Thursday, April 20, 2017

Bouncy Beach Wave or Curls Tutorial

I've gotten quite a few questions lately about how I curl my hair so I made a little video tutorial of it. It takes me about five minutes to do this on my already washed/dried hair, which is pretty quick!
(You may even hear my little assistant in the background more than once. LOL, should've done it during naptime but I did it when I was getting ready...)


Friday, April 14, 2017

The Greatest Love Story Ever Written

We are about to celebrate the most pivotal weekend of the Christian faith. Good Friday, which is the day Jesus Christ was crucified and bore the sins of the world starts the weekend off.  Then it joyfully concludes with His resurrection on Easter Sunday!

Today is the day 2000 years ago that the greatest injustice happened in history. Jesus, who was fully God and fully man and completely perfect in every way, suffered and died on the cross. He gave up his spirit and it was done. But the good news is that wasn't the end. It was the beginning of the most beautiful love story every written. Jesus was buried and then three days later He was alive again!

You see, God loved us so much that He sent His one and only Son to earth to pay the price of all the sins of the world. When mankind sinned in the garden of Eden we separated ourselves from God. The only way back to Him was through a great payment, an ultimate sacrifice. Jesus came to earth to be constrained to a human body, live a perfect life and die. He didn't do anything wrong. He didn't deserve the horrendous, painful death He endured but He was obedient to His Father, even to the point of death on the cross.

On Good Friday Jesus died and the wrath of God was satisfied. The curtain was torn and we gained access to God. No longer were burnt offerings needed or high priests. If we believe God and what Jesus did on the cross, we have direct access to God through prayer. And when we die, we will be with Him for eternity. Then on Easter Sunday, Jesus arose from the grave and the tomb was found empty. Prophesy was fulfilled and Jesus was who He claimed to be. Now, that is what a I call good news! Happy Good News Friday and Resurrection Day! Here are a couple of fitting songs for this Holy weekend friends!

This is one of my favorite songs and so fitting for Good Friday. (Isaiah 53 is where most of the lyrics are from)

This is one of my favorite Easter songs.

(Romans 3:23, John 3:16, Matthew 27, Mark 16, John 20, 1 Corinthians 15 and Isaiah 53 are references as well as the rest of the whole Bible.)

Monday, April 10, 2017

5 Tips to Help Manage Your Time (for Moms of littles)

Managing time is such a fitting topic for this Mommy Style Monday because one of my goals for this year was being more intentional with my time!  I have been evaluating how I am doing with that for the last week or so.  While there is always room for improvement, I'm doing better than this time last year which is pretty cool!  There are a few things that I have realized are really helpful for managing my time and also keeping my sanity in general!  I hope you find them helpful too!

(As you probably know, I stay home with my 2 year old son.   Little J is the best (well, of course I think so!) and so much fun.  He is very high energy and also still a good napper which is awesome.)

1.  Make a Schedule: (and try to stick to it most days!)  We still have a pretty set schedule because I find that works best for both of us!  I realize not everyone is like us, but most kids do better with schedules and I seriously have found that I do too!  There are times when I am not super strict with nap time, like when we are hanging out with cousins during their Spring Break or something or on the weekends, but during the week we are home by at least 2pm for J's nap!

2.  Utilize Nap time:  I realize not every still naps, but if yours (or any of yours do) take advantage!  Drink a cup of hot coffee and sit down for 5 minutes.  It's amazing how refreshing that can be.  Then what I do is try to pick up the house, do laundry (or other chores), write, craft or sew while J sleeps.

3.  Consolidate Errands:  Obvious I know, but unless you live in the middle of a large city (or small town) where everything is super close, it helps save time by combining errands.  I do this one of two ways most of the time:  by type of errand or location.  So with the type of errand, like grocery shopping where I get all of our groceries in one morning regardless of whether I have to stop at three stores to get everything (like trader Joes for staples, Whole Foods for meat and King Soopers/Farmers Market for produce or something).  Or if I am doing it by location, I will go to Super Target and Toys R Them the day J has gymnastics because it's on that side of town, and I will also take my ring to get checked while over there.

