Thursday, December 31, 2015

One Year Ago Today...

I've been composing this post in my head for over two weeks now.  I've written down drafts and then left them unpublished - how do you put into words the intense range of emotions that accompanies an anniversary of loss?  How do I stay real in this space without becoming too depressing and dark?  How do I honor our little one and our loss and yet still provide hope, encouragement, and glory to God? 

I was going to share a glimpse of the bitterness and anger that I've been going through.  The sense of emptiness and confusion - the "why her and not me?" that comes with every pregnancy announcement (of which there has been an abundance this holiday season).  I thought maybe I'd talk about the guilt of just wishing Christmas was over so you don't have to put on a fake smile anymore and things can just get back to "normal".

But if you're in this boat, you don't need a reminder.

You know what it feels like.

And you know how easy it is to give in to all these negative feelings.  We don't need to give them any more airtime...

they've had enough already.

So today I forced myself to make a list of the positives.  On this anniversary of loss, I'm choosing to dig deep and remember what I have to be thankful for.  This year was hard, but God gave us many blessings too.  I don't want to end this year on a low note.  I don't want Satan to take that from me too.  So here is a short list of gifts that I am thankful for this year:

- I'm thankful for all the ways Doad and I grew closer and stronger in our marriage.  These losses could have torn us apart, but by God's grace, they made our marriage stronger.  He is my best friend and I am so fortunate to have him to lean on through this journey.

- I am thankful for my church family who is always kind, loving, and supportive.

- I'm thankful for our trip to Cancun and the time we got to spend in each other's company relaxing and exploring and taking a much-needed vacation.

- I'm also thankful for all the other places we got to travel to together this year: New Jersey, Orlando, Massachusetts.

- I am thankful to no longer be in a stressful job and to instead be pursing a career that fills me with purpose and happiness.  I love what I am doing right now and am excited about the future in health-coaching and with essential oils.

- I'm thankful for Lacey and what a good companion and comfort she is.  She is such a good cuddler and so loyal.  She knows how to make us feel better and she brings so much joy to our home.

- I am thankful for dear friends and family who care enough about us to go through the ugly stuff with us.  They know when we need tough love and when we need a shoulder to cry on.  They have borne the brunt of bad attitudes and still love us.  They keep us accountable.  They pray for us.  They LOVE us.

- I am thankful for how we grew in Christ.  There has been a lot of questioning and hard lessons from God, but I am grateful that our faith is not stagnant and stale.  We are being stretched and tested.  We are learning about the Holy Spirit and his activity in our daily lives. We are learning to let go and to simplify.  We are learning to trust beyond what we though we were capable of and we are clinging to hope with all we've got.

So there's a list... and I am thankful.

And I do mean it... but... it feels fake.

I can't end this post here all pretty and resolved and let you think it's as simple as that.  I want you to see the battle here.  I want you to see that it took over an hour to write that list - that I'm fighting not to give in to the negativity.

This isn't easy.

The flesh in me wants to look at this list and say "That's not good enough."

I wanted a baby this year too.

Instead I lost not one, but two babies.

And all these months later, I still have no answers.  I wish I had more to share with you, but this is all I know:



God is still good.

He is near to the brokenhearted.

He offers comfort, and peace, and hope.

His grace is sufficient for us, and his power is made perfect in our weakness.

He is the giver of life.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

He loves with an everlasting love and his faithfulness towards us continues.

O sister, sweet friend, dear one in the thick of this battle with me,  be encouraged!  Let your heart be open to the comfort of His Word.  It may sting as it goes down, but hidden in these promises is the only place I can find rest right now.  I pray the same for you.

This is the fight.

To go back to what we know, to cling to the promises of God.  To choose to dwell on the hope and the peace that He offers and not the death and despair of the world.  Fight with me.  Hope with me as the new year comes.

Friday, October 9, 2015

2015 Resolutions: September Recap

I hope you guys realize that there are only 76 days until Christmas at this moment.  Seventy-six!!  That means we've been working on our goals for 281 days and we only have 84 days left in the year! Holy cow, we better get crackin'!

