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Friday, December 12, 2014

Known and Sanctified

My pregnancy has gone well so far. I've had little complications aside from a couple leg cramps and daily backaches. I go in for check-ups every two weeks and it is the same ritual. They ask if I've been out of country or in contact with Ebola, check my weight, take a urine sample, ask the same questions that always have the same answers, ask if I have any questions, measure, and then check the baby's heartbeat and send me on my way.

So at my last appointment, you can imagine my concern when they sent me to the hospital for a non-stress test since the baby's heartbeat was abnormally fast. I was worried. The practitioner told me everything was fine and it was just for extra measure, but I didn't believe her. She wanted to keep me from panicking. I was certain something was wrong. Why? Well because, it's still hard to believe there's a baby inside of me, and I'm still shocked that my body is doing something so phenomenal, and it doesn't seem possible to be so involved in creating life. It made sense to me that something was wrong. Besides, things had been going way too smooth.

I went to the hospital and they monitored heart rate and uterine activity for an hour. I lay there listening to our daughter's heartbeat while feeling the little bulges protruding on my tummy and receding again. While she makes it very evident that she's in there, it doesn't seem possible that in a few short weeks my husband and I will embark on an incredible journey, a journey I had always imagined but one that seemed far from reality. After an hour, it was determined that our baby was doing great, and that her earlier heartrate must've been a fluke.

Of course, I shouldn't have been worried. While driving to the hospital, Jeremiah 1:5 came to mind. "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee..." What profound words. God knowing us on such a personal level after birth is humbling and astounding, yet to imagine that He knows us before being formed is beautiful. I know that God is protecting her, and He's creating her, and He knows her and loves her more than I ever will.

I look forward to raising His daughter with my husband, and I'm thankful to be a small part of this beauty.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Headbands Shadow Box


You are going to want to Pin one of these pictures for future reference. This is a super easy and cheap craft to make and is great for decorating the room and keeping headbands in one place. Our nursery is pink, green, and white with a jungle theme. The elephant trunks hold the headbands, which I loved more than buying hooks.


These are the little wooden elephants which can be found in craft stores. I found these at Michaels.


Here is the finished product. We painted the green first and then placed masking tape over the inside green section before painting the white section. We painted the elephants pink and hot-glued them onto the shadow box.


You can then add your headbands. It even holds the bulkier headbands and you can hang multiple headbands on each elephant. Also, if you have flower or bow hair clips, you can clip them onto the tails of the elephants. We don't have any yet which is why they aren't pictured.







Monday, December 8, 2014

Emily's Date & Weight Predictions

Let's play a game. This will be a Date & Weight game in which you can choose the date you think Emily will arrive and how much you think she will weigh. Her expected due date is January 26th to help you out a little.  I can't wait to hear all of your predictions! I will add them to the calendar which will be posted near the end of December. Be sure to read the rules under the calendar.

Family and current blog followers had first dibs. Here were their selections:


Date & Weight Game

January 11th February 14th

Sunday
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
11

12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21

Aunt Amanda:
7lb, 8oz
22
23

Uncle Lyle:
9lb
24

Aunt Kelsey: 8lb, 5oz
25
26

Daddy: 
8lb, 1oz
27

Mommy: 7lb, 3oz
28

Grandpap Phillips:
7lb, 10.5oz
29

Grandma Hughes:
8lb, 4oz

Aunt Gabby:
6lb, 4.2oz
30

Grandma Phillips:
7lb, 12oz

Whitney S.
7lb, 8oz
31
     1


2
3


4


Jenny M:
7lb, 1oz
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14

Rules:

1. In order for your date and weight selection to be added to the calendar, head to my facebook page by clicking here. Like my page, "The Content Mom," and then write a status or comment on my page with your chosen date and weight. You can choose any date between January 11th-February 14th.

2. There can be multiple people with the same date and weight.

3. There will not be any prizes associated with this game, however, you may claim bragging rights if you come closest!

4. If two or more people choose the same day, the person who wins is the one who comes closest to her weight at birth. If you are the only person who claimed the day, you automatically win regardless of weight.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

5 Long-distance Date Ideas

Getting through the holidays is never easy when your loved one is miles away. You watch as others spend time together while you spend a majority of your time looking single even though you're not. Once upon a time, this was my husband and I. While we were dating and engaged, he was in Grad school at the University of Oregon while I attended West Virginia Wesleyan College. Thankfully, we'd see each other for a few days around the holidays, but then it would go right back to the way things were. It wasn't easy. Besides a few people, many doubted our long-distance relationship would last, and they didn't hold back their opinion. Opinions aside, we made it work. We were loyal to one another and we loved one another, and here we are today married and getting ready to have our first baby!

