Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Life with Kate- 15 months

Wow! So... we are long overdue for an update on Kate! She is just a bit over 15 months now and continuing to grow and discover every day. She weighs in at about 22 pounds and is 31" long which is around the 65% rage for both. She stays pretty healthy, but has to take a little bit of iron supplement for anemia. We also discovered some fluid in her ears at her recent check up which the doctor said might be due to allergies. So we're doing some nose spray to see if it gets better. 

She is sleeping pretty good at night these days, with an occasional night feeding. She is completely weaned from momma's milk and is drinking cow's milk, which she loves. She's eating more foods these days, but it is still hit or miss. One day she might love eggs and the next day she won't touch it... unless it is bread! She will always eat that. :)


She is walking everywhere these days and is so excited by it. She is starting to get more of an opinion about where she walks and doesn't always like to hold our finger. I suppose she has a little bit of her momma in her! ;) She hasn't said her first word yet, but she is very close! In the mean time she has her own little language and loves to jibber away. Her favorite toy right now is momma and daddy, and as to be expected she loves our undivided attention. She still enjoys looking at books, but they don't occupy her as much since she is learning so many other things. She loves pushing her walker and playing with her little people toys. She is also forming an attachment with her lovie. She is talking it with her more and goes looking for it more often now. It's so cute to see her hug her lovie! She will also clap her hands, wave, and blow kisses. 


She also LOVES Daniel Tiger! Daniel Tiger is a really cute show on PBS based off of Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood. There is lots of singing, which is what Kate loves the most. We try not to let her have too much screen time, but occasionally a short episode of DT saves the day! 


A lot has happened in these last 3 months with all of the festivities of fall! We started with a hair cut. She really needed it, but it got cut too short and I had a slight moment of panic. Of course we have plenty of bows and pink, lest people forget she's a girl! It's grown out now and looks cute- of course time for another trim!!


For Halloween she was the cutest pumpkin I've ever seen! We had fun trick-or-treating at MiMi and Gramp's house and then going to G.L.O.W. Night at church the next day.  

We took a weekend trip to OKC in early November to visit our family there. We brought Kate to the OC campus to see Uncle Jake and it was fun walking around and seeing the changes and new faces. She was loved on by her Aunt Janine and Uncle John and the Friend Family--- oh boy was that fun! On our way home we stopped and saw our Aunt Mary in Dallas and Kate got to try on a very special dress that was Aunt Mary's when she was a baby! 

And THEN we had Thanksgiving, and we made another drive to Oklahoma to see Blake's parents in Bartlesville. We got to see my grandparents in Burleson (along with some other family!) along the way which was a treat. Our lovely Grandma Genie was at Blake's parent's house for Thanksgiving and it was a lot of fun to be together! She had plenty of attention on that trip! 

The past few weeks we've enjoyed getting into the Christmas spirit! We had Christmas service at church, and Kate dressed up as a little lamb for the children's message. We've gone to look at lights and sang Jingle Bells 100 times! It's also apparent that between hand-me-downs, MiMi, and my own shopping we have more Christmas dresses than we can wear, so we will be wearing them into Valentine's Day I'm sure. But can a little girl really have too many cute dresses? Nah!

Life is busy-busy with our little princess, but we wouldn't have it any other way. Some days are harder than others, but the Lord is good and gracious and gives us what we need to make it. I'm constantly amazed at how I can be so worn out but when I see her sweet grin I'm overcome with joy. What a treasure to know that God has that same love for me. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

lessons in grace

Tonight as I was driving home from church by myself in the truck Dave Crowder's song "I Am" began to play. I was immediately taken back to the time Blake and I were led in worship by none other than Dave Crowder himself alongside thousands upon thousands of young adults in a packed Toyota Center at the Passion Conference. My heart smiled and then I heard the phrase, "there's no end to amazing grace". Suddenly all the lessons of grace I've been learning this year clicked and I broke out in full worship mode. I was thankful to be at a red light because my eyes were shut and my hands were waving in the air. My fingers were itching to write- I couldn't wait to get Kate to bed so I could put together my thoughts and share my lessons on grace.

In case you don't know, I've been focusing on the word "grace" for the year 2015. This word came to me because I had just been horribly offended by someone whom I care greatly for. I felt so much hurt and I didn't want to turn bitter and cold over a grudge for the rest of my life. I was also adjusting to life as a mom who had yet to accomplish her dreams and every day had become a constant battle. I ached with jealousy and the need for more. I needed grace.

And here is what grace is all about:

"There's no end to amazing grace."

