Thanksgiving Countdown Day 1: FREE Printable

Goodmorning friends! It’s so hard to believe that Thanksgiving is less then one week away! I have to say that this is my most favorite holiday of all. I love Christmas, of course, but Thanksgiving day marks the beginning of all things Christmas and, as a result, all of my favorite things! Christmas movies and music, family time, shopping, traditions, holiday lights and decorations, and on and on the list goes. There is just something so fun and special about this time of the year and it all begins, in my opinion, on Thanksgiving day!

To celebrate the beginning of the holiday season, I’m kicking off a Thanksgiving Countdown. From now until Thanksgiving day, I’ll be featuring 3 posts about Thanksgiving…ideas, crafts, recipes, activities, and even some free printables. Get ready!

Today, please enjoy this free digital print. I hope that it brings a little Thanksgiving cheer to your home. I recently came across this quote and I just love it. It perfectly encapsulates what this season (and every season, hopefully) is all about. Both being grateful to God for His many blessings and giving in return. Giving back to God with our obedience, our time, and our possessions. Giving to friends and family to show our love and appreciation. And giving to others to show them the love of Christ and to make their holiday just a little bit brighter.

Just click below to save and print. Enjoy! Don’t forget to come back and check out day number 2 tomorrow! Happy weekend!

 

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B’s Nursery Reveal

Goodmorning!

It’s only taken me six whole months to reveal our little guy’s nursery! Better late than never, I guess! I love the way it turned out and I’m so excited to share it with all of you. It’s not anything elaborate (and most of the ideas came from Pinterest, anyway, so I can’t take much credit) but my hope is that it gives you a little inspiration if you’re thinking [or dreaming] about creating your own nursery. Goodness knows I was saving nursery ideas long before I was even married. Please tell me I’m not crazy.

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Originally, I was set on doing a gender neutral room so that we could use it again for our future babies. I decided on yellow, teal, and gray and set off to find the pieces to put it together. My mom started crocheting a blanket for the baby in those colors and I used the yarn colors as a starting point. I quickly found out that I just couldn’t find anything I really loved in those colors. It was the wrong shade of green, the wrong style, too girly, too expensive. Then one day, my mom mentioned that she was going to start over  and crochet the blanket with a different design and “was I 100% sure of the color choices?” before she did so. My escape! I threw all my original plans out the window and decided to go with a boy-themed, navy and green nursery. I figured we could always replace the green with pink if we have a girl someday.

The first thing I purchased was a green wooden “B” to hang over the crib from Pottery Barn Kids. They were running an awesome online sale on their wall decor so I snatched it up. Then I set out to find matching green and navy fabric. People looked at me like a crazy person as I wandered through the fabric store trying to match fabric to a giant letter B in my cart! I had absolutely no luck finding the shade of green I wanted, so I ended up repainting the letter to match the fabric I found. I also picked a navy fabric with a simple white design.

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Lowe’s paint matching service is awesome. They matched the navy and green fabric swatches I brought along perfectly. I used the green to repaint the letter and the navy for one wall in the nursery. We painted the other walls a simple gray.

We decided that we wanted to go with white furniture. I remember walking through BabiesRUs very early in my pregnancy and being amazed at the prices for nursery furniture. There was just no way we could spend thousands of dollars for a crib and a changing table. So, in typical Jess-fashion, I went home and researched (and researched) the best crib for the lowest price. I found one I really liked on Amazon with free shipping, so we checked that off the list. My very handy husband sanded, repainted, and replaced the hardware on two old dressers. We found one at a reused furniture shop and the other through an online yardsale site.

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And then came the fun part…all the finishing touches! My grandma sewed a crib skirt and beautiful curtains for the windows and closet. My husband built an amazing closet. We hung shelves from ikea and found bins, baskets, and picture frames from various stores. After much agonizing, we decided to splurge on a glider from Target. And I’m so glad that we did!