Anyone who has been in a long-distance relationship knows that creativity must take place in order to keep the relationship strong. With that being said, below is a list of date ideas for the long-distance relationship that stood the test of time for Wes and I. If you've been in this relationship for a while, you've probably done many of these. It's my hope that at least one of these will be a new idea for you or will spark new ideas of your own. I'd also like to be one of the few to say that your long-distance relationship will work as long as it's God's plan. 


1. mail dates
There's nothing like getting home from work or school and finding a letter addressed to you from your date. Instead of going about your single-life ritual, you sit down and take in every word they have to say. By the time you finish reading, it's like you were actually with them for a few minutes. Note: Spray some of her favorite cologne or some of his favorite perfume on your letter before sending it. When it's opened, it'll smell like you, making your date feel even closer to you. 

2. game dates
Thanks to technology, skype and facetime are both options to see your date face to face, and while it's through a screen, it's better than nothing. Aside from just talking, you can plan an evening where you both play a few games together. It can be as simple as I-spy or as complex as Scrabble. If you are still new to the relationship, you could play 20 questions which will allow you both to get to know one another better. Game options are limitless, just be sure to keep it fun! 

3. study dates
Since Wesley and I were both in school during our long-distance relationship, we had to spend time studying. Rather than study alone, we'd sometimes study together. We'd help keep each other accountable and focused for a while, and then we'd take short breaks in between studying to reward our efforts. It may not sound like a fun date, but it was rather enjoyable to be productive and studious while also spending a little time with the other person. 

4. phone dates
Skype is great. Sometimes, however, it has a way of making you feel alienated from your date because you can see them but they aren't actually there with you. When these times arise, it may be best to take a short break from skype and call each other instead. As long as you have a phone plan with unlimited talk time, you can spend a half hour or so talking. The difference between talking over a phone compared to talking via skype is that you both can spend a couple hours on skype but never really have a very close conversation because you're both working on other things. By talking on the phone, it allows you to spend quality time together in which you are both talking for a bit instead of doing other things, which results in a certain closeness that skype just does not give you sometimes. 

5. dinner dates 
For some reason, neither of us thought of this until we'd been in a relationship for a while, and I have to credit my husband since it was his idea. We had gotten on skype to talk one evening and I was feeling a bit emotional because I missed him and and felt alone. We can't skip over the fact that love must have been in the air that day, because everywhere I turned, couples were holding hands or kissing. Wesley, understanding what I was feeling, suddenly had a great idea. He said, "go get dressed up and make some dinner and then we'll get back on here when you're ready." Confused, I went along with his suggestion, and when I got back on skype, he had also gotten dressed up and made himself dinner. He had lit candles and placed rose petals all over his table from a memory box gift I had sent him a few months ago.  To this day, we both agree that this was our most romantic date together, because it came at a time when we needed it most. 

NOTE: I'll be posting gift ideas for long-distance relationships before the end of December, so if the memory box sounds interesting to you, you'll soon find it in the 'For Relationships' tab at the top of my blog! 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The "I Can" Journey


"I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me." -Philippians 4:13

When I was young, I'd repeat this verse anytime I heard the word can't. My brother would say, "I can't do my homework," and I'd quickly remind him of Philippians 4:13. After a while, he'd complete his homework, thus reminding both of us that with Christ, all things were possible.

Fast forward to now. I still know this verse and it's hidden in my heart; however, I sometimes forget the truth of the statement. You see, when we were kids, homework was the biggest thing in our lives, but now it seems so small in comparison. When I was a kid, I believed this verse over every 'big' thing in my childlike mind, but now, as an adult, I sometimes struggle with believing it for the 'big' things in the here and now. There are two goals I hope to accomplish, and it's so easy to let the word can't slip into my vocabulary. Goal #1: I hope to be a good mom. Goal #2: I hope to write a book. 

There are many days where I feel unable to complete either task. When does the word can't slip into my vocabulary the most? It's when I feel defeated. For writing, it's when I've sat at the desk for an hour and words will not come, when I read over the muck I've written and tell myself it's not good enough, and when I've read another's book and tell myself they are different and more capable of writing than I am. For being a good mom, it's when I've lost my cool with my husband and pray my daughter never sees me that way, it's when dinner concoctions turn out to be disgusting, and it's when I look at other mom's who seem to have it all together and I can't imagine myself ever having it all together.

