Monday, March 5, 2012

Need Someone To Talk To?

Remember when you had your first baby?! Oh, the excitment and exhaustion of it all. The first few weeks are rough but you are in survival mode and learn to make it through. Plus, everyone and their brother wants to come over and visit. They come bearing gifts, home-cooked meals and hand-knit blankets. They bring their cameras and take pictures of your little one. They want to hear all about how you and the baby are doing. They don't care that you are STILL in your pj's at 2:00 in the afternoon, that you have no make-up on and your hair is in a ponytail (again) and that your breath stinks - they still tell you that you look amazing for just having a baby and it sure makes you feel great. They overlook the messy house and are willing to stay for hours just to hold that itty-bitty sweet-smelling newborn baby while listening to you go on and on about the birth story, funny things that the baby is doing and why you think he/she is so advanced.

But, after a few weeks, the visits start to slow down. And then it starts to get quiet around the house...real quiet. Sure, there was the noise of the crying baby and the dog barking at the mailman. There was the sound of your own voice as you yelled at the dog to be quiet and not wake the baby or maybe you pleaded with the baby to stop crying and then there were the sweet moments when you would hear yourself tell the baby how adorble they were and how you couldn't imagine life without them.

But a woman can only take so much isolation! We have a NEED for conversation! And let's be honest, talking with the dog and baby is not ideal, since neither can talk back to you. So, we find ourselves trying to talk to anyone who will listen to us...the neighbors, the telemarketer, the mailman and that cashier at Wegmans who had no idea what she was getting into when you entered her line. You talked the poor girl's ear off! But she was nice, and she smiled (as she breathed a sigh of relief that you were finally leaving) and wished you all the best.

Well, this may or may not have been my experience, but I am sure a lot of Moms can relate to it! As I said earlier, we women have a NEED for conversation! And then when we become Mom's, we need it even more because, as much as we hate to admit it, we are different now and sometimes we have no idea what we are doing! Mom's need to be there to encourage eachother, to share stories or advice, to make eachother laugh and most importantly to pray for one another!!!

And THAT is why my sister-in-law Shannon Rowlands over at Growing God's Gifts and I would like to introduce you to Hearts In His Hands. Hearts In His Hands is a group for Moms. Our goal is to encourage and support Moms from all walks of life. We meet once a month and during that time we will eat some delicious food, be part of a topical discussion related to mothering and gain insight on what God has to offer to mothers. It is a night for you to get out of the house and be yourself and carry on a normal conversation without being interrupted by your crying baby, the toddler eating dog food, or the children fighting over who had what toy first!

Please stop by Hearts In His Hands
and contact us for more information if you are interested.
We would love to have you join us!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Where's The "Pause" Button?

I was looking through my blog and found this short post that I had written a year ago and never posted. I thought I'd share it with you, because I am STILL looking for that pause button...even more frantically now!
Can you remember when we actually had to watch our television shows at the time they were on? When we had to watch commercials? When we had to miss part of the show instead of being able to pause it? It sounds just awful doesn't it? Thank goodness for DVR, right? What would we DO without it? Now, if we need to do something in the middle of our show we can just press "pause". How lovely!

Now, what if life had a pause button? It would be so wonderful to pause life sometimes and savour the moments just a little longer.

But since I can't pause life, I will take the time to color castles, rainbows, flowers or princesses again with my almost 5 year old Victoria.

Since I can't stop them from growing up, I will enjoy every minute of playing trains, crashing cars or snuggling with my 3 1/2 year old Jackson.

Since God chose to give them to me for this period of time, I will gladly build towers, play baby doll and chase my little 1 1/2 year old Addison around till I'm exhausted.

Since I've been blessed with the man of my dreams, I will strive to be the wife he needs me to be. I will cook, clean, do laundry and be there to support him in any way I can.
Life will never have a "pause" button to stay in that perfect moment - you need to enjoy it then, or a "rewind" button to go back to that moment and change what you said or did - you need to learn from it. So here's to making it matter and living every day to its fullest while holding on to those memories in your heart and cherishing them forever.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Well, Hello Again!

Hi All!
Its been a while since I've posted...almost a month! Whoa! August was a busy, busy month for us and these next couple months are looking even busier! We've been enjoying our summer full of weddings, birthday parties, family get-togethers and some time outside soaking up the beautiful sunshine. I plan on posting more on the Proverbs 31 Challenge next week, so check back soon! But for now, here are some pics of our summer. Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Out In The Rain

The other day it was POURING outside! Tori and Jack always like to watch the rain as we sit there and talk about why the trees, flowers and grass need the water. It was still warm outside so we went out on the porch to watch it fall. They were so surpised when Rick went and stood out in the rain, they thought it was SO funny! So, of course, they followed him out there and had so much fun running and jumping in all the puddles! It's so sweet to watch them enjoy the simple things in life and the smiles on their faces while they were playing were contagious! It made me think about how I need to take the time to enjoy the simple little blessings God puts in my life everyday. Don't be so caught up in all the "big important moments" that we forget about the simple ones that can bring so much more joy!

Remember to stop and enjoy the simple things the beautiful flowers outside, the sunset tonight, the way your kids climb on top of you just to sit with you, a good conversation with a friend or loved one, the list could go on forever.
Don't forget to Make It Matter!!!

Monday, August 2, 2010


About two weeks ago, our dog Nala found a bunny in our yard and chased it until it ran away. Rick said the bunny was huge and we were surprised it could even fit through the small opening in our fence out back. Although we haven't seen the bunny, we knew it was still around because our strawberries have been disappearing! Saturday, Rick was watering the garden and he ran inside and said "Where's your camera?!" I pressed him for questions but he didn't answer. So, I followed him out back to the tree right next to our garden and here is what I saw...

