My Goals: 24 x 24

I apologize for taking so long to write this. I can't believe it's already been almost two weeks since my birthday! Here is the follow-up to my last post. I got this lovely idea from my friend and fellow mama-blogger Ally. She posted a list of 25 things she wanted to accomplish by the time she turned 25 and I just adored the concept! So, without further ado, here's next year's "bucket list", so to speak!

1. Grow in Christ. (I have no idea what this looks like for next year because I have no idea what’s coming our way, but if I look back on my 24th year and see no growth, I’m going to be very sad.)
2. Pray intentionally each morning for my husband, my children and for patience with both.
3. Develop a consistent quiet time routine.
4. Get out of bed and spend some time alone in the mornings before my child(ren) awake.
5. Journal consistently.
6. Spend quality time by myself out of the house.
7. Make a family photo collage to fill a wall in our home.
8. Give birth to our second child fully naturally in a birth center (as planned).
9. Maintain physical health and make my body a priority (example: actually eating three meals a day EVERY day) throughout all the changes my body will go through this next year.
10. Spend more time in the kitchen and make some of my own staples (pancake mix, salsa, spaghetti sauce, baby food, etc).
11. Make a real effort to be on time more often than not.
12. Work out at home on a consistent basis.
13. Achieve softer hands than my husband’s. (I have terrible skin on my hands and it bothers both of us. I want to seek a cure and be consistent about caring for my hands!)
14. Have at least one totally awesome party at our apartment. Hopefully more.
15. Plant a mini-herb garden on our deck. I am dying to grow my own herbs because it is a joke to buy them fresh at the store so I usually just settle for dried herbs in a little plastic tube and I know it’s stunting the potential of my cooking skills.
16. Read at least one book – start to finish – per month.
17. Go on vacation with just Nick.
18. Go on vacation as a family.
19. Pay off both of our student loans and be DEBT-FREE!!!
20. Host at least one holiday at our home – and make it ROCK!
21. Invite someone new to church at least once a month – and follow up with them.
22. Preach the Gospel to Owen every day – when we read books about Jesus, when I’m disciplining him, when we’re eating, praying, resting, playing… I want to show him Jesus every second of every day.
23. Accept imperfection, revel in its glory and thank the good Lord that I do not have to be my own Savior.
24. Have fun and enjoy the blessings God has given me!!!

Please hold me to this list, friends! I am all for accountability so please ask how these things are going! How about all of you? What are your short-term or long-term goals?


23 Things I Don’t Want You to Know About Me

I turn 23 years old tomorrow. In honor of my birthday, I thought I would share some things with you that will probably humble me far more than you will even care to read them. I once saw a blogger do this and was inspired to to the same because I have the tendency to make life sound perfect when it is so obviously not. So... here goes!

1. One of my greatest problems is my pride. I am guilty of often thinking, “Wow, I’m so glad I’m better than that person…” One of the reasons I am sharing this list on the Internet is to try to force some humility upon myself.

2. When something out of the ordinary happens, my first thought tends to be “How can I make a super clever Facebook post about this?”

3. I have a terrible, awful fear of man. This results in me being a people-pleaser and very internally critical.

4. I am far more organized than the average person, but I am almost always late. (Okay, you probably knew this one)

5. I am a grammar Nazi. If someone misspells something on Facebook or incorrectly uses or omits an apostrophe, I will judge their character for it. No joke.

6. When I originally typed this, I spelled “grammar” wrong.

7. I couldn’t tell you the last time I cleaned behind/under my furniture.

8. Three of my weaknesses are Nilla Wafers, Bugles and Circus Animal Cookies (the pink and white ones). I could eat an entire bag of any of these three snacks in one sitting.

9. I have left a load of clean laundry in the dryer for four days before folding it. I also once ran a load of dirty laundry in the washer completely without soap.

10. I have gotten so angry at my cat that I have kicked him.

11. I have gotten so angry at Owen that I have made him cry.

12. I was always really unpopular in school because I did my homework and liked my teachers. It didn’t help that they liked me too. In fact, I switched schools in third grade because my only friend at my previous school was my second grade teacher.

13. Generosity is not a spiritual gift of mine. When I am blessed by a natural gift-giver, I feel really guilty about not feeling like I can return the favor with the same attitude.

14. I feel guilty a lot.

15. I am not consistent with reading my Bible every day so when I come across verses that friends share on the Internet throughout the day, I try to tell myself that “that counts”.

16. Sometimes I really want to hide under a rock and run away from my life.

17. If there are baked goods in my home, I will eat every single one unless someone else does. On top of that, it usually only takes me two or three days to go through a whole batch of baked anything.

18. I’m blonde and I really can be dumb.

19. Example: Owen “happened” because I really, really didn’t understand the Calendar Method. Yep, you heard it from me – MY fault!!