Let me put this phrase into context a little bit more:

"There's no space that His love can't reach.
There's no place that we can't find peace.
There's no end to amazing grace. 

Take me in with your arms spread wide.
Take me in like an orphan child.
Never let go, never leave my side.

I am holding on to you
I am holding on to you
In the middle of the storm,
I am holding on, I am.

Love like this, Oh my God to find!
I am overwhelmed, what a joy Devine!
Love like this sets our hearts on fire."

Praise Jesus! There is no end to His grace! It's why we turn to Him. He takes us time and time again no matter the faults we carry. From pride, hypocrisy, lust, selfishness, and so much more- He forgives and offers grace. Radical grace. And you know what? He calls us to do the same.

1 John 2:6- Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. 

This idea of radical grace is so contrary to the message from society. I'm a little addicted to Pinterest. I see quote after quote that talk about how we need to let go of the people who wrong us and bring us down. If by chance we do forgive someone, we are to take pride in ourselves as "the better person". This is just false my friends. Just. So. Wrong. It sounds good, and if we think this way it seems like it will make us feel good, but it goes against the truth.

Jesus gave radical grace. A grace that knew no bounds, that has no ends. Grace we can hold on to. Grace that overwhelms me and sets my heart on fire.

Grace that inspires me to step down from my initial reactions, analyze the entire situation, and realize who my true enemy is- Satan. Then I'm able to have compassion, offer mercy, and if needed, forgive.

And grace is not just to be offered to those who apologize or only bring minor grievances to our lives.  We have the spirit of Jesus Christ in us which means we are a part of amazing grace that has no end.

People don't like to say this type of thing but I think Christians need to hear this is 2015. The radical grace we are called to live can overcome much. It can restore friendships that have been manipulated and stepped on, and marriages that have been haunted with infidelity. It offers a compassion that passes through all of the circumstances. It offers a love that is overwhelming.

Tonight in the elementary Bible class I'm teaching we talked about peacemakers vs peace breakers. All of the characteristics of peace breakers involve pride and not getting along with others. Peacemakers on the other hand, are humble and strive to work together. Peacemakers offer grace.

It's not easy to live this way because the devil prowls about and our world is filled with sin. Oh, but I love what James 2:13 says- "Mercy triumphs over judgment!" This is how we win, my friends. We win by offering mercy and grace to even the worst grievences. It works. It's how our Father God wins the battle- by extending mercy and grace.

So I'm offering more grace.

More grace to myself
More grace to my loved ones
More grace to the people in my life
More grace to the hurting

It's not my natural way to react, but it's becoming more natural. I can't take credit for it. For I have the Holy Spirit living in me and it's His amazing grace that is beginning to pour through me.

That offense that I talked about earlier- a couple of weeks ago I finally felt like I had fully let go of the grudge! I extended grace. It wasn't my grace I'd offered though, it was God's grace. The grace that runs through my veins because I need so much of it. That is the grace I can offer to others.


There's no space that His love can't reach
There's no place that we can't find peace
There's no end to amazing grace.

Thanks for sticking with me! Love you all. :)

PS: Here is a video of this amazing worship song just in case you feel like having a mini worship session right now! ;)

Sunday, October 25, 2015

5 lessons my first year of motherhood taught me

The moment my daughter was born I became a mother, and I will be a mother for the rest of my life. In my first year of parenthood I've picked up on a few things. I still hope to learn so much more as I go through life, but never the less I'm grateful as I reflect on these 5 lessons learned. 

1. Stay flexible. Plans are nice but if you rely on them they will fail you! This is why I've learned the importance staying flexible! People get sick, babies get cranky, and naps fall through. On the other hand, the weather might be wonderful, babies might be so happy to simply just play, and plans change! My day goes better when I factor in how things are flowing. It's also just important to stay flexible as we parent. Stay humble and realize that's it's OK if something doesn't work, move on to a new method and find something that does. Even then, stay flexible so you'll be ready for when it's time to do something differently. I am a lot happier and relaxed as a mom when I stay calm and flexible. 

2. Give Web MD and Google a break! The internet is a wonderful thing, but it has a tendency to bring out the obsessive side of me. My child can have the sniffles and a slight fever and I have spent hours searching the internet for someone to tell me that it's not "just a cold"! I've learned to stop going to the internet for all of my advice. I call on her doctor or another experienced momma if I have questions. AND I PRAY!!! I pray about everything, no question is too small for our merciful Lord! 

