We’re Still Here!

Hi folks!

We’re still here!! Chelsey and I both have exciting times coming up for us– in the job department… so that means we are swamped with adjusting and prepping…Chels will be teaching music, and I’m switching to 2nd grade (I was currently in SpEd). Exciting, but BUSY! We’ll update soon!!

Book Study Happening Now!

A few weeks ago I came across an email that announced an online Bible/book study called A Confident Heart; How to Stop Doubting Yourself and Live in the Security of God’s Promises. After checking out Renee’s website and reading about the book, I decided to give it a try. The study started yesterday, April 1, and I have to say I am really excited to completely dive in! I think most women struggle with confidence at some point in their life; I know I have. My parents did a wonderful job of encouraging me and helping me to discover my strengths and do my best as a child, yet I still struggle with confidence in certain areas.  Even if you are an extremely confident woman, this book seems like a good reminder of how to remain confident and really lean into the promises of God. I am hoping to learn how to live confidently every day, even if my circumstances seem shaky, the unimaginable happens or I’m just having a really, really bad day.

Are you interested? You can still sign up! Just visit Renee’s website.  You’ll need a copy of her book, which you can purchase as an e-book or a paper edition.  Let me know if you decide to do the study-I am excited to hear how it speaks to your heart!

A Confident Heart Online Bible/Book Study http://reneeswope.com/online-biblebook-study/

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Picture courtesy of http://reneeswope.com/online-biblebook-study/

 

~Chelsey

 

Pinterest Tuesday: The Pinterest Blues

Hey.

Just a warning, today isn’t a warm and fuzzy post.

Today is supposed to be Pinterest Tuesday, but I’m not feeling very Pinterest-y. In fact, today, Pinterest did not inspire me, make me want to do great things, or even feel warm and fuzzy. Today, Pinterest made me feel sad. Why, might you ask? Well, I was scrolling through the Pinterest pages and came across a pin with a young mom on the front, standing in front of a gorgeous house. The caption read “love her decorating tips” or something along those lines, so I thought I’d give it a click. Bad decision.  Now, I know this woman’s house was staged for the photo shoot, but wow, I mean, wow.  It was gorgeous! She really was an amazing decorator, not to mention a mom with small children.  With each picture I scrolled through, a deeper sense of “you totally stink” punched me in the stomach. When I was done, I just sat in stunned silence.  Then I looked around my own very plain, disaster-stricken home. My kitchen chairs are not lovely, they are falling apart.  My countertops are NEVER cleared off. Thank goodness my couches have covers; they are usually covered in crumbs, snot, dog hair and spilled juice.  There are rips and tears in my sheet rock  from where children have pulled items off of the walls which were held there by those picture hanging strips. In fact, I even have gunk in the peak of my cathedral ceiling that looks like food. How? And how do I even clean it?  The finish on my 9-year-old cupboards is starting to do something weird, and my stairs look horrible-most of the finish on them is gone and one is warped.  My house, even on its best day, will never look like hers. Ever. And it made me feel sad. I feel bad about complaining-I live in a beautiful area and my husband I have had the great opportunity to build our own home. We have land, and a gorgeous view of one of the Great Lakes. See that picture at the top of our blog? I took that standing next to my dining room table.  I DO have so much to be thankful for, but even so, I am human, and some days I get caught up in focusing on what I don’t have, instead of being thankful for the things I do have.

I just finished a really good book by Jill Savage called No More Perfect Moms.

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Picture courtesy of amazon.com

It was freeing for me-it addressed the issue of the “perfection infection” within our culture, especially among moms, in the areas of ourselves, our kids, our husbands, our homes, and our walk with God. It addressed this very issue of feeling like you “never measure up”. I learned so much from her honest, God-centered words, although obviously I still have some hurdles to jump before I completely rid my life of the “perfection infection”.  If you ever feel the way I do, take a moment to check out her book or her blog. She is a real mom with real problems and she relies on her very real God.

So, maybe next week I will find a fun project on Pinterest that I feel like sharing with all of you! But today, I think I am going to boycott Pinterest. Especially the home decor section. I just don’t need that kind of pressure!

What about you? Do you ever feel this way?

-Chelsey

The one where life took control.

So here’s a phrase we use daily…hourly? “I’m soooooooooooooo busy”.

It’s not a lie, or a falsehood or a misrepresentation of our days.  But I’ve noticed it’s become a competition.  Like- who can be the busiest.  Why?!?? 

Lately over the weekends especially, I have taken to completely ignoring my cell phone.  Meaning I’ll check it just once.  Of course, I haven’t really gone all the way and turn my phone off, but keeping it in a room that I seldom frequent is very useful.  It may seem silly for something so small, but I find it gives me quite a bit (sadly) of extra time. 

