Christmas Eve 2014

Tis the season…

Needless to say, our attempts at Christmas Eve photos was a fail, but I will laugh at these photos and treasure them forever!

Our Plans and God’s Plans

Sunset at The Homestead

In August, we closed on the 34 acre piece of property that I lovingly named The Homestead the first time I set foot on it. It has since become known as The Farm, The New Land and, more commonly, just The Land.

A lot of the timber from the land was cut some time ago, but they left quite a few very large trees and one very large stand of pines. Once the land was officially ours, we began working to get all the brush and underbrush cleared off. We planted the bare spots and have our future home site picked out. While we are anxious to start building, we want to go about it the best way possible. We are trying to be smart about our time and money, so while we live with Patrick’s parents for the time being, we are working towards becoming debt free. This is an opportunity we will never have again, so we are trying to be patient and let God handle things His way. Its hard, friends. Its close to Christmas and I don’t have a house to decorate. I can’t tell you when I will have a house either. It would be nice to say that we are expecting to start building by a certain date and we will be moved in by another, but thats just not how it is working out. I’m learning a great deal about patience and trusting in God for everything. Its a hard lesson, but I know its one I have to learn. People keep asking me how its coming along and all I can do is shrug. Things are happening, just very very slowly. I have absolutely no control over any of them. So I’m slowly learning to let go and lean on Him. I trust His timing and His judgement. I try to stay positive and live in the here and now. If I didn’t it would be way to easy to cry over what I don’t have instead of celebrating what I do have. I have a healthy happy family. I have a roof over my head. I live in a country where anything is possible. I can go to church and worship God freely. I’m beyond blessed.

So for now, I will fill up Pinterest boards for my forever home and enjoy the freedom of not owning a house and I will do it with a thankful heart.

Patience and Purpose

We are still patiently waiting for the right person to come along and purchase our house. We are also patiently waiting to sign a contract on our land. (I’m already claiming it as ours.) Patience seems to be a virtue hard earned. While we wait, we have already been making plans. Its hard not to get excited about the possibilities of the future, but its also important to stay focused on the purpose. Why are we moving? For a long time, I have felt God pulling me towards Patrick’s hometown. The closer I get to Him, the more I believe this is what he wants for our family. Considering how opposed I was to it in the past, I can tell this is His will and not mine. He is giving me the desires of my heart. We want to be closer to our friends – to raise our children in a tightly knit group of Christians who share our same values. There is something to be said about small towns, but more so for even smaller ones. Pell City is growing quickly, which isn’t a bad thing, but not necessarily the best when you have kids. There are four different elementary schools and one big high school. I graduated with two-hundred-fifty-something people. Patrick graduated with only fifty-something, most of whom still live there. Not because they have to because they got stuck there or couldn’t get out, but because they wouldn’t dream of going anywhere else. Yes, we will be further away from our families and I will have to drive 280 to work, but when God calls you to do something, you don’t worry about the details, you just do it. This is His plan, not ours.

The Simple Life

Our house has officially been on the market for 3 weeks now. We decided it was time to get serious about selling it and enlisted the help our our realtor, Mary Ellis. We’ve had quite a bit of interest so far – several showings and two offers – but nothing that has turned into a contract. We’re not anxious or upset, but confident that it will sell quickly. God is in control.

What will we do when we sell? Well, we’ve found what we think is the perfect piece of land, henceforth to be known as The Homestead. We put an offer in on Sunday, contingent upon the sale of our house, and are waiting to hear back… I found this piece of property browsing the listings to see what was available. I didn’t want to miss that perfect place, so I started looking early. Anyone who has bought a house, knows it can take a while to find the right place. I started texting Patrick different addresses to check out while I was at work. When he visited this one, he spent the whole day there. It didn’t take much for him to fall in love and I was already sold.

The Homestead is on a dirt road with plenty of acreage and few neighbors. The upside is that we will be moving closer to our friends, but will still be close to our family as well. (This is something that I’ve felt God calling us to do. I want to raise our kids around the people we go to church with and the girls I have Bible study with. It just feels right.) We want to build a simple house and do most of the work ourselves. Our dream house isn’t bigger, its smaller. I feel cluttered by excess. Too much stuff. Too much to clean and put away. I can’t wait to go through, room by room, getting ridding of what we don’t absolutely need or absolutely love. I will be having a HUGE yardsale. I’m so excited, that I’m ready to start right now. However, I’m trying to keep the house presentable for showings and I’m the kind of person who makes a huge mess when I’m organizing and cleaning out.

This is a big step in our lives. Worthy of a blog post. I hope to have good news soon and I will, of course, document our journey here. Here’s to the simple life!

Tasty Tuesday: Healthy French Toast

I recently read an article in Women’s Health Magazine that said women who consumed half their calories for the day in the morning lost more weight than women who consumed their largest meal for dinner. I normally have something light for breakfast with a cup of coffee, but if I had the option, I would choose french toast every time. Here is a healthier french toast recipe that will get you no where close to that 700 calorie mark. Bring on the bacon.

Healthy French Toast

1 cup vanilla soy milk
2 large eggs
9 slices honey wheat bread (I used Nature’s Own)
olive oil
powdered sugar

In a shallow dish, combine the soy milk and eggs. Lightly dredge each slice in the egg mixture. Toss in a hot non-stick skillet with a tiny bit of olive oil to keep it from sticking. Dust with powdered sugar and cinnamon. Voila.