3. Comparison is the thief of joy. It really is. Comparing myself to other mothers brings me down. Comparing my child to other children or even the statistics in the books puts me in a frenzy. When I was stressed out over Kate's nap schedule my wise cousin, who is a mother of 4, reminded me that babies aren't ready the books that we are reading. That has been my mantra. Comparison has got to stop! God has made us unique. As a mother I will be unique from other mothers, and as a child, Kate will be unique from other children. 

4. Cut the guilt. So this one sort of relates to #3 but it's so important I had to make it its own! For example, I had so much guilt when I was working on transitioning Kate from taking her naps in her swing to napping in her crib. I beat myself up for letting her get in that habit until finally one day I realized it wasn't that big of a deal. As a mom, you do what you gotta do to get through it. I let Kate nap in her swing because that was what worked for us. I could have tried to let her cry it out a lot when she was a newborn or work with her when she was older and had more trust with me formed. I choose the latter, and you know what, it worked. So I've gotten a lot better at giving myself grace and not feeling guilty. 

5. Savor every moment. OK, so the internet is filled with blogs that make fun of this cliche. I get it, you don't feel like savoring the moment when you're sleep deprived, up to your elbows in poop, and having to schedule your entire life around breastfeeding and pumping. What's important is that the more difficult moments don't overshadow all the precious moments. Always look for and savor the precious moments! 

Motherhood is a wonderful blessing. It keeps me on my toes, and it isn't always easy, but it brings tremendous joy and meaning to my life. "I have been changed for good."


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Life With Kate- One Year Old!

So this post is a little bit late, but better late than never! How can it be that my precious baby girl is one year old? Perhaps I've been putting off her 1 year post because I didn't want to really admit it!

Her 12th month went by so fast and I truly don't remember many of the details! We played a lot and got stronger and stronger! She is clapping her hands and waving them up in the air along with us. She is still getting used to the idea of finger food, and we are slowly working on weaning to cow's milk and a bottle of formula at night (to make up for a not yet balanced diet). She still loves her books, and  is busy busy! On the move always! 

For her birthday, Blake and I took her to the Downtown  Houston Aquarium. She LOVED it! Her favorite part of the zoo is the fishes so I've always wanted to take her to the aquarium. It's definitely an overpriced adventure but it was a fun treat for her birthday. The best part is that unlike the zoo, the many of the aquariums go down to the floor so she could stand up and walk along to see the fishes better. (Much more fun than us having to lift her up the whole time!) We ate at the restaurant and she loved watching the fishes swim around while we ate. It was a great day celebrating her first birthday and our first year as parents! 

A few days later Blake's parents came into town and we got to have a small birthday party with both sets of grandparents! There was plenty of love and attention given to Kate! 

And of course... we tried some cake for the first time! Kate wasn't very impressed with it. I had full intentions of making her her own little cake but I ended up having an allergy attack (of COURSE!) that weekend and cupcakes were the best I could muster up on top of a yummy dinner! 
Simple= more fun to be had

To wrap up this post, I want to share some more pictures from Kate's first year photo shoot. 

"When I hold you in my arms, Love
something changes
it's the strangest feeling
the things that used to matter
they don't matter to me

When I see you
and you're smiling
how my heart aches
so full it is about to break
you make me believe in love

I could never count all the ways that you've changed me, Baby
Every day is a deeper shade of blue
when I'm with you

When I hear you, and you're crying
it resonates, Dear
in a place I didn't know was there.
You make me believe in love. 

I could never count all the ways that you've changed me, Baby
Every day is a deeper shade of blue
when I'm with you

Beautiful Baby
You're sweeter than strawberry pie
Just like the morning
Your smile brings the sunshine.

I could never count all the ways that you've changed me, Baby
Ever day is a deeper shade of blue
when I'm with you"

- JJ Heller (When I'm With You) 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

grace for myself

Dinner is done and Blake and I start to negotiate what comes next.

"You watch Kate, and I'll clean up dinner" both of us wishing we could just relax with Hulu. I go to the floor with  Kate and try to keep her busy. I notice the spots on the floor. I meant to clean the floors today... I'm so lazy.  

We pull Kate from the bath later that evening and I realize there are no clean pajamas left. How did I forget to wash her laundry again... I'm a bad mom. 

As I'm nursing her to sleep I scroll through pinterest where I see an article posted about how a mom feeds her family of 6 for $200 a month. I wish I managed my money that well... I'm not a good wife. 

These are just little moments of insecurity. My day is often full of them, from the way I look, to the things I (don't) accomplish each day. And it can cause me to feel bad and insult myself over and over again. 

I need grace for myself. 

Can I try to look at myself through God's eyes of grace?

