Sunday, February 2, 2014

Balancing it all!

Candace Cameron Bure (Yep, the beloved big sister from Full House.) has a new book out entitled "Balancing it all." Candace does many things, and I look forward to reading her book. She is also hosting a giveaway over on pinterest.  Mind voting for me to win? Click onthat link then "like" my photo (The heart next to "pin" button) TTHANK-YOU SOOO MUCH!


So what do I balance?


I have been married ten years to my husband Brandon, we have four children.
Jackson-10,Clara-9, Elliott-7, and Riley-6.
And we have two dogs, yorkies named Ricky and Lucy.
We home school, and attend a home school co-op.
Our son Elliott has Systemic Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, and that means we are on the go to therapy and doctors appointments quite a bit.
I am a photographer, and write on this blog to keep friends and family up to date on our family and hopefully encourage other women that stop by too.
I am involved in a women's Bible Study at our church (working through Gideon by Priscilla Shirer right now! LOVE IT!)
I love cheering on the Kansas Jayhawks (Rock Chalk Jayhawk, GO KU!)
and I am working towards my new years resolution of living green and only buying our food locally.
I enjoy staying fit and healthy, by running and using natural remedies.
I am known for my roadside finds, that I clean up and paint, and thrifting is a passion. One of my favorite sayings is "I need a little bit of coffee, and a whole lot of Jesus."

So how do I balance the husband, and children, homeschooling, cleaning, cooking, shopping, doctors, hospitals, tests, therapy, co-op, Bible study, dogs, reaching out to others, keeping in touch with friends, and making time for myself?

With a whole lot of Jesus, and a little bit of coffee.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

God whispers...

I wrote this post a few months ago. I have many posts that haven't been shared. But thought I should share this one. I do hope you all have a Very Merry Christmas! And Happy New Year!
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Whew, what a week we have had. As I sit here, it is late. And I am exhausted. But, God (I love that don't you) He has been so abundantly faithful in the smallest of details in our lives.

Nope, it's not been picturesque. Actually, today, I am fairly certain, my neighbors (good thing they are family!) Could hear my children, one at a time. Crying. Homeschooling is hard. I am often told when I say "We homeschool"..."WOW! You  must be REALLY patient. I could never do that."

Let me set the record strait. Patient. I am not.
As a precious homeschool mom wrote on her instagram. "If patience is a vegetable, I'm a twinkie."

Homeschooling has a way of holding a mirror up to your life. 24/7. This quote hit me. So. True.


If you do not have children yet, you are likely a very patient person. I think I was before I had children. Add children and a husband, and throw in homeschooling for good measure. And you have a perfect combination for making you the least patient person. Ever.

It has been an emotional day. And it was not until tonight when I began piecing our week together, that I sat back, got chills, and thought "Wow, Lord! What are you up to?"

As we battled colds and sickness, God kept the children that could be greatly affected by an upper respiratory infection well. While they were sick for about 48 hrs, it was simply remnants of the terrible virus I had. I am so thankful God spared them the misery.

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As many of you know, we have had quite the wild ride over the last year. But, really, our lives have always been a wild ride.

And because of that wild ride we have been on, God has given me a very tender heart towards other people on perhaps a "wilder ride" than others. The people who are hurting, and lonely, and desperate. I can relate to those people. I've been one.

A dear friend was on her own, very unexpectedly, and on a tumultuous ride. She needed help, and after me offering, she agreed. And this week God showed up. He moved mountains (okay, so boxes) and I am pretty sure He extended her vehicle, and we sent her off to a much better and safer place to be. In turn, she blessed me. She is strong in her faith and in our God. And for the first time in weeks, we were able to laugh, a lot, together. God is so good.

And as I sit here, in the dark, late in the evening, looking and observing what is around me, I can hear God whisper.

My cabinets are full of food:
He whispers: "I provide"
My babies are well... "I heal"
My home is just that, home.... "I give"
My friend is safe... "I protect"
My day of lost patience... "My Mercies are new Every Morning"

And a flash flood of Love overcomes me as I hear him whisper "I AM Love!".

How have you heard God Whisper to you this week?


Saturday, November 16, 2013

He made me a Momma...

Born November 16th 2003

Psalm 116:5 
"The Lord is Gracious and Righteous. Our God is full of Compassion."



