Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Last 24 Hours for ALL IN Challenge

Don’t worry, lots of fun updates coming soon about Jase & pregnancy & Christmas…

But for now I wanted to remind everybody that this is the last chance to get in on the ALL IN Challenge kicking off January 7th. Pre-ordering ends Wednesday (tomorrow) at noon. If you have some health goals for 2015, this is the PERFECT jump start.


We have an awesome group on FB with several of our challengers and yesterday I asked for everyone’s before & afters. I was BLOWN away! Cannot WAIT for our next group of transformation pictures.

Here’s the link with all of the details: Nationwide 24 Day Challenge

Here’s to a healthier 2015!! Excited to watch people across America take control of their health.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Goal Setting for 2015

My inner nerd is so excited right now! Seriously, I feel like a giddy little kid.

I have always loved the idea of setting goals . I am the kind of person who thrives off of having a specific target in mind & going hard after it. (Honestly, I think everyone thrives off of that.) I have always been pretty solid in identifying what I want, why it’s important, and then making it happen because that’s how my personality works. And I’m just nerdy enough that I have always written my goals down…way before I was mature enough to realize how important it is. But confession time…for some reason I have struggled with focusing and accomplishing what I want to/need to over the last few months. I haven’t really been working towards anything specific like I usually am and it has led to me being complacent in every area. That lack of discipline is not good & I know it does not honor God, so it is time to get back on track. I know some people think it’s cliché to set New Year’s Resolutions or goals….but I can’t think of a better time for a fresh start. There were a lot of blessings in 2014, but there is a lot of room for growth and improvement. We want things to be different and better in 2015, and “for things to change, we have to change.” Why NOT start now?

One of my favorite people gave me the gift of Power Sheets this year, and I finally whipped those bad boys out last night. Jonathan and I blocked off 2 1/2 hours after Jase went to bed to go through some of the PowerSheets, reflect on 2014, set some (seriously BIG) goals for 2015, & plan for the upcoming year. We also worked on creating our 2015 monthly budget. (I recently started reading Dave Ramsey’s book The Legacy Journey: A Radical View of Biblical Wealth and Generosity & it inspired me to start revisiting our budget more often.) Not going to lie…I know it was a little uncomfortable for Jonathan (because he told me it was), but he was a total champ & felt really good about it afterwards.

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Obviously we totally trust the Lord and know that ultimately He is in control. He could change our entire path tomorrow. But for now, while He has us on this path,  we want to be great stewards of everything in which God has entrusted to us. That means working hard with intentional, focused effort and making the BEST use of our time, talent, & resources.  The only way to do that effectively is to have a vision for our family and future and set specific goals to help us work towards that vision.



We took some time to go through our family & individual goals and write them down into categories.

Sometimes I write all of my goals out on the blog, but this year I really feel led to keep most of them private. I will include a few examples though.

We started with our bigger picture goals and and the WHY behind them, but we also got pretty specific and wrote down what it would take on a daily & monthly basis to accomplish those goals. Here are the categories:

  • Spiritual (as a family & individual) : Read Jesus Calling together at the breakfast table and look up the verses. I typically read this by myself and don’t always look up the Scriptures.  We eat breakfast together every single morning, so this is a perfect time to do a family devo, right? We typically listen to Herman Cain on talk radio, but we can do that after our devotion. Also, I want to memorize a new verse each week and work on teaching it to Jase.
  • Marriage : Attend 2 marriage conferences and go on a “baby moon.” 2 date nights/month. (We wanted to be reasonable since we’ll have a new baby in June.)
  • Parenting : Transition Jase to a big boy bed & potty train him. Get the new baby on a solid schedule.
  • Physical- Oh gosh y’all, this was hilarious. (It may be one of those things where “ya just had to be there” but I’ll share anyway.) I asked Jon about his physical goals and his first answer was “floss.” I busted out laughing and he said “What? Wait…don’t write that down. What were yours?” I just assumed he would say something about working out (he ended up making a rowing goal) which is why I got so tickled. Flossing more is a great goal though! (If you have other health goals for the upcoming year, there are FOUR days left to get in on the All-In Nationwide Challenge with us!)
  • Home : Get a new mattress for our bedroom & purchase a generator. Do some grading in the backyard. Deep clean 1x per month. Build a mud room at entry way. Have couches professionally cleaned.
  • AdvoCare (personal goals): Earn both corporate incentive trips for the year. Earn NLT. 9* by Aug Success School.
  • AdvoCare (team goals): Help over 100 families on our team earning $1000+/month by Dec 2015. Help 10 team members achieve the Ruby leadership level.
  • Debt : Pay $x extra towards principal on our mortgage each month.
  • Financial : Make max contributions to IRAs.
  • Investing (not sharing this one)
  • Giving: Serve at least once a month in a ministry outside of our church.
  • Personal Growth : Each read at least 1 personal growth/leadership book per month.
  • Other : Update our will &  print blog books.

We also talked about where we would like to be by the end of 2015 and our 5 year and 10 year vision.

Once we wrote out those goals, I wrote down a list of some of my specific goals for January and went through my EC Life Planner so I could put specific tasks on specific dates. I worked on my daily schedule and blocked out certain times (like when Jase is napping or after he goes to bed) to get some things done.

We also wrote out our monthly budget and our top 4 financial/saving/investing goals (on the same piece of paper) so we can post it in our house. It’s important to keep it in front of us and remind us what we’re working towards. This is where that T chart of “I want…” and “Get rid of” lists can come in very helpful. I wrote more about that in this post: Some Thoughts on Finances.


