Love is…

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Love laid down his life for us knowing we didn’t deserve it.

Love saw grace and pleaded guilty in our name.

Love overcame our sin in his name.

Love is looking past our faults.

Love is..

Patient when things are chaotic

Kind when we’ve heard mommy for the umpteenth time

 not boastful or proud or rude

Put’s God first for everyone’s sake

Is not easily angered when the walls are marked with crayon

Doesn’t remind us that we yelled yesterday

Gives us grace when things aren’t homemade

Never fails or gives up on us…on them

Love is a journey of faith that we live daily as mom and babe.

When we are weary we can run to God and fill up on his love so that it overflows in all areas of our life.

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You might also like: Family Valentine’s Day Ideas

Memories of 2014

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(Happy Birthday Jesus Party)

It’s truly not a secret that I love the holidays. Christmas especially!

Over the past few years-while my children were young-I spent my time trying out new traditions. Since my children are at a good age to remember things, now was the time to really etch those holiday traditions in stone.

I was inspired by my friends over at Patience Brewster to keep the holiday spirit alive and share with you all my favorite memorable moments of the past holiday. Here I will share of few of my favorites that we have adopted. If you aren’t familiar with Patience’s work I encourage you to check it out. Patience designs some intricate and unique things. One of my favorite’s is her ornaments.

Christmas Ornaments

(Picture Courtesy of the Patience Brewster website)

So this year for Christmas I put together a few days of advent activities that we could enjoy. They ranged from a cookie baking day to an ornament making day. Family and togetherness is so important to us and we were so grateful to have a nice Christmas together this year. I’ve managed to grab a few snapshots for this occasion. Here are some highlights from this past Christmas season that we won’t be forgetting!

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 Scene’s from our Christmas Tree. This year the theme for our tree was a little country with a touch of rustic and Jesus all over. It’s so easy to forget that real meaning. I made these ornaments from printable’s I found around the web and scaled them down to a smaller size. I also made the pine cone ornaments by hot gluing some twine in a bow to the top of them.

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 A little rustic vintage touch. My hubby used to love this sled as a kid. In fact he gets tempted every now and again to pull it out for the kid’s. I use it for decoration; a great way to salvage a childhood memory.

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All over pinterest. Two of my favorite things combined! Mason jars and Christmas trees. I. just. love. them!

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Cookie baking day. We baked cookies ALL day as a family…one recipe after another then gobbled them all up!

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We look forward to this every year. Ginger bread house making with whatever we can find!

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Snow man family night with homemade pizza’s and games.

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Ornaments! Made, passed down and bought. Some of these were made by me when my babies were in the belly.

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Jesse Tree ornaments.

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My all time favorite this year was our homemade ornaments. We used some of them as gift tags and gave some as gifts.
I love decorating for the Christmas season! This year my family got together at my Mil’s home for pork, sauerkraut, and mashed potatoes-representive of good luck in the Mennonite community. Nothing says a happy new year like sauerkraut seeping out of your pores! The kiddos run shoeless, games are played and lazy conversation is had.
So these are my favorite memories of 2014, now we are making room for the new memories of 2015!

 What’s your favorite tradition or memory of the holiday season?

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Meal Plan Monday #28

Welcome back friends!

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I hope the weekend has been good to you!
I finally feel as though I can man-handle my circus ring…baby and all. Which leads me into meal planning. Our family and friends have taken care of all our meals post-baby up until now and I’m so super grateful. It has truly been a blessing to us and has allowed all of us, me especially, to relax and focus on bonding with baby. Who knew what a huge difference meal planning makes? It’s a hard job to figure out a tasteful, timeless, yet budget friendly meal to feed your family.

One thing that helps me is shopping big for my meat a few times a year when our local grocery store has their meat sales. This allows me to focus more budget wise on pantry items and save big when it comes to meat. Now I am focusing on making the most of my savings and using up what I have before it is time to shop again.

