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Friday, December 19, 2014

Salt Dough Christmas Ornaments!

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is making these salt dough ornaments! I always have so much fun watching my kids get creative!


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup water 

Equipment Needed

  • Rolling pin
  • Cookie sheet 
  • Drinking straw
  • Holiday shaped cookie cutters 
  • Acrylic paints
  • Paintbrush
  • Glitter
  • Ribbon or twine!

Step 1: Preheat oven to 250F. Measure flour and salt, then add them to a medium mixing bowl and stir.

Step 2: Add water and mix.

Step 3: Sprinkle parchment paper with flour and knead dough until it’s soft and pliable. Add more flour if it’s too sticky.

Step 4: Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness.

Step 5: Cut out ornaments using cookie cutters (I like to roll out the dough on the cookie sheet so that all you have to do is peel the extra dough away.

Step 6: Using your straw, punch a hole for the ribbon that will hang the ornament. Place ornaments in the oven and bake for two to three  hours, or until completely dry. Flip once while baking, then remove and allow to cool completely.

Step 7: Once the ornaments are cooled, it's time to get creative! We like to use paint and glitter...a lot of glitter.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

how did I get here?

Unequally yoked: when a husband and wife don't share the same faith.

It was quite by accident that I found myself in an unequally yoked marriage...well, sort of.

I began dating Justin, my now husband, when I was 16. Sixteen and selfish...rebellious...immature in many ways. I was raised in a semi-Christian home (that's another story for another time), but stepped away from my faith when I was about 14. I began to make choices that caused me much heart ache, and I'm sure hurt the heart of my Father even more. As a teen I was desperately seeking love and acceptance, from all the wrong places.

And so I shouldn't have been surprised when I found myself 19 and pregnant, but I was. Surprised, confused, afraid... So I did the only thing I knew to do: I married my then-boyfriend.

I loved Justin from the beginning. He has the most gorgeous green eyes, an infectious laugh, and a grin that makes you feel as though you've known him forever. I knew I wanted to marry him pretty much from the start, never mind the fact that he wasn't, nor did he have any intention of becoming, a Christian. I didn't care. I wasn't really acting like a Christ-believer myself. So I jumped in head first. I was looking for love, and he was there to give it to me.

The first year of our marriage was...tumultuous to say the least. I found myself running back to my mom and when that didn't solve anything I began to run to God, realizing that I needed Him and had made a grave mistake in thinking that I didn't for so long. Justin continued to live as he always had, with no interest whatsoever in things eternal. I can't tell you how many times I showed up at my mom's house with my bags packed and a big pregnant belly, or eventually with our little daughter in tow. But it wasn't all Justin's fault. Yes he was making choices that conflicted with what I believed, but I made my fair share of mistakes as well. I was filled with resentment, hurt, confusion, and loneliness. I felt completely lost, truly not knowing what to do. I mean, I was only 19 years old, I wasn't prepared to make such huge life decisions regarding a marriage and the well being of a child...I was still a child!

Somehow we made it through that first year. Barely, by the skin of our teeth. I know it was God's grace. I never expected us to last and at times wasn't sure that I even wanted us to. But here we are, nearly seven years later. And I can say God has redeemed our marriage. He has grown a love in me for my husband, and is teaching me how to forgive and show so much grace. I fail daily, but I'm learning, always a work in progress.

A big game changer for me was Power of a Praying Wife, by Stormie Omartian. I learned about the many mistakes I had been making, like trying to be my husband's holy spirit. I learned that it was so much better for everyone involved if I just prayed for my husband. And slowly I started to learn that I can be happily in love in an unequally yoked marriage. Is it hard? YES. I absolutely feel lonely down to my soul sometimes. But there is also unexplainable joy in knowing that I am a part of my husband's redemption story.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

allow yourself to feel

sometimes i feel like i am just going. to. lose. it.

today was sort one of those days.

my hubby left on another of his work trips; every time i get comfortable and used to him being home, he leaves again. i swear, it's like torture for my heart. and we woke up to clouds and rain, which socal definitely needs in a bad way but did nothing to brighten my mood. on top of that, my two-year-old is very two and makes me crazy most of the time. she's just so messy.

i try to be thankful, and deep in my heart i know that i have a lot to be grateful for! but is it ok if i just sit and cry for a minute or two? is it alright if i feel discouraged, tired, and all used up? that's not a sin, is it?