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I felt like the nursery was missing something…like it needed a theme or a special touch. I had seen a lot of  the woodland theme recently pop up on Pinterest and thought it was adorable. (and, as it turns out, that was the surprise theme of my baby shower!) My very talented sister created some beautiful woodland artwork for the room. It was the perfect finishing touch!

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I hope you enjoyed the little tour! Thanks for stopping in!

Here is a list of my sources:

Paint: Lowes

Crib: Amazon

Letter B: Pottery Barn Kids

Glider: Target

White Shelves: Ikea

Blue bins in closet: Amazon

Picture frames: Hobby Lobby

Green book bin: Home Goods

Mirror: Hobby Lobby

Wire Baskets: Hobby Lobby

Arrow on Peg Board: Hobby Lobby

Peg Board: Lowes (painted white by my husband)

Wooden Blocks: Amazon

Stuffed Fox: Amazon

Stacking Toy: Amazon

Gray Crib Sheet: Carters

Curtains & Crib Skirt: made by my grandma, fabric from Joanne’s Fabric

Artwork:  my amazing sister

Changing pad cover: Target

Lamp: Target

 

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Hillary’s hypocrisy & the value of children

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I’ve never really been one to speak out about political happenings. And that is especially true this year since I don’t really feel comfortable publicly pledging my support for either candidate. But there has been one thing that has particularly disturbed me this entire election season. And that is Hillary’s incredible hypocrisy when it comes to her position on the value and the rights of children. I feel like I have to get my thoughts written down or I just might explode. So you get to be my lucky audience! I really want everyone to stop and consider what I’m going to say despite your choice of candidate or your political party.

This commercial has been playing for the past few months:

So, what can you conclude from the commercial above? Hillary cares about children. Every single child. They have the right to a bright future, to live up to their potential, to possibilities, to hope. It doesn’t matter to whom they’re born or where they’re born.

Now watch these short clips:

So what then can we conclude from these two clips? That unborn babies have no constitutional rights. That the decision about their life or their death rests on the mother’s choice and let’s hope they make a thoughtful one.

Now let me pose a few scenarios to you:

Let’s say you’re trying desperately to have a baby. It’s been months and months and months. Then one day, you see two lines on that pregnancy test. What are your feelings? Excitement, shock, joy, and elation at the thought of the new life inside of you. Oh, wait, no. You don’t feel any of those things. You think, “Wow, I sure wish there was actually a baby in there. But it’s just a fetus. Not a growing and living human life. Can’t get excited until I deliver in 9 months.” Is that how you would think?!

You’re going to your 10 week ultrasound. You stare in amazement at a little baby with a teeny tiny body squirming around. You can see it’s little heart beating and even hear it! You’re about to tell all your family and friends your amazing news. They’re ecstatic for you! Oops, I mean they don’t even care. Why would they be excited about a ten week old fetus with no life and no value? They’ll be ecstatic for you but not until they come and visit the new baby in the hospital, because then it’s a real baby with life and value. How would you feel if your family said those things to you?

You and your husband walk in for your 20 week ultrasound. You’re going to find out today if the baby is a boy or a girl! But the doctor looks at you with a frown and tells you there’s something wrong with the baby. It can be fixed with a in-utero procedure but it is difficult and expensive. So there’s really no point in doing it, he says. That baby in there isn’t really living and it has no rights and no real value, so let’s not bother with the life saving procedure. What would you do if your doctor said those things to you?!

If you have a child, you already know the answers to the questions above. No, you wouldn’t think like that. You would be heartbroken if your family responded to your happy news that way. You would be appalled if your doctor wasn’t willing to perform the life saving procedure.

But that’s because you LOVE your baby and WANTED your baby. So what if a mother doesn’t want her baby? Then it’s okay, right? It’s okay for you to say that there isn’t a life growing inside of a woman when she sees a positive pregnancy test. It’s okay for you to say that a ten week old baby with a heartbeat and little toes and fingers has no value. It’s okay for a woman’s doctor to tell her that there’s no real life growing inside of her. DO YOU SEE THE HYPOCRISY IN THIS? Please tell me you see it. We’re saying that the value of a child is based solely on how the mother FEELS ABOUT HER CHILD!

