Real life: 6 lifestyle changes I’m making right now

As you know, my family is currently experiencing a difficult time. We are adjusting to our new normal and we are honestly just doing the best we can. I want to take some time today to share some lifestyle changes I am currently making.

1. Bible reading and faith

I got out of my routine while out of work, and my walk with God has suffered. I am trying to read His word and pray daily. I was doing really well with this, but then I just…stopped. I am trying to let go of the excuses and stop going through the motions and just be.

2. Be more present

I’ve got a bad habit lately of disappearing in my smartphone when I don’t want to talk or when I’m not feeling up to par. Lately I’ve started putting away the phone after 5 and just spending time with my family. It’s amazing how much being with your family can lift your spirit.

3. Get some exercise each day

I have been trying for awhile now to exercise each day, but I got out of practice. Now I’m doing at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. I don’t always want to or feel like it, but I always feel better when I’m done.

4. Change my diet, change my life

I have been doing Trim Healthy Mama for almost two years now, though I did stop for a bit shortly after my dad died. I ended up gaining weight and feeling pretty poorly. Now I’m back on track and feeling better.

5. Read more books

I love to read but often wait until long breaks from school to read anything, citing lack of time as an excuse.  I have decided to read for a few minutes each night, no matter how long it takes me to finish it.

6. Slow down

Too often, I feel like I am in a hurry. I feel like I am always on the go and I never stop and rest. I’ve decided to take a moment here and there to just be silent and just…be. It’s amazing what we notice when we aren’t too busy to stop and take a look around.

What changes are you making in your lives this month?

Linking to StonegableWorthing CourtCedar Hill FarmhouseConfessions of a Plate AddictThe Turquoiseaquifer and HomeA Place of My TasteThe Happy Housie, The Blissful Bee, My PinterventuresThe Lady Prefers to SaveThe Kolb Corner, Craving Some Creativity,  Let’s Get Crafty, Diane and Dean DIY,  Starfish CottageBluesky Kitchen,  Potentially Chic,  McCall Manor, and Odds and Evans,  The Quintessential MommyChristine Everyday,  Little Miss DexterousDécor To AdorePoofing the PillowsAt Home With JemmaWhite Spray Paint,  and French Country Cottage!

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Pardon my absence

I apologize for being absent in the past few weeks. My family has had some difficult days. We lost both my dad and my grandfather in the same week, and I took a little time off from blogging (and my full time job as well) to try to begin healing from those losses. We are doing better, though we know there will be difficult days. I am having trouble grasping the fact that my dad and grandfather truly are gone. I miss both of them so much it’s painful sometimes, but I am grateful for all the memories I was able to create with them.

I thank each and every one of you for your emails, comments, and messages. I thank you for praying for us, both when my dad was sick, and after his passing. Your care and concern has meant more to me than you’ll ever know.

I am planning to continue blogging, but to cut it back just a little. I am struggling to balance motherhood, working, blogging, my faith, and my home, so I’ll be slowing down a bit but not stopping. I have missed you, but I’m ready to continue and pick up where I left off.


Linking to StonegableWorthing CourtCedar Hill FarmhouseConfessions of a Plate AddictThe Turquoiseaquifer and HomeA Place of My TasteThe Happy Housie, The Blissful Bee, My PinterventuresThe Lady Prefers to SaveThe Kolb Corner, Craving Some Creativity,  Let’s Get Crafty, Diane and Dean DIY,  Starfish CottageBluesky Kitchen,  Potentially Chic,  McCall Manor, and Odds and Evans,  The Quintessential MommyChristine Everyday,  Little Miss DexterousDécor To AdorePoofing the PillowsAt Home With JemmaWhite Spray Paint,  and French Country Cottage!

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An announcement…and a birth story :)

If you’re wondering where I’ve been lately, and why this blog has been so quiet, I promise I have a good reason. After dealing with several days of false labor, I decided to give myself some time off from the blog to make sure I was as ready for Aubrey as I could possibly be, both at school and at home.

You can probably guess what happened next: this sweet girl arrived on November 6, 2015 at 8:04 p.m., after a long and difficult labor. She was born a little over 3 weeks early, and we initially dealt with an extended hospital stay for jaundice, but everything is OK now.

I worked on Thursday, November 5, and had contractions all day long. I timed them, and while they were fairly consistent, they were still pretty far apart. I didn’t think too much about it, but wondered if maybe we might be going to the hospital that night. In the afternoon, I began to suspect that my water might be leaking. When I was in labor with Emorie, the doctor broke my water, and this was definitely nothing like that. I called my doctor and they suggested I come to the hospital.