those are questions that i've been asking myself often, as they are feelings that i have often. i think it all depends on my heart situation. i think it's ok to feel sad as long as you don't turn it into something ugly like hateful words. i think it's ok to have a little pity party as long as you don't stay stuck there all day long. i think it's ok to get discouraged and frustrated, as long as you're taking steps to allow God to minister to your heart and you're trying to pull yourself out of it.

at least i hope so.

sometimes i feel like i need someone's permission to feel. like it's wrong of me to feel anything negative because i have so much to be happy about. sometimes i feel like i'm ungrateful or selfish if i long for a husband who is home more or a toddler who obeys, because there are so many who have so much less. does that make any sense?

but some of the best advice i got when facing our first deployment was from a fellow military wife. she told me "allow yourself to feel. it's ok to be sad when he's gone, and it's ok to be happy. just allow yourself the freedom to feel." i love that. it's so what i needed to hear, and i remind myself of that over and over again. after all, did God not create us to have emotions? can't they be a beautiful thing, even in our brokenness? can't feeling sad and lonely lead to something good, like a deeper relationship with our Maker?

allow yourself to feel. allow yourself to feel. allow yourself to feel.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

fill my cup, Lord

my husband has been in and out a ton. not fun.

at the end of the day I just feel used up. tapped out. done. exhausted. finished. I feel all served out.

after a full day of building a business, homeschooling my oldest, preparing meals, changing diapers, working out, bathing and dressing children, entertaining children, washing dishes, sweeping floors, wiping sticky table and counter tops, picking up toys...I think it's understandable. I think it's perfectly acceptable and expected that a woman would feel tired after doing all of that.

instead of feeling that it's a bad thing to be utterly spent at the end of the day, I think we should see it as a good thing. we're served out because we've been serving our little people. we're exhausted because we've been pouring all that we have into their little hearts. we've done our best. and if we haven't done our best, we'll get up and try again tomorrow. the end of the day...it's time for us to relax and let God fill us up. it's our chance to get refreshed for the day tomorrow. it's our time to vent to Him, to ask for His help, to pray about things that concern us.

mamas, you cannot pour into your family and not have someone pouring into you. you'll eventually run dry. believe me, I know from experience. it's not a fun road to venture down. I've learned the hard way.

ssshh. be quiet now. hear the silence around you? feel God prodding your heart? He wants to be with you. He wants to wrap His arms around you and fill you up with His love until you are overflowing. He sees your struggles and He is ready for you to tell Him about them. will you? will you let Him fill your cup so that you can continue to fill those of others?

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30

Thursday, November 13, 2014

servant's heart

I had a most special meeting with Jesus in my kitchen tonight.

I turned on my worship music and just started worshiping him, thanking him for loving me so much. his love. that is something I will never understand!

I've been praying a lot lately about the condition of my heart. I desperately want a servant's heart that loves to serve others; a heart that delights in giving and doing for those around me; a heart that puts others first. instead, I am overcome with the selfishness that resides inside me.

I have always been this way. selfish. some of us struggle with lying, gossiping, stealing...I struggle with a selfish heart. it's something I have thought a lot about for most of my life, as my younger sister was always so kind to point it out to me when we were growing up. (notice the sarcasm). I'm a very introverted, introspective person. it's easy for me to become absorbed in my own issues and not even notice the hurt of those around me. but I don't want that. I'm tired of it. I'm ready to move onward and upward.

I'm not sure if a selfish heart will ever be something that I overcome. maybe it will always be in me, competing for my attention and affection. maybe I'll just have to learn to stifle it, to make an effort to set aside my own desires and serve anyways. maybe my life will be a constant process of laying aside my selfish desires and replacing them with acts of service.

acts of service. it just so happens that this is my husband's love language, something that I was none too thrilled about. I hate cleaning. it's the bane of my existence. I also hate cooking. but I do those things anyways, because I have to. because I love my husband and my children and I want them to have healthy meals and a clean(ish) home. so maybe all of this is purposeful. maybe God is using my husband to teach me to serve, even when that's the last thing I want to do. after all, life isn't really about what I want is it?

which brings me back to Jesus's love for me. as I was worshiping, I couldn't help but think...if I really meditate on his love, pure and perfect as it is, will that not begin to change me? just the act alone of thinking on Christ's love, couldn't that begin to melt my selfish heart? if I truly know how much he loves me and remember that he expects me to love others in this way, will the servant's heart not fall into place?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

happy birthday

I sit here on the night of my twenty-sixth birthday, feeling so completely blessed.

