days and nights when I didn't think I could go on. Weeks after Amelia's birth, I certainly remember saying that I didn't even want more children {difficult labor and delivery paired with the natural exhaustion of having a newborn did the trick}. Just like everyone said would happen, I eventually decided that I do want more children. At least three more. Some days I wonder if I could be a mom to four {or more if that is God's plan}. Really, I don't think I can. Today for example, has been an off day. Amelia had a few moments of crazy emotions and so did I. My knee-jerk reactions on these off days remind me of how much I need Christ. When I cling tight to Him, I am assured that I can be a mom to four. I've made it this far, right? It's only by His grace! All that to say, I'm ready for the journey of having two kiddos. Danny is not. And so I wait. I don't think that needs much more explaining.

Another thing: Danny's job situation.
I promise you that you will never meet a man more dedicated to serving people than this guy. It's totally his heart. And he carries that into his job well. His customers love him. The only thing is that in the sales world {especially commission based sales}, you can't be super concerned about people. All that matters is that you meet your goals by selling the product. Therefore, you make money and you make your boss money. Of course, when you don't make your goals, higher ups get irritated. They want their cut because they have lifestyles to uphold. Danny's manager told him one day in an effort to motivate his sales, "I see your paycheck. I see what you make in a month. Honestly, I don't know how you support a family off that. Once you get that first big commission check, you won't settle for anything less." Danny has NEVER been driven by money. You're talking about a man who watched his Master-degree-holding-career-driven father immigrate their family of six from Brasil to America for better opportunities only to deliver pizzas. Danny has seen the hand of God throughout his whole life. He's always had a solid faith that no matter what, God will provide. Guess what? He has! This guy is driven by faith and his family. He is a hard worker in a job that he doesn't really like. But he does it to the glory of God. He also does it for his girls. As his wife, I want nothing more than to see Danny in a career that he loves and feels secure in. We know he is capable of many great things. This guy got a bachelors degree in Biology for the fun of it. He wanted to be a doctor, a veterinarian, or forensic investigator. He chose marriage and family first. I praise God that He has provided so faithfully for us through Danny's hard work. But I get impatient as I see my husband come home frustrated about his job, knowing he could do so much more. The hardest part is knowing where to go from here and how to best support my husband. By the way, isn't he handsome??

Wow. Do I have some praying to do or what? It's a wild ride, no doubt. I'm impatient, you know it. But I'm truly excited for the way God is growing me through this journey. As Cindy Beall puts it in her devotional, "You see, it's in those days, months and years of waiting where we start to look a lot more like Christ. A good friend of mine describes patience as 'waiting without complaining.'"

What things are you finding yourself impatient about? 
What are you learning as you go through this time?

6.22.2012

InstaFriday

Our little phone cameras see a lot of life throughout the week, don't they!? Here's a look into our last week.

I'm linking up with Jeannett!



I have finally begun to let go of "baby Amelia" and embrace the "toddler Amelia". This means lots more crafts and activities and mess throughout our day! This week, she enjoyed stringing beads onto pipe cleaners. Her coordination is quite impressive.
 

On Saturday, Amelia and I drove with Jason, Jessie, and Tim up to Battleground, WA (about 40 minutes north of our hometown). Our friends, Brandon and Karrie, hosted a yummy BBQ. We had a great time visiting with some of our dearest friends. We do youth ministry with all of them through out the school year. Now that summer is here, it's nice to just hang out with no agenda. Just great fellowship!


 See what I mean? This kid loves her beading. And her Dada. While I got ready for church on Sunday morning, Dada made bracelets and necklaces with Amelia (such a stud, he is). Best daddy ever, right?


Amelia has been loving Elmo lately. So after church while I took care of the strawberries (see next photo), she watched some Elmo. This may sound silly but it was the first time I sat her down in front of the TV and didn't feel guilty. I never want the TV to be a babysitter. But hey, 40 minutes of a toddler sitting still. That's huge! I'll take it. No mommy guilt here. For now.


Delicious looking, right? These bad boys are farm fresh berries that were prepared for my first ever canning experience. They are sitting frozen in our freezer now, just waiting while I find time and build up the courage to try canning. I'm thinking in the next few days I'll get to it. They were SO yummy though!


On Sunday evening, we had a great dinner at our pastor's home. Alan and Jill are some of the most loving and generous people we know. Amelia adores Mr. Alan. He played with her for a solid 40 minutes! We had great conversation and left feeling very blessed.