I spent a few minutes making sure things were ready in case I was out of school the next day, then headed home to wait for Michael and make arrangements for Emorie. Upon arriving at the hospital Thursday evening, I was monitored and doctors ran tests to check for amniotic fluid. The initial tests came back negative, and I prepared myself to leave. Doctors wanted to run one more test, and it came back positive.

I was admitted, and spent the night in labor and delivery being monitored. My contractions, while still coming, were not necessarily getting stronger or closer together. In the morning, doctors and nurses made the decision to start me on Pitocin. My heart sank- I am a natural childbirth mama and was worried about how much more intense the pain would be.

I labored several hours more on the Pitocin, and when I still was not dilating at a quick pace, I asked my doctor how he felt about stripping membranes. I knew they would typically not do this prior to 37 weeks, but because my water was leaking, I also knew they had to deliver her. My doctor agreed, and then discovered my water had not completely broken. He chose to break it the rest of the way.

Things began to progress rapidly after that. I remember the nurses coming in and telling me I was dilated to a six. Five minutes after that, I had a strong contraction and yelled to the nurses that the baby was coming. She checked me and ran to the phone. My doctor nearly missed Aubrey’s birth, but arrived just in time. After being in labor for nearly 24 hours, Aubrey entered the world in three pushes. She was completely OK, despite some bruising on her head and face, and having to receive phototherapy for jaundice. Her slight prematurity has not had an effect on her, blessedly.

Something funny- Aubrey and her sister Emorie have so many similarities. Emorie was born at 37 weeks, Aubrey at 36 weeks, 5 days. Emorie was 6 pounds 2 ounces, and 19.5 inches long and Aubrey was 6 pounds, 1.4 ounces, and 19 inches long. Both girls had jaundice and had to have phototherapy. Both girls have similar features and were both born with a head full of dark hair. If you want to read Emorie’s birth story, you can find it here on our old blog. 

Emorie adores her little sister and constantly wants to hold her and kiss her.

Our hearts are full. Thank you for all the prayers for our family. 
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October 2- one year later

A "rainbow baby" is a baby that is born following a miscarriage or still birth - I'll be buying this when I have my rainbow baby

One year ago today, I began the darkest period of my life. On October 2, 2015, we received the devastating news that our second child’s heartbeat was slowing and was on the brink of being gone forever. The news was particularly heartbreaking, as we’d really struggled to conceive this child. Several hours later, everything would be over, and that little life would be no more. In the months following, I truly didn’t think I’d ever emerge from the pain and depression I felt. All of this may sound quite dramatic and ridiculous, but it’s truly how I felt.

We also had lost Emorie’s identical twin when we were eight weeks pregnant with her, but the joys of having one healthy child remaining overshadowed any grief we felt for our lost child. This is why the loss of our second baby hit us so much harder.

I could be sad today and mourn the child, but I’ve spent so many months doing that already. So, instead, I’m going to be grateful for what has happened since. It took me almost six months to feel like myself again, and during that six months, I did the only things I knew how to do- pray, get reacquainted with my Bible, and lean on those the closest to me. Only after months of prayer and the shoulders of some very dear friends did I feel myself coming back to life. 
Out of the darkness came a renewed faith in God, a stronger marriage as the two of us needed to lean on each other to understand this, and the comfort of a loving God who never left me, even when I was so sure He had. I learned to trust Him even more. 
I remember driving to work one morning sometime in January 2015, and crying and asking the Lord if I ever would have anymore children. I can’t explain it, but after saying those words aloud, I immediately felt comforted. I decided then to just trust God’s timing. 
Two months later, on the day before Michael’s birthday, I found out we were indeed pregnant again. I was overjoyed, but overly worried as well. “What if” after “What if” circled around in my head, and with every ultrasound and doctor’s appointment, I’d hold my breath, expecting the worst. I had to remind myself that God knew what He was doing, and His will would be done. 
One year after losing our precious second baby, we are now 32 weeks along with another sweet girl- Aubrey Reed. After every storm comes a rainbow of hope. Though we’ve yet to see her face, I can already tell she is full of personality. I know in my heart if either of those other babies have lived, we’d never have had any other children, and Aubrey wouldn’t be arriving soon. God knew what He was doing. I’m not saying I’m thankful for the miscarriage, but I am thankful for the blessings God gave us afterward. 
I would never wish this experience on anyone, but if you’re ever faced with a miscarriage, do whatever you need to to grieve. Cry, mourn, or talk about it, and don’t feel guilty about it. Depression is real and it can’t be swept under the rug. Pray about it, even when it’s hard. Even when you’re angry at God (I was. It’s normal). Lean on your spouse, close friends, or family. You need to hurt and you need to grieve.  Some have suggested planting trees or rose bushes in memory of your child. Others have suggested participating in a Walk for Remembrance. 
Most importantly, take care of yourself. Don’t lose hope- God has a plan for your life and only He knows what’s in store for you. 
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14 years…

