Gender Reveal Announcement // He or She?

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Our family is expecting another baby this coming January! With little sis’s birthday January 25th and big sis’s birthday February 1st, we have managed to ensure that we’ll always be busy that time of year!

With Gracie we found out as soon as we could whether we would be having a boy or girl and shared it with the world right away! We called parents and friends and posted it on facebook the minute we were able. We couldn’t contain our excitement! We did manage to keep her name a surprise! With Lillian, we decided that we would wait to find out whether we were having a boy or girl until the birth. I for some reason expected a boy, but out came sweet Lillian, another girl! With this next baby we thought it would be fun to find out the gender. The girls will be close to turning three and five when the baby arrives, and we knew it would be fun for them to be able to plan for whatever gender this baby would be. They have actually been rooting for a baby brother. They figure that we already have girls, so we must need a boy!

To get them in on the gender reveal I gave them each a sucker, smartly ensuring success with the whole cooperation in the picture taking department! I told them to hide them in their mouths for a few pictures and then finally hold them out and show me the color! Psst…I’ll let you in on a little secret…I didn’t actually have the right color of sucker, so I had to do a little editing!

Enjoy our gender reveal photos!

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And the verdict is a….wait for it…

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BOY!!!

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I also made them some “books” so they could study up on having a little brother in the house come January.

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It’s an intense read, but I think they’ll make it!

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So there you have it, our gender reveal photos. What do you think about gender reveals? Love ’em, hate ’em? Do you like to wait until the baby is born, or are you too impatient like I have been 2/3 times! Whichever route you choose, I hope you enjoyed following along with our reveal!

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Every Monday, Keri, and I host a link party specifically for moms to share encouraging posts. We would love for you to link up your posts on motherhood below and connect with some other mamas.  Join us with #mamasharesmonday as we share our moments of motherhood.  

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Back to School // Capturing Memories

After an unintentional school break thanks to trimester #1 with baby #3, (that thankfully could be called summer break), the home school year has officially started up again! To start of the school year I like to write a little bit about the girls, take a picture, and then be able to compare that to the year before. It’s crazy to see how much the girls have each grown! Here are this year’s first day of school photos and facts.

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Here are last years photos and facts!

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So mamas, do you take first day of school pictures? Are you always shocked by how much they have grown and changed in the last year? Does this get easier!?

I’d encourage you to keep snapping those pictures on the first day of school. It doesn’t have to be perfect, mine aren’t! But it will show you how much they have grown and create wonderful memories to treasure. Write down a few facts about your child and make sure to save it some place you can remember to look at and compare each year.

As you’re starting your new school year wherever that may be, here’s a reminder to lean into Christ. I recently had a post published on Her View From Home. If you could check it out, read, and share if you feel led, I would be so grateful!

Wishing you a happy start to the school year, mamas!

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Every Monday, Keri, and I host a link party specifically for moms to share encouraging posts. We would love for you to link up your posts on motherhood below and connect with some other mamas.  Join us with #mamasharesmonday as we share our moments of motherhood.  

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Thoughts on My Anniversary // Tips on Doing Life Together

This week marks nine years of marriage for Dustin and I. That’s right, our nine year anniversary. Getting married at nineteen makes those anniversaries get close to the double digits before you know it! Nine years has brought a lot of change, growth, good memories, and of course the normal difficulties that come with doing life beside your best friend day in and day out. We’ve finished college, moved back to Ohio, bought a house, found jobs, had two adorable girls, moved to Africa, fostered another sweet girl and so much more in the in between moments of daily life.

The day to day moments seem to be the time where we learn the most. Those are the moments where we dig in deep and choose love and patience in our home. Where we work to always be honest with one another and apologize when we know we’ve made a mistake. Trust me, I make a lot of mistakes. But in nine years of marriage, I think I’ve gained a little wisdom along the way as well.

