Sunday, April 19, 2015

.:Vacation Wrap Up and what lies ahead:.



We are home.
When we left sunny Florida it was 91 degrees, humid, and ah-mazing. Upon arrival in Des Moines, it was 61 {barely}, raining, and the sky was a lovely shade of nothing-gray. Ho-hum. Back to life and reality. Vacation was fantastic but of course there's no place like home!

The rest of our week in Florida included a lot of time in the pool or poolside, quality time with our children and in-laws and one frozen yogurt trip where I won FREE yogurt because I got exactly 11.4oz of yogurt. A contest of sorts. I'm not proud that I got 11.4oz...but, it was FREE so there was a reason. {wink wink} Also, it was delicious. No regrets.

We stopped by an adorable little run-down fruit store off of an orange grove. Aside from our conference this was probably my favorite. It was old and chippy and the real deal. We tried some alligator jerky, bought real honey in the honeycomb and grapefruit right off of the tree! I'm 100% sure everyone there knew we were tourists.





Now I need to gush about my children and how awesome they are. The Lord really carried us through this week and I am so grateful! When we got home from church last Sunday my big girl had a high fever and seemed to be on the decline in a hurry. We had less then 5 hours until we needed to board a plane and my mind automatically went to "well, better prepare my heart for not going." I was convinced she had something awful and I would be forced to miss out and stay home to care for her. So I took a few minutes while my husband took her to urgent care and just cried {literally} to the Lord. Why I felt like I needed to brace myself for the worst is unknown. But I did, and I was so thankful that I serve a God who hears and has compassion. Several hours later, because urgent care doesn't live up to it's description especially on Sundays, Brad was home with our girl. She was still feverish but the Dr saw no reason for her to miss the trip, citing a weird virus they had seen a lot of that week. Lovely. So with that green light and a slightly loopy daughter we made our way to the airport and began our journey.

On our way back to Iowa
My girls were champions! Even with one who had a fever, one who got air sick {literally, gag}, and a baby - they rocked it! I got many comments from fellow travelers about how well they did and how they couldn't believe how quiet they sat. I agreed at this miracle. ;) Our second leg of the trip had us landing in Orlando at the ripe time of 12:50am. By the time we landed, found our rental car and made it to the hotel it was close to 2am. My girls were exhausted, one was still feverish and one had the results of air-sickness on her shirt, but they just walked and did what we needed them to do. They crashed hard once in the hotel room and slept until around 9:30 the next morning. Is that not perfect?! I was so thankful for my little brood.

I was also thankful they were heading to grandma's for a few days because sharing a room with them is not ideal as I discovered we have one that grinds her teeth, one that talks in her sleep and one that's a baby. :)

On the way back it was even better. No air sickness and they slept the entire first leg (2 hours). The baby was magic and giggled and laughed at anyone who would look at her. And chewed on the seats and got any germs she possibly could into her little month. {geesh} She's a charmer, that one. I got many more compliments about how beautiful and well behaved they were. And if I can tell you the cold-hard-truth, it was nothing short of wonderful to see years of prayers answered after what felt like parenting in the trenches. Because not so long ago we wouldn't have even DREAMED of flying with my biggest girl again. We are seeing fruit of our labors in small doses and it feels so good. So maybe my mini lesson here is to encourage you mommas to KEEP IT UP! Be consistent, be loving, be firm. The icing on the vacation cake was our lunch today at Olive Garden. It was our last hurrah before reality sets in tomorrow - so we got a big, fancy meal and settled in. Our kids are 6, 3 and 10 months old so we are by no means silent. But the kids were so well behaved and we really enjoyed our sweet time around the table. I was already thankful for this fact - calm, eating, all sitting down family, when a lady walked up to our table. She began to tell us how much she enjoyed watching our family and how impressed she was with our children. {I may have looked around to make sure this wasn't a joke} She then went on to tell us how she's observed other families where the children aren't so agreeable but how she so enjoyed us today. We thanked her, confessed that it's not always this way, and showed appreciation for her kind words about how "pretty" our girls were. Then she and her husband went on their way and we wrapped up to go, too. A few minutes later the server came to tell us our bill had been cared for. Now, I can't be sure it was that couple, though we are assuming it was. Wow, what a sweet blessing to us! And what a blessing to Brad and I as parents to hear people speak of our children with as much joy as we feel about them. It was a booster at the end of an already incredible week - reminding us that the investment in our kids matters and the time spent is worth it. I'm reminded of a quote by Gloria Furman, who I got to meet this week {side note}:

