Get from behind that camera, momma

“My hair looks too fluffy.”

“I look bloated.”

“I am only 25, why do I look like I have wrinkles?”

“I don’t have wrinkles in person.”

“My shirt looks too wrinkled.”

“I would rather just take pictures of you and Scarlett.”

“I wish I was 16 again and looked good in every picture.”

“My eye looks wonky.”

“My smile is crooked.”

“That one was taken from my bad side.”

These, these are actual words I have spoken about myself in order to delete  a picture from my phone or to not share it with family. The sad reality is I don’t think I am the only woman who believes these things about herself. In fact I was recently in Florida, I went down for my “little” brother and sister’s graduation. While we were happily taking pictures outside of the convention center my sister turned to me and said, “Wait, I need to be on the other side, it’s my “good” side.”I actually cringed at the thought that she thinks she even has a bad side. I assure you, there is not a bad side, angle or 3/4 finger on that girl. She is stunning on the outside and just as stunning on the inside. It made me stop and think though, I absolutely don’t want to sound like that to Scarlett. I NEVER want Scarlett to think she has a bad side, up, down or sideways. My daughter is breathtaking and I want her to know she was fearfully and WONDERFULLY made in the image of Christ. I also want her to get the message from me, her momma, that taking pictures and capturing memories is of the utmost importance.

I know we all find ourselves criticizing every crooked smile, double chin, laugh line, fat arm and ugly cry in the pictures we take. The plain and simple fact is, we see ourselves so much differently than those who know and love us do. We see the grown out balyage dye job, the toe nails that were haphazardly painted in a hurry and maybe a little too long, the one hair that is slightly out-of-place, and that awful crooked smile and how that left eye closes a little too much when we laugh. When they see a gorgeous natural brunette with peekaboo blonde showing through as though  it had been naturally kissed by the early summer sun. They see the awesome pink polish on her toes and the smile of a woman who loves her family and friends, who might I add has a fantastic laugh that you can tell comes from the JOY deep within her soul and fills the room. You see perception is everything and if we perceive ourselves as these horrible creations made by Dr. Frankenstein as opposed to gorgeous sculptures created by the master potter, each of us hand crafted with the utmost care and after His own image.  After all we were not put on this earth to please others who are living in the flesh but to please and praise the Lord.

We shouldn’t be worried about what flaws others may see in our photographs because to tell you the truth that flaw you see, someone else wont even notice. I promise in all reality that flaw probably isn’t even there. All of our pictures don’t have to be magazine worthy and we don’t need to look like Instagram models in our pictures either. We don’t need to take 101 selfies to decide that number 14 was the winner. Why are we worrying ourselves to death over a picture? I want when Scarlett is 25 and has a baby to happily show them pictures of her and her momma. I want her to smile with joy and remember the fun we had. I want her to have pieces of me with her even when I can’t be. I don’t want her to have to scrounge up a ten-year old picture of me, I want her to have one that was taken two weeks before. I don’t want her to have to beg her me to just please take a picture with me momma. Even if I am not the size I want to be or my hair isn’t perfect, because I promise I still think my momma is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. If I had to guess I’d say Scarlett will probably feel the same way, not because I really am the most beautiful woman in the world but because I love her. I want her to be able to see that through pictures and home movies and smile and know it’s true. So get from behind that camera momma, because I know your babies feel the same way.

Get from behind the camera momma and show your children how happy you are to be taking a family photo or a silly selfie with dog ears or kissy face. Get from behind that camera momma and let your babies see your beautiful smile, your gorgeous hair, those pearly white teeth your parents spent so much money to give you. Get from behind that camera momma and take a sweet picture with their daddy or who ever you love so they can feel and see the love in your eyes. Get from behind that camera momma with tear-stained eyes. Let them see the utter joy on the day they were born. Get from behind that camera momma and make memories with your family. Don’t leave them wondering where you were on what looked like an awesome zoo day. Get from behind that camera momma even if you are makeup free, or sweaty or whatever your reason is, get from behind that camera momma and get in front of it. I promise your babies will thank you.

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I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.

Psalm 139:14

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It all Started with a Picture

About a week ago, on my Instagram, I put up a screenshot of a post my husband, Abe made on his Instagram account. It was a sweet post about how he was so happy he posted a particular picture on his Facebook page and how it had caught my eye and our love pretty much blossomed from there. A few people have since asked me about our love story and how we met, I thought it might be fun to do a blog post about it to go into a little more detail about our love story, albeit a little unconventional, but still our love story. So if you like unconventional love stories then keep reading because ours is truly just that.

In September of 2013, I was sitting at home on a Friday night with a friend and we were just casually talking and scrolling through our Facebook pages. When BOOM! There he was staring me in the face, perhaps, “THE hottest guy, I had ever seen that may be real!”, Yes those were my exact words to my friend, insert eye roll emoji. She popped up and grabbed my phone and we both gawked and gushed over this guy and how cute he was, this is where it starts to get good. After she handed me back my phone I looked at her and said, “I am going to marry this guy”, she then looked at me like I had lost my mind and laughed and told me I was goofy. See, his photo had been submitted to a Facebook page dedicated to strictly sharing pictures of attractive men all over Facebook, which in turn another friend shared his picture. Most of the guys were famous and well-known fitness trainers and what not but not this one, neither one of us had ever seen this Gamecock hat wearing fella before. His picture also had over 20 thousand shares and at least a thousand comments. So, she was rightful in thinking I was a little goofy for thinking I could possibly track this fella down. Little did she know I was already scrolling through the comments and low and be hold someone had tagged this mystery man. Abe Ignatius, hmm, could it be? I did what any silly twenty year old would do, I sent him a friend request of course.