"How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty!" ~ Psalm 84:1

"Or do you not realize about yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you?" - 2 Corinthians 13:5

In Beth Moore's book "So Long Insecurity" she challenged women to quote Psalm 84:1 in the mirror every morning when they woke up. Rather than seeing ourselves for all of our flaws, we should see ourselves as the vessel that we are for Christ. We are lovely because Christ lives in us.

That's grace. 

It's OK if I fail to measure up, because Christ lives in me and he covers me. This year, as I've been focusing on grace, I've come to realize that it's OK to acknowledge my shortcomings, but I mustn't let them define me.  

Grace doesn't mean that I make excuses for myself. No, not at all. Having grace for myself means that even though I mess up, I will continue to value myself as a daughter of Jesus Christ.

The good news is that when there is less of me, there is more of HIM. The most beautiful part about grace is that through it God's spirit will shine all the brighter!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

HE cares even more

It's the feeling I dreaded as I was preparing for motherhood. The feeling of fear and concern for your child. The feeling goes so deep it makes me ill. It can come on in an instant- all it takes is one little cry, or seeing a little less energy in my baby girl than usual. What's wrong with her? Is she sick? Is she going to be sick? Did I give her too much to eat? Oh, I shouldn't have given her that! Is she choking?! Did that fall cause permanent damage? It's oftentimes (OK... it's most always) an over reaction. Never the less, the anxiety that comes with motherhood is real.

It causes me to stir in my sleep all night long... listening for her cry to tell me that something just isn't right. I pray and I pray- Lord, give me peace, surround me with your comfort tonight. Yet the feeling always remains, even if I feel more peace or comfort.

I hear her cry, but she goes back to sleep. She does this again. Finally, her cry doesn't fade, and I jump out of bed with enthusiasm because more than anything I want to wrap this girl in my arms. I go to her and she is fine, just a little hungry. I don't mind that I haven't been able to sleep for the last 3 hours.... I'm just happy to have her in my arms looking up at me with her big blue eyes. Her finger wrapped around mine.

Does she know that just as much as she needs me, I need her?

"Oh, how I care for her!", I think to myself.

Then a smooth whisper washes over me,
"And I care for her even more."

The tears begin to well up. They fall from my cheek to her head like oil anointing as I'm reminded how deep the Father's love is for my babe.

My heart begins to pray...

The Lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing.

I pray the 23 psalm. Then I begin to pray it over my daughter.

Father God,
BE her shepherd.... lead her beside quiet waters... help her to fear no evil because of your presence in her life....

I pray and I hold her as long as I can in the early morning darkness. It's these moments that I hope to never forget. They are some of the most precious to me.

It's a beautiful example of how how God can bring good from all things. Satan wants to harm me with feelings of doubt and fear, but God takes those same feelings and calls me to him and reminds me of his sweet presence.  Praise Him!

Psalm 23, from The VOICE
The Eternal is my shepherd, He cares for me always.
He provides me rest in rich, green fields
    beside streams of refreshing water.
    He soothes my fears;
He makes me whole again,
    steering me off worn, hard paths
    to roads where truth and righteousness echo His name.
Even in the unending shadows of death’s darkness,
    I am not overcome by fear.
Because You are with me in those dark moments,
    near with Your protection and guidance,
    I am comforted.
You spread out a table before me,
    provisions in the midst of attack from my enemies;
You care for all my needs, anointing my head with soothing, fragrant oil,
    filling my cup again and again with Your grace.
Certainly Your faithful protection and loving provision will pursue me
    where I go, always, everywhere.
I will always be with the Eternal,
    in Your house forever.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

stories worth telling

I'm sure by now you've probably heard about Kathy Lee Gifford's tribute to her late husband on her show. I'd see the story floating around Facebook, but I hadn't watched. Today as I was driving, our local christian radio station shared the story and I was actually brought to tears! In it she shares her husband's testimony. I tried to write my favorite part, but I love it all, you seriously need to watch it if you haven't! It's a little long, but she starts to speak about her husband's faith around 4 minutes into it.

I bring up this story today because this is a story that will make an impact. Sharing our testimony and the lessons our God teaches us throughout our life are stories that will make an impact. They are stories to be told!

This past year all of my blog posts have been about Kate. I didn't want it to be that way, but I stopped taking time to share how God's worked in me- my story. SO... the dishes and laundry can wait from time to time. Sometimes a gal's just gotta write!