"By God's grace, I can resist the temptation to treat my children as interruptions to my will for my life. Instead, God enables me to treat my children as precious gifts he is using to shape me into his image according to his will for my life."

What a great end to a great week. I'm so thankful. I haven't even mentioned the quality time spent with my husband or gone in depth about the spectacular teaching I was able to sit under at the conference. Some things I'll just treasure all for me. :) But, needless to say, we had a blast!
And as I sit here typing, looking out my dining room doors watching it pour, I'm thankful to be home, too. My place. My mission. I'm refreshed, recharged and ready for another week. 

So what's next?
Life, mostly. Just life. I have a loooong list of to-do's, ministry responsibilities and a nice stack of magazines that came in the mail while I was gone. {Kidding.} {Not really kidding}
Tomorrow I'm planning a trip to The Home Depot to pick up paint for the dining room! I'll have a little peek at that later in the week. Stay tuned. I'll do a full write up about the paint job AND the plate wall I'm putting up next month on the All Things With Purpose blog.
Have a great week!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Live from TGC

Before I get into how AWESOME our trip to The Gospel Coalition is going...
Let's talk about my new short hair cut + Florida humidity = disastrous results. Seriously. Terrifying. This hair was done up all cute and conference ready this morning. I had done a pretty good job {if I say so myself} throwing in some messy waves/loose curls, and was feeling pretty hip. Then we stepped outside to admire the morning and how it was 80 degrees at 8am and... the rest is history. After three children being birthed my hair has gone from soft and manageable to this new wiry, weird texture, multiple colored mystery. Ah, what a blessing. So, here's to bobbi pins, hair product and some time this afternoon for a redo. :)

Florida. This conference. This resort.
We are having a great time! Yesterday was impacting as we heard from Dr. Tim Keller, Dr. John Piper and little snippets from Don Carson. Great stuff! The worship has been beautiful and focused. I'm loving the classic traditional hymns and we even got to be led by Sandra McCracken a few times - whose voice I love. Our hotel room overlooks the resorts gorgeous golf course and I cannot complain about the view. Yea Baby! Sunshine, GREEN, and everything beautiful. Although we aren't spending a ton of time outside {did you just read about my hair issues?!} it's so pretty!

The teaching has been phenomenal and I have a full line up of GOOD things this afternoon too, starting with a workshop with Mrs. Gloria Furman AND another of my FAVES Jen Wilkin. Speaking of which... I met her. Jen. I totally met her and she's so real and friendly. I got a small case of the "meeting a celebrity" jitters and started just saying things... like my mouth had it's own brain and I could hear myself saying "STOOOOOP TALKING" but couldn't. {blah} But, she was still sweet and we eventually got to chat about her Judges study.

Today we enjoyed a panel with several super godly guys that my husband and I look up to. Jon Piper KILLED it at the conclusion! So great. If you have time, here in a few weeks TGC will release all the video - take time to watch the panel on Justice. Worth it. And then, go back and watch whatever else you can because it has all been so top notch!


And just for fun because FOR ONCE the men get to see what its like... This is what the guys potty line looks like around here because the genders are a little lopsided. Which, is working out great for me and the other gals.


Perhaps my favorite part of this trip is all the time I get {uninterrupted} with my guy. We are truly having a great time and are beyond thankful to be a part of a ministry who sees the need for couples to get away, get refreshed, and grow together! I love this man and I'm thankful to God for blessing my life with our marriage. He's special. In more ways then one. ;)


So there you have it! Live from Orlando, Florida and TGC!