Oh boy, I definitely felt a bit like a weirdo after I clicked send on that friend request. What would I say? What if he asked how I found his profile, after all I was from Florida and he was from goodness knows where. Maybe South Carolina, he was wearing a Gamecock act after all. Is Ignatius his last name? That’s a strange last name… Oh my gosh about a million things went through my mind after I sent him that friend request. As I thought about it, I had started to chicken out and before I could delete my request… He accepted it! Oh my gosh! Then ding, a little notification went off, a new message from Abe Ignatius. Alarm bells started to go off VERY loudly in my head, really what am I going to say now?! He proceeded to ask me if I had found his profile from “that” picture that was getting shared all over the place. I told him yes, and we talked about how he wanted the picture taken down and I was the only friend request he felt compelled to accept from the ones he had received up to that point. He knew how to make a girl feel special that’s for sure! It was a nice little conversation and I honestly thought that’d probably be the end of it, boy I couldn’t have been anymore wrong.

So a few weeks went by and we started to text a little, then a little turned into everyday. He also wrote me the sweetest letters, yes letters, hand written and everything. He started to call me too and we would have hour-long conversations and in the conversations after about a month and a half he asked me to come and meet him. In person! WHAT? A guy who lives in Ohio, roughly 800 miles away from me, wants me to come meet him. Oh man, oh man, what if he wasn’t that sweet in person? Or worse what if he tried to bury me in the backyard or try to keep me in the cellar? It puts the lotion on the skin! But seriously should I do this? As much as I tried to truly be alarmed at the thought the more I prayed about it the more peace I felt about going. On december 6, 2013, I did the scariest and most thrilling thing I had done up to that point in my life. I got on a jet plane and I flew to Ohio to meet my future.

Once I arrived, Abe was waiting flowers in hand, red in the face and sweating, mind you it was 30 degrees outside and snowing, he may have been even more nervous than I was. We hugged and then silently walked to the car, I don’t think either of us really knew what to say. Once we got into the truck, Abe turned on some music and I did what any normal girl would do to try to break up the awkward silence, I started to sing along very loudly and very off-key. Looking back it’s so me but could I have been any more goofy ? Abe looked over at me and just smiled. From then on out everything felt so natural. We had the best weekend together and I truly didn’t want to leave and couldn’t wait to see him again. Shortly after I went to Ohio Abe came to see me and meet my family, he also asked my dad for permission to marry me. It was of course met with an absolutely and on February 18, 2014, Abe officially asked and we were on our way to forever.

Shortly after our engagement I moved to Ohio and lived with Abe and his parents in their spare room, I had truly never felt more at ease and at home so quickly, it was like it was where I was meant to be. Shortly after we purchased our first house together and on September 26, 2014, we said our vows and made a promise to one another in front of God and our families to be as one for the rest of our earthly lives. Here we are almost four years later. I will tell you, it hasn’t always been easy or a fairytale but every single day is one hundred percent worth it. Four years later, we have bought two homes together, laid two dogs to rest, had a baby and just really enjoyed life together. All the hiccups and all the disagreements could never overshadow all the triumphs and accomplishments we have experienced together. I have watched my husband grow in so any ways and I cannot wait to see him grow even more over the next forty years! Cheers to unconventional love stories and never being afraid to take chances and step out of our comfort zones because after all, nothing ever grows in them.

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Love bears all things, 

believes all things,

hopes all things, 

endures all things. 

1 Corinthians 13:7

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The Deal of a Lifetime

We are so excited to tell our friends, family and sometimes even strangers about those awesome deals we find. Whether it be that adorable dress you found yourself at the thrift store, those $20 Nikes you found your hubby or that incredible deal on grass fed beef at your local farmers market. Whatever the deal was, we love to run and tell everyone about it. Most of the time we are all but yelling our great deals and steals from the nearest rooftop. So why do we not go yelling about the greatest deal of all?

Okay, so what is this amazing deal I keep referencing? What if I told you, you could be rich for the rest of your life, and all of eternity for that matter. Would you believe me? What if I also told you it wouldn’t cost you a penny? Not one dime of your hard-earned money. The only thing you would have to do is ask someone for that eternal richness and it would be given to you. Sounding too good to be true yet? Guess what, it isn’t. The person who would be giving you this deal has already paid the ultimate price for you, me and anyone else who may come and ask.

Now I know some of you may know where this is going but for those of you who don’t. I am talking about Jesus. Jesus paid it all for sinners like you and me. He died on the cross so that you and I might have eternal life and riches alike. All you have to do in order to receive this amazing deal is to ask the Lord. Ask him to be your Lord and Savior, tell him you believe he died on the cross for you and that you will live your life for the rest of your days to glorify him. Tell him you will use your life, talents and time to please him. You will not be sorry you did, that I can guarantee you!

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If  anyone opens, the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they will with me.”