One thing people like to share with me is that “You’ll have no free time when you have kids”.  Or some variation of that sentence.  I do NOT doubt them at all.  But the implication is that I have oodles of free time now.  Which I do not.  It is spent far more selfishly.  Which is how that sentence should go.  “You’ll not be able to choose what to keep yourself busy with.” As a non-parent, this feels more accurate from my perspective.  Feel free to slam me with opposing comments— or I love being correct- you can agree with me too 🙂

So, what do I selfishly spend my time doing? All sorts of things.  Sewing, friend time, husband time, tv, reading, cleaning, laundry, etc etc etc.  That’s not the point.  The point is to try to eliminate a few things from my life to make it less busy and more specifically good.  Slowing down is OK.  There. I said it.  You don’t have to do it ALL. I know, I know, miss-bossy-pants-has-it-easy-doesn’t-understand-my-life.

Yep.

Again, you are probably right.  But for me, I figure if I can learn how to say no to a few things once and while, someday when I have a family, I’ll have created a habit to say no (once and while I’m sure) to the busyness and just enjoy the moment.  (Sometimes, I ignore that pile of laundry or that pile of dishes…husband time is rare during tax season, and so I cherish those moments when we have them.  I will always have dishes.  But I may not have that half hour of enjoying him.)

Bacon!

When I hear the word bacon, my brain automatically sends a message to my salvia glands, and I start drooling. I like bacon a lot. My husband also likes bacon. Almost as much as he likes cheese. Same with Taylor. But Emily is another story.  Emily has what I would gently call a “refined” palette-she east peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, tortilla shells with shredded cheese, grapes, strawberries, blueberries, yogurt, applesauce and not…much…else. I have struggled over the past five years trying and get her to at least try food, and every time have ended up frustrated, and guilt-ridden. What did I do wrong? Should I have introduced solids in a different order when she was a baby? I hated the feeling of failure, and I worried about Emily’s health. The one thing that gave me solace was my own life-I was born without a sense of smell, therefore, trying new foods has also been difficult for me over the years. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I experienced the joy of potato salad, oatmeal, grapefruit (still working on that one) and many other foods.  I am pretty sure that Emily cannot smell, and most of her reluctance to try food stems from the fact that she is judging it only on the way it looks. There are no enticing smells encouraging her brain and.  However, Josh and I decided to push her a little, and help her try some of the foods she would never try on her own.

I had made Emily a chart where she could do chores and earn money towards a toy she wanted to buy.  She picked Yank, the dog that goes along with her American Girl Doll, Emily Bennett. Josh had the idea to add food tasting to her required “chores”.  We explained the rules and started.  Each night at dinner, Emily would get a plate with the same food the rest of the family was eating and she had to take at least one bite of each thing.  This may sound simple, but in the past it was met with resistance, tears, screams and complete frustration. This time, we tried to be as casual as possible. If she didn’t try the food, she wouldn’t get a sticker on her chart. The first night she cuddled close to me and let me feed her. I can’t even remember what she tried, but she did it, and when she was done, we made a big deal out of it! Lots of high fives and “good jobs!” She was so proud when she put that first sticker on the chart. And so was I.  But I wondered, would it last? Day after day, she would cuddle close to me at dinner and let me help her try new foods, and every night another sticker was added to the chart.  Then, one night we had green beans.  She tasted one and told me, “Hey, I think I like these!” and proceeded to eat every green bean on her plate.  Success!! Finally! Since that day we have had green beans several times a week. She has added fruit loops and macaroni and cheese to her list of “likes” and no longer is afraid at dinner to dive in and try something new.  And this momma is so happy!

Now back to bacon! One night she was at her cousins’ house and they served pancakes for dinner. Normally Emily likes pancakes, but they were thin pancakes and not what she was used to.  Josh’s brother called me up and asked me to come and get her at dinner time, as Emily was crying about the pancakes.  I went over and picked her up, asking her why she didn’t like the pancakes.  She told me they were different than the ones I make and she was afraid to try new things at someone else’s house. Okay, since this is still new, I didn’t push it.  Then, Emily looked at me with a horrified look on her face and in her most anguished voice cried, “And they had…BACON!”

Oh how horrible! 🙂

Here is Emily with her sticker chart and Yank! She is now working towards Felicity, a retired American Girl doll whom I ordered on E-bay. She has 90 stickers to earn before she gets Felicity. So far she is doing great and I am so proud of her bravery!  On the surface it may look like bribery, but ultimately  we are helping her cultivate a sense of security in trying new foods and new things in life, which is a big deal for my shy little girl.  Who knows, maybe next week she will try “BACON!”

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~Chelsey

Technology and spring time!

Hello! Happy Monday!
Technology is amazing. My work computer tanked last week. ( blue screen of death etc ) so I’m trying to figure out how to post today! I’m using my phone. How crazy is this?! Amazing!