I could die today and have lived a full, rich life. not in the way of money, but certainly in the way of love.

this morning I flipped through some old photo albums. as I sat there in the floor with my girls, books filled with pictures of my life strewn about, I almost wanted to cry. God has blessed me with so much. even in the midst of my rebellious teenage years when I was filled with resentment, hurt, and confusion, He was with me. He has blessed me with an incredible family and the best friends I could ever ask for. I have wanted for nothing.

and then I started to think about birthdays past. growing up I was the oldest of five children, our family of seven often living on one income. we didn't have a lot. but my mom always managed to make birthdays so special. she would decorate a chair at the table for us, fix our favorite meal, sometimes organize a small party or sleepover with friends. she went out of her way to make us feel like the guest of honor for the day.

then I remembered my birthday in 2009, the year before my husband joined the military. I believe he was away for some sort of military event, leaving me feeling quite alone. I was driving down the road from my mom's house, with my little daughter in the back seat, feeling so sad...when I just felt God whisper to my heart "you are loved. I see you, and you are valued."

I have since spent many birthdays without my husband or family to make them special for me. one year my husband was gone on a work trip. last year he was deployed, and I was dealing with a horrid flood and mold disaster in our apartment (when I say disaster, I mean disaster). I was feeling alone. forgotten. overlooked. and then a sweet friend left a cupcake outside the door. no note, no balloons or flowers, just a sweet little treat to make me feel special. I still don't know who left it.

and of course this year my husband is off working. I am sick with a head cold, and my youngest is sick as well. I was up with her last night and have been feeling the effects of that all day. and yet this was maybe one of the best birthdays yet. we didn't do anything special. (can I confess, I didn't get out of my pajamas all day long?). just a sweet letter from my husband, time spent with my daughters, watching too many movies. and cupcakes. a sweet friend brought me cupcakes.

God uses others to make us feel loved and special. He uses us as his hands and feet, His voice. He uses us to make a difference in other people's lives.

my birthdays aren't fun and exciting anymore, and that's ok. I'm totally fine with spending the day in my pajamas playing ponies and watching too much tv. I could cry right now, with a heart that's full to bursting with love. I love so many people, and God has sent people to love me. that's what it's all about right? love?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

be you, bravely

be you bravely.

our MOPs theme this year, a theme that I am absolutely in love with.

God has been teaching me a lot about bravery over the last 4 1/2 years (the time my husband has been in the military). He has shown me that bravery can look very different. sometimes bravery is a move across the country to an apartment you've never seen before, leaving behind your family and all that is familiar. sometimes bravery is having a bad day with your children and resolving to have a better one tomorrow. sometimes bravery is making it through an entire day without crying. sometimes bravery is getting out of bed when your heart is so sad and heavy that you can feel the weight of it. sometimes bravery is saying goodbye to your husband, knowing you won't be able to see him for six months and hoping that he will return home safely to you. sometimes bravery is breaking apart and trusting God to put you back together again.

yes, bravery can look different for us all, depending on the situation, the person, the emotions involved. bravery can be a loud voice full of resolve or a gentle whisper, saying "I will try again."

it doesn't have to look the same for all of us. it changes day to day. but we are all brave. if you are a mother, you are brave.

you sacrificed your body for nine months, not knowing what exactly would happen to it. you have often sacrificed sleep, your sanity, and sometimes your dignity. you bravely stepped into motherhood, not prepared for what you would face but ready nonetheless. you fight daily battles with your two-year-old that take bravery. you sit up at night nursing your baby, that takes bravery. you decide to homeschool, that takes bravery. you send your kids to their first day of kindergarten, that takes bravery. you teach your kids, pour into them, train them, preach at them, scold them, punish them, love them. it all takes bravery.

vulnerability takes bravery.

mama, you are brave. in your weariness, in your hard moments, you are so brave. I am proud to be on this mothering journey with you. proud to be showing the world that bravery can look many different ways. proud to be displaying bravery to my daughters, in the form of tears, prayers, firm resolve. thank you, Jesus, for helping me to be brave and to do hard things. thank you for your grace!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

'tis the season!

so I've been busy... husband is away on yet another work trip. Avery came down with a stomach bug today, so that was fun. i've also been building a business (Beachbody). and writing a novel. and leading a MOPs group. all I can say is thank you, God, for your grace!! I couldn't make it through the day without him! I can feel my body telling me to rest, though, as I now have a headache and am dying to go to bed! soon! BUT FIRST I wanted to just put this out there...
we all know Christmas is coming up. if you're like me, you have a daughter who's already handed in her Christmas list. so I was thinking the other day, why not support some GREAT causes this Christmas instead of buying the same ol' crap? still buy your kids a couple of nice gifts if that's your thing... but maybe set aside some money to support one of these causes. my favorites are: *WORLD VISION *SHOW HOPE *SAMARITAN'S PURSE with Samaritan's Purse you can actually have your kids help you pick out little gifts for kids all over the world then help you stuff them into shoe boxes to be mailed out. my daughters and I have done this together for the last couple of years and it really IS such a blessing! I'll take any opportunity I can get to teach my kid that it's not all about GETTING, but there can be so much joy found in GIVING!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

follow your...heart?