So no, Hillary doesn’t care about the rights of children no matter who they’re born to or where they’re born. It’s exactly the opposite. Because she’s saying that the child’s right to live is based solely on who that child is born to. It’s not fair. It’s heartbreaking and it’s downright wrong.

I can’t vote for a woman who devalues the life of children. A woman who says children deserve hope in life but only after they’ve been born. A woman who says that a mother’s choice trumps a child’s chance at life. A woman who says that government shouldn’t be involved in protecting the life of babies but should be involved in your healthcare, who you’re willing to do business with, and whether or not your school allows both genders to use your bathroom. That thought process is only the beginning of a very a slippery slope.

Think about it, friends. Don’t just soak in what the media tells you because they don’t tell you the whole story. Don’t take what Hillary is saying at face value because she lies. Research, read, look into it. Know what you’re actually voting for not what the TV tells you you’re voting for.

That’s it. I’m off my soapbox.

And I thank God everyday that He’s in control no matter how out of control the world looks.

 

 

 

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expectations vs. reality

expectation-vs-realityExpectations can be a tricky thing, can’t they? As a general rule, it’s better to have no or very low expectations so that you don’t set yourself up for failure when they’re not met. But that’s so much easier said than done, would you agree? And so, when I was preparing for motherhood, I dreamt up very high expectations for myself and this new adventure in motherhood. Expectations that very quickly slammed up against the wall of reality once I was home with my new little boy. I’m about to be brutally honest here, people, and I’m not so sure I want to be. But here it goes, anyway…hopefully someone out there can relate!

I’ll be a chill, easygoing mom. I’m not really sure why I thought this in the first place, since I struggle being chill and easygoing in every other part of my life. But I really did have myself convinced that I could take this whole new baby thing in stride. And then you realize that this baby is yours and dependent on the decisions that you make. And all of a sudden the what if questions start flying and you picture worse case scenarios and worry about all these things that you know aren’t worth worrying about but you just can’t convince yourself of it so you worry anyway.

It’ll be easy, I have so much experience with babies. It’s quite amazing how quickly you realize that experience with other people’s babies isn’t the same as experience with your own. I had to figure out his sleeping schedule, his eating schedule (not to mention how to breastfeed since it didn’t come as naturally for us as I anticipated), his personality, his likes, his dislikes. 24/7 care of my own baby is so totally different then a few hours with a baby who’s mom tells you exactly what he or she needs. I was way over-confident. I felt completely in the dark in so many situations with him over the past five months. I found myself constantly googling solutions and asking my mom and other older moms for advice.

It’s only one baby, so it’ll be easy to keep everything clean and organized at home. I’ll get so much done! Will I be bored? No. The answer to that question is no. Because you have a baby who only naps for forty-five minutes at a time. And because you’re ready for bed at 8:00 pm because he woke up four times last night. And a baby doesn’t just sit contentedly in his bouncy chair for an hour while you make dinner. Oh and you constantly have to stop what you’re doing to feed him, rock him, interact with him, or calm him. Don’t get me wrong, I love each of those things. It just doesn’t lend itself to accomplishing tasks very efficiently!

The baby weight will come off pretty easily once I start exercising and eating healthy. I’ll be back in my old clothes by mid-summer. I’ll be one of those moms who looks cute and put together wherever she goes. Wrong again. Because the weight doesn’t just fall off and you find yourself buying new clothes that actually fit this weird, new body of yours. And you don’t look cute wherever you go, either, because you don’t have time to do makeup and blow dry your hair just to go to the grocery store. And if I’m not going anywhere? Messy bun and pj’s all day, thank you. Good thing I usually go at least somewhere every day!