Revelation 3:20

The Lord has blessed my life in more ways than I can count and he continues to do so. I want everyone to know of this amazing deal I have received and let them know how easy it is to capitalize upon. I am not sure why in today’s world we have to be afraid to let the world know the truth, we hide it from people. Sometimes we hide it because we are afraid we may lose friends, jobs or sometimes our social status. But why? Why are those  good excuses to run and hide or to shelter in place. We as christians need to let the world and the devil know, we will not let the fear of persecution keep us from spreading the good news of Christ. Jesus tells us in John 15:18, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” I don’t know about you but I am willing to lose it all for Christ. I have and will continue to lay it all down at his feet, for what he has done for me is too great for words. So instead of telling everyone about that amazing thrift store or department store steal, why not tell them of the amazing deal of a lifetime or should I say eternity the Lord is offering them. It will benefit them and us alike, much more when all is said and done.

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Knock and the door will be opened

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Be unapolagetically you

Yesterday I was talking about Instagram with a friend of mine. We were bantering back and forth about all the temptation they faced on Instagram because of all the attractive people and how perfect everyone’s lives looked online. Or as I like to say the way everyone’s lives appear. Brad Paisley said it best, everyone is so much cooler online. Nothing is truly ever as it seems. I get it though, I find myself not wanting to post pictures or “selfies” online because honestly Instagram is full of gorgeous girls, when you can look at a 10 or 12  why would anyone care to see a solid 6? Yet again, social media is all about appearances. We shouldn’t have to edit ourselves or our lives just to keep up with superficial appearances online. I want my life to mean and be more than the quality of a picture I put on the internet.

I mean let’s face it, I am no Instagram model. I am a goofy, fun-loving, speak my mind, woman who longs to be the salt of the earth. I  wear ridiculous slippers and generally could care less what anyone else thinks of me. Throughout the seasons of my life, I have never really cared if my clothes were cool or if I had the most in style shoes. I have always kind of marched to the beat of my own drum. If I had to describe myself I think I would say I am more on the eclectic side. I have never been afraid to get a wild hair cut or try something new with my makeup. Even if that one time I may have resembled Rumpelstiltskin when I tried to pencil in my eyebrows. Nor have I ever been afraid to speak my opinoin and forge my own path, whether it be the choice to not vaccinate my daughter or simply make alternative decisions when it comes to parenting. For the most part I have never been afraid to be myself and I am pretty proud of who I am. I feel like I am setting a good example for Scarlett. But I will admit, like I am sure a lot of people, I fall into the trap that is social media. I see everyone driving new cars, building new homes wearing the most expensive designer clothing with perfect makeup and eyebrows. Seriously though, why does everyone on Instagram have amazing eyebrows? Sometimes it gets me down about what I have or what I lack. When instead I should be more concerned with what my heart says about me and what my life online says about my relationship with Christ.

Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

1 Peter 3:3-4

Every now and then I do get down about the fact that I am not a model or that I do not have a brand new car or a gorgeous farmhouse, I mean I am only human. When in reality I have so much to be thankful for. I have a gorgeous family, a wonderful church family, a beautiful home and a paid off car. My life is wonderful and the Lord continues to provide for me and my family and meet our needs. The Lord is faithful to me and my family because we are faithful to Him. He doesn’t care that I am not the most gorgeous woman or that I am not the world’s best mother. What He does care about though is my heart and what my life says about Him. He cares about the impact my heart has on others and what my mouth says and my hands write about who He is and the example I am giving to others about Him. That is my duty as a Christian woman to make sure my life is a reflection of Christ on earth.

If my life isn’t screaming about Jesus on a daily basis then am I really even making the proper impact? I would rather be poor here on earth and have all of my riches built up in heaven. Heaven is where I am going to spend eternity, I didn’t come into this earth with anything and I surely can’t take anything with me when I leave either. My only worry should be how my life here reflects my future in heaven. I long every day to be the salt of the earth and to have the Lord’s light shining through me every day. I don’t want people to say, “wow she’s beautiful!” I instead want people to say, “Wow she has such heart for the Lord.” Why should I care about being a 10 or 12 on the OUTSIDE? How superficial is that really? I am saddened that even crosses my mind at all. Beauty is of the flesh and while I am human I do not want the desires of the flesh to be what my life is about. Personally, I would rather my HEART be a solid 10 rather than my body or anything else that is of this world.

Why should it matter that I prefer to eat pancakes and bacon on daily basis rather than a kale smoothie or that awesome new vegan diet? Can we just take a second to appreciate a nice fluffy pancake…My belly isn’t perfectly flat but it and my soul much prefer a pancake over the tasteless green goop  that is a kale and quinoa smoothie, but hey if you prefer the smoothie that’s okay too! It is all about doing what is best for you. As a mother I want to lead my daughter by my example. I want Scarlett to NEVER be afraid to be who she is or to shout about Jesus with her life. By leading my life in a soulful direction my only hope is that I can scream about Jesus through my everyday walk. My hope is that as my daughter grows up she knows Jesus not only by what I tell her about Him, but by what my life shows her about Him. I want her to see my hands being the hands of Jesus,  my feet being His feet and my heart having the desire to match His. I am nowhere near a perfect person or Christian, I fall all the time and depend on the Lord to pick me back up. My humanly desires and the desires of the flesh are just one of the many ways I struggle as a Christian, but at the end of the day I know where I truly want my heart’s desire to be. I also know that if I have a strong conviction in my heart to live a life of devotion to the Lord and what He would have me do, my life will reflect that desire. My only hope in this life is to be a shining light to those who don’t know Jesus. And maybe one day through me someone can see the beauty of Christ and all that He has done for all of us. Jesus loves us all, even in our imperfections. In fact He loved us so much that He laid down His life here on earth so that we all may live eternally in heaven and though our flesh may perish our souls never will. Don’t be afraid to be the person the Lord created you to be and never be afraid to let your earthly life shout for the Lord even if it may not get you a thousand likes or followers on Instagram because most of the time the right thing isn’t the most popular. The  path less traveled leads to the greatest reward.