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  1. Keep God number one- You can’t have a strong marriage if you are trying to put your spouse or something else above God. It is important that you both turn to God together and look to Him to lead and guide you. It can be all too easy to place your faith and trust in the person you love and who is physically right there beside you, but in putting God number one you place your marriage and your spouse in His hands and let Him take the lead.
  2. Keep communicating honestly and openly-This is something we feel has always been a strong point in our marriage and helps us avoid a lot of unwanted and unnecessary strife. It’s important to let each other know how you are feeling. Of course it’s also important to do this in a respectful and loving way! If you keep the doors of communication open instead of holding everything in side, it won’t unexpectedly come out all at once over something not even that important! Communication is key!
  3. Make time for each other-Once kids come into the picture this one can be hard. Even if you are together in your home in the evening, are you actually spending time with each other? Or are you each doing your own thing trying to get things done while the kids are in bed? Of course you need time to yourself and time to get things done, but it’s also important to set aside time for each other. Time to connect, talk, plan and dream. Just talking together can inspire things you both want to work on or achieve in your marriage and your family.
  4. Encourage and support each other-It means a lot to have your spouse encourage you and support you. To have your best friend in your corner can help give you a greater confidence and allow you to step out of your comfort zone.
  5. Parent as a united front-Having kiddos definitely adds a whole new element, or several elements, to marriage! It’s important that you are both on the same page when it comes to parenting, for your kid’s sake, and for your marriage’s sake. Make sure you talk about things ahead of time and stick together when it comes to parenting, especially on issues surrounding discipline and boundaries.

So as we approach our nine year anniversary, these are a few grains of wisdom I’ve gathered over the years. Our marriage isn’t perfect, but we know that if we continue to pursue God’s heart and will, we can lovingly pursue each other and strengthening our marriage year by year. 

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Every Monday, Keri, and I host a link party specifically for moms to share encouraging posts. We would love for you to link up your posts on motherhood below and connect with some other mamas.  Join us with #mamasharesmonday as we share our moments of motherhood.  

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Fruit of the Spirit // Gentleness

Gentleness jumps to the front of my mind as I imagine Jesus beckoning the little children to come to Him. You can just picture the children joyfully running to Him. No fear or shame as He gently places them in His lap and lets them know how much they are loved.

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Gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit. When I first think of gentleness it’s easy for me to associate gentleness with never taking a firm stand and allowing things to happen that we don’t want to happen just because we don’t want to ruffle feathers. In parenting, we may think that to be gentle we have to give in. We have to say yes and deal with the situation sweetly in order to not raise our voice and start a fight.

Jesus shows us how gentleness can be loving yet firm. We can still parent our children with a spirit of gentleness and remain firm in the boundaries that we guide our children with.

The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth.

2 TIMOTHY 2:24-26a

How do we as parents allow this fruit to enter into our every day lives? We first, of course, have to ask the Spirit to enter into our lives and allow this fruit to grow and flourish. Then we must realize that gentleness does not mean always saying yes. As parents we can say no in love. We can gently correct our children and show them the importance of repentance, and then following, the importance of forgiveness. We can gently show them that we all make mistakes. We can acknowledge when we ourselves make mistakes and ask for their forgiveness. We can set boundaries for their safety and their growth and gently, but firmly hold to these. We can invite Jesus’s spirit of gentleness into our homes and our parenting and see that a spirit of boldness and gentleness can go hand in hand.

Let’s invite the Spirit in to work in our homes today and each day after. Let His gentleness reign in our teachings and our interactions and flourish in our families.

BUT THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IS LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS, SELF-CONTROL; AGAINST SUCH THINGS THERE IS NO LAW. GALATIANS 5: 22-23

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Every Monday, Keri, and I host a link party specifically for moms to share encouraging posts. We would love for you to link up your posts on motherhood below and connect with some other mamas.  Join us with #mamasharesmonday as we share our moments of motherhood.  

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Joy over Grumbles // Making the Choice

“I’m so filled with joy and thankfulness that my children are waking me up super early and have been persistently and consistently sharing how hungry they are and that they are basically going to starve if I don’t get up and feed them right now!”

Those are NOT usually my first thoughts each morning.

With babe number three cooking and the increased fatigue and trouble sleeping that accompanies growing a human, my go to morning attitude is not always one of joy and thankfulness.

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There are definitely seasons that are harder than others. Seasons where it is hard to choose joy. Seasons where it seems easier to complain and check off the things that would seemingly allow you to have more joy…if only.

But if I take the time to really choose joy, there’s an awful lot of it. When I take the time to actually give thanks for the good, good gifts that Jesus has given me, the joy is evidently abundant and lovely.

So here it is. Today I’m choosing joy and thankfulness. I’m going to make a few mistakes. I’m going to grumble or sigh, but I’m going to keep making the choice that finds joy in God’s good gifts.

A growing baby//Healthy girls with healthy appetites//A husband that wakes up early and makes pancakes//Morning cuddles//Family time//Rainy nights//Sunny mornings//Nap time//Colorful flowers//Watching imaginations at play

How about you? What are you thankful today? How are you going to CHOOSE joy?