As a Father's Day celebration a day late we enjoyed a family breakfast date at Heidi's. It's our favorite place to go for two reasons: 1. The food is so yummy and inexpensive! and 2. There's an elderly waitress that we love to visit. She knows us by name and we have "our seat" in her section. The second booth on the left when you first walk in. :) The waitresses adore Amelia. She gets coloring stuff, plastic animals, and juice! We loved celebrating the most amazing man we know. He's so loving. Danny works really hard for his girls. We couldn't say enough words to express how blessed we are by him!


After our breakfast date, Danny let me spend time doing crafts! What a blast that was! I rarely do stuff like this anymore because it's a lot to handle while you chase a 16 month old. Thanks to Pinterest tutorials I made a canvas print using one of Amelia's photos from our family shoot with Anthem Photography back in April. I made an "I love you because..." noteboard. And then WE (that's right... Danny helped me) made alphabet magnets from the lids of baby jars and foam letters. Amelia loves them! She even knows which letter is "A". Smarty pants.


On Tuesday, I hung out with Annika (aka "Ka" if you're Amelia). Then we took Amelia to Bruce and Starla's house (Annika's parents). These are two people we love very much. And more importantly, they love Amelia as if she was their own grandchild. They babysat her every Tuesday this last school year so I could still serve in our church's high school youth group. Naturally, they have grown to enjoy their time with Amelia quite a bit. After a two week break since youth group got done for the summer, they were super excited when I asked if they could watch Amelia while I had my first bible study with Jessie and Linda (we're doing Breaking Free by Beth Moore this summer!). Lots of book reading, giggles, and games on the iPad followed. 


We went to the park with Jessie on Wednesday! Mama got sunburned. The park was quiet since we went around noon. That was perfect for Amelia! She roamed all over the play structure, eventually settling at the slide. Going up and down. We made a quick stop at Target where I got her these SUPER CUTE glasses. For only $1. Thankfully we got home before it got too hot! I love Oregon. I do not love that it's 60 degrees and raining one day. Then the next day it's 83 degrees and sunny! We need time to adjust! end rant


I went to the doctor on Thursday morning because I woke up with a sharp pain in my sternum. Turns out I have costochondritis. Cool sounding, not cool feeling. Basically I sprained my sternum. The doctor didn't give a real reason as to how I did such a thing. But I did and there it is. Danny took the day off since doctor's orders were, "Put your feet up and watch Netflix!" They say, with rest and such, it should be healed up in 72 hours. SO! Danny is home until Monday. Family days FTW! I'm still hurting a bit. But my feet are up and I'm going to enjoy the relaxation as best as I can. I also started the newest #SheReadsTruth study, Living the Surrendered Life on the YouVersion Bible app for iPhone. 
I think God is trying to teach me something... Breaking Free, Surrendered Life, "depend on Husband for a few days while you kick back and heal". This next week should be interesting and growing as I don't do "surrender" well.

What did your week-in-photos look like? Link up with Jeannett and comment here to let me know you did! I want to see your InstaFriday. :)

6.16.2012

Coffee Date {Slight Chaos}

If we were to have coffee together, I would first apologize that I'm a day late. But our day was super busy yesterday! We would be sitting in my living room where there's laundry piled on the couch. The floor is crumby and needing a good vacuuming. But there's worship music playing and a toddler running around who actually just requested her music (Toddler Radio on Pandora). She's a busy girl at 16 months old. She loves coloring with markers. She usually colors on her paper but she has recently discovered that her body is fun to color on. And her kid table. And our recliner. It's super washable though, thank goodness. Her bum is covered in marker since she runs around half nakey (we're doing some potty learning these days). How marker gets there, I'm not even sure.

If we were sitting here in my living room, I would be wanting to share so badly about all the things God is doing in my heart. But I would be hesitant. It's hard to share anything anymore when I'm so distracted by my bundle of joy, Amelia. I would tell you that it's nice to be able to go out for coffee while Amelia spends time with her Daddy. It's easier to share in those moments. But Danny works a lot.

I would want to share about how I'm feeling less fearful as I trust the Lord more. I would want to tell you about #SheReadsTruth and how these women have been such a huge inspiration to me this last month. I would want to tell you that I've read my Bible more in the last month than I have in the last year.

I would want to keep chatting but Amelia would be climbing on me, asking me to read her a book. I would tell you how I can't wait to have coffee together again. I would keep talking because inside, I am thinking how nice it is to have some kind of adult conversation. But that thought would get interrupted as Amelia climbs onto her craft table and takes a seat. I would say my goodbyes. And you guessed it, keep talking. But Amelia would climb on the couch, all over the laundry, and into the window sill to hang out with our cat and to see outside. Did I mention how she would be in just a t-shirt and leg warmers, no diaper?

