Saturday, June 8, 2019

Complaining

If you complain about something without offering a solution, then YOU are part of the problem.

Earlier this week, Jonathan took his pre-workout, we got all the boys ready & loaded in the car to head to the gym, then drove the 20+ minutes (past other gyms) to get there, unloaded all the boys and walked in. (We chose this gym specifically because it has childcare, & it saves us time to be able to work out together.) When we arrived, they had to turn us away because there weren’t enough staff members per child in the daycare. Basically the gym daycare was too full, so we couldn’t work out. This was the fifth or sixth time this has happened since school let out a few weeks ago, and I was pretty irritated by it. I wasn’t rude, but I also wasn’t kind and understanding by any means. (And I know it’s not the workers’ fault. They are just following protocol, which I do appreciate.) Here’s the deal. We’ve had an “eventful” couple of weeks to say the least, we haven’t been able to work out much, and I just REALLY needed the endorphins. (Clearly.)

I am not the type to complain (like, I never send my food back, always try to be the bigger person and offer grace), but I asked for the manager’s contact info and planned to call/email her because this cannot continue happening. I am pretty sure Jon and I both huffed and puffed our way to the car like children, loaded the boys back up, and headed home. I am sure it sounds silly (because it feels a little silly even typing it out, but I wanted to give context to where the post came from…it was ME!), but for us, this is our main hobby + stress relief. And honestly we probably wouldn’t have cared if it hadn’t happened so many times in such a short time frame. (We’ve never had the issue until recently because normally we go during the day while all other kids are in school.)

Right as I was about to type up an e-mail (since the manager is out of town), that quote popped in my head. DON’T you dare complain without offering a solution to the problem! And be GRATEFUL! Well, okay then…

So, Jon & I brainstormed a few ideas of how they could eliminate this from being an issue in the future & I have a draft typed up in my e-mail. And honestly. I’ll probably just wait till she gets back in town because this type of thing typically seems much nicer in person anyway. (For me, at least.)

But the whole deal got me thinking.

I had actually JUST shared an article in my healthy moms group about how chronic complaining impacts our bodies on the cellular level and leads to higher rates of anxiety, depression, and disease in an individual. It doesn’t surprise me this would be one of consequences when God’s Word clearly instructs us NOT to complain.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing. - Philippians 2:14

And do not grumble, as some of them did-and were killed by the destroying angel. - 1 Corinthians 10:10

Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! - James 5:9

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. - Ephesians 4:29

**Want to know the remedy if you have a tendency to complain?? GRATITUDE! And CHOOSING to focus on the good.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. - 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things. - Philippians 4:8

Silly, insignificant situation with a BIG reminder!! I’m so grateful for how the Holy Spirit convicts us and prompts us even in the daily things of life.

I don’t ever want to be known as a complainer. I don’t want my children to see/hear me complain because I don’t want to set a sinful example for them to follow. I don’t want others to not want to be around me (because seriously, complainers are NOT enjoyable to be around). I want to be JOYFUL, GRATEFUL, and GRACIOUS. I’m praying the Lord removes the sentence “I’m not trying to complain, but…” from my vocabulary, because clearly whatever is coming next is a complaint. We tend to undermine complaining, but the bottom line is when God’s Word says DON’T, I want to take that seriously. Anyone else need that reminder as much as I obviously did??

Friday, June 7, 2019

Baby Butler #4 is 22 Weeks

Keepin it classy with a bathroom selfie at Kroger. This was 20 weeks and the bump has DEFINITELY grown since then!

My Symptoms: I don’t think I posted in my last post, but in addition to some of the other really fun stuff I have going on (like varicose veins), I also have diastasis recti (which is why I carry like a torpedo) & an umbilical hernia. Thankfully it’s not terrible, but I’m wearing a wrap to help. It’s not too tight to make it restrictive, but definitely makes it WAY more comfortable. She said many times it goes away on its own after the baby is born, and I think it will this time too. If not, I’ll have to eventually have it surgically repaired.

Also, if I get up too fast or roll over too quickly, I have what I think is round ligament pain that is excruciating to the point I can barely move for like 30 seconds. It goes away quickly though and then I’m totally back to normal.

I know that all sounds really awful, but actually I feel GREAT! I am so thankful to have turned a corner and be feeling back to normal!

I also had my big ultrasound and everything looked perfect. DEF a girl! (Which we knew from the blood test.) It took a while to see all four chambers of the heart, but we finally got a picture. Measuring right on & my BP/weight was good. I was asking about trying a diff route to test for gestational diabetes (so I don’t have to do “the drink”) & they didn’t seem too thrilled, but I’m going to keep trying.

Maternity Clothes: I’ve mostly been wearing regular clothes, but I finally busted out some maternity dresses week 20. They were cute & way more comfy. It’s probably officially time to make the switch. I need some maternity jean shorts for summer! Most of my pregnancies have been through the winter, so I have plenty of pants but not a lot in the shorts department.

Movement: For sure! Ultrasound tech said she’s a little wiggle worm. I feel like I can maybe feel her from the outside, but it might just be my imagination.

Sleep: Well, I WAS sleeping a little better. Then a few nights I woke up at 3:30 and couldn’t go back to sleep for a couple hours. Wahhhh!!

We also had Vacation Bible School this past week, & even though it’s one of my favorite weeks of the year, there ain’t no tired like VBS tired! I would LOVE to take some naps, but Jon has been gone during the day so that hasn’t been an option.

Cravings: I forgot to mention that I craved dairy for a few weeks during my first trimester. I’m not much of a dairy person AT all (besides ice cream, of course), so I figured my body was telling me something. That went away around week 13 or so, but up until then it was lots of organic string cheese, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt and Greek whipped yogurt (legit tastes like cream cheese). Now I’m craving all the fruit. Mostly watermelon & oranges.