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Every Monday, Keri, and I host a link party specifically for moms to share encouraging posts. We would love for you to link up your posts on motherhood below and connect with some other mamas.  Join us with #mamasharesmonday as we share our moments of motherhood.  

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Be There // Hope in Christ Through Change

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Change can be hard. Change can be good. In the past few years our family has gone through a lot of changes. We moved to Africa, starting a new chapter. We started fostering a four month old that we knew would someday return to her family. We now are anticipating the change of a new baby entering our lives sometime in January 2017!

Sometimes we put all our hope in change. We think that once this change takes place things will be better.

Or maybe we fear the change. We let the worries of the unknown overtake our thoughts and control our actions.

Our hope should never be in change, and worry should not dictate our lives. Our hope is in Christ alone and because of this we need not fear what is to come.

the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.Psalm 147:11

 

In the days that seem mundane with caring for littles, washing dishes, folding clothes, playing referee, and taking care of all the seemingly little things of life, change can be the idol of our days. We seek the change that we all too quickly will miss. In these days of caring for littles wherever you are, be there. Don’t place your hope in the change to come. Don’t let the worries of change guide you. Be where you are and place your hope in the One who is orchestrating your days and the changes in your life and working them out for good.

He is the one who longs you to draw close to Him and beckons you to let Him lead through the changes.

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Every Monday, Keri, and I host a link party specifically for moms to share encouraging posts. We would love for you to link up your posts on motherhood below and connect with some other mamas.  Join us with #mamasharesmonday as we share our moments of motherhood.  

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Fruit of the Spirit // Faithfulness

Faithfulness. Would you describe yourself as a faithful person? There are a lot of different things we can pledge to be faithful to. From pledging your faithfulness to your spouse alone to vowing to faithfully work out at least three times a week. While I think we can all agree that faithfulness to your spouse falls into a higher level of faithfulness than getting your cardio on, sometimes faithfulness can be hard for us human beings.

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If you take a read of the Old Testament and follow the story of the Israelites, they are a prime example of just not being able to remain faithful to God. Though He draws them back and gives them chance after chance after chance, they somehow always seem to mess it up!

Woe to them, for they have strayed from Me! Destruction is theirs, for they have rebelled against Me! I would redeem them, but they speak lies against Me. Hosea 7:13

The thing is, even though I may shake my heads and sigh with exasperation as I read their story that seems to involve a great lack of faithfulness, there are too many times when my story looks much too like the Israelites.

All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. Isaiah 53:6

If there is nothing else you’ve learned from reading along with this fruit of the Spirit series, I hope you remember this. We cannot produce any of these fruits on our own! They are the fruit of the SPIRIT. We need the Spirit to abide in us and work on growing these fruits in our lives! We need to invite the Spirit into our lives, ask Him to plant good seeds, and work at nurturing and tending these plants as they mature.

Faithfulness doesn’t happen as a result of our own good works.

Faithfulness is steadfastness, constancy, or allegiance; it is carefulness in keeping what we are entrusted with; it is the conviction that the Scriptures accurately reflect reality. Biblical faithfulness requires belief in what the Bible says about God—His existence, His works, and His character. Faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit; it is the result of the Spirit working in us.

We must invited the Holy Spirit in to plant the seeds of faithfulness and tend to it carefully and consistently.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; Hebrews 10:23

God faithfully leads us and calls us back to Him even when we fail in our faithfulness to Him. He sees our human weaknesses and has sent us a Helper. The Holy Spirit to guide us in our walk of faithfulness.

BUT THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IS LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS, SELF-CONTROL; AGAINST SUCH THINGS THERE IS NO LAW. GALATIANS 5: 22-23

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Every Monday, Keri, and I host a link party specifically for moms to share encouraging posts. We would love for you to link up your posts on motherhood below and connect with some other mamas.  Join us with #mamasharesmonday as we share our moments of motherhood.  

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A Summer of Grace & Gratitude

In a land of practically never-ending Summer here in Uganda, it’s easy to take for granted clear skies and high temps. We haven’t been out of the land of bipolar weather (aka, Ohio) for so long that I can’t remember the fleeting season of Summer. Summer is a season that holds anticipation and perhaps some high expectations to do all the things! It is a time to take advantage of the longer days and warm weather. You may be planning to get a lot of house work done. Maybe you’re planning a big vacation. Maybe you just want to spend every minute you can outside and have loads of fun activities you can do with the kids. Whatever it is, sometimes the ideals that we place before ourselves, don’t always turn out looking so….ideal.