Aren't they SO cute?! Tori and Jack love going over there to peek at them. I've already asked if we could keep one and Rick said no. :( So, I have been feeding them carrots and I enjoy going out and looking at them all snuggled up under the tree. Once in a while they come out, hop around a little and then go back.

I know they won't stay forever - nor do I want them too because I would like to keep our strawberries - but I like having them around. They are so adorable and it is a constant reminder of the beauty of God's creation.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Challenge #6: Proverbs 31:16

My Time as a Proverbs 31:15 Woman:

So, as you know, this verse was a struggle for me! It fell on the 2 weeks my kids were sick and I didn't get much sleep - making it even harder to get up earlier! But, I DID get up before the kids a few days last week and was able to get myself ready and enjoy some time downstairs reading my Bible and praying before they woke up. I felt so refreshed and ready to start my day afterwards. Usually, I try to squeeze my devotionals in sometime during the day, but now I realize how important it is to do it in the morning! This is something that I am definitely going to continue to work on.

In the morning when I rise, help me to prioritize all the thoughts that fill my day.
Before my schedule tells me that my day is full, before I'm off and on my way.
I want to praise You, I need to praise You.
Let the first song that I sing, be praises to my God and King.

- Sara Groves, "First Song That I Sing"

In the morning when I rise, give me Jesus.
- Jeremy Camp, "Give me Jesus"

Challenge #6: Proverbs 31:16

"She considereth a field and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard."

There are three actions the Proverbs 31 Woman uses in this verse. First, she considers, then she buys and lastly she plants. Let's take a look at what these actions mean to us.

Action #1) To Consider
(to think carefully about, contemplate, reflect on)
This godly woman has thought carefully about purchasing this field. She doesn't do it rashly or on a sudden impulse. Instead, she first thinks about her family and goals for them before purchasing something for herself. She does her homework - she considers the value of the property, she considers what her husband thinks, she considers the state of her family's finances, she considers the time commitment and she considers her priorites. Her family is her primary area of ministry and responsibility, so she wisely considers whether working on the field will threaten those priorites.

You know when you pass a store and you see the big red sign - the CLEARANCE sign?! For me, it is so tempting to go in there and buy a lot of stuff (that I really don't need) all because it was a "great deal"! Sure, you can find some good deals once in a while and that's okay - we should be frugal! But its important that we don't just buy something without considering if we really need it or if we should be spending our money on it. You (and/or your husband) work hard for that money and God has given you that money to provide for your family.

Consider what is important when shopping. Do you really need it? Can it benefit your family in any way?

Consider what is important when you have free time. Is there something you can do for someone else? What can you do to benefit your family?

Consider what is important as you look through your finances. Is there something you can cut out that will allow for more money to benefit your family? Is there some extra that you could give to someone else to benefit their family?

And most importantly, consider what your husband has to say on the matter. You are a team, and you need to be making decisions together.

Action #2) To Buy
(to acquire the possession of by paying in an equivelent)

After much thought, the Proverbs 31 Woman decides to purchase the land. The fact that she buys the field indicates that she was involved in the financial decisions of the family. This woman's efforts - her financial management, her hard work, her going without some of the things she might have wanted - all paid off so she can acquire this land that she wanted to buy to help provide for her family.

What about you and me - how can we apply this action to our lives? We need to be ready and looking for ways to help provide for and better our families. We can start by sacrificing things we don't necessarily need but that we really want (such as new shoes, a new purse, home decor, the list could go on and on) and instead use that money to build our families up and care for them.

When an opportunity comes to better care for and provide for your family, we need to be ready and able to do so. We don't want to be thinking "If only I'd saved that money for this...".

Action #3) To Plant
(to put or set in the ground for growth)

Lastly, she plants. The purpose of the field was to plant a vineyard to provide for her family and others. Her choice of crops was wise. Her land was dry and water was scarce, grapes and wine were staples. Everyone needs fluids to drink, so by owning her personal vineyard she takes care of her family and whatever is left over she can sell to others.

We have a small garden right now but we hope to make it bigger within the next year or so. But man, it is a lot of work! After finding where you want your garden, you have to frame it out, dig up the dirt, put fresh dirt down, then the corresponding fertilizer to each plant you've chosen, then actually plant all your seeds/plants, then you have to water it and care for it on a daily basis! Okay, I don't actually do all that - my wonderful husband does! But, he offered and he's good at it so I'll just let him handle it. Anyway, that's just a small garden - imagine how much labor it must have required to care for a vineyard!

Simply put - we need to be ready to work. Once we've considered what would benefit our family, then we've taken the opportunity into our hands by aquiring it, we need to be ready to maintain it. We need to be good stewards of what the Lord has blessed us with.

This Week:

*Ask the Lord to provide you with:
- Patience: so that you will wait before you act when opportunities arise.
- Prudence: so that you will carefully think things over while you are waiting.
- Prayerfulness: so that you will seek the Lord's wisdom while you are waiting and thinking.
- Petition: so that you will willingly consult your husband (or parents) after you've waited, thought and prayed.
- Purpose: so that God will guide your heart in the right direction.
- Perseverence: so that you will do whatever it takes to make your dreams for your family come true.

*Devote yourself to God's goals - and that means FAMILY comes first! Your goal is to build your house, build an honorable name for your family, and build up the next generation. Never mind what you're going to get in return. Selfless service is a great virtue.

