A Father’s Love

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So you are probably wondering why in the world I am sharing a picture of my dashboard – but is there any better feeling than going from having your gas light on to having a full tank?

I casually mentioned to my dad a few weekends ago that I would come over one weeknight and borrow his vacuum to clean my car out. We have a vacuum for our cars, but since our entire house is packed up in boxes, I didn’t want to start digging to find it. Next thing I knew, my dad was texting me when he got off work and said he was on his way to come get my car. Guess what he was going to do? Vacuum out my car for me. So when I met up with him to get my car back and give him his truck; I found out that he had vacuumed, filled my tank up AND took my car to get an inspection without me even asking.

I started thinking about how truly blessed I am, about how much my dad loves me and cares for me. Then it hit me, I have a Heavenly Father who does the same.  When my spiritual tank is empty, He pours in to me exactly what I need, in the moment when I need it most. When I need an inspection, He puts something in my life that brings me back to reality, and reminds me of His promises in His Word. And, while I can’t clean my sins up, He sent His son to die for me, and wiped my slate clean. How truly blessed we each and everyone are, by a Father’s love.

The Unexpected

A few weeks after my 25th birthday, we found out that we were expecting the most precious little miracle ever. Seeing those two pink lines on the test absolutely took my breath away. We were scared, nervous, curious, excited, and practically every other emotion there is. We scheduled doctors appointments and got to see the tiny little bean that was our child growing inside my body. We saw a flashing heartbeat, still too new to hear and as itsy bitsy as it was, the little flash was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. At my first ultrasound, all I could think is how do people see a child forming in the mother’s womb and not believe in God. I was witnessing a true miracle. We began buying clothes, thinking of how we would publicly announce, and dreaming of a future.

Then the unexpected happened. We went in for our eight week appointment and found out that our sweet baby had stopped developing, and no longer had a heart beat. I never knew the hurt and emptiness I would feel over the next few days. Everywhere I went I saw newborns, I found out someone else I knew was expecting, saw women with perfect little baby bumps everywhere. I’ve never felt so helpless or broken, I had no control of what was happening. My heart ached because our first child that I was so excited about meeting, was no more. That Sunday morning I knew where I needed to be, I needed to be in church, I needed to be spiritually fed. I knew if there was one way we were going to get through this it would be through Christ. And boy was I right.

At church, I sobbed and sobbed, I cried UGLY tears. But we had a ‘special’ service at church, one of those where the Holy Spirit comes in and fills the place, and I found myself in the altar and God had given me exactly what I needed. He gave me complete and utter peace, beyond any understanding. I would never hold this sweet baby, but he or she was born straight into the arms of Jesus. I would never get to see him or her grow and become an adult, but they never have to face the hurt or hardships of this world. Jeremiah 1:5 says “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” God has a plan for each of these precious babies, regardless of if that plan includes a life here on earth, Even though we think our plans are superior, His plan is perfect. He reminded me of Jeremiah 29:11, a verse I’ve clung to my whole life; “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” And with a promise like that how could I be questioning Him? Psalm 139:13-14 “For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” This little baby was like all others, fearfully and wonderfully made; God just had a different plan for ours.

Miscarriage is something few talk about, but it happens all too often. I was astonished when my doctor told me that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. I knew they happened, I had several close friends experience them. I just never imagined that I would be a member of that ‘club’. Once the people close to us found out about our loss, others started sharing their stories with us. I had women I knew all my life share with me their stories, and until then I never knew that they had miscarried. I’ve learned that women who have experienced this kind of loss, are the strongest women. These women are the most faithful women, because they trust God. These women are not alone, they have a bond that is beyond anything I’ve ever seen, because they’ve experienced a loss that no one should have to experience.

I have questioned if I should share our story, but I’ve earnestly prayed for God to use me; and I can’t do that if I’m silent. So I’m breaking the silence, because I too am 1 in 4.

