Dear Reu

 

Dear Reu,

How has a whole year gone by so quickly!? I’ll admit it, there were times, like the nights that you wanted to nurse A LOT, or just party in general, where it didn’t seem so fast. But baby boy, I wouldn’t trade any of those moments, because they are the moments that grew you into you! You are a JOY! You have such a happy, and mostly laid back personality. You kind of have to be laid back with your big sissies. If you’re wondering where that strong aversion to things being shoved in your face comes from or your assumption that toys magically appear in your hand…your sisters are responsible! You also know how to let us know what you want. Which is good, because you’re going to have to be able to speak up with those two big sisters!

It took you a little while to decide you really wanted to move. You didn’t roll much, and crawled a a little later than your sisters did, but boy, once you got moving, you just kept on going! You cruise around now and get to just about anything you want. You pull yourself up, stand on your own, and are so close to walking! You walk along the drawers in the kitchen and try to open all of them! You shove small chairs and tables around and basically think you’re the coolest, because you kind of are! You are starting to love looking at books. You’ll sit next to a pile of books and pull them all down around you. You then sit on the floor with a book on your lap and turn the pages, study them, and reach for another. It’s so fun to see you learning and growing!

You have one of the best cheesy faces I’ve ever seen…though I may be partial. You scrunch up your little nose, squint your eyes, and show your little chompers! Sometimes you breath heavy and sniff in and out for added effect! It almost looks like you’re in pain or angry, but really, you’re just trying to get us to laugh! You’re a good eater and eat just about anything! You feed yourself well and especially love frozen blueberries! You’re good at drinking water from your sippy cup now, but you still like to nurse a lot.

You’re a champ at going down for your naps and down for the night. You go down awake and put yourself to sleep easily…you’re just not so great at it during the night. You still wake up several times through the night and like to nurse a couple times too. You are a snuggler, which of course I’m totally ok with! You’ll often let me pop in your binky and cuddle you close to me, your head resting on my shoulder. I’m really hoping you’ll let me do that for a long time! You’re starting to babble more and sometimes say mama and dada. We can see the wheels turning and things clicking in your mind daily!

Before you were born, I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be mom to a boy. I only knew girls, and figured that I would end up with all girls! Reu boy, I am so happy you are in our lives! You bring new surprises, challenges, prayers, and goodness, that will only continue to increase as you grow.

Our prayer for you is that you grow into a man of God. That you will seek Him and put Jesus first in your life. That you would grow in confidence in the gifts that you have been given and use them to glorify Christ. That in your weaknesses, you would lean into Jesus. Your name means shepherd and friend, and we believe we’ll see these things in you as you grow Reu boy. You are precious and purposed for good things. We can’t wait to watch God use you!

You are so loved, Reu boy.

Happy first birthday, baby.

Mama

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How To Take Pictures of Kids… That Don’t Suck

Now that I’ve totally pulled you in with that catchy title…here’s my number one tip! Just keep snapping! Just pull out that little tune that, Dory, in Finding Nemo keeps repeating to the front of your mind and instead of thinking “Just keep swimming,” think, “Just keep snapping”. But seriously, take lots of pictures and something good is bound to happen! All of my photos were shot using a Cannon Rebel T3i in raw. I also took some with a regular lens and others with a macro lens. Other than taking pictures like a mad person, here are a few other tips from a very armature photographer who has a husband that knows how to use photoshop and gives me pointers from time to time!

  1. Use natural lighting. I try as much as I can to take pictures outside, or in a very bright room close to a window. Just make sure you position yourself in a way that you aren’t creating too many weird shadows if possible.
  2. Shoot in raw. This will allow you to easily edit photos. You can virtually erase shadows, increase contrast, sharpness, highlights and so on.
  3. Have fun! You may think that your photo shoot with your kids is turning out all wrong. No one is cooperating, everyone is crying, and someone is probably picking his or her nose. Right? Read that first paragraph again. Got it? Yup, that’s right, just keep snapping! Even if everything is turning out wrong, snap away! The pictures where no one is cooperating can sometimes be the very best pictures, and years from now, could create some very funny memories.