Lately, I've been reading what God says about me as His child, and that has helped. Also, I've been reading a book by Lysa TerKeurst and these words ring true:

"I am not a woman who should be labeled unable. I am a woman on a journey of learning how to make sure my reactions don't deny Christ's presence in me. I am a woman who says yes to God not because my emotions and reactions are always perfect. No, I say yes to God because He is perfectly able to forgive me, love me, remind me, challenge me, and show me how to weather trials in ways that prove His Spirit resides in me. I remind myself often that people don't care to meet my Jesus until they meet the reality of Jesus in my life." -Lysa TerKeurst, What Happens When Women Say Yes to God, pg. 70.

What a great reminder! We don't have to be perfect. We don't have to have it all together. We are on a journey, and as long as we are doing our absolute best, that's enough. As long as we are learning along the way, that's what's important. In our lives we will try and we will likely fail, but we will continue to learn, and ultimately grow in Christ. We will learn that it is only through Christ that we can do anything. Philippians 4:13 rings true when we know that our righteousness are as filthy rags, and we will never be perfect, but we can be perfected through Jesus Christ.

The reality is that I don't have it all together. The reality is that I'm not perfect nor will I ever be perfect. However, Jesus is perfect and He's molding me each and every day. I am journeying on a road that is filled with potholes, jagged gravel, and dirt, but that journey is leading me closer to Christ, and I don't want my road any other way because I long to follow Jesus.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Lessons From A Shower

Lessons From A Shower

Every time I take a shower, I lose myself in thought. This morning was no exception. I was thinking about packing that needed completed, crafts that needed worked on, and laundry that needed washed, among other thoughts. I so easily become lost in thought as soon as my eyes open in the morning, and I'd say I'm not the only one. It's normal.

But lately, someone has been stopping me in my tracks and turning my morning thoughts on God. Emily begins kicking me soon after I wake up. Oftentimes, it happens while I'm showering. I immediately begin to move and breath slower so I don't miss each precious kick and tumble. I cherish each time she moves because it reassures me that she's growing healthy and strong. I cherish each time because God has blessed me with this beautiful gift. I cherish each time because I know many women unable to have children.

The truth is that every time Emily moves, I am reminded of how unworthy I am to experience this phenomenal connection. I am humbled that God would allow me the ability to carry this baby. I am humbled that our baby is doing so well, and that there haven't been any complications. Yes, I am already experiencing back pain. Yes, I have an ugly blue bruise after having blood taken to check for gestational diabetes. Yes, I wake up every hour simply to turn over in bed. But, I am humbled and I am blessed, and every time she moves, I don't want to take it for granted.

This morning, I read from Psalm 139. I am reminded of God's relentless pursuit for his creation. I stand in awe trying to understand the fact that God knows these very emotions I'm now sharing with you, and that he knows me, and even Emily, deeper than anyone ever will. This knowledge alone is enough to fall face-down and worship him! Below is part of Psalm 139, but I encourage you to read the whole chapter. It's one of my favorites.




Monday, October 27, 2014

Confession Of A Church Girl

Confession Of A Church Girl

Bitterness, confusion, and anger defined my life. They sat like boulders on my shoulders, weighing my entire existence. For the first few months, many would look at me and say "I miss that smile of yours; I can tell you're unhappy."

I began to fake a smile so that everyone would move on. I did things that made me happy, and I tried to ignore the feelings that eagerly threatened to overtake me, saving sadness and silent sobbing for my pillow every night. This worked well, and most people thought I was happy, but a few knew otherwise.

There are some people you can't hide your feelings from because they love others so deeply that they see right through the mask of phoniness. It wasn't long after being around them that my throat tightened as I held back tears that no one else saw. I'd tell them how I felt, and in return they'd listen, they'd love, they'd understand. They did exactly what Jesus did every time I cried out to Him.

A year ago, God revealed to me that I had taken little action in the five years of bitterness, confusion, and anger. I had been quick to defend myself and God over an issue that hit so close to home, and I did it at the expense of hurting others. These people just needed three things. They needed someone to listen, to love, and to understand. They needed someone to come alongside them and love them as deeply as Christ loves them. Instead, I debated them. Instead, I spoke quickly and listened little. Instead, I did not show Christ-like love.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't speak the truth, because we should. What I'm saying is that I did not speak truth at the right time, and I definitely didn't speak the truth in love. Rather than showing Christ's love to them, I showed them fiery and reckless words and tacked on scripture after scripture for authoritative measure, failing to follow the WWJD motto in the process. I did this to so many, mostly over social media, and I don't even remember who they were in order to apologize to them. My prayer is that they will read this and let me know so that I can personally apologize.