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You know that big summer barbecue you planned? You invited over all your friends and their kids. Everything was set up outside and then…it rained.

Remember all the special trips you wanted to take with your kids over the summer? The museums, the fairs, farmer’s market? You ended up spending more time at home than you thought. Before you knew it, the season was coming to a close and it was almost time to start school again.

Remember all the home improvements you wanted to get done? You planned and you prepared, but activities got in the way, and money was a little short.

It is easy to make those Summer bucket lists and feel a little defeated if they aren’t all completed when Summer has finally kicked the bucket! I’m not saying that we shouldn’t plan and prepare for a Summer of fun, but let’s also make room for a lot of grace and a lot of gratitude.

Grace has to be one of my favorite words and one that I’m truly thankful for! Grace for the Summer allows us to take full advantage of those long sunny days. To greet them with excitement and anticipation, but then at the close of the day, even if everything hasn’t gone exactly as planned, we can smile and rest in the goodness of grace.We need grace for the moments that aren’t Summer Bucket List perfect.

Grace then makes room for gratitude. When we give gratitude for things just the way they are, even when they aren’t picture perfect we allow ourselves to experience joy in the moment. Gratitude allows us to make beautiful memories when things don’t go exactly as planned.

Take time to enjoy this Summer and whatever comes with it. Whether you get everything checked off your bucket list or are left with a long unfinished list, meet the moments big and small with an attitude of grace and gratitude. Let your days be filled with the joy of soaking up the moments for the season it is.

Today, I am joining eight other bloggers in sharing encouragement for your summer! There is a little bit of everything in these posts and we hope they encourage and inspire you!

A round up of 9 posts of encouragement for your summer!

Summer Reading Tips for Preschoolers at Grammie Time
Summer Fun on a Budget at Life Planted Here
Let it Go Summer Fun at Foxy’s Domestic Side
Celebrate Summer at The Queen in Between
A Summer of Grace & Gratitude at Oh Tiny Gifts
Craft with Purpose this Summer at While I’m Waiting
Summer Fun at Home: Family Picnic Favorites at Sweet Little Ones Blog
Taking Babies Camping: What to Pack at These Kids Mom
Finding Balance with Summer Routines at Living In This Season

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Every Monday, Keri, and I host a link party specifically for moms to share encouraging posts. We would love for you to link up your posts on motherhood below and connect with some other mamas.  Join us with #mamasharesmonday as we share our moments of motherhood.  

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Fruit of the Spirit // Goodness

Goodness. A word that seems hard to define and pin down. What is good and how do I live it? Does goodness mean I follow all the rules? I never speed and I always floss my teeth? (whoops!)  With a little searching I came across a Biblical definition that I love.

“The Greek word translated ‘goodness,’ agathosune, is defined as ‘uprightness of heart and life.’ Agathosune is goodness for the benefit of others, not goodness simply for the sake of being virtuous.”

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Goodness as a fruit of the Spirit doesn’t mean I’m good in order to simply build myself up and appear virtuous to others. Goodness as a fruit of the Spirit means that I am selflessly good for the sake of others.

Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.Matthew 5:15-16

Whew! I can tell you that I often fall very short of this one. I’m as human as they come. I get selfish and lazy and often think much more about what is good for me than for others. And that is exactly why we cannot produce the fruit of the Spirit on our own!

I can’t grow goodness in my life without inviting the Holy Spirit to dwell in my life! If I try to grow goodness on my own I am left with depleted and malnourished soil. Soil that will only produce goodness that is self centered and self motivated.

When I am firmly rooted in God’s word and invite the Holy Spirit to dwell in my life daily, I am nourished with God’s grace, love, and truth. When I invite the Holy Spirit in, I allow God to sow seeds of goodness in my life and fruit that is healthy and selfless can grow and thrive.

“It results in a life characterized by deeds motivated by righteousness and a desire to be a blessing. It’s a moral characteristic of a Spirit-filled person.”

I know I want to be a Spirit-filled person. A person that desires to bless others because I walk with the Lord and follow His will. I want to #getonblessing! 

Thank goodness for His grace as we walk this journey!