I’ll never do this, that, or the other thing like that mom does. The truth is, you don’t know what you’re going to do until you have a baby of your own. Now I understand why parents just bring their baby into bed with them. I know why so many moms don’t want to let their babies cry it out. I know why they freak out about germs and don’t want their tiny babies passed around. I get that they don’t want to leave their baby in the first month or two. And you won’t understand until you have a child. There’s still things I do or don’t do (we made him cry it out for just two days and now he sleeps so well on his own!) but I no longer pass judgement on other moms doing it their own way. Because, especially in those first few months, you do what you have to just to get through.

These are just a few examples of the unmet expectations I’ve had to face in the past few months. It hasn’t been easy. This new mom thing didn’t come together nearly as picture perfect as I imagined and I just see the word “failure” flashing in front of my eyes. But guess what? There’s a few lessons I’m learning in all of this.

First of all, as I mentioned in the first place, it’s better not to set your expectations too high. I’m also learning to extend grace to fellow moms. Because before I became a mom, I probably would’ve rolled my eyes at other moms for doing exactly the things I’m doing or have done since my baby was born. I’ve discovered that it’s so important to ask for advice. There’s one mom who practically saved me when I was confused about his eating and sleeping schedule in those first few weeks at home. My grandmothers, aunts, mother-in-law and my own mom have provided such wisdom over these past few months. I never would have guessed how much help I would need! Fourth, I’m learning what’s important. Is it really all that important that I look perfectly put together every time I go out? Is it that big of a deal that there’s a sink full of dishes when I go to bed at night or that the pile of laundry is just a little too big? No, it’s really not. Not when you compare it to the big picture! Some of my expectations just need to disappear entirely.

And finally, I’m learning to lean on the Lord for the expectations that God calls me to meet. I really want to be an easygoing mom who trusts the Lord with the little life so dependent on me. I don’t want to be a worrier. I still want to look and be healthy and take care of this body God has given me. I want to glorify God and be the best mom I can to this little boy and the best wife I can be for my husband. But it’s not going to happen on my own. I can’t meet those expectations by myself. I need to go to God’s Word, pray, and let Him grow me in all those areas. And so, little by little and only by God’s grace, I’ve found myself improving and gaining ground toward those God-given expectations.

So, take stock of your expectations. Toss the ones that are unimportant. Be humble enough to ask for wisdom and advice. Don’t set expectations based on what you think you can do on your own. Keep the expectations you find in God’s Word and then rely on Him to help you slowly meet them. Extend grace. Take it day by day. I have such a long way to go, but I’m finding that’s it so much better to know you have a long way to go than to think that you’ve already arrived.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Favorite Friday + Giveaway!

Happy Friday! I hope you’re all looking forward to a fun weekend celebrating the final days of summer! I can’t believe it’s September already. I’m a little sad that summer has come and gone so quickly (as it always does) and yet excited, too, as I look forward to all the fun that autumn brings!

I decided to try a new thing called “Favorite Friday.” Every Friday, I’m going to feature one of my favorite things. Most of the time it will be a product that I love and want to share with you! I already have quite a few favorites scheduled for the coming weeks and I’m so excited to introduce them to you. Quite a few them include giveaways and/or discount codes so make sure you check back every Friday!

And to kick off the first Friday, I’m going to tell you about one of my favorite weekly organizing tools. I don’t know about you, but the beginning of fall always motivates me to be a little more organized. It’s easy to shrug off the to-do list and my daily goals in the summertime but when the school year comes around, I always feel like it’s time to start getting back into a routine of working out, healthy eating, and getting things done around the house. I’m a list-maker. I’m more motivated to accomplish tasks, work out, and meet my goals when I can cross them off a list at the end of the day!

 

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Enter, Bloom Weekly Planning Sheets. It’s the perfect way to start your week organized and prepared. There’s a spot for your weekly to-do list, including the top 5 “must-do” tasks. Each day has its own box where you can write your daily schedule, meal plans, and reminders. There’s even a healthy habits box where you can enter your healthy goals (mine include working out, no dessert, quiet time, and reading) and check off each day that you’ve accomplished them! I fill it out on Sunday or Monday morning, hang it on the fridge, and have something to look at all week to keep me on task and focused on accomplishing my goals. I LOVE this. Nothing beats the feeling of seeing a list checked off at the end of the week…for this very type A personality of mine, anyway!