Here is what is on my menu for the next this week:

Breakfast
Chocolate chip pancakes
Carrot zucchini muffins, smoothie and homemade yogurt
Sausage gravy and biscuits with eggs
Cereal
Blueberry baked oatmeal
Cinnamon baked french toast

Lunch
Lunch meat roll ups with veggies
Mexican tomato rice and bean bowls
Corn dog muffins
Mini tortilla pizzas

Dinner
Crockpot bbq chicken sandwiches, baked beans
Zuppa Toscana soup with bread sticks
Crock pot cilantro lime chicken
Pasta with tomato cream sauce, apple walnut salad

Snacks
Double chocolate zucchini bread muffins
Assorted fruits and veggies
Oreo layer dessert

This meal plan is full of our favorite meals. I figured I’d pull out my favorite list since it’s cold and snowy here. Perfect for warm comfort foods!

How do you meal plan?

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Linking Up With: Titus TuesdaysLiving Proverbs 31, Joy Dare

Word of the Year

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I’m so excited for all that God has in 2015. It was a busy 2014..busy but fun! Each year I have been picking a word to study and dig deeper into for the entire year. This word is as much for my family as it is for me. I try to walk through this with them in family life as the year progresses.

Last year my word was slow and here is what I learned:

Slow for me represents a life surrendered, a life in love with God, a life obedient, a life in worship.

Living slow is a mindset, a lifestyle and a gift. I achieve that by planning to be intentional and creative with my time, surrounding myself with smarter and like-minded people, and making sure that’s God’s will of sanctification in my life is evident through accountability to my husband, my family, my community by actively living out his word and continuing in relationship. This is how I can live slow. To know that God’s hand is out for me, not just when I fall but all the time. So my weariness and hard days, when guilt won’t release me, won’t flourish because I know that I am his precious daughter and he gives grace to me by holding his hand out for me.

This year I picked the word joy.

Joy is an unending satisfaction in the Lord..an appetite no sin craving can fulfill.

How many have trouble suffering well? (Hand raised) I do. It’s in my sin-filled nature to only see what hurt’s me or ticks me off and not see grace as an opportunity for all. Not only that, it’s in my sin-filled heart to lolli-gag when I’m supposed to be working hard or find it hard look to Jesus with a glad heart when it hurts.

Looking to Jesus when it hurts, is overwhelming, looks to hard or is difficult. That is not always easy, but God provides a way that is wiser, to navigate through it. I want to learn to look to the hills from whence cometh my help, love when I shouldn’t be, be diligent when life is crazy…with a glad heart. That is key. Jesus did it, so can I. Why? Because I abide in him, and him in me. When I confessed with my mouth and believed in my heart that he was Lord of my life, my sin-filled nature was redeemed by his blood and raised to life in him. He gives me strength to ask for joy, strive for joy and count it all joy ( James 1:2-4).

So this year I will be unpacking what it looks like to live in the joy of the Lord, doing life well by suffering well, and allowing that to spill over into every area of my life.

Do you have a word for the year? How do you dig in?

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Linking Up With: Titus TuesdaysLiving Proverbs 31, Joy Dare

Best of 2014

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I’m so excited to be writing this…a list of my favorite posts of the year. I can never really pick one post because they are all written close to my heart. I’ve had this goal since last year and well…never got to it. That seems to often be the case with blogging…So many goals and so little time to cram it all into this space. This year I plan to clean up my act a little and make my goals look more attainable. I want to say a big thank you to all of you who read here. I’ve seen my readers grow in number over the months and it always shocks me to see a diligent number of people interested. Blogging isn’t easy, neither is putting yourself out there. So thank you for being my readers! Here’s to 2015 eh?

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Our back to school party..so much fun!

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Paper bag journal

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What a lemon pie taught me about God

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How one night I couldn’t sleep

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Boy mom blessings

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Memorial day fun

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Slowdays at a glance

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In celebration of slow

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My joy filled  life

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letting snow marinate

weak

Letting weakness reflect my dependency on God

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Thanksgiving


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Encouraging single moms

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The NBA

I’m so excited for God’s provision in 2015. It’s a new year bringing more mess ups, more grace, and brand new mercies.

Do you have a favorite post of 2014 from this blog? Let me know down below!