I choose the word "Grace" for 2015. God has taught me a lot about grace this last year, and I am so thankful! Over the next few months I'm going to do a 5 part series on what's God's shown me about grace:

Grace for myself
Grace for my loved ones
Grace for people
Grace for the suffering
Grace for the sinner

So stay tuned... and remember to share your story!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Life With Kate... 11 Months Old

Oh, how are we there already? 

Our little pumpkin is continuing to grow stronger and mobile. She's crawling everywhere and climbing on everything. Her favorite place to climb is the couch! All these toys... and her favorite is the couch!? She also likes to pull herself up on people's legs... so if you are standing near by you have to be cautious! Sometimes there are tumbles, but the tears are always calmed with a book! 

She loves to pull all of the books off of the shelves! Then she will sit down to "read" them. She has even learned how to look behind the flaps on books that have them. She is also fascinated with my cookbooks! She reads them often just like her momma! I love watching her play in the morning time when she is still in her pajamas! 

We are finding all sorts of toys in our media drawers these days! (Once again... I can't get enough of the footies.... I take lots of pictures when she is in them!)

She loves to play! This month we've watched her go from mouthing on her toys to really discovering them. Anyone who thinks that kids don't learn by playing needs to spend some time observing babies! 

We are in the swing less and less these days. Now she plays in her pack-in-play when I need to be in the other room or can't watch her closely. Such a big girl!

I've been learning how to balance motherhood with the responsibilities of part time work. She is with me while I work which is an endeavor all of it's own! So thankful Gramps' office is right next to mine! I haven't made the time to put together activities and song books like I had been doing for her but I'm still doing what I can to provide intentional opportunities for discovery. This month I've been doing a fish/ under the sea unit with her. She really enjoys puzzles. She isn't putting pieces back where they belong yet, but she loves to take them apart, examine the pieces, and then hide them all around the apartment! 

We have fun, but we also need breaks. So to keep this post completely honest here is what happens during certain more difficult times of the day... we watch BabyBum nursery rhyme videos on youtube.  ;)

We faced some sickness this month. My illness from last month lasted the entire month of July and then some, and Kate had a cold this past week. Trying lots of new foods was just not in the cards. Neither was lots of home made foods. Thankfully I've been able to find some good baby food pouches that contain only veggies... that's quite a challenge these days! She is beginning to understand finger food now that we've introduced teething wafers. So that's been fun! At first she really didn't know what to make of them, but today she is chowing down on them! Speaking of teeth, her two bottom teeth have grown in pretty well. No more toothless grin! :( Hopefully we'll be able to move on to more table foods in the next couple of months. I'm guilty of being in no rush though... she is my BABY after all! I don't want her to grow up! The struggle is real y'all. 

With all of her mobility we decided it was time to get her a pair of good shoes. So off to Stride Mart we went. It was so nice to actually find some shoes that will stay on her tiny feet! 

Bath time is still lots of fun! Seriously... who needs to go swimming when you can hop in the bath tub? (Just kidding... but when you're sick and it's 100 degrees outside the tub will work!) She loves crawling and climbing around so much these days that it's hard to keep her still enough to get her clean! 

Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. What is sleep?? It sure can feel that way some days! She usually goes down around 7:30-8:00 and will sleep about 12 hours, waking up 2-3 times during the night. She will eat and go right back to sleep usually. Sometimes she wakes up more often or has trouble falling back asleep... those are the nights that are hard! I've always had trouble with sleep, so I'm able to get by pretty well with poor sleep. I'm thankful that I've been equipped for this phase of life in that way. We've moved to one nap a day around noon. She usually naps 1-2 hours. Sometimes she dozes off in the car, has trouble going down when I'm working at church, or we have an off schedule day (like Sunday) so we have to get flexible, but she's doing good. I just love it when I lay her down. She looks so peaceful and I truly treasure these days. 

We've experimented with cry it out at night time, but there usually is no "out"... it just keeps going! I don't rush in there right away, I wait a few minutes (sometimes a lot of minutes) to make sure she really needs me. Right now, she wants and needs that extra comfort and nourishment to feel secure, so I don't mind offering it. I'm thankful that my heavenly daddy is always there to give me the comfort that I need... even when it's over something trivial that I should be able to get over on my own. He tells me I never have to go at it alone, that I can cast all my burdens onto Him because He cares. Praise Him!!! 

Right now, according to Erik Erikson, Kate is learning if she can trust the world. Of course, as a christian mother, I want my Kate to learn that she can trust God. I pray our sweet Kate Marie is learning that it's all going to be OK- that her mommy and daddy are here for her and love her so much. That she is loved by her grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and bible class teachers. And as she gets older I pray she will know that as much as mommy and daddy love her, God loves her and cares for her 100 times more!