Friday, April 10, 2015

'Twas the weekend before Florida.

In just 2 days we are flying down to sunny Florida! We are all feeling that buzz of excitment, and to be real, I'm feeling the drain of trying to get every-single-little-thing done before we go. My hubby is slammed with seminary homework and is preaching Sunday morning, and I've had more laundry to do this week then any other time I can remember. But we keep reminding each other... "Florida". Keep pushing through.

Tonight I had a few minutes to hop on here and give a quick life update. We are all doing fine, I should let you know. I just genuinely cannot figure out how or when to do more updates and posts yet. I'm also lacking a computer (unless my hubby is home with his), so yea, that's where we are now.

Did you catch my last post on All Things with Purpose? We hosted a Good Friday soup dinner here in our home and it was such a great time. Click here to catch up on that news
Next month I'm planning to reveal a BIG project that will start post-Florida - a plate wall in the newly (to be) painted dining room! So that's exciting.

The biggest girl is losing teeth and growing up and making me feel old. She finishes kindergarten in one month. One month. Don't even ask me where this year has gone! We have really enjoyed watching her mature and grow in her knowledge. She LOVES to read now, is learning all kinds of new fun facts and came home today telling me she was going to go make a "Venn diagram". Don't worry, I wasn't sure what that was at first either. This whole first year of school thing ended up going so well and SO much better then I had pictured up in my mind. Knowing how much she loves to learn I think I have my summer challenge cut out for me. Sitting around and playing still happens, but this girl likes to keep her hands busy. I love her.

My two littles have two goals every day: 1) Be as cute and cuddly adorable as possible and 2) Destroy every clean surface in the home the moment I walk out of a room.
I.can't.even.

So it's toys and sticker books and puzzles and games and books and dollies and blankets and teething toys and any other random thing... all day long. I love them. I love this life. Sometimes I don't even notice all the mess, but then other times it's enough to push me over the edge. August will be FOUR next month and loves to tell me this fact over and over. Break my heart! Jane, as you can see, is pulling her self up and into absolutely everything. It's a new world having three mobile children. I love it. And, can you even handle those baby thighs!??!? {sqeeeeeee}

As for me. Well, you know...
Even though life is busy and we are enjoying ministry and our children and our marriage, I still so often feel like I'm "blah". Baby weight to lose but no motivation to do so. House to organize and keep clean with no motivation to do so. I had hopes of having a small garden planted by now - but that's still on my list. Blah. Just blah. I cannot say I'm bored, but I will say I just feel blah. There are a zillion different thoughts in my brain all the time, I tire easily, I want to exercise and eat healthier but I'm pretty sure I'm addicted to sugar. Ha! And yes I see the cycle thank-you-very-much. Even my reading time and study of the Word feels a little...tired. And that's never the Word of God's fault, it lies with me. I'm thinking we just all need a break, good thing it's coming soon!

This week I had my hair done. But not just a cut - like a full on salon experience. I think I've been to a real professional salon twice since I've gotten married. It was awesome and I drank up every minute. When I walked in they gave me fruit infused water to sip while I waited. Before my cut I was given a stress relief neck and upper back massage with warm oil {seriously}, then taken to the paraffin dip for my hands. Now, I'm usually pretty satisfied with just that feeling of having my hair washed for me... can I ever go back to life without massages and paraffin? :) My stylist was sweet and chatty and it was wonderful to sit in that chair and get beautified for an hour. I'm not kidding about the hour - I had a lions mane full of hair that needed some major TLC. Now I'm enjoying a long bob and it's great! Isn't it a beautiful feeling to just feel pretty on the outside now and again? After this third baby I've been having some image issues - sometimes a hair cut helps. Simple as that.

So now it's Friday night. I have a little more laundry to do and there are some dishes in the sink - but, I'm thinking a night on the couch with a warm blanket, some cocoa and Netflix sounds WAY better.
Florida and 91 degree days are heading my way. Push through!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Spring! {amongst other things}

Another season passes and a new one begins. I got a bit spoiled here in Iowa with our 80 {yes, 80!} degree days for a few days. Reality settled back in and the cooler days just make us eager for those warmer temps!