4.  Outings:  I found out after I was home bound in a walking cast for a few weeks last November, that my son and I both get a little stir crazy if we are at home too much.  It also adds a nice variety to your schedule and week to get out to different places too.  So we try to go somewhere everyday!  Sometimes it's structured and paid activities like the toddler gymnastics class, but most of the time it's something like going to the park, meeting up with friends for a play date, my walking group, story time or the library.  This is also a great time to hang out with other adults (and kids)!  My mom and I try to get together once a week and it's so nice to be able to talk, catch up and just live life together.

5.  Notepad:  I always have a notepad with me.  There's one on my nightstand, kitchen counter, car and purse.  If an idea for a post or item that's needed on the shopping list comes up I (try to) write it down immediately.  Getting it written down quickly helps you to be able to focus on the task at hand instead of trying to remember that great idea you just thought of.  Then I transfer that to my phone when I have a chance later.  (My husband and I also use an app called ToDoist that we love and can share shopping lists, etc.. on it.)

Does my son always take a nap? Nope.  When he does is it always for 2-3 hours? Nope.  Do I always consolidate errands and outings? Nope.  Nobody and nothing is perfect, so this doesn't happen all the time but I find that if I do these things everything just runs more smoothly and I can manage my time so much better!

What helps you manage your time?  Are you a hardcore scheduler or just a wing it type of person?

Be sure to check out how everyone else manages their time at the links below.  If you'd like to sign up for the next Mommy Style Monday go to Kiana or Madeline's blogs!

Kiana at Glitter&Donuts | Madeline at CaseyLand
Erica at Good Job Momma | Cayli at Nightchayde | Alexis at Witt Family Happenings
Rachel at Tutus and Heels | Monica at It's All About

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Our family's growth update and the jealousy monster

So it's been quite an eventful end of winter and beginning of Spring around here.  We've gotten to see a lot of our family, spend time with my grandmas (J's great grandmas), visit the zoo, ice skate, finish Financial Peace University, change the timeline of when we may buy a house and attend an info meeting that I shared about a few weeks ago.

As you likely already know, we have always wanted children, which is obvious I suppose, but I also specifically mean that as the plural.  We'd love little J to get the chance and challenge (ha!) of growing up with a sibling(s).  Big J and I prayed, talked  and looked into ways to make that happen.  I was SO excited to announce the direction we were going to go and perhaps got a bit ahead of myself in announcing it.

My sweet and supportive (so thankful for him) husband reassured me that I didn't overshare, and that sometimes things just don't turn out the way we planned and that's ok.  So, here I am. . .kind of backpedaling or so it seems.  We had a great meeting, and actually had a great experience with our first babysitter (who wasn't part of our family).  We met some great people, even someone we already knew, at the meeting and left with two definite things.  Before the meeting I was praying that this meeting would be something that God would help give us clarity and that He did.

1.  We both definitely want to pursue foster care and adoption through foster care.  There are no ifs now, but rather when.

2.  Now is not the right time for us to enter foster care/Foster adopt.

I could get into all the reasons as to why it isn't going to work for us now, but I don't think that actually matters.  If you are interested send me a PM, email or talk to me in person.  We both still have such a heart for kids and specifically hurting kids without families or who can't be with their families right now, and while it's sad that it isn't going to work out for the near future I'm excited to see how God uses this and also for the other peeps in our class that do move forward with it now.