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For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Galatians 6:8

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Motherhood

Oh goodness, if someone asked me two short years ago what motherhood was I would have probably just said, “Oh that’s just giving birth and taking care of a cute tiny human.” That is probably where I would have ended my answer too. Oh how naive I was. Motherhood is SO much more than giving birth. If you asked me that now, I can promise you my answer would be SOOO much different.

Motherhood is stinky, scary, messy, hilarious, irritating and challenging. Above everything else though, motherhood is rewarding. I know, I know you hear it all the time but hear me out for a second. When I say rewarding I don’t just mean you taught your child how to potty on the pot and you feel like supermom. Although, I am sure that is  a pretty amazing feeling, trust me I am anxiously awaiting the last day I have to change a diaper. I am talking about the first time your daughter  says mommy after eight-teen long months of hearing daddy a million times a day rewarding. Or that giant bear hug you get after going to get the mail and the tight squeeze only momma can give after a scraped knee or bumped head. It isn’t just the good stuff though. It’s the kind of rewarding after an entire year of your daughter spitting her food on the floor when she doesn’t like it and one day she spits it on her plate instead. I mean it still isn’t the best table etiquette but hey! we are making progress people! Progress!

When my journey through motherhood first started I honestly thought I had it all under control. My delivery went as planned, I had the most gorgeous baby sleeping on my chest in the birthing center bed. Life could not have gotten any better in those few moments and hours after I gave birth. Then motherhood hit me right over the head in the middle of the night three days later. I mean it came at me full force like the twister that picked up Dorothy’s house. I was an exhausted new mother who had a baby that wouldn’t stop crying nothing I did worked and nothing Abe did helped either. I swear he walked a two mile circle around our small two bedroom apartment that night. By night four we were in a hospital room and I was still an exhausted mother getting up every two hours to nurse my extremely jaundiced newborn baby. I felt so helpless in just three short days, motherhood went from this exciting new adventure to a mildly terrifying experience. We spent three days in the hospital. I prayed so much those few days that my baby would be okay and we could soon go home and everything would be fine and we could find out new normal as a family of three. While we did get to go home everything wasn’t exactly fine and our new normal wasn’t exactly what we thought it would be. I now had a baby who was colicky any nothing would calm her. Scarlett had a witching hour every night and would cry for the greater part of an hour every. single. night. I cannot tell you how rewarding it was when we finally found out what she wanted and how to calm her, but boy did it seem like a long road. A long road with a little sanity lost along the way by Abe and I both. I am almost certain the two year old stage takes the rest of that sanity away. HA!

Motherhood may not always be easy but that doesn’t make it any less rewarding. I have found that I feel the most rewarded as a mother on some of my worst days. I mean only my daughter will look at me with admiration even if I am wearing spaghetti from head to toe without a stitch of makeup on and deodorant that is now non existent. Only Scarlett can look at me like I’ve hung the moon and placed the stars after a stint in time out or a mom glare because she knows she isn’t allowed to feed the dog cookies. Scarlett is the only one who doesn’t care if I brush my teeth or if the last time I cut my toenails was two weeks ago or if we eat coco pebbles for dinner because I am too tired to cook. I am literally her whole world (Abe too) and I love every second of it. Scarlett is the most amazing, rambunctious, hilarious and stubborn little two year old out there. I am immensely grateful that the Lord has chosen me to be her momma. She makes my journey through motherhood even better than could have ever hoped. Motherhood is for sure the mother of all hoods! HAHA

 

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The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 

Isaiah 40:31 

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Thirty-six, the number of months in three years. Abe and I have been married for three years as of today, that’s 157 weeks, 1095 days and 26,280 hours and if I had to guess I’d say we are about a million kisses in, just as many laughs and about half of that in fights… Okay, maybe we haven’t fought that much but we’ve had our fair share. The one thing I can say is that these past three years have been wonderful, exciting, stressful, trying, and scary. I have learned so much about Abe and myself all while trying to be a good christian wife. We’ve had lots of fun and learned so much and grown up in different ways with one another.  I am not the same wide eyed girl he married but in some ways I am. I still like to see people for the best that is within them and I forgive people more often than I should. I have changed in so many ways thanks to following my hubby’s lead, I’ve learned how to say no and tell others how I feel in a constructive way. Abe really has made me so much better in more ways than I can honestly count. I am so thankful God brought us together but can I be honest? I wasn’t always so sure we would get this far.

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You see that girl there in that picture, reading that letter? She had absolutely NO idea what she was getting into or the exciting adventure she was going to be embarking on the moment after she said her, I do’s. She was in for trials, struggles, tests and so many nights of prayer. Prayers for strength, prayers for purpose, prayers for knowledge, prayers for answers but most importantly prayers for her marriage. The Lord works in mysterious ways as the old saying goes but the older I get the more true I believe that to be. I know people say the struggles make you stronger and the troubles bring you closer together but I never really believed that to be true because in young and immature relationships when things got hard there was always an exit always a way to get out; with marriage that isn’t the case. You can’t just walk away when things get hard, you can’t just file for divorce when you feel like you just cannot live another day with a man who just doesn’t understand what you need or want. I can tell you somedays it has honestly felt like it would be so much easier to just walk away and forget all about “us” but I just never could, I made a vow to the Lord, in front of friends and family alike. I promised Abe I would love him through it all. I meant every word of those vows three years ago and I believe in them still to this day. There isn’t another man I would rather argue with, annoy, give back scratches to or love. He is MY person the one who the Lord molded for me.

