Wednesday, February 26, 2014

a getaway weekend + my 28th birthday

This past Saturday, my husband and I flew to Stowe, VT for a getaway weekend/birthday celebration. We haven't gone anywhere alone together in a while, so it was exciting. Although it tears us both apart when we leave our kids ANYWHERE for any length of time, it was so great to get away and relax and be together. Grant chose Vermont because I love mountains and we don't see much snow here in Arkansas. He chose Stowe because we both love little old towns with lots of history and architecture. So since we didn't do anything for my birthday or our anniversary last year, he figured he would whisk me away to a charming little village in the north. And I have to say, I was charmed. :) Here are some highlights of the trip. :)

This was the view as we drove from Burlington, VT to Stowe, VT. Isn't it incredible?
The charming little Inn where we stayed, built in 1833. I loved how all the buildings were old. We learned that it is beyond difficult for anyone to change anything in the town,especially the buildings. There are no chain restaurants or shops. Everything is locally owned and operated in old, renovated houses. Personally, I loved it. Totally felt like stepping into another world.
Grant wanted to take me on a carriage ride when we were on our honeymoon.We never did that, so, when we saw this place on the side of the road, we HAD to stop this time and do it! And I have to say, dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh (with jingle bells!) was fantastic.
See that little building waaaaaaaay up there? Since we are not skiers, we decided to take the gondola up to the top to see the view. OH.MY.GOODNESS. Stunning. Our God is so big and mighty. Seeing those mountains up close made me think of what a strong tower and rock my God is. 
The view as we were nearly at the top. Unreal.

Trapp as in Von Trapp. As in the Sound of Music. I didn't know this, but the Von Trapp family
did a U.S. tour in 1939, and in 1942 they purchased a farm in Stowe, VT. They chose Stowe because it reminded them of their home in Austria. I have to tell you, being up on the hill where the lodge is located reminded me of the mountains in the Sound of Music movie! Beyond beautiful. I see why they chose the spot. The farm grew and is now a mountain resort, owned and operated by Sam Von Trapp, the grandson of the Captain and Maria Von Trapp. We went to eat dinner there one night and we tried their "American food with an Austrian flair." Delicious. Oh and, no, I restrained myself from dancing around the place singing "The hills are aliiiive...." ;)

I loved the snowy mountains. :)

We went out to a nice restaurant for my birthday. The view was beautiful, the
atmosphere was romantic, the food was AMAZING, and they even surprised me
with a delicious little treat!

Me and my man. :) In the snow. With Mt. Mansfield behind us. 

It was good to get away, but I have to say that the best part was coming home to our two beautiful kids. Parenthood ruined us, y'all! We can't stand being away from our little punkins' for long. And scooping them up in my arms was definitely the best birthday gift of all!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Why My Daughter Won't Have Barbie Dolls

If you have already purposed in your mind to tell me that you grew up playing with Barbies and have no issues whatsoever with your children having Barbie dolls, I only ask that you please just try to hear me out. I grew up with a box full of Barbie dolls too. This is simply my personal conviction, born out of prayer, and based upon a desire to raise a spiritually healthy and happy little girl. 

Selah got an adorable little Bunting Baby doll for her birthday. Once it was out of the box, I saw her give the doll a bottle as she cradled it in her lap. To sum up this whole blog post, that is the reason my daughter won't play with Barbie dolls.

Let me be clear, I am not saying Barbie is intrinsically evil. When I was little, I had Barbie dolls and I played with them on a daily basis until I was nearly 13 years old. So if you have Barbies and if you're okay with your children having Barbies, I'm not throwing rocks at you. However, we won't have them in our house for several reasons which I will share with you now. :)

Reason #1: Barbie is an adult. My daughter is a child. The Britannica Encyclopedia says that "Barbie is a plastic doll, 11.9 inches tall, with a figure of an adult woman that was introduced in 1959 by Mattel Inc." When people ask me why I don't want my daughter playing with Barbies, I usually give them my basic, surface answer: I don't want my baby girl playing with a grown woman. I want her to play with babies. It's age appropriate.

