Saturday, December 31, 2011

Marriage Mondays Part 1

I love romance! Yes, I am definitely the one my sisters call "mushy" and I definitely receive some good- humored poking fun about it! But I'm okay with that:)
I am forever a dreamer which makes me smile knowing my husband! He is incredibly practical and a definite realist! But God is the perfect match maker and truly gives us a mate that helps us to thrive and refines us to be more like Christ each and everyday! So I have a challenge! I have prayed about what God would have me do to serve my husband better and guess what? He answered!

Challenge 1: Wear joy

Simple sounding right? I thought well thats easy enough- I am a very chipper person! But I know with our spouse they are the first ones to see our worry, our lack of poise after a long day, etc. And I realized that often times what my husband needs after a long day of work is not for a perfect house, not a to-do list that is completed, not for my clothing to fit a certain way, or my make-up to be perfect, not even the perfect meal served to him. My husband excels the most, when he finds me at home and being joyful! It ceases to amaze me the times I've looked completely unkempt but have great joy and my husband just lights up. And I have seen the opposite as well. When I think I have done everything perfectly, I have completed all my errands, the house looks amazing (rare:) and my hair is curled....but I wear worry and stress and it is written all over my husbands face. We are called by God in....

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

So I have learned that sometimes the best gift I can give my husband is a joyful heart! Don't get me wrong- I know we cannot be constantly happy but instead we are to wear joy in all circumstances because we are confident in God's plan!

I pray that you will choose a joyful heart this week! :) Please leave a comment and let me know how the week went!

Monday, December 19, 2011

I love Pinterest for so many reasons!

(Okay I love love love this little blue-eyed angel!!!)

Pinterest is my new best friend- not really:) but you know what I mean! I was a little skeptical at first- a virtual pinboard- hmmm really? But then I decided to give it a try and soon afterwards I found myself plunging in! I felt at first that it could be a frivolous hobby and would be of little impact to my days but I have been surprised in an awesome way! I leapt into the craft section for Lily! We have made an ornament called Lily's favorites with her favorite things glued on (mickey, a bear, dog, etc.), and beautiful handprint cross with red and green alternating handprints and more. I feel so inspired! I also have a million new recipes to try both simple and complex and some wonderful biblical resources  Advent ideas, and more! I have found links to blogs to teach me how to manage clutter, schedules and time. And you know what? After much deliberation, I do not feel guilty! I so desperately want the world to see Jesus and I don't want to waste time so..... where in the world does pinterest come in???? I feel like we too often apologize for taking time to make our house a safehaven for our precious family, to make memories of our babies sweet little handprints, to teach them scripture in a fun and memorable way, to cook new meals to serve our hard-working husbands, and more. In Titus 2:4 Paul speaks to the nature of womens role stating: "Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God."

Thank you Lord for this New Year of 2012 that will soon be here! I CANNOT wait to bring in the New Years praising the Lord for all of the blessings in my life and for all of the amazing and I mean AMAZING friends and family that surround me! God is indeed so faithful! The Lord has just laid a verse on my heart the last few days which I would like to close with: Psalm 90:12 "Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom"

Leave me a comment if you will and let me know what pinterest treasures you have found!! :)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Marriage Mission!! New Years Resolution preview:)

I'm super excited and perhaps a bit ahead here but here goes! I have a New Years blog resolution that I feel God just laid on my heart to share! I am convicted to my core that with a strong, loving, serving, and passionate marriage, our children will be forever blessed! When we serve our spouse consistently, Christ's love shines day in and day out. We can serve our friends and our church until we are blue in the face but if we do not make it a priority to serve our spouse with the same veracity we are sadly missing the mark! We are called to love our husbands and children in Titus 2 and we have to make this a heartfelt priority!