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Linking Up With: Titus TuesdaysLiving Proverbs 31, Joy Dare

Operation Christmas Child

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Missions is a big part of being a believer. Giving and blessing are core in my family. Whether it be with our time, our money or our resources, being a blessing is close to my heart. Each year I try to find a new way for our family to be involved in giving and serving. I want my children to grow up with an attitude of gratitude for what and how they have been blessed. I want them to understand that every good and perfect gift is given by God. And I want them to never forget that by always allowing the Lord to use them to serve others.

A great practical way for that to be implemented is Operation Christmas child. We do this as a apart of our 8 days of advent activities. We’ve had the date saved for collection week for about a year now and when it finally came my boys were excited. They started looking around the house for all sorts of things to give. It was so cute and thoughtful that I could not bear to tell them right away that we could not give used things. Oops!

Here’s what was in our box:

(1) toothbrush and Toothpaste

(1) 3 pack pair of sock

(1) pack of pencils

(1) pack of crayons

(1) ninja turtle Puzzle

(2) hotwheel cars

(1) sheet of stickers

(1) homemade coloring book

(1) bag of homemade play dough

We decorated some regular shoe boxes with scrapbook paper and chose to track our boxes. Each of my boys packed a shoe box for a boy their age. When went to buy items for the boxes I tried to be more intentional with encouraging them to buy things that they would use. This was not hard. They picked up lots of toys that they wanted. Ha!

We really enjoy this activity and time. We also like to watch video’s of the children receiving their gift and we just got word that our boxes have arrived to Namibia. What a sweet experience.

How does your family serve during the Christmas season?

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Linking Up With: Titus TuesdaysJoy Dare

The Night Before Advent Party

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Christmas is my favorite season. I hate that at times it feels like Christian living all comes together at Christmas time after struggling so much all year. Christmas time is a breath of fresh air. Honestly. A time to examine our hearts and ignite the true meaning of this season. A better opportunity to give and accept.

Last year we started doing advent activities. We as a family take this time to be together and be more intentional about talking about Jesus, his life and his sacrifice.

Let me tell you something about being intentional…In a life of raising a family and being a wife, you have to be intentional to be intentional! Preparing ahead for those moments are crucial to this cause.howtotrainasuperhero.com

Anyway, We decided this year to implement some simpler things that we can stick with as a tradition. We usually put our tree up the day after Thanksgiving or November 3oth- which we did this year but I also wanted to give my children an opportunity to get excited about Jesus and our celebration of his coming. So we added a night before advent party, from Ann Voskamp to our traditional festivities. We watched a Christmas movie, made some great hot chocolate creations in our doodle cups from last year and kicked off our first advent reading and activity.

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I’ve found that doing this allows us the opportunity to form a tradition and look forward to it each year.

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We use our homemade advent wreath and candles for the kids along the way. I’m way to paranoid too have real candles around them. Especially since they wrestle…a lot.

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My hubby is a big fan of the “Bobby” sandwich from Capriotti’s, so we like to make them with our Thanksgiving left overs. My hubby usually ends up slapping some left over sweet potato casserole on his. Big hit!

What traditions have you added this year to your Christmas festivities?

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Linking Up With: Titus TuesdaysLiving Proverbs 31, Joy Dare

How To Encourage a Single Mother During the Holiday’s

As I look back on the last few years of my life and the position I was then in, I can’t help but look up to the heavens and through the clouds declare that there is a glorious God hiding beyond the face of the universe.

My life is living proof of our great God!

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 I was a single mom searching through the heartache of my past for some rhyme or reason to keep pushing forward. I had many sleepless nights, many hopeless and endless nights, many joyful nights but more struggling nights.

On the outside I mirrored a strong young woman, kind at heart but living with a chipped shoulder in desperate need of relief from long hours at work, and bills that stacked way higher than my means but on the inside I was worried, depressed and just making it. Wanting someone to reach out without feelings of shame.