"just follow your heart" "be true to yourself" "have the courage to follow your heart and your intuition. they already know what you truly want to become" <--what does that even mean?! how many times have we heard these quotes? seen them slapped across a pretty photo or t-shirt? heard them used in inspirational speeches? but have we ever stopped to think about what they MEAN?! our culture is so confused. we think that we can simply "follow our hearts" and trust them to guide us to happier, better things. i think that simply is not so. the Bible tells us that the heart is actually pretty wicked. The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9 He did evil because he did not set his heart to seek the LORD. 2 Chron. 12:24 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery... Mark 7:21 however, i know our hearts aren't ALL bad. i truly believe that God loves to bless us and see us happy. the Bible also says that God will give us the desires of our heart, but there IS a catch... Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4 delight yourself in the Lord... when i got into this business i began to learn a LOT about dreaming big and visualizing the future. i struggled a lot with this for a while because i really wanted my dreams and hopes to be in line with what God had for my life. i didn't want my dreams to be self-centered or materialistic. so i did a ton of soul searching and spent a lot of time in prayer, seeking God's will for my life. i think it's important to take the dreams in our hearts and line them up with God's word. if they reflect them, then i'm pretty certain he placed them there. if not, then maybe that particular dream needs to go. here are some of mine... *foster children and eventually adopt *have a large home and lots of land that we can share with those we love *help start up orphanages *start a charter school *travel this beautiful world helping people learn about God and enabling them to live safe, healthy lives! i know that these dreams require MONEY. i know that they require God opening doors and providing. i believe that He has given be Beachbody as a vehicle to help make it all happen. don't just mindlessly follow your heart, using that as an excuse to do what YOU want to do. submit your dreams and hopes to the Lord and stay close to Him. He will honor that commitment in ways you cannot even imagine!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

i'm right where i need to be

have you ever felt certain that you are right where you need to be? that you are exactly in the place in your life that God wants you? have you ever felt filled with purpose and enthusiasm for what God is doing in you and through you?! i have. i do. i never have until this moment. my life had a hart start. for 24 years i went through struggle after struggle. it started from the time i was born, to a mother who loved God and a father who struggled with alcohol and depression. i made many terrible choices and was left to suffer the consequences of those choices. i was selfish, depressed, and felt i had absolutely no purpose. i was sleepwalking my way through life. i hated the person i was but felt powerless to change it. it wasn't until i let go that i was able to fully realize my purpose and see who God created me to be! i remember it well. justin and i had just gotten into a fight. i don't remember what it was about, probably something stupid. the girls were in bed and he was in the shower, and i had set up camp on the couch. i found myself laying there crying out loud, speaking these words out into the empty room: "i can't do this anymore. i can't. i can't live like this. i don't want it anymore, take it..." i had felt unloveable for so long. the uttering of my heart, the cry of my heart, was for God to take all of my pain and baggage AWAY! i did not want it anymore! it was serving no purpose other than to drag me down and make me useless for the kingdom of God. and so i chose to let go. i chose to forgive. i knew i had to forgive my dad and justin, two men who had failed me in the past; two men who are human. but most of all i had to forgive myself. and just like that, i could breathe again. i felt lighter. i suddenly had a renewed sense of purpose. i felt lovable.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