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The Lord really did know exactly what I needed when I met Abe. I was in a pretty sad and lonely place. I was a wild child with a drinking habit who was further away from God than I had ever been. I was looking for fulfillment in anywhere but church. Then along came Abe, quiet, purpose spoken and reserved Abe nothing I thought I wanted but everything I needed. He grounded me and brought me back to reality. He saw my heart and really wanted to know about the person I was on a personal and spiritual level. You see, Abe had struggled with faith and where or how it should fit into his life. Abe knew God and knew he wanted the Lord in his life but wasn’t getting fulfillment out of his routine at the time. Through deep and meaningful conversations we discovered a common christian connection, do you know what he did next? He asked for my help and prayer on his journey with Christ! Me? The party animal hypocrite who wasn’t where she should be in her walk with Christ? That girl? Yeah, that girl, that’s the girl he asked. Through all the junk I had brought into my life Abe saw that light of Christ, all be it very dim, he saw it flickering and fanned the spark that turned into a slow burn. Eventually through fellowship and praying for Abe and his walk and learning more about Christ together,  I reignited the fire in my heart.

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The day Abe asked for my hand in marriage was one of the most happy days of my life. I just knew we would have this strong and amazing relationship and marriage. We did everything the “right” way, we attended church and prayed together really keeping the Lord at the center of our relationship. We trusted in him that everything would be wonderful because we were following His word. In the midst of the hard and trying times we, somewhere along the line lost a little of that faith and slowly the Lord slipped further and further away from our hearts and desires for our marriage. Soon we were out in the middle of the ocean aboard a sinking ship, neither one of us knew how to get it back ashore. Together we became as one and cried out to God for help and direction. We have both learned how to nurture our relationship along with one another. We have also learned that love is NOT like the movies, you don’t fall madly in love with one another and it’s happily ever after until the end. It is hard work and it takes constant work, faith, forgiveness and lots and lots of grace, after all without grace neither one of us would be saved by the blood of Christ.  It didn’t happen over night and it wasn’t always easy to listen but I am so glad we did because I can honestly say, I am married to my best friend. My encourager and number one fan.

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Abe is all I could ever hope for or want in a husband. I feel so blessed to have him to call my own. The day Abe asked for my hand in marriage he asked for my heart too and truly wanted it. He has sheltered my heart and kept it safe just as he promised. The day Abe said I do he meant forever because I know I am not an easy person to live with or love but he does such a wonderful job. He has learned and grown so much as a husband I can’t believe it’s already been three years. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for us as a couple but I can say I am more ready than ever for the ride!

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So they are no longer two but ONE flesh. Therefor, what God has joined let no one separate. 

Matthew 1:6

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Photo credit: Katie Lapish Sabo of Katie Michelle Photography

 

Unfinished

For the past few months I have been really into re-finishing and painting furniture. I love the french farmhouse chic formally known as shabby chic house decor, but I have a limited budget for any decorating or re-decorating. Like my stepmom used to tell me, I have champagne taste on a beer budget, and boy that couldn’t be anymore true! For the most part my house follows my farmhouse theme to a T, but I wanted to make my furniture and cabinets in my house a little more “me”. So I decided to take up painting.

It all started with these bar stools that were left behind by the previous owners of our house, I loved the style and they fit our bar height perfectly but most importantly they were FREE. Two of my favorite words are free and cheap although I’m told, I should say thrifty or frugal instead, but alas old habits die-hard. I re-painted those stools and distressed them and from then on I have had the itch. I have gone from bar stools, to the vanity and mirror in our master bathroom, then our laundry room cabinets to our entertainment center, the head-board in Scarlett’s room and my latest project is this cute little miniature antique roll-top desk for Scarlett. I have found that I really love to paint and re-finish furniture it gives me a sense of accomplishment knowing I have a brand new custom piece of furniture and that I was able to do it myself and for peanuts really. I have also found the process to be quite stress relieving as well. What is stress relieving for me though kind of drives Abe crazy, well not all of it just the unfinished cabinets in our laundry room.

When I took on the job of re-painting our laundry room cabinets I had two different shades of gray and couldn’t decide which color I liked best so I decided to paint one cabinet one shade and the other the second shade. After I painted the cabinets I decided what shade I liked best. I painted all three cabinets and left the fourth kind of unfinished. It is painted but just a different shade than the other three and it drives Abe crazy. He always asks why I’ve started a new project when I haven’t finished that cabinet in the laundry room yet. I’ve always just laughed it off and continued on with my projects. The truth of the matter is though, I like to keep the door the way it is because it serves as a reminder to me, that like that cabinet door, I too am an unfinished work of art. The one big difference between me and that door is, I am an unfinished work of art being “painted” by the master artist, the most masterful artist there ever was or ever will be, Jesus. He is sculpting, painting and re-finishing me into the person he wants me to be. I like to have the reminder because I am often times very hard on myself for my struggles and downfalls. But when I look at myself as an unfinished custom piece of art I am a lot less tough on myself.

