Saturday, December 27, 2014

Birth Story of Lily Eden

Things have been quite....busy (to say the least!). We welcomed our third child, our precious little girl, on December 11, 2014. Once home, I decided to take every available moment to rest and recuperate and get ready for Christmas. Now that things have settled down a bit, I would like to introduce to you, our sweet little Lily Eden.

Everything about this little one is beautiful. For me, personally, she is the perfect picture of God's grace. We didn't "plan" her. In all honesty, we wanted to wait a few years before having more children. I was scared of having more after the last one. But God, being Omniscient, knew that we needed this little girl; my "little bit of Eden" as I call her.

I was blessed with another healthy pregnancy and we were counting down the days until her due date. On December 10, at an OB appointment, my doctor and I discussed induction. I was a few days late and was experiencing a lot of pain due to Lily cuddling into my ribcage and stretching against my backbone and pelvis. Ouch. I had been dilated to 2-3 for three weeks and my cervix was extremely thin. So after weighing all the options, we decided we would go for an induction. Quite honestly, I as horrified. My birth plan did not, in any way, include induction. It did not include an epidural after having had one with my first and hating it. My plan was to go into labor - on my own - and labor naturally. As was seemingly the "theme" of Lily's pregnancy, my plans were not God's plans. :)

So on the morning of December 11, my husband and I checked into the hospital and we began pitocin shortly after 11:00 a.m.

Things began wonderfully. I immediately began to dilate and contractions were very bearable. I spent time reading, listening to music and singing, and visiting with our pastor, his wife, and my family. Around 1:30, things began to get intense and hard. Having read up on induction, I assumed I was going to be laboring all day and into the night. So, cringing, I asked for an epidural at 2:45 p.m.

One hour later, at 3:51 p.m. I saw my little girl and heard her strong cry for the first time. Once I got the epidural I, again, assumed it would be hours and hours before it was time to deliver. But it was no time at all before I felt my body try to push. I had just enough medicine to ease the pain without losing all feeling whatsoever. Four pushes brought Lily into the world and I was finally able to do something I hadn't ever been able to do with my other babies - hold them immediately. Lying there with a warm, wet, bright-eyed little girl against my skin, gripping my finger and looking up at me with her beautiful eyes took my breath away. And I kept thinking, "This is grace...this is a little bit of heaven...of Eden." :) Weighing 6 lbs, 12 ounces and 20 1/4 inches long, she was - by far - our greatest Christmas gift!

My recovery this time around has been fantastic. Lily is two weeks old and sleeping fabulously and I am feeling - almost! - like 100% again. Thank you for your prayers and all the well-wishes via Facebook. I feel so blessed reading all the encouragement and seeing all the love. I leave you with some pictures of our family of FIVE now!

first moments. can it get any more beautiful than this?
Lily Eden
our little Christmas blessing
big brother is BEYOND proud of Lily and big sister is a
"little momma"to baby "sis-soo"
Grant and I celebrated our fifth Christmas together this year.
Five years, three precious children. The Lord is so good. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Christmas Countdown Ideas for Kids

The holidays are here! In just a few days, we will celebrate Thanksgiving and then the Christmas countdown will begin! Now that I am a wife and mommy, I have began building traditions with my own little family and I dearly love making memories with my husband and my kids. Today I'd love to share with you the Christmas countdown activities for this year. We won't necessarily do them in this exact order, but the goal is do them all and have fun making memories that will last for years to come. So here we go!

1. Read the Christmas story
2. Unwrap new Christmas PJs and a new Christmas book/movie 
3. Have hot coco and cookies

4. Open your special ornament to put on the tree 
 5. Mail Christmas cards 
6. Shop for one special gift for a family member 
7. Make a Christmas CRAFT with Mom 
8. Have a family Christmas movie night with treats!
9. Polar Express night! (Look at Christmas lights in PJs, with hot chocolateLink to ticket here
10. Decorate Christmas cookies
11. Gather old toys to donate to charity
12. GRINCH night! (Grinch punch, Grinch cookies, and Grinch popcorn!)
 13. See Santa at the Mall
14. Go on a hunt for Mistletoe
15. Make Christmas pancakes (with cookie cutters and sprinkles!)
 16. Go to a Christmas play or party 
17. Take a Christmas bubble bath!
 18. Make a Gingerbread Nativity
 19. Have a living room Christmas dance party!
 20. Color Christmas printable pages
 21. play a board game together as a family!
22. Have a picnic by the Christmas tree
23. Make Candy Cane syrup!
24. Sing Christmas carols together
25. Have a birthday party for Jesus!