reasons why i'm thankful for the hardships of military living

justin left again today. in and out, in and out. it makes my head spin. the constant coming and going, readjusting our routine, it's exhausting. and stressful. and dizzying. and i kind of hate it. not to mention the kids ONLY get sick when dad is gone. and what do you know, tonight my youngest has a fever. go figure! the day justin leaves is always the hardest on me. i've been kind of mopey today. it's often a lonely life. but ya know what...it's not all bad. i've been trying to think about what i'm THANKFUL for in all this, and that is what i'm going to share with you now! 1) the good think about work ups and the stress that comes along with it, is that it forces you to be ready for deployment. by the time we're done with work ups i'll just be ready to get this thing over with! 2) i get to see what i'm made of. i get to rely on God in a way that i never would have to would we be living a "normal" civilian life. i get to know him in a different, deeper way. he has become my best friend, sometimes my only friend. there's a trust that i feel towards him knowing that yes my husband will leave me...i probably will never live near my family again...and my friends are always coming and going...but God will never leave me. never. i am never truly alone. 3) you know what else? i get to solo parent for weeks and months at a time. it's hard and i definitely would prefer my husband were here with me BUT it is so rewarding! knowing that i am capable of raising these kids with minimum help. it's an adventure. it's not for the faint of heart. 4) i am able to show my kids how to carry on even when you're sad. i'm able to teach them to rely on God for their strength when they feel they have none. i'm able to show them that it's ok to cry for a while, as long as you get up and keep on going! 5) while justin is gone, i get to pursue my own interests. during these training trips i have spent a lot of time working on my novel, something that i definitely don't have time for when he is home. i miss him, but i enjoy this time to myself, too. 6) i get to watch as many chick flicks as i want! during one of his week long trips i watched a different romance film every single night. it was fantastic. 7) i know that my husband is gone because he has to be, not because he wants to be. there is a huge difference and i'm thankful for that. 8) when justin is gone, i can go a week without washing dishes or doing laundry and nobody cares. we can also have cereal or pb&j for dinner and that's pretty awesome. 9) while justin is deployed i always go spend a few months with my family. i am definitely missing him the whole time, but the visits with my family are really so priceless and precious. i'm thankful to be able to spend the quality time with them! 10) when your husband is gone and you don't live near any of your family, you have to get plugged in and find good friends. you just have to. i am thankful to have the opportunity to rely on my Navy sisters and my sisters in faith. they have prayed with me, for me, over me. they have brought me food, watched my kids, helped me move. i'm certain i'll never experience friendships like this ever again. such a gift. so, you see, it's not all bad. when you can find the positive in negative situations, you know you're growing stronger. i have definitely grown stronger the last four years of this life! praise God!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Navy Wife Life: be you bravely

Navy Wife Life: be you bravely: i was super blessed to be able to share my story today with my MOPs (Moms of Preschoolers) group. our theme this year for MOPs is be you b...

be you bravely

i was super blessed to be able to share my story today with my MOPs (Moms of Preschoolers) group. our theme this year for MOPs is be you bravely and i'm kind of in love with it. i believe a big part of being you BRAVELY means being vulnerable open transparent willing to share the ugly parts of yourself being you bravely has been a theme in my life over the last year, and i just think it's so neat how God does things. i see so clearly that he was preparing me for this role of MOPs coordinator. he was helping me work through things in my life so that i would be able to open myself up to these incredible women and share things that i've never shared before. it was an amazing experience. sharing your story with others is beautiful. vulnerability is beautiful. there is so much healing that can happen when you talk about the things you've been through, the things God has helped you with. i pray that my story touched someone listening today. i pray that you, too, will learn to be you bravely.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

grief, joy, victory

death is such a strange thing. you don't have to be incredibly close to someone or know them for a long time in order for their death to affect you.

we lost some one dear to us this week. a sister in Christ who the girls and i had come to love. i watched her live her life in pain every single day, always a smile on her face. to me she is the picture of grace.

 i was talking with Avery, almost 6 years old, about our dear friend's passing. i shared with her how our time here on earth is so short and then we get to go to heaven if we know Jesus. she looked at me and said, "it's almost like we are just visiting here for a while. and then God comes to take us home."

wow. did i mention she is 5 years old?!

the wisdom of babes.

the night i heard the news i went over to pray with some of my sisters from church. it was so sweet as we prayed for her sweet husband, for our church, and thanked God for allowing us to know Nancy.  we told stories of her and honored her memory with laughter and praise. i felt God's presence. even in the midst of grief i felt his presence.

my dear friend's death has reminded me that life is indeed short. make time for those you love and be sure they know how much they mean to you. i am also reminded that God is good. even in hard times, even in pain, he is still good. God is and will always be good.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

perfectly imperfect ME

i have been thinking so much about my self confidence issues. for my entire life, i have felt that i lacked something. that i don't have anything to offer. i'm not fun and bubbly. i'm not funny or outgoing. i'm not independent and free thinking. i'm not friendly or exciting. i have always put the magnifying glass over my negative qualities. i'm selfish and often lazy/unmotivated. i'm shy and reserved. i'm very introspective and can get lost for hours inside my own head. i prefer to be at home. i have a bad temper and have very high expectations of people close to me (sorry, husband. and kids). i like to plan ahead, so when last minute things pop up i don't like it. i also don't particularly like parties or large gatherings of people...it makes me tired to meet new people. i prefer deep conversations over small talk, which often makes people uncomfortable. i am so much better at typing out my feelings than saying them out loud. when i talk too much or show too much emotion, i feel foolish and embarrassed.