Supplements: Made a change to my supplements and I’m SUPER excited about it. I can’t wait to share with all of you soon. Still taking a multi, probiotic, omega 3, D3, folate, iron, & magnesium. Still doing bone broth protein + an unflavored collagen in the mornings. **Side note: If you have never been tested for MTHFR gene mutation, I want you to reach out to me ASAP. If you’re part of the 40%+ of the population who has this gene mutation, you do not want to take synthetic B vitamins or folic acid…you need the methylated versions (& FOLATE instead). Even if you don’t have it, it’s probably a good idea not to take synthetic vitamins. I’ve just started learning all about this since February and that’s why I’m making changes this go-round. I have found the BEST prenatal on the market.

Nutrition: Making sure I get plenty of good fats (avocados, eggs, avocado oil,coconut oil, Ghee, etc.). SUPER important for baby’s brain development! Back to eating plenty of salads & trying to eat an array of veggies. Sweet tooth seems to have eased up (at least a little anyway). I ate like crap last week with VBS though, & I can totally tell. My energy is extra zapped.
We did get to enjoy a few date nights at some farm-to-table restaurants with some DELICIOUS food though! Avocados, YellowFin, & Last Resort for the win!
Work Outs: We didn’t get to work out as much as I would have liked the past week and a half, but still trying to stay active. I definitely feel WAY better when I work out! My back doesn’t hurt as bad, I sleep better, and all the endorphins make me much more pleasant. Ha!

Best Pregnancy Moment This Week: This is probably way TMI, but whatever. It’s my blog! bwahaha! So, I will just say that Jonathan & I pretty much can’t keep our hands off each other, and if I wasn’t already pregnant…well, I’d definitely be now. **Sorry if you’re reading this mom.

Goals for next week: Drink more water! I’m on the struggle bus with water & can’t get my act together.

Siblings Pregnancy Comparisons:
22 Weeks with Jase
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22 Weeks with Kade
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22 Weeks with Beau
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Baby Butler #4 is 22 Weeks!!

My Symptoms: I don’t think I posted in my last post, but in addition to some of the other really fun stuff I have going on (like varicose veins), I also have diastasis recti (which is why I carry like a torpedo) & an umbilical hernia. Thankfully it’s not terrible, but I’m wearing a wrap to help. It’s not too tight to make it restrictive, but definitely makes it WAY more comfortable. She said many times it goes away on its own after the baby is born, and I think it will this time too. If not, I’ll have to eventually have it surgically repaired.

Also, if I get up too fast or roll over too quickly, I have what I think is round ligament pain that is excruciating to the point I can barely move for like 30 seconds. It goes away quickly though and then I’m totally back to normal.

I know that all sounds really awful, but actually I feel GREAT! I am so thankful to have turned a corner and be feeling back to normal!

Maternity Clothes: I’ve mostly been wearing regular clothes, but I finally busted out some maternity dresses this week. They were cute & way more comfy. It’s probably officially time to make the switch. I need some maternity jean shorts for summer.
Movement: For sure! I had my big ultrasound last week, and praise the Lord, everything looks great! It took the ultrasound tech forever to get a good pic of the 4 chambers of the heart though because she is a little wiggle worm. I feel like I can maybe feel her from the outside, but it might just be my imagination.
Sleep: Well, I WAS sleeping a little better. Then two nights this week I woke up at 3:30 and couldn’t go back to sleep for a couple hours. Wahhhh!!
Cravings: I forgot to mention that I craved dairy for a few weeks during my first trimester. I’m not much of a dairy person AT all (besides ice cream, of course), so I figured my body was telling me something. That went away around week 13 or so. Now I’m craving all the fruit. Mostly watermelon & oranges.
Supplements: Made a change to my supplements and I’m SUPER excited about it. I can’t wait to share with all of you soon. Still doing bone broth protein + an unflavored collagen in the mornings. Side note: If you have never been tested for MTHFR gene mutation, I want you to reach out to me ASAP. If you’re part of the 40%+ of the population who has this gene mutation, you do not want to take synthetic B vitamins or folic acid…you need the methylated versions (& FOLATE instead). Even if you don’t have it, it’s probably a good idea not to take synthetic vitamins. I’ve just started learning all about this since February and that’s why I’m making changes this go-round.
Nutrition: Making sure I get plenty of good fats. SUPER important for baby’s brain development. Back to eating plenty of salads & sweet tooth seems to have eased up (at least a little anyway).
Work Outs: We didn’t get to work out as much as I would have liked the past week and a half, but still trying to stay active.
Best Pregnancy Moment This Week: This is probably way TMI, but whatever. It’s my blog! bwahaha! So, I will just say that Jonathan & I pretty much can’t keep our hands off each other, and if I wasn’t already pregnant…well, I’d definitely be now. **Sorry if you’re reading this mom.

Goals for next week: Drink more water! I’m on the struggle bus with water & can’t get my act together.
Siblings Pregnancy Comparisons:

Friday, May 10, 2019

Baby Butler #4 is 18 Weeks!!

Baby Growth:

Our sweet girl is the size of a sweet potato or a bell pepper! Although my belly looks more the baby is the size of a basketball!