What about you? What are some traditions and fun activities you do each year with your family?

Monday, November 17, 2014

37 Weeks and Third Trimester Favorites

I am 37 weeks which means I am officially full term! According to my doctor, baby is head down and I'm already starting to dilate, so it's possible that we'll have ourselves a little November baby!

Here's the latest:

  • I'm very uncomfortable and very tired. I definitely feel like I am carrying around 20 extra lbs...which I am. :)
  • My appetite is becoming nonexistent, which usually happens when I'm "done." I haven't had extreme cravings this pregnancy, but the cravings I have had have been similar to Selah's. I've wanted lots of fruits and sweets, especially McIntosh apples, peanut butter and chocolate. I think maybe the weirdest combo I have wanted was an apple, a slice of red velvet cake...with a taco.
  • No swelling. No varicose veins. So cystic acne. But plenty indigestion and headaches.
  • I became anemic during this pregnancy so I've been taking Iron supplements and have tried to add lots more spinach into my diet as well. The results have been great. I'm still tired, but I don't hit a brick wall every single day at 1 p.m. I have a little more energy and clarity of mind. Along with Iron, I've been taking the Garden of Life Oceans Mom prenatal vitamin, B-Complex, Calcium, and a low dose of Red Raspberry Leaves. I have felt significantly better this pregnancy than the last because of it.
  • I'm already starting to dilate, so hopefully it will continue to progress and not stall. :)
  • Baby is measuring well and weighs somewhere around 6 lbs. So anxious to meet the little petite angel that will soon be here!

It's unreal how fast pregnancy goes by, and yet how ridiculously slow it is too. :) There are lots of discomforts that come with growing a life, especially when that little bundle grows into a good size bundle that prefers to sit directly over your bladder or cuddle into your rib cage. The third trimester is the hardest trimester for me but I'm thankful that there are things that provide relief. Here are some favorites of mine that have helped me in these final weeks.

doTERRA Deep Blue Rub This stuff has helped me tremendously! With my second pregnancy, I experienced some intense pain in my hips and this time has been even more painful. doTERRA Deep Blue Rub almost instantly soothes the aches and pains. It's worth the price.

Peace & Calming Essential Oil has helped with difficulty sleeping. Usually by your third trimester (sometimes before!) you begin having trouble getting comfortable. Then the closer you get to delivery, your mind starts to go crazy and it's hard to calm down and truly rest. I've used Lavender EO for years and it's great, but Peace & Calming blend just calms me quicker and I usually sleep lots better when I use it.

Epsom Salts I love this stuff. I soak in a bath with about 1/4 - 1/2 cup of Epsom salt every chance I get and I always feel wonderful after!

Comforting books This pregnancy I read Redeeming Childbirth by Angie Tolpin several times and it is definitely a book I highly recommend, especially while pregnant. I was encouraged and challenged on so many levels. Along with Redeeming Childbirth, I also read Set-Apart Motherhood by Leslie Ludy which gave me an extra "oomph" as I disciple and train my kiddos.

Pregnancy and Labor playlist I shared a small list of songs earlier in my pregnancy that spoke to me. Since then, I've added more and have claimed a few for the birth of this little one. The ones I have seemingly kept on replay have been:
          Jesus, Draw Me Ever Nearer - Keith and Kristyn Getty
          Be Still My Soul/What a Friend - Selah         
          Jesus Paid it All -
Aaron Keys
          Part the Waters/I Need Thee Every Hour - Selah
          Here - Kari Jobe
          All the Way My Savoir Leads Me - Various (Classic Songs from the Hymnal)

Not much longer now!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

10 Gift Ideas for Men Under $50

The holidays are right around the corner! Have you begun your Christmas shopping? With baby #3 due in a couple of weeks, I have been slowly buying up gifts for the past few months so I won't be completely overwhelmed when little bit gets here.