Empty Room

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Life has been a complete and utter whirlwind lately. Our home went under contract to sell in the middle of October. & ever since, I’ve been reminiscing on memories savoring all of our lasts in this sweet home. This weekend we spent our last night there. My mind flashed back to so many great memories that happened here. The first time I met my husband, our first dates, to when we got engaged on the back porch, came home on our wedding night, so on and so forth. I love to laugh and think about how much of a bachelor pad it looked like. When we first started dating my husband had three ducks hanging on the wall, they weren’t even in the center of the wall. But slowly and surely over the past three years, we took this house he lived in by himself and created our home. Our love for each other grew in this house. Before it was our home, it was Thomas’ grandparents home, I thought about all of the holidays they had to have hosted there, the people and families that had been prayed for in that home, etc. I wish these walls could talk – oh the stories they could tell.

We’ve been slowly moving things out weekend by weekend for the past several weeks. We don’t have a home to move in to as of yet, but we are living with his parents until we find something. Yesterday, we moved the very last piece of us out of the house. I realized after all of the stuff was out that it wasn’t our home anymore – it was just a house. I had spent many nights last week crying while enjoying the last few moments there and my husband reminded me then that home is where we are, not the four walls that surround us. While the memories we will hold forever dear, the house is going to become a home to a new family. They will love and cherish, they will have memories just like we did – but when it’s time for them to move on, it will just become a house again.

As I stood there looking at our empty living room yesterday, I thought of a human. How we could be seen the same way. Completely empty. Then we accept Christ and he moves into our hearts and makes us beautiful. I was reminded that you don’t know what someone is going through, everything could be beautiful and put together on the outside but on the inside they could be broken and empty. Just like our house had been complete chaos with moving boxes and things everywhere for the last month. I was reminded how God could take something with holes all in it, and make it beautiful again. Just like how we did with our gallery wall of photos, the wall was covered in holes, from misplaced ducks to empty nails where photos once hung, and we made it beautiful again. I was reminded that it’s what goes into something that makes it beautiful, and just as homes are made beautiful in their owners unique way – God does that to each and every single one of us. It’s not what’s on the outside that counts – it’s what we do with what’s placed inside that makes the difference.

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New York City

Guys, I am soo sorry I’ve been a total slacker when it comes to my blog recently. Life has totally got in the way for us. My husband received an exciting new promotion at his job, but now drives three counties a day to get there. We’ve listed our house, spent hours scrounging online, looking for a new place to call home, all while waiting for our home here to sell; along with all the other day to day challenges we face in life. So needless to say, life has been a little CRAZY!

This past weekend we were able to escape and travel for the first time to NYC to celebrate my 25th birthday! I’m going to share just some of my favorite highlights from the trip with you guys. I could more than likely sit here all day and talk about all things NYC. I totally beyond fell in LOVE with the city this weekend. I had an expectation in my mind of what it would be like, but NYC met and exceeded each of those!

The very first thing we did upon our arrival, was hop on an open bus tour. I think this was the smartest thing we could have ever done. While there we ended up doing three or four of their different tour sections but this was a great way to see where everything was and how it was all connected. We could also easily hop on and hop off if there was a attraction we wanted to see, all while learning lots about the city. We chose Grey Line, simply because that’s the company that was standing at the street corner we walked to first.
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We stayed in the heart of Times Square at the Marriott Marquis and LOVED every second of it. One of our favorite past times was people watching in Times Square, we found benches or the big red steps to sit on and were amused for hours! Seriously, it is such a fun melting pot of human beings it’s so interesting to just sit back and absorb all of it.
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Can you really go to NYC and come home without talking about the food? I mean oh. my. gosh. so. good. We’ve been home two days and I already miss the sandwich shops, pizza parlors, little corner bakeries, and the yummy smells all floating through the air from the restaurants. A few of our favorites includes:

  • Junior’s Cheescake Thinking about it, makes me want a whole jar of those pickles right now. We totally went over board on dessert at Junior’s, but it was sooo good! I mean really, combining two of my most favorite desserts, Cheesecake and Carrot Cake and making carrot cake cheesecake was heavenly. I gave it all the heart eyes and ate every last bite.