18-bell-pepper[1]

My Symptoms: I’ve got some fun stuff going on this time. I was nauseas off and on ALL DAY LONG for the first 15 1/2- 16 weeks. I JUST started feeling better in the last week or so. I’m so grateful to be feeling better! I was worried when the nausea didn’t go away right at the end of the first trimester that I was going to be sick the whole time. This was definitely the most sick/nauseas/moody I’ve been yet…& I KNEW it was a girl because of how different I felt. I’ve also had a little heartburn off & on. I have a few varicose veins that are pretty intense too and will probably require  some type of treatment when I’m done having babies. I also have an umbilical hernia. It’s not very big and is just slightly uncomfortable. They told me wearing a support band will help and that it may just go away on its own after the baby is born. I’ve also read it becomes less uncomfortable as the belly grows (although you wouldn’t think that). I’ve been warned that if I have any severe pain to get to the hospital ASAP, so there’s that. My upper arms are breaking out (I know that’s so random and gross- it was my back with Jase and my neck with Beau).

Weight/Belly: I’d guess probably 10-11 lbs. My belly is HUGE though! I feel like I look like I’m 6-7 months and I’m only 4 1/2. My belly is definitely the biggest it’s ever been at this stage in pregnancy. (Yes, I’m sure there is only one in there.) I’m wondering if it’s because I never fully recovered from diastasis recti after Beau. (I jumped back into too intense of exercise too quickly & did ab exercises I had no business doing post-partum.)

Gender/Name: It’s a GIRL! Before Jase was born, I had the name Emmy Kate picked out before I even decided on a boy name name. Jonathan is on board, so now we are just trying to decide whether to spell it Emmy or Emmie (leaning towards the “y” to continue with my 4 letter names). We do plan on calling her by both names.

Maternity Clothes: Not wearing them yet, but I totally should be. I wear mostly flowy shirts though & have had to leave my pants unbuttoned a few times. I am wearing a support band to help support my umbilical hernia.

Movement: I don’t know if I’m crazy, but I am almost positive I felt the first movement at 11/12 weeks. I can periodically feel movements now but nothing super consistent.

Sleep: I think I took a nap every single day I could swing it from week 8 till last week. I FINALLY have more energy! And by more, I don’t mean a lot, but at least better than it was. I told Jon I thought I might have chronic fatigue or something! (Maybe being a little dramatic, but i could barely function without a nap for like 10 weeks straight.) I haven’t been sleeping great at night because I can’t sleep on my bely anymore and I wake up every single time I roll over/flip side to side (which seems like a million times a night.) I finally busted out the pregnancy pillow last night and it helped a TON! Up until a few weeks ago, I was going to sleep about 9:30 every night after I laid the boys down.

Cravings: All things pickled! Especially pickled okra. And tomatoes.

Supplements: probiotics, fiber, omegas, multivitamin, Catalyst (amino acids), collagen, bone broth protein, 1 Spark/day, Rehydrate

Nutrition: I typically eat eggs + avocados + ketchup or salsa & a piece of Ezekiel toast with ghee for breakfast. Now that I’m feeling better, I try to do something green every day (either a salad, a smoothie, or juice). Definitely been eating WAY too many sweets….I eat something sweet every single day and have been baking a LOT. I randomly craved dairy for the first 12 weeks or so and was thankful when that went away. Trying to eat plenty of nuts & veggies. Loving fruit.

Work Outs: I typically work out 3-5 times a week with Jonathan. Mostly full body strength training with a body pump class mixed in once a week or so. I have ran two 5Ks but that’s about the extent of my cardio besides the 10 min warm-up I do on the elliptical. I hurt my right knee a few weeks ago and couldn’t squat at all, but thankfully the swelling and pain both finally went away (after like 2 weeks) and I can squat (just doing body weight) pain free. I’m pretty sure I hurt it because my glutes are SO tight. I’ve started foam rolling and that’s helped tremendously. I feel SO much better when I work out! I never really feel like going, & I’m not really going super hard when I get there, but I definitely have more energy, am in a better mood, and sleep (at least a little) better on days I work out.

Best Pregnancy Moment This Week: Celebrating Jase’s 6th birthday!! And hearing Jonathan talk about his “baby girl.” He is so excited & it is melting my heart already!

Goals for next week: Drink more water. (I have NOT been doing a great job with hydration this pregnancy.) Eat mostly at home. (We ate out a LOT the first trimester, so now that I’m feeling better I’ve been cooking way more.) Do some stretching & look into Buteyko breathing & meeting with a doc about implementing some iodine into my regimen.

Siblings Pregnancy Comparisons:

18 Weeks With Jase
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Weeks 18-20 With Kade
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18 Weeks With Beau

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Butler Party of 6!!

We are so excited to to be welcoming a sweet baby GIRL to our family this October!! We are so grateful to the Lord for this good & perfect gift from above.


{Not our best pic ever, but ya take what you can get when you’re dealing with a bunch of dudes who don’t like pictures.}

After lots of praying and seeking the Lord for his perfect timing to add to our family, we started trying for baby #4 around August maybe? (I think it was then.) I took a positive pregnancy test in November, and although I was excited, I just had a *feeling.* I started bleeding (like a normal period) a few days after the positive test & I knew the pregnancy wasn’t going to be viable. I made an appointment with our midwife just to make sure, and turns out I was having what they refer to as a “chemical pregnancy.” The Lord gave me such a peace about it and I feel as if he prepared my heart by giving me that “feeling” ahead of time, almost like I knew it was coming. I don’t know if that sounds weird, but I just knew something wasn’t right and I asked Jonathan to help me pray for the Lord’s will. I told God I trusted Him fully & He was so good to deliver such peace during that. Our midwife suggested we wait for another cycle to begin trying again, so we let December pass and started trying in January before Jonathan went on his mission trip to Nepal.