In the past year, I've been focusing on my attitude. I'm learning to love deeply, and its been a beautiful process. In doing so, the feelings of bitterness, confusion, and anger are turning into contentment, clarity, and cheer. In doing so, some have asked my opinion on different issues, and I've been able to share the truth in love and at the right time.

Through this process, I've allowed the following scripture to saturate my heart and mind, and its become my prayer that others see Christ when they see me.

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." -Galatians 2:20 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

10 Small Ways To Help Others.

First, click here to read Luke 10:30-35
    The Good Samaritan is a well-known story. We often focus on how we'd expect the priest or the Levite, the good and faithful guys, to help the man. Instead, it's the Samaritan who helps. I want to focus on something else though. The man that everyone is passing is in obvious need of help. He is stripped of his clothing, wounded, and half dead. HALF DEAD. Imagine someone hits a person with their car and continues driving, and you drive by and see them laying there in such bad shape that their life is at stake. I would hope you'd get out and help them. I'm sure you'd get out and help them. However, there are people we pass from day to day who are half dead, so to speak, and we are too busy with our lives to take notice and help them. We sort of become the good and faithful who fail to take notice. Watch the video below to see what I mean. I'm guilty of this myself. 


    Take Action! Below are some simple ways to help others. You may not know what someone is going through by looking at them, but it's safe to assume that each person you come in contact with is going through something. Choose to help others. 


10 Small Ways To Help Others


1. Buy someone coffee, gas, or their meal without them knowing. 

I've never paid for someone's gas, but when I worked for a gas station, there were two times when someone wanted to pay for another's gas. You can give the cashier cash and ask them to use it for the next person who comes in to pay using cash. I have purchased someone's meal before. You can do this in a restaurant or at a drive-thru. It's great way to surprise someone and remind them that there is still good in the world. You may just help someone going through a rough-patch financially. 

2. Write a note of encouragement to a neighbor or friend. 

When I was in college, I would find notes with scripture and words of encouragement written. Sometimes I knew who they came from, and sometimes I didn't. Either way, they brightened my day and reminded me that things would be okay. 

3. When someone makes a driving mistake, keep your hand off the horn and your hands on the wheel. 

This is a hard one. There was a time when I'd honk my horn or throw my hands up in attempts to place blame and make sure they were aware they'd done wrong. Sometimes, it is necessary. Sometimes, people drive like crazy on purpose, which is crazy itself. However, a lot of times, people simply make a mistake. They don't see you. They aren't paying as much attention as they should. We've all made driving mistakes. OOPS! Sometimes you can see them grimace when they realize their mistake. Each time I drive, I try to think before I beep, which is easiest to do when my day is going well. Choose to let someone off the hook, especially if you've done the same thing before. Chances are, it wasn't intentional. If you're like me, you'll need to take a deep breath to keep from laying on the horn. If I can do it, anyone can! 

4. Compliment a stranger. 

The best compliments can come from perfect strangers, because they are typically most genuine. If you like someone's outfit, tell them. If that person is having a bad day, I guarantee you'll make it slightly better. 

5. Pay for someone's ticket. 

I've heard of people paying for  parking tickets that they see on cars on main street. They leave a note with cash folded inside saying "No need for a bad day. Enjoy your day!" 

6. Put your phone down and strike up a conversation. 

We live in an awkward society where everyone is looking at their phone while they sit in a waiting room. It won't be easy to do, but try putting your phone down and strike up a conversation with the person next to you. Chances are, they'll be looking at their phone too, so you might have to start with a complement so that they'll look up. People are often hiding behind their gadgets. I am living in a new area and I LOVE getting to know new people in the area. It may sound strange, but I seem to have met more elderly people than anyone else, because they are the ones not hooked on their phones. Be that old lady. It's cooler than you'd think. 

7. Encourage parents with small children. 

Do you see a kid throwing a tantrum in the grocery store? Instead of grimacing and looking the other way, smile and let that parent know that things will be okay. If a parent is correcting their child instead of letting them have their way, compliment their efforts. If you've been there, tell a story about when you were a mom or dad. For example, one time my brother was having a tantrum in a store, and my mom, frazzled by his continuing behavior, decided to throw a tantrum in the aisle as well. It may sound insane, but it worked. My brother never ever threw a tantrum again, at least, not in public. I don't think anyone would encourage her 'moment,' and she probably wouldn't either, but instead of turning your head, at least offer a smile and a statement like "it'll be okay." 

8. Give up the closest parking spot. 

If you don't have a deadline, choose a parking spot further away from the store. Not only will you get extra fresh air and exercise, but you'll help someone in a rush along the way. 