I was going to blog today about a craft and fall DIY that I had done, but I will be doing that tomorrow. Somehow, it just didn’t feel right to carry on, business as usual. I’ve never committed this story to written word. I’ve shared it with students each year, but I don’t believe I’ve ever written about it.

[Source: National Geographic]

14 years ago, as a junior in high school, I woke up with a stuffy head. Even though I was feeling poorly, I chose to go ahead to school. I was sitting in my first period class, which was Air Force JROTC, when someone came in and told Sarge and Colonel to turn on our TV. Upon turning the TV to CNN, we noticed that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center North Tower.

At first, we assumed what everyone assumed- it was an accident. It was a pilot whose navigation instruments had failed. We realized, as we watched the second plane hit the South Tower, that this was no accident.

Our Colonel’s son worked about a block from WTC, and due to the crowded telephone circuits, it would be several hours before he’d hear from him. He was alive and uninjured.

Before the bell rang and the class changed, we witnessed both of those 110-story buildings topple to the ground. I’ll never forget the CNN anchor watching the growing dust cloud and exclaiming, “There are no words.”

For me and the high school students surrounding me, this statement summed it up perfectly. In each of our classes for the rest of the day, all we did was watch CNN and try to make sense of what we were seeing. I remember going to the office and seeing so many parents in there that I could barely squeeze in the door. People had come to pick up their children.

There are no words to describe the sense of loss and of despair that blanketed our nation in the days following 9-11. One of my strongest memories is how all life seemed to stop- I remember radio stations not having morning shows or music for over a week. I remember seeing throngs of students praying together, and American flags everywhere.

Since 9/11, our world has changed in ways that my children will never understand. I can’t believe it’s been 14 years, but the images I saw on the TV that day are burned into my memory. I will never understand what kind of evil can cause someone to murder nearly 3,000 people just because.
Today, let”s take time to reflect on 9-11: those that were lost, those who’ve been lost in the years since, and those who lost their loved ones.

Linking to StonegableWorthing CourtCedar Hill FarmhouseConfessions of a Plate Addict, and French Country Cottage!

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Sunday Musings: My testimony

I had said last Sunday that I’d be sharing my testimony this week. I really, really wanted everyone to forget I said that. I’m not ashamed at all of my journey or my faith, but sometimes it’s just way too hard to be transparent. The Lord has really been dealing with me lately about the fact that I don’t share my faith nearly enough.

As I said last week, I had really been hoping and praying for an opportunity to use my writing to bring Him glory, when it occurred to me that I DO have this blog. I follow a number of fellow bloggers who are Christian, and certainly they don’t shy away from sharing their faith and even examples from their own life.

I write this not to offend anyone, but rather I write it in the hopes that someone will read it and be inspired to do the same.

When I was a child, I was raised in a Christian home, with two parents who both had been brought up in church and in the faith. As a young child, we really didn’t attend or belong to a church, and didn’t actively begin attending church until I was in about the fourth grade. We visited different churches but never really found anywhere we felt we belonged. Still, despite the lack of church attendance, I was enrolled in a Christian preschool and eventually, Christian school. It was about that time we found a church and began to actively attend.

A few short years later, my Christian school closed, and I transitioned to a public high school. When the preacher at that sweet little church moved onto another congregation, we began attending a much larger church in town and most of my youth group was comprised of kids from my school that I had little in common with and didn’t really interact with outside of church. Still, I loved that little group and looked forward to learning from my Sunday School teachers each week. I had been in Fellowship of Christian Athletes as a middle school student, but didn’t pursue any Christian clubs or events as a high school student. Sadly, I feel like I was still trying to find my place and was too self-conscious to be overly vocal about my faith at school. Still, while at church one Sunday, I made a public decision to get saved and follow God. Sadly, this was a decision to which  I didn’t fully dedicate myself.

I went on to college- a small liberal arts college about 4 hours from home in the NC mountains. When I look back at my life, I realize that these were the years when I began to turn away from God and my faith, and put my faith in other things- things that were completely and totally against what my church and my Bible said.