*Be creative! As you continue to set yourself aside and serve others, God will show you ways to creatively provide for and encourage others.

(some thoughts taken from "Beautiful In God's Eyes" by Elizabeth George)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Happy 1st Birthday Addison

Yesterday - July 21st - my little baby girl turned ONE! The poor little girl was sick though, she had a high fever all day and just wanted to be held. Thankfully she is feeling much better today (although now her sister Tori has a fever). I can't believe how fast that first year went, I wish she could stay a baby forever - but also be able to sleep through the night too! :) I am posting some pics of her first year for you. If you have a little ones of your own, don't forget to stop and love on them today. It goes by so fast and we need to cherish EVERY moment we have with them.

To My Little "Addie Babe"...

...I love that you gave me a good easy and short labor. I even got to take a nap!
...I love that you slept through the night as an infant. Even though it didn't last too long, it was still so much appreciated.
...I love watching you play with your brother and sister. Ever since you could move you've found a way to be next to them - either snuggling, climbing on them, pulling their hair, etc. But they don't mind, they just turn around and say "Addison!" and give you a big hug!
...I love listening to you sing. When the music is on, or if you are listening to me sing, you just chime right in and sing a long.
...I love that you get so excited to see me everytime I come home from being away. I always miss holding you when I'm gone.
...I love how you grab a hold of my leg and hold on tight when I walk by you, forcing me to stop and look at you or pry you off so I can pick you up and cuddle you.
...I love you even though your first words were "Hi Dada" on Mother's Day!! Would it have been that hard to say "Mama" instead?! Oh well, it was still SO cute and I know your Daddy loved it!
...I love how you yell "Mom!" in your high-pitched little voice whenever you are looking for me.

I am so thankful for my beautiful daughter, God blessed us so much when he surprised us with you Addison!

Happy 1st Birthday to my sweet Addison Olivia!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Before The Day

So, I've been really trying to do my best at this Challenge #5 where we are encouraged to get up early and get ready for the day by spending time in the Word. I knew it was going to be difficult but, oh man, I am having a hard time! My kids are usually good sleepers, but this week Addison has been up a lot during the night and the motivation for me to get up early is NOT there! I was feeling discouraged at the fact that I have been unsuccessful so far at rising early. I have still been doing my devotionals, but not with the quietness that I was looking forward to when I started this verse's challenge. But then yesterday at church, someone sang a song called "Before the Day". The words are just beautiful and it really spoke to me.

I posted the video below, please take the time to listen to it. It starts with a man saying a few words but the song starts right after that. **Don't forget to turn off my music on the right side of the page before you start the video.**

I hope you were encouraged by the song, I know it really left me feeling refreshed when I heard it at church. I look forward to getting up early now so I can tell my Father in Heaven how much I love Him and how thankful I am for all He has done for me and all He continues to do.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Proverbs 31:15

My Time as a Proverbs 31:14 Woman:

"She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar."

I enjoyed challenging myself with this verse and I think I did a fairly good job at applying it too - of course there is always room for improvement! My sister-in-law Shannon did a GREAT job at applying the "bringeth" part of the verse. Remember we were supposed to gain something with effort? Well, she took the kids to Mendon Ponds and went berry picking and then she made a pie with the fresh berries she picked - way to go Shannon!

Well I wasn't that adventurous; but, I tried to be more concious of what I was feeding my family and made sure that I wasn't wasting any of the food we had here. I tried a new recipe, and found some other healthy and low-cost ones to try later on. The kids and I used up some old bananas and made banana bread too. With the warmer weather around, I haven't been as good about creating a menu for the week and keeping tabs on what we need for groceries. But this week I was able to create a diverse menu and I got everything we needed for groceries AND stayed in budget - that doesn't always happen! haha

Anyway, I think this verse was very rewarding and I hope you were able to apply it and reap the benefits as well!

Challenge #5: Proverbs 31:15

"She riseth also, while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens."

When I first read this verse I thought to myself "Oh, I've got this one covered! I already get up before dawn to care for the baby or the kids when they are having a rough night!" Sure, we (as Mom's) need to be willing and ready to take care of our kids at night - but that's not what this verse if referring to.

So, what does it mean? It means that we should be getting up early to prepare ourselves for the day. She is up before the sun, idleness and laziness have no place with her. I'm not saying I'll be up before the sun everyday but I'll do my best to get out of bed earlier than usual.

There are great benefits to rising up early:

1) Its a quiet time, free from noise and distractions of the day.

2) Its an ideal time to spend with the Lord in prayer and devotion. What a perfect way to start your day - communing with your Creator!

3) It allows you to get a good start on your day. If you sleep in late, it gives you less time to accomplish things during the day.

4) You can exercise!! I have been wanting to start running again but with our busy lives and the kids it is easy to make excuses. SO...I hope to get up early and go running this week. Hopefully this challenge can get me motivated to get in shape.

5) Make breakfast for your family. When they wake up, greet them with a smile and be ready to serve them and make them a delicious breakfast! Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, we need to make sure that we and our families get off to a good nutritional start.

Her maidens are her female servants. Now, if I had servants living with me, then I would probably make THEM get up early and prepare a healthy breakfast for me and my family. But not the virtuous woman. She is kind and thoughtful. She demanded of others only what she was willing to do herself. There is no doubt that her maidens respected her for her willingness to "get her hands dirty" and serve them when she didn't even have to. What about us? Are we willing to, once again DIE TO SELF, and serve others and show them love - even when we don't have to?