Many women confess that they struggle finding gifts for the men in their life. By far, my husband, is the most difficult person to buy for. Last year, I shared a list of 10 Gift Ideas for Women Under $50. Today, I'm sharing a manly version! So here are 10 Gift Ideas for the manly man in your life.

1. 16-Ounce Insulated Travel Thermos. I actually bought this for Grant last year and he loved it. In the winter months, it kept his coffee hot for a good 5 hours. $20.00 + shipping.

2. Beard Pack - If your man sports facial hair, this will make a fun gift that he may just actually use! $39.95 + shipping

3. MagnoGrip Wristband. This doesn't seem very cool, but it has received great reviews. If your guy likes tinkering with tools or doing DYI projects, this is sure to come in handy. $6.28 + shipping

4. Books. Is your guy a reader? Check out Why Revival Tarries by Leonard Ravenhill, No Compromise by Melody Green, or The Bravehearted Gospel by Eric Ludy. These books are some that will ignite the spiritual fire in any man.

5. Gun SoapNeed a stocking-stuffer idea? These gun-shaped soap bars should be a hit for any man proud of his right to keep and bear arms. :) $6.00 + shipping.

6. SmartTouch Gloves. I want a women's pair of these gloves! If you own a touchscreen phone, you know it can get irritating in the wintertime when you can't do anything on your own unless you remove your gloves. Then your hands are left freezing. No more! These gloves are awesome and range from $20 to over $100! This pair is only $17.70 + shipping and the reviews are good.

7. All-In-One Emergency Safe Hammer. This gadget is pretty neat. It can be used as a standard flashlight, but it is also a rescue tool. It works as a hammer, a LED flashlight, cell phone charger, has an emergency blade, and several other things. For only $18.99, I may get one for myself!

8. Monogrammed Forged Steak Brand. My man's favorite food is steak. This authentic miniature version of the cattle brand used for years will bring a fun touch to your meat. :) $39.99 + shipping.

9. Sermons on CD. I have given my husband several sermon series on CD and it's always a great gift for the guy always on the go. He can listen and be encouraged on his drive to and from work or on business trips or even vacation. I have fond memories of my Dad playing sermons in the car on long drives and Grant and I have enjoyed it on our trips together as well. Some good sources for sermon downloads or purchases are: or Love Worth Finding Ministries.

10. Saddleback Leather is an awesome place to buy macho-leather gifts for your man. Most of their merchandise is very expensive, but there are a few options that are $50 and under. Wallets, belts, iPad and iPhone sleeves, Bible covers, are just a few. And you can count on very good quality!

What about you? Do you have any great gift ideas for men? :)

Monday, October 27, 2014

A Set-Apart Weekend and Pregnancy Update

This past weekend, I traveled to beautiful Windsor, CO for the first annual Set-Apart Motherhood conference, hosted by Leslie Ludy. It was kind of a mini Babymoon....sans the husband. :) I have wanted to attend several of the Ludy's many conferences and events in Colorado for years, so to finally have the opportunity to go was a major blessing and answer to prayer. Being 34 weeks, I was unsure if I could/should make the trip, but once I was cleared by my OB, I purchased my ticket and began planning and packing. It was an interesting experience, traveling alone in my third trimester to the mountains. I'm so thankful for good health, enough energy, and a problem-free pregnancy that allowed me to go. I came home full-to-the-brim spiritually and with a stronger vision for motherhood than I ever had before. Here are some highlights from my trip.

At Ellerslie, you would never know that you are a 10 minute walk from Windsor. It feels tucked away and secluded. Very much set apart. :) The peaceful atmosphere was beautiful.

This was my favorite view. To wake up with the dawn each morning and walk to breakfast, I saw this magnificent picture. A camera photo just can't capture the splendor. I think I stared out the window every time I was NEAR a window!

Each session was power-packed and practical. I have read many parenting books and blogs and there is an ever-present theme in our Christian culture to just take it easy and survive motherhood. The modern Christian mentality says it's normal for your spiritual life to take a back seat when you have little kids and so just be comforted that God understands you're tired, frazzled, and a complete mess. He loves you anyway. Truthfully, that's unscriptural and so I loved how each and every session was full of Biblical wisdom and commandments. Not about hanging on and surviving motherhood, but thriving - through Jesus - in your parenting and bringing heaven into your home.