BUT THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IS LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS, SELF-CONTROL; AGAINST SUCH THINGS THERE IS NO LAW. GALATIANS 5: 22-23

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Every Monday, Keri, and I host a link party specifically for moms to share encouraging posts. We would love for you to link up your posts on motherhood below and connect with some other mamas.  Join us with #mamasharesmonday as we share our moments of motherhood.  

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A Look at “A Worthy Mama”

Today you get a look back at a post I wrote just a little over two years ago. Lillie was still a fresh little babe and I was a new full-time stay at home mama. To be honest, I still have a lot of these same feelings. It’s a journey of walking with the Lord and continuing to discern His will for my life.

Though we may not always feel worthy, we can know we are worthy, because we are His!

A Worthy Mama

I’ve been reading and hearing a lot  recently about moms. With mother’s day just behind us, there has been a lot of focus on the wonders of motherhood. I’m now 3.5 months into being a full time stay at home mom, from previously working two days a week as a hospice nurse after Gracie was born. I love being at home with my girls and I wouldn’t trade it for the world (don’t ask me that at 3 o’clock in the morning when they are both awake) but as I expected, I have lost something that made me feel…worthy.

The sweet girl that made me a mommy of two and stay at home mama

It’s a word that was hard for me to pin down. Part of me felt fulfilled by a job that helped people and their families through an emotional last journey that led to heaven. I miss feeling the purpose I felt in connecting with families and giving them support. Now I find myself searching for ways to fill that feeling of being “worthy”.  The problem is that I sometimes have this churning, anxiety like feeling that tells me I need to do it all. All as in everything. All as in going above and beyond and to the moon and back again. I need to do it all,  especially now that I’m not working outside the home.

This nagging feeling tells me, I need to enjoy my time with my girls and help them explore the world around them as they grow. Teach them the ways of Christ and be a godly example for them. This nagging feeling tells me I need to have a clean home, especially now that I’m home more and that it’s something I should do as a gift to my husband. It also tells me that I need to cook better…meat and cheese or cereal for dinner doesn’t really count. It tells me I need to workout and tone up and get back to that pre-pregnancy or even better physique. It tells me I need to stay up to date on the happening of this world and not become ignorant. The nagging feelings tell me I need to volunteer my time to other’s more, find ways to give back daily with small acts of kindness. It tells me that I need to grow my little Etsy shop, increase my sales, and use those profits to support others that need it. It tells me I should be a good friend, make time to hang out. Be a good sister, wife, daughter, mother, coach, neighbor, Christian. It tells me don’t be lazy, don’t be scared, read your Bible more, don’t lose your temper, kiss your husband and the list goes on and on and then some. These thoughts start competing for room, jostling each other around and turn right into that churning, nagging feeling.

I try to check mark the never-ending list of needed improvements in my life that will make me feel more worthy. I compare my journey to others out there and decide undeniably that they are doing a better job at, well, just about everything. Yes, these are all good goals and something that I can continue to work towards little by little as I examine my gifts that I have been given to share, but is being worthy the right goal? And worthy of what? If I don’t have a clean home, or toned arms is God going to tell me I’m not worthy? If you take the time to read just a few stories in the Bible, you will see that God often chose people that didn’t seem “worthy” to fulfill His plans.

So while I will continue to work towards these goals with Christ’s help, my prayer should be one of submission. Submission to His plan and His will. A prayer that He will use me where I am and that I will listen. That He will be the guiding force in my decisions whether it be at home with my girls, or with the stranger at the store. That His light will shine through me where I am and I won’t be afraid to let it out.

If we could all choose to let His light shine through us right where we are, the world would be that much brighter.

Because this picture is just real life, people.  Real life with a toddler and a baby and a moment in front of the camera.

So to anyone out there reading along on this journey, would you join me in this prayer? A prayer to let God use  us today, and tomorrow and the next.

That we will be present in the moments that God has gifted us, wherever we may be. A prayer that God will use us through our mistakes and meet us on our journey. That His light will shine through us and that we will grow. That our gifts would be shared with others and we would know we are most worthy of His love. Focus on the Cornerstone and keep building one brick at a time. Know that His hand is outstretched and His love is always present. I pray this prayer for myself and others that join me. Will you do the same?

God is going to meet us on our journey. Whether we’re in the car, or hanging out of it in our Easter best.

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Every Monday, Keri, and I host a link party specifically for moms to share encouraging posts. We would love for you to link up your posts on motherhood below and connect with some other mamas.  Join us with #mamasharesmonday as we share our moments of motherhood.  

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