Don't get me wrong, we are thrilled that we had the opportunity to have been chosen to raise our sweet boy.  We are parents (!!!!), and it's been the most amazing, and at times challenging, thing we've ever done!  So I don't mean to sound ungrateful (if it came across that way) in anyway!  We'd still love to J to get to be a brother though. I don't know about you but things like this have the tendency to let jealousy creep into my thoughts.  Sometimes I even end of thinking these things and repeating them.  Destructive things like "If we were normal we could just have more babies whenever we wanted." or "Too bad I'm not a fertile myrtle." or "If we hadn't lost that baby, little J wouldn't be the only child."  Or I think of the friend's cousin who found out she was pregnant only when her bloodwork before surgery came back oddly.  She was 36 weeks along and had about 3 weeks to prepare for their first babe.  Then there is the childhood friend who is pregnant (!!!) after their 4th round of IVF and 3 failed rounds.  Then there is my other childhood friend who I just found out had two miscarriages between her first and second children (she has three kids now).  But there is no point in thinking those negative thoughts, or looking at other people or their families for the answer.  There is always going to be someone who had it easier (or so it appears) and someone who has had it harder.

Let's stop comparing.  Each person is different.  Each family is different.  We don't know what hurdles they had to jump over or mountains they climbed to get to where they are now.  We can trust that God working together ALL THINGS for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose though.  (Romans 8:28)  So, in all things I will trust God and His plans.   Even when I don't understand.  

So, as for adding another "J" or other letter to the family....we still 'plan to'...just possibly in a much longer, more round about way.  But then again, we never know....

Pray with us about:

-For all the children in the foster system currently.
-For the birth/bio families of these kids.
-For all the families fostering and those pursuing fostering.
-For those who are thinking about fostering, there is definitely a need, especially for older kids (10+).
-For the kids aging out of foster care, that they will have support to get into the world even if they don't have a permanent family.
-For our hearts and our little family.  We were so excited to pursue this now, and are saddened that it's not the right timing.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Women amaze me, here's why!

It's Women's History month!!  It wasn't until I was eating lunch at a cute little Taqueria with my little fam after Church yesterday and I saw her.  I've seen many like her my whole life.  I am even basically her right now.  But it wasn't until I saw her sit down with her infant carrier in the booth...and it hit me again.  Women are amazing.  Always multitasking (well).  Always caring for others.  Always on call.

Who can do just about everything that men can do IN HEELS?!  Women!

Who are the only ones who carry and birth babies?  Women!

Who are the ones who can heal a cut or scrap with a simple kiss?  Women, specifically mamas!

Who fiercely protects their children?  Women, specifically mamas again!

Who else can carry a newborn or 30+ toddler and do housework?  (Like all day everyday!)  Women!  Women are remarkably strong.

I know what you’re thinking.  Men can do some of these things.  True.  Men are pretty cool too.  Single dads especially can do a lot!  But really, women are just rock stars.

Look at women in the context of the Bible.  In Genesis after God had created the earth and everything in it including man, He saw that it was not good for man to be alone.  So the answer to that?  God made a suitable helper, and it was a woman.  (Genesis 2)  A woman was the answer to the first question in creation!  Pretty significant, right?!?

Then let’s look at just a few other instances of women in the Bible.  Hm…who bore Jesus when he came to earth as a baby?  A woman named Mary.  (Matthew 1:18-24)  Who were the first witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection?  Women!  (Mark 16)  Not a man, not the disciples, but women!  That’s definitely significant, friends!  There lots other key women in the Bible:  Esther, Ruth, and the list goes on….

Let's think about it ladies.  I'm not saying we shouldn't get paid the same as men for the same work.  In fact, this is not a political post at all.  But, let's face it.  We are different than men.  We were made to do different tasks.  We were made to carry babies (on our hips, etc.).  We can feed our newborns & toddlers at the same time as ourselves.  We are different.  Different isn't bad.  In this case, no offense men, but different is BETTER!  

 Let's embrace our differences and do it all the while IN HEELS!  (Or Vans or Nikes or whatever you want to wear!)