I took a positive test at the beginning of February & I went for a checkup at 6 weeks. We did an ultrasound just to be on the safe side and heard a sweet little heartbeat & saw a little peanut. (I try to avoid having too many ultrasounds, but wanted to make sure everything was good.) We started telling people right away after that.

A friend at the gym told me about this Sneak Peak test that is supposed to be 99.6% accurate (they refund your money after the baby is born if it’s wrong), so I ordered that around 9 weeks. The test it also warns you that being around male DNA can alter the results and make it inaccurate, so there is that. And…Ummmm, well I’m slightly outnumbered here so I just went to an area of my house where none of them ever go (& they were all playing outside) and hoped for the best. Mailed it off, came back a few days later and said BOY!

I thought from the get go this one was a girl, so I wasn’t fully convinced, but was still excited. If you can’t tell, I LOVE being a boy mom!! Like, legit LOVE it!! I would be totally fine with another boy, but I could tell Jon and my dad were both a little disappointed even though they tried not to show it. We told our immediate fam the results, but I had also done the bloodwork at the doctor’s office & knew the results would be coming in soon to verify. The next day, my midwife called. I missed her call & she texted me & left me a voicemail to call her back ASAP, so my heart stopped for a min & I was worried something was wrong. When I called her back, she told me everything was fine and that we were actually having a GIRL!! I seriously couldn’t believe it!
Image result for its a girl
My mom was at my house when I got the call & she thought I was joking! Ha! I told the boys & we Facetimed everyone else to tell them it was a girl. Everyone was SO excited!! I think Jonathan and my dad are the most pumped out of everyone! (For the record, we weren’t “trying for a girl” and I would have been equally excited about a boy. ANY baby is a GIFT from the Lord and so exciting! And maybe I’m biased, but I think boys are SO MUCH FUN & just INCREDIBLE! Okay, just had to put that out there. Moving right along.) So Jonathan keeps saying this is our last baby, and if that's really the case, I’m very very grateful the Lord chose to bless us with a girl this time. I really want him to experience the sweet father/daughter bond & for the boys to have a sister. (Also for the record, I’d still like more babies. I’d love for her to be able to have a sister because that is another really special bond! I totally trust Jonathan’s wisdom and discernment though, so I’m praying the Lord changes one of our hearts and aligns our desires in family size with his will.)
Jonathan keeps saying things like “My whole world is about to change!” It is seriously SO cute how excited he is to be a girl dad! All of his buddies keep telling him, “just wait man!”

It’s definitely been an interesting pregnancy so far. I was nauseas off and on all day for about the first 15-16 weeks. No throwing up, but felt like I’d probably feel better if I could. Felt like I was eating all day long. Belly popped out SUPER fast! Broke out on the top parts of my arms (random? I broke out on my neck when I was pregnant with Beau). Have some fun varicose veins, an umbilical hernia, & have had heartburn. Been MAJORLY craving sweets and have experienced a level of exhaustion I didn’t know was possible. (I told Jonathan more than once I thought I might have chronic fatigue & took a 2 hour nap every afternoon I got a chance). I’ll be 18 weeks on Friday. Gained about 8-9 lbs so far, although it feels like more and my belly looks more like I’m 7 months. I sound like a total bundle of joy, right? Ha! It has felt VERY different this time, & I only remember feeling totally AMAZING with the boys…but when I re-read my old blog posts, I had some of the same stuff early on with them. (I think God allows us to forget the hard stuff so we’ll have more?)

I’m very thankful to be turning finally a corner though. I’m still pretty tired, but I’m guessing that’s just cuz I’m chasing around 3 others. Working out def helps with my energy & helps me sleep better, but I’m just doing light/easy workouts because I don’t have a ton of energy.
Lots of people have asked, and we DO have a name! Same name I’ve had since before Jase…just haven’t decided how we want to spell it. This sweet girl will either be Emmie Kate or Emmy Kate. (Which do you like better?)

My official due date is October 11th.  I already feel more “pressure” to step my game up.  With the boys, I have a huge part in raising/training/shaping them, but ultimately Jonathan is their example of what a strong man/honorable husband/father/follower of Christ looks like. With this sweet girl, I AM HER EXAMPLE…so I want to be more quiet & gentle, more patient and kind, more ladylike, watch my tone/less sarcastic, etc. I know we are (hopefully) always growing, but I really feel like I need to let the Lord do some pruning before she arrives.

Grateful for our growing family and this precious baby girl. Thank you to everyone for all the love, the congrats, the well wishes, and the encouragement. That has meant so very much to me! I cannot WAIT to see her sweet face in October!!

Thursday, February 7, 2019

My Fave Smoothie Recipe

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We started drinking smoothies again every day during the Daniel Fast, and we forgot how much we LOVE it! I highly encourage everyone to drink at least one green drink a day….whether it’s a smoothie, you’re juicing, or it’s a greens powder.

This is my current fave recipe:

-Start with leafy greens. Be sure to mix it up & don’t use the same types of greens every day. I use kale, spinach, arugula (very strong taste), bok choy, swiss chard, etc. I typically but Super Greens mix,Power Greens Mix, or Protein Greens mix so I can change it up. I fill the container 3/4 of the way full of greens (shred it so it takes up less room).

- LiveFit Superfood Powder contains things like broccoli, tomatoes, beets, hemp/chia, & some other things I typically wouldn’t put in my smoothies in their whole food form, but you can’t even taste it. I also like that is has some protein. I usually do 3-4 scoops. I found it at Costco originally, but I’ve heard some people say they found it at Wal-Mart.

-Collagen. SO MANY BENEFITS! Gut health, skin elasticity, supports healthy joints. Give me alllll the collagen! Sometimes I drink it plain or mixed with my AdvoGreens/Reds powder, but sometimes I’ll drop it in my smoothie.