 

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Now, enough talk. Today, I’m giving a weekly planner to one of my awesome readers! It includes 60 tear-off sheets…enough for an entire year of planning! Enter the giveaway below. You have until Monday at midnight (EST) to enter and I’ll announce the winner via Facebook on Tuesday morning! Also please bear with me, as this is my first attempt at a giveaway.

Happy Weekend!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Easy Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal

Easy Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal

Goodmorning!

Today I’m going to tell you about one of my most favorite breakfast recipes EVER. First, I can’t take credit for this recipe myself. My Aunt Grace has been making this delicious morning treat for many years. Growing up, I would often travel to Ohio with my grandparents to visit my uncle, aunt, and cousin for a long weekend. I have so many fun memories of those trips. One of those memories is waking up to a table beautifully set (seriously, my Aunt has an amazing knack for treating even her most ordinary visitors like the queen of England) with fancy dishes, juice, coffee, fruit, and her famous baked oatmeal. Oh, how I loved those mornings.

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This recipe is great for so many reasons. It’s so easy. It literally takes me 10 minutes to make this from the first step to the last. It’s also a great make ahead breakfast. Mix it up the night before and then pop it in the oven forty minutes before breakfast the next morning! It pleases even the pickiest of eaters. My husband isn’t a fan of oatmeal and was less than enthusiastic if I ever mentioned making this for breakfast. Well, one day I made it anyway and he loved it. I also love to whip this up on Sunday or Monday and then eat it for breakfast the rest of the week. We like it with chocolate chips (what isn’t better with chocolate chips?!) and chopped pecans. But you can add fruit, raisins, nuts, whatever.

Try out the recipe sometime this week! You won’t be disappointed! Let me know what you think in the comments.

(scroll down for printable version)

EASY CHOCOLATE CHIP BAKED OATMEAL

1/2 cup melted butter

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

3 cups oatmeal

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 cup milk

1 tsp. vanilla

dash of cinnamon

1 cup chocolate chips (optional)

1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Mix all ingredients until well combined and put in a greased 9×13 baking dish. Top with chocolate chips and chopped pecans, if desired. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

And done! Told you it was easy!

 

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Print Recipe
Easy Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
9x13 pan
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
9x13 pan
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients until well combined and put in a greased 9x13 baking dish. Top with chocolate chips and chopped pecans, if desired. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
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a look back: our birth story

So, four months ago (!!!), I brought a sweet baby boy into this world. I still look at him and wonder how in the world this baby is ours! I’ve dreamt of being a mom for so long and all of a sudden here I am, barely remembering what life was like before he arrived. I’ve been wanting to write an update on mommy life for awhile now, but I can’t decide how to organize my thoughts on it all. The birth story, the many emotions, the excitement, the newness, the difficulty. Not to mention that I have to choose between showering, working out, cleaning the house, or folding laundry during my child’s 30 minute naps. (we’re working on that) In conclusion, it’s taken me much too long to sit down and write about these past few months.

However, today is a new day! I’m going to start at the very beginning with a few details and thoughts on my baby’s birthday. It feels like it was just yesterday, but I currently have a not-so-tiny baby boy sitting on my lap grabbing at the computer keys to remind me that it wasn’t!

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Our little guy arrived on April 22nd at 6:26 in the evening. This isn’t going to be a typical “birth story” because I don’t really feel like my readers will enjoy the less than lovely details that go into that type of post. That being said, I’m going to sum it up with a few different points/thoughts/reflections from the day:

• I delivered four days early. And it was the best thing EVER because I had zero time to start freaking out about labor. I was still checking off that pre-baby to-do list, thinking I had at least a solid four more days to get things done. It’s okay, though, considering the last things on the list included things like “deep clean the kuerig” and “double check my labor bag for the millionth time.”