Reason #2: Barbie has an unrealistic body that my daughter can not (and should not) achieve. If Barbie was a real woman, she would be 5'6" and weigh 120 pounds. Her body fat percentage would be so low that she would not be able to menstruate. Her measurements would be 38-18-34. The average woman's measurements, on the other hand, are about 41-34-43. Only one in 100,000 women actually match the Barbie body image. This is unhealthy! Girls and women already have a hard time being happy with the way God created them when our culture slams skinny, overly busty, photo-shopped supermodels in our face. Handing my little girl a completely unrealistic doll for her to love and play with is adding fuel to the fire. Children are influenced by the toys they play with.

Reason #3: Barbie conveys a materialistic appetite that I don't want my daughter to have. I had more Barbie clothes than I knew what to do with. Shoes, accessories, houses, cars - Barbie has it all. She has everything in an endless supply. And truthfully, I believe it teaches greed and an insatiable hunger for more. The Bible says to be content with what you have.

Reason #4: Barbie is a maturely developed woman. My daughter is immature and innocent. Barbie is an oversexualized toy. She is fully developed and usually found with the Ken doll. When I was younger, Barbie and Ken went on dates, they kissed a lot, and they lived at the same house. To be honest, I'm going to have a hard enough time fighting the world's tug towards sexual sin and impurity without having to additionally fight my daughters' Barbie doll too.

Reason #5 Barbie does not teach Godly womanhood. My daughter will be what she is taught. Every little thing we allow into our homes shapes our children and their character. According to God's Word, my daughter must be led and trained to be what God created her to be. It's my job to teach her to be holy and pure; to be obedient, spiritually mature, and honest; to love her future husband and to care for and nurture her future children. God has designed her to be a woman - a feminine, nurturing woman. It's my job to lead her and train her in this. By placing a scantly clad, busty and sexually provocative doll in her toy box, I am sending a message that Barbie and everything associated with her is okay. Her image is appealing, her body is desirable, and her glamorous lifestyle is to be pursued. But by giving her baby dolls, I am teaching and training her for motherhood. I believe this is God's intent and purpose.

Call me old fashioned if you want, but we have set a standard for our family. My goal as a mother is to be intentional in how I raise my children and to raise them according to the principles of Scripture.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. ~ Proverbs 22:6

Monday, February 17, 2014

Our Weekend in Pictures: Valentine's day and a birthday party!

This past Wednesday, Selah turned a year old. We celebrated with our family this past Saturday. It's been a bit hectic, so here is our weekend in pictures. :)

Our Valentine gifts for the kids. They were a big hit. :)
My gorgeous flowers from my husband. 
All set up and ready to celebrate Princess Selah's 1st birthday!
The beautiful cake.
It was a very good idea to have her own personal smash cake. ;)
Thanks to Pinterest, we had Princess Punch, which was so yummy!
We also had burgers. Bibbidi Bobbidi Burgers.
And some sweets!
With the birthday girl
Our little prince, Nathan
This picture just melts my heart. Big brother helping sister out.
Blowing out the candles.
She ate a lot of icing. :)
Selah loves her daddy. So thankful for their sweet relationship.
Our baby girl. We are so grateful to God for giving her to us!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Single Girls Should Fall in Love

When my husband whispers sweet words in my ear, writes me love notes, or brings me flowers, I completely melt. When he holds me, wipes my tears, and sacrifices himself to put me first, I fall more and more in love with the man I married. I have been so blessed and humbled by him and I love him more today than I ever have. 

Though I have been a married woman for nearly four years, on Valentine's Day, I always seem to go back to my single years. These days, while I revel in the romance and intimacy of marriage, my thoughts are still very much with all of you single girls. And I think you should fall in love.

I'm talking completely, passionately, crazy in love

....with Jesus.