9. Befriend someone in a nursing home. 

There is nothing exciting or wonderful about a nursing home, especially for the one that lives there. I mean, how would you like to be stuck inside all day with little to do? Some of those people don't even have family visiting them. Take an hour or so every other week and hang out with the elderly. If you play music, take a guitar. If you love crafts, hand some out. If you have children, take them with you. When my grandpa was in the nursing home, we'd hang out in the common room. Elderly people loved watching my brother, sister, and I interact with each other, even if it was sibling rivalry. They loved telling us stories or jokes. They loved being around us. While I never loved nursing homes, I learned to love those people, and I honestly was entertained by many of them. 

10. Smile. 

If nothing else, smile at strangers throughout your day. It may sound small, but it's true that they are contagious!


I'm always looking for small ways to help others. If you have any that I haven't listed, feel free to share in the comments below! 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

For Real Men Only


Will the real men please stand up? This blog post is for you!


For Real Men Only



There are many boys, yes ‘boys,’ who still treat women disrespectfully, but somehow manage to get so much attention. You know them. When dating, they are commonly called ‘bad boys’ and for some reason, it’s the bad boys that women often chase, leaving real men choking in the dust.

Eventually though, the dust settles, and we see you in the distance. We notice as you continue to open doors for us, listen to us, and pray for us. Some women continue to chase the bad boys, but others realize that it’s the real man who is deserving of our time and our effort.

For all the times we've focused on the bad boys, we have often forgot to thank you for being a real man. If we are married, engaged, or dating you, we sometimes forget to appreciate the qualities that make you a real man.

On behalf of all women out there, I would like to say that you are doing a phenomenal job.

 Thank You!

  • For praying for your wife, fiancĂ©, girlfriend, sister, mom, friend, or even stranger.
  • For opening doors.
  • For being quick to listen, and slow to speak.
  • For not making stereotypical jokes about women.
  • For TRYING to understand us. (I admit, this is no easy task.)
  • For leading by example.
  • For standing up for us.
  • For complimenting us even on our bad days.
  • For doing the less-desired chores. (Ex. taking out the trash)
  • For being a REAL MAN! 



Wednesday, October 15, 2014

15 Tips For The Perfect Love Letter

When my husband and I began dating, he moved to Oregon to get his Master's degree soon after we met in undergrad while I stayed on the east coast. That summer, I went to a camp where the only communication with the outside world was mail. For the entire summer, we communicated through letters. Today, we have every letter sent to us, and sometimes we pull one out and read it. Since this was how our relationship began, we continued to write letters every other month. Even now that we are married and see each other daily, we will occasionally write letters to each other.

The list below is based on the many letters we've written to each other both from the beginning to now. Each letter didn't include every item listed, but I noticed that number's 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, and 14 were a part of every letter I sent to him and a part of every letter he sent to me.

Good luck!

15 Tips For the Perfect Love Letter



1. Uplift them.


If you say they are amazing, explain why. Maybe it's their positive attitude, patience, happiness, or strength that you notice day after day. Uplift a quality that you find attractive and that they do well. It's so easy to beat ourselves up over what we aren't doing well, therefore, it can be extremely encouraging to be reminded of something we are doing well.

2. Share your feelings.


Even if you've been married for years, there is always something to learn. Your spouse wants to know how you feel about things going on in life. How is work going? What did you think of a sermon? What's new? How's life in general? Going into detail about any of these is great way to communicate your feelings.

3. Show interest in their talents.


Do they play an instrument? Do they love to write? Do they like carpentry? Do they play a sport? Do they love fashion? Do they like to fix things? Take the time to listen, to read, to watch, and to try and understand their talent and why they enjoy it, and explain how well they do. My husband recently wrote a letter and explained that he had read all of my blog posts. Knowing that he read them meant a lot to me.

4. Encourage and appreciate their talents.


Not only did he read my blog posts, he explained how much he liked them and encouraged me to continue doing what I love. Encouraging someone not to give up on something they enjoy shows just how much you care about their well-being.

5. Remind.


Remind them why you are with them. This can be done by writing a little about when you first met and how they made you feel. It can also be done by writing about something more current. You might remind them of a promise you made to each other. For example, early on in our relationship, my husband and I decided that God would be in the center of our relationship. Sometimes, it's nice to be reminded of a promise made and it shows that you intend to keep that promise by simply remembering.

6. Three words, I Love you.


 Make sure to write this somewhere at least once every time you write a letter. It's crucial, and needs no explanation.

7. Show your contentment for the present and excitement about the future.


When I see that my husband is content about life in the present, I am also content about the present too. Yes, life is crazy, hard to understand, and not always rosy. Recently, my husband and I found out we were expecting and that he was to be laid off from work at the end of the year all within the same month that his dad ended his battle with cancer. It's not easy to be content in times like these, but he was still able to say that he was happy I was by his side through the whole process and he knew that God had plans bigger than our own.

