Sweet Summer Time

Ah, summer. The time of year where school is out, you are melting relaxing by the pool while slipping away into another reality (i.e. reading), unless of course you are like me and work year round and you don't have a pool or time to read, for that matter. I feel like in the summer you either thrive or die (not literally but it kind of rhymed so let's go with it). What am I referring to, you ask? Everything, friends. I'm talking about health routines (eating and exercising), reading, studying, praying, hosting, gathering with friends or other families. I just feel like summer rolls around and instead of thriving, I'm dying on the vine. Could it be the Florida heat that is slowly snuffing out my motivation to do anything other than what I need to do? It's very possible. 

So how do we turn this around? Well, I've got some tips for you and yes, I plan on implementing them today.

1. Pray. Simple, right? Can be. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 "pray continually,".
Just give all your worries and cares to your Daddy. He knows what's going on but He wants to hear it from you. You know when something awesome happens to someone you know but you didn't find out from them? Instead, you found out via social media or another friend. Do you remember how that kind of felt like a punch to the gut? Well, sometimes I picture the Lord feels that way. Like we have talked about it and people are praying on our behalf for "simplicity and balance" but we haven't talked to Him ourselves. I love this quote, "Have you prayed about it as much as you've talked about it?" - seriously, have you? Yeah, me either. 

2. Accountability. In our women's Sunday school group there were many of us who talked about accountability and the lack of accountability in our life. We need this in our lives. Is it scary to ask someone to keep you accountable? Is it hard to ask someone who already has so much on their plate to add one more thing for you? Will this change your everyday? Yes, yes and I sure hope so! Pray about who to ask to keep you accountable and then ask them if they would entrust that to you as well. Create deeply rooted sisterhood. Start with accountability. 

3. Quit Quitting. I recently (like two days ago) finished an awesome study by Nicki Koziarz - 5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn't Quit. This study was on the book of Ruth and it was awesome. Seriously, SO many good nuggets. I cannot say more good things about it. It was just awesome. Did I mention how awesome it was? ;) Basically, she gives you five tools from the book of Ruth on how to combat that quitting spirit we all carry in some way, shape or form. It changed my life. You don't have to read the book in order to do the study; however, I do plan on reading the book. Anyways, go purchase it now. You can thank me later.

Whelp, that's all I got for you and really, that's all you need. Let's put these tips into action and THRIVE the rest of this summer. We'll be prepared for fall and we all know how much I love fall. ;)


Execute? Execute what?

In our women's ministry, Daughters of the King (aka DOTK), this year we were challenged to pray about a word and a verse specific to what God wants us to do or learn this year. At one of our monthly gatherings we shared our words and verses for accountability. My word and verse this year did not come as a surprise, but I was certainly in awe of His goodness as I really felt God start moving us in this direction last year. With our miscarriage last November, we ended the year just focusing on healing. 

When I was praying about this word, this verse, this next step in this season of life I kept getting "execute" ... um, what? It reminded me of an execution so I, naturally, questioned God. I took to google and started researching the definition of execute and then looked up passages in the Bible where this word was mentioned. I read a specific passage and immediately had to repent for questioning Him. I mean hello, He is all knowing and I am .... not. Definitely not. Deuteronomy 10:18: "He executes justice for the fatherless and widow, and loves the foreigner, giving him food and clothing." Insert wide eye emoji here. 

Let me back track for you, towards the end of last year we really started talking about a few things that tie into this verse. The first was creating our home for hospitality since we felt God was growing a desire in our hearts to open our home to others such as our neighbors and family from church. We just want God to use us to love on others, whatever that looks like. the second actually started with as a small thought when we first got married. The Lord really grew that desire in my heart over the last four years and I started praying for the desire in my husband's heart to grow as well, but it wasn't until we struggled with infertility and loss that our eyes were opened to much more than just becoming parents to children biologically. You see, I had become consumed by the desire to be a mom, to get pregnant, to plan out pregnancy announcements and a registry that I was not listening to what God was trying to tell me. I think back to the years where I just wanted a positive pregnancy test or even just a normal cycle to track and I feel just awful about the time I wasted on my own desires. I was chasing my own kind of happiness and because of this, I was so far removed from my Father in Heaven and what He was trying to call us to. Needless to say, my spiritual life suffered. 

Back to present time, I questioned Him and His goodness. Silly me, God's word is full of promises such as, Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. " and Romans 8:28: "We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. ". 

One of my favorite reminders is in Luke 12:6 & 7: "Aren’t five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. Indeed, the hairs of your head are all counted. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows! ". 

Sadly, I was consumed by something that could not give me pure joy, hope and purpose like my Father in Heaven can. During this time I was not the one who was forgotten, my Daddy was. I knew I needed a renewed spirit so I cried out to God and He granted it to me. My husband and I were praying about how to create a home for hospitality, and about adoption and it was then that we decided to purchase resources. Well, after we started reading and really praying about it all, that was when He gave me my word and verse. I was just amazed that in my chaos He saw order. He had a purpose and a plan for the path we had been walking, I just needed to focus on Him to hear what He was telling me. 