It's become so abnormal to be in love with Jesus. It sounds foreign. A little radical. Just plain weird. But let me tell you that if you want your marriage to be all it's meant to be, fall in love with Jesus! Make Him the lover of your soul.

Do you long for a man to sweep you off your feat? To battle the dragons for you? To charge the enemy and rescue you? Fall in love with Jesus. He not only came to romance you (Hosea 2:19; Song of Solomon 2:10), but He defeated hell for you to rescue you from sin (Galatians 3:13; Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 1:18-19).

Do you desperately want a man who will wipe your tears? Who will listen to every little thing you care about? To put you above all others? Fall in love with Jesus. He collects your tears (Psalm 56:8). He cares about the smallest burden we carry (1 Peter 5:7). And He loves you enough that He sacrificed Himself for you (Ephesians 5:2).

If you're like me, you get mushy when a guy does sweet things for you. So how much more should we fall in love with Christ every day? As we open up His Word and hear all of His promises, see all of His love, and feel all of His passion for us, we should have a burning desire to pour out our lives for Him. Forever. When I read His letter to me and am reminded of His great love, His astounding grace, His tender voice calling out to me, I should do no less than fall at His feet in completely adoration! I should fall in love.

My marriage isn't without flaws. No earthly love story is perfect when it is made up of two sinners. But when those two sinners fall totally in love with Jesus, a little piece of heaven comes down. And it's beautiful.

Today, if you are single and bemoaning this day of love, let me encourage you to just fall in love! Fall totally, and deeply and radically in love with the Prince of Heaven, the Savoir, Redeemer, Friend, and Author of Love. Go fall in love with Jesus and let Him steal your heart.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Year With Selah

Today is my baby girl's 1st birthday!

Wait, what?! What happened to my newborn?! Where did the year go?!

It's been a whirlwind. Literally! From the first labor pain, to the first smile; from the first giggle to the first step, it's been a fast-paced, exciting, and fun ride. Being that I am in a dreadfully emotional state about this, I will just share some favorite pictures of Selah Elizabeth's first year.

Holding my baby girl for the first time! She's looking at me so calm, which is hysterical 
for those that know her and her personality (she is anything but calm!).
I was still in shock as it had been a very fast labor and delivery! 
Go read her birth story here. It's one for the books!

Selah at 12 hours old. So tiny and precious.
Photo credit: Bella Baby Photography

Isn't this newborn portrait beautiful?!? She was just shy of two weeks old here. 
Courtesy of Stephanie Sullivan Photography, it's one of my all-time favorite pictures of my Selah.

Baby girl at two months. This was the Sunday of her baby dedication, 
where we publicly dedicated her to the Lord and vowed to train her up in the ways of God. 

P.S. The dress she's wearing was made by my mom. Isn't it just darling?

This picture makes me smile every time I look at it. :) When we brought Selah home, 
Nathan was very upset with us for bringing a new kid to his turf.  Fast forward all of 
two days, and he was about as in love with her as we were. :) Now they are the best of friends 
and this picture captures their relationship. She simply adores him. :)

Ah, the famous Selah-pout. The child knows how to turn it on. 
And she's full of drama. Oh, and she knows how to work her daddy! ;)

As cute as this picture is, Selah was actually very displeased with me for leaving her on a 
blanket....on the the sun. She's giving me the stare-down here. :) :)
Don't be fooled, though, she actually does love being outside. 

Two words: those eyes. My kids really have piercing eyes. 

These two were taken with our Christmas portraits. I <3 them so much!
P.S. And Saysay looks like her daddy. :)

Little beauty. :) She is so much fun.

Courtesy of Joanie Smith Photography, these two were taken to
document her turning a whole year old! Precious girl. Time needs to chill
and slow down! 

Happy Birthday, my little one.

Monday, February 10, 2014

5 Ways to Make Your Bedroom a Romantic Sanctuary

Valentine's Day is in just a few days, so love is very much on the brain. Last week, I wrote about keeping our marriage sacred. Today, along those same lines, I'm going to give you five ways you can make your bedroom a romantic sanctuary. Here we go!