• Don’t rely on the many things people tell you about birth. I was told I’d never go early with my first baby and I was also told that I shouldn’t expect my water to break. Well. I went early and my water broke in the middle of the night before any other labor signs. It ended up being a good thing, however, because I was able to be admitted into a delivery room as soon as I arrived!

• I know this is controversial for some, but I honestly don’t know why anyone would ever go through labor without an epidural. Within ten minutes, I went from barely being able to talk through the pain to actually being able to enjoy the hours leading up to my baby’s birth. We watched a movie, scrolled facebook, texted family members,  and shared the excitement of our baby’s arrival. But, hey, all the more power to you if you can push through the pain without it!

• When the nurse tells you that you’ve dilated from 5cm to almost 8cm in 15 minutes and starts getting things ready for your baby’s impending arrival, don’t turn your movie off, get all excited, and have your mom start heading to the hospital because it could still be hours before your baby arrives.

• I’m really not a chill person. My husband can attest to this. But I felt surprisingly chill and peaceful throughout the entire labor process. I made it my goal in the months leading up to the birth to have zero expectations and no specific plan. I figured I wouldn’t be a mess if things didn’t go according to plan if there was no plan! I highly recommend this to other pregnant mommies out there! It was seriously the best thing I did and helped me to remain calm throughout the ups and downs of the day. It also proved to me more then ever that God gives you the grace you need when you need it.

• Don’t let the movies fool you when they show these pretty moms who push their baby out in 2.5 seconds surrounded by nurses and doctors because it doesn’t happen like that. When they told me that I probably wouldn’t push for long, I was thinking 15-20 minutes tops. Oh no. Try 2 hours. And by far, the most painful and exhausting 2 hours of the entire day.

• But suddenly, you’re done! You feel a million times better and nothing else matters because you’re looking at a healthy, bright-eyed baby boy. A baby that you’ve only dreamt about for the past nine months. And just like that, you’re a family of three! It feels so surreal. The emotions come like waves over you but you’re too exhausted to really dwell on any single one.

• I had myself so worried about recovering from birth. I read all those articles about “the 10 things nobody tells you about birth” that go into detail about what to expect after you deliver the baby. I expected the worst. But here’s what those articles don’t say. You’re so overjoyed by your new little baby that none of it really matters. Sure, you’re sore and tired and still have a pregnant looking belly. But it all pales in comparison to the joy, excitement, and this newfound love.

• Being pregnant and giving birth gives you a whole new insight into God’s care and creativity. He formed this baby boy inside of me and created me to be able to bring him life and sustain him afterwards. It’s truly a miracle! I’m so thankful to God for blessing our family with this precious boy.

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And that day was just the beginning of the adventure! I’ll be sure to post many more thoughts and reflections on motherhood in the coming days.

 

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5 certain truths in a world of uncertainty

We woke up this morning to yet another senseless tragedy in our country. It seems like I can’t get through a day without reading about some dreadful story or another. It feels as though society is getting worse, our future dimmer, and our world more uncertain. On days like today, when our world’s insecurity seems even more overwhelming, here are five truths I try to remember:

1. Nothing surprises God. Nothing. Nothing happens without His permission or outside of His plan. We can rest in knowing that God is Sovereign and that He has a plan for this world and for our lives. The Bible makes it clear: this world will bring trouble but true and lasting peace will triumph in the end when He returns or calls us home to heaven.

 From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” – Psalm 61:2

2. Fear and worry accomplish nothing. I could worry all day long about this country and our future. It comes so naturally. What will it be like for my baby to grow up in a world like this? What’s going to happen if evil becomes more and more prevalent in society? What will become of our country after the next election? Will our freedoms be taken away? There’s so much to fear and so much to worry about. And yet, I accomplish nothing by focusing on those unanswerable questions. So instead, turn your thoughts away from those things and turn them toward what is true, right, pure, and lovely.