I really can't believe it has been ten years. If I could go back and tell myself anything, I would tell myself that this baby, would forever change me, and that it will be better than I could have ever imagined.  Out of heartache and a rushed wedding, a season of cold and hurt, Jackson was born, and with him came spring. New growth, change and most of all healing

My boy is ten years old today. This birthday is such a big deal. I remember being ten. It's quite surreal to have children turning ages, you remember being.


And while his birth was so difficult, and the process leading up to it. A weight was lifted when he arrived. Literally as he was 9lbs 11oz!!!! But figuratively too. I can clearly remember being so overwhelmed with a fierce love for him.  Yet, at the same time, a gripping fear.

"Will I be enough? Can we overcome this? Will the last year of pain and trials ever fade? Will I wear the scarlet letter forever? Will people really love him? The way he deserves to be loved? If anyone hurts him, ever, I will die, or kill them in the process. He is so perfect."

See, Jackson wasn't "planned" or "expected". It rocked our families. It left a lot of hurt and devastation. It wasn't the way it "should be". We didn't do things by the book. The earthquake of telling everyone we were pregnant left so much destruction, and the aftershock was felt for months, even years after his birth.

And yet, he was beautiful and perfect. And ours. God was Gracious to us, God showed us His favor through Jackson's life. And we believed God would heal in His time.

It's no coincidence his name means just that. Jackson Lee. God is Gracious, Shows Favor, Healer. It's also no coincidence he was born on 11/16 after 55 hours of labor. That verse up there? Psalm 116:5. Proof that God delights in every little detail. I discovered that verse before Jackson was born, because I loved the meaning of Jackson's name.

Through Jackson's life, over and over again. God has shown Himself Gracious. Jackson loves people, he is very sensitive. His friends, are his best friends. All of them. The best.

He is willing to help, and ask's me all the time "How can I help you today Mom?".

He love's to talk about Heaven, and God. Almost every night when praying together, he will say "Mom, just think, ___________ (got hurt, sinned, messed up,etc) wouldn't have happened today, in Heaven." "Life will be perfect there Mom." "Mom, I climbed the tree today, and I could see everywhere, is that like what God sees?" "Mom, we need to pray for ___________ they were sad and hurting today. They need to feel loved, let's pray they feel loved tonight." He has a very tender heart. His tender heart has opened my eyes and often leaves me so humbled.

When he was just shy of his fourth Birthday, he prayed with me before bed to accept Jesus as his savior. Might seem so young, be he knew. He still talks about it. A little boy we knew, passed away so unexpectedly. A little boy Jackson called friend, and played with.  It opened the door to talk to Jackson about Jesus and Eternity. I will never forget him saying "I want to be with Jesus and Keegan someday too Mommy.".

His memory is uncanny. He remembers everything. I am amazed by this. And it's humbling.

He is so forgiving, and quick to say "It's okay Mom, I forgive you."

Everything I cook for him is always "The best food I've ever eaten.". So much so, he couldn't tell me what to make for his birthday dinner, because "Everything is my favorite".

He is a watcher, he takes things in, and draws the most amazing pictures from what he has observed.

I am being completely honest, I can not even remember the last time I had to discipline Jackson. Seriously. I don't say this to brag, because it's soooo not because of me. It's his personality. He just seeks to please, always has. He convicts himself, and many times I can recall him coming to me saying things like "Mom, I did  ___________ and I feel horrible about it. Please forgive me."  (We have to talk a lot about how we aren't here to please people, and how much God loves us. Reminding him God is full of compassion!)

He is the ultimate big brother. He is always looking out for his siblings. He is so protective over all of them, especially Elliott. Jackson has always been aware that life is harder for Elliott. He will use his own money to buy a special present for Elliott while we are out. He is quick to prop Elliott up or help him cut his food. He hates to see his siblings in pain or hurting. He tells Clara all the time "Remember you are living with Mom and Dad forever. Right?" He says to Riley "Ry, you always love everything, and I love that."