I hope you are able to challenge yourself with this verse over the next week or so. I think it might be my toughest one yet. But, I will do my best to get up early and spend time talking with the Lord, exercising and getting things ready for the day. Good Luck!!!

We need to begin our days the right way...Refreshed and Renewed.

Friday, July 9, 2010


Since I focused this week's verse on eating right and preparing healthy meals, I decided I'd share some of my favorite low-cost meals with you. They are easy to make and taste absolutely delicious! Once you finish writing them down in your cookbook, why don't you share one of yours with me in the comment section? I look forward to hearing from you and can't wait to try your recipe!!

Baked Lemon Chicken - 255 calories per serving

3 tbl butter, melted
2 tbl lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 C breadcrumbs
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves

- Combine butter, lemon juice garlic, salt and pepper. Dip chicken in butter mix, then coat with bread crumbs. Place in a greased 13x9 baking dish. Drizzle with remaining butter mix. Bake at 350 for 25-30 mins.

Italian Pork Chops - 123 calories per serving

4 boneless pork loin chops
1/4 tsp pepper
4 tsp butter
1/3 C chicken broth
1/3 C italian salad dressing

- Sprinkle pork chops with pepper. In a large skillet, brown chops in butter over medium heat. Add broth and salad dressing. Cover and cook for 10-12 mins. Remove pork chops and keep warm. Bring cooking juices to a boil; cook until reduced to 1/2 C. Serve with pork.

Smothered Chicken & Green Bean Skillet - 270 calories per serving

4 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves
2 C frozen green beans
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 C shredded sharp cheddar cheese

- Heat large skillet on medium-high heat, add chicken and cover. Cook 5-7 mins on each side or until done. Remove from skillet. Add beans, soup, 1/2 C water and thyme to skillet, cover. Cook 6 min, stirring often. Return chicken to skillet, cook 1 min or until hot. Top with cheese.

Now...don't forget to leave me one of yours!! :)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Challenge #5: Proverbs 31:14

For some strange reason, I can't get the spacing to work. Sorry that it is all crammed together, I hope its okay for you to read.
"She is like the merchant's ships, she bringeth her food from afar."
Proverbs 31:14
This verse is a bit different from the previous ones, so its taken me a little longer to figure out how to apply it to us as women - married and unmarried. My sister-in-law Shannon and I talked for a while about what it means and came up with some good ideas. But if you have any other suggestions or insights about what this verse means to you, PLEASE share - I'm interested to hear what you have to say about it.
bringeth - to go in, to attain to, to gather, bring to pass
What can we learn about the word bringeth? It is an action word. It requires work. In order to have something to bring, you need to go out and attain it - gain something with effort - and then you can deliver it. You have to complete a task in order to say you "brought something."
The verse says the Proverbs 31 Woman "bringeth her food from afar." Just think about what it would have been like back then when they had to use different ways of providing for their families. The women couldn't just climb into their car and drive to Wegmans or grab something from the drive-thru to bring home for dinner. These women probably had to get up early to walk to the market (most likely with the kids), harvest food from their gardens and make a healthy and delicious home-cooked meal for their family. Could you even imagine?! AND they didn't have any of the modern ways to cook food either - ugh! This verse challenges me to remember to be smart about what I am feeding myself, my husband and my kids. We need to take care in providing the right kind of foods for ourselves - remember the old saying "You are what you eat." Our kids needs to see us making healthy choices too, they follow by example. The Bible even says in 2 Corinthians 6:19-20 "What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore, glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." God gave you that body, you need to take care of it!
I don't want this portion of my duties as a wife, mother and individual to take a backseat to whatever else it is that I am doing during my day. Like the merchant's ships, I may be a bit slower but I want to take the time to prepare nutritious home-cooked meals for my family. This is also yet another way to show honor and appreciation to our husbands: by taking the time to plan a menu so I don't have to throw away any food and make light of his hard work for our family. I want him to know that its important to me that I don't squander our money with something I can easily manage with lots of prayer, planning and perseverence. And for you unmarried ladies who are reading this...its never too early to start eating healthy and being frugal with your money.
- "The trait not to settle for mediocre is portrayed by a woman who goes the extra mile for quality items."
- Strive for quality - while being frugal
- Make the time to take care in providing for your family

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My Time as a Proverbs 31:13 Woman

"She seeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands."
Proverbs 31:13

Well, let me start off by saying that I didn't think I would have to worry about the "seeking" part of this verse...there is always something to be done around here! It seems like the "To Do List" is neverending most days and it can get pretty exhausting. The part of the verse that I really focused on was the word "willingly". When it was time to start my day, I made sure to pray for the strength to willingly do what was needed around the house and not do it begrudgingly. When it was time to make dinner, I happily made dinner for my family. When it was time to clean up the toys (for the bazillionth time), I tried to make it fun with the kids instead of doing it just because I wanted it done. When Rick wanted to go out with the guys, I let him go...even though I hate when he leaves me and I usually try to guilt him into staying home with me, even though I am just going to bed! He deserves a night out with friends though, he works hard and needs the guy time.

But then I remembered what "seeking" meant (to search thoroughly, to search EVERY PLACE) and I realized I was only looking at my little bubble of what needed to be done. I wasn't thinking about others that could need something and perhaps I was too busy with my own "stuff" that I overlooked it. One of my friends said she went to visit two stay-at-home Mom's this past week as part of her challenge. She was most definitely seeking out other's who needed help or company and I'm sure those Mom's were blessed to have her help and company for a while. I was encouraged by that and I will continue to look outside of myself and see what I can do for others and maybe show them a glimpse of God's love for them by my actions. Maybe I will visit them, or make a meal for someone, or send a note of encouragement, or just spend some time in prayer for them.