The worship was worship. Growing up in music, it's always been one of the quickest ways to move me. I was anxious to hear the music from Ella Powell, but was also curious how the music and worship would be led. Let me just say, it was real worship. And I was so moved by, not only her sweet demeanor, but the songs she has written for her children, which she shared with us at the conference. And on a side note, I highly recommend the music of

It was a joy to see the two newest little Ludy kids! Via the Set-Apart Girl magazine, I have watched their two biological children grow and have seen the hand of God in the adoptions of their, now, four adopted children. These two little ones came from Haiti and after an intense 29 month battle to bring them home, they arrived the day before the first-ever Motherhood conference. Isn't that just like God? :)

I met Eric and Leslie Ludy once briefly, one month before my wedding when they spoke at a conference in Arkansas back in 2010. But it was an amazing honor to be in their environment and talk with two people whom the Lord has used mightily in my Christian walk. When I was a teenager and got a hold of their testimony and their love story, it opened my eyes to areas of my life that I had never fully surrendered to Christ. What a blessing to be able to thank them for being an instrument the Lord has used to change my life.

P.S. They were absolutely sweet, down-to-earth, and fun to talk to. :)

The conference ended Saturday night and I stayed over and attended the Church at Ellerslie Sunday morning. I receive each week's sermon in my inbox, but to be in the atmosphere and worship with so many like-minded people - it was a sweet little taste of Heaven on earth.

Now that I am home, I am BUSY getting ready for little miss to make her arrival. Only a few very short weeks and we will be a family of five! I'm feeling well overall. I'm uncomfortable and the pregnancy penguin waddle is slowly surfacing, but that just means it's almost over. :) After such a renewing weekend, I'm more than ready to hold my baby in my arms......right after I get the crib put together. :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Love: As Scripted By God

In a culture whose heroes of love are Edward Cullen or Christian Grey, never has it been easier to see what love is.

...or at least, what has the appearance of love. In reality, what is scripted by screenwriters and published by people who do not know Jesus Christ, what is labeled as love is anything but.

It's depicted as an all-powerful surge of emotions; something we literally "fall" in to. For many, it is an overwhelming mental obsession; for many more, it is a mad desire to simply jump in bed together. It has been reduced to clever, cushy sayings that are then quoted by the masses on blogs, Tumblr accounts, selfie Instagram photos, and Facebook pages.

It's something we can choose to give up on if it's in our best interest. It's something we can find in many different partners, so long as we are kept happy and comfortable.

May I tell you what love - true, marital love - looks like when it's scripted by its Author?

Love is giving all of you and the best of you, especially when you don't want to.

Love is keeping sacred things sacred (your body parts, your marriage bed, your heart).

Love is the shared glace over the dinner table while your children are laughing.

Love is being held tenderly when your heart has been broken, whether by a hurtful word or a painful loss.

Love is faithfulness even when you're financially broke, emotionally empty, or physically ill. It's the "sticking-togetherness" for better or for worse.

Love is knowing that you are desired, regardless of your swollen, pregnant belly or your inability to put on your own shoes.

Love is trust. 

Love is not wondering where your spouse is or if they desire another. It's not leaving your spouse in search of greener pastures instead of watering your own yard.

Love is doing your spouse good and not evil all the days of your life...whether it's reciprocated or not. 

Love is choosing their happiness over your own.

Love is initiating forgiveness and reconciliation even when it may have not have been "your fault."

Love is patience when your nerves are shot and kindness when stress is at an all-time high.

Love is friendship and all its belly laughs.

Love is being led to the throne of God, even when you're too weak to walk there alone.

Love is many things that are no longer sought after or cultivated in relationships. Instead, it's a weak, feelings-based decision that we can make null and void should we have the urge to. And as a result, there's heartbreak, divorce, anger and resentment, and quite a bit of emptiness.