Nutrition facts: Makes 3 servings. Calories: 387, Fat 15 g, Protein 15 g, Cholesterol 124.7 mg, Sodium 451.6 mg, Potassium 115.4 mg, Carbs  52 g, Iron 22.3% DV, Calcium 23.3% DV

Giving God my First

My precious friend Ashley, was my Secret Santa for our Bible study group’s Christmas Party. She gave me a beautiful new prayer journal and I’ve been trying to make good use of it. I’m trying to start a new habit of giving God my first… the first of my attention, my money and my time. I have my alarm set for 5:00 a.m. and my coffee pot programmed. We’ve been trying to do more preparation at night to make our mornings less of a hassle, too. Unfortunately illness and unexpected weather has not made it an easy task, but this morning, I was up before my alarm and reading His Word. I also spent some time reading Follow Me by David Platt. (Our Bible study group is doing the study workbook and it is eye-opening. Let me tell you.) I’ve been using the P.R.A.I.S.E. format for my prayer journal: P – Praise, R – Repentance, A – Acknowledgment, I – Intercession, S – Supplication for Self and E – Equipping (found it in Whispers of Hope by Beth Moore). It helped give me a good foundation in the beginning of my journaling, but slowly I’ve been drifting into jotting down what is closest to my heart. This morning I wrote some thoughts bouncing around in my brain after doing some reading of Follow Me.

God’s Will Revealed
I’ve found myself completely obsessed at times, with “knowing God’s will for my life”. In this particular passage, David Platt gives a great perspective on this:

God has a will, and he has made it clear. From cover to cover in the Bible, God wills to redeem men and women from every nation, tribe, language and people by his grace and glory. Subsequently, we are not surprised when the last words of Jesus to his disciples are, ‘Therefore go and make all disciples of all nations.’ We have no need to ask God to reveal his will for our lives; instead, we each ask God to align our lives with the will he has already revealed.

Its pretty obvious that God has called us to follow him and make more followers. My question is, where do I get started? It seems pretty obvious to me, that the best place for me to start is in my own house, beginning with myself. Here are some of the thoughts I jotted down in my journal this morning…

What can I do to grow my relationship with God?

  • Daily Prayer Time (giving God the first of my day)
  • Spending time in the Bible everyday (I listen to a daily reading plan on the Bible app on my way to work… The One Year Bible)
  • Making an extra effort to pray throughout the day – Bless my meals!
  • Ending my day with a short prayer and Bible time

What can I do to encourage my husband’s relationship with God?

  • Be a Godly wife (love the Proverbs 31 wife, she’s my hero)
  • Share my daily experiences with God with him
  • Be supportive and helpful, not a “nagging wife” (avoid Proverbs 21:19 wife like the plague)

What can I do to grow Godly children?

  • Pick a weekly Bible verse to memorize and keep it up on the fridge so we see it everyday
  • Lead them in prayer at meals and bedtime
  • Read more Bible stories (Alston loves David and Goliath right now)

What else can I do?

  • Make sure we all make Sunday a priority (breakfast, plan ahead for less stress)
  • Make Wednesday Bible study a priority for me but not an inconvenience for my family (plan ahead)
  • Pray over our home and keep some Bible verses around for encouragement

To the last year of my Twenties…

My twenties have been good to me. (I mean, who looks back on their twenties and says they were horrible?) I enjoyed college. Got married. Had baby #1. Bought a house. Had baby #2. Got my first job as a REAL graphic designer. I feel like I’ve grown exponentially both spiritually and emotionally. But let me tell you, I am so excited about my thirties. 

Why? Why not?! The thirties are when you finally have your life together and you’re still young enough to enjoy it.

So here’s to you Year 29… I will enjoy you thoroughly, but I will not mourn you when you are gone.

Birthday kisses and Prosecco…

Obligatory Blurry Birthday Selfie
Silliness at World Market

Christmas 2013

Are you so over Christmas? Well sorry, I know this is a little late, but this is really just for the benefit of this being like an online scrapbook.

This year, we started celebrating Christmas before the Thanksgiving turkey made it into the oven. I remember how magical Christmas was as a child. As I got older, it lost some of its sparkle and I decided to try my best to bring it back. We put up our tree super early, decorated the house to the nines, made our own decorations, had several Christmas photo sessions, saw Santa 3 times (he’s super busy!), cooked a lot, listened to the Chipmunk’s Christmas albums (vol. 1 & 2) every time we got in the car, enjoyed Christmas shopping, talked about the real meaning of Christmas and did an advent calendar, watched Christmas movies, read Christmas books, sang Christmas carols at the top of our lungs in the Walmart parking lot, and squeezed out every last drop of Christmas joy possible.

And treasured every second of it.

My brother (the 22 year old Marine) flew in Christmas Eve to spend the holiday with us. We really enjoyed having him and the boys are forever in love with their Uncle Logan. I even enjoyed taking the tree down… the weekend after the New Year. The boys helped and it was fun and less of a chore.

The point is, from now on I will be making extra effort to make Christmas at our house as special as possible. Not just for the kids, but for us, too. I guess I better start planning for next year. 🙂

Ice Skating Part 1

Ice Skating Part 2

Peanut Butter Pie

Home Made Christmas Garland

Advent Calendar

Alston as Santa

Alston & Uncle Logan

Eli & Aunt Katelyn

My First Venison Roast = Success