hello. goodbye.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

hello july, goodbye june
hello much needed vacation, goodbye stress
hello {hopefully} some new hens laying

hello fireworks, bbq's and sparklers
hello editing wedding pics, goodbye life
hello vacation goal of feeding seagulls out of our hands {it's normal, right}

hello to my baby turning 16 {aka...where has the time gone}
hello new season of Big Brother, goodbye boring TV
what are you saying hello and goodbye to this month?

Anchored {Book Review}

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Finding Hope in the Unexpected
by Kayla Aimee

About the book:
Based on the verse from Hebrews 6:19, Kayla Aimee's memoir weaves emotion and humor together to answer the question of where God is in the midst of suffering. Feeling as fragile as her one and a half pound daughter, she finds herself facing her greatest fear; that she may have finally become a mother just to lose her only child. With vulnerability and plenty of wit, Kayla lays bare her struggle to redefine her faith, her marriage, and herself within the context of a tragedy she never saw coming.
Years ago, this girl was obsessed with scrapbooking.  The amount of obsession I had cannot even be described.  There was just something about having my fingers all covered in ink and paint that soothed my soul. Expressing myself artistically while documenting our life was just a perfect fit. And one of the scrappers that I looked up to was Kayla Aimee. Her style, her wit, her charm and her way with words all drew me in. So when I saw this book up for review, I nearly tripped over myself trying to rush to get it.

Years ago, when Scarlette was born, I followed Kayla's blog. So every chance she had to post, I was there reading the update. I prayed for this tiny soul back then. I prayed for Kayla's Mama heart, knowing it was hurting. It was so surreal reading through the book, because of those reasons.

I completely believe some women are just born with a heart to be a Mama. Like myself, Kayla just wanted to be a Mama. But a struggle with infertility made that just a dream. When that dream finally became a reality, her faith was tested at 24 weeks gestation when she went into labor. Her daughter, Scarlette, weighed one-and-a-half pounds at birth. Kayla spent the next six months visiting her daughter in the NICU measuring days one heart beat at a time.

I'm telling y'all, this book is real, raw, sad, hilarious and everything in between.  You may have tears, but you'll be laughing through them.  Kayla has a way with words that is just unexplainable.  It was a book that once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down.  Aren't those the best kinds?!

Anchored covers life just before Scarlette was born, all the way through after coming home from the hospital, with various other memoir type life events and memories thrown in throughout.  It's definitely a book I would recommend to all Mama's out there!

Kayla Aimee is a writer, mother and slightly spirited southern girl who spends her days uncovering hope and humor in unexpected places. She makes her home and garden in the honeysuckle drenched hills of northern Georgia with her husband, Jeff and daughter Scarlette. Kayla shares stories of faith, family and her favorite things at www.kaylaaimee.com

Beautiful, Happy Day ♡

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Ten totally random things making me happy today...

1. Spending time with the people I love
2. Dunkin Donuts Caramel Coolata
3. God doing amazing things
4. Watching {and documenting} two amazing, beautiful souls join their lives together
5. A few days out of town
6. Roadtrip!
7. Laughter
8. Setting {and reaching} goals
9. Amazing, special friendships
10. Embracing change

Words She Needs to Hear {to the men}

Friday, June 26, 2015

Yesterday I did a post called Words He Needs to Hear, about showing our husband our respect through our words of affirmation. Since then I've been thinking how important it is for us, as wives, to hear those same words of affirmation from our husbands. While normally my blog posts are directed towards wives, today this is for husbands. So wives, call your husband in the room and let him have a little look at today's blog.

As women, we often have the feeling that life is ridiculously fast. We have to wear a million different hats as life comes at us with the speed of a thousand gazelles and the chaos of a concert at the state fair. Add to this the voices everywhere around us saying we aren't enough. We get wrapped up in the lies the world loves to throw at us. They love to target women. Wives often go through their day to day life having a feeling that they just don’t measure up.

How can you help? I have a sneaking suspicion that your words of affirmation...words of beauty, truth and love...could help drown out those voices. Every wife wants to hear those words but more importantly, they need to hear them.  And they need to hear them from you, the one their heart desires!

Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. 
Ephesians 5:33

Help her defeat the lies of the world today guys...

♥ You’re beautiful. I love you just the way you are.

♥ God wanted me to be happy...that’s why He made you my wife.

♥ Thank you for loving me.

♥ I'm glad you're my best friend.

♥ So the kids are in bed...wink wink

♥ Our kids sure are blessed to have a Mama like you.

♥ I’m a rich man because you are my wife.

♥ You’ll always have my heart.

♥ I’m sorry.

♥ I love the home that you've created.