1. Whole30

2. Get (and stay) pregnant
Nothing yet

3. Quit my job

4. Finish two books with Doad
Still reading...

5. Read 24 books

I finished book #11 and #12.  I'm close to finishing #13 too, but I am still ironing out the kinks in my new routine and have not made much time for reading lately.  At this point, I doubt I will finish 24 books by the end of the year, but I will definitely read more than last year, so I am focusing on that progress and still trying to read as many as possible.  :)

Book #11 was The Better Baby Book (aff.) by Lana Asprey.  This was not my most favorite baby book that I have read as there were several recommendations in it that I either disagreed with or felt were not explained well enough for me to be comfortable following them.  I've linked to it anyway because there was a lot of good info in there as well, you just have to be smart while you read it and do your own research as well.  

Book #12 was another fun book from my birthday haul, Seriously... I'm Kidding (aff.) by Ellen Degeneres.  This was very light reading.  Lighter than I thought it would be.  But it's pretty hard to dislike such a kind, funny lady and I found the same to be true with her book.  A couple chapters had me laughing out loud... in public... so that was fun.

6. Marriage Conference

7. Cruise/vacation

8. Purple hair

9. Keep up with Spanish lessons

So... remember when I said I was gonna bring the CD's in from the car?  And put them on my phone?  And listen to them while I walked my dog?  

They're still in my car.  

10. Learn to drive stick shift

Still shooting to practice this in October.  I'm getting a little rusty so we are definitely due for it.  Doad asked me to start his car the other day and I couldn't remember how.  I was afraid to stall it out so I just put the key in the ignition and got into the passenger seat lol.  

Not a strong month for me.  It looks like the only thing I made progress in was my reading goal and even that wasn't very much.  My baby steps were few and far between this month.  But that's okay.  You know why?  Because I still made progress.  

Keep on chugging, Dreamers.
All forward motion is progress.

Friday, September 25, 2015

How To Start Your Day with Greens | A Quick, Helpful Tip

I've only been in school for two weeks, but one thing has become clear: Almost everyone knows which foods they should be eating more of and which foods they should be avoiding.  No one needs to hear that they should be eating more vegetables - we all know.  But sometimes we all need help figuring out how to eat more vegetables.

So this morning I'm sharing one of my favorite ways to get more greens into my diet and my top tips for keeping things delicious and simple.

Smoothies are amazing because you can basically hide your greens in there and not even know you're eating/drinking them.  Don't believe me?  You're doing it wrong.

Here's what you need to know:

1. Blend the greens before adding your fruit.
Put a handful or two of greens (start with a little bit of harmless ol' spinach if you're nervous) in your blender with 1/2 cup to 1 cup of liquid depending on how thick you like your smoothies.  Blend this up before you add your other ingredients. This helps to ensure that your greens are really chopped up and there are no chunks hiding around.

This is especially important if you are using a cheap, older blender.  No one likes chunky spinach in their fruit smoothie.  Or maybe you do... in that case, ignore this tip.

2. Freeze your fruit.
If you use frozen fruit, you don't need to use as much ice, or even any ice at all.  This keeps things nice and tasty and doesn't dilute the flavor of your fruit down with all that water.

3. Can't have dairy?  Like your smoothies to be creamy? Use a frozen banana.
Bananas are magical and basically turn into ice cream when you freeze them.  (Google it.)  I love that milkshake consistency in my smoothies and bananas are what do that for you.  Healthy milkshakes Yes, please!

Another awesome thing about smoothies is that they are so customizable, you can use whatever greens and fruits you have and choose the flavors you like to make a drink you love.  But if you're like me and need a recipe to start you off, here are two super easy ones to try.

Strawberry Banana Smoothie
~1-2 handfuls of greens (if you're nervous start small and slowly increase the amount you add)
~1/2 C - 1 C liquid (adjust to desired consistency) - you can use milk, coconut milk, water... whatever floats your boat, just maybe not soda)
~1 frozen banana
~5-6 frozen strawberries
splash of vanilla extract (optional)
1. Blend greens and liquid.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend again!
3. So quick and easy, right?

Almond Butter Cacao Smoothie
~1-2 handfuls of greens (Don't be afraid to change it up! Try kale or collard greens or a blend!)
~1/2 C - 1 C liquid
~1 frozen banana
~1 T cacao powder (where I buy mine)*
~1 T almond butter
~2 T coconut oil 
1. Blend greens and liquid.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend again!