We have to truly "be doers of the word" for James 1:22 (ESV) states "But be doers of the word, not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." I don't want to be mediocre in any sense. Mediocrity is simply a willingness to live with half of your heart and I adamantly refuse! :) I want to strive for what God called our marriage to reflect as seen in Ephesians 5!
Therefore, starting New Years day I am going to blog every Monday about one way which I will seek to serve him that week with a related bible verse. Its a secret mission of sorts since he will not know about it which excites me immensely! I also will endeavor to pray each day for God's mighty hand to direct our marriage and will pray for any of you if you would like! I will call it "Marriage Mondays!" Oh how I hope you will join me and do the same for you marriage! I will also try to find links to great date night ideas- if you have any please comment below!:)

Our sweet children will feel so utterly loved when mom and dad truly love and serve one another consistently and outwardly! I cannot wait to start on this journey. I feel too often in marriage we are content with mediocrity or less. We complain and nag instead of committing to serve without condition. I love the verse in that states that Jesus, our precious Savior came "to Serve" Why am I so apt to demand my way?
The bible clearly states in Matthew 20:28

"Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
I complain because my needs are not being met- how can I become more like Jesus when I am self-focused? I am so incredibly blessed with a wonderful, precious husband who loves Jesus and I cannot wait to start serving him more intentionally!! God is so faithful and I know he will bless this mission! I love seeing God move with all of my heart!

(*** I wanted to make a special note for single mothers- First- you are incredible! I am amazed by my friends who are single moms who just envelop their children with love and provide so wonderfully for their sweet babies! I am utterly amazed by your strength and I know for a fact that marriage or no marriage- God can use us to be great ambassadors for Chriat as moms!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Making the most of your time in the car

A sweet picture of Lily feeding our Beagle Cubby!
Precious Moments!

Lily and I took a short 30 minute trip to visit with wonderful friends this week! I thought oh we will hit some traffic, listen to the radio and then we will be there. Oh how I would have missed out on a great opportunity if I had stayed so stale minded!! I was very inspired by a book to make any trip in the car fruitful for God! I decided to make the trip about speaking of God's creation, telling bible stories- I chose Esther, and praying for the health of dear friends!! Let me make this disclaimer before I continue- I know every trip won't be like this- sometimes we just need to quietly travel but today was special- and I plan to make this more of a habit! I know sometimes I use car time to talk on the phone, but I realized in the car I have Lily's undivided attention!! :) (Of course, please be completely concentrated on the road and make that your top priority:) I thought if I even do this 50% of the time while we are in the car- all that travel time will be investment in the spiral growth of my daughter and who can beat that? In Isaiah 55:11, the Bible explains that "so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty but it shall accomplish that which I purpose and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it."(ESV). Therefore, I know that even though Lily does not understand the breadth of God's word, I am planting seeds that will not return void and that makes me so excited!!! Oh, how I treasure God's word and His promises and wish that I would use each moment as a means to invest in that which is lasting and eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:18 is a beautiful verse that God has written on my heart which says " So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

This is so powerful!! It reminds me that this is not my home and I must keep my eyes "fixed on what is eternal" because everything else will waste away! Lily is still a toddler so this does not yet apply but carpool time is a great time to pray and recite scripture. This is especially true if you have youngsters from other families traveling with you whom may be unsaved. When people know you are a praying family they will feel open to sharing their burdens with you and this could plant a seed for them to accept Christ in God's appointed time! I hope everyone has a beautiful Thansgiving and don't forget to take even the little moments as an opportunity to share the greatness of God as Deuternonmy 6:6-9 encourages! God has given each breath to us as a gift so please don't take any time for granted:) When you feel discouraged, please remember Isaiah 55:11 and Galatians 6:9 which states "let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we reap a harvest if we do not give up."
Challenge for today: memorize Isaiah 55:11:)
May God bless all your efforts!!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Happy 16 month Birthday Lily Bug!

My sweet sister, Holly, took this picture of Lily when she was just 1 week old!

Lily at 3 months! Look at her radiant smile! She lights up the room and our hearts!
Merry Christmas 2010! Mimi bought her a Santa suit!! Lily was a tender 5 1/2 months old!