♥ I’m a better man because of you.

♥ You’re worth it.

♥ Thank you for being my helper!

♥ You are a beautiful person, inside and out.

♥ I am such a blessed man thanks to you!

♥ I love spending time with you.

♥ Yeow, you look fabulous in that outfit!

♥ Your heart is safe with me.

♥ Thank you for cooking such a great dinner!

♥ I want to grow old with you.

Words He Needs to Hear

Thursday, June 25, 2015

As wives, we have incredible power in the lives of our husbands.  We honestly have the power to either build them up or tear them down.

As wives, we love to feel loved and be romanced.  But for our husbands, they love to feel respected and to know we believe in them. God created men with a need to have respect from their mate. What better way to show them respect than through affirmation!  Our men need to know that they are enough and exactly what we desire. We need to tell them how much we appreciate them!

Each time you give your husband a loving word of affirmation, you are valuing him. He will feel treasured, adored, loved and he will thrive. But something even more amazing happens – when you verbally appreciate your spouse with sincerity, his value goes up in your eyes, too. You see him the way you are describing him and he becomes more and more valuable to you. It is a win-win situation. With more words of affirmation, love grows. Um, hello smokin' hot marriage! When his woman is behind him, he will be able to take on the world.  Side-note:  I would bet when you shower him with praise, affirmation and kind words...you'll get the same in return!

And ladies, I encourage you to praise him in front of your kids. First of all, remember your kids are learning what marriage looks like by watching you. They sure do need to see that their Mama appreciates and respects their Dad. It means backing him up when he’s made a decision (even if I don’t agree), it means not making a decision without talking to him first and it means speaking good about him even when he isn't around. We need to teach our littles to appreciate how hard their Dads work to support and lead our households!

Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. 
Ephesians 5:33

Let's help him take on the world today girls...

♥ Thank you for loving me.

♥ I'm am so glad to have you as my husband.

♥ I trust you.

♥ I am such a different woman because of you.

♥ Thank you for being such a great husband.

♥ I'm sorry, will you forgive me?

♥ Thank you for leading our home!

♥ I'm glad you're my best friend.

♥ Hey, the kids are in bed early. Interested? ;)

♥ You are such a great Dad.

♥ Sooooo glad you are MY man.

♥ I absolutely adore your heart.

♥ I love spending time with you.

♥ Thanks so much for doing that for me.

♥ I am more in love with you than ever.

♥ I love holding your hand.

♥ Our kids sure are blessed to have a Dad like you.

♥ You still take my breath away.

♥ You are exactly what I asked God for.

♥ I love you sooooo much!

Embarrass Your Littles

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Kids love seeing their parents get affectionate, whether they admit it or not. Sure, you might hear shouts of "gross", "ewwwwww" or "get a room". But deep down, they don't hate it nearly as much as they let on. Normally, the shouts are said with a smile on their face.

I think it's great for kids to see Mom and Dad putting their relationship first. Most of the time, especially in today's society, the opposite happens. Parents are making their kids a priority and at the end of the day, they just don't have any time left for each other.

It's so important that our kids can watch us giving our spouse love and respect. That they can see we are still pursuing our spouses heart. The byproduct is that my kids see their parents dating. When children see their parents giving each other time, affection, and respect it is a reassurance of our love and makes them feel secure.

Our kids are watching us. They are learning to be comfortable with affection and to be affectionate with their own partner in the long run. Kiss your husband, dance with him and hold his hand. Pursue his heart. Show them your romance. What an absolutely perfect place for them to learn about love!

Here is one of my fav stories...

A few years ago the kids and I went to visit my Grandma in the nursing home. We were there during lunch and sat in the dining room with her. There were many tables in the room with people scattered around them. One table in particular caught my attention. The entire table was empty except for an elderly man and woman, sitting right beside each other on one side. I thought it was totally cute and figured they were married. Grandma told me they weren't married, they were just "dating". Which made it even cuter.

On the drive home, the kids and I were talking about that couple and how cute it is that they are "dating" when they are probably in their 80's or older. And Jade made a statement that not only made me laugh but also made me stop and think that maybe, just maybe, her Dad and I ARE showing them what marriage should look like.

Jade said..."When I'm old, I hope my husband still slaps my butt when I walk past him"

Now I'm not saying by any means that Joe and I are inappropriate BUT we are a very affectionate family. I love you is a daily statement in our household between all of us. Hugs and kisses are never, ever spared. And yes, there might be an occasional butt slap when I walk past him.

We are not only telling our kids what a happy, healthy marriage looks like, we are showing them. Go ahead, embarrass your littles. Show them you're healthy marriage. Pursue your husbands heart and plant a big ole' smooch on him today.