20. My husband cannot organize anything correctly unless I taught him how.

21. I love being a photographer, but I can be a really lazy editor.

22. I avoid sharing the Gospel to strangers pretty much at all cost. I just don’t want to make things “awkward”. (This one makes me want to punch myself in the face just thinking about it)

23. My own self-created standards are more important in my mind than God’s standards. And I usually don’t even meet my own standards.

All this leads to one thing I really DO want you to know about me.

1. I am not defined by my failures… or my successes. Jesus died for every single thing on my list. I am saved by grace – obviously not by my works. I praise my sweet Jesus because I will ALWAYS be a sinner and He will ALWAYS be my Savior.

Stay tuned for a follow-up post in the next few days - I'm going to post a list of things I hope to accomplish in the following year!


Jesus Is Enough

So, after a week and a half of very hard, tiring work, we decided to forego potty training at this point. It was a hard decision to make, not just because I want this boy potty trained, but because my stubbornness often causes me to push forward on things that don't really need to happen in the timing I created for myself. I just had so much confidence in us - in myself - that I thought this process would be quick and easy so I could just write a blog about how fantastic everything was going. It wasn't. It isn't. And now that we're moving, it's time to let it go.

Because I turned potty training into a test of just how determined I am as a mother... not about how God is growing Owen and what he needs right now. He is just not at the point where he can communicate to us when he needs to go but he does realize when he has not done things correctly. This just turns into a spiral of frustration and tears, which is not how I want him to think of the potty. So in turning to Jesus and refuting the lies that I am a failure, we are going back to diapers for a couple of months until Owen is really ready to kick this in two days.

I really had to face this fact last weekend when our moving process started. I am not going to be able to work with Owen every hour of the day while we are packing, moving and needing babysitting throughout the next couple of weeks. My dear husband has been encouraging me in this direction for a few days and I finally really heard him and heard the Lord telling me this. I just needed to reach the point of understanding that this has nothing to do with me. And in that, I experience freedom in Christ! Knowing that He - and only He - is enough and will supply me with the strength and courage to get through not getting through this right now.

All that to say, we are moving in five days. FIVE DAYS! We have lived in Newcastle for just over two years now and I'm starting to see that it's not all going to be cake and flowers when we go. I love our little community and although I know we already have a great one waiting for us in Fairwood, change is hard. There are so many great things about Newcastle, but God is moving us. And I know He will do great things in our family as we transition to a new community.

On another note, I wanted to give a quick pregnancy update. I am fourteen weeks now and in my second trimester. I had another appointment today and got to hear the heartbeat for the second time! It was beating very quickly, which makes me wonder if it's a girl! We have six weeks until we can find out the gender and I'm very excited. Not finding out with Owen was really, really fun but it will also be great to know earlier this time around.

All in all, we are really looking forward to the move this weekend but can definitely use prayer for physical and emotional strength as we embark on the journey of moving and building furniture, adjusting to a new place with a toddler and a cat, packing, unpacking and all the other glorious details that come with moving. I'm very thankful that my strength is not my own - especially in a season such as this!! Jesus IS enough, friends - no matter WHAT the enemy tells you!


A New Chapter

I am having trouble beginning this post. It's hard to know where to start. In the last couple of weeks so much has changed for our little family. God is doing a great work in us but I have to admit - it's exhausting! I'll give a little update as to what He's doing but I apologize if it's not very thorough. My mind is so scattered right now.

Referencing our last post, I am now twelve weeks pregnant and our baby is still healthy, growing and very much alive! I am thankful to be close to the end of my first trimester and seem to be coming out of the sleepy fog that is the beginning of every pregnancy for me. I am so thankful for my husband's patience and understanding during this time because nine times out of ten he comes home to me sitting around like a blob with no idea what I want to do about dinner.

That's the other thing - most food doesn't really sound good in my first trimester so that whole feeding my family thing? Yeah, it kind of doesn't happen around here for a while. It's highly frustrating when I feel like I can't accomplish a few simple things to serve my family. But again, my husband has been extremely patient with me and lowered his expectations greatly, which has made everything so much easier. Let me tell you, expectations kill marriage. Not that I never have them - far from the fact - but usually when I am upset about something involving Nick, it has to do with me expecting something of him that I either a) did not express to him directly or b) he has never done so why would he start right now? Don't listen to the lies, ladies! Your husband can never and will never completely fulfill you. That's not his job.

Sorry for the mini-rant there. Didn't see that coming!

In addition to knowing for sure that our second child is imminent, we finally secured where we will live in this next stage of life. Our lease on our little condo is up at the end of June so we have been searching this last month to find where God wants us to be. We were looking into buying a house for a while but the idea just wasn't sitting right with us. No house was popping out at us and we just couldn't ignore how close we are to paying off our student loans.