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  • Carmine’s  where we ate some of the most delicious Italian ever!! It’s family style so the portions are huge!! We started out with Stuffed Mushrooms and they were probably the most flavorful that I have ever eaten. My husband, my parents and myself shared the Chicken Parmasean and the Penne Alla Vodka and still didn’t finish it all. 14199184_10210718840556046_5398970024054546922_n
  • Carve Sandwich Shop was super yummy, we had a plethora of items here, from pizza to chicken wraps to breakfast sandwiches, and not one was bad. My husband kept loading so much in his chicken wrap the sandwich maker said no more room! It was honestly almost as big as his head.
  • The Kellogg store in Times Square was something I totally wasn’t looking forward to. When I first saw it, I was like why would someone want to eat a bowl of cereal in Times Square, but honestly it was the best cereal I have EVER eaten! Soo yummy and so many fun cereal blending choices that I guarantee you would have never thought of before.  14192666_10210718837315965_8179463269375550690_n
  • Magnolia Bakery has the best banana pudding ever, right? Well that’s the dang truth!  While we were there, they had a special Peanut Butter Banana Pudding. Now if you tell me that you have added Peanut Butter to anything I can about pretty much gurantee that I’m going to love it about a million times more. I ordered a Large Size to go for myself, kept it on ice in the hotel room and finished off the case for breakfast the next morning. Now, if only I could figure out how to make it at home!

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Of course, we visited Central Park, Chinatown, Little Italy, Macy’s Herald Square, Rockefeller Center, Fifth Avenue, and everywhere else we could stop in at. We crammed so much into this trip, now if only someone could have been waiting in my room to rub my feet every day after walking, it would have been perfect! 😉

In our family, we are all about gifting experiences instead of little trinkets. My mom and I have always wanted to go to a Blow Dry Bar and we got our first experience in the basement of Macy’s in Herald Square and it was awesome. We both have naturally curly hair so to see these ladies use hair dryers and style our hair the way they did was soo fun! Definitely a memory with my mom that I will never forget. Something I definitely recommend splurging on at some point in your life.

One of my favorite places we went on the trip was the 9/11 Tribute Museum. I was in fifth grade when the terrorist attack happened, I remember watching on tv at school that day in 2001 in pure fear of what would happen next. Ever since I have studied and read tons of stories of survivors and those not so fortunate of how their lives changed that day. It was so amazing to see all of the artifacts and hear and read the stories from that day. I have to admit, sitting in the room where the names of those who died that day and listening to their last words on voicemail left for loved ones left my in tears.

Before we went to the 9/11 Memorial we got to experience the new One World Trade Center. It was truly the most beautiful building that I have EVER seen. We went to the top and experienced the One World Observatory where you could see forever. Words cannot explain how it felt to look across miles and miles, from Brooklyn to New Jersey, and everywhere in between from 100 floors up!

The Statue of Liberty was another favorite for me! We all grew up seeing pictures and reading the history books but then to actually see it in person you are totally blown away. We had tickets to go up in the Pedestal, so it was cool to get to climb up there, go inside a national monument and see the city across the water from higher up. {If you are planning on going, I definitely recommend purchasing tickets in advance to gain access to the pedestal, or the crown tour, they sell out months in advance!}

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On my actual birthday we decided to go see a Broadway Show, I’m a total five year old at heart so of course I chose Matilda as my show of choice. I sat on the edge of my seat literally the entire time. I was enchanted by each song that was sung, the visuals on stage and the immaculate detail you could tell went into each aspect of the production. I would have watched a Broadway show every single night we were there if I would have known that they would be that great.

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I hope that you enjoyed the highlights of this trip, while it was my first visit to NYC it definitely won’t be my last! Thanks for letting me share my favorite memories with you!