I took this picture of Lily in my studio when she turned 6 months old! Look at those beautiful eyes and red hair!
Okay bring out the tissues!!! I just love this picture! This picture was taken this past Spring :)
Our little baby turns one!!! She had a Minnie Mouse party and loves the Mickey Mouse clubhouse!

These were some of my other favorites!!!

This picture was taken today!!! Happy 16 month Birthday sweet baby!!! :) We love you sooooo very much!!!!

Sixteen Month ago today our precious Lily Adelaide Howard was born. God made me a mommy and I am forever changed. I have never known a feeling so sweet as sloppy cookie kisses and wrap around your neck hugs with sweet little pats! She is a beautiful example of God's incredible faithfulness. God does not owe me anything at all yet He in His incredible grace gave us this beautiful princess. She embodies joy, exuberance and compassion and spreads smiles everywhere she goes! She loves animals, her family and giving high-fives and hugs! We love you baby girl!!!! God is amazing!!!!!

Psalm 127:3 "Children are a gift from the Lord, they are a reward from Him."

I am reminded that each day is a gift from God! Every morning we should wake up and give abundant hugs and kisses to our babies! We are to love them abundantly, pray for them and for guidance as parents and give thanks to God for this awesome and humbling opportunity to raise a child that God has formed and made with His own hands!

Isaiah 44:24
"This is what the LORD says--your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the LORD, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself,

Psalm 139:13
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Learning to Relax :)

Okay it happened to me today:) I was taking a quick trip to Target after putting Lily to bed. It started rather innocently. I turned up the radio and this great country song came on. I felt like I was 18 again! I blasted the music way too loud and rolled down my windows- I know!!! That was so high-school right???!! I couldn't resist and proceeded to quite loudly scream- I mean sing along. It was really rather fun!! Okay so what does this post have to do with anything??? I think sometimes I just need to relax. I was tied up in knots a few days ago before talking to a very dear and wise friend. I told her I wanted to make the most of Lily's days as Ephesians 5:16 (ESV) states : "making the best use of the time, because the days are evil" that I was rather consumed with worry over good biblical crafts, books, etc. Do you know what she told me??? I can still hear it now! She said that just spending time with Lily and loving her abundantly was a very worthy goal! By spending time with Lily I am able to do what God instructs parents in His word.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

So, I am learning to relax and realize that Matt and I are not soley responsible for Lily- not even close- God is leading us every step of the way and I need to fall into His hands and live by His precious guidance and learn to relax a little bit!!!! :)

Blessed beyond measure- Halloween fun!

I am so excited to share Lily's Halloween pictures! Thinking back to last night, I am overwhelmed that God has blessed us unbelievably by this living, breathing angel! This is a child that was definitely 100% prayed for by some amazing pray warriors and Matt and I ourselves! We are so blessed to be her parents that each event is like a celebration to me! I just breathe in each moment and just thank God for her. I am utterly amazed by God's faithfulness and in awe of the power of prayer!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Gaining a New Perspective

I am thankful to God for our wreck on Thursday:) WHAT???? You may be asking?? We were hit by a sweet gentleman who accidentally ran a red light while turning. Our SUV was significantly damaged and it will be taking quite a lengthy vacation at the body shop. My precious Lily was sitting in the backseat- I immediately looked back and saw her- frightened but unharmed. I looked to my husband who was jolted and alarmed but looked to be okay.