Monday, March 27, 2017

Mommy Style Monday: Spring Box

This Mommy Style Monday is a special one.  This has been such a fun group to take part in throughout the last several months.  So when Kiana emailed asking if I was interested in taking part in the first themed box I was excited!  Little did I know that I would have so much fun both putting my box together to send off to another mama blogger at Frolics of a Mama Llama, but also to go thru the box I received from Jessica at Mason Jars and Lemon Bars.  If you'd like to sign up for a box like this for June/July go here.  (We each got to put input in on how much we'd be interestd in spending on the box and the theme!)

I forgot to get a pick of the super cute pink box that came!  But I have this one at least.

So on to the contents...  I kind of feel like Jessica knows me very well.  (Although we've never met!)  Even though these were boxes that were our favorite spring things, she put in things that I love and even some things for my son. (Swoon)  

Items in the box:
1.  Strong Like Mom (adoption themed!! SOOO cute!) boys shirt (Cat & Jack) - Seriously almost brought a tear to my eye when I pulled this out!!  So thoughtful! So cute!
2.  Boys Baseball Cap (Cat & Jack) - My boy loves hats and so do I, because he doesn't keep sunglasses  So cute and this will do with just about everything!
3.  Maybelline 24 Super Stay Colour (Very Cranberry color Link) - I'm not a lip color kind of gal but this stuff actually stays where I put it and doesn't come off!  Even eating and drinking throughout the day!  I have worn it a couple times already and really like it!
4.  Flower Grow Kit - so fun that there was something in there for my hubby too!  (I have killed just about every plant I have ever touched but I love looking at them.  Thankfully my hubs J has a very green thumb!)  He just planted these this weekend and I can't wait to see them bloom!
5. Paper Straws - So cute and springy with little tulips on them.  I love straws and these will be so cute for a party or something!
6.  Pencils - Love pencils.  Love gradients.  Love these!
7.  Love Grows Here Stationary Set - Super cute!  Love the little clipboard and notepad!
8.  Sidewalk Chalk - Need I say more?  Little J and I are gonna have so much fun this Spring and Summer with this!
9. & 10.  Candy.  I love candy!  (probably a little too much actually)  So fun!

Stock pics of the three items I could find links to! 

I loved every single item I pulled out of this box!  Seriously, how cute is that shirt!?!?!?!  I love target and I'm pretty sure most, if not all of this was from there!!  So fun!  I had my husband video me opening the box...but it ended up having some sound issues so I'm just posting an edited version below...

Be sure to check out all the other Spring boxes at the blogs below!  If you'd like to participate in the next Mommy Style Monday go to Kiana or Madeline's blogs to sign up.  If you'd like to do the next box like this click here to sign up.

Kiana at Glitter&Donuts | Madeline at CaseyLand
Melissa at The Frolics of Mama Llama | Shani at Sunshine & Munchkins | Cayli at Nightchayde
Rachel at Tutus and Heels | Erica at Good Job Momma | Chandler at Life as a Larsen

Thank you for the fun and thoughtful box Jessica!  Great idea Kiana and Madeline, I had so much fun participating!!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Bittersweet time...

There are many ups and downs with adoption (and parenting in general), but today it hit me again. I think some people assume, especially when you adopt an infant, that the emotional roller coaster (of waiting, etc) is over. The truth is that it's really just beginning.

You see, my son just turned 2, and so much has happened this past year! So many milestones, so many smiles, new words, hugs, kisses, lessons, meltdowns and accomplishments.... So much to be thankful for. Just as I witnessed each of these things, the one who carried him for nine months did not. It's difficult to summarize a whole year of life for my amazing little guy in a letter and some photos. But today, I did and then mailed it off. So thankful for his birth-mother and her brave, selfless and loving choice.

Such a bittersweet time.  Our whole family little family is bittersweet.  God brought us together in a beautiful way, showing us a picture of how He's adopted us as sons and daughters.  Yet we were brought together because of a severed relationship.  Would you send up a prayer for my son's birthmama tonight with me?