What about you? Did this verse challenge you in any ways?

(I have some more research that I need to do for Challenge #5, I hope to post that one in a day or two.)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Challenge #4 Proverbs 31:13

I'm baaack! I know its been a while since I've posted on the Proverbs 31 Woman. I haven't been neglecting my challenge, its just been crazy around here lately. Anyways, here we go...

My Time As A Proverbs 31:12 Woman

"She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life."

This is the verse that I have been working on the past few weeks. When I started the challenge for this verse, I honestly thought I would come back and be able to report all these wonderful things that I did for my husband, but you know, it was harder than I thought it would be. Because as I mentioned before - it starts with humility.

Being good to your husband, family and friends AND consistent in your love all while being humble is a real challenge! It can get pretty stressful around here sometimes, so I found myself having to daily ask God for help and strength to keep it together and not let my bad attitude get the best of me. Once I got that in check and remembered that I can only accomplish things through God's strength and not my own then I was able to think more clearly. Its amazing how just relinquishing those thoughts to God and giving Him control can ease your mind. The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:7 "Casting all your cares upon Him, because He careth for you.". God is a God of LOVE and PEACE and He is there for you always to call on Him and ask for help - it just takes a good dose of humility.

So, once I remembered that I needed God's help and not my own, it was easier to "be good and not evil" to my husband and others. It just starts with us on our knees before the holy and soveriegn God.

Challenge #4: Proverbs 31:13

"She seeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands."

seek - to search thoroughly; to search every place; to try to obtain.

willing - cheerfully consenting or ready; prepared; eagerly compliant; not brought about by coercion or force.

Let's talk about the word "seek". The Proverbs 31 Woman doesn't just stumble upon things that need to be done. She is taking the time to look for tasks that will be an asset to her family. What about YOU? What kind of things do you do with your spare time? Are you looking for ways to help others? Are you thoroughly searching for things that could be done to better your family and your relationship with your husband?

Then there's the word "willing". Some of the thoughts that come to mind when I hear this word are "Okay, I'll do it...since no one else will do it and it needs to be done." OR "They owe me. I better receive some kind of reward or pay back for this!" It can be hard to give of self knowing there probably won't be a pat on the back or a reward for all your hard labor. But, once again, we need to give of ourselves and be prepared to do what God has placed before us. Is there something that you know God is asking you to do - and to do it willingly? What is stopping you? Is it fear or failure? Is it the fear of the unknown? Whatever it is, you can know that your Heavenly Father is there to help you along the way and whatever He has set before you, you will be able to handle it.

To sum it up: A virtuous woman woman is a willing worker - cheerful and content; and she has initiative to work hard on her own. She does not need prodding. She sees a need, and rolls up her sleeves and attacks the project. She does not hope her husband will do it after he is done with work; she finishes it so she can spend time with him.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Remembering My Wedding Day

JUNE 7, 2003

Yesterday, Rick and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary! I can't believe how fast the time has gone by. The whole day was a dream come true and I could go on and on and on about every detail of it and things leading up to it but for the sake of time I will just share a few memories from the BEST day of my life.

- The night before, a few of my bridesmaids and my sister had slept over - everyone crammed into my little room! When we woke up at 7:00am, the weather was rainy and cloudy - not exactly what I was hoping for my wedding day. We ate breakfast and were getting ready to go to the hair salon. I remember looking out my bedroom window and seeing a limo backing into our driveway. I hadn't ordered a limo because I was trying to cut costs so of course I yell "What is that doing here?! I'm not paying for that!" My sweet sister came over and gave me a hug and said "Surprise!" Once I realized what was going on and pulled myself back together we were all ready to go! (Thanks again to my sister Kim for that sweet surprise!)

- I was getting my hair and makeup done at the hair salon. The lady did a great job on my hair -it was exactly what I had wanted. But the makeup...eesh!! Rick had told me previously not to have too much makeup on because we both now I don't really wear a lot anyways and I didn't want to not look like "me"! Well, she did her thing and then handed me a mirror to check it out. What did I do? I burst into tears! lol It was more makeup than I was used to and I felt like a clown. It didn't look bad, it just wasn't me. So, there I sat in the salon with my hair done and my veil on and my makeup running as I cried. I bet it was quite a site! Thankfully, there was another lady there who helped reassure me that she would redo it and make it perfect for me, and she did. I still feel bad for that other lady, I'm sure I overreacted but it was my wedding day, so cut me some slack!

- When the wedding was just about to begin, I peeked out through the window in the door and I could see the flower girl and all my bridesmaids and groomsmen together waiting to walk down. It was so cool to see everything come together. I remember standing there with my Dad in the stairwell thinking about how perfect that moment was.

- The bridal party was walking down to one of my favorite songs "When You Say Nothing At All" by Allison Kraus. My friend Sarah Wood from high school played "Canon in D" while I walked down the aisle. Rick's best friend Roy Battle had written, composed and performed a song for us called "For the Rest of My Life". Once Rick and I were accounced as husband and wife, we walked down to "Destiny" by Jim Brickman.

- Our Vows: I Julie (Rick), take Rick (Julie) to be my lawfully wedded husband (wife). I promise to keep the commitment I make here today before God and all these witnesses. For rich or for poor, in sickness and in health, through good times and bad, until we are all called home."