Jonathan and I both really appreciate organization and thrive off of having a target in mind. We both feel super confident and excited about our upcoming year, and from a marriage standpoint it helps to be on the same page, to know exactly what you’re working towards, and most importantly, WHY that is important. Non-specific goals get non-specific results…and unfortunately, lots of people wander aimlessly without ANY goals at all. That day-to-day grind with no big picture purpose or vision is depressing- almost hopeless. I know lots of people aren’t taught HOW to create goals, so I hope this helps some. I know I am definitely not an expert, but I can tell you this works for us and it’s absolutely worth carving out 2-3 hours to work through this. Of course it doesn’t end there. You have to take time frequently (at least once a month) to revisit and evaluate how you’re doing. Measuring progress is important & encouraging, so don’t forget about that part too.

Here’s to hoping your 2015 is the BEST yet!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas from Butler, Party of 3

Pretend this is hanging with all of your other Christmas cards, k?


We just wanted to wish you a wonderfully MERRY CHRISTMAS from our family to yours!! Christmas is such a special time. We are praying this Christmas brings you and your family  good health, lots of sweet memories with friends & fam, plenty of rest, maybe a few too many Christmas cookies (don’t forget the Carb-Ease), and most importantly, time to worship our Savior as we remember the true reason for the season. Be sure to read Luke 2:1-20 with your fam sometime today.

We are so thankful you stuck it out with us for another year. I know lots of you have been with me since this blog was Goin’ to the Chapel…then Happily Ever After…Butler, Party of 2…and now we are in our last year as Butler, Party of 3 before we become Butler, Party of 4 in 2015. I am so thankful for the encouragement and the friendships that have resulted from this little ole blog.  Just wanted to thank you guys & let you know you mean a lot to me. So with that…

MERRY CHRISTMAS from (for the last time) Butler, Party of 3!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Tips for Creating a Budget

Did you know…

  • 77 % of Americans say they have financial worries, but only 40% report having any kind of spending plan.
  • One in three baby boomers has less than $1,000 saved for retirement.
  • The #1 fear of baby boomers is outliving the money they have saved. (Death, by the way, checked in at second place.
  • According to an Ernst & Young study, 75% of Americans can expect to see their assets disappear before they die.

(Taken from Tony Robbins’ article “ Taking Steps Toward Financial Freedom”)

Basically…financial education is extremely important, but most of us (if you’re like we were anyway) have no clue where to start.

I don’t know that this will work for everybody, but when we originally created our budget, this is exactly how we did it. Things have changed for us financially because of AdvoCare, so we aren’t as strict as we used to be. However, a lot of this is already engrained in our brain & helped us tremendously early on in our marriage. We are still very conscientious and work hard to be good stewards of what we’ve been given. We always want to live beneath our means and work towards complete debt freedom so we are able to give more. Our goal is to ultimately live on 30% of our income (including saving & investing) and give 70%.


Jonathan & I both know how to use Excel & I recommend that if you do too, but I am a pen and paper kind of gal so I hand write all of this out. Mint.com is another great {free}tool that I highly recommend if you’re just getting started!

1. We began by setting goals. “Without a vision the people will perish.” You have to know where you’re going, WHY you’re doing what you’re doing, why that’s important to you, & when you want to accomplish that. That all has to come BEFORE the “how to” or you’ll eventually fall off the wagon. We prayed about it individually and as a couple, discussed it, and determined exactly what we felt the Lord wants regarding the direction for our finances. We wrote down (for accountability- there is power in WRITING it out) SPECIFIC amounts and a timeline. We have a set $$ amount we want to earn each month, give each month, save each month, invest each month, etc. We wrote a monthly, yearly, 5 year, and 10 year set of goals. It’s so important to create those small, tangible goals with a big picture ‘long view of time’ in mind as well.

2. The next step was to track our income and expenses for 1 whole month. Every.single.dime. If you want to know where you’re going & how to get there, you have to know where you’re starting by taking an honest inventory of your finances. Most people are like we were and spend more than you think you do. I will never forget when we realized Jonathan was spending $100 + a month at the gas station! Be real with yourself about your total income & total expenses. I know some people who really struggle financially but buy tons of soft drinks & lottery tickets, or maybe have on a new outfit every time I see them. The reality is, most people spend everything they earn & don’t even know where their money went. They have no idea how much they’re really spending. Little things like buying your kids candy every time you check out at the grocery store or being late returning a Redbox (SO GUILTY) can add up to surprising amounts over time.

We personally use our one and only credit card for pretty much everything we can and then pay it off in full at the end of the month (for the credit card points- helps out a little bit with travel expenses). But I ONLY recommend that if you can be extremely disciplined & won’t be tempted to overspend. Jonathan & I are both more on the frugal side so that’s not really an issue for us. We wrote down every penny we spent- whether cash, EFT (several of our bills come out automatically), or on the credit card.

3. We set our budget up into categories based on our spending.

These are the non-negotiables we spend money on every month. You may have to add or take our a category (ex: cable, prescriptions, medical bill, Netflix, pet food/meds, etc.)

  • tithes (this is the very FIRST thing that comes out when we get paid)
  • mortgage (includes escrow, taxes, & insurance)
  • health insurance premium
  • car insurance
  • life insurance
  • water
  • electric
  • gas bill
  • gasoline
  • groceries
  • eating out
  • internet
  • gym membership
  • phones (we are both still on our parents’ plan because it’s cheaper, so we just pay them once a year for the total)
  • AdvoCare products
  • diapers/wipes (we buy at Costco to save money/unit)
  • savings/investments
  • lawn service
  • pest service
  • travel
  • IRA contributions
  • date night
  • other

We also have a category that differs depending on each month, but we do have a place for it in our budget.

  • books
  • entertainment
  • clothes
  • toiletries (all from Costco)
  • hair cuts/highlights for me (I get my hair done every 3 months & budget $60)

If there is something we know comes up each year, we go ahead and write it out in that month’s budget. Here are a few examples.