It's a lazy day here and even now my eyes are heavy and making me feel like I need a nap. Still almost 10 months after my last baby was born I need/require/want SO much sleep! The dishwasher is swishing away, my hubby is reading and my two littlest are napping. It's a calm day and for that I am thankful. I feel like we are finally in a good groove and life feels normal now, like we always had three girls. Some new things are on my plate these days and I'm enjoying the added structure. Last month I joined up with the blog, All Things with Purpose, as a contributor. You can see that post here. It was great to jump back into blogging and share some of what's going on in my home! I'm currently working on the next "edition" which will be mostly about hospitality and Good Friday. My fave. :) I'll be sharing something on that site on the first Monday of each month, join me!


In T-minus a few weeks we are heading to Florida to attend The Gospel Coalition in Orlando. Alone. Without kids. Woot Woot! While a big chunk of my heart always, always, aches to leave my babies... the other bigger chunk does a happy dance just thinking about time alone with my beloved guy and some awesome teaching at this conference. Plus, Grandpa and Grandma have a pool - I'm sure my girls will love that bonus time with them! But anyway, yes, I'm so excited for our trip and I'm thrilled as I looked over the 84 names that will be teaching and preaching and leading workshops. I'm sure it'll feel like we are drinking from a fire hose, but I need it. And I need some sun.

Speaking of my children. Ah, I love them. At 6, 3, and 9 months we are loving these ages.
Jane is now crawling and getting into anything she can find. I love this baby! She says Mama and Dada and adores us. She also loves her sisters, it's beautiful. We are so thankful for this easy going, precious, little baby girl.

Ava and August are treasures as well. Ava is quite the reader and is constantly making her own books. I remember doing the same thing, it's cute. August is our peace-loving middle child who just dances and primps her life away. All three girls are so different and we really enjoying our days with them. Gifts!

Projects. A friend of mine sent me a note a few months back that said something along the lines of how she didn't know how I did all my little projects with three kids. After I laughed out loud and reminded her how sometimes social media makes reality a little more... pretty, I just told her it's a little at a time. My current projects list is extensive and ranging from upstairs to the basement and now to our back yard/deck. I'm in WAY over my head but that's one of the blessings of being a homemaker and keeping busy. By the end of spring I hope to have:
- Deck power washed and restained
- New mulch down in all the flower beds
- Small raised salad garden planted (???)
- Finish master bathroom painting that I started in January ;) 
- Plan and organize and MASSIVE yard sale
- Paint the dining room hang up my wall of plates. Eeeee! 
- Paint a small desk in my bedroom
- Make dining room curtains from sheets. Pinterest better be legit on that! 
- Create a REAL laundry room space in the unfinished side of the basement. 
- Find a free or cheap hutch. Paint it. (dining room project)

There is always something to be done and with summer approaching I'm hoping for an energy surge and lots of days to throw open the windows and get busy.

I hope all is well where you are. I'm hoping to hop on here again tomorrow and do a quick post about the yard and some BIG plans I have for our outside space, and a sneak peek at what I'm whipping up to bless our cell group on Good Friday. Join me!


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Come.On.Spring.

Am I right? I mean, I'm all about treasuring each moment and enjoying the seasons... I even LOVE, LOVE winter time. But, the itch for spring is definitely here! This morning I woke up to the sound of birds and even now as I sit in the quiet of my TV room there are adorable little pudgy birds chirping away at our feeder outside. They are ready. We are ready. I'm pretending I didn't see this little sight from the Weather Channel. (Buzzkills!) Winter storm Thor... we don't like you.


But rather then belly ache, let's focus on something pretty instead. :) And speaking of birds earlier reminds me - Spring has arrived inside our home! Our deck might be ice coated but the interior is green and blossoming. Here's a peek at what I've been up to this weekend.