- The day had turned out to be gorgeous - clear skies and sun, perfect for pictures!

- Rick and I danced to our song "This I Promise You" by Nsync. It feels like just yesterday that we were there on the dance floor with everyone watching us. My Dad and I were next and we danced to "In My Arms" by Mark Willis - I still cry everytime I hear this song. I think its such a beautiful song. Rick and his Mom danced to "A Song for Mama" by Boyz II Men.

- It was also Rick's brother Bryan's birthday (he was turning 23 and now he is 30!! haha, sorry Bryan!) We had a cake for him and had everyone sing Happy Birthday to him.

There is so much more I could say about this most wonderful day but I think I'll stop for now. I am so thankful to God for the man He blessed me with. Rick is the man of my dreams, he is my prince charming, he's my best friend. I love that he always tells me I'm beautiful. I love him because he is a hard worker and a provider for our family. I love him because he is a great father to our children, I love listening to and watching him play with them. I love that he puts me and our family first. Most importantly, I love that he loves God. I'm so thankful for a man who will stand for God and that we can serve in the youth group as Jr. High leaders at our church together.

Before we even started dating, I was called on in my youth group to read a verse. The verses were Psalm 37:4-5 "Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He will give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit your way unto the Lord, trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass." In front of the whole youth group I was asked what I wanted in a man and I gave my answers. If I wanted that kind of man, I needed to trust God to give Him to me. A few years later, the same youth pastor married me and my husband. Thank you God for answering my prayers and giving my the desires of my heart and SO much more!

Happy Anniversary Rick, I LOVE YOU!!!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Challenge #3: Proverbs 31:12

My Time as a Proverbs 31:11 Woman:

"The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil."

So, this week I was aiming to be more trustworthy and I decided to put my main focus on gossiping. Whoa baby! I hadn’t realized how many opportunities arise to gossip during a week, nothing really concerning my husband, but about things going on around me. I don’t really think that I’m much of a gossiper but it’s easy to sit there and listen to someone gossip or to make a small comment about something. Every time I found myself partaking in gossip, I tried to say something positive about the situation or bring up a new subject altogether. It made me realize how unproductive that kind of conversation really is…it takes away from meaningful discussions that I could be having, it could stress me out, it could turn people away from God if they hear me gossiping, and most importantly it doesn’t honor God. Isn’t that our main purpose? Aren’t we all trying to be more Christ-like in our daily lives? How can we portray Christ when we are participating in meaningless chit-chat? The Bible even talks about how unruly the tongue is in James 3:1-12, more specifically in verse 8 “But no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” Thankfully, with a lot of practice and God’s grace we can aim to have our actions and words bring glory to Him.

We can learn to be trustworthy to our husband and others in so many different ways, and some of the comments from my earlier post were so encouraging that I wanted to share with you. Here are just a few of them:

“If we are always thinking about the most positive aspects of our hubby then that will be what overflows in our speech.”

“I want my husband to trust me with everything (the way I spend my time during the day while I'm at home, how I make wise decisions with money, how I talk about him and lift him up, etc).”

“Ensuring we are a trustworthy person reflects striving towards selflessness by putting the other's need to know they can have confidence in us above our own desires to vent or find common ground among friends.”

How did you do with this challenge? Where you able to build, uplift or encourage someone this week by being more trustworthy?

Challenge #3: Proverbs 31:12

“She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.”

Umm…ALL the days of her life? Really? Do I have to? What about when he is really cranky; or when he makes a mess and doesn’t clean up after himself; or when he is rude to me? Surely, I don’t have to do good to him then, right? Or what about when I am too tired; or I’m too busy; what if I’ve just had a rough day and I don’t feel like being nice and doing good? YES, I must. Why? Because that’s what God commanded me to do.

A good woman is unshaken, unmoved, faithful, ceaseless, enduring, unchanging, loyal and permanent. This means she is consistent in her love. She isn’t all lovey-dovey one minute and then a crazy woman the next. She makes it her constant business to do him good.

In what ways can you do good to your husband?

- You can be their cheerleader! You need to be there to encourage him, his ideas and his hobbies.

- You need to make him feel important and loved. It’s important to greet your husband when he has just come home from a long day at work. Sure, you may have had a crazy day too (at work, laundry, dishes, housecleaning, making dinner, breaking up fights, cleaning up after the dog, wiping butts and noses, etc) but that initial greeting can set the tone for the rest of the day/evening. What message does it send to him when he walks in the door and no one is there to greet him with a kiss? Was he missed, are you thankful he went to work, do you even care he is home?

- You need to set time aside for him. Make sure you are having regular dates to spend time alone with your husband – especially if you have kids. Don’t get me wrong, kids are wonderful and all but we need a break every once in a while. If you are able to get out and have a night on the town, good for you! If you aren’t, then make a date at home. After the kids go to bed, have a candlelit dinner and some adult conversation – no talk about kids, work, home projects, etc. Just spend some quality time together.

It all comes down to your attitude. Realize that your attitude is more important than your actual deeds. For if our attitude is one living without faith and dependence on Christ's strength, then our service to our husbands, children, friends is all in vain. Because we will inevitably wear ourselves out trying to be the perfect woman all on our own, thereby attributing no glory to God.

In order to do any good to our husbands, we need to practice humility.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

God’s Timing – Not Mine

Tomorrow is my daughter Tori’s 4th birthday. I can’t believe it has already been that long since she was born, it feels like just yesterday. As we get ready to celebrate her birthday tomorrow, I can’t help but think back to the time before God gave her to us.