Keep it neat. I'm the type that cannot relax if there's clutter and junk all over the room. When we come back from a trip, I try to unpack immediately. If it's been a hectic day and I'm completely spent, I at least toss the scattered clothes in the closet out of sight. It's just difficult for me to settle down and genuinely rest when I see unrest all around me. Our bedroom is my number one priority spot that I try to make sure is neat at all times. A crazy, unkempt room doesn't exactly scream "romance!"

Make it smell nice. Light a good candle. Wash your sheets regularly. Go get an Essential Oil diffuser. You don't want your bedroom smelling like dirty laundry or leftover chicken (or diapers for you parents!). Make your bedroom smell nice and inviting.

Keep the kids out. Now I am a big advocate of co-sleeping and attachment parenting. But too much of a good thing can be unhealthy. I had both of my children in my bed for pretty much the first month of their lives. Nathan slept in our room for nearly a year (thankfully, he is a very heavy sleeper!). With Selah being a light sleeper and very clingy, we made the decision to transition her to her own room before she began viewing our room as "her" room. It was tough and there were some interesting nights, but we are reaping the rewards now. Our children are welcome in our bedroom and we love cuddling with them, but we began to teach them early on that their bedroom is where they will sleep. And honestly speaking, it's very hard to be romantic when you are worried about waking the sleeping baby three feet away....or snoozing right beside you! If we aren't careful, our kids will take custody of our marriage, so it is important to teach them that mommy and daddy's relationship comes first. And it's important that both you and your husband have YOUR place where you are free to relax and be with one another.

Don't have a TV. Grant and I decided before we married that we would not have a TV in our bedroom. TV is a romance killer and takes away from focused, one-on-one time for you as a couple. So ditch it. Spend your time together talking, sharing, cuddling, and sleeping without the distraction of a movie or television show.

Hang pictures of you as a couple. Your bedroom is about the two of you. And your relationship is above all other earthly relationships. Have reminders of that all around you.

What about you? Is your bedroom a romantic haven?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Keeping Marriage Sacred

We have all had "the talk" and we are well aware of the in's and out's of procreation and physical intimacy. So let me be frank.

It's time for the marriage bed to 
go back behind closed (and locked!) doors.

I believe God designed marriage and its intimacy to be between one man and one woman. As a Christian, I believe marriage is sacred and the marriage bed should be protected; at all costs. Sadly, though, it isn't so sacred anymore.

Years before I married Grant, I read an article that encouraged young couples to make their bedroom a haven; to keep it neat and tidy, smelling nice, and have an atmosphere of peace and relaxation. It should be a place that is pleasant and enjoyable to be in, not cluttered with smelly laundry, papers from work, or last night's supper. I remembered that advice and now work to make sure our bedroom is always clean and relaxing. Why? Because to us, it's a sacred place.

I cringe every time I hear a wife sharing with others what goes on behind closed doors. It's become the norm to exploit our personal lives for the entertainment of others. And Facebook - ahh Facebook - it is certainly not a place to reveal the going's on in your private time with your husband. Three's a crowd, y'all! Fellow wives, may I give you some advice? 

Keep your marriage that holy union where two become one - sacred

Marriage is a covenant that is binding. The marriage bed is a place where God has given you permission to consummate that covenant; where you are given a licence to love and enjoy your spouse in the purity and glory of the vows you have made. It's where memories - and babies! - are made. It's a safe haven for secrets, tears, and your deepest dreams and fears. It's meant to be holy. It's meant to be protected. And private.

Hebrews 13:4a says, "Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled...

Let's not defile the marriage bed by exposing it to a third party or by inviting others into our bedroom by way of a girl's night out chat. I have no business knowing your preferences or the details of what God calls sacred.

Let's reclaim the purity and sacredness of our marriages again!


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