I will tell you the crash was by no means a horrific accident. It was a solid crash but nothing extraordinary. However, rest assure I believe God uses those moments to remind us that Psalm 34:7 is true: "the angels of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him and He delivers them." I like to think that when I reach heaven and meet Jesus its little moments like this where He will show me His presence was right there surrounding me and protecting me! And that just makes me smile:):)

I just love 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 where Christians are instructed to"rejoice always, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

There are those moments in life, those split seconds, where you believe something awful might be about to happen- It's in those moments where you realize your true North. You know what went through my mind? Some of it is kinda silly really!! I prayed a quick please Jesus forgive of me of all my sins- I wanted to make sure I was squared away with Jesus!!:) And I thought oh gosh I MAY GET KNOCKED OUT as I saw a pole! On a more serious note, I thought please don't let this change everything- please let us all be okay- please don't let us be hurt- mostly I thought oh my gosh Lily- over and over!!!! It's amazing how many thoughts flood your mind in mere milliseconds. When I saw my sweet, precious baby and husband were unharmed- I felt so overwhelmingly delivered from what could have been a completely different outcome. This wreck completely re-established my priorities in terms of time and perspective. Therefore, I can truly give thanks to God for this wreck!

Please give your husbands and babies extra hugs and kisses today!:) Let them feel your love shower over them and thank God for how special they are to you! Tell them you love them and never, ever take the gifts God has given you for granted. Oh and pray for God's complete protection over your family! :)

My new bible verse for the week is: Romans 8:1!!
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus"

Have a blessed week and just remember to give thanks to God for everything :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fun and Frugal in the Fall


So are you ready for this???? I am making Lily bugs costume for Halloween! So, for most people this may be a small “to do list” check but for me it’s a monumental feat! I have absolutely no creative artsy abilities (except for photography) which makes costume making a bit of an undertaking! I also want to live frugally to serve my family and the Lord by being a good steward of my resources. Therefore, I can tell you with great excitement I am accomplishing both! Hooray! And I know each person out there can do the same if I am able! So, here it is- Lily will be an angel this year! She is our little miracle, angel baby so nothing else would fit :) I made the tutu by buying a piece of satin ribbon at Joann’s and about 3 yards of white and light pink tulle. I cut the tulle in 20 inch long by 6 inch wide sections and then simply tied them around the ribbon and volia- a tutu for my angel!!!! Then, I purchased a onesie at walmart for around $3. Hmmm- how to make the onesie embellished??? I decided to shop at Michaels and guesss what bargain I found? I nearly leaped for joy right there in that store!!! I found an iron-on embellishment for $1 that said angel and had wings- I feel like I am about to jump right out of my chair just writing this! God has just blessed this little project! Oh and I forgot to tell you- I can re-use the onesie to let her wear day-to day and the tutu can be used for taking portraits of Miss Lily pie! I plan to buy angel wings which I can use for new-born portraits ( I have a small photography business). I am also going to buy silver, strappy shoes- which she can use for daily use as well!!! So, halloween doesn’t just have to be a one time wear! I will post pictures below of each item! I can’t wait to show you the finished project!

Okay, I also wanted to say I am challenging myself to memorize one verse a day for each week! This week is Proverbs 24:26 ”An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.” So, that is my challenge to anyone reading this! Make the Lord your priority- He is so faithful and so awesome and you will be incredibly blessed by it!

Matthew 6:33 (NIV)But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Lily’s tutu for her angel costume!

The embellishment for Lily’s onesie

The white onesie for Lily’s angel costume

Relishing in the little moments God gives!

I love the fall! I love the sound of the leaves crunching beneath your feet, the way the bird sings a little sweeter, the pumpkins, but most especially I love all of the ways I enjoy Fall with my precious daughter and my fun, and amazing husband! Lily and I had our first picnic today after a fun time at the public library! IT was a hit! We shared a fresh, healthy lunch and took lots of pictures of course! LILY LOVED taking the ice out of the cooler. I love how little bitty things just completely envelop these tiny precious souls! I am reminded how Gods words says to be thankful always in Thessalonians how I often take for granted the little bitty things and worry about things that are not under my control. I am reminded how I am God’s child and He desires for me to just love Him and follow Him. It’s this inner simplicity, that I need to pursue- to praise God for all of the little bitties and I encourage you too as well!!

I took some pictures to remind me of this blessed picnic and captured the little moments!

Thought this just captured the cuteness of the moment!

Lily enjoying her lunch feast! I love that she wanted to try out my fork!