 

 

Walking by Faith

Yesterday as I was driving to work, I passed a blind man. I pass him often in my journeys around our small town, usually on side streets. But yesterday was different, he was walking down the side of our main Highway.  I saw him long before I got up close to him, and he was using his walking stick to guide the way. As I got closer, I saw that he picked the stick up and used it as if it was a hiking stick one would use in the woods.

I watched in my rear view mirror, as my car passed by, I saw him put the stick back down and let it guide his way again. Another car was coming up behind me, and he picked the stick up again as if it was a hiking stick and then once it passed he used it again as his guide.

I immediately thought of 2 Corinthians 5:7 KJV:

“For we walk by faith, not by sight:”

I’ve seen him walking before and have been concerned of his safety and obviously others have too because I’ve seen posts about him on social media, warning travelers to watch out and not to hit him. I’ve seen the comments of his family members of how he doesn’t want others to stop and help him. He didn’t want to be an inconvenience to others or to make anyone think he can’t get around on his own.

Yesterday he was hearing the cars, and when he heard them come up on him, he acted like he didn’t need the stick to guide him down the road. I started thinking about how we as Christians do the same. We always want it to appear that we can do everything on our own, and when others pass by we act like we are doing it all on our own. When truly we can’t do anything on our own, all that we do is through Him. What a beautiful reminder I had yesterday, how we all need to walk a little more by faith and not by our own sight.

Getting Ourselves Out of the Way

 

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Trusting God is simply that, believing that He loves you, He has good intentions for your life, will help, guide and direct you. Too many times we as Christians start trusting ourselves, what others say or think, or maybe even a bank account to make decisions instead of following God’s will for our lives and listening to his direction. More times than not, I start beating myself up and fill my head with thoughts of negativity. Like if I don’t have laundry done and put away, supper put on the table, the bed made after we get up, just normal day-to-day things, I get so overwhelmed and start thinking that I’m a horrible wife. A few weeks ago in a message at church, someone asked us to write down five things that we had done for God that day, and all I could think about was the focus that I had placed on all of the unimportant things I hadn’t done that I just mentioned. When really, if I would have been focusing on serving God the way that I am supposed to, all the other things would probably have fallen right into place.

I attended a funeral last Friday and a man got up and sang a song acapella and it’s been engraved on my heart and mind since then. The first verse and chorus says, “I thought number one would surely be me, I thought I could be what I wanted to be. I thought I could build on life’s sinking sand But I can’t even walk without you holding my hand. I can’t even walk without you holding my hand. The mountain’s too high and the valley’s too wide. Down on my knees, I learned to stay. And I can’t even walk without you holding my hand.” The next verse is the one I LOVE because the message is so clear. “I think I’ll make Jesus my One and my All From now on when in trouble, only His name I’ll call. And if I can’t trust Him, I’ll be less of a man, cause I can’t even walk without you holding my hand.” I am just simply amazed at how if you think about it, we truly can’t do anything without Christ. And if you keep on thinking, when you put God first and make Him your one and only His plan starts falling into perfect place. John 15:5 it says “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” And that’s so true, I can’t help but think of what I have kept myself from, or even more importantly who I could have witnessed to, if I got myself out of the way and put God first in everything.

Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the thoughts that I think of you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” I read this scripture the other night, and really paused at the end of the verse. Before, I came to Calvary I didn’t use a KJV Bible, and several years ago, I had posted this verse on FB, coincidentally right after I had become friends with Mark. The NIV version ends with “to give you a hope and a future.” Mark quickly commented and said, the KJV says this. And I am so thankful that our God promises us an expected end. This verse is my life verse because of the promises that it speaks. That if we, would turn from our sin and give our lives to him, He will provide a life of peace, not evil, and would fulfil His promise of an expected end to us.