- Spices: Turmeric (read benefits of turmeric here), Ginger (read some of the benefits of ginger here), & Cinnamon! (all powerul, preferably all organic)

-Choose your frozen berries. Sometimes I do wild blueberries (pwerful for brain health), sometimes strawberries, and sometimes these acai packs. Blackberries/raspberries are great too…they are just “seedy.” I try to mix it up, but only do less than a cupped handful of whatever I choose. They are all organic and I found them at Costco & Kroger. **side note: you may want to add 1/3 of a banana if you’re new to smoothies and the greens are a little much for you.

-Choose your healthy fat. I always pick between 1/3 or 1/2 of an avocado (typically what I choose), liquid organic coconut oil, or almond butter (where the only ingredient is almonds). Be mindful of serving size with healthy fats, but don’t skip them. Your brain is made up of over 80% fat, so it needs them!

-Dulse flakes. (Check out all the benefits here!) SUPER beneficial!

- Depending on your goal, you can use unsweetened almond milk, coconut milk, or water. (I always opt for water so I don’t overdo it on the calories, but my hubby will add almond milk & chocolate Muscle Gain if he’s on the gain train.)

- I don’t blend until it’s totally smooth. It has just enough texture that I can somewhat “chew” it, which actually releases digestive enzymes to help you better absorb the nutrients.

Jonathan makes smoothies almost daily too. His taste WAY better than mine, but they also have way more calories (which is fine for him). I’ve acquired a taste to mine & actually crave them. They are SO nutritious!

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Hope you ENJOY!!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

A Little of My Adoption Story

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I know not everyone knows my story.

I haven’t always told it because i wanted to protect the reputation of my biological mom. But her choice to choose adoption speaks far more to who she is than anything else.

And my story needs a voice.

I am adopted. I was adopted at birth. My biological family & my adopted family are both incredible.

My bio mom already had twin boys when she found out she was pregnant with me. She was a single mom at the time, unsure of who the father was, not really in a great place, & she knew she couldn’t raise another baby at that time.

She didn’t tell any of her family...only her friends. When i met her in 2012, she told me they drove her to a clinic more than once, but she couldn’t go through with an abortion. Instead, she called one of her best friends (my mom, whom many of you know & love) and asked if she could help. My parents are saints, & even with an 11, 13, & 14 year old, they said yes without hesitation. Turns out, they had actually been trying for another baby for years, but were unsuccessful. (Sometimes God’s “not right now” prayers are because He has a different plan.)

My biological mom and her 2 boys moved in with my family to finish out her pregnancy. My biological mom delivered me with my mom in the room...where my sweet mama named me and even cut the umbilical cord.

I’ve always known I was adopted. My whole family has always made me feel so special and loved. They are all so welcoming, so sacrificial, & treated me 100% like I was flesh & blood.

God also redeemed that for my biological mom in allowing her to have another daughter several years later.

I often describe my adoption story as God “plucking and placing” me.

I don’t know if that’s too many details, but I can assure you there is nothing but honor and gratitude for the woman who carried me and chose LIFE. Even when it was hard. Even when she was scared. Even when she didn’t think she had any other options. I’m so inspired by her courage & her sacrifice and grateful beyond words.

Because one thing I know about God...He always provides a way out. There are ALWAYS options.

You just never know the miracle that might come from that obedience.

I, for one, am forever grateful that my biological mom “couldn’t go through with it” and chose adoption over abortion. My life, to me, is a miracle.

Because I know the Lord had his hand on me, even in the womb, I will always sing of his praise and glory. I will always proclaim his name and talk to others about his saving power. He rescued me & saved me. I am forever grateful.

I don’t know that my story will ever sway the opinion of someone, but my prayer is I can touch enough lives & have a ripple effect big enough that people might consider “what might not have ever been.” ❤️