* Bonus tip: This is also a really great way to add in some other super foods like coconut oil and chia seeds.  Just add a tablespoon or two to the blender and you're all set. :)

Sounds yummy, right?  Go try one!  Or try both!  Once you've made a couple you can experiment with different greens and fruits.  Add an avocado for an extra creamy smoothie.  Try some ginger or citrus rind.  Go crazy! :)

I'd love to hear about the smoothies you've created.
Share your favorite recipes with me in the comments below!

*Affiliate link

Saturday, September 19, 2015

2015 Resolutions: August Recap

It's that time again!  How did we do with our goals in August? 

1. Whole30

2. Get (and stay) pregnant
Nothing yet

Share the love, Mr. Stork!

3. Quit my job

As you know from my last recap, I didn't actually quit.  But both boys are in school now so I'm no longer needed.  I have been living up the Stay-At-Home Wifeness lately - I cleaned the bathrooms this week and today I even vaccuumed! I also started my health coaching studies with IIN this week. So yea, that's pretty awesome.  :)

4. Finish two books with Doad
Still reading Seven by Jen Hatmaker.  The end of August was kind of crazy so we got out of the habit of reading at bedtime a little bit, but it's still on the radar and I'm confident we'll finish by the end of the year. 

5. Read 24 books

I finished book #10 and am almost done with book #11 and #12.  I don't know why I decided to read 2 books simultaneously, but I came in a little shy of my 3 books in August goal.  That leaves me 4 months to finish 12 more books.  Hopefully, I can do it with the extra free time I have, but it's gonna be close!

Book #10 was Yes, Please by Amy Poehler.  I got this as a birthday present and liked it a lot.  It was a much lighter read than my usual and while she was super funny, I also found a lot of random nuggets sprinkled throughout her writing that made me want to go through again with a highlighter.  Way to go, Amy!

6. Marriage Conference

7. Cruise/vacation

See this post here for pics and recap!

8. Purple hair

Still purple :)

9. Keep up with Spanish lessons

This did not happen in August, but I am adding it to my daily routine for September.  I am bringing the CD's in the house and instead of listening to it in the car, want to put it on my phone to listen to when I walk the dog.  

10. Learn to drive stick shift

Ha! Totally forgot about this goal.  It didn't happen this month either.  Our weekends are looking pretty busy for the next month, so maybe I'll shoot to work on this in October.

Okay, so I have 4 out of 10 goals completed and 4 months left to finish up the others.  I'm confident about completing 2.5 of them haha.  Honestly, I'll be pretty happy about that.  I've been learning that it's not so much about the amount of things I check off my list.  I'm happiest when I take the time to realize and appreciate that I am still making forward motion.  I make these goals to help me become the person that I want to be and so that I can live the best version of my life. If some of those goals change or evolve in the process, that's perfectly fine.  

 As always, I hope this has been an encouragement and inspiration to you, fellow Dreamer.  Keep it up with those baby steps.  You can do it!

*Links are affiliate links.  This does not affect you in any way, but I have to let you know in case you don't want to give me credit for referring you to an awesome product. ;)

Friday, August 21, 2015

Breakfast at Tiffany's

My high school bestie's wedding is next month and I have the privilege of being her maid of honor.  It was a blast planning her shower with her awesome bridesmaids and, pardon my bragging, but I think it was one of the cutest showers I've attended.  Enjoy the photo dump below.  ;)

The bride-to-be with her mom and soon to be in-laws (Ben's sisters and Tiff's brother's fiancee).  :)

Fun note: Tiff is the only girl in her family (she has two older and two younger brothers) and Ben is the only boy in his (he has two older and two younger sisters).  They are both getting lots of new siblings! :)

The bridal party minus one.  Jaime, me, Tiff, Megan, and Kelly.

Tiff, I hope you had a fabulous time!  It was so much fun planning and celebrating with you.  :)

Friday, August 14, 2015

2015 Resolutions: July Recap

I'm looking at my calendar and trying to figure out what I did this July.  It appears that I spent most of this month at work or at doctor's offices.  