Like the moment of this pic. <3 td="">
(I'm a mama by domestic infant transracial semi-open adoption.  You can find out more about what that means in this post or just ask me!)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Homemade Cake Brownies

If you know me, you probably know I love chocolate.  In fact, so does my husband and son.  Which works out well.  So...when I make dessert, it's going to be chocolate 99% of the time.  A couple of weeks ago some friends had us over for dinner and I was supposed to bring the dessert.  I thought a simple brownie would be nice, but I didn't have any mixes in my pantry.   So I decided to try my hand at making homemade brownies.  It may sound silly...but the boxed mixes are only about $1 and so easy that I just had never thought to do it from scratch before. turns out I've made them three times since and I have tweaked them a bit and now they are absolutely perfection. (In my book at least!)  I could have easily posted this on my food blog, that I have somewhat been updating lately...but I thought you may enjoy it more over here.  (Get the reference to enjoyment?  in the journey? haha!)  Enjoy friends!

Homemade Cake Brownies
Square or round baking pan, greased (8" or 9")
5/8 c. sugar
1/2 stick (2oz) butter, melted
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 c. flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup brewed coffee (regular or decaf)

Mix everything together thoroughly and pour into prepared pan.  Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool and enjoy!  Careful though, because I just ate an entire pan of these, minus the two that my hubby ate and one that my son did last night...  So good!

I tweaked the recipe for Better Homes and Gardens Cake Brownies quite a bit.  But the original recipe was quite good too, although I didn't ever try nuts or the frosting...because I'm a brownie purest.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Being intentional with our words and attitude

Do all things without grumbling or disputing,  that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.  Philippians 2:14-15
I don't know about you, but I do not always do what those verses call us to do.  Just the other day, my husband and I were having a disagreement in the car and from the backseat we heard our little boy singing "Jesus, Jesus, Precious Jesus" and it helped turn our hearts back to God.  There is nothing quite like your toddler to help you get your eternal perspective back, right?!?  Quite humbling in fact...

When we keep the eternal perspective of Jesus, and focus on Him and glorifying Him, it's obvious that we need to be intentional with our words, attitude and thoughts.  So how do we do that?  Philippians 2 has a great start.  We are to do ALL things without grumbling or disputing.  Let's dissect those words.
Grumbling:  complain or protest about something in a bad-tempered but typically muted way.Disputing:  argue about something; discuss heatedly; question whether a statement or alleged fact is true or valid.  A debate, controversy, or difference of opinion.
Let's focus on Jesus and do our best to be a light for Him to this dark world.  Even when things aren't going well, or when we get assigned the dirty job, let's glorify Him by not complaining or arguing and work for God not men. (Colossians 3:23-24)   If it is possible, so far as it depends on us, let's live peaceably with all. (Romans 12:9-21)  Let's choose our words carefully.  Let's give people the benefit of the doubt.  Let's choose to focus on Jesus and what He did for us.  Let's choose a better attitude and take the high road in our thoughts and actions.  (1 John 3:16-18)
Dear Lord, 
Thank you for your unending love and patience for us.  Help us to focus on Jesus and choose to have good attitudes not matter what this life may throw at us.  Please help us to make wise word choices, get along with others and do so without grumbling to be a light for you in this world.  
In Your name, Amen

Other thoughts:
Now, do I think that Paul (who wrote Philippians as a letter to the Church in Philippi) literally meant to never dispute anything?  I'm not sure.  The language he uses seems pretty clear, yet, I think he was speaking in general to be a good witness of Christ to the non-believing world.  I would think that if there are things that are legitimate concerns we are able to dispute those....  (Like in Matthew 18.)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A letter and prayer for my son

Dear son, my sunshine boy,

You are the best.  You really are.  I don't mean that in a little kid or completely obsessed mama (which I probably still am...) kind of way.  I mean, you are one cool little man.  I wrote you a letter a few months ago when I thought you were my favorite age. But now, I'm thinking this may be my favorite age.  (Spoiler, every age/stage with you is my favorite because you are my favorite!)