I'm feeling the warm breeze of spring already. {Sigh} But seriously, this was a fun time for me to go through what we already owned and fill in pieces with frugal buys. The little bird was found at the Dollar Tree! The bunting was cut from my old hymnal! I love cheap and free :) I will say, if you have any "fun money" stashed away Hobby Lobby has some awesome deals right now. I picked up the boxwood balls, some silk flowers and that cute round basket on my buffet this weekend. Super great prices and 40%! Also, Burlington Coat Factory of all places. I was really surprised at the aisles of clearance stuff that was in GREAT shape, and super cheap. Housewares were all marked WAY down.

So anyway. We are eager to put this cold February behind us and look forward to some sunny days.
I hope you are having a fantastic weekend! Enjoy your Saturday!


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Shocked & Amazed

{Gasp!}
Look at me all sitting down and blogging and stuff.

And, did you notice the new look? I've been finding moments here and there and thought it might be time for a little makeover, blog style. :) Now, to update that family picture and we'll be golden. But who has time for that right now? My darling third born daughter - you are loved. You will someday be represented. Here's a Christmas picture in the meantime.


Hi friends. Oh how life has changed now that we've added this third child. It's beautiful and messy and busy and wonderful all rolled into one. It's taken me til just about right now (almost 9 months) to feel like my head is above water, and I'm thankful to be getting there. Life is full for us right now between ministry things and having a child in school type of things to day to day life and relationships in general. FULL. To be honest some moments (days) have not been pretty for me - there has been a lot of ugly hard times, learning curves and just flat out failures. Those times have reminded me time and again how beautiful GRACE and forgiveness are! Thank you Lord for that! Also, thank you for elastic waistband pants, chocolate and coffee. Juuuust keeping it real, folks. ;)

We are doing well. Ava is still enjoying kindergarten, learning to read, and becoming a little writer. She has lost her first tooth and seems to be growing by the minute. I still can't believe she's 6!
August keeps me busy during the day with all things dress up, pretend, and being as sweet as sugar. I'm so thankful for her constant hugs - she seems to have the gift of empathy and tenderness. :) Jane is 8 months old and just about as darling as they come. She's at the pre-crawling, pushing herself back stage. So cute! She's a smiley momma's girl and I'm eating every moment up. My heart is in denial that June 6 and that first birthday is just peeking around the corner! What is it about the knowing it's your LAST baby that just tears at you?!!?

Some exciting things are coming down the pike for us as we prepare for the spring and summer. We've got some family trips and ministry things going on that we are pumped about. Including ME getting to sit through a real-live Jen Wilkin workshop at The Gospel Coalition. Wooooooot! Not to mention being in FLORIDA. The countdown is on! But right now we are smack dab in the middle of mundane every day. You know what I mean? School, kids, weekly routine, meals, homework, repeat. Not that it's a bad thing - just, feeling a little monotonous right now. Also feeling cold. Very cold. Maybe that makes the mundane feel more heavy?

I can't close a post down without sharing what I'm reading - and, thank you those of you who have mentioned missing me. Blesses my heart! And I love, LOVE giving these recommendations to you. Words are so important. God's word is MOST important, but I'm so thankful for teachers and writers who can write to help us learn too.

Mom Enough.
Remember Rachel Jankovic from "Loving the Little Years"? She's starts this one off and while I'm only on chapter two - it's fantastically encouraging! Gospel truth for the heart of moms! Dig in!


Miserly Moms.
LOTS of good ideas for those of you looking for ways to stretch your dollars.


Life Together.
Oh man. If you need an excellent reminder about Christian community together... this is it.

And, this little nugget below. I've been working on this (tiny) book for almost a year! Ha! But, it's so good and meaty. A little bit of a heavy, wordy, read - but great.
The Hospitality Commands.

Blessings to you, friends. Hoping to catch up soon! 



Thursday, January 8, 2015

Seriously. Life.

Sometimes I miss this old blog.
Actually, I often do.

But there's just no time, or computer, or... Energy.

So, know that all is well for the most part.
3 girls are growing & changing constantly.
Ministry is growing & busy.

Someday I'll get back here.