I dated a person who didn’t go church and claimed not to believe in God. I began to drink and hang out with people who drank. I watched TV shows and listened to music that was anything but Godly. My Bible collected dust and I only went to church when I was at home and my parents made me go.
When I graduated and began life on my own outside of college, things were no better. Same boyfriend, same bad habits, same absence from church.

Fast forward to the fall after my summer 2006 graduation, and I was beginning to realize that the boyfriend wasn’t who I needed to be with. I broke up with the boyfriend. I moved away from Greensboro to a house just a half hour from my parents, and I began to focus on all the things in my life I didn’t like. My mom mentioned working with a nurse at the doctor’s office who was a pastor’s wife. This lady had invited Mama to her church and we decided we’d try it.

We felt very welcomed at this church and we continued to attend. We actually still attend this church today, as a matter of fact. After about three months of attending our new church, I once again made the decision to trust the Lord for salvation. This time, I was sincere. My parents and joined the church shortly afterward and I was baptized.

What happened next was really neat. I had been searching for a place to live, and decided to build a house. Once my house was completed, I began shopping homeowner’s insurance rates. The agent I ended up purchasing my policy from turned out to have a good-looking single nephew. You can probably guess what happened next 🙂

Just a year and seven months after we started dating, he and I were married in our church. He too is a Christian and has been saved by Grace- he was saved and baptized at our church as well. Our life together has included many blessings- a sweet little girl, another sweet little girl soon to be born, a home we both love and cherish, and a good marriage. We’ve endured a lot of trials and heartaches as well- the loss of two sweet babies, infertility, and my dad’s cancer diagnoses (yes, plural)- but we feel like to Lord has used those experiences to strengthen and grow us not only as Christians but as humans.

I just realized just how long this post is 🙂 I apologize for writing soooo much, but I do thank you for reading it. I just wanted to take the opportunity to show you that if God can save me, he can save anyone. I am far from a perfect person, and although I am saved, I am still far from perfect. But I do serve a perfect God.

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time. 2 Timothy 1:9 

For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Romans 10:10 
Linking to StonegableWorthing CourtCedar Hill FarmhouseConfessions of a Plate Addict, and French Country Cottage!

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Sunday Musings: Come to me and I will give you rest.

Lately, I’ve been praying a lot about finding a way to use my writing talents to honor God. I knew I wanted to do this, but I wasn’t sure how. Then, one day, the Lord reminded me that I have this blog and I should certainly include Him in something that is such a big part of my life. After all, didn’t He give me this house? Didn’t he give me my family? 
Today I’m going to talk a bit about the verses Matthew 11:28-30. 
I started off my week this week with these verses. They appeared in a devotional I read Monday morning about feeling overwhelmed as a mother. I don’t know about you guys, but I often feel anxious and overwhelmed, even when the things I’m worried about aren’t big things. 
Some of the things worrying me lately are money (isn’t it always?), going back to school, where to send my child to school next fall, whether everything is OK with our baby…and the list goes on and on. Worry is certainly an area where I struggle, and I’ve been praying about it a lot. I know that it goes without saying that I should just trust in God and know he’ll take care of all mine and my family’s needs. We won’t have everything we want, and that’s OK. We will have what we need. 
Christians go through struggles- God never said just because you’re a Christian, life will be easy and the trials will be fewer. He did say this: 
Just because you’re a Christian doesn’t mean you won’t face hardships, but it does mean you won’t go through them alone. The Lord is walking with you and he will never leave your side. I don’t know what tomorrow holds for me, but I know God and he knows. He also knows what’s best for me even though I sometimes question His plan. 
I’ve been through many trials and while a lot of them hurt and a lot of them I didn’t understand, I can safely say there has been a lesson in each of them. In almost every case, I’ve been able to see the good that came out of them and know that God knew all along what he was doing. 
Yes, Christian, sometimes our road is rocky. This is when we have to remember that God knows what he is doing- he didn’t put those rocks in our path so we’d stumble, he put them in our path so he could help us across them. 
Later this week, I’ll be sharing my testimony. This has been a difficult thing for me to do- not because I am embarrassed or ashamed, but because it is hard to be that transparent. It is my hope that someone who is enduring similar circumstances will read it and know that they too will emerge from the trial with the Lord’s help. 
Thanks for reading 🙂 Happy Sunday. I hope you enjoy your week.

Linking to StonegableWorthing CourtCedar Hill FarmhouseConfessions of a Plate Addict, and French Country Cottage!

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