Heroes Disguised as Dads

Sunday, June 21, 2015

This is a day when we can celebrate one of life's priceless treasures - our fathers. I am fortunate and oh so blessed. I have a father who is an amazing example of what a Christian father should be. Godly Dads are priceless and are a gift from God.

Thank you for being my father. I am beyond blessed and honored by being your daughter! Thank you for everything you've taught me...from putting shingles on a roof, putting a u joint in a 69 Chevy to changing my own oil. You wanted to make sure I was able to do it all myself, and I thank you for that! You've created a girl who isn't afraid of getting dirty or jumping into a job only "men" can do.

Happy Fathers Day Dad!

Most men will proclaim each his own goodness, But who can find a faithful man? The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him. 

Proverbs 20:6-7

Soul Friends {Book Review}

Friday, June 19, 2015

Soul Friends
What Every Woman Needs to Grow in Her Faith
By Leslie Parrott

About the book:
Dr. Leslie Parrott is speaking the heart-language of women in her new book that shares how friendships are essential for spiritual formation - for women of all ages. 
In Soul Friends, Dr. Leslie Parrott brings you into an intimate and vulnerable conversation about the life-changing value of deep-spirited friendships and soul-altering relationships. 
Whether it’s a new friend, a member of a small group, or a friend we’ve had for years, these soul-friends embody the grace that enables us to take a next step in the unfolding journey of our lives. God has great purpose, intention, and fulfillment in the give-and-take of deep-spirited friendships. If we purposely cultivate them, God will bring us soul-friends to help us along our spiritual journey. 
Leslie reveals how every woman traverses four stages of growth—quest, calling, crisis, and communion – again and again. And whatever stage you find yourself traveling right now, you need soul friends to help you move forward. 
With courageous honesty and heart-felt revelation and reflection, Leslie reminds every woman of the incredibly intimate, intricate, faith-forming work God does in her through the gift of soul friends he places in her life.
This book had four main parts: quest, crisis, calling and communion. There were two questions at the end of each of the 34 devotionals to help the reader tie things together and reflect on what they just read. The chapters are very short–HUGE bonus for this reader as longer chapters totally loose me in non-fiction books.

Leslie’s personal stories, Bible references, and quotes and stories from Christian women throughout history all worked together to convey her message. Her choice of The Message version of the Bible was perfect because of the poetic nature of the book. Her frequent references to Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends added an extra touch of fun.

This book was provided to me free of charge by Book Look in return for my honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Dr. Leslie Parrott is a marriage and family therapist and co-director with her husband, Dr. Les Parrott, of the Center for Relationship Development at Seattle Pacific University. She is the author of First Drop of Rain and God Made You Nose to Toes, and co-author with her husband of several bestselling books, including the Gold Medallion Award-winner Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts. Leslie is a columnist for Today's Christian Woman and has been featured on Oprah, CBS This Morning, CNN, and The View, and in USA Today and the New York Times. Leslie lives in Seattle with her husband and their two sons. www.LesandLeslie.com

I'm Not Perfect, I'm Forgiven

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Yes, I'm a Christian
Yes, I can be the biggest hypocrite ever
I backslide
I stumble
I fall
I stray onto the wrong path
I'm not perfect
It doesn't mean I love Him any less
But, thankfully, God is working in me
And He knows my heart
I may be a mess, but I'm His mess
And He is slowly straightening me out
He has a plan for my life
And the day will come when I will be by His side
His work in me completed
And until that day I will take His hand
And let Him do in me whatever needs to be done each day
No matter how painful it will be for me
When He is finished, it will all be worth it
Because I am saved by His amazing Grace
I am forgiven

He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:6

19 Things God Has Taught Me in 19 Years of Marriage

Monday, June 08, 2015

19 years ago today I married my best friend, my perfectly perfect soul mate. This wild and crazy man could make me laugh by doing nothing. There isn't anyone else I would rather grow old with. So many people boldly told us that we would never last more than 6 months to a year and here we are, 19 years later, more in love than ever. We've had our ups and downs but fought for what was important to us, our marriage.

And with that, I give you 19 things God has taught me in 19 amazingly wonderful years of marriage.

1. Marriage is not about living happily ever after. If we were honest, we all crave a fairy-tale and a happy ending. I know I sure did. The problem isn't wanting a fairy-tale romance but trying to compare your marriage and your spouse to those whirlwind romances in the movies. Open your heart up to Gods love first and He will show you how to truly love your husband without unreal expectations.

2. It's worth fighting for. I know that it is not always easy, but it is always worth it. I'm thankful for a strong marriage. It saddens me to see how many people don't fight for it, they just give up and walk away. Goodness, Joe and I both could have walked away a trillion times by now. But we staid, fought and allowed God to script our love story.