 “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” – Matthew 6:27

3. Love has a God-given definition. It is, without a doubt, our job as Christians to love others. But we have to remember that love is defined by God and not by you, me, or anyone else. In a world shouting “love” and “tolerance”, we need to speak and live out the true definition of love and tolerance. It doesn’t mean agreeing with everyone. It does mean treating those who disagree with us with kindness. It doesn’t mean that we don’t speak the truth just in case it offends someone. It does mean that we speak the truth in love.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;    does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truthbears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

4. You never know what the next day will bring. It seems as though tragedy is everywhere. And unfortunately, none of us get a guarantee that it won’t affect us or those close to us. So enjoy today. Don’t say the unkind comment that’s on the tip of your tongue. Let the dishes sit in the sink for another hour and play an extra game with your kids. Snuggle your baby for a few more minutes. Complement and encourage. Talk to your husband for ten more minutes tonight instead of turning on the TV. Be with your family. Book the vacation. And for goodness sake, put your phone down.

5. Be prepared to stand and to speak. We know the good news amongst all of the bad news. Be ready and willing to share the gospel with those who don’t. And be prepared to stand for the truth as it’s going to become that much harder. Know God’s Word…read it, study it, memorize it. Otherwise, how will you even know what truth to stand for?

I certainly struggle in both remembering and applying these things in my own life, but they definitely provide a little hope and purpose during these confusing times. I pray they do the same for you!

 

 

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mini strawberry & blueberry pies

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Happy 4th of July!

Oh, how I love the 4th of July. The best colors, food, weather, and an excuse to hang out with family & friends. I love trying a new red, white, and blue themed dessert every year. So many choices! Luckily, there’s lots of fruit this time of year that fit the color scheme. I decided to try out some mini blueberry and strawberry pies because 1) who doesn’t love something miniature? You can try one of each without feeling guilty! 2) blueberries & strawberries are in season and are pretty much my favorite 3) I wanted to try to create something new 4) pie is the perfect summertime treat.

You start with some pie crust (the recipe follows although it would be perfectly acceptable to get some pre made dough if you’re trying to save some time) and cut out circles using a round cookie cutter or drinking glass. Fit them into muffin tins and fill with delicious blueberry and strawberry filling! I topped mine with a stabilized whipped cream. It’s like a homemade version of cool whip. Ice cream would be equally delicious!

Sorry there’s so few pictures, I underestimated the time it would take to make these while also trying to entertain a baby who decided he’d boycott his naps for the day. Don’t forget to follow my blog via e-mail if you want to see more recipes, fun ideas, and my ramblings!

Printable Version Here

MINI STRAWBERRY & BLUEBERRY PIES

Makes 24 mini pies

PIE CRUST 

3 cups flour

1 tsp. salt

1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup cold butter (cut into cubes)

10 tablespoons ice water

Combine all the dry ingredients and mix with a fork or pastry cutter while adding water 1 tablespoon at a time until dough is formed. I just combine all the ingredients in my blender and mix until a ball forms. Either way!

Coat two muffin tins with cooking spray. Roll out the dough and use a circle cookie cutter or drinking glass to create circles. Fit your circles into the muffin tins and make sure the dough goes at least halfway up the sides. Prick the bottom of the pie crust with a fork. Once you’ve created 24 little pie crusts, throw the muffin tins in the fridge.

BLUEBERRY PIE FILLING

3 cups fresh blueberries

1 tbsp. lemon juice

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 + 1/8 cup flour

1/8 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. vanilla

2 tbsp. butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sprinkle blueberries with lemon juice and set aside. Combine the next 4 ingredients- sugar through cinnamon. Combine dry ingredients with blueberries until well incorporated. Add vanilla. Divide the blueberry mixture into 12 of your mini pie crusts. Cut butter into small squares and dot each pie with a few butter pieces.

Place your mini blueberry pies and the remaining pan of empty pie crusts in the oven. Bake the empty crusts for 15 minutes and the blueberry pies for 25 minutes or until bubbly. The blueberry pie filling will leak out the sides but don’t worry! Just pop the pies out of the tin a few minutes after they’re finished cooking or they’ll get stuck.