The other day, my husband wrote a letter to me and described his excitement about soon becoming a dad. Seriously, I love his excitement for our future, and it fills me with joy when I know he looks forward to our lives together.

8. Be positive, but be real.


Relationships are hard work, and when that's coupled with difficulties in life, it can be easy to think negatively and display that in writing. Try to write positively, but don't be fake either. If something has been bothering you lately, it's good to write out your feelings. Maybe you can't find a job and you're feeling down. There is nothing wrong with writing about this, but be sure to find some positivity in the situation as well. Let them know you aren't going to give up.

9. Reassure.


If your relationship isn't going great or if you are dealing with hard times in life, reassure them that things will be okay, that you will get through it together. This kind of goes hand-in-hand with positivity.

10. Remember.


While you know your spouse now, you didn't know them before you met them, which means there's a whole childhood that you don't know. If you did know one another as children, there are obviously still stories they haven't heard. Feel free to share a story if it fits in with your letter. Keep it short though. You aren't writing a memoir.

11. Be sweet.


It may sound silly men, but ladies like when they see hearts drawn, smiley faces, x's and o's, etc. Not only do they feel loved, but they see you are willing to embrace your feminine side, which we know isn't easy for a guy. It also shows that you enjoyed writing the letter too, and that you were willing to have fun while doing so. Of course ladies, the same goes for you. Guys might not admit it, but they love all the little hearts you add in the margins. Maybe it all goes back to little love notes and flirting. Regardless, everyone secretly loves these old-school emoticons.

12. Write what comes naturally.


Essentially, be yourself. Write what comes to your mind. Don't try to emulate another's letter, just write what comes naturally. Sometimes it's easiest to act like you are having a conversation with them and haven't talked in a while. What would you want to catch up on?

13. Date the letter.


Your spouse will likely reread this letter. Make sure to add the date so they remember when it was written.

14. Handwrite.


Don't type, even if you have terrible writing. If you can't spell, use spell-check or a dictionary, but don't type a letter for the sake of ease. Handwritten letters take more time to write than typed letters. They allow you to collect your thoughts and think about what you want to write as you are writing. More effort goes into handwriting something, therefore it will be much more appreciated. Plus, handwriting is rare in our technology-filled world, so it's bound to be much more special.

15. Write a scripture/quote.


Do this if you want to write a little about the scripture/quote. If it is something that resonates with you and you'd like to share it with them, you should do that. It's another way to share your thoughts and feelings.



Monday, October 13, 2014

Perfect Pecan Pumpkin Spread

Perfect Pecan Pumpkin Spread

                        

Perfect spread to use with crepes, pancakes, bagels, and more!



Prep time: 5 minutes


Ingredients:


8oz. Philadelphia Cream Cheese (light)
1 cup Libby's Canned Pumpkin
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup crushed candied or plain pecans
Cinnamon (optional)



Directions: 

Mix together cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add sugar, nutmeg, and pecans. Mix ingredients together. Once spread onto desired crepes, pancakes, or bagels, sprinkle cinnamon on top and enjoy. If you are making crepes or pancakes, don't forget to add whipped cream!


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Am I Pretty Or Ugly?

Am I Pretty Or Ugly?



Today, I watched a TED video titled "Why Thinking You're Ugly Is Bad For You." Of course, I think it's safe to say that every woman has felt ugly or unappealing at one point or another. You know those days. That pimple on your nose will NOT disappear no matter what you do. You woke up not feeling well. Your hair won't cooperate.

Yeah. I've been there too.

I clicked on the video because even though I've had my 'ugly' moments, I agreed with the title. Yes, sometimes I have ugly days, but typically I feel pretty, I look presentable, and I don't let those ugly days define my self-worth. I remember what God thinks of me, what my husband thinks of me, what friends and family think of me, and because of this, I've learned to deal with the bad along with the good.

I completely agreed with everything stated in this video, but there was one thing that I didn't believe. Meaghan Ramsey claimed that girls were uploading 'Am I Ugly' videos onto Youtube.  Stunned by this information, I quickly searched those words on Youtube. Clicking enter, I found page upon page of 'Am I Ugly' videos. I checked out some of them, just to get a feel for what they were about, and in most of them, the girls looked sad. Some explained their reasoning for making the video. There were reasons like: everyone at school says I'm ugly, boys don't like me, I'm trying to look pretty, but I just feel ugly. They upload these videos and wait for the comments to come pouring in. They wait for complete strangers who don't know anything about them, about their true worth, to define their beauty.