But if you want a little glimmer of heaven, if you want something with substance and beauty, let God be your Scriptwriter. His stories are the best.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Pregnancy Update. 30 Weeks with Baby #3

30 weeks down! I cannot believe I have 10 weeks - more or less - to go! Considering both my previous children have been born at 39 weeks, I'm minorly freaking out (in a good way!). I have so much left to do but I enjoy nesting and preparing, so I am looking forward to stocking the freezer, washing newborn clothes and blankets, and taking down the itty-bitty baby gear from the attic. It's a fun and exciting busyness that definitely helps keep the nerves at bay. :)

Little miss is doing wonderful. And, albeit sometimes ungracefully, I am doing well too. Pregnancy is not a very dignified state, but it is a beautiful time that I am truly trying to cherish, even during the uncomfortable moments.

My three-year-old snapped this picture yesterday before Church.
He has a little talent, I think. :)

Some updates....

  • I feel huge. I suppose every pregnant woman feels huge, especially during subsequent pregnancies. It's not an easy thing to watch your body change so drastically in less than a year. But just like the last two pregnancies, God has been faithful to remind me that His beauty is what is important. I may feel clumsy and heavy, but I have been given the blessing of growing and nurturing another life, and that is worth the sacrifice.
  • Have I had cravings? Yep. Coconut, avocados, chocolate, nuts, grapes, and apples have been foods I find myself wanting more and more of. I've also eaten a bit more peanut butter than usual too.
  • Tons and tons of movement! Little miss is beginning to feel a little cramped in there. I love feeling every twitch, every hiccup, and every kick. Definitely the best part of pregnancy!
  • No swelling, glory be! Like my pregnancy with Selah, I have been drinking lots more water and taking regular Epsom salt baths, which help with swelling. I dealt with that during my pregnancy with Nathan and it.was.horrid.
  • I've had a lot of hip, thigh, and back pain, which has made it more challenging to exercise like I want. I'm hoping chasing my kiddos from here to kingdom come makes up for it, though!
  • I'm starting to get a little more tired each day, which is totally understandable seeing how I am growing a person inside my body while raising a preschooler and keeping up with a toddler every day. Praise the Lord for nap time, right? :) When my kiddos go down, I also have been lying down. More often than not, I pass out and get a good nap in. Sleep has become my best friend. 

Only a few more weeks left. :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Our Frog Theme in 3K

A couple of weeks ago, we began a "Frog week" in School where I let Nathan choose a specimen to study and learn about. It has actually become frog month because we have studied them slowly so we can retain and enjoy. It's been a timely theme as our porches have been the home of quite a few frogs lately. Much to my disgust....


We started by going to the Library to pick out a book on frog facts. We chose "All About Frogs" and have loved learning about the differences between frogs and toads, all the different species of frogs and toads, and the cool things each are able to do. Nathan is fascinated by learning how far they can hop and the funny croaking noises they can make.

Thanks to, I found this nifty printable explaining the life cycle of a frog. Nathan liked learning about tadpoles and how they change as they grow - just like we do! He said, "I was a I'm a big boy. One day, I'll be big like daddy and have a beard!" Yep. From tadpole to toad, buddy. ;)

We also had a frog-themed treat at lunch one day! FYI, this is not a picture of my attempt to make the frog-apple-with-marshmallows-grapes-and-chocolate chips. Mine wasn't near as good. But this is what I was shooting for. And Nathan knew it was, in fact, a frog so although it is probably more along my lines of a Pinterest fail, it was a complete success in his eyes, which is all that counts. :)

photo credit

We ventured outside and found frogs. :) Both Nathan and Selah had a jolly time finding them, squealing as they hopped, and chasing them all over the yard and the porch. Selah finds it necessary to blow on any small critter and then scream at it. Nathan has taken to wanting to smash anything smaller than him. Needless to say, they had to be under some heavy supervision. :)

Getting out of my comfort zone, we also caught a frog. Or, to be more accurate, I caught a frog. I'm a bit disgusted by small critters, but I managed to catch a small frog on our porch and brought it in for a few hours to get a close up look as we went through our All About Frogs book. Nathan loved staring at its legs and had a little too much fun trying to make the small amphibian hop in the jar.

Lastly, we began the Frog and Toad series, which we have all enjoyed reading. :)

I'm not sure what theme will be next. Nathan has expressed an interest in spiders, but I'm not sure mommy can handle that one. Might be a good father/son project to do with daddy.....


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