During these months, and through praying and reading this verse often, He has also opened our eyes to the importance and need of fostering which makes my verse of the year even more relevant. God truly knows it all. He truly is better at planning my life then I ever will be, so I have fully and faithfully handed it over to me. Am I nervous about what is to come? Of course BUT God is with us, goes before us and has us in the palms of His hands. 
I charge you to take time to spend in the presence of our Heavenly Father. Be still and quiet long enough to hear from Him. Perhaps, He has more for you than you can think or imagine.







Define healing...

"The process of making or becoming sound or healthy again". That sounds about right. I am in the process of becoming sound\healthy again. If you haven't read about the loss of a little love of mine, you can read it here. It has been two whole months since our teeny, tiny babe went home to be with our Lord. I long for the day to meet him or her. To see them the way God created them to be. To love on them the way God created me to do. 
My thoughtful and darling husband researched a few things after the loss, and one happened to be ways to cope or heal. He found that honoring their memory is a big step toward healing so we exchanged ideas and decided on something that I absolutely love. It really brings me so much joy and is a constant reminder that the King of Kings is still on the throne caring, loving, and answering me. Last night I was looking at it, and while praying and talking to my Father about baby J (that is what I nicknamed our little babe when I found out because both my husband and I have names that begin with J), I felt Him tell me it was time to share a little more. More specifically, it was time to share what we have done to honor his\her memory. I really am so excited to share this but a part of me is really nervous too. Putting myself out there and sharing something that is so intimately personal to me is scary. Part of it may be that it makes it more real too. In Romans 8:18, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us." I am reminded all that I experience on this side of heaven is only for a brief period of time, it is not forever and it certainly does not compare to the glory that is to come. How I handle the sufferings either glorifies God or it doesn't. When I am squeezed to the point of exploding, I want it to be Jesus that comes out. It should be love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
Before I show you the cutest thing in the world, I have to give you some back story. My husband was out of the country when I found out, but he was coming home two days later, and I knew I wanted to tell him in a sweet way. Naturally, I took to Pinterest and found the perfect thing, a onesie that said "answered prayer". Iron on letters + onesie = perfect present. It still is one of my favorite gifts I have ever given. ;) 






The top left is our very first picture of Baby J. It also happens to be the day I found out I was pregnant and the first time I heard the heartbeat. I was 6 weeks and 4 days. Top right and bottom middle (bottom middle is in 3D) are from when my husband and I went together and he got to hear the heartbeat and see Baby J. I was 7 weeks and 3 days. We went back in because I was having some bleeding but they said that the baby was healthy and growing (you can see his little arm nubs); however, that Friday is when we lost the baby (7 weeks and 6 days). 
Sharing this is so hard but so worth it. I don't want to ever feel like what happened was my fault or like it's some secret I need to keep and I certainly do not want anyone else who has walked through this to feel that way either. One in four women experience miscarriage and I just happen to be that one. You know what? It is an honor to be used by God. To share my experience is the heart of this blog so that others may see the grace and love of Christ a little more clearly and see that it is offered to us all.
The healing process is long, and some days you feel like you take two steps forward and others, like you take five steps backwards BUT there is never a day where I am left to heal on my own. My Abba Father is always with me.

Show and Tell Tuesday #1

Happy New Year, friends! I decided to start this year (on the blog) with a link up post. All of the topics are so fun. If you don't blog, enjoy following along but if you do, don't forget to link up with Andrea! Happy Tuesday. :)




So today's topic is Steal & Splurge. Maybe this sounds crazy, but I love sharing how we budget and save because it is something that actually works for us. It's the handy-dandy envelope system from Financial Peace University created by Dave Ramsey. My husband and I absolutely love it. It is eye opening to see how much money you could actually be saving. Insert wide-eyed emoji here.

FPU basically allows you to see the numbers in your budget as they really are as well as your debt. Our goal is to pay off our debt by the time we are 35 (God willing), so this allowed us to see how much we bring in, how much we need to live, how much we owe and how much we are wasting. By the grace of God and the help with FPU, we only owe on student loans as well as our vehicle (that we share). Do not be overwhelmed! It will take time and you may mess up a time or two but it is so worth it. If you are looking for a new way to budget or just need a budget in general, I highly recommend that you check out FPU. You'll thank me later. ;)

Ways we save include sharing a vehicle. This obviously won't work for everyone, but thankfully it works for us! We have the same work schedule and only work about 7 minutes away from each other. This allows us to save on gas and car insurance. Now, I am not a coupon-er (not a word but lets roll with it); however, I do watch for sales on laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, and of course clothing because those items can add up pretty quickly. I am a total toilet paper snob so I will splurge on it and get Cottonelle (Clean Care to be exact). As far as clothing goes, I seriously cannot buy anything that is full price and sometimes my husband will tell me that I cannot expect to always pay $5 for a shirt - haha. Maybe it's more than $5 but it absolutely must be on sale (and a good sale) or it must be a store like TJ Maxx. I also love Khols because they almost always have a sale going on as well as provide a percentage off. When it comes to groceries, I really do not need name brand items; however, I do try to purchase Organic or All Natural items so maybe this is a splurge? On to date night, we typically like to splurge on date night so that means pop-corn, movies, dinner, and dessert. The whole nine yards. Date night is super important to me and I believe ALL couples need to date each other and date AT LEAST once a month. To save, we do a lot of at home date nights which we both love because we are home-bodies.