3. It's not all about me. That's a hard lesson to learn, isn't it? Contrary to what the world tells you, it's not about your happiness. It’s not about getting your needs met. It’s about going through life together and serving God and each other. It’s about committing yourselves to each other, even though you may be different people in the years to come.

4. Most fights are over stupid things. Honestly, stupid things that don't really even matter. I always think of what a dear friend told me once...in light of eternity, is that even important? When I was younger {okay, and even sometimes now} I always wanted to prove my point and have the last word. Not one of my most endearing qualities. I've learned it's more important to prove your love than your point. You do that by not arguing over stupid things.

5. You can't change them. And honestly, stop trying. The only thing you CAN do is pray for them. Pray without ceasing. Pray for their heart, their actions, their day...basically pray for them from head to toe.

6. The more you put into your marriage, the more you'll get out of it. Marriage takes a lot of work and time, there is no doubt about that. Realize that straight away and commit to it. Go into marriage knowing your not going to have a 50/50 marriage, but a 100/100 marriage. Give your all because you love them, not because you expect something in return.

7. Sex is important. No, it's not everything, but God designed sex and marriage to go hand in hand. God intended sex to create a oneness within our marriage. We don't want to feel deprived and neither do our spouses. Remember "What God has joined together, let no one separate".

8. You can't do it on your own. This is a lesson we learned the hard way. Marriage is difficult. That is obvious when you see how many couples end in divorce. It's two imperfect people living together, failing daily. The only way to make your marriage truly work is to center it on Christ. You have to rely on God for wisdom, power, love and strength for your marriage.

9. Love them anyway. Isn't that what best friends are for? Sometimes I'm sassy and hard to love, but thank God my husband loves me anyway!

10. Make time for each other a priority. Make any time together into a mini-date. Whether it is running to the grocery store or a quick little ride on the 4-wheeler together. Snuggle in, hold hands and make that time together count.

11. Have fun together! One thing I can say about Joe and I is we can have fun {and laugh ridiculous amounts} doing anything! We need to make sure we have fun together too! Fun is a key ingredient to a successful friendship. No one wants to spend time with a Debbie Downer. Laugh. And laugh. And laugh some more.

12. Never go to bed angry. I know we've all heard that one before but it sure is true! I know when you're in the heat of an argument {see #4} that last thing you feel like doing is either saying you're sorry. But snuggle in, embrace your forgiving heart and say "we can't agree, but we can forgive".

13. Put them first! Don’t just let your spouse be a best friend. Make them your most important friend! Your relationship with your spouse should come before any other relationship in your life, short of your relationship with the Lord.

14. Marriage is about the glory of God. Contrary to popular belief, marriage isn't all about our own personal happiness. God intended marriage to mirror His relationship with the church so that we could basically be a testimony to others and SHOW them what God is like. Your marriage, your covenant-keeping love, will be your greatest witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

15. Don't be unfaithful. This is huge. Marriage is sacred, period. Being unfaithful to your spouse proves that not only do you not respect them but you are also untrustworthy. The pain it brings is in no way, shape or form worth it.

16. Don't put your kids first.  Hear me out on this one.  Don't allow your mothering to take precedence over your marriage.  Is being a Mama important?  Well, absolutely!  Pour your heart into those littles, but don't neglect your man.  Oh how many marriages I've saw fail because the kids were made top priority.  The kids grow up, move out of the house and the parents look at each other like strangers.  They didn't nourish their marriage and that normally doesn't end well.  

17. Pursue them. Now, this one is a bit tricky. Men and women are so different. I know, right, can I get an Amen? Pursuit, to most men, means feeling desired (sex) and affirmed through respect, honor and appreciation. Most women, on the other hand, are more likely to want to be pursued through time, attention and tenderheartedness (guys, read that as "romance").

18. Don't be disrespectful. Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. {Ephesians 5:33} I've read this verse over and over again. it doesn't say respect your husband only when you feel he deserves it, it doesn't say he has to GIVE respect to GET respect and it's certainly not up to us to deem when he is worthy of it. God was pretty clear with this verse, the wife MUST respect her husband.

19. Allow him to lead. This was a hard lesson for this controlling, strong and independent girl. Um, hello...I took the words honor and obey out of my marriage vows. I know, not my most stellar moment. But over the years I've learned I didn’t have to carry all of the responsibilities of our family and finances on my shoulders. Although I didn’t fully understand why God made husbands as the head of the home when I was a new bride, I fully see the benefits of this God-ordained headship today. It’s a wonderful blessing the way God set this marriage thing up!

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