Apparently I also spent a little bit of time working on my goals.  Nothing huge, but here's what I've got for July.

1. Whole30

2. Get (and stay) pregnant
We can start trying again soon.  *fingers crossed!*

3. Quit my job

So technically I didn't quit.  But my tiny will be going to preschool this coming school year so I'll no longer be needed as of the end of this month.  This was definitely a kindness from God as I was planning to quit around this time anyway and now I don't have to have that awkward conversation.  Thank you, Lord. :)

4. Finish two books with Doad
We finally started our second book together.  Technically, we started in August - but I don't care, I'm putting it in the July update.  We are reading Seven by Jen Hatmaker.  I have a feeling it's gonna change us.  And I'm kinda scared and kinda excited all at the same time. 

5. Read 24 books

I did finish books #8 and #9 this month, but that means I have 5 months to read 15 books.  I don't know if I can average 3 a month - yikes!

I kind of went a little random this month, I read a book about haircutting and one about make-up.  I blame wedding season.  It stirs up the cosmetology interest in me every so often.  Here are the links if you're interested:

6. Marriage Conference

7. Cruise/vacation

See this post here for pics and recap!

8. Purple hair

Still purple :)

10. Keep up with Spanish lessons

I did listen to a couple lessons this month, but I am going to have to rethink this routine... or find a new one. The lessons are 30 minutes long and I don't have a commute that long anymore (and soon I won't have a commute at all!!) - it's hard to keep up and remember where I left off because the lessons are always overlapping depending on my driving time.

11. Learn to drive stick shift

So we did practice again and I drove home from the park - only a tiny bit farther than driving home from the pub lol.  We've been meaning to go out again soon.  Perhaps this time I will drive all the way to Walmart! :p

Alrighty, well I'm consistent with the "slow and steady" mentality.  I may not accomplish all of my goals this year, but I will definitely make progress towards them.  I hope this motivates you to keep reaching for your goals too.  Sometimes they happen little by little so the key is to keep moving and never give up.  

What is one thing you can do today to take a step toward your goal?
Let me know in the comments!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Cancun 2015

I'm a little overdue for a vacation recap post, but I wanted to rehash the memories before they're faded and forgotten.  

We left on a Saturday afternoon and at first I was a little disappointed that we would be getting there so late, but it was actually nice to have time to eat breakfast and get to the airport without feeling rushed.  We got to the hotel late, maybe 10 or 11?  We ate a quick snack and of course had some free drinks and then crashed into bed.  

View from our room

 One of my favorite things about the trip was all the creatures we saw.  Particularly, the peafowl.  ;)  They were just roaming about the resort minding their own business, but I thought it was awesome.  Several times in the morning, we came outside after breakfast to see the peacock fanning his feathers.  It was so beautiful and so cool to experience it so closely.

The beach was beautiful and we spent hours each day just lounging and soaking up the sun and watching the people go by... and taking selfies, of course.

The beach is even beautiful at night.

All of the restaurants had beautiful views and delicious food.  The pics below are of our favorite restaurant.  They had scrumptious shrimp tacos that I couldn't stop eating and it was so close to the ocean that we still felt like we were on the beach.

So simple, but SOOOO delicious!
Their octopus sushi was also pretty good!
Our favorite restaurant at night.
Being serenaded at the Mexican restaurant

Besides eating and lounging, we also did an excursion one day.  We got to snorkel with turtles which was the highlight of the day for me.  Unfortunately, we don't have a water camera so there was no picture documentation of that part.  We did get pictures of the rest of the day which included repelling, zip lining, and swimming in a freshwater cave pool!

We're laughing here because the water was SO COLD!

  We had a great week with the perfect blend of adventures and relaxation.

Just looking at this picture makes me feel peaceful and rested. :)

Game time!
 The hardest part about this trip was leaving our sweet Lacey for 8 whole days.  I thought maybe she'd be a little upset with us for leaving her, but from all the snapchats my sister sent me, I don't think she missed us at all!!  She loves her time at my mom's house.  :)

It's always hard to leave a vacation, but it helped to have seeing Lacey again to look forward to.  I don't know if she missed me, but I sure missed her!

 I'm sure you can see why.  ;)

This silly girl brings me so much joy and laughter.