Now that you are about to turn 2, it's kind of bittersweet.  You are truly a toddler and not looking much like the baby you once were.  You don't have anymore rolls on your arms or legs.  In fact, they'e been replaced with muscles.  You don't need me for everything.  You are growing more independent everyday.  You don't coo or babble.  You are actually saying real words that at least I can understand (most of the time).  We have real conversations, we sing together and work on your ABCs.

You run super fast.  You are getting the hang of brushing your teeth.  You sleep like a big boy in a big boy bed, and have for a while now.  You help me pick out your clothes and put them on each day.  You're also even better at feeding yourself, although you are a bit pickier of an eater than when you were younger.

With your newfound independence and skills these are things I pray for you...
  • May you always remember that you were no accident, you were fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator of the Universe with a plan for your life. (Psalm 139:13-18)
  • May you choose your words carefully and respectfully, even when others don't, so you will be encouraging and helpful.  (Colossians 4:6)
  • May you have patience so you will be less frustrated and more reliant on the God of peace.  (Galatians 5:22-26)
  • May you always have the great work ethic and energy that you have now.  (Colossians 3:23-24)
  • May you learn to be happy with little so you will always be content and thankful for what you have.  (Philippians 4:10-20)

We are so thankful and proud to be your parents.  It's been a great two years, I hope this year is your best year yet!


PS.  You are going to be the best brother and we are so thrilled to see how you grow into that role. (hopefully in the next year!)

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Intentional Rest

Over the last few weeks we've covered these topics in these devotions:
  1. Created with intention
  2. Working with intention
  3. Loving your neighbors intentionally
  4. Loving your enemies intentionally
  5. Loving your children intentionally
  6. Loving your spouse intentionally
  7. Intentional time with the Lord:  Grace
  8. Intentional time with the Lord:  Prayer
  9. Intentional time with the Lord:  Jesus
Those help give a some perspective on how to live a more intentional life.  But in this world that is so full of busyness, sometimes just for the sake of being 'busy', we also need to remember to be intentional with rest.

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.  And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.  So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.  
Genesis 1:31-2:3

God, in His infinite power and glory, created the earth and everything in it in six days and then did something different the next day.  He rested.  God wasn't tired.  He didn't need to rest.  He simply made time for rest, too.  Sometimes I think we get so caught up in being productive or maybe even intentional with every moment of our lives that we forget that we were created in the image of God and even He who needs no rest, rests.  So why don't we?  It's not lazy to rest.  We were created for work, yes.  We were also created for rest!  Rest gives us time to enjoy, to savor the Savior and to, well, rest.  

Set aside a day to rest and set up boundaries for the day.  I think most people try to rest on Sundays.  If you work weekends, particularly if you work at a Church, another day may be much better to use as your day of rest so you get a whole day.  You have to do what works with your work and family schedule!  Be sure to set some boundaries so you can have some time to rest and an idea of what that really looks like for you. My little family rests on Sundays because it works best with our schedule.   Some boundaries we have are that my husband doesn't check work emails or work on anything from work.  We may do a small project around the house or something, and may even slip in a little nap in the afternoon after Church if our toddler is napping.  

Dear Lord, 
Thank you for creating the earth, everything in it, seeing it as good and then resting.  Help us to try to follow your example and step away from work for a day to spend more time in Your word and with your people.  Help us to rest from the weariness of this world, however possible.
In Your Holy Name, Amen

Friday, March 3, 2017

Fun Friday: 7 random things about me

For this week's Fun Friday I thought I would share some random things that have been going through my head lately.

1.  I love Hershey's (milk chocolate) eggs.  I like kisses alright, but every year when the eggs come out for Easter I purchase a couple bags at a time and go through them super fast because I can't get enough of them...  They probably taste just the same as kisses BUT they aren't pointed so they taste better! Right?!
Image result for hershey's eggs

2.  I am almost always making music of some sort.  Whether it's singing, humming, whistling, drumming on any given surface or playing some instrument.  My life really is a musical. Sometimes it annoys people...which is embarrassing because I don't often realize I'm doing it.
Image result for music

3.  I am simultaneously excited and terrified to start potty training little J.  I have been reading and researching and it makes me still feel torn.  Any tips?  Recommendations on little potties?  The one below is pretty stinkin' cute...