I would finally say goodbye for reals and apologize that it was a little chaotic here. I'd close the door and begin my full day, excited for when we could talk some more. Even if it would be another short, interrupted, and uneven conversation. That's life with a little one.

 I'm linking up late with Alissa over at Rags To Stitches. :)


6.14.2012

Keep Dating ♥


engaged us. August 2006.
Early September of 2004, Danny and I had our first date after being best friends for nearly two years. It was fun and casual. We saw a movie and grabbed a bite to eat. I was 16, he was 18. Such kids, right? :)

We have never been the type to go on extravagant dates. The fanciest thing we ever did was when we celebrated our first anniversary. We dressed up. I wore white, of course. Dinner was in downtown Portland at the amazing Urban Fondue. We reminisced about our first year. Then we drove to The View Point Inn for a romantic overnight stay in the Columbia Gorge! It was great. But if I must be honest, that wasn't my favorite date in the history of our dates. And we dated a while (almost four years before we got married). Heck, we are still dating! ;)

The best dates are casual, inexpensive, in the middle of everyday chaos. I've only grown to know this well since becoming a mommy to our 16 month old cutie, Amelia. Who knew your dating life would take such a toll after becoming parents! (I know, duh...) We had to get creative when she was a tiny baby. It would be midnight and she would finally be asleep! So we would grab a bowl of ice cream and watch our favorite show on Netflix.

Some of my fondest date memories are from our more recent last minute date ideas. A cup of coffee, talking about us, minimal "parent" talk, and playing footsie under the table. It's all wonderful and so refreshing.

love love love him!

It has taken time but we finally see why it is so important to keep dating each other. Even after "I dos", babies, and chaotic life. We have a "Date Night" envelope in our cash spending plan. There was one month recently where we went on a date once a week for the whole month! It was amazing!! But we do have the challenge of not being able to have a babysitter that often every month. We date as much as we can.

And on every date, I feel like that 16 year old girl again. Just sharing life with her best friend.






6.10.2012

Something Far Better

About two months ago, I wrote a post sharing our plan for the next year as we prepare to buy our first home. It was a good plan. We were excited and felt confident about our decision to live with Danny's parents for a few months. Shortly after posting that plan, I had a conversation with a dear friend and sister. It threw our plan into a screeching halt and made us wonder if it was wise to go forth. Within our family, there were concerns brought to our attention. We felt quite a bit of tension amongst these people. The last thing we wanted to do was cause any kind of division in our family. So the day after that conversation, I sat down with Danny to tell him how I had come up with an idea on what it would like to stay in our apartment for a longer period of time while we saved. It could work but it would be a while before we could purchase a home. As I started to share he said, "Wait. I have something I need to talk to you about first." Danny went on to tell me how our friend, David, had called him during his lunch break to tell Danny how they (David and his wife, Lindsey) wanted to have dinner and talk over the possibility of us living with them. They knew very little about our situation, only that we had planned to live with Danny's parents, that it was up in the air now, and that we were praying about other options. They recently bought a home and did lots of beautiful work to it. It is much larger than what they need in this stage of their life and they wanted to share the space with someone from church. Danny told David, "You have no idea the timing of this phone call." This was not even twenty-four hours after the conversation with my sister-in-law. It was very evident to us that we had a lot of praying to do. Not to mention some relationships to mend, conversations to have, and wise counsel to seek.

For a solid two weeks, we prayed about the following living situations:
1. Living with Mom and Dad.
2. Living in our apartment.
3. Living with David and Lindsey.

Through many conversations and even more prayer, conflict was resolved and concerns were addressed within our family. In sharing with close friends and family, we received positive feedback about living with David and Lindsey. We were realizing quick that all of our options were good ones. They all lead to us buying a home. Some required more faith in the area of finances. Others required more faith in the area of relationships and family. One of our dearest friends and our community group leader, Jay, said a prayer one night that rocked my thinking about all of this. He said, "Lord, if You don't care which plan they choose since You have provided all three of these options, help Danny and Shelia to choose the best one for them." It was no longer, "Which plan is right or wrong?" It was simply, "What's best for us?" We had our mind made up pretty quickly after that. But we still needed to talk details with David and Lindsey.