So we decided to listen to the little Dave Ramsey on our shoulder and will be signing our lease this week for a 3-bedroom, 2-bath apartment in Fairwood. Everything about this place feels right to us and I am really excited to move! It is about 300 square feet larger than our current place, which is going to feel huge. Even though it's an apartment, the layout is great for hosting friends and family and with the third bedroom we aren't going to feel nearly as cramped, even after welcoming our second baby in December. I can't wait to see how God uses our next home to minister to others and grow our family emotionally, physically and spiritually!

On the side of everything else, my photography business is exploding. This is something I didn't expect this year. I will be shooting more than ten weddings in 2012 in addition to all sorts of family and portrait shoots in between and when I look ahead at my calendar, I start to feel very anxious. Right now I am choosing to blog instead of edit pictures and while that's probably a poor choice for some reasons, it feels really good to just listen to the rain and type out what's going on around me.

To everyone reading this who has supported my business so far through babysitting, referrals, encouragement, not to mention actually hiring me... thank you. I am so amazed and blessed by being able to do what I love and still be a wife and mom first. It gives me so much joy to know that when I went to film school, this is what God really had in mind for me.

Among other things, this is what's been taking up my brain recently. Oh, and the fact that today was Day 1 of potty training boot camp for Owen and I. I am totally wiped from this morning but in a few days, I hope to post about our experience. Prayers for perseverance and patience for both parties would be much, MUCH appreciated. It's tough to keep the end goal in mind when it's so easy to get caught up in the little failures along the way.

Thank you, friends! Love you lots!


Oh Happy Day!

Poom. Poom. Poom. Poom.

My heartbeat was quick and forceful as the doppler searched. We all held our breath.

Poom. Poom. Poom. Poom.

I tried not to focus on anything. Owen had decided to put my shoes on and walk around the birthing room. He was actually doing a very good job and keeping balanced. I couldn't help but laugh, even though we were only hearing my heartbeat after a couple minutes of searching. Then...


There it was! The heartbeat!! 

This morning was my first appointment with Puget Sound Birth Center. I am now ten weeks pregnant and there is a healthy, growing baby inside of me! This morning was a defining moment for us... neither of our past two pregnancies made it this far. We are pretty sure this baby is sticking around, thanks be to God!

My midwife explained something to me today that I hope will be encouraging to any other young moms who may have struggled through a similar situation. For those of us who are young and very fertile, it's common for our bodies to latch on to any fertilized egg that comes our way. Our bodies are so eager to be pregnant that no matter if there is something genetically wrong with the embryo, our bodies will still try as hard as possible to make a safe home for it. This is most likely why multiple miscarriages happen at our age. At least, this is my midwife's hypothesis (after 13+ years of catching babies).

If you don't know our history, I'll give a little recap. After Owen's first birthday I stopped nursing and we decided to try for a second baby. I got pregnant immediately (which didn't surprise us, given how quickly we got pregnant with Owen) and we got very excited. At seven weeks or so my symptoms waned dramatically but I figured it was just a different pregnancy than Owen's and I didn't worry. I began spotting at ten weeks and after a few days of mild bleeding, we went to the ER and discovered the miscarriage. A month after the miscarriage bleeding stopped, I got pregnant again. We were a little wary of this pregnancy because of how close to the previous one it was, but I felt symptoms for longer. I think I carried to ten weeks again before the spotting started for the second time. I was pretty certain from the start that this was a second miscarriage because my body was processing everything the same way as the first time. So in January, we mourned the loss of another child.

After two miscarriages so close together, we wanted to wait several months before trying again. Nevertheless, God had other plans and we got pregnant in March - only two months after my second miscarriage. Again, we were wary, but the fact that this pregnancy was unplanned gave me the sense that this one was going to "stick", so to speak. We have been waiting in anticipation over the last several weeks as my symptoms have continued and after today's appointment, we are almost completely certain that we are going to meet this baby in December!!

I cannot even begin to express my gratitude toward the Lord for this. It's been such an interesting journey in these last nine months... pregnant, not pregnant, pregnant, not pregnant, pregnant... It's just been hard to know what to say to people, what not to say and discerning if I just care too much what people think. I also have had trouble discerning my own feelings throughout all this. I am very good at detaching myself from being "emotional" and looking at the logic behind every situation. But is that skirting around my grief that is real and without sin? It's all so confusing. And I know God is not done with me yet. I'm just not quite sure where He is leading me in it.

For now, I'm just thankful. Thankful for a new life, thankful for God-given patience, endurance and perseverance and thankful for a wonderful community of friends and family who have been walking faithfully with us through this process. God is so good, even in our pain and suffering. He is always with us and always there to comfort us. And He is always there to rejoice with us. I'm so thankful that I get to rejoice with my God today!

Oh, and here's a recent picture of our first baby. He is growing up SO fast!! I am definitely ready for another small little containable thing :).