4.  Related to #3, I think those tiny urinals they sell in Toys 'R' us are absolutely A-DOR-ABLE!  We will likely start with a regular little potty tho. But I still think they are precious...not really sure why... I know I'm weird...
5.  I had never listened to any Natalie Grant music until about 6 months ago and now she's probably one of my very favorite artists EVER!  How did I miss out on her for SO long?!?!  King of the World and More than Anything are my two faves of hers, but just about everything is awesome!
6.  I can hardly wait for Spring to be here and I have loved every mild day of winter this year!  Ok, to be fair, I've also enjoyed most of the not so mild ones.  But I love when the weather is nice enough to be outside without jackets and just walk/play most of the day.

7.  I have started three different books this year...and finished none....yet.

Tell me what's been going on with you, or random things about you!  (In a comment on here, on social media, via email or PM!)

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Journey to become J^4

So, I've been dropping hints and having convos with family and close friends over the past couple of weeks.  As you may know, we've also been going through Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey and it's been changing the way we think about and handle money.  We've been busy moving furniture around, donating things, selling other things and getting our place ready for another child (and homestudy!!).

 It's no secret that God has given each of us a heart for children and adoption. We are very excited to announce that we are about to begin the process to add another kiddo to our family.  We are pursuing Adoption through the Foster System and are SUPER excited!  There are over 400,000 children in the foster system in the US and over 100,000 of those kids are available to adopt!  They just need families!

Right now there are a lot of unknowns (like in everything right?!?) but we are starting the process this month and couldn't be more thrilled!  While there are many specifics that we likely won't get into on here at least, please feel free to ask if you have questions.  (We may even make a FAQ post to help answer them!)    Prayer was a super crucial part of our last Adoption journey and while this one will be very different, we covet your prayers.  We're so excited to share this journey with you, as always!

With Love,

Prayer Requests:
-For our family, especially little man, as we prepare to welcome another child (or two-who knows!).
-For the children currently in the foster system, their families and foster families.
-For our social worker and other people we'll work with throughout the process.
-For our marriage, to continue to grow closer to God and each other as we grow our family.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Intentional time with God: Jesus

Over the last few weeks we've covered these topics in these devotions:
  1. Created with intention
  2. Working with intention
  3. Loving your neighbors intentionally
  4. Loving your enemies intentionally
  5. Loving your children intentionally
  6. Loving your spouse intentionally
  7. Intentional time with the Lord:  Grace
  8. Intentional time with the Lord:  Prayer

Those are a great start to living a more intentional life, but if we are to really be more effective and intentional it needs to start with our time with the Lord.  This week we are focusing on Jesus.

“Seeing and savoring Jesus Christ is the most important seeing and savoring you will ever do. Eternity hangs on it.”  John Piper

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  John 3:16-17

Our whole eternity rests on whether we believe Jesus or not.  Whether we recognize Him as the only way to the Father, and only way to have our relationship restored to what it could be (without sin).  A couple of months ago we celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas, and in a few weeks we will joyfully celebrate His resurrection.  Without His resurrection we would like not even celebrate Christmas.  Yes, when Jesus came to earth to be born of a virgin He fulfilled prophesy (Isaiah 7:4), but it was when He was not only crucified (Isaiah 53) but then raised on the third day (Matt. 12:40) that He proved He was who He said He was--"I am."  (John 8:58)

 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.  From now on you do know him and have seen him.”  John 4:6-7
Dear Lord, 

Thank You for loving us so much that even though we could never deserve your grace, you freely gave it to us through Jesus Christ.  Help us to focus on Jesus and His ultimate sacrifice that gave us an opportunity to have a relationship with You.  Help us to keep an eternal perspective and to be bold proclaiming the good news (gospel) of Jesus Christ.