So there you have it, short and sweet. In today’s Pinterest perfect world, it is sometimes easy to put a lot of pressure on ourselves to take the perfect picture and capture every moment. I capture a lot of moments on my phone, which is great because I don’t have to lug around a larger camera and worry about it getting damaged while trying to play with the kids. It’s nice though, from time to time, to get out our nice camera and capture some shots of the kids. When I do take the time for this, I don’t want there to be so much pressure that I stress about it the whole time. In following these simple tips, I hope you too can capture some wonderful memories, without all the stress!

Take some times to looks through these photos and read my suggestions for how to edit your photos. Remember, I’m an amateur, so this may not be the text book way, but for this mama, it works!

These photos were taken in a room with lots of natural lighting. While editing these photos, instead of increasing the clarity like I usually do, I turned it down. This created a nice soft glow on the lights and gave the whole photo a soft, lovely feel.

These photos were taken by my sister-in-law and then I edited them. I increased the contrast to really bring out the colors in these photos. She also knows the beauty of just keep snapping! They didn’t cooperate for all of them, but in taking enough pictures, we still got some great shots!

With these shots you get a chance to see exactly what I did in the editing process.I play around with most photos until they look how I want them to! Notice that in the first picture I’m trying to capture the small details of tiny baby feet. In the second photo I’m capturing real life! Even though Reu is crying, this picture is an awesome photo, and one I’m sure we’ll enjoy looking back on! I usually go up on shadows and white, and then play around with the highlights, contrast, and clarity to get the type of look I want.

Happy Snapping!

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What To Buy In Your 20’s: Thoughts From A 29 Year Old

As you grow older, you begin to realize the importance of making quality purchases. It may mean a bit of investment, but if it’s going to be something that you use a lot, the investment is worth it! Today, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share some of my wisdom! My last birthday ushered me into the last year of my 20’s, so I’d say I’m pretty qualified to share!

  1. Quality Shoes-Whatever your job is, you’re probably going to be wearing shoes. If you have a job where you don’t wear shoes, I want to know what you do!? Granted, I spend a chunk of my days out of shoes as I wrangle kiddos, but I still need some quality shoes for when we’re out and about. Whether we’re going to the play ground or running errands, quality shoes are important. I love Keen Shoes because they give me great arch support!
  2. A Good Mattress– A good mattress kind of runs along the same line as a good pair of shoes. You spend a lot of time in your bed each night…even if you’re up with kids a few times a night! Casper  is one company that offers an affordable option, and has an 100 night trial! If you don’t like it after 100 nights, they give you a full refund!
  3. Tool Kit- My husband’s tool kit list would be a lot more extensive than mine, but getting yourself at least a basic tool kit is important. You’ll want to have things on hand to make at least minor repairs…because you probably shouldn’t resort to duck tape or hot glue for everything! I will admit though, my kids think mommy can fix anything with hot glue! It’s kind of like my super hero power.
  4. Young Living Essential Oils-I invested in a premium starter kit three years ago, and it has definitely made such a difference in our lives. While you might be able to find cheaper essential oils, you aren’t going to find any higher quality! We use essential oils every day in our household! From cleaning, to personal care, to general health and wellness maintenance! Being a distributor for Young Living has even provided me with a way to earn a little extra income while still being at home with the littles!
  5. A Good Blender, (or other quality appliances that you use a lot!)- If there is an appliance that you are going to use all the time, why not invest in one that actually works well!? I’ve had my fair share of trying to blend rock-solid frozen things in blenders that just don’t cut it. We love to make smoothies around here, (hello kale and spinach, I can’t even taste you with all this other goodness!), so a good blender is a must. Lately we have been using the Ninja, and it seems to be working great!

So there you have it! A few ideas for things you should buy in your 20’s…right after you figure out a way to better pay off that college debt! What are some of your musts? Join the conversation, and let me know what you would recommend!