Assuming uplifting comments would outweigh any negative comments, I checked to see what people were writing. What I saw brought me to tears. Yes. Tears. I can't even bear giving examples of some of the comments I saw, but I know that these words are cutting jaggedly into the hearts and minds of the girls who post these videos. I know some of you might be thinking "shame on them for posting a video and not being prepared for the worse."

No. Shame on us. Shame on parents, on mentors, on family and friends who aren't saying a thing about true beauty or self-worth. As women, many of us have learned how to cope with feeling less-than attractive. These adolescent girls don't know how to cope, and they are at their most vulnerable years. You remember them. They aren't fun, and kids are mean. I remember coming home from school much of my 7th grade year sobbing into my pillow from the hateful things kids said about me. If it weren't for my mom teaching me how to cope, I wouldn't be the same person I am today. Some aren't lucky enough to have a parent so directly involved in their child's life to know when they're at rock-bottom.

If you are directly involved with adolescents, please please please don't toss this topic to the side, assuming they'll figure it out on their own. Encourage. Educate. Empower. And remember, you are beautiful too!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Savory Beef Vegetable Soup

Prep time: 10-15 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Servings: 5-7 servings



Ingredients: 


1 lb. ground beef
1/2 medium onion
1 clove of garlic or 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
15.5 oz. can white hominy (drained)
32 oz. vegetable broth
10.5 oz. Campbell's condensed tomato soup
2 and 1/4 cups of water
12 oz. frozen mixed vegetables
1 cup elbow noodles
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions: 


In a large pot, cook ground beef on medium heat. Drain grease. Chop onion and clove of garlic into small pieces and add with the ground beef. Once onion is cooked down, add hominy and mix together. Continue cooking for about five minutes. Add vegetable broth, condensed tomato soup, and water. Stir together. Add vegetables, elbow noodles, and cayenne pepper. Stir. Heat soup to boiling, reduce to simmer and cover with lid. Allow soup to simmer for at least 30 minutes. Add pepper to taste.

Enjoy! Be sure to let me know what you think and feel free to add suggestions in the comments!

Savory Beef Vegetable Soup



Note: I've made variations of this soup before. If you do not wish to add hominy, simply omit and add a cup and a half more elbow noodles. I personally like the texture that the hominy gives the soup.



Monday, October 6, 2014

Forgive Them


Luke 23:34: He forgave them



This past sunday, a boy around 8 raised his hand near the end of service. The pastor noticed and responded. The boy asked, "Why didn't God punish the people who killed Jesus?" The pastor said, "Because, Jesus forgave them." The little boy frowned. "How did He 'forgave' them?" The pastor then explained how Jesus asked his Father to forgive them while he was hanging on the cross. The little boy then walked up and handed the pastor a picture he'd been drawing during the sermon of Jesus on the cross and the soldiers below. He pointed and said that the soldiers were mean to Jesus, but he still cared about them. The pastor said, "yes, and he forgave them."

I shared this story on facebook yesterday, and then explained the following: 

The church learned more in those few short minutes than the rest of service combined. 
1. Children are paying attention, and they want to know who Jesus is. 
2. They see what many adults fail to recognize, that in a crazy world telling us to seek revenge when wronged, Jesus is drastically different. 
3. Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. You see, many expected that the pastor would keep talking and ignore the boy's raised hand, but instead, he did exactly what Jesus had once done when he wanted the children to be around him. He acknowledged the boy, and allowed the service to be changed up. This is exactly what it means to strive toward being like Jesus, and it took less than five minutes to learn or be reminded of these things.

This child-like wonder affected me so greatly that this morning, while spending time studying God's word, I looked up the verse where Jesus said "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." I've read and heard about Jesus dying on the cross so many times in my life, and yet I had never before realized the context of these words spoken by my Savior. I had assumed the words related to them hanging him on the cross to die, and that in part is true, but what I never noticed before was the rest of this verse. The verse goes on to say, "And they parted his raiment, and cast lots." I didn't add this part in the picture above, because I have a feeling you'll want to check for yourself. 
In the next five verses, we see the rulers, the soldiers, and one of the thieves mocking Jesus. He asked God to forgive them right before they began humiliating him as he was dying! He knew what they were going to do before they even began doing it, and he had already wanted them to be forgiven. If it weren't enough to forgive them for killing him, for whipping him, for placing a sharp-crowned bed of thorns on his head, and other events that lead up to him on the cross, he forgave them for what would make me want to hate them. Even as I write this, my throat is tight in aggravation of how they treated a dying man, their very own Savior nonetheless. 