So we did just that! WOW! The conversation was relatively short but so affirming. It was undeniably obvious that God had already begun weaving this situation together. Many of the concerns they brought up were ones that Danny and I had already talked about amongst ourselves. And our conclusions were the same. The most amazing part was that the amount they asked us to pay for rent/utilities was exactly what we figured we could afford while still being able to meet our savings goals. At the end of our conversation, it was agreed that our family living with them would work out and that it would be hard but totally worth it. :)

As I've thought about all of this, the following verse came to mind:

"We humans keep brainstorming options and plans,
   but God's purpose prevails." Proverbs 19:21, The Message

Over and over again in our life, we have made plans. They have been good plans, even God honoring. We have prayed about them and felt confident that we were in His will. Then at the eleventh hour, our perfect Provider comes in and says, "MY Child, I have something far better. Trust Me." I just love that! We went from this idea of living with the parents, renting 2 bedrooms, and sharing all rest of the house (i.e. hardly any personal space). Along with that, we would have had to pay at least $100/month for a storage unit. At David and Lindsey's, we will have a basement space larger than our current apartment! It has two bedrooms, a bathroom, the shared laundry room, and a super wide open living area with a little bar area off of it (which we're going to use as a "kitchenette"). We have a sliding glass door to a cute backyard (kiddie pool anyone?). We have a fireplace mantle to decorate (yes... I'm more excited about the mantle than the actual fireplace). Along with the laundry room of course, the only "shared space" will be the upstairs kitchen. OH! And we can store stuff in their attic! Another blessing is that David and Lindsey are flexible with how long we stay. So there's no pressure to move out by a certain date. Of course, we have goals of when we want to move out by. We don't want to be squatters! ;)

So now, we think the plan is this:

June - Deposit $100 into our matched savings account through Portland Housing Center (get matched $300). We have already deposited $200 into our IDA account. Begin sorting and packing this place. I'm so not excited to pack!

July - Deposit $100 (get matched $300). Continue sorting and packing. Celebrate my 24th birthday! ;)

August - Deposit $100 (get matched $300). Begin putting things into our attic storage. Begin preparations for a moving sale in our apartment. Move all of our needed belongings into our basement home. Have an awesome sale. Clean the apartment. And the first BEST part of it all... tell these guys at this not awesome apartment complex, "See ya, suckers!" BOOM! the second BEST part is beginning the "trying to conceive" conversation. Oh yes. ;)

September through May 2013 - Deposit $167 monthly (get matched $501-ish monthly). Save at least $400/month into our own personal savings. Continue paying down my student loan. We want to pay it off so badly but we feel like a larger amount into our savings will be wiser as we move into our own home. Celebrate Danny's 27th birthday and Amelia's 2nd birthday! Depending on our tax return for next spring, we might throw a large amount of that towards my loan. Begin searching for a home to buy. Maybe get pregnant?!?!

May-June 2013 - Continue searching for a home to buy. Buy a HOUSE!! A house. Our first home. OURS. Not an apartment. Our very own love nest. Of course, this is subject to be later in the summer as we can't predict the housing market. Nor can we say that we will find OUR house right away. This is why a flexible move-out date was such a huge blessing.

Danny and I have thanked God over and over again for the generosity of David and Lindsey. It will be a challenge no doubt living with another family. But we all feel so confident that God is weaving this together. We are really excited to see how our friendship with David and Lindsey develops as we embark on this journey.

And if you feel so led, pray with us in the coming year. Pray that we remain focused on our savings goals, that we may keep open lines of communication with our housemates and each other, that any conflict would be resolved immediately, that the Lord would bless David and Lindsey for their generosity, that we would continue to be open to the Lord's plan and re-direction (if necessary), that we would find a lovely home, and that this future home of ours would be a place of refreshment for all who enter from day one!

6.09.2012

Amelia Went Potty... Now What?

For the last two months, Amelia has been really interested in the potty. She will occasionally tell us when she's wet by saying "meh-me" (messy) or "bye-per" (diaper) while handing us a clean diaper and laying on the floor. She will also randomly sit on her potty while fully clothed. Lastly, we have started having her sit on the potty in her birthday suit right before bath time.

"YAY!"
Tonight she sat on the potty off and on for an hour! She wanted to read books and sit. So that is all we did. She even moved her potty to the kitchen, sat down, and played with her fridge magnets. Then she moved her potty back to the bathroom. At several points I could tell she needed to poop. She would grunt and all that. After she moved her potty back to the bathroom I asked her if she wanted to take a bath. She said, "No no. Book-uh (book)!" and promptly plopped herself on the potty while handing me a book. I started to read and she peed!! She also tooted so I for sure thought it would be the full thing. But she seemed almost startled as she realized she was peeing. So she very quickly stood up and said, "Meh-me! (messy)" over and over again. I assured Amelia it was ok because the "mess" was in her big girl potty. We did this for about ten more minutes before I finally put her in the tub.