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored!

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Dear College Self: About that College Debt

When Jamie from Earnest reached out to me, and invited me to join the conversation on what I would write in a letter to my college self, I wasn’t sure where to start. What tips and advice would I share with my college self? What things would I do all over again the exact same way, and where would I have done things differently? When it came down to student loan debt,  Dustin and I actually came out of it pretty fair. But I remember that as I prepared to go to college, I figured, a massive amount of student debt was just a part of the deal.  So here’s where I would start…and enjoy the college photos you’ll see along the way!

About that College Debt

Dear College Self,

You’re doing it! You are out on your own. You’re going to experience a lot of new things in the next four years of college. You’ll meet new people, travel to new places, work, go to clinicals, get married, rent an apartment, and eventually graduate with an RN. Whoa! But I’m getting a little ahead of myself!

When you first head to college, you know there is going to be a lot of student loan debt. But that’s what is supposed to happen in college, right?  You got a few scholarships, and they help,  but there’s still a lot left over. But you’re going to a GREAT school with a GREAT nursing program. A lot of people you know were paying off their student loans for years! Sure, it took them a long time, but that’s just a right of passage…right?

Ok, college self, often going to college involves some amount of debt, but there are some ways you can help bring down that number to a less jaw dropping sort of amount. You found a part time job at the school, so that helps! Way to go! Spoiler alert…you get married before your Sophmore year…which actually ends up saving you a lot of money. Best advice, maybe get married before your Freshman year? Just kidding…kind of…

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Ok, but seriously, enjoying college and coming out of it without sky high student loan debt is all about balance. Explore all your scholarship options. Don’t be afraid to look at colleges that are cheaper, but still have great programs. Seriously look at colleges that are local and can help you save money. But if it turns out that the more expensive, out of state college you love is truly your perfect fit, find other ways to save!

Finding a part time job on campus is a great choice! Save as much as you can to pay off those student loans and buy your daily needs, but don’t be afraid to make a few memories. Go on that cross cultural trip even though it’s expensive. The memories you make and the life lessons learned go far beyond your savings account. Go out with friends, try new foods, go on date nights. Make the memories that you can only make now.  Just remember that it will all need to balance out some how! Go out, but don’t order the most expensive thing. Choose date nights to places that are free! Make the memories without breaking the bank.

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Take advantage of that college discount! Use the free gym, go to free college events, get the college discount with your student ID as often as you can. Little steps to save, can pay off!! Work to not spend beyond your means, and be aware of what that number means.

Take the little steps. Save where you can. Enjoy the moments that will only happen once and make some memories.

All right, college self, you got this!

Love, Future Mom self. Yup, that’s right. You have three kids now, and they’re pretty great…and kind of expensive too!

Now what to do after college! That would definitely be a whole different letter in itself, but if you still have student loans, a good place to check out would be the Earnest website. Take a look around and see how they can help you refinance your student loans!

What would you write to your college self!?

 

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Oh Tiny Gifts Christmas Shopping

Today the Oh Tiny Gifts shop has it’s next round of items up for preorder! Preorder items will be available for purchase November 7-14. It will then take a few weeks to have them ordered, screen printed, and shipped out to you! The good news!? You’ll get everything before Christmas! Ready to get your Christmas shopping done? You can now shop for the whole family. You’ll find women’s tees, kid’s tees, onesies, and now I even have a unisex shirt option for the guys in your life! All the shirts share the message of being the light of Christ and pointing others towards Him. The message is inspired by Matthew 5:14-16 and this verse reference is printed on each shirt as a reminder.

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“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 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 5:14-16

Not only will preorder items be available to buy, but there are still kid’s tees, women’s tees, and even a tote on SALE! Necklaces made by the women of Smile Africa Uganda are still available for purchase, and $10 of each sale will go directly back to the women.

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Get you’re Christmas shopping done now! Share and wear the positive message of shining brightly and being the light of Christ to the dark places of the world. Snag an on sale fruit of the spirit tee or tote and wear the truth of His fruit. Buy a beautiful piece of jewelry to keep or share and support women in Uganda.