  • Christmas
  • birthdays
  • gifts (wedding, showers, birthdays, etc.)
  • anniversary
  • tag renewal
  • taxes (we have an AWESOME accountant and will never skimp on that service)
  • oil change
  • new tires
  • car repairs/home improvement
  • dental cleanings

4. We went back in the the previous 6 months to determine averages in each of those categories. For example, obviously some months the gas bill is higher than other months. Discover has an awesome spend analyzer that breaks it down really well for you too.

5. We made sure we were spending less than we were bringing in and looked for places in the budget we could cut. For example, cutting cable saved us nearly $1200 a year. We also stopped going out to the movies & started watching Redbox at home. That saved over $600/year. We started buying Zaycon chicken and that saved big time on our grocery bill. We no longer stop at the gas station (except for gas, obviously, and even then we use our Kroger Fuel points to save) or eat fast food. We buy in bulk at Costco to save money on things like diapers, toilet paper, soap, detergent, & paper towels. Say it with me now… “Live beneath your means.” I remember growing up hearing my mom use the phrase “They have steak taste & hamburger money.” So true for so many Americans, thus the debt issue crippling most families today. We live by a pretty simple strategy….If you can’t pay cash for it, you don’t need it. 

6.  Savings are crucial, but so is investing. So we came up with a plan for both by reading several books & studying what financial experts have to say on the issue. By savings, I specifically mean a 6 month emergency fund. On top of that & contributing to a retirement plan (we have both a traditional and ROTH IRA), you want to invest. Make your money work for you!

7. If you can’t afford to do these things, you want to increase your income. Based on everything we have read from financial experts, the BEST way to increase your income is to start an in-home business. I am personally a huge advocate for moms having the opportunity to be home with their babies, so this is where the entrepreneurship kicks in. Pray about what you can do on a part-time basis from home to bring in additional income.  Proverbs 31 even discusses a woman contributing to her household in this way, but not at the cost of managing the home taking a back seat. That is always priority. Both Jonathan and I believe it is ultimately part of the husband’s role to be the provider, so this has just been a way for us to work together toward a common goal for our family. That has strengthened our marriage even more.

Because time was an issue for us, we preferred a ready-to- go biz with no monthly minimums, quotas, autoships, etc., minimal initial investment, and zero overhead.


8. Continue to monitor your results, track your progress, & make adjustments based on your family’s needs & changes income/expenses.  This is not a one-time and done type deal. We look at it every month to make sure we know ahead of time where our money is going, & every few months we sit down more at length to really discuss where we are and our progress towards our goals. Sometimes we are missing the mark. Sometimes we make more money and determine where we want to give or invest.

9. Educate yourself. If you’re looking for a starting place, my top four favorites are:

**Also, here are a few things we choose not to take the “cheap” route on:

  • food – real food, quality & organic is important to us. You can’t put a price tag on great nutrition & the PROVEN benefits.
  • supplements (although we do get a 40% discount on world’s finest nutritional products, so that’s only a half truth I guess)
  • hair products (uhhhh, not to sound gross, but I only wash my hair a few times a week so they last me forever)
  • shoes (I’ve said it forever, but taking care of your feet helps your entire body. we avoid cheap-o flats, flip flops, & tennis shoes)
  • our accountant. SO worth every penny!

Hope that helps! Anything else you do that I’m missing??

Thursday, December 18, 2014

#babybutlernumerodos is 15 Weeks!!

Oops…I missed a week.

Baby Growth:

#babybulternumerodos should be weighing around a half of a pound by now…around the size of a navel orange.  And yes, I have been eating 1-2 oranges every day again this pregnancy.

My Symptoms: My hair is so big, full, & out of control. I cannot WAIT to get some highlights & get some serious inches chopped off. Hopefully she can squeeze me in next week.

I feel decent. Nausea is easing up (hallelujah!) but energy isn’t back to normal yet. I just don’t feel quite like myself. Super thankful & blessed though, so really can’t complain.

Moodiness seems to be easing up jusssst a little bit. And only a little bit. I have had to bite my tongue a few times this week with strangers. Seriously, some people are so stinkin RUDE. (Yes, lady at Kroger, and other lady who pulled out in front of me when I had the right away and then threw your hands up at ME…I’m talking about y’all.)

I have also experienced some round ligament pain & stretching – especially if I roll over a certain way or stand up too fast. It only lasts for a second but is pretty sharp. I also get dizzy when I stand up too fast and have to lean forward to stop the dizziness.

Bathroom habits are resuming back to normal, but still need to be drinking more water.

Sweet tooth is back in full force with no MNS. Such a love/hate. I HATE how much I LOVE sweets. I really like when I’m on MNS & the cravings go completely away.

I get full super quickly so I can only eat really small portions, and I have to eat OFTEN or I get nauseas. If I accidentally wait too long, I’ll throw up. Fun times!

Jase also has a pretty bad cold & I’m picking up the cough. Germs are EVERYWHERE right now & it makes me want to just stay locked up at home.

Weight: It fluctuates. As of this morning I hadn’t gained anything, but sometimes I’m up around 4 lbs from my normal weight. It looks like WAY more though because of this belly though. Y’all, the bump.is.huge! I mean whoa. It looks like my 20+ week bump with Jase. I’m still in regular clothes (even jeans, although I have no idea how) but they are starting to get a little tight & uncomfortable. (Please ignore my grumpy face.)

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Gender: We are having our anatomy scan later in January, so IF we can wait we’ll find out the gender then. If we can’t stand it anymore we might make an appointment for a gender only ultrasound in the next few weeks. I’m trying to do as few ultrasounds as possible though, so hopefully we can have some patience. My gut says boy, Jon thinks boy, and our parents think boy (although I think they secretly want a girl). And I know, I’m so wishy washy. Early on I was thinking girl too, but this pregnancy just seems so identical to the last one.

I cannot WAIT to find out though! I’m ready to start calling this sweet baby by name!! I am pretty certain we have some names picked out either way.