I guess I'm wondering what all of this means?! And how we should proceed. Amelia is not even 16 months old yet. So I would think she's too young for potty training. But she clearly has an interest in learning! I've read a few things about "signs of readiness". She definitely shows a lot of the signs. It just seems too soon...


I'm interested in some feedback. What are your experiences with your toddlers and the potty? Another thing: what's the difference between "potty learning" and "potty training"?

5.10.2012

Giving Up on Good

I follow a lovely woman on Twitter. I also read her blog. I also buy cool things from her Etsy shop. She loves God and I like her. But I don't actually know her. I do know that she makes me think about bigger picture stuff. That is a good thing. Her name is Jessi and she asked people to join her in giving up on good. As women, we have a lot on our plate. Wifey-hood. Motherhood. Being a friend, mentor, sister, aunt, cousin, manager, daughter. Oh geez, not to mention cooking, cleaning, and all that fun stuff. It's all good stuff!! Truth is, we can't do it all (nor should we). Day to day, we have to give up some of the good for the better things in life. It can be something simple like not showering regularly so that you have more time for doing life (as Jessi shares in today's post). It can be bigger like quitting your day job.

I asked Danny to help me think of what good I have given up for the better things in our life. He replied, "A career." So today, I'm running with that.

For as long as I can remember, I've always wanted to take care of people. In middle school, I wanted to be Pediatrician. In high school, I wanted to be a nurse. By time I graduated, it was decided that I would go to college and become a labor and delivery nurse. I went to George Fox University (GFU) for a year for prerequisite courses. But I didn't get very good grades. I was told that I would need to redo most of my classes if I wanted in the nursing program at GFU. Not only that, Danny and I had recently gotten engaged. He lived an hour away from my school. Everything together pointed me homeward. When I moved back home, I took courses to become a nursing assistant. We got married and a year later, I started a new job as a Personal Care Assistant. It was a good job with a great organization, ok pay. A year into my job, we decided to start our family! We knew that it was our desire to have me be a stay-at-home mom. For a while (and even some days still) I wrestled with this. I couldn't find peace in not having a paying job. Of course, once Amelia was born and I held her in my arms, I found the peace quickly! It was bliss for a while. I loved being able to stay in my pajamas all day. I loved the flexibility of not answering to someone else's schedule (well... only Amelia's). I loved being home.

Here we are more than a year after I left my paying job, we're looking forward to buying a home soon, we want to have more children. All of these things require money. What I have began to wrestle with these days is this: my husband goes to work five days a week, works overtime, and provides so perfectly for his family. But I am at home with no financial contribution to be had on my part. We have goals and ideas. I begin to think, "Maybe I should've stayed working." "Maybe I should go back to work." If I did, oh man, the possibilities! We would have at the very least an extra $1000 a month to play with! And that's only if I worked part time. Maybe we would already be in a house. Our savings account would be quite a bit fuller. If, maybe, etc. blah blah blah....

Dear self, a house is a wonderful thing to have. But where you are is home. Money is important. But you have always had enough. Most importantly, your "career" NOW is loving on that hard working husband of yours, raising that sweet girl to be a woman of God, and creating a haven for your family. And guess what, you still have your dream of taking care of people.

Today, I'm declaring that I have given up on the good of my dream career of being a nurse so that I may take better care of the family God has blessed me with. And it feels overwhelming wonderful.

my better
What good are you giving up so you may take hold of the better things God has for you?


4.13.2012

The Next Year: Box it UP! Move it OUT! Baby Maybe? Home.

Back in January, I wrote a post about some goals for 2012 [if you missed it...]. In June (halfway through the year), I would like to visit each goal and see how I'm doing. So stay tuned for that! For now, I want to share about our financial life! We've got some big stuff going on.

At the end of last year, we applied for a program through the Portland Housing Center (PHC) that will allow us to open up a matched savings account. It's an incredible opportunity to essentially earn free money to go towards the down payment and closing costs on a house! There are some guidelines based on income, your assets, and what you can afford to save. You have to be able to save $100/month for at least six months (and up to three years). Also, they will match up to $300/month (with a $6,000 cap on what they will give you). That means at the end of the program, you will have $8,000! And all you have to save is $2,000. It's pretty awesome. Check it our here if you're interested. They have other helpful programs as well! Anyway, all that to say... we applied, met with a homebuying specialist, and had to be put on a waiting list. We found out in January that we were approved for the program but we had to continue to be on the waiting list until funding came through for the program. So we waited.