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Thank you for your all your support! #weartruth #bethelight #shinebright

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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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Hellen’s 1st Birthday // In Picture

To celebrate Hellen’s first birthday we had a small gathering with our neighbors in our back yard. Hellen got to dive into her first piece of cake, and from what we could tell, I think she enjoyed it! Enjoy the pics, because seriously, how cute is she!? And also, how has this girl already been one for a week!? She has been standing on her own for awhile, but she is now trying to move her feet a bit to walk…so I think we may be in trouble soon!

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Fruit of the Spirit // Patience

As a mama, this fruit of the Spirit hits me hard. I pray for patience. I tell my kids to be patient. I daily practice patience and daily lose my patience. It can be agonizing to have to repeat something ten times and then your child still completes the given task as slow as molasses. It can be frustrating to have the bathroom door banged on for the fifth time after you told them you’d be out in a minute. It can be terribly hard to hold it all together and let this fruit dwell in your daily comings and goings…especially as a mom.

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Once again, this is not a fruit that we can obtain by our own will. We can’t produce patience on our own as hard as we may try. I’ve tried again and again and again, and without inviting in the fruit of His Spirit, I fail again, and again, and again. As I invite the Lord’s Spirit of patience to dwell with me, it’s still hard, but I’m not alone. I’M not the one working to produce patience all by myself and running on a small amount of steam left from raising tiny human beings. When I invite His Spirit of patience to dwell in me I’m not alone. I’m not running on steam, but running with the strength, endurance, encouragement and steadfastness of the Lord.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had. Romans 15:5

To invite in His Spirit of patience,  we have to know Him. We have to purposefully draw near to Christ through dwelling in His word, praying, and being intentional with what we do, and even the thoughts we let into our mind.
I’m currently reading the book, Loving our Kids on Purpose, by Danny Silk. I’m only a few chapters in, but so far I am finding it really encouraging. The key that I’ve gleaned so far is that we have to be intentional. We have to choose loving on our kids even when it’s hard.
To let the Spirit of patience dwell in us is choosing to love well. It is choosing to be intentional with how we react. It is choosing the way that feels hard in the moment, but is often more rewarding. It is choosing to allow God to lead, instead of following your own desires of the flesh in the moment.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2

Today let’s remember to invite the Spirit of patience into our day. Especially for those mamas out there, find encouragement in this. When you are running on steam, don’t think you have to dig up this patience on your own. Look to the Lord to give you endurance and encouragement and guide you in being intentional and loving well through the fruit of patience.

Invite His fruit of patience to take seed.

Water it daily.

Let it grow and bloom.

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.  

Follow along with Moriah
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Passion and Purpose // Penduka Book Review

We ache to live lives that matter, to do work that actually makes an impact on the world around us, and to weave a legacy of love and grace in the way we flesh out our days on this planet. We have an unmistakable sense of being a part of something greater, maybe even an inkling of what the part is that we play in the grand scheme, but so often we feel stuck. Ineffective. Unqualified. Unnoticed. (excerpt from Penduka by Joy McMillan)

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You can find this passage on the first page of the preface of Joy‘s book, Penduka, 21 Ways to Awaken Passions and Purpose in Everyday LifeON THE FIRST PAGE. I read this and immediately all the heart eyes, praise hands, and hashtag AMENS rushed through my mind and a deep and powerful resonation with these words tugged at my heart. These are the very real struggles I deal with on a day to day basis. Of wondering if the work I do is glorifying my Father and trying to find a way to use my passions to help others and show Jesus’ love and light.

Have you felt this way? Have you felt the call and tug for something more? Are there passions inside of you just waiting to be uncovered? Are you unsure of how to use your passions? Are you scared to start?

We often look at our lives and are so burdened by the day to day responsibilities that we forget to look a little further down the road. To put the trust in God that He has instilled these passions in us for a reason and when we feel His tug to follow, we should go. Sometimes each step seems too daunting. We want to stop before we begin. Our dreams seem too far out of reach. Too hard. Too impossible. But is anything too impossible for God?