Maternity Clothes: Still wearing all regular clothes right now but that probably won’t last much longer. Got some sweet maternity leggings from StitchFix this week. Cannot wait to rock those bad boys. (FYI: I LOVED Stitch Fix! I was so surprised that she pretty much nailed the clothes. I sent everything back but the leggings though because they were more expensive than I would ever pay for clothes. Turns out they don’t shop at Marshall’s I guess.)

Movement: Oh yea!! Started a week or two ago. I didn’t know if it was too early, but it was definitely that sweet baby moving. I can’t wait for more of this. My favorite!!

Sleep: I nap when Jase naps. I’m sleeping decent,  just feeling a little worn out. I miss MNS & 2 Sparks a day.

Jase has been sick this week so that broken sleep has been a little tough. He has been waking up because he’s coughing and is so stuffy…poor guy! I can tell if he will go back to sleep or is he really needs his Mama, and if he’s sick I typically go in and hold him for a little while to soothe him. Worth every sweet minute of being awake though, and that is some of the sweetest prayer time I’ve had.

Is that not the most pitiful little guy??

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Cravings:  Nothing that I can think of this week. I still have ZERO desire to cook so we’ve been eating out way more than I’d like. I eat decently healthy when we eat out, but we all know it’s still wayyyy more healthy to just eat at home. I have been more intentional about juicing & I always always eat a super healthy breakfast. That counts for something, right?

**New Favorite Juice Recipe: (thanks for sharing Candice! The lime totally did the trick!)

  • 2-3 handfuls of spinach
  • cucumber
  • 2 anjou pears
  • 1 green apple
  • celery
  • 1 lime

photo 1 (7)photo 2 (8)

Work Outs:   I’ve done body pump a couple of times, but nothing impressive on my part & not working out as much as I’d like. I ALWAYS feel better after I work out but I’m so wiped out it’s tough to find the motivation. When I was pregnant with Jase, Jon & I always went together and he would encourage me to go even if I didn’t feel like it. It’s way too easy to skip now.

Questions/Concerns: I had another doctor’s appointment this week & everything went great. We are really, really happy with our doctor & praying the Lord works it out so he can deliver #babybutlernumerodos. Heart beat was strong at 152. I had a few more questions about VBAC and was excited to hear the answers to those questions. So far I feel pretty confident. The only answer I wasn’t thrilled about was the fact that I have to have an epidural this time. If for some reason I have to have an emergency c-section, I’ll need the anesthesia to be ready to go because the only other option is to go all the way under. He also said I need to get to the hospital much sooner this time & laboring at home isn’t a great idea. I’m a little nervous about that because I have a super high pain tolerance and had no CLUE I was at a 7 when I went to get checked when I was in labor with Jase. That was almost an issue because I was GBS + so had to get to the hospital with him to have the antibiotics in my system for 4 hours before delivery. Our doc said we will just monitor closely & he’ll help me to know.

Also, we are on track to earn an all-expenses paid trip with AdvoCare this May and the doc said I’ll be too far along to go. Again. This happened with Hawaii too. Boo. I was a little bummed, but this baby is such a blessing that it’s not that big of a deal. Jase owes us a trip to Hawaii, so #babybutlernumerodos will owe us a family trip to Destin. Smile Even though I can’t go, we may still send Jon. AdvoCare trips are WAYYYY too good to miss out on!

I have also been a little stressed out over some family stuff going on. Praying more than stressing, but also want to incorporate some yoga into my routine because that helps me tremendously.

Goals for next week: More water! More veggies. Maybe start Christmas shopping?? Ha! (No really. I don’t have ONE single gift.) We aren’t going big this year though because we finally traded my car in (it was having some big time issues) and got something new to us/used, so that’s our “gift” to each other.

Thoughts: I don’t know if it’s because we are so busy with Jase or if it’s just different the second time around, but we sometimes ‘forget’ I’m pregnant. Jon says all the time “I keep forgetting your pregnant.” Of course we don’t really forget, but it’s just not at the forethought of my mind constantly the way it was last go round. I know it’ll feel more real to me when I hit that 20 week mark & know the gender. That is so special to me! I am super, super thankful to be home and not working this pregnancy too.

Comparison: Here is my 15 week post with Jase. Funny, I was talking about my big hair being out of control, my pants getting tight, & trying to stay away from all the germs. Here is the 15 week bump from first pregnancy.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

2 Clean Chili Recipes

Georgia can’t seem to make up its mind with the weather, but we have had some pretttttty chili days (pun intended). Seriously, I don’t know how I ever played ball or ran outside in the freezing cold. I have turned into a total wimp & can barely survive walking to the car from the grocery store if it’s less than 60 degrees. So….cold weather means warm comfort food. What better than two tested & approved clean chili recipes??

I can’t take credit for either, but they are DELISH. And they are both pretty quick & easy too. Here ya go…enjoy on a day when it’s not 75 degrees outside (11 days before Christmas- weird).

Clean Turkey Chili:

Here is the link to Niki's recipe for clean turkey chili. Only thing I do differently is add 2 more cans of whatever kind of beans I have in my pantry…light red kidney beans, reg kidney beans, whatever. I also top with Greek yogurt cuz it tastes just like sour cream to me. Here are the ingredients you’ll need and her pic, which is way prettier than mine. (FYI: She has lots of great stuff on her blogs. Check em out!)