October 2004 – Rick and I had only been married for a year and half and we weren’t even planning on having kids until after 3 years – at the very least. Around that time, one of Rick’s coworkers had recently suffered from a brain hemorrhage and died. His name was Dan and he was only in his early 20’s – just like us. Just thinking about how young he was, and the fact he was just recently married made us realize how short life is and we wanted to make the most of it. After a while, we both decided it was time to start a family.

I was SO excited! The only people that we told were Bryan & Shannon (Rick’s brother and his wife) and they lived in Virginia at the time. I assumed that once I got off the pill I would be able to get pregnant right away and by Christmas time we could surprise everyone with our wonderful news. Well, Thanksgiving passed, then Christmas passed, and then New Years, before I knew it we were into February. By then we decided it was time to call the doctor.

The doctor told me that I had high prolactin levels (called hyperprolactinemia) and that was causing me not to get pregnant. This is caused by either a) prolactin producing tumors in the pituitary gland b) pituitary tumors or c) benign tumors in the area around the pituitary gland. My heart sank as she told me the news. I remember my eyes filling up with tears. Not only could I not get pregnant right now but I might have a tumor too?! So, we scheduled an MRI to check things out. By now, we knew we had to tell our family that we were trying to conceive and we needed their prayers for my upcoming MRI. They were all so supportive.

Here is one of my journal entries from that time:

February 21, 2005

“Lord, please give me a peace and calm spirit about Your will for our lives. I want a baby so badly – You know my heart’s desires. I want to be a mother and be able to hold and love my baby. You’ll bless us with a family someday. I can’t wait to look into the eyes of the beautiful baby You will have made for us. Please have Your hand on my body, please protect me from anything that would hinder me from having a child. I pray that You would bring me peace and comfort. I know that Your plans are better than ours, Your timing is perfect.”

A few days after my MRI, the results were in. There was nothing there! Although they still weren’t able to find out what was making my prolactin levels increase. But I didn’t care, I was SO relieved that I didn’t have a tumor – on my brain! Thank you Lord for answered prayers!! So, I was put on medicine (bromocriptine) to lower my prolactin, I had to go have blood drawn every two weeks and I needed to start charting. I did this all spring and all summer. It seemed like everyone – and I mean everyone – was getting pregnant around that time. I think we had a total of atleast 12 people we knew that were expecting, except for me. My levels were going down, but still…no baby.

October 2005 – I was driving to work one day and I had to pull over the car because I felt so sick. I hadn’t been sleeping well lately either. Of course, my first thought was that I maybe I was pregnant. But after so many negative pregnancy tests, it was emotionally draining to even think about having to go through another one. But still, I knew I needed to take one. It was a Friday night and Rick had to work. I figured that if it was negative, then atleast he wouldn’t have to see me be so sad about it. So, after I took the test I waited in my bedroom for well over the time that you are supposed to wait. I sat on my bed, praying so hard for strength if it was negative and begging for it to be positive. The moment of truth arrived, I lifted up the box I had put over it to look at it: there were two lines. “Wait, what does two lines mean?!” was the first thought to go through my head! I grabbed the box and compared the examples to my test…I WAS PREGNANT! I kept comparing them to make sure I hadn’t read it wrong. But I hadn’t, my baby was here. I was jumping around the bathroom, crying tears of joy and thanking my God for giving me this baby.

When Rick got home that night, Nala (our dog) greeted him at the door. On her collar was a tag that read “Hi Daddy! Victoria (our girl’s name) or Josiah (our boy’s name) is here!” He looked up at me, with a huge smile on his face and said “Are you serious?!” I showed him the test and he picked me up and we hugged and thanked God for our miracle.

After 13 weeks of only telling close family, we finally made our news public: We were going to have a baby!! And on January 4, 2006 we found out it was going to be a girl, our Victoria.

Tomorrow I will share with you her one of a kind arrival story.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Challenge #2: Proverbs 31:11

First of all, thank you to everyone for all the positive feedback you’ve been sharing with me! The comments, e-mails, phone calls and chats have been so encouraging to me. When I started this Proverbs 31 challenge, I just kind of assumed I wouldn’t be getting a lot of responses from people and that my thoughts would just be floating around cyberspace…untouched and unread. So, thank you for connecting with me and taking the time to read what the Lord has laid on my heart to share. Striving to be more Christ-like can be tough some days but knowing I will have to post what I’ve been doing is a huge encouragement and is keeping me accountable. So, again…THANK YOU and keep it coming!

Challenge #2: Proverbs 31:11

“The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.”

Trust – reliance on the integrity, strength and ability of a person; confident expectation of someone.

The scripture clearly defines the Proverbs 31 Woman as a married woman. But the qualities she exudes are ones that all women should strive to have – married or unmarried. So no matter where you are in your life right now, it is never too late or too early to start practicing these important attributes.

The heart is a fragile thing. It is so easily broken. How many times have you been through heartache because a trusted friend has gone behind your back and done something to hurt you? It takes a long time to restore that friendship and gain trust from them again, doesn’t it? Now think of your husband, he is your bestest friend in the entire world isn’t he? Your soulmate. He knows he can share everything with you – his fears, his hopes, his dreams, his desires, his failures and so much more. He trusts you completely.

But what about when the girls all get together, it's so easy to start talking about our husbands and the things they do and don’t do around the house; their latest “great idea”; comparing them to other men; sharing that stupid thing he did last week and flat out mocking them. It's great to vent a little when you're out with friends, but not about your man.