While we waited, we began talking about the next year and our personal/financial goals and how we were going to achieve them. Obviously, we wanted to buy a home and maximize our savings through this program. But we didn't have a ton of wiggle room in our monthly budget. Somewhere along the line, the idea of living with Danny's parents for a time came up (crazy, right?). We talked about it, prayed about it. We weren't too sure at first but as we discussed it more, it seemed super logical. Now, if you're not super close to us, you need to know that we lived with them three years ago for four months shortly after we got married. We had to do that because we were flat broke. I think we had $500 to our name with only $1200/month income from Danny's job at Blockbuster since I had lost my job and couldn't find work for a couple months. It was humiliating. Fast forward to now... it was scary to think about asking them to allow us to live in their house again. We wanted them to know that our situation is very different and much more positive now! So we made up a proposal (as I called it) before talking with them. We made a mock budget of what it would like for us to live with them (how much we'd save towards our down payment and our personal savings along with what we would give them for rent). We scheduled a time to talk over dinner. It happened and they were SUPER excited for this possibility. They were proud of us and how far we've come in three years. They loved to hear about our goals. Of course, my MIL was even more thrilled about getting to have a grandkid in the house for a while. THEN! A week later, we heard from PHC that they had received their funding! We were moved from the waiting list into the program! Super exciting. 

So! Timeline of events is as follows:
April - Take Financial Fitness class through PHC. Attend an orientation for IDA Program. Continue saving for when we open the savings account.

May - Open savings account! Deposit $300 (get matched $900)! Collect boxes for sorting home belongings into "keep but put into storage", "keep to use at Mom and Dad's", and "moving sale". Celebrate four years of marriage! ;)

June - Deposit at least $100, more if our budget allows (get matched $300). Continue sorting and packing.

July - Deposit at least $100, more if our budget allows (get matched $300). Continue sorting and packing. Celebrate my 24th birthday! ;)

August - Deposit at least $100, more if our budget allows (get matched $300). Get a storage unit and fill it up with belongings that we want to keep but won't need while at Mom and Dad's. Begin preparations for a moving sale in our apartment. Move all of our needed belongings to Mom and Dad's. Have an awesome sale (make lots of money for new stuff in our house!). Clean the apartment. and the first BEST part of it all... tell these guys, "See ya, suckers!" BOOM! the second BEST part is beginning the "trying to conceive" conversation. Oh yes. ;)

September through April 2013 - Deposit $300 monthly (get matched $900 monthly). I think we are going to hit our $2000 (their $6000 match) in February? We will continue to save the $300/month after that for furniture and misc. home things! Save at least $400/month into our own personal savings. Continue paying down my student loan. We want to pay it off so badly but we feel like a larger savings will be wiser as we move into our own home. Celebrate Danny's 27th birthday and Amelia's 2nd birthday! Depending on our tax return for next spring, we might throw a large sum of that towards my loan. Hopefully get pregnant! :) Should be interesting living with the parental units but hey, we'll make it happen.

April 2013 - Buy a HOUSE!! A house. Our first home. OURS. Not an apartment. Our very own love nest.

Needless to say, we are super excited. We feel very blessed that God has provided ways for all of this to happen so fluidly! And I don't share all of this to be showy or like, "look at us"! I just want people to know that anything is possible when you just trust God and His perfect plan. Danny and I have never had very much money (compared to society's standards). We've always had to be very intentional about every penny we earn. But we have always had ENOUGH! We might not be able to buy a giant house that will fit our dream family of six. It will be small house. But it will be ours. God will be in it, around it, covering it. And it will be blessed.

P.S. We need your boxes. :) This mama is in declutter-sort-and-sell mode! Let's do this.

3.07.2012

Bye-Bye Breastfeeding

I would like to first say that I am very satisfied with the fact that I have nursed my first baby for over a year. It has not been easy. After soreness and awkward public nursing sessions, I almost gave up at the beginning. My wonderful husband was my #1 encourager. I remember one night when I was begging him to go to the store and get me nipple shields. It was really late. Amelia was maybe three weeks old. We called several stores. They were either closed or did not sell nipple shields. Danny lovingly said, "Maybe it's a sign that you're not meant to use them. I know it's painful but you are strong. It will get easier." So I held tight. Within a couple weeks, I was breastfeeding like a pro. And I haven't looked back!!