  • 2 - 2.5 lbs. extra lean ground turkey (grass-fed beef or bison)
  • ½ cup chopped onions (or 1 tbsp. onion powder)
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 -- 15 oz. can dark red kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 – 15 oz. can pinto beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 2 - 3 – 14.5 oz. cans Organic Diced Tomatoes (do not drain)
  • 1 -- 14.5 oz. can yellow corn (drained)
  • 1 -- 28 oz. can Rotel (do not drain)
  • 1 -- 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp. Splenda Brown Sugar blend
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tbsp. white vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. regular yellow mustard
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 - 2 tsp. salt


5 Ingredient (maybe 6) White Chicken Chili:

And HERE is the link to the white chicken chili. My mom found the recipe on Pinterest a while back and it was a total hit. We like to boil plain potatoes, cut them up & add them too, but that’s just a personal preference.. This is a little spicy, so take it easy on the salsa verde if you can’t handle some heat. Directions are on the link, but here is what you’ll need.

  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups cooked shredded chicken (*or see slow cooker method below, which uses uncooked chicken breasts)
  • 2 (15-oz) cans Great Northern beans, drained
  • 2 cups salsa verde (storebought or [homemade|http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/tomatillo-salsa-verde/])
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • potatoes (optional)
  • optional toppings: diced avocado, chopped fresh cilantro, shredded cheese, chopped green onions, sour cream, crumbled tortilla chips


Monday, December 8, 2014

Marriage Conference 2014

Jonathan & I attended a marriage conference with our church on Oct 31-Nov 1. I know I have shared before, but we are incredibly blessed that God placed us in a Sunday school class with such incredible mentors. They teamed up with another godly couple and Sunday school class to prepare for the marriage retreat. There were about 25 couples total. It was held at Winshape Retreat Center in Rome, Ga (on the campus of Barry College) and the facilities were absolutely GORGEOUS.

Somehow I managed to make it through the whole weekend without taking a single picture, so these are straight from Google. I wanted y’all to be able to see the facility though.

This was the group who went. We were the last ones to the picture (top left) because I had to potty. Story of my life.

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Marriage is SO, SO important to me. God takes our vows to Him very seriously, which means we should too. It is so sad to me to look around and see the state of the family unit across America, and I know that all roots back to bad marriages. You can take one look at the divorce rates in our country to see that not everyone takes marriage seriously.  No one is ever going to convince me an differently than believing that the BEST way to be a great parent is to be a GREAT spouse.  Kids NEED to see that. Great families start at home.

I am convinced that the only way to turn this nation around is to bring restoration to the family unit, and the best way I know to do that is to start by focusing on solid marriages. I am EXTREMELY passionate about godly marriages, but having been married for over 4 years & watching both of our sets of parents have marriages going strong after 35+ and 40+ years, I know it takes WORK. It takes a lot of effort. Compromise. Forgiveness. Devotion. Did I mention work?? Jonathan & I know strive to live a life pleasing to the Lord and to honor him through our marriage and family, but we also know that we are not immune to struggles. That’s exactly why we are such big believers in "Fixing the roof while it's not raining." 

The retreat theme was “Life for Marriage…Marriage for Life” and was based on Galatians 2:20.

They used some videos from Jimmy & Karen Evans’ video series called Marriage on the Rock. Here is the link to their Youtube page with tons of great videos. Wouldn’t it be AWESOME if you & your spouse took 10-15 minutes every evening before bed to watch just ONE video? I can’t think of a better investment of your time.

It was a really impactful weekend, but one thing I have learned from attending lots of conferences is that you need to pick just a FEW key points to work on and start implementing them. It will take work & time, but you can discipline yourself to start making changes & daily progress. That is more effective than trying to take it ALL in because that’s too overwhelming. What I took from this particular conference was very personal, so instead of talking about that specifically I’m going to share some bullet points with some of the points that stood out to me the most.  (They purchased the license for Marriage Today: Marriage on the Rock by Jimmy Evans if you’re interested. Would be a great small group or Sunday school study.) Enjoy!!

  • God has a plan for you to enjoy an awesome marriage, but you can never be husband/wife your mate needs you to be without Him.
  • He desires for you to fully surrender your life to Him, trusting Christ to live and love through you.
  • Christ IN us is the Life needed for a successful marriage. He wants your marriage for life to demonstrate His commitment to us, His bride, for eternity.
  • With the Lord, we can experience a fresh dependence on the Father to walk together in marriage one day at a time.

1) The Foundational Laws of Marriage: Marriage works when you do it God’s way.

  • 4 Foundational Laws:
  1. Law of Priority: God designed marriage to operate as the top priority, except for your personal relationship with God.
  2. Law of Pursuit: Never quit pursuing your spouse. Marriage requires work. Are you pursuing your spouse the same way you did when you were dating?
  3. Law of Possession: Never make an important decision without the input and agreement of your spouse. Everything you owned before marriage is now yours together.
  4. Law of Purity: Learn to quickly say “I’m sorry, I was wrong. Will you forgive me?”
  • God has created marriage based on 4 foundational laws. He will bless and protect every couple that honors these laws. Even though you may be convinced that your spouse has most of the problems, you cannot change your spouse. You can only change you. Listen carefully to the warning signs from your spouse when your priorities are in the wrong order. Pursuing your spouse isn’t just work for special occasions, it is a daily decision that you are going to work on the relationship so that your marriage gets better year after year. True intimacy comes from two people creating an atmosphere where they can share everything and admit they need each other.

2) Understanding and Meeting Your Spouse’s Needs: Our different needs can bring us together.

