Leia’s Party

 

I can’t believe it’s already been almost an entire month since we celebrated our sweet Leia Darling’s first birthday. This year has gone by so quickly and has had so much going on, it was so sweet to really just celebrate my girl. My mom baked the cutest, and yummiest cookies, while I tried to perfect all those sinple wreaths. My best friend, Alyssa, made the cupcakes. My sweet dad searched for hours for someone to blow up a ridiculous balloon I bought. My sisters cut out pictures and helped me tape up a million flowers to the big white wall my mom painted. Our friends and family came together to shower Leia with all kinds of baby dolls and headbands and zoo passes and all the precious little girl things. We ate cake and just got to BE. Our whole family felt loved on. It was really special and definitely Leia’s best Birthday yet 😉

Thoughts and prayers.

The news is hard to stomach. It makes me cry and literally sick. It’s heavy. It’s hard. It’s real. And that’s scary. These random acts of terrorism happening in our everyday places seem so personal. You would think this would be a time our country would come together to figure out what to do, but instead quite the opposite happens.

I’m so frustrated by the twisted facts, the blatant lies, the blanket statements, the distractions. The truth is, there is a problem here. A big problem.

I guess where I differ from lots of people is I don’t think this only a gun issue. Even stranger, I don’t think it’s just a mental health issue. I think it is a home issue, a focus on yourself issue, most importantly a god-less issue. Now hear me out. I realize a lot of people will move on from this point or get so heated that they can’t grasp all that I’m saying. But just try to stick with me here for a minute.

Our country is moving at an alarming rate away from all attachment to God. I don’t even think we notice it, because it’s so casual to us. It reminds me of a story in Judges and my reaction when I read it. I was so alarmed that a man offered his daughter as a sacrifice to the Lord. He was so overwhelmed with joy and gratitude that he swore to offer whatever walked out of his door, and there she was. The two spent quite some time mourning, but in the end, he fulfilled his promise. How could he think this was okay? How could he think that killing anything that walked out of his front door would bring glory to the Lord? My mom reminded me he wasn’t trying to be malicious. He genuinely thought he was glorifying God, even though from the outside it seems so obvious that he was off. Because he was so immersed in his own culture, where human sacrifice was regular and normal, he thought it was honorable. It shocked me and reminded me how unknowingly soaked in the culture of this world we really are. We, as Christians, don’t even realize the things we excuse, justify and defend that are so far off. People who do claim God, don’t know anything about what His word says. We stand in gay-pride parades, are pro-choice, live with our significant other long before marriage. We think that having a “normal college experience” includes one-night stands, at least light drug use, and binge drinking. The divorce rate is the same in the church as it is outside of it. We mock people who are “too conservative.” We all have seen the latest TV show, don’t flinch at the use of the f-word, and post as many hateful, disrespectful comments on social media, if not more, than the rest of the world.

God has been removed from our politics, our schools, our homes, our morals. And now that He’s gone from all of these places, we’re wondering why He isn’t showing up. Um hello! We spit on the very things He deems holy. We have moved the priority from our relationship with the Lord, our marriage, our children, our communities, to ourselves. We focus on being happy instead of doing what’s right or responsible. In every single sense. From abandoning families, the lack of discipline, the degrees we get in school, the entitlement we have.

Here’s the reality, since forever the Lord has reminded us to die to ourselves. That means IT ISNT ABOUT US. And yet, more and more our society tells us it is. (Which when society is trying so hard to tell us something it’s probably a pretty good indicator to do the opposite.) We are constantly unsatisfied, constantly looking for the newest upgrade, constantly comparing through tiny glimpses on a screen. All in search for our personal fulfillment, our own happiness. In one instance, we’ve pushed for women to be in the work force, and men to be there longer hours. Which left kids to be distracted and busied by other people, who will never love them like their parents do. There are nannies and daycares and grandparents who fill these children time with reading and games and “social interaction.” We’re taught to believe that it’s necessary, it’s good for the kids. They spend years at school, at after school programs, in dance class, gymnastics, Karate, soccer, football, etc. We pick them up from school, drop them off at practice, pick them up, drive thru somewhere for dinner, go home and give them baths and put them to bed. And repeat that until the weekend where games and parties and screens take over. We expect teachers to teach our children manners, how to behave, how to be nice to others, but of course we do, because we have no time for it. We’re so busy with our own careers, our own hobbies, our own passions we can’t see that we’ve lost how important time is. We’ve lost “family nights,” “game nights,” or even “movie nights” and replaced them with Girls Night Out or “me-time.” Our conversations about sex and drinking and respect and morals and how to be nice and how to respond to the boy who called you fat and what to do when your heart is broken, have been replaced with tv shows and memes. Men not only don’t care if their wives have careers, they demand it. Someone to share the burden, help carry the weight. Which takes away the role of provider and leader that is so innately given to them. Both parents don’t spend enough intimate time with their children, that they don’t even recognize when they’re hurting or upset. The kids say they’re “fine” then lay in their beds and scroll for answers on their iPads. Everyone is exhausted from trying to “be-it-all” and “do-it-all” that distractions replace discussions. Our kids are looking for stability, for truth, for example, and we are too broken to be that for them. They seek answers from the internet, from their peers, from the media. And they stray away to find answers that all point them back to themselves.