Thousands of years later, child-like wonder changed the way one sermon ended, and made at least one person see this well-known story in a new light, overwhelming her with his love for ALL of mankind, including those that mock him. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

7 Ways To Help Her Through Morning Sickness

She's nauseous most of the day, has lost her appetite, doesn't want to be touched, hates the smell of many foods, gets sick at least once a day, and feels like pregnancy is the worst thing ever. Maybe this sounds extreme to you, but every single one of these defined my life for 10 weeks after finding out we were expecting. Some women don't have any morning sickness. At the time, I was less-than-thrilled with anyone who told me they never had morning sickness. Now that I am out of that phase, I am happy that those women didn't have to deal with it.

Believe it or not men, your role is crucial, especially if she is dealing with these dreaded symptoms. There is no way I could have handled morning sickness without my husband by my side. By week 14, we were physically and emotionally drained, but we were able to be that way together, which allowed me to maintain sanity. 

I must warn you that if you are wanting to help in hopes of feeling appreciated, it's probably not going to happen right away. Give it time. Do anything you know she might appreciate, and I'm certain that one day she will thank you, maybe after the all-day nausea disappears. Below are 7 ways to help her through morning sickness! 


7 Ways To Help Her Through Morning Sickness


1. Tell her you could not go through what she's going through. 

Think you could handle weeks of flu symptoms better than her? Until you've been there, I don't recommend making that assumption. She needs to know that she's incredible for dealing with morning sickness. She needs to know that she's handling it well. She needs to know that you doubt you could handle what she's going through. These words of affirmation are so important. 

2.  Cook for her. 

During pregnancy, smells are enhanced, and because of the new hormones, some things that she used to always eat smell downright disgusting. Raw meats probably are a huge turn-off. Unless she's craving something, she will probably be totally okay with eating bland foods. So, if you aren't the greatest at cooking, don't worry. The fact that you attempt it will mean more to her than anything. Don't be upset if you make something that she thinks she can eat, but then turns off to it when the food finally hits her plate. This happened a few times to us, and while discouraging, we tried our best to stay positive. 

3. Stay positive. 

She doesn't need to be told how complicated she's being. She already knows. Most women with morning sickness are not putting on a show, and after seeing all of the amazing things you are doing, most women are already going to feel guilty about being finicky, lazy, etc. We know it's difficult and wearing on you. You will be doing a great job by being as positive as possible. 

4. Stand by her side while her face is planted over the toilet. 

For some reason, I wouldn't get sick until after I'd already gone to bed. I'd jump up, run to the bathroom, and well, I'll save any other details. My husband is an amputee, and every night, he'd still get up and crutch over to the bathroom even though I told him he could just stay in bed. He'd grab a couple tissues and patiently wait until I had finished, while verbally letting me know that everything was okay. He'd give them to me and then after rinsing and brushing my teeth, I'd head back to bed and he'd hand me a glass of water that we had already taken upstairs. This was the one thing I absolutely did not expect him to do, but he insisted on doing it anyway, and it meant more to me than any other gesture. If you are reading this, chances are you have two legs. You have no good excuse to stay put. Get up, whatever time of day it is, and stand by her side. 

5. Find something you can do that she would not expect from you. 

My husband is a wonderful cook, so when I told him I just wasn't up for it, he quickly took on that role until I began cooking again. I honestly knew he wouldn't mind doing this for me. However, when it came to him waking up at night and crutching to the bathroom when I'd get sick, that meant the absolute most to me. I was reminded of how much he loved me, how much he was there for me, and how much he cared for me. Find that something and do it. It could be as simple as bringing her home some flowers or making her a card. 

6. Let her know how you are feeling. 

While it's important to stay positive and keep from complaining, it is also important that she knows when you are becoming emotionally drained. Don't tell her how you're feeling right after she's gotten sick or refused the spaghetti she thought she could eat. Let her know when you're just hanging out together and when it seems like she's feeling her best. In some cases, she might respond in tears anger, but that's because she's probably feeling the same way too. In other cases, she's going to understand what you're saying, and will be willing to listen. If she's not kissing or cuddling with you, and that's something that you want, tell her when the time is right. She needs to be reminded that you matter too. Of course, don't expect her to just be in the mood then and there. Let her know and hopefully when she is feeling a little better, she can focus on what you need. 

7. Don't tell her that morning sickness will be over before she knows it. 

This is what everyone is saying, and while true, in the moment it feels far from true. Every woman who has already had a baby is likely telling her this, but it's really not all that encouraging, because it feels like morning sickness will NEVER end. Instead say, I hope this is all over soon. I know for a fact she will agree! 


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