  • God has made us to be different. Let us not make these differences a battleground, but rather celebrate God’s unique design.
  • Selfishness destroys marriage. The best marriage is two servants in love.
  • His needs: Honor/Respect, Sex, Fun & Friendship, Support at Home
  • Her Needs: Security, Non-sexual affection, Open & Honest communication, Leadership (These are all general…the rule & not the exception.)
  • Only Jesus can meet our deepest needs. We may open ourselves up to Him to meet our spouse’s needs. His life in us meeting needs through us. That’s when marriage is amazing and long-lasting.
  • When a woman gives her husband honor and meets his needs, it fills his world and draws him back to his wife. Many women are waiting to honor their husbands until they see the change in his heart. This is backwards from what God says. Only the Lord can change your husband, but you can be the agent of that change by praising him for what he does right.
  • Just like men need their wives to be honoring and fun, women need men to sacrificially love them. By following Christ’s example to be a servant leader, men can fulfill their wife’s desires and reignite the passion in their relationship. For a man, meeting your wife’s needs is not just a matter of responsibility, it is the basis for romance and spiritual connection in your relationship.
  • Wives- win your husband with a gentle and quiet spirit, without a word. The enemy is the “accuser of the brethren.” We are not meant to be accusers, so stop nagging, blaming, and criticizing.
  • Most people take the energy God gave them to LOVE each other and spend it trying to change each other.

3) Destructive Husbands and Wives: You can disarm destructive behaviors in your relationship.

  • The Four Reasons We Become Destructive
  1. Ignorance
  2. Past hurts
  3. Bad friends & negative influences
  4. Defensiveness
  • The four main destructive behaviors in marriage:
  1. Criticism
  2. Control & dominance
  3. Checking out
  4. Cruelty & abuse
  • Whether control, criticism, past hurts, or unforgiveness, we can all be destructive in our behavior. We need to realize that we can’t change our spouse, but we can take responsibility for ourselves. Freedom occurs when we admit our destructive behaviors to God and each other. Commit to building up your spouse with praise and positive actions. As you do your part, God will heal the destructive areas of oyur marriage.
  • Forgiveness means cancelling a debt. 1 Cor: Love does not keep record of wrongdoing.
  • Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.
  • Pray for your enemies, even if your feelings don’t line up.
  • Pray for and BLESS those who persecute you. You can’t hate those you’re praying for.

4) Parents- Past and Present: Everything we do affects our family for generations.

  • More than any other factor in your life, parents have the greatest impact on us. If your parents had a good influence on your life and then you get married, you carry that influence into marriage. But the problem is any negative influence you saw from your parents, you also brought that into marriage. You may not remember everything your parents said, but you do remember the example they modeled for you. We have all been greatly influenced by our families. The good news is, we can overcome any negative behaviors in our lives so that future generations live in freedom and blessing. (EVERYTHING we say and do affects our children and grandchildren for FOUR generations. -Exodus 34:7 WOW!! What in incredible responsibility.)
  • More is “caught than taught.” We speak more with our actions than our lips.
  • We want mercy for ourselves but don’t want to give it to others.
  • These next two pages were extremely valuable, so I just had to take a picture because it’s way too much to type. Definitely some great info about parents & in-laws.

photo 1 (6)photo 2 (7)

5) Sexual Fulfillment in Marriage: God’s design for sex is a lifetime of pleasure and delight.

  • Sex should be something we enjoy and look forward to in marriage. In a healthy relationship, there is effort and forethought given towards sex to make it fun and pleasurable. However, Satan’s ultimate goal is that we be ashamed of our sexuality so that we don’t talk about sex with our spouse.
  • God created our sexual differences to make our relationship more fulfilling. For example, men are in tune with their emotions after sex while women need to be emotionally in tune with their husbands to feel sexual. Men are visually responsive. Women are relationally responsive. Men are compartmental. Women are inclusive.
  • The Five Ingredients to Sexual Fulfillment:
  1. Commit to meeting your spouse’s sexual needs in a committed and faithful manner.
  2. Communicate your sexual needs and allow your spouse to communicate.
  3. Commit to sexual purity to protect the integrity of the marriage.
  4. Create an atmosphere of sexual pleasure.
  5. Communicate and deal with sexual problems together.
  • God built the fence to keep the wild animals OUT. We can have FUN within the bounds God gives.
  • Do not withhold from your partner.
  • Sex is a special gift from God and sacred to marriage. We are different by God’s design and when we respect and serve each other, we complete each other and our marriage becomes fulfilling for us both. We have to work at creating a pure sexual atmosphere in our marriage where we can communicate, pursue each other, and meet each other’s needs. We have to be committed to working out our problems promptly when they arise as as our sexual needs change throughout life. It’s especially important to women that you romance your wife and meet her emotional needs.
  • Guard yourself before marriage. Obviously this post is geared toward marries couples, but it is so important to help our children understand that sexual immorality and anything outside of the marriage bed is sin. There are consequences (no matter what society says, this is what the BIBLE says) & that can negatively impact marriages. Encourage & pray for sexual purity.

SO….there you have it! I hope you got some value out of that the way I did the first time & rereading it to write this post. Here is my best encouragement to you. Choose 1-2 areas to really focus. Study scriptures, pray God’s Word, and focus on improving in that area daily. Focus on what YOU can change in your marriage. Our natural tendency when talking about marriage or reading a post like this is to focus on our spouse’s shortcomings and what they can do differently rather than on our own iniquities. We tend to minimize our own actions and maximize others. I pray you recognize that as pride and avoid the natural urge to focus on the speck in your brother’s eye when you have a plank in your own. (This is especially a struggle for me.) Focus on the things YOU can do today to improve your marriage, set the example that will impact your family for generations to come, and have the long-lasting abundant JOY God designs for our marriage. It’s never too late for restoration…

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Some Interesting Facts…

Health & finances are two of the biggest issues plaguing America today. That is why I am so passionate about AdvoCare (those are the two areas where we help people) and about this blog. I love being able to pass along what I have learned from brilliant mentors in hopes to help others make choices to improve their situation. Friends… Everything we do MATTERS. Check out some interesting facts I read recently.