and that's me. in a nutshell.

but god has been gently teaching me and showing me the beauty within that. he has been moving the magnifying glass over to the parts of me that are good. i'm very loyal. i think before i speak. i'm kind and sensitive. i love to serve others.

see, i don't believe that god created us to be perfect. he created us with flaws. the selfishness and laziness in me, that's there for a purpose. if i had it all figured out, what would i need Him for?

so maybe we should start to view ourselves as perfectly imperfect. that has a nice ring to it, don't you think?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

mama meltdown

a few nights ago i had a melt down. i cried. and i pouted. and i felt sorry for myself.

my two-year-old brooklynn has decided to wake up at night 3-5 times for the last few weeks. our traveling really did her in this time. i felt so tired. irritated. frustrated.

also, i'm trying to homeschool a first-grader...
and LEAD a MOPs group...
and BUILD a business...
and be a wife...
and a happy mother...
and take care of MYSELF...

so, how does one woman do it all?!

she doesn't. and that's ok. because she has a God who will fill in the gaps and the empty spaces where i fail.

i admit it, housework is low on my priority list at this point. i have a running to-do list that keeps growing larger rather than smaller. that's my life now. sleep-deprived and busy. but so, so happy.

because when you're living out God's purposes for your life, there's not much that can bring you down.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Navy Wife Life: home again, home again...

Navy Wife Life: home again, home again...: we just got back from an awesome visit with our family!! mother-in-law was here in california with us for about 8 days. then we flew to te...

home again, home again...

we just got back from an awesome visit with our family!!

mother-in-law was here in california with us for about 8 days. then we flew to tennessee with her to visit with our family! we had a great time. we always do.

and now here we are, back in our little apartment in sunny california. last night when our plane landed i breathed a sigh of relief-- that the long day of travel was over, that i could see ocean & palm trees, that we were home.

it didn't really hit me until this morning, as i was doing boring things... unpacking, making a grocery list, planning out the coming week. that sad, lonely feeling washed over me and made my eyes sting with tears.

it's times like that when i wonder if everyone feels things so deeply and change so sensitively, or if it's just people like me...

i just start to think about all of the fun things we did with the people we love; i start to miss being surrounded with people who know me. change is hard for me. any change, big or small.

it's also times like that when i am so thankful for my faith and how far i have come. i do feel sad, but not helpless. i know how to keep myself from sinking into that familiar depressed feeling. i turned on some good music, played with my girls, and separated my emotions from what i know to be true.

you see, God made us to be emotional beings. he likes that about us. but we are not to be driven, consumed, ruled by our emotions. that is what i've struggled with so much. so instead of sinking lower and feeling worse, i reminded myself of these truths:

we did have an incredible time with our family
they all love us so much
i love our home here in california, and have many friends to catch up with
there are lots of fun things to fill our days with next week
i have a savior who loves me
right now, in this moment, i am not alone. no matter how lonely my emotions make me feel, i know better. i am never alone

Saturday, May 24, 2014

memorial day

today has been...weird. i feel like i could cry. i just keep thinking about all of these families who are missing someone. all of the kitchen tables with an empty chair. all of the children missing their fathers or mothers. all of the husbands and wives who know their spouse is never coming home. it breaks my heart.

and it especially hits home because someone i know very recently lost her husband. devastating.

i have been praying for these families off and on all day today. i can't really imagine a loss like that. i pray i never have to.

memorial day is about remembering. remembering those who have died for us. for me, it's personal. for me, it's about remembering all of the sacrifices MY family has made. Justin has missed SO MUCH. even as i type this, he's not here...gone on another training trip. emotionally and mentally, i have sacrificed so much. i think about the very beginning--boot camp--and how uncertain and depressed i was. i think about work ups and deployment. all of it was so hard. my husband has missed birthdays, anniversaries, holidays. he missed my first marathon and avery's first dance recital. and that is not going to end for us any time soon.

i wish i could say that i'm glad to do it. that the sacrifice is worth it. but sometimes i'm just not sure. when people thank me, i never know what to say. "you're welcome" doesn't feel right. "no problem" is just a lie. and "my pleasure" well, that's a lie, too. the truth is, i do this because i have to. it's what God has for us right now and who am i to fight that? but i'd be lying if i said there's not a part of me that wishes for something different. something easier.

i beg each of you to think about all of our military families. think about the heroes who gave all while fighting for our freedoms. pray for the families that they left behind.