When someone who walked by and passed me muttered the words, “happy holidays” I felt anything but happy. My mind was bent on making this years Christmas count just as much as last because I didn’t always have it. It was stressful…My children were young and there was no way they would understand that mama was struggling. How could I let them down? The reality of Christ and his sacrifice was clear to me and truly means a lot but my focus was jaded by the commercials that promoted family, gifts, food and hot specialty drinks,which are all good things. My children spent half the holiday away from home and that made it worst. Christmas was anything but that though I always tried to make it work.

My sister-in-law asked me one year, ” how can I bless a single mom for Christmas?” I had to search deep. Who wants to say, “hey, I’m barely making it, my kids need clothes?” Not I, not me, not then.

Encouragement…that’s what was needed. A kind gesture to let me know that God sees me, my sacrifice and my hard work. The extra clarification that I was doing the best I could and that was okay. A friend. Someone who came over just for coffee to sit and chat with me, didn’t judge me but really wanted to know me. More Jesus; incentives that pushed me toward the truth instead of all the lies I could and was believing about my life. An invitation…ideas for my family that helped me redefine the true meaning of Christmas.

I wanted my boys to feel like they were apart of a family..that when Christmas, Christmas Eve or the day the courts made up for me to have them came it wouldn’t feel so empty or quiet.

Not all single moms live this way, not all single moms feel the same and maybe even, not all single moms are struggling but the reality is…many are and many need hope. I compiled this list from my own experience and in talking with other single mother’s.

How can you bless a single mom for the holidays? Take a look!

Pray for them
Encourage them with scripture
Invite them to church
Give a gift that will help them to exhale like a book (desperate) with a treat, some homemade bath bombs, homemade cookies
A meal on wheels-so they don’t have to cook on the holiday (maybe parts of the meal like a ham or turkey, some sides, a dessert)
Meals for the freezer
Unwrapping the greatest gift
An ice cream kit-a box with some cute cups, cones, sprinkles, liquid topping banana’s and a board game to top it off
A Movie kit- all the fixings for a snack bar like candies, homemade white chocolate popcorn, a recipe for a cool drink and a good family movie
Go over and be with her and the kids and have movie night with them.
A bag of clothing, used or new. Kids coats, shoes or clothing.
Send a few groceries
Pick up a gift on her list for the kids (She most likely won’t have many)
Give a gift card to a restaurant
Serve her-Go over and help her

Many single moms are forgotten. Let’s love on them and give hope in Christ.
Do you have more things that you could add to this list? Share them below!

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Linking Up With: Titus Tuesdays, Joy Dare

What’s in my bag?

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 This always kind of gets me. Labor and delivery experiences are so different now a days and I find even more today that hospital’s are moving further and further away from enabling us to be lazy.

From the new rooming in policy’s to laboring, delivering and postpartum all in the same place we can’t deny that the culture has changed and is ever evolving.

I scheduled this post before I went into labor but now that our baby is here and I’ve been through the transition already I thought it’d be even more helpful to a new mama who’s over packed and nervous. I think I always over packed in some way, that’s just me. I’ve unpacked this bag and packed it all over again from reading websites and experience a few times before the show really started and from the very beginning I should have kept in what I had.

I think what you will need as far as toiletries will always depend on what your hospital will provide but if you want to really feel clean, invest in some travel sized options.

Here’s what was in my bag in list form.

For Mama:

Two wash cloths; one for face and one for washing because the hospitals is thin.
Travel sized toothpaste, floss, mouth wash
Toothbrush
Travel sized bottles filled with face wash, oil for my hair and leave in conditioner spray
Moisturizer
Towel…because the hospitals may be small or thin leaving you feeling very wet and unclean
Aveeno stress relief body wash and lotion
Tums
Pomegranate tea bags
Nursing cover
Boppy or nursing pillow
Nursing bra
Socks, after a while I grew tired of the non skids and opted for my Target 1$ section fitteds
Vaseline
Copy of birth plan, we forgot this at home but our hospital had it on file.
Underwear for going home
Two plastic bags and a Ziploc for soiled clothing for baby and mom and wet cloths.
Hard candy
Flip flops, I left these home
Rice pack

For baby:
Two wash cloths
Two outfits, one for going home and one to change during stay. My hospital provided a carters gown so it was quite nice to keep on
Two onesies
Socks, Our hospital didn’t have any
hand mittens
Two cloth dipes for going home day

For the car:
Bundle me
Car seat canopy
Blanket
Car seat and base

What I wished I brought:

Breast pump, we eventually picked this up but it was so useful in helping to get my milk supply going.