Ten years later, I can say I have healed in ways I didn't know I needed healing. God has used Jackson's life to impact eternity and most of all me. I am blessed to be his Mom. I don't deserve to be his Mom. I hug him daily and tell him "I am SO happy to be your Mom." And it's the honest truth. He makes us laugh, a lot. He is completely uniquely gifted. I know God has plans for Jackson, and I am so blessed to be a piece of Jackson's tapestry of life. I love that as he gets older a friendship is blooming, that we can have conversations about God and the Bible and life and Jackson want's to talk about it with me. That he asks "Mom, when can just you and me go on a date?". Oh, that melts me. He wants my undivided attention. And I relish his. I pray it never changes.

If you are reading this and are living through a dark time, maybe life has thrown you some big unexpected curves. Maybe you brought it on yourself. Maybe it was brought onto you. Please be encouraged. Healing will come. Spring is Coming. I won't ever forget that season in my life, but the memory is seen in warm rose colored tones now, and not in dark cold lonely tones. It is not the end, it is the beginning of a beautiful season. Out of the pain, and bad choices, and hurt feelings, and disappointment, God will be Gracious. He will show you His Favor. Healing will come.

My husband made this video for our Ten year Anniversary back in July. I thought I would share it now...So many memories over these last ten years.

Happy Birthday to our Jackson Lee! We love you more than you could ever imagine! And yet, no where near as much as God Loves you! You will forever and always be my baby boy! I am SO proud of you! And honored to be your mom.
 Love you for always~ Momma


Thursday, November 14, 2013

For such a time as this...

Yesterday my family lost a dear friend. Yet, we have The Hope of Eternity, and that makes his sudden and shocking departure, not hopeless. You see, He knew, and loved Jesus. He placed His faith in Him.

2 Corinthians 5:5
For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.
Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

(Above is a photo from the teaching series Breaking Camp, all rights belong to Fresh Life Church.)


Earlier this year, I came across a church, through the pastor's wife's instagram. The pastor, was just beginning a teaching series on Death. But, what stood out about this Pastor and his wife, was that their precious little girl died suddenly from an asthma attack, just a few day's before Christmas last year, at the tender age of five.

I have to be honest. He was teaching this series in March. Just Month's after their precious Lenya died. My first thought was "How could anyone, much less a parent, go on, in the midst of such grief? Much less, preach?" 

While I could not imagine loosing a child, I did come very close to being in their shoes last year. That event in our family, made death a very real reality. This series on Death helped me explain it better to my children, and helped me work through my anxiety and gave me so much hope.

Through this teaching, I saw first hand, how this man, who was still grieving the loss of his daughter, wasn't just clinging, but living out and confidently so, 2nd Corinthians 5. 

Click the link above to Fresh Life Churches website

He covers the above Scriptures. Talking about our bodies being a tent on this earth. Instead of being canvas and poles, we have flesh and bones. And unlike camping, where we take it all down put out the fire and it's over. Our tent is taken down, but our journey doesn't end when we leave this tent. It was never the end of the story. I really encourage you to listen to this teaching series. It might help you and encourage you.

For those of you who maybe on our blog for the first time, or for the regulars. Yes, you lurking. I am thankful for you, your life has a purpose, and you are loved.

 Call your Mom or Dad today, or someone who has been like one to you, hug your babies, family and friends. Tell them it makes you so happy to be their Mom or Dad or Aunt or Uncle or Grandma or Grandpa or Neighbor or Friend. We belong to each other, and most importantly we all belong to God. Love well today, and I ask you do it in Memory of a really wonderful man named Allen, who loved others so very well.

To the Troyer Family, we are praying for peace and comfort for you. 
May you feel the loving presence of our Lord at this time.  We love you, dearly.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween 2013

Halloween 2013

Hello blog readers! Apologies for being missing in action! We have been super busy as of late. Including a ten day vacation up north. There will be many photo's coming soon of that. I took loads of pictures of clients while vacationing too!

 For now, I thought I would share my favorite pictures from yesterday's festivities. We went to a local churches fall festival. Our children loved it last year, and this year proved to be amazing! The weather was a perfect 75ish degrees. (We LOVE our southern warm temps!) The favorite thing this year was the pony rides!


We have done theme's for costumes in years past, but this year, each of my kids wanted to be something different. And being that we were out of town, then sick, I opted for store bought costumes, a first for us.