John 15:13 -

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

treasured daughter

it recently occurred to me that my entire adulthood has been spent mothering young children. I got pregnant when I was barely 19. that was the beginning of motherhood for me, not even yet an adult at all. and now I'm 25, I've been doing this mom thing for 6 years. I've loved (almost) every minute of it, but sometimes I get selfish and think...what about me?

I never really had a chance to think about what I  wanted or needed. I've always put my little peoples' needs first. that's how we're told it should be. that's being a good mother. a responsible mother. but from deep in my soul comes a cry...what about me?!

I believe that as good mothers we are to put aside our own desires some of the time. the care of our children is to be our first priority. however, it's also important for us to maintain our own identity. i am a mother but i'm also a woman. I feel things, I dream things, I have desires and longings.

I became a mother at a very young age. too young. I wasn't ready. my identity became changing diapers and being a stay-at-home mom.

but God has been showing me that I am more than that. I am more than my past, more than my present. I am more than changing diapers and watching veggie tales. I love all of those things, I do, but that's not all there is to me. I am a person. a woman. a child of the Most High. I love running, being outside, and listening to the cello. I love to write. I enjoy good food. I am a dreamer of dreams, a loyal friend, a treasure to my Maker.

that brings tears to my eyes.

a treasure. wow. if we started to see ourselves as Christ sees us, how would that change who we are? He created me just as I am, flaws and all. I am so unique, there is no one on earth just like me. He has big plans for my life, shouldn't I have big plans too? shouldn't I dream big dreams?

the same goes for you. yes, you.

you're a mom. you're a woman. allow yourself to be someone apart from your kids. do things you enjoy, nurture that part of yourself that likes to dream and be creative. do that, and it will make you an even better mom. i promise :)

Friday, May 9, 2014

you know you're a military spouse if...

military spouse appreciation day!!! (we deserve a whole lot more than just one day, though, if you ask me ;) ).

i have been blessed to know so many incredibly strong and amazing women thanks to the navy. these women, including myself, have made so many sacrifices. i don't know how anyone does this without the help of God.

i put together a short list exposing some of the difficult things we go through...

you know you're a military spouse IF...

*you sometimes forget what it's like to live with your husband

*you often find yourself playing the role of mom AND dad

*you have a whole new appreciation for the fourth of july, memorial day, and veteran's day

*the american flag or anything camouflage bring tears to your eyes

*your heart is filled with unspeakable pride

*you sleep on the couch for weeks or months at a time because the bed feels too big and empty (true story; the entire deployment)

*the day your husband leaves for a trip, everything you look at makes you cry because it reminds you of him

*you have ever felt grief, pain, depression, sadness, worry, and loneliness

*you are filled with a sense of accomplishment and pride because all you've gone through

*you get a knot in your throat when the gear gets pulled out and your husband starts packing for ANOTHER trip

*you've spent countless birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays missing your other half

*you've felt slightly resentful and bitter when you saw families together while your man was gone serving our nation

*you barely have any space in your closet because of all the GEAR!

*your husband has more pairs of boots than all of your shoes put together

*you daydream about homecomings, planning what you will wear and how you'll fix your hair, and fantasize about that first kiss

*you have deeper friendships than you've ever had in your life because they've been there too and they totally get it

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I promise; words for our daughters

from the moment I gave birth to Avery, I began to see the world in a new light. it suddenly seemed harsher, more dangerous, very sex-driven. I take parenting very seriously, and assume the responsibility for my two girls and their upbringing (shared with Justin, of course). I want more for them than what our culture can offer. I want them to be better than I was, better than most of their peers will be. I want so much for them. and so I am taking an oath and making a promise, which you will read below. I encourage all of you to do something similar. protect your childrens' innocence with everything that is in you. be vigilant, be perseverant, be loving, but be firm.

to my girls:

I promise to love you, no matter what you do
I promise to protect your innocence to the best of my ability
I promise to pray with you, in front of you, for you
I promise to teach you about the living God who created you
I promise to guide you and respect you
I promise to have rules, lots of them that you will hate
I promise to never have magazines with rail thin actresses on the cover, or models baring all in lacy lingerie
I promise to never have cable tv
I promise to be very careful about what music you listen to, movies you watch, and books you read
I promise to spend quality time with you
I promise to never push you out of childhood
I promise to never allow you to wear shorts that are too short or tops that are too low
I promise to never let you wear navel-baring shirts or bikinis that are too tiny
I promise to be careful about what friends you spend time with
I promise to ask you questions, lots of them, and to listen to your answers
I promise to never give up on you
I promise to instill in you humility, a servant's heart, and a love for others
I promise to encourage and help you to wait until marriage to give your heart or your body to another
I promise to pray for your future husband, marriage, and children
I promise to pray for God's call on your life, and to help you to realize what it is
I promise to say no sometimes
I promise to love your father and show you what a Christ-centered marriage looks like
I promise to ask for your opinion on big decisions
I promise, Avery and Brooklynn, that you will not always like me but that it's ok. Because I promise I will do everything in my power to protect you, to nurture you, and to raise you into incredible women of God.

I promise.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

easter reflections

as I've become a mother and gotten older, Easter has held so much more meaning for me. so often my eyes fill with tears and I think of Mary and the terrific pain and sheer terror she must have felt as she watched her baby boy suffer such terrible mistreatment. her precious son, who had never done wrong. the man who she bore into this world. I wonder what she felt in that moment. guilt? fear? blame?

I think of his followers and friends, the ones who were closest to him on earth. what must they have been thinking? that the world was coming to an end?

I think of Jesus himself. I wonder what his thoughts were. this is where the tears really start to fall. he loves me enough to endure such pain willingly. what?!? my mind can't comprehend a love that deep.

I think of God, sending his son for me. I could never have asked my child to endure such a thing. I'm sorry, but if your salvation depended on it, I don't think I would have been strong enough to make that choice. it's her over you, buddy.

I wish I could live those couple of days in history. I wish I could be there watching him carry that cross on his battered and burden-laden shoulders. I wish I could have seen the earth shake and the skies grow dark. I wish I could have seen the stone roll away and watch the guards freeze with fright. I wish I could have seen Christ, my Savior, walking out of that tomb. how amazing!

death has been defeated!! if you're not a christian, you will have no idea what that means or how exciting it is! it's utterly amazing and mind blowing! when my human body ceases to draw breath, I will wake up in the arms of my Lord and be able to stay there with him forever. hallelujah! he is risen!!!

Monday, April 14, 2014

here we go again!

we are gearing up for justin to leave for about 6-8 weeks. training trip. always training.

i have learned a TON since we first began this journey four years ago, but one thing i've learned is this: no matter how many times you go through something and no matter how much you learn from it, the heart will do its best to protect itself from pain. for me that means putting up walls; building distance between justin and myself; telling myself that i'm ready for him to leave. it's been a pretty amazing psychology lesson for me, actually.

the last week i've felt myself doing just that. and i think it's ok. i think the key is communication. yep. we all know how much our husbands love that word. it's ok for me to feel sad and frustrated that my husband is constantly being ripped from our home. that's normal. the important part is that i tell him how i'm feeling; that i explain to him that i'm not being short tempered or distant because i'm sick of him but simply because that's my heart's defense mechanism. that it's how i try to prevent myself from feeling his absence too deeply. that it's how i make his leaving a little bit easier on myself.

and so here we go again. training trips and work ups, oh my! i can hardly believe we are starting this whole process over again. Lord, please help me. how many times have i muttered that prayer over the last four years?! too many to count. sometimes those are the only words i can utter without falling apart.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

a week in the life!

A few snapshots of our week!! 

On Monday we went swimming with some of our friends! The girls had a blast, and it was so nice to be able to SIT and TALK to grown ups! 

Oh, and some pictures of B dressed up as Cinderella when we went out to eat one night. haha! 

 I am reminded how quickly these days pass. Being home with my girls as much as possible is my number one priority!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

4 years in...

we have been on this wild navy journey for over 4 years. wow. that seems a little crazy to me. in a way it has passed so quickly; in another way, those first days suffering through bootcamp seem like a lifetime ago!

the growth we've experienced along the way, my goodness!! justin and i have grown leaps and bounds, individually and in our marriage. praise God i'm not the person i was in the beginning of all this: insecure; selfish; depressed; unhealthy; lost. i still struggle with some of those things, but they do not define who i am.

i now have a sense of purpose; i am healthy, and helping others to be as well; i am at peace; i'm happy.

we've made some really incredible friends the last four years, too. friends that are now spread around the world. friends that we will undoubtedly have forever.

our family has grown over the last four years. we are now a family of four instead of three. i've grown and matured so much as a mom.

as i look back at it all, i'm just so thankful. so thankful for how far we have come, so thankful for the growth! praise God!