Ways I Avoid Excessive Spending

Thankfully Jonathan and I are 100% on the same page when it comes to our priorities and the areas we want to invest in.  We are very clear on what we want for our life & spend time seeking the Lord for vision and praying about direction.  We believe that any money we earn is God-given through us being a good steward of our time, talent, and resources, so we wan to be mindful of how we steward his resources. We have to prove we can be trusted with little before he will give us more.
So for example, because health is such a priority for us, food + quality supplements rank in the top. Because giving is a priority, we manage our money in a way that allows us to give beyond our tithes.  (We made it a habit years ago to write our tithe check immediately when we get paid for several reasons, and this is what we will teach our boys to do also.) We both prefer experiences over things & prefer family time over hobbies. It’s important to me to drive a safe car since it’s carrying our most precious cargo and people are more distracted than ever.  I also want to have as “non-toxic” of a home as possible, so things like our water filter, air purifier, and personal care products are something I don’t mind splurging on (thankfully some of the biggies are a one time purchase). I do still try to avoid paying full price by stocking up during major sales, buying from Costco & Thrive Market, pre-loading coupons for Kroger, etc., but we agree these are important areas & somewhere we’re not willing to go the cheap route. Of course we aren’t perfect and there is always room for improvement, and I know everyone has different priorities. Not everyone has the same long term goals, same circumstances, etc., so obviously this is going to be unique to each person. (And yes, I’m well aware that putting yourself out there as much as I do welcomes criticism, but my goal is always to share what works with us so it may encourage or help someone else.) SO, here are a few of the ways we avoid excess spending.
- Decide what are priorities for you and your family, & if it’s not something getting you closer to the person you want to be or the lifestyle you want to be living in five years, cut it. I know there is a balance of enjoying life & planning wisely for the future, & I think that’s sometimes an area we forget to seek the Lord in. There are lots of things we’ve been able to cut that weren’t really adding any value to our lives when we stopped to think about it.
- Plan your meals/snacks for the week (or month), create a grocery list, then stick to it as closely as possible. We spend a good bit of money on groceries since we eat at home most of the time and mostly eat organic, so planning in advance helps me not to be wasteful. There is nothing worse than throwing away an unopened box of $6 organic baby spinach that has expired…again. (By the way, we started making smoothies again every day during our Daniel Fast this year, so we have started using all greens! I’ll share my fave smoothie recipe in the next post.)
- Cut cable. It saved us over $1200/year by cutting cable. Honestly, most of what’s on tv is garbage anyway. Even the few decent things have ridiculous commercials, and even if you can fast forward through them, I found that I wasn’t nearly as productive when I wasted time watching tv. I know I’m probably what most would consider extreme or ultra conservative when it comes to entertainment choices (we don’t even let the boys watch lots of Disney movies that contain false gods/witchcraft/disobeying parents), but I believe what you allow into your home & head matters. People probably make fun of me for some of the ways we’re pretty hard core, but I believe Galatians 1:10 & Phil 4:8 & fortunately I’ve developed a pretty thick skin when it comes to things like this. If everybody else is doing it,most likely I don’t want to be! (I wish I would have adopted this mentality as a teenager and college student. Sure would have saved me some time, struggles, & money!) I will never forget a few years ago watching a Friends rerun. It had become mine & Jonathan’s “thing” when we were living in the rental house. We’d watch an episode late at night while laying in bed after all the boys were asleep, and one day I was super convicted about it. Would I want my boys behaving in the way they were? Sleeping around, having multiple partners outside of marriage, etc.? When the answer was a big fat NO, I realized that I had no business letting that in my home. Again, I know that might sound extreme, but if you run it through the filter “God, am I honoring you in watching this? Would I be excited or embarrassed if Jesus came back right now? Would I feel comfortable watching this if the Lord himself were sitting on the couch with me?” My goal is constantly be moving more towards righteousness and less like the world in every area, and entertainment was the first place I started.
-Buy quality when you can: it lasts forever. Make up brushes, shoes, classic clothing items, purses/wallets…I try to buy quality when it comes to things like that. The workout pants I wore today? I got them for Christmas when I was 20. (I’m 33 now.) They’re still cute (I mean, maybe not as cute as the skin tight nude leggings some people are wearing, but that’s a whole notha post)& they still work just fine, so why would I buy more? (Clearly I have several pairs, but they have lasted so well. Tip: Don’t dry them in the dryer!) My best friend bought me a designer purse for my birthday several years ago (I know, jackpot) because she said she knew it was something I wouldn’t buy for myself, and it’s still the purse I carry today. Jonathan bought me a nice wallet years and years ago, and that’s my wallet. Yep- one purse. One wallet. Since I’ve taken care of them both, I don’t feel the need for something new & I don’t really care if it matches everything or not (although it usually does). I was given a pair of Maui Jim sunglasses , but before that I just wore cheap sunglasses that didn’t squeeze my head (y’all know what I’m talking about). They’re all still classy & timeless. I may not be totally cutting edge, but I’m okay with that. I also don’t have any real jewelry other than my engagement ring & wedding band. Designer/name brand stuff is not that important to me (anymore). I’m not saying there is anything wrong with it, but remember the whole goal of the post is ways to avoid excessive spending. Not about condemnation, (because there was a time when I did NOT do all of these things & was pretty much the opposite), so it’s just tips that have helped me. I’m sure as I’ve aged my priorities have changed too…I guess that’s “adulting” (AKA: maturity). By the way…The last two tops I bought were at Costco & Super Kroger (bwhahha, yes I’m serious, and yes I know my fashion friends are rolling their eyes), but they’re cute & you’d never know they came from a grocery store.
- I quit getting my nails done. I honestly stopped because I learned how toxic so much of what they use and the polish is, but I realized that I’ve actually saved a GOOD bit of money my simply doing them myself. (I have some non-toxic fingernail polish recommendations if you’re interested!) I’m not saying I won’t ever get them done again….I still will for special occasions, but it definitely isn’t a monthly deal like it used to be.
-Don’t wash your hair every day. Hahhaa!!! (But for real. If you’ve known me for a while, you knew this was coming.) Saves money on hair care products…am I right? At least I’m not skipping the biggies like brushing my teeth & wearing deodorant! (And P.S. You can totally still shower without washing yo hair!)I’m actually a very clean/hygienic person, but I will not wash my hair every day. I think the people who do are unicorns or something!