In Your name,

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Little Engine was a good neighbor

There are several lessons we can take away from the story The Little Engine that Could.  One that I hadn't noticed until last week, when I my son decided he wanted to listen to it a lot of times in a row (which I didn't really mind because I love that book), is that it's a good Samaritan (or good neighbor) story.

When the little train's engine couldn't make it any further, the toys try to get help from passersby.  They ask the shiny new engine, but his response is that he won't stoop that low because he carries passenger and dining cars.  The next one who wanders by is also too good to help, because he's important carrying heavy machinery.  Then an older engine comes by but simply says he's too tired and that he can't.

Then another engine comes along.  It's shiny and small, really an unlikely candidate to help.  He starts off by asking what the problem was while being friendly and positive.  With his "I think I can" attitude he offers a helping hand and together they make it over the mountain to help the boys and girls on the other side.

See why it reminds me of the parable Jesus taught of the Good Samaritan?  (Parable below.)  While many would just pass the hurt man on the road thinking that they were either to high to help or that someone else would, finally the most unlikely candidate steps up to the task.  This unlikely person was a Samaritan or person of a different race, and not only helps the man there, but takes him to safety, cleans him up, feeds him and cares for him.

How many tasks do we pass up because we think we are too skilled or too good to do them?  How many people do we pass by without even giving them so much as a smile or hello, let alone a helping hand?  How many ministries do we support who help people in need?  How many people do we open our homes to?  The list goes on of questions we could and should ask ourselves about how we are doing as neighbors and what we can do to change.  

Jesus made a clear point about who the neighborly person was, or good neighbor was.  But in the end, even if we are nice to our neighbors (here and there and everywhere) but don't share with them the motive of why we are nice--it's all for not.  We must love because He first loved us.  We are nice because Jesus was nice when we weren't even capable of being nice.  The good things we express are only because they are attributes of God that we are reflecting.  This world needs Jesus.  

The Parable of the Good Samaritan
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.  A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.  So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.  The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”  
Luke 10:25-37

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Intentional time with the Lord: Prayer

Over the last few weeks we've covered these topics in these devotions:

  1. Created with intention
  2. Working with intention
  3. Loving your neighbors intentionally
  4. Loving your enemies intentionally
  5. Loving your children intentionally
  6. Loving your spouse intentionally
  7. Intentional time with the Lord:  Grace

Those are a great start to living a more intentional life, but if we are to really be more effective and intentional it needs to start with our time with the Lord.  David Matthis says, “Only prayer can transform information into intimacy.” (p. 48, Stay Christian in Seminary)

See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.  Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  1 Thessalonians 5:15-18
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.  Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.  Romans 5:12-13

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7

You don't have to look very far to find a lot of scripture about praying.  In these three passages it talks about being constant in prayer, praying without ceasing and in every situation to pray.  When Jesus came, the curtain was torn giving us direct access to God.  We don't have to ask a high priest to pray for us or offer sacrifices in order to pray.  We have a direct line to God via prayer.  

When we come before him we don't have to have it all together, or even be in a certain place.  We can pray wherever we are, whenever we want.  We draw closer to God by reading His word and praying to Him.  We can pray in our homes, our cars, our workplaces and everywhere in between.

I know if you wanted to you could wave your hand
Spare me this heartache and change your plan
And I know any second you could take my pain away
But even if you don't I pray
Help me want the Healer more than the healing
Help me want the Savior more than the saving
Help me want the Giver more than the giving
Help me want you Jesus more than anything--More than anything, Natalie Grant

Dear Lord, 
Thank you for sending your Son to die for us, so we could have a relationship with you.  We humbly come before your throne and lay our requests at your feet.  You alone are mighty to save, and we thank you so much for Jesus.  
In Your name,