As a wife, your role is to provide a safe place for your spouse. You should be the one person he can trust above all others to have his back. So when you go around sharing the things that are meant to stay just between the two of you, you are negating one of the very strengths that you bring to the relationship.

This also goes for our friendships. We women are great at gossiping, we like to be the first to share the juicy details. While you’re talking with your friend who is confiding in you about something she is going through, we are already thinking about who we can call next to share it with! Next time you are faced with the temptation to “tell all”, STOP and remember that you have been confided in and someone has placed their trust in YOU. If you destroy that trust, it will take a long time – if ever – to restore it again.

Your husband needs to know that he can trust and confide in you in all aspects. He trusts you to be faithful to him, with his children, handling the affairs of the house, and with the things that he only tells you – the things dear to his heart. Because of your fear of and your dedication to the Lord, your house will be prosperous. If you treat your husband with faithfulness, devotion and affection, it will make him view his home as a place of safety that brings value to his identity.

Your husband will be in need of nothing for you will have well satisfied him on all fronts. He thinks himself so happy in you that he envies not those of the world who have the most wealth; he needs it not for he has enough, having such a wife as YOU.

Leave a comment, and let me know what you think of this verse and what it means to you. How do you plan to build, uplift and encourage your husband and friends?

Monday, May 10, 2010

My Time as a Proverbs 31:10 Woman

“Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.”

Since I started this challenge a few weeks ago with my sister-in-law, I have had a lot of opportunities to go “far above”. I’ve tried my hardest to follow through with all of them, but I am human and some of those opportunities did pass by. I did all the laundry but didn’t put it away. I didn’t empty the dishwasher before I went to bed. I let the dust pile up for a few more days. I didn’t get a chance to organize all this stuff I had planned. Sometimes when I would think about those things that I didn’t do I would get discouraged and think that going far above is way overrated! Who has time to be THAT perfect?! But then I remembered that the only way the Proverbs 31 Woman excelled in these areas was because she daily feared the Lord (verse 30). I wasn’t fearing the Lord while I was trying to check off my “To Do List”…I was just trying to do everything perfectly, according to the way I thought it had to be done. Truth is, it doesn’t matter if my house is absolutely perfectly clean when I go to bed at night (although that would be SO nice), what matters is that I have made a difference in the lives of my kids and husband and those around me. It matters that I have sacrificed my time to help Tori color Princess Jasmine and all of her other Princess friends; that I stopped what I was doing to play catch with Jack; that I put away my distractions and play and cuddle with Addison. Once the kids are all in bed, it matters that I take the time to hang out with my husband. I can worry about the laundry, dishes, toys, dust, grocery list, organizing, e-mail, Facebook notifications and TV shows another time. It matters that I make the most of every moment with my family and the people that mean the most to me. Make sure you don’t get so caught up in the everyday responsibilities that you miss the most important opportunities with the ones you love the most. Once I remembered what going far above was really about (being unusually excellent, precious and unique…not being perfect), then it made it easier to look for chances to make a difference.

It was getting to be that time again. When there isn’t much left in the fridge and you are running pretty low on dinner options…grilled cheese on the end slices of the bread anyone? Yes, time to grocery shop…YUCK! Rick already had plans that evening so I asked my Mom to watch the kids for me so I could grocery shop in peace! I could take my time and get what I needed, and I could return all those soda bottles/cans that have been piling up for the past few months! So there I was, off to Wegmans.

I don’t usually return the soda bottles, that’s Rick’s forte…he’s the one that drinks it all anyways, why should I have to touch all those disgusting bottles? Oh well, it had to be done. When I walked into the bottle exchange area (a section that is completely separate from the rest of the store) there was a line at one side and on the other side was a lady with two huge carts filled with bottles, going pretty slow might I add. So, there I waited. And waited. I waited until everyone else was gone and it was just me and the other lady returning our bottles. Being short on time already, I was trying to go as fast as I can. But then, out of nowhere, I felt something bump into me and almost knock me to the ground. I looked over and the lady next to me had fallen and was lying on the ground. I immediately went over to her and asked if she was alright. She apologized and then told me she had gone to chemo that afternoon and was feeling lightheaded but wanted to get those bottles returned anyway. She pulled back her cardigan and showed me her bandages above her chest as to reassure me that’s what the problem was. I sat there on the floor with her for a moment making sure she was okay to get up, and asking if I should call anyone for her. She said she was alright so I helped her up. I watched her struggle back to her cart and begin putting the bottles in the machine. I quickly finished returning my bottles and then went over to her carts and told her I would help her return the rest of her bottles. She said she would be fine but she was still moving so slowly and I would hate to have her fall again and be alone in there. So as we stood there returning the bottles we introduced ourselves – her name is Tamara – and talked a little about our lives and her cancer. She said she was returning the bottles for money to pay for some of the medicine she needed for her cancer treatment. After all the bottles were returned she gave me a big hug and told me how much she appreciated my help and offered me the bottle return receipts. Of course, I told her I wouldn’t take them and that I was happy to help. So we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways.

I am so thankful that I wasn’t in too much of a rush to miss that opportunity to help Tamara. I hope that through me she was able to see a small glimpse of God’s love and that she will be encouraged. I hope she thought that my actions were rare, uncommon and unusually excellent.

Where you able to go far above these past 2 weeks? Was there something that you learned as you were striving to be like the Proverbs 31 Woman? I learned that it’s not about being perfect, but being able to seize the opportunities that God has placed before you to make a difference and show His love to everyone around you.