I do have some anxiety, specifically around traveling, I am terrified of flying and long car rides. I am always afraid it is going to be horrible or something will go terribly wrong. I am trying to over come that anxiety and sometimes it gets the better of me but I just pray and continue to look at myself through the eyes of my heavenly Father and see how he looks at me as an unfinished work of art. He is continuing to sand and chip away at the old layers of  me and make me into the Godly woman he wants me to become. I know that anxiety stems from fear and fear comes from satan telling me that the Lord isn’t capable of protecting me and keeping me calm and giving me peace. Sometimes I get so frustrated with myself for letting my anxiety keep me from realizing that Jesus will protect me and he will give me peace and he is ultimately in control of it all. If I just truly trust with not just my words and my head but with my heart and truly trust he will be able to take away every fear and anxious feeling.

I, as a person have so many layers of my old self that still need to be chipped away and sanded down, and covered by the love of Christ. The day I accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior is the day I said, “Here Lord, here it is, all of me and I am trusting you to take control and do with it what you may. I want you to plan my life and give me direction, peace and guidance on all my future endeavors because Lord, I cannot do this life without you.” Saying those words and putting them into practice is where the difficulty lies, for me anyway. These days I am trying to put those words into action and continue to let the Lord chip away and sand me down to the christian wife and mother he would have me to be. Next time you cannot see anything good in yourself, remember that you are a beautiful, unique but unfinished work of art created by the master artist and he is not finished with you yet.

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 Ephesians 6:11-12

Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 

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Guilty

The mom guilt is real y’all. I am constantly reminded of all the wonderful things everyone else does with their babies and most days all Scarlett and I do is hang around the house. Social media makes us more aware as parents to what everyone else is doing and we, or at least I sometimes seem to think, well gosh, I am just as boring as they come. We aren’t doing all those fun activities and adorable and age appropriate crafts and science experiments. I count it as a win when Scarlett will draw or color for ten minutes while I wash the dishes or vacuum the house, let alone sit and do some sort of painting or what have you. It goes back to that ol’ comparison thing…

I noticed the days I am off of social media and don’t pick up my phone at nap time to check IMG_5746Facebook “quick” or to scroll through my news feed while Scarlett is playing independently, I am overall happier. I am also less likely to feel that mom guilt creeping up in me, because when you only have yourself from the day before to “compare” today to it makes you feel pretty great! I have been actively working to reduce my screen time, I want to show Scarlett that a phone or some facade we put on social media isn’t important, and definitely not important when it is up against time spent together laughing and cuddling and just being together. It has made me a much better mother, person and wife. I am more aware of all the fantastic things in my life and blog1just how wonderful my life is when I am not constantly focused on what everyone else is doing and how much more exciting their lives all seem compared to mine. I am not sure what brings out all of my mom guilt, it is different some days than others and some days I just plain don’t care what anyone else is doing. When I do get that feeling in the pit of my stomach that I am just sucking at it all, it comes on strong! I start to question everything and worry that I am not a good enough mom. I think it makes it more difficult too when we as mothers are constantly feeling judged as well, it adds an entirely new dynamic to it all.

“There will be SO many times you feel like you’ve failed. But in the eyes, heart and mind of your child you are SUPERMOM.” 

Stephanie Precourt

IMG_5523You know what I mean by judgement too… IT IS EVERYWHERE! I am guilty of judgement too, I may not have ever said it to someone’s face but the Bible says by thinking it, you are just as guilty as someone who does it. You get judgement for vaccinating for not vaccinating, for not feeding your kid organic grass-fed everything, for feeding your kids processed food and McDonald’s, for not taking your kid outside enough, for not making them say yes ma’am and no ma’am for potty training them too early or too late… Trust me, I can relate to each and every one of those statements. I’ve gotten side eyes and tons of unwanted advice over the past two years. Scarlett is a terribly picky eater and it is a daily struggle to get anything nutritious in her and honestly some days I just am tired of fighting and stressing out about it. But that doesn’t make me immune to the criticism I have gotten because all she had eaten in a day was Cheerios and cheese puffs. It’s the, “That’s not good for her, you need to change that,” comments that seem to cut the deepest. It is like a blatant attack at my parenting, or at least that it was it always feels like, even if it was just intended to be friendly and helpful. Sometimes, it just hurts to feel like you are failing and that someone else noticed. It always seems to play into that mom guilt insecurity that you aren’t doing enough or you’re just failing… Guess what though, you aren’t!

 

We as mother need to stop trying to give unwarranted advice, I am SO guilty of this on occasion, I try so desperately not to ever give unwarranted advice or to not make another momma feel insecure or like their decisions are wrong. Because honestly, I believe that every momma is doing a fantastic job and they are doing exactly what God intended them to, after all, he did give us our babies because he knew we would be the mother they needed. I personally feel like being a mother is the absolute greatest gift and job the Lord has ever bestowed upon me. I am so thankful to be Scarlett’s momma and she is just the absolute best little girl I could have ever asked for, she is the light of my little world and one of the biggest parts of my universe. I am sure every mom would say the exact same thing about their babies as well and that is why I truly believe every momma is doing an amazing job at being a mother.