Maybe you are able to see the big picture. Maybe you know where God is calling you, but you’re not sure how to get there. Maybe the steps to get there are hard to take. Maybe you’re not sure how to even begin?

Penduka was such a wonderful read and one that fully engages the reader. If I went through all the emotions via emojis and hastags on that first page, you should have seen me nodding along with a smile through the rest of the book! Joy has carefully crafted Penduka to thoughtfully awaken our souls. To carefully begin examining what our passions are, why we have them, and how we can use them to fulfill God’s good purpose for us.

Joy breaks this book down into three parts. Passions, Purpose, and Process. Over 21 days she examines these three parts in a way that allows the reader to reflect on their own life, while entertaining the reader with her own life story. The questions that Joy has come up with for the accompanying journal are straight up amazing!

Are you ready to awaken your soul and start living out your passions and fulfilling your purpose? Do yourself a favor. Read this book! Answer the questions. Get it for a friend, a neighbor or a whole study group. It’s one that I am so glad I had the privilege to read and will most definitely be reading again…it is that good and that thought provoking, friends!

 

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Fruit of the Spirit // Joy

This week’s fruit of the Spirit that I’ll be focusing on is JOY.

What do you think of when you hear the word joy? Long vacations on the beach, finding the biggest sale of your life on the most perfect dress, finally having your two-year-old potty trained? While all of those bring a certain amount of happiness and joy-like qualities, I believe the joy that comes from the fruit of the Spirit is one not dependent on our surrounding circumstances. It is a joy rooted deep in God’s goodness and the assurance of Heaven.

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Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1:2-3

James asks us to count it all joy! Not only are we to be joyful when things are going well and trials of life are past, but to be joyful in the midst of facing trials.

Ann Voskamp writes,The joy of the Lord is your strength and the person of Christ is your unassailable joy – and the battle for joy is nothing less than fighting the good fight of faith.”

When we choose to see the joy of Christ and cling fast to it in whatever stage of life we are in or whatever we are going through, Christ is building perseverance in us. He is drawing us close to Him as we seek out the joy that only comes from the fruit of His Spirit.

This joy is a deep-rooted joy that needs constant watering from dwelling closely with Jesus. It’s a joy that then springs forth and grows in terrains both rocky and fertile, because it has been deeply rooted in Christ. Through dwelling with Christ we see the fruit of joy grow in us.

Sometimes it’s hard to choose joy. To see, and taste, and feel that deeply rooted joy that we are called to remember. But the good news is that when we think of the end result that we are working for, it becomes a little easier. When we remember that this world is not our own and the fleeting joy of this life will pass, we remember to look for the deeply rooted joy that comes from knowing our eternal home will someday be with Jesus.

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:8-9

Today let’s invite the Spirit of joy to dwell with us.

Let’s invite it in as we raise babies, wash dishes, wait in line, and cook dinner.

Let’s beckon it in to every aspect of our lives and let it dig deep, take root firmly and grow.

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.  

Follow along with Moriah
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Unite // Five Minute Friday

Unite.

Are we a united front or a jumbled mess of contradictions?

Sometimes we’re both. Sometimes we do better. Sometimes we makes mistakes. Parenting is hard work. To parent alone is even harder. When we unite we are better for it. We are stable, and solid and are there for each other to lean on. We give our children a stronger and more meaningful foundation when we are united.

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When we ask God to unite us and for us to be united with Him, we can begin to see a more complete picture of the beauty of parenting. Not that it’s all of a sudden easy, but we are reminded of what we are working for. To draw our children closer to the very one that created them and knit them together.

When we are united as husband and wife in our parenting, it is good. When we are united as husband and wife with God in our parenting, it is great. Let us unite with you today, Lord, in all that we do.

Linking up here for Five Minute Friday! A new prompt is posted every Thursday. You get to free write for five minutes, link up, and encourage one another!

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