Clara was a Princess. Jackson was Obi Won. Elliott was a pirate. And Riley was a motocross racer.
 The boys Favorite Carnival game was this one. PLINKO!
 My niece Mali only wanted her Uncle Brandon. It was the sweetest thing. This is her watching the ponies being unloaded from the trailer. To say she was excited is an understatement. This girl LOVED the pony rides!
 My little cowboys getting their turns to ride a pony.
 "Aunt B! Look, I got's a Catippliter"...be still my heart he is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO CUTE!
 My son Jackson. Using his glow necklace like a halo, and dancing around. "Look Mom! I'm an Angel!".

 Sweet Mali Jade getting her turn on a pony. I believe this was her second, maybe third ride.
 Riley, the serious pony rider.
 Liam my nephew "Aunt B, Dis is called PWINKO!"
 Jackson was serious about winning the most candy possible.
 The cutest little pirate. Ever.
Love this profile picture of my little Riley, aka A Motocross Racer.
We had so much fun this year together as a family. Making memories. I kept thinking back to my childhood and the wonderful memories I have spending halloween at our churches fall festivals. I am so thankful and blessed to have children of my own now. So many times I thought "I just love this, and them.". 
Last night was magical, and I loved every minute!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

{Wear-Fall Edition}





I just found these fabulous oxford shoes at our local goodwill. I love them! Perfect for fall! I love that fall in the south is more like "A cooler summer." When it does get cooler, I can not wait to pull out some fun tights to pair with these shoes.

Friday, September 20, 2013

30?


Last weekend was my husbands 30th Birthday!

I can not believe I have known this man, since he was just a boy. To be so blessed to marry him, and celebrate ten years of marriage this summer, to be followed by celebrating his 30th Birthday? It's been a milestone year.



 He is older than I am, (just had to put that out there). But it is good to know what to expect and "look forward to".


On the morning of his Birthday, he woke up and immediately stated:

"I'm really really tired."

My response?: "So, I guess that is what thirty is like, huh? Tired before you are really even awake? Well, I'm already there. Thanks for making it less scary."

This picture makes me laugh, and freeze this moment in time. Riley is constantly asking about numbers. "How many is three plus five?"...and "Four hundred plus two hundred?". We always say, "Count it out on your fingers." This time, he didn't ask, but simply added on his fingers. Having NO clue I was snapping his picture doing so. Then stated "So Dad, in ten years you will be forty?  Cause two plus two is four." Smart little whipper snapper.

This guy has every right to be tired. He wakes up before all of us. Exercises, makes his smoothy, takes care of my dogs, and kisses me goodbye (typically while I am still asleep!). He is the first one to work. I know because on rare occasions I have to drive him to work. He works hard. He works 9-7 and every saturday. Retail kinda stinks in that regard. He never complains about it, ever.
I made Chicken Linguini Salad (it is what he requested) and asparagus. Thankful he didn't care that it wasn't anything fancy, as I was still battling a fierce virus.

Then when he comes home, he play's with the kids, helps with dinner, or household chores. Goes on a walk with us, read's books to the kids, studies marketing and is constantly downloading trainings and seminars to listen to. He writes in his journal and kisses me goodnight, before starting the grind all over again.

I admire his dedication, his drive and focus.

I am the butterfly, he is the grounded tree.

 He is the analyzer and planner and thinker, and I, well, am not.

 He makes spreadsheets on the computer, of budgets and goals, for fun. The pile of books beside our bed could be a bedside table.

He desires to grow, and learn, and be better. I need that. And I am so blessed he pushes me to do so.
And while some may look back at their twenties with regret, while we do of course have some, we have learned so much from our mistakes and failures. It *almost* makes me excited to turn 40! To think about how much I will learn and change and grow in my thirties. With this man by my side, I say, bring it on!

I have seen his heart, radically changed by a loving, merciful, grace giving, God. And I think he would say the same of me. We came into our marriage with enough baggage to sink the titanic. Yet, God redeems and raises us up from the pit we have dug.

Nope, he is not perfect. But he is perfect for me.

And since I know he will read this,
I love you, so very much. Thank-you for fearlessly leading our family on this wild adventure called life. I wouldn't want to ride along with anyone else. I respect you so much, for choosing to lead our family under God's authority. And while we have had so many heartaches and disappointments over the years, my love for you has only grown. I can not wait to see what God is going to do in our thirties!

"And when the years have stolen youth away, I will stay. You will  be the keeper of my heart, until my final day and I am lost for words. You're more than I deserve, and when I can not stand. 
You are where I land."