Encouragement is what we all need, whether that be in form of prayer for one another or through fellowship or just personal quiet time with ourselves and Jesus but we all desperately need our tanks filled at the end of each day. I get my tank filled through love and laughter and in the quiet moments I spend with the Lord in prayer and praise. Getting my tank filled rejuvenates me as a mother and helps me to be the absolute best I can be for Scarlett, my temper isn’t as short my worries are almost non-existent and I am less likely to let that mom guilt creep into my thoughts and heart. We are all guilty in some way of judgement or just succumbing to that ever-present feeling of mom guilt, but it’s how we decide to change or recover from it that truly matters.

Her children rise up and call her blessed. 

Proverbs 31:28

 

Stumbling upon joy

 Some days joy is hard to come by and I find myself searching and searching and searching… The other day I ran into the grocery store to get eggs while Abe and Scarlett waited patiently at the book store around the corner. I found, what I thought, was the most amazing deal on eggs and gave myself a pat on the back. On our way home, I told Abe about that “awesome” deal I got on those eggs, when he informed me that I actually paid a dollar more an got less eggs than usual. I roll my eyes in frustation with myself, there  are those C’s I got in math class coming back to haunt me. As we get home and I’m unloading the car, I drop the bag full of eggs. Wonderful! Three dozen eggs cracked and splattered all over our driveway… Those eggs just got a whole lot more expensive… I picked up the bag and hurried inside to try and salvage what I could. As I am rinsing the eggs that aren’t currently being scrambled on my driveway, I notice an odd cold sensation on my foot. Thinking that it’s just some water from the counter full of wet, freshly rinsed eggs, I continue. Until I notice a lovely bright orange substance all over my countertop. Even better, the bag I carried the eggs in with has a hole and I now have an egg covered countertop, floor and foot. “Can this day just be over?!”, I mumble to myself as Scarlett wales in the background because I won’t let her have a pen that dropped from the counter in the hysteria of the egg debacle. No, a crying toddler, broken eggs and a sticky counter top and floor aren’t the end of the world but sometimes it sure does feel like it.

“Joy is the echo of God’s life within us.” 

Joseph Marmion

 Joy is one of the main reasons I started this blog, I find myself wondering on a regular basis where do I find my joy. I was listening to the radio and that was a question one of the djs IMG_5440asked the other. As I listened to their responses I though to myself where does my joy come from, the Lord? Well, yes of course! I most definitely find my deepest most fulfilling joy from the Lord but where else in my life do I seek it out and find it? I just didn’t know, I couldn’t pin point anything really that made me joyful down deep To my soul. I know where my daughter’s joy is, it’s in eating freshly popped popcorn or watching a Peppa Pig episode she’s seen too many times to count, playing in grandma’s waterfall and throwing rocks or in getting to take a swig of Daddy’s big cup full of chocolate milk. I know where Abe’s joy is, it’s in going to the gym and makingIMG_5452
Scarlett giggle so hard she squeals or in accomplishing an awesome new task at work or making me grin from ear to ear with a sweet, thoughtful gesture. I often find myself wondering where my joy is, what is it that makes me smile and brings out the best in me. While I love to cook and scrounge around a thrift store or eat the freshly harvested vegetables out of my garden, yes, those things make make me happy but those things don’t bring me joy. Not the kind of joy you feel down in your soul anyway. It finally hit me though, today as I was watching  Scarlett eat peaches and run through the puddles in the driveway after it rained;
it was in her eyes and her smile. That is what brought me that deep meaningful joy. I find my joy in people, the people I love. It’s in Abe’s smile when he’s at the gym or when he tells me how great it feels to accomplish something amazing at work; it’s in Scarlett’s eyes when she’s eating that popcorn or drinking that milk or running from the “tickle monster” and jumping on the bed. Sometimes my joy isn’t in something tangible but rather something not always seen until I really take in a moment.

IMG_5448In the day to day run around I so often forget to just take in the little moments in life. It’s so easy to forget what truly matters and what’s truly worthy of my joy. A clean house is nice but Scarlett’s giggle is so much nicer. Slowing down and learning to embrace life as it comes is something I’m not always good at. I wish I would’ve laughed at those broken eggs or picked up my frustrated daughter and made her smile. Those are moments I can’t do over, no matter how much I wish I could. Life is full of broken egg moments. Finding the joy isn’t always easy but if I look close enough and listen hard enough I know I’ll be able to find it.

 

Count it all JOY, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 

James 1:2-3

Embracing Change

 

 

IMG_5470If there’s only one thing in life you can count on it’s change. In my short 24 years of life I have experienced quite a lot of change. Marriage and motherhood introduced me to more than I ever thought it would in a VERY short amount of time. From getting engaged and moving almost a thousand miles away from home, eight hundred and eighty-five to be exact, to buying a house, getting married, then pregnant, having Scarlett and moving across country two more times all in a matter of  two years. The past three and a half years of my life have been a whirlwind. I always thought myself to be great at embracing change with open arms, that was until I had Scarlett and got a taste of an entirely new set of changes.