I will miss this...
Fast forward a year and I think we [Amelia and I] are both getting done with breastfeeding. There is a part of me that just wants to keep going. It's the one thing that only I can give her. It's us time. To be totally honest though, I don't enjoy it anymore! I felt like a bad mom when I made that realization. But I just don't. I hate the way it feels. Sometimes, I even feel almost angry while she's nursing. I find myself thinking, "Hey kid, can you please hurry?!?" And she's getting teeth! All of that plus her nursing sessions have gone down to just 2 in a 24 hour period [although today is looking like just once!]. I haven't ever withheld from her. It's always been a "ask and you shall receive" kind of deal. We have just naturally gotten here.

Plus, there's even more selfish reasons. Like... I forgot what it felt like to wear a normal bra and to have the right support for my girls. I can't remember the last time I wore an outfit that I loved but didn't have to consider breast accessibility. I hate soaked nursing pads. I love the idea of a late night out with my husband! Or *gasp* even a whole night away!!! [I'm not totally ready for that yet... just talking about it since our 4 year anniversary is in May].

It's just getting to be time. I'm continuing to think about it. I'm also taking it slow since she is teething. I don't want to freak the kid out with too much change at once. I imagine she will keep that "bedtime" nursing around for a while. And I'm ok with that. As much as I'm ready to be done, I know I will miss it all.

2.12.2012

Amelia's Birth: One Year Later

As one can imagine, I'm still in shock that my baby is now a toddler. I'm in shock that my husband and I survived our first year of parenting! And some days, I'm even in shock that I am a mommy. You can probably tell that I've been reflecting a lot. How can I not? I find that I am in closest communion with God when I can see where I've come and see that He is leading me forward into even more adventures. And life has been nothing short of an adventure this last year!

Amelia Ada Laine at 6 hours old
First snuggle with Mama ♥
What I want to reflect on specifically is my birth experience with Amelia. It is a long, intense story that I never dreamed of in all the birth planning we did. I wanted the most natural birth I could have in a hospital. With my midwife, doula, & husband as my supporting team. Medication free. In whatever position was most comfortable for me. Jacuzzi tub for relaxation. On my terms. What I ended up with was a long, strenuous labor. A heart rate as high as the sky from stress. A baby with vitals unreadable by monitors. A baby needing a monitor on the head while still in the womb. An epidural at 10 cm (prepping for a c-section) in the middle of a contraction from hell. A 15 minute warning that if I didn't push her out, they were wheeling me to the OR. An episiotomy, vacuum assisted, scarring birth. The deafening sound of, "Does she have a pulse?" and CPR being performed on my one minute old child. Nurses rushing Amelia to the nursery. Not holding my newborn for the first time until 6 hours after her birth. [You can read the full story here.] All that to say, it wasn't exactly what we planned or wanted. By a long shot.

I don't want my reflection to be about the negative and my bitterness. It has taken a full year to finally get to this point. But I can see the good in such a challenging birth. For the last few months, I have struggled with questions in my own mind of what I could've done differently to have a more ideal birth, why I had to go through that, etc. a lot of "what if?" I have watched a couple birth documentaries recently and they left me realizing I was just another statistic. A lot of what happened, I think, had to do with me not being louder in my maternal voice, the medical staff not knowing my body like I do, and the medical staff feeling the need to rush what they felt like was a labor process going too slow. When I dwell on this stuff, I get so mad. mad at myself for not being more bold in moments that I didn't feel advocated for. I get mad that I didn't get to do it my way. I get mad about so much.
Our little family. Finally together.

But why get mad? What matters is that our daughter surpassed all odds and has lived a vibrant first year! She is healthy, smart, and growing tons! What also matters is that in my next birth, I have the experience to help me be more bold. Next time I will trust my body. It may go better. Or not. God is in control. And He is so faithful. But today, the most important part of this story is a precious girl that rocked our world back on June 4, 2010 when we found out this a tiny human was being knit together in my womb. Nine months later, she was here [even if it was a rough entry into the world]. The two of us became 3. A family.

Our lovely, content kiddo.
I never knew that one tiny person could cause so much joy, love, and raw emotion to well up in me. Or that one tiny person could cause me to fall flat before the Lord as I realize how much I need Him to continue life as I raise this child. I honestly have no words to describe what I feel for my sweet Amelia. There are only tears as I write this.