“Isaiah 41:9-10 Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away. Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” The verse doesn’t say I’ve brought you this far, now I’m going to let you figure out things on your own. He’s always there right beside us leading us, guiding us and ready to use if we only trust in Him. God has chosen each and every single one of us for a different purpose in life. I thought I knew what my purpose was on this earth, but I was living in my will instead of God’s. Since I’ve drawn closer and put more of my trust in Him, especially through Bible Journaling, He’s shown me that our plans were completely different. When we get our self out of the way, when we stop worrying about how we are going to do little things like put gas in the car, God always shows up and provides.

When feelings of doubt and insecurity creep in we, as women, tend to feel depressed, unworthy, or like a failure and we get stuck there. However, we weren’t created to be depressed, defeated, guilty, ashamed, or unworthy; we were created to be victorious and be a light so others may see Him through us.

A friend posted this on Instagram the other day and I fell in love with it, so I’m going to close with this. “Apart from the blood of Jesus, I am a flawed mess. I don’t have to beat myself up about it anymore. I understand it; I accept it. I am flawed – temptations will come. But I am His!! No matter what, I’m His. He takes me as I am, and loves me fully, the blemishes of both dark and light, steadfast and wandering, good & bad, happy & sad, strong & weak, driven & sensitive, courageous & anxious, energetic & tired, health & sick. He loves me, and I have learned to do so too. And this, has freed me to be. To simply be. ALL That He has created me to be.”

Banner Elk Weekend Getaway

{So apparently I lost cell-service when I wrote this, because I wrote it on the way back down the mountain from our weekend getaway a few weeks ago, but still wanted to share!} 

My husband and I absolutely love to travel, even getting away for weekend getaways that may seem silly to some are fun for us. We normally go to a town nearby and camp in our camper, this weekend our town of choice was Banner Elk. We loaded up the camper and went to The Little Campground in between Banner Elk and Elk Park. Now this place was a place of total serenity. There are four campsites and we were the only people there for the weekend! It was great.

Apparently Banner Elk is dead this time of year, no one was visiting so it was perfect for us. We loved being able to stop in anywhere we wanted to grab dinner, eat lunch, or enjoy the surroundings without crowds of people. On Friday night, we had dinner at Puerto Nuevo, my obsession is their Carne Asada Tacos with lots and lots of Lime, Thomas loves their Pollo Loco.
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Saturday morning was great, waking up with no schedule. Thomas watched television for a little while {this campground had wi-fi and Satelitte for each campsite} and I pulled out my rag quilt that I am making for him and went outside the camper and snipped the edges into rags. If only I could work on every one of my quilts in that environment! I also had s’mores for breakfast and they were heavenly even though they didn’t really go with my diet. But when you are on vacation, the diet goes out the window, right?!

For lunch we drove to Banner Elk and ate at the The Banner Elk Cafe and I had the most amazing pita ever stuffed full of grilled chicken smothered in teriyaki glaze, pineapple, bacon, cheese and tomato, called The Hawaiian Chicken Pita. My mouth is watering now just thinking about it! I am such a foodie, I am obsessed!

We just recently figured out that it was our little Kenzie Doodle’s Fourth Birthday that day so we stopped in My Best Friend’s Barkery and picked her up a birthday treat. She loved it she had the icing licked off in about five seconds and we loved getting to spoil her a little more that day.
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After we ate we drove down some curvy back roads to get to the Mast General Store in Valle Crucis, and it is just plopped down in the most beautiful area. While there, we of course had to buy candy and I got a puzzle to work on and leave in the camper. It was a good thing to, because a storm rolled in that evening and we ended up losing power. At least I had my 1,000 piece puzzle to keep me occupied, and I finished every piece. Thomas told me if he knew puzzles kept me that occupied he was going to start buying me one every week! 🙂

What a perfect little weekend getaway we had! Before we pulled out this morning I snapped this picture of Kenzie running through the grass, she had just discovered these dandelions and her face was covered in the little pieces from it. We will definitely be back to camp in this area…so until next time!

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