Because of this though, I haven’t figured out how to upload pictures.

So my next topic is springtime!! It’s the end of February, which means here we have like 8 more months of winter. But I dream of green and gardening!! Pinterest has lots of interesting gardening ideas. I’d show you my favorites but see my note about pics currently. Ill try to update later. My favorite ones are where they teach you plants that are friends. Sounds silly, but it helps them grow. I’ve seen unfriendly plants and they try to kill each other off. Gardening isn’t for the weak hearted. 🙂

One year chelsey and I enlarged her garden bed. We used old railroad logs and spikes to hammer. It was very very hard work. It didn’t look very good, but it worked. We did ok produce wise, but it was very hot and dry, so that never helps. This year hopefully we will do more research and plan ahead. We will keep you updated!!!

So tell me- do you garden? If yes, what’s your successes, what have you learned???

Alyssa

Who is in the Driver’s Seat?

Whew. My small group just started a new Bible Study. It is Beth Moore’s The Inheritance.

Doesn’t the castle in this picture look like Downton Abbey?

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 Picture courtesy of  www.timberlinewomen.org

Beth does such a great job of bringing the Bible to life for me.  Although Beth is the one standing there teaching, it is God speaking through her.  How do I know this? Well, it is no coincidence when the sermon series at our church, the passages I read in my daily devotions, the book I’m reading before bed and Beth’s teachings all line up. Absolutely. No. Coincidence. God is teaching me something. And I love that He uses so many ways to get my attention, and confirm in my spirit His truths. So, what is it exactly He is trying to teach me this time? Well, I’m not completely sure yet, but I do know that the issue of “control” has come up several times.  I like to be in control. I like to be in the driver’s seat; I like to make the schedule; I like to be the one to make the final decision; I like to be the one in charge.  Then I wonder why my life seems kind of boring. Or why I can’t get a handle on all of the “things” I have assigned to myself. When I hear that quiet, gentle voice whispering, “It’s because I didn’t design you that way,” I pretend to be shocked. What? God didn’t design me to be in charge?  Well, of course not! He designed me to be His child, to be an heiress right alongside Jesus, His only son! He adopted me as His daughter and longs to lavish me with all of the riches He has stored up for me. But I have to let go and let Him guide my every step.  He knows my past, He knows my future, and He has a plan greater than anything I could ever plan for myself. So why is it so hard to let go?  Because I’m human.  But, I am and will forever be a student and child of the King, and I know He will teach me how to let go and allow Him to be my every breath.

Beth told us today, “It’s only a wild ride if someone else is driving.” (The Inheritance DVD, session 1.)  So, I’ll leave you with the same question I am thinking about today. Do I want the life God has planned for me, or my own boring version?

~Chelsey

Taylor Turns 3 Continued-the Good, the Bad, and the REALLY UGLY

The Good

Taylor had a great birthday yesterday! It was also a crafty birthday for me-I appliqued the “3” on this shirt to wear on her special day. I also made her a few outfits for her new doll-she loved them!

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The Bad

I am going to be really honest here-my older daughter is struggling with Taylor’s birthday present.  Taylor received a Saige American Girl doll, and it just so happens to be a doll that Emily really likes. Please note, Emily already HAS her own American Girl doll, Emily Bennett. Soooooo….. I knew there might be a little bit of jealousy, but I was not expecting her to cry all night. Looks like I have some intense parenting work to do.

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AND The Ugly

I made Taylor a Hello Kitty cake. I am NOT a cake decorator. I can bake them, but decorating them is a whole other story.  And that is okay. I think I have enough hobbies to keep me busy.  Here is a picture of my Hello Kitty cake. The girls told everyone that Hello Kitty had a runny nose…I think Hello Kitty has a few other problems as well…that is okay, she tasted good. 🙂

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~Chelsey

Taylor Turns 3!

Three years ago today, February 7, 2010, Taylor made her way into the world.  She was born the morning of Super Bowl Sunday, a week earlier than her scheduled C-Section day. Her whole birth story is great-it involves me waking up and realizing my water had broken at 12 am; frantic phone calls to Josh’s parents, who were not answering their phone; a call to 911 to report a drunk driver;  and me looking at my stomach while walking into the hospital and wondering, “is the baby still in there?” Birth does weird things to a person’s brain, apparently! We watched the Super Bowl that night after having only two hours of sleep, and I remember Taylor crying through pretty much the whole thing. I cannot, however, tell you who played, who won, or what commercials were shown.

17362_10100156084841660_6053055_nSweet, sweet Taylor.

17362_10100156084836670_4321650_n Emily holding Taylor for the first time.

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Um, yeah. Car seats are not made for preemie-sized newborns!

Come back tomorrow to hear more about Taylor’s big day!

~Chelsey