Today, we celebrate her. Our one year old daughter. Mama and Dada love you, Monkey. ♥

2.01.2012

P*INC Magazine article by Lindy Portin

A month ago, Lindy, a friend who writes for an online magazine called P*INC (click here to learn about the magazine and how it came to be), asked if she could write about me. She asked me questions about my story as a Christian. Everything from how I came to know Christ to how life is being a young mom. I had a blast writing for it. I just love to write about the things God has done in my life. It's almost a form of worship as I reflect and praise Him for all that He has brought me through. Anyway, I practically wrote a book answering all her questions via Facebook messaging. Then Lindy and I got together to talk some more. She took some photos for the magazine and we were finished! I wasn't sure what to expect beyond that. BUT! I just got to read the article today and Lindy did such a great job with the article. I pray that God uses my story to encourage many young women! It's one that He is still writing. I can't wait to share more of it as it continues on. I'm also excited that something like P*INC exists! It's so neat to hear other people's journeys and to be reminded of how awesome the Lord is.

To read the article, go here: http://pincmagazine.com/February_12/Shelia.html

1.16.2012

No More Silence

We were into the last day of our 2nd annual youth camp, ReDream. It was 2 o'clock in the morning as I sat on my bunk watching Amelia sleep. I wondered how anybody in the world could defile such a beautiful creation. My heart was heavy.

I had just got done listening to a woman give her life testimony about how from age 4 until far into her adult years, she was sexually abused. At first it was the teenaged neighbor boys that would play with her but tell her not to tell anyone. Slowly it progressed so far to her being raped as she sold her body working as a prostitute in Seattle.

Jessica shared the statistic that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 5 boys will be sexually abused by age 18. Here we were sitting among a group of 70+ students and I thought to myself, "I know I'm that statistic. Who else is?"

I've spent the last ten years of my life learning to own the truth that I'm not defined by what was done to me as a child. Also, my trust in people, specifically men, should not be tainted by what my father did to me. Instead, I am defined by the truths that I am valuable, that I can trust again, and that Jesus loves and forgives. Therefore, I need to love and forgive. I am 23 years old and finally being able to put to words the restoration that has occurred in my heart as I heal from being sexually abused. It has taken lots of time and tears to get to this point. But praise God that I'm a better person because of my tragedy. Just like our gracious guest speaker, Jessica.

I am writing this very openly because I am tired of the silence. How many of our ReDreamers came out about abuse in their life in just that one weekend? More than anyone could realize, I'm sure. Why have they had to hide for so long? How many more are still alone in silence? My heart broke that night because many victims don't know how to talk about what was done to them or what is still being done. Sometimes, like Jessica and myself, they are so young that they don't realize that the actions done to them were wrong. People assume that all of the prostitutes on 82nd are there because they want to be. The harsh reality is that many of the people in sex trafficking are forced into it. Once they are in it, the appeal of money or fear of leaving overwhelms them so much that they stay. And many of these people (pimps and prostitutes) were sexually abused themselves before even being in the industry!

What we have is a terrible cycle that needs to end. Jessica was first raped at 4 years old. My niece, Aivie, is almost 4. Can you feel the weight of that? I was molested younger than that! My sweet Amelia is almost one! What kind of person does these things to precious little lives? It's people who are in desperate need of a Savior. These people are so broken and hurting. They are only doing what was done to them. But somewhere along the line, there needs to be change. For my family, it started ten years ago when I gave my life to Christ. Amelia (and our future children) will grow up in a family where we follow Jesus and we love each other well. We will create the safest home possible. But even this won't be the 100% fix all, we know. Jessica had a safe, lovely home life when it all started. But you never know what kind of people will enter your life nor can you know the events that will cause hurt in a person's life. We can't protect Amelia from everything in the world. What we can do is entrust her and her siblings lives to the Lord knowing that He is the ultimate Protector. And continue to do our best!

I'm overwhelmed as I realize the magnitude of this injustice. I've wondered what I can do to make a difference. I figured dialogue is a good place to start. I'm opening up so that other victims will know that they are NOT alone. I'm choosing to be open about my healing so that people know healing IS a possible reality. I want victims to know that there are ways out of the darkness. It is too large of a group for me to think that my words could do much. But if not for the entire population, maybe for that one teenaged girl, I'm choosing to not be silent anymore.

Read Jessica's story here: http://sexmoneyherdofchildren.wordpress.com/
An organization that is getting involved: http://www.compassionconnect.com/abolitionnow.html