-Use the public library. We are book junkies up in here. This is one of those “priority areas” for me, so I don’t mind investing money in books. We have a LOT of books in our household! Some on Audible, but most are paperback. Still, I personally feel like the library is such an underutilized FREE resource, so lots of times I’ll check out books, & if it’s something I have to have (so I can highlight, re-read, etc.), I’ll buy my own copy. Side note: it drives me nuts when someone refers to personal growth books as “self help.” NOT the same thing. And I cannot get why anyone would not want to invest in their personal growth to become a better version of themselves?
-Don’t go shopping unless you have a specific need. Am I winning an award for the biggest party pooper yet? I know, I know…And trust me, I love Sephora, Target, HomeGoods, & Hobby Lobby as much as the next gal. But guess what…if I go in, I come out with things I don’t need. I suddenly have a desire for things that never even crossed my mind before walking into the store. Suddenly I feel like I need a makeover, a new wardrobe, and complete home renovation…like, where did that even come from? It’s marketing at its finest, right? I’m not saying I NEVER go shopping, but I try to shop with intentionality.  Jonathan too. If he sees something he wants/needs, he checks to see if he can find it cheaper online. I’m not much of a “browser",” & that includes online shopping. They make it SO easy to click & buy, that I’m mindful to shop from a list so I don’t impulse buy. I have learned that “godliness with contentment is great gain.” (Notice I didn’t say complacency there! BIG difference!) You may not have this issue, but for me, I have found it’s better to just not spend lots of extra time shopping because it makes me want more things I don’t need and spend excessively when what I already have is plenty. I honestly think this is one of the areas where I save our family the most money in terms of excess spending. (I’m sure it also helps that I have 3 boys. Boys clothes aren’t as expensive as girls clothes I’m sure, and I can just pass it down.) Fun fact: I’ve never even been in Lululemon!
- Don’t buy something just because it’s on sale. Buy something when you actually need it. If it’s something you know you’ll use, that makes sense. But just buying something because it’s on sale? That’s wasteful. I’ve heard women talk about how much money they’re saving by shopping sales. Maybe if they’re things you were absolutely going to buy anyway, then yes. But otherwise, it doesn’t make sense to “spend to save.” It’s still spending.
- Choose your hobbies wisely. For both of us, working out is our stress relief/hobby/the thing we do for ourselves. It’s a priority for both of us and the benefits are off the charts…improved health, confidence, endorphins, stress relief, social time, etc. Thankfully it’s something we both enjoy and look forward to, so it’s pretty much our hobby. Don’t get me wrong. There are other things we both like doing. Jon likes playing golf. I like shopping & spa trips. But we decided a few years ago we wanted to “live like no one else now so we could live like no one else later” and temporarily gave those things up. It has just kind of “stuck,” but it has saved us thousands and thousands of dollars. I do think we’ll pick them back up when the kiddos are older, but there’s a big difference between self-care and selfish. I’m not saying a hobby is selfish, but I do think there is a tendency for hobbies to become a greater priority than they should be, and that can be an issue when it leads to excessive spending.
- Choose vacations wisely. I did mention we’d rather have experiences than things, so rather than buying the kids lots of toys throughout the year, we save that money and invest it into traveling. It’s amazing how quickly buying something here and there every time you go to the store adds up, and then the kids become expectant and less grateful. (We don’t even really do birthday gifts since we do parties, & we don’t do a whole lot at Christmas outside of the need, a read, a few wants and a wear. My mom really likes to buy clothes, so she buys lots of the clothes. Jon’s dad and sister usually do the bigger gifts for the boys. We are so grateful for people who love on our kiddos!)
- Beware of those little things that add up. Starbuck’s, stopping at the gas station, pulling through somewhere, forgetting to take the RedBox back (#oops), ordering a drink when eating out…it’s amazing how quickly all those little things add up. I try to plan ahead as often as possible, bring our own drinks & snacks when we’re out, & avoid spontaneous spending.
- Don’t buy music. If there is an artist I’m passionate about supporting that’s one thing, because I get that it’s their livelihood…but music is free? I’m old school & pretty much just listen to the free Pandora app all day. Chain Breaker radio is my jam & station of choice.
- Become a wholesale shopper IF you can avoid buying things you don’t need. Diapers, toilet paper, electric toothbrush heads, olive oil…all coming from Costco! They are cheaper per unit than at the grocery store & even on Amazon. If I can get something at Dollar General or Wal-Mart, I totally will. Most of my pantry staples and snacks come from Thrive Market because it’s hands down the cheapest for lots of my favorite things. I make LISTS so I stick to them & don’t come home with new bath towels, chocolate covered acai berries, a shredder, and a 2 night supply of Boom Chicka Pop (cuz y’all know even that giant bag is so addicting!). Again, we don’t really skimp on food or supplements, because investing in your health is one of the greatest investments you can make outside of eternal investments.
-Don’t drink. Alcohol is expensive. It can be costly in more ways than one. We honestly have just as much (if not more fun) without it. And most alcohol is not very good for you anyway, despite the marketing trying to falsely advertise that they are. Highly pesticide sprayed wheat/grapes? No thanks, I’d rather not drink Round Up. There are other ways to load up on adaptogens and antioxidants. But if nothing else, it saves money.
-Invest inwardly. There was a time when I struggled majorly with insecurity about my physical appearance. People commented about my body specifically, & I spent a lot of time and money trying to undo some negative thinking I had from hurtful comments others had made. It’s not their fault…it was mine for not being rooted in my identity so it didn’t matter what they said. I am so thankful the Lord shifted my focus, & now I am very much a minimalist when it comes to physical appearance. It is only because of the Lord working on my heart, but I feel like I am way more inwardly focused now. Phew, y’all, there is such freedom in that! It was exhausting. It’s amazing that I do less and yet am way more content than I’ve ever been. I know I always joke about not fixing my hair & having a 5 minute makeup routine, but really, it was never fun to me when it took me an hour to get ready. Don’t get me wrong. I still take care of myself and try to look presentable (most days anyway), but I want others to see something that radiates from within. God looks at the heart, & I want my heart to be beautiful. That takes work…but it’s FREE work! Hahah!!
I think we are both naturally more frugal in the day to day things, but that’s because we want to be able to say YES to the bigger things. FCA needs Bibles? We want to be able to write a check. A friend’s kid is going on a mission trip? Where can I donate? Come across the perfect investment property? We’ll take it! Saying “no” to things that don’t really matter allows you to put your “yes” on the table for the things that do. When I reread that list, I was thinking “Wow, I kind of sound like a boring prude,”but the reality is we live a beautiful, fulfilled, exciting life! And it just keeps getting better. And again, I totally get everyone has different priorities than us. That’s what makes the world go round, right? I know not everyone has the same big picture goals, but I recently read something that said “Be the person you needed when you were younger.” So that’s kind of my goal here. Be a mentor from a distance for someone with similar goals, vision, priorities, and values. So this is what works for us.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Give Up to Go Up