Flip flops to shower in. Our tub was pretty clean but it would have been nice to have.

Hubby’s bag. He kept insisting he wouldn’t need one and if he did he would go home and get dressed…My hubby never left my side and didn’t want to. He showered in my room because our bathroom was nice and had a jet tub. It would have been nice for him to have a bag for himself especially after long laboring.

Two changes of clothing
like two pairs of sweatpants. I found that after a bunch of visitors and birthing a baby, I wanted to freshen up and at least put on something other than a hospital gown. Something that I could lounge in during the day.

My baby girl’s journal: my hubby and I recorded all the first like smile, burp, bath, tests that were done, who came in to see us, nursing schedule and the like on a sheet of paper. I found myself missing the chance to jot down prayers for my baby and things that were going on.

A book or something for leisure: I had my tablet and my phone and the TV but I grew tired of screen time quickly. During the night or day when my baby girl was awake I was wanted to read to keep myself awake or occupied. I was bored during the day and couldn’t sleep due to excitement.

So this is what was in my bag. I didn’t care about wearing makeup or looking cute. I wanted to be comfortable and I honestly didn’t miss those items. If I took any pictures I wanted that raw moment to be captured..I didn’t have time for makeup anyway.

I used my nursing cover a lot and my nursing pillow. I also used a rice pack, that I made from extra fabric and some rice, very often for cramping when my uterus was contracting. I remembered the rice balls I made most when I had my boys. I also wanted snacks other than ginger ale and graham crackers and an extra nursing bra.

Every woman’s hospital bag looks different. As I said before, it depends on what your hospital will offer. You will more than likely over pack, it’s just how we are wired. Better to have too much and not enough.

Is there something that you couldn’t live without in your bag? Please share below to encourage and help another mama!

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Linking Up With: Titus TuesdaysLiving Proverbs 31, Joy Dare

Meal Plan Monday #27

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Happy Monday everyone! I hope your weekend was great. This weekend my hubby and I did some last minute Christmas shopping for our boys and finished some odds and ends for baby. It was an interesting weekend to say with contractions rising and no results. Hopefully we will get to hold our baby girl soon. I decided to dig a little deeper into my meal plans and give you more detail because I usually plan three meals a day for two-three weeks at a time. I suck with lunch though, it’s a struggle for me to be creative in this area because I can’t get out of sandwich mode but I digress. Lately I’ve been kicking it up to make sure we are eating a balanced meal daily. So that means making sure there are some fruits and veggies along side. I tend to follow a ratio of one fruit, one veggie, protein and dairy. Lot’s of times through the week we have leftover’s so if you see three or four things listed it’s not because I don’t feed my family, we just have more to go around at some point. I can’t cook everyday of my life you know. We also tend to eat out or find something quick on the weekends. Here is what is on my list for the coming week.

Breakfast Honey Banana Muffins/pina colada smoothie Baked oatmeal Egg muffins and sausage Cereal Breakfast sandwiches German pancakes/fruit and sausage

Lunch Grilled cheese with pepperoni, grapes Parmesan noodles and peas Apple salad and fish sticks Dinner Parmesan honey pork, salad and garlic mashed potatoes Corn dog muffins/veggies Cheese steak sandwiches and chips Weeknight chicken stir fry I keep a meal plan journal where I can write down recipes that I want to try and the website, book or magazine to find it and also if we liked the recipe or not or my notes. This makes it easy and I have everything in one place. I also have a meal plan board, which I will share in a future post, that allows me to write down what’s happening for the week and my shopping list. I’m the crazy lady with a bunch of lists in her pocketbook. ha! I hope you find a recipe here that you can keep! We have a lot of catching up to do. Meet back here next Monday for coffee and tea? See ya then! howtotrainasuperhero.com

Linking Up With: Titus TuesdaysLiving Proverbs 31, Joy Dare