1. It is extremely important to eat meals at home together as a family…

"The most comprehensive survey done on this topic, a University of Michigan report that examined how American children spent their time between 1981 and 1997, discovered that the amount of time children spent eating meals at home was the single biggest predictor of better academic achievement and fewer behavioral problems. Mealtime was more influential than time spent in school, studying, attending religious services, or playing sports." - The Secrets of Happy Families

2. Over 80% of Americans are struggling financially. 25 Million middle class homes live paycheck to paycheck. Over 83% of Americans would choose a different profession if they could and are unhappy in their current job. Did you know…the first 10 1/2 years you own a home, 90-95% of your payment is going towards interest? And that most people never make it to the 10 1/2 mark because they go buy a bigger house after 6 years? And that making 1-2 extra house payments a year toward the principle can cut the length of your mortgage in half or less? Did you know...97% of people have less than $6000 saved at the end of their life??

3.  More than one-third (34.9% or 78.6 million) of U.S. adults are obese. [Read abstract Journal of American Medicine (JAMA) Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death. The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars; the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.

4. Check out some of these statistics about money and specifically how financial struggles are wreaking havoc on relationships. The divorce rate is currently over 50% in America, and the #1 issue in marriages are financial concerns. Here are a few more stats..

  • Ten percent of American with mortgages reported being late or missing a mortgage payment in the last year and seven percent of adults are either getting calls from collectors or thinking about filing for bankruptcy. (2008 Financial Literacy Survey National Foundation for Credit Counseling, Inc. and MSN Money)
  • Students and parents agree that college students are not well prepared to deal with the financial challenges that lie ahead. Less than one-quarter of students or about twenty four percent and only twenty percent of parents say students are prepared to deal with the financial challenges that await them in the real world. More than three-quarters of student, about seventy six percent, report that they wish they had more help preparing for their personal finances. (The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc.)
  • The majority of college students say they pick up most of their personal financial education from their parents, but less than half of students said their parents make a consistent conscientious effort to teach them. About seventy percent of college students say their parents are their main source of information. (The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc.)
  • Forty-nine percent of teens are ‘eager’ to learn more about money management. Only fourteen percent had taken a class on a financial literacy topic and over a third want to learn money skills from their parents. (Capital One)
  • Only eighteen percent of parents are talking about school budgeting and seventy nine percent of parents see themselves as positive money role models for their kids. Only a small percentage of parents are taking advantage of the everyday learning opportunities about money. (Capital One)
  • Almost one-third of college students, when reflecting back on their freshman year, admit that they were not very well prepared for personal money management on campus. Twenty percent of students claim to have been very well prepared. (KeyBank and conducted by Harris Interactive)
  • Three out of four admit to having made mistakes with their money when they arrived on campus. (KeyBank and conducted by Harris Interactive)
  • When asked how closely they tracked where their money was being spent, fewer than forty percent said they track their spending very closely. (KeyBank and conducted by Harris Interactive)
  • About fourteen percent of American adults mentioned their company’s retirement plan when asked about ways they save. (Harris Interactive for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountant)
  • The fact is that the financial literacy statistics reflect what happens when you never teach kids about money. The overwhelming majority of students never received financial education, and the financial literacy statistics shows the results of this omission.
  • Eighty seven percent of teens report their parents are their main source of financial education. (Charles Schwab Foundation)


Everything you do matters.

#babybutlernumerodos is 13 weeks!

I was 13 weeks as of Thursday, which is my “rollover” day for a new week. I always get excited for Thursdays the way I did for Tuesdays with Jase.

Baby Growth:



#babybutlernumerodos is the size of a peach!!

My Symptoms: Ummm, helllllo moodiness!! FO real, watch out America. I don’t remember being moody like this last time. I can barely stand myself right now, much less other people. Don’t worry, it’s not everyone- I specifically have ZERO tolerance for: laziness, stupidity, poor parenting, poor choices, ignorance, whining, complaining, & bad driving. Seriously, I have avoided blogging and FB because I don’t want to offend anyone.

As far as the nausea, it has been pretty rough this go round too. It seems to be easing up some now. In the beginning, it was more during the day & then hit pretty hard at about 8 pm every night. I never puked last time, but did get sick this pregnancy when I waited too long to eat. (Jase was laughing hysterically & thought the gagging noises were so funny. Typical boy.)

My face is breaking out like crazy. Awesome. Thanks, hormones.

And I’ve been having some  issues in the bathroom (TMI, sorry y’all…I just want to remember this), even with my fiber drink & probiotics. I KNOW it’s because I’m not drinking enough water. I know that hydration is SO, SO important but I just cannot make myself drink water! It’s driving me crazy.

Weight: I gained a few lbs after Thanksgiving, but it’s back down now. It has been fluctuating, but as of today (surprisingly) I haven’t gained anything yet.  I sure LOOK like I have though! My tummy….WHOA. Pops out faster the second time, right? Seriously, it looks like my 17 week belly with Jase.  I know I am definitely not eating as healthy, but I’m doing my best and super hard core about taking my vitamins.

photo 1 (5)photo 3 (4)photo 2 (6)

Gender: Everyone keeps saying they hope we have a girl. And we definitely would love to have a girl at some point, but I’m thinking boy. At first as I was feeling girl (and we were referring to the baby by the girl name we have picked out), but this pregnancy has been *identical* to my pregnancy with Jase so far, so now I think BOY. Y’all know I don’t care either way and know it is a blessing just to have a baby, but I do feel like it is an honor to have an opportunity to raise a strong MAN for the Lord. We live in a generation full of WEAK MEN (roots back to poor parenting, entitlement mentality, & lack of father involvement in my opinion) and desperately need more God-fearing, hard-working, family men like Jonathan Butler. *rant over* (See why I haven’t been blogging?)

I cannot WAIT to find out though. I have no idea how people keep it a surprise. Of course I pray for the baby in the early phases before we know the gender, but the prayers feel so impersonal. I don’t know if it sounds silly, but I feel a whole lot more connected in my prayers when I know the gender. I like praying specifically & by name. I guess it just makes it more real and personal to me.