I talk to so many people on a regular basis who are ready for breakthrough in one or more areas of their life, but they are unwilling to “give up to go up.” There aren’t many things in life where we can advance and see growth without putting in some intentional effort. I know there have been a few places in our life lately where I have just felt “stuck.” Ya know what I mean? Just not where we want to be, or where I know we should be. Everything else is in place and we are positioned for advancement in these areas, so I knew it has to be something I am doing. And the best place to look when you’re in that position is in the mirror and then UP!

As I have been fasting and praying for a solution and BREAKTHROUGH, I heard a clear “give up to go up.” And I don’t mean “give up” as in quit. I mean “give up” as in surrender, sacrifice, & stretch.

Surrender. First and foremost, we are called to surrender our lives to the Lord. Surrender means cease resistance and submit willingly to authority.  If you’ve never done that and don’t know what it means or what it looks like in your life, I’d love for you to e-mail me & have a personal conversation with you about it. Essentially, it’s admitting you’re a sinner (Romans 3:23), believing that God sent his Son to die for us because of our sin (Romans 5:8, Romans 6:23, John 3:16), that He rose again 3 days later  and the blood He shed for us creates an opportunity for us to have eternal salvation. It’s as simple as confessing and repenting (turning away) of sin and professing that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9, 10:13).

For those of us who already have a relationship with Christ,we still have to make the choice to surrender. Surrender means seeking the Lord in such a way that our desires begin to align with His will for our life. It means denying ourselves daily,taking up our cross and following Him (Luke 9:23). When selfish desires,the enemy, or our flesh try to lead us to think, act, react, or respond in a way that does not reflect Christ and his character, we have to consciously choose to be obedient to the Word (the Bible). The only way we can do what it says is by knowing what’s in it. (It requires discipline + you guessed it, the next “S” word…sacrifice….to consistently be in God’s Word.)

So that’s the first step. SURRENDER. Not my will, but thine be done. Lord, help me to truly MEAN that.

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Sacrifice. Sometimes we have big dreams, big goals, and big wishes…but they will never become reality because we aren’t willing to sacrifice anything. Not sacrifice our time. Our money. Our favorite tv show. Our hobbies. Our pride. Our entertainment. Our social media. Certain foods.

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I believe we honor God with our first fruits. We honor Him with the first fruits of our finances in the form of tithing. (My personal opinion based on Scripture is10% given to our church. Anything you give above that is gifts & offerings.) We honor Him with the first fruits of our time through prayer/quiet time in the morning and attending church at the first of each week. We honor God physically by beginning each year with a fast. If you’re new to fasting, I recommend listening to Jentezen Franklin’s book called Fasting. Total game changer for my spiritual life and walk with the Lord, and this helped me understand the WHY and the HOW TO.

Jonathan and I are currently doing a pretty strict Daniel Fast and I’m limiting social media time. (The thing I miss the most is SPARK! Well, caffeine in general.) We are avoiding bread, dairy, sugar, meat, anything processed, and caffeine. But more important than those sacrifices, we are in a season of intense prayer to show a sacrifice of our time. No tv or movies. Limited screen time.I know it sounds intense, but we want to show the Lord we are serious about serving Him, seeking His will, & being more fruitful and Christlike. Jesus fasted and prayed, so we fast and pray.

Side note: I saw a car the other day with a bumpers sticker with two of the kiddos names & little banners on the back, and then another bumper sticker that said “I’d rather be ___________.” (It was a hobby.) It might have been a joke or just a funny bumper sticker, but it made me stop and think. From an outside perspective, based on my calendar, my checkbook, my social media accounts, my thoughts, and where my heart is, is it super clear and evident what is most important in my life?? Would an outsider looking in be able to tell what I am most passionate about? And how about the people closest to me? Do they have any doubts as to where they fall?

Sacrifice. A sacrifice is something you give up, usually for the sake of a better cause. What are you willing to give up to go up? (P.S. It might be something “good” & well meaning that is keeping you from God’s best.)

Stretch. This is where is gets fun. I believe God calls us to be stretched and learn to operate outside of our comfort zone. This is where He can really show up. Being outside of our comfort zone means choosing faith over fear because it requires dependence on the Lord rather than our own strengths & abilities. It allows Him to pair his super with our natural for a supernatural result that could only be explained as “from God.” It feels so hard & scary, but I can say that I have learned to be more comfortable being uncomfortable. I am working on being radically obedient in 2019 (which is really just Biblical obedience, but in today’s society, Biblical obedience seems radical). This means often doing, saying, praying things that feel intimidating & too big for me. I believe the enemy would like nothing more than to keep us shackled and bound by our own fear. Fear of rejection, of the outcome, of our own inability. But when we choose to allow the Lord to stretch us and operate in FAITH, out of obedience, the Lord shows upon our behalf in such a cool way. You know…that abundant way.

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Maybe your 2018 went exactly like you wanted. Maybe your life is exactly where you’d hoped and you’re completely satisfied in all of your relationships, with your finances, in your spiritual life, with your health, in your business. My prayer is that you’re content, but never complacent. And if you just so happen to be in a place like me where you are ready to see breakthrough in one or more of those areas, I hope you’ll ask God where you can surrender, sacrifice,and stretch to see more FRUITS and more FAVOR and more BLESSINGS in 2019.