Almost immediately after I found out I was pregnant, I started reading books, blogs, articles and anything I could get a hold of. I wanted to be prepared, to know what to expect. I just knew I would have it all figured out by the time she made her grand entrance into this wild world we live in. Boy, was I wrong! In some ways I am glad I was because really, what twenty-two year old knows it all? I can assure you I didn’t. After Scarlett arrived I found myself experiencing a change in my heart, I was scared, nervous and so in love, more in love than I had ever been in my life. Becoming a mom and loving someone more than myself was a wonderful change and it’s one I would do over and over again. Some of the change Scarlett brought hasn’t always been so easy and wonderful. From hormonal shifts after giving birth then again after I stopped breastfeeding to changes in routines, schedules and everything in between. My world revolved around my new precious girl. Everyone always talks about the hormones and what to do when or if you start to feel off or if you start to experience PPD and how to get help and of course everyone talks about the “baby weight” and changes your body goes though. The one thing they don’t talk about though, is the feelings that come along with those changes in your body. No one tells you how to feel better about your new normal body or how to deal with them in a positive way. At least, no one I know… You hear the usual, just eat better and exercise or that spare tire will go away, it just takes time. Well, I’ve been waiting two years and it’s still here!!!

For the greater part of 21 years, I didn’t struggle with my weight and I was confident for the most part. I was always tiny and it was almost part of my identity and I didn’t realize it until I no longer was. After having Scarlett I went from a zero to a size four knocking on six’s door. I do not think by any means a four or six is “big” nor do I think I am overweight, what I am saying is it was a change. A pretty drastic change for me, none of my clothing fit me or looked good and I no longer felt confident or good May17-26-2017 793about myself. It didn’t help that I was sleep deprived for the greater part of the first year of life as a mom. I was really upset about a lot of my new self for a long time and sometimes felt lost in my own body, like visitor in someone else’s skin. Stretch mark scars and wider hips were uncharted territory for me. I just knew that I would be one of those moms who worked out and ate healthy and got back to her pre-baby weight in no time, after all I loved all of those things before I had Scarlett. The gym was like a second home to Abe and I in our pre-parenting days, so why wouldn’t it still be afterwards? Well, because being a new parent is HARD, really hard and tiring, VERY tiring. I soon realized a nap sounded better than a great workout and a chocolate chip cookie sounded better than a carrot stick.. Food that was easy and not always the most nutritious became my norm, let’s face it sometimes cooking just sounds dreadful! Yes, my waistline has grown but so has my happiness.

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Having a daughter is amazing and I would trade her any day for my size zero pants but it still doesn’t make my new normal any easier to accept some days, especially when I can no longer fit into my favorite pants.  I don’t care what anyone says, gaining weight does take a mental tole on you. It made me feel gross and what made it harder was my serious lack of motivation to workout or eat better. Being a mom can be busy and sometimes making a healthy meal just doesn’t fit into the schedule, grabbing something quick is more in line with the daily agenda. Working out, oh man, a phrase I have come to despise… No, when Abe gets home most days working out is the absolute last thing on my mind. Then one day I actually purchased something May17-26-2017 785that fit my new body and I felt surprised at how great I thought I looked.  Later that day it got me thinking, what if I just decide to be happy with my new body? What if I learn to just embrace the change that has come and to love myself inside and out? Why do I have to try to be the size I was before Scarlett? After having Scarlett and realizing how amazing it is that I produced another human being with my body. I gave life to another and I’m worried that my body doesn’t look the same? I know there are so many women who would love to be in these shoes, who wish so desperately to have a baby and baby weight and all the messy things that go along with it. I feel so blessed that God allowed me to give birth to Scarlett and that my body was able to produce life. It suddenly feels so silly to worry about something as superficial as how much I weigh. I decided to love my body and all it has been able to accomplish so far instead of being uncomfortable in the aftermath.  So here I am doing just that.

The world tells us that when our dress size goes up it’s a horrible thing but why does it have to be? Who cares if I am a zero or a six or even a sixteen for that matter? Turns out no one but myself. The saying, we are our own worst critic is so true. No one is going to love me more if I have rock hard abs as opposed to my lovely spare tire, no one is going to think I am a better person because my legs don’t jiggle when I walk and no one will notice that pimple on my chin or my lovely new stray grays that hang around my hairline. People are going to love me because of the person I am on the inside. I am actually so glad I am no longer a size zero. It has made me a better person and less shallow or focused on the superficial. It may sound crazy but it made me really look at myself on the inside and realize my heart also needed some changing. I shouldn’t hate the way my body looks or put so much emphasis on my dress size. I am not a dress size, that does not define me. Just because the world tells me it does, doesn’t make it anymore true. I want to work out because I love my body and want to take care of it, not because I hate the way it looks. I don’t want my dress size to be a part of my identity, that’s shallow and sad in my mind that it ever was. I want to teach my daughter that the way she looks or how much she weighs doesn’t define her and that the world’s idea of perfect is a lie. And to also EAT the piece of cake, to grab life by the horns and show it who’s boss! I want her to live life on her terms with Christ as the center. If I want to teach her all of those things I have to lead by example, I can’t merely tell her, I have to show her. Show her that her momma loves her body, all of the scars, rolls, stretch marks, bumps and lumps, all of it.

Every.

Single.

Inch.

I know this is said all the time but I believe it now more than ever, we as women need to be a voice of positivity and speak it loudly to our daughters. Wether it be about loving their bodies, their  quirks, their flaws or simply themselves. We have to do it by taking the lead and showing them how it is done, my journey this far hasn’t been easy and I’m sure it won’t happen over night but I do know one thing it will be worth it. So here I am change, ready to embrace you with open arms.

“Just when the caterpillar  thought the world was over, he became a butterfly”

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Therefor, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, and the new is here! 

2 Corinthians 5:17

 

Photo credit: Chelsea Hoying of Momma’s Gonna Snap Photography