STRAWBERRY PIE FILLING

1/2 cup mashed strawberries

6 tbsp. water

6 tbsp. sugar

1 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch

1/2 tbsp. lemon juice

1/8 tsp. salt

1 cup sliced strawberries

Combine mashed strawberries and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and simmer for 3 minutes. Strain juice from strawberries and add enough water to make 1/2 cup. Combine sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and salt in the empty saucepan and then stir in the strawberry juice. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, for 3-4 minutes or until thick. Set aside to cool slightly.

Remove your remaining 12 pie crusts from the muffin tin. Layer sliced strawberries in the bottom of your baked pie crusts. You can fill them nearly all the way to the top. Pour strawberry mixture over the sliced strawberries until full. Cool in fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight.

STABILIZED WHIPPED CREAM

1/3 cup confectioners sugar

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 tsp. vanilla

1 pint (1 cup) heavy cream

Combine first three ingredients until smooth. In a separate bowl, beat heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add in cream cheese mixture. Beat the mixture again until thick and creamy.

I used a cupcake decorating tool to create a swirl of whipped cream on top of my pies. Go ahead and just spoon a dollop on top or serve it on the side so people can have as little or as much as they want. (I can just hear my husband saying “Would you like a side of pie with your whipped cream?” But it’s just that good!)

That’s it! If you try the recipe, please let me know what you think.

Happy 4th!

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10 things I love about my husband

 

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Today marks two years of marriage for me and my husband! We’ve certainly had our ups and downs in the past two years, but overall it’s just been so much fun growing together as husband and wife. I’m looking forward to many more years with him by my side! And so, in honor of our anniversary, I’ve put together a “top ten” list of things I love about my husband.

1. His love for God. He faithfully serves God in both big and small ways. He’s grown so much in his knowledge of the Bible and in his love for Christ over the past two years!

2. His selflessness. He is truly the most selfless person I know. He’d do anything for anybody. It doesn’t matter if it’s inconvenient or if there’s a hundred other things he’d rather be doing. He’s sacrificed for me more times than I can count.

3. His work ethic. He leaves our warm and snuggly bed every morning and goes to work whether he feels like it or not. He always gives 100% no matter what the job and is always willing to go the extra mile. I rarely hear him complain even though the days can be so long, hot, and tiring during this time of the year.

4. He’s a great dad. He snuggles, changes diapers, reads books, gives baths, and loves on our little guy. I know Blake and our future children will know that their daddy will always be there for them…to wrestle, cuddle, counsel, discipline, encourage, protect, and to lead all with a love that can’t be denied.

5. His humility. He’s quick to say he’s sorry if he’s messed up. He doesn’t have to always be right. He’s willing to listen to the godly advice and wisdom of others. He’s willing to compromise.

6. His sense of humor. His quick wit and funny remarks can make anybody laugh. He often makes me laugh even when I don’t want to. He truly fills our home with joy and laughter.

7. His ability to stand for what is right. Even when it’s difficult!

8. He can fix anything. I remember thinking when I was a teenager, “what if I marry someone who can’t fix things?” I had grown up with a dad who could fix anything from a leaky pipe to a broken toy. Thankfully, my husband is just like him!

9. He builds things. This may sound similar to number 8, but stick with me. Not only can he fix anything, he can build anything. He took a home that I hated (even italicizing that word doesn’t give justice to the amount of hatred I had toward that house when I first walked through it) and made it into something I absolutely love. I simply watch in amazement as he creates something out of nothing and he just acts like it’s no big deal.

10. He’s faithful. I have no doubt that he will be faithful to me as the years go on. And not just to me. He’s a faithful son, son-in-law, brother, friend, and dad. You just know you can count on him.

I could go on, but I won’t. I’m so blessed and so grateful and just so glad that God chose him to be mine!

Two years down, forever to go <3

 

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