Maternity Clothes:  Y’all know how I roll. I’m just wearing normal clothes and probably will until I just can’t do it comfortably anymore. And actually, I wear workout clothes most days anyway. Thankfully I’m at home and not working this time. (Although, chasing around a super active 1 1/2 year old can be just as exhausting. Daddy is a rock star and helps out a TON!)

Movement: Not yet. I think it happened around 16 weeks last time? Can’t wait!

Sleep: I am sleeping better this week. A few weeks back I was waking up a lot during the night. I woke up a few nights in the middle of the night and went upstairs to sleep in the guest bedroom. The sheets/blankets are super cool & silky and the bed is really, really comfy. We need a new mattress but are waiting till we hit a certain business goal. Ha!

Cravings: French onion soup! I ate it 5 times in the past week and a half! And do you know what is SO crazy?!?! I looked back on this same post with Jase and was craving the exact.same.thing. How random?!?! My body must need something in those onions. I also got back on my orange kick this week and started eating 1-2 oranges a day. I can’t remember exactly when that started last time, but I do know that I ate an orange almost every single day once I started. Oh, and French toast. I make it with Ezekial bread, but we’ve been having it with scrambled eggs at least 4 times a week.

Work Outs: I took a body pump class this week & really, really enjoyed it. Felt awesome afterwards. Haven’t been exercising as much and am definitely ready to get back into it. It was much easier last pregnancy because Jonathan & I went together, so he encouraged me to go even if I didn’t really feel like it. (I always felt better and slept better afterwards.) Now we take turns going because we don’t feel comfortable taking Jase to the nursery, so it’s too easy for me to just skip out. And I haven’t been taking Jase on as many walks since it has been colder, so I’m going to have to step my game up. I just feel SO MUCH better when I work out., & it definitely helps the moodiness.

Best Pregnancy Moment This Week: Thanksgiving, of course!

Here is a pic from Thanksgiving 2012. I was about 5 weeks ahead of where I am this pregnancy.


Thanksgiving 2013.


And here is Thanksgiving 2014.


Questions/Concerns:  None really. We met with the doctor and heard a really strong heartbeat. He made us feel really good about attempting a VBAC & we are praying he gets to deliver when it comes time. Honestly though, we have a peace either way. As long as that baby gets here safely & mom & baby are healthy we are happy, so that is our prayer. We are super thankful for our doctor. He is extremely knowledgeable & honest. He said they typically recommend a flu shot, but was cool with me skipping out on that. And he encouraged me to get a TDAP booster (whooping cough vaccine) later in pregnancy to help the baby have the immunities. He said if I was his daughter, he would want me to get it. I love that type of advice.

Goals for next week: Drink more water. Juice more. Work out a few more times during the week. Start Christmas shopping. (Ha! No but really. Haven’t bought a single thing.) Cook more meals at home. (I do NOT feel like cooking right now. At all.)

Thoughts: Almost second trimester!! Funny, we are already way more laid back this time. Sometimes we even “forget” I’m pregnant. It definitely isn’t consuming my mind this time like it did last time because I am more focused on taking care of Jase. We are still so overwhelmed with God’s goodness and so thankful for the blessing of an addition to the Butler family.

We are also so overwhelmed and thankful for all of the well wishes & congratulations!! It makes it even more fun having so many of you celebrating the exciting news with us, so thank you for taking time to comment on the blog & FB.

Comparison: Here is my week 13 post with Jase. I started blogging at 9 weeks with him….not sure why I waited longer this time. It’s hilarious looking back at those earlier weeks & seeing that it’s pretty much identical. Super, super excited. Irritable. Breaking out. Didn’t want to drink water. Trouble sleeping. Nauseas. Gotta love first trimester! Here was my 13 week pic with Jase.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Presley’s 1st Birthday & Halloween

Back in early October, our sweet Presley turned 1!! Presley is my brother & sis-in-law’s little gal & she is an absolute doll. It was tough celebrating her birthday without Michael, knowing he is not ever going to be at any of her birthdays. But, she is so precious and there was still so much JOY in celebrating the blessing she has been to our family this past year.

Mom & Ragan planned a super cute pumpkin party to celebrate. Big girl LOVED her cake. (No really, she’s as big as Jase even though he is 5 months older…& he is pretty big for his age too. Pres is off the charts!)


All of the food & decorations were adorable.


After cake & presents, the kiddos had fun playing outside. Of course Jase thinks he’s too big to ride in the wagon & wanted to push the other babies. Are DJ and Presley not the sweetest with their little curls?? I love it!


I love this picture of my parents & their youngest grandbaby on her birthday. She looks so much like Michael too…

Everyone went back to Ragan’s neighborhood to trick-or-treat on Halloween a few weeks later. Halloween is also Michael's birthday, so I know it was a tough day for everyone. My family did a sweet balloon & lantern release in his honor.

Jonathan & I were actually in Rome for a marriage retreat with our church so we missed out on everything. We almost stayed home, but we are pretty adamant that our marriage always needs to come first. We prayed about it, and the retreat was really important to us. It was bittersweet to not be with family, but we both feel confident we made the right decision. (Post to come on the retreat. It was fantastic.) The actual holiday of Halloween (other than it being Michael’s birthday) is not a big deal to me at all anyway. But, I did enjoy getting some sweet pictures of my Jase as the cutest little dino you’ve ever seen! We found his costume at a consignment sale & it ended up being perfect because it was super chilly.

Mom said Jase’s favorite part was getting to talk to and wave at everyone. I’m not surprised- little man is super social and LOVES people!! They only went to about 5 houses & headed home because he seemed to be having a little trouble breathing. It was really chilly, so Mom wasn’t sure if it was from the cold air or if it was from the smoke from people’s outdoor fire pits. Thankfully he cleared up quickly.

So thankful for these babies and the JOY they bring. Especially during the sad times.