We’re all told our emotions should hold so much power over us. We feel hurt. We feel insecure. We feel broken. We feel angry. Lots of us fill it with business, other with affection from whoever will give it to us, some from drugs or drinking. Some of us turn to porn or eating. And yes, a few turn to violence. I guess my point is, yes there is a huge problem here. A giant problem in our country. It’s a home problem. It’s a lack of God problem. It’s a focus-on-myself problem. It’s an emotion-driven problem.

So while you all telling me that there have been enough “thoughts and prayers,” my concern is quite the opposite. There isn’t enough, and definitely not to the right guy. So I will continue to pray for our country. For our families and homes to be as they should. Once balance is restored at home, I truly believe the rest would fall into place.

My parents always made it a priority to be present. To sit down for dinner together daily. To know who my friends were, my boyfriends. To know what their families were like. To know how I felt. To point me to truth. To know my heart. To be my friend, but to be my parent first. They cared who didn’t text back, what was written on the bathroom wall. They took me to Walmart in the middle of the night to buy a new outfit to wear to school after a boy broke my heart. And peanut butter to leave on my best friends door because he told me he’s smear it all over the boy’s car (xo Shawnny). They left me notes in my lunch box. They drove long distances to be my number one fan when I was second string, on my C-team middle school volleyball team. But they also reminded me how trivial it all was. How I wasn’t going to marry that silly boy and if I ever wanted to, to handle myself with dignity and grace. To be a girl I was proud to be. How C team or not, I was to play my best. That when my friends all formed an actual I HATE ELLIE club or I got made of fun for being prude or my face showed up on the Ultimate Sluts of Frisco Facebook page or my youth pastor had it out for me, that I needed to be kind. I needed to be careful with my words to them and about them. My mom would tell me that if I acted in a way that proved them wrong, that no one would be able to believe them anyway. I didn’t need to post a dramatic Facebook status, send crazy text messages or chew anyone out. Although I’m sure I slipped up at least a few times 😉 My Dad took me on dates and would explain to me all the things he was doing so I knew what kind of date I deserved. They were there for me when I cried and yet intentional about not letting me sit in it. The relationship they formed with me allowed for us to have goofy, playful moments but also important and intentional ones.

I hope to raise my kids where they know they can come to me for it all. That I won’t be too busy, too distracted, too focused on myself to hear about the rude text message from Leia’s best friend or the party Luke didn’t get invited to. That I won’t miss the glossed over eyes after a phone call, or the puffy eyes after a date. That we can quote silly movies and talk about who they think they’re going to marry when they’re 16, and talk about why sex is so special when you wait, why we choose to be non-reactive when people act crazy. I hope that I can pray with them when we’re celebrating and when we’re mourning. I hope to point them to scripture at our weakest, and at our strongest. And if I can do a decent job of that, I will be confident in the job I’ve done.

xo, e.

Leia Darling

My sweet Leia girl. Somehow 365 have gone by so quickly and yet I can’t imagine a time without you.

February 10, 2017. Your Daddy and I got up early and made our way to the hospital. We had an early appointment to be induced, despite my best efforts to evict you myself, you weren’t having it. 10 days late, we went ahead and moved forward with the induction.

The nurses were annoyed with me as I asked about every single thing they were trying to do. I was annoyed that I had to be induced and they were bothering me. One nurse insisted I take my nose ring out. In case I had to get an emergency C-section, they didn’t want it to get ripped out. (I later realized they would probably want to put a mask on, which makes slightly more sense, but it really put me off at the time.) I was starving and couldn’t eat. I talked about cheese fries from Chili’s on and off pretty much all day. I was just super sassy.

They started pitocin around 9. I sat in bed bitterly for quite some time. My mom and grandma and C insisted I try and walk around, try to get things going. But instead I sat in the bed being sassy. At some point your heart rate slowed down, and they had me put on an oxygen mask. I cried about it, but everyone assured me if they were worried, it wouldn’t just be a mask. That didn’t last long, maybe 30 minutes of having to wear the mask. The sass continued. Eventually I got up, mostly due to hunger, and honestly I was concerned about losing daylight for your picture. I got the ball and bounced around. Things started happening, quickly. I got the epidural. Praise for the drugs. And sweet Leia you came pretty quickly after that. I pushed for only a few minutes and there you were. I got to leave your cord attached for a while and when it was time to cut it, I got to do it myself. You laid on my chest and time stood still.

Everyone came to see you. Your grandparents brought Lukey to come see you. Brian and Alyssa brought two orders of cheese fries from Chili’s, I didn’t even offer them to anyone else. I just scarfed them down right there before they even moved our rooms.

We moved from the delivery room to the recovery room. My mom and Nana and your Daddy moved all the furniture in the room so we could take the cutest pictures of you. We brought balloons and party hats and just really soaked in your first birthday. The nurses were laughing at me and I didn’t even care. It was exactly how I wanted your special day to be.

We got to home so quickly the next day. The nurses were so kind to us and really tried to get us home as early as possible. They had me model you, and my going home outfit, around the hallway and I felt like a million bucks with my baby girl. We got home and my momma, your Lolli, and your tiny aunts, had decorated our front door with balloons and signs. It was just so sweet and we felt so loved.

Leia Darling, your birth story is simple and sweet. I am so grateful for how boring it was, and how perfect you are. You have changed our worlds with your dainty way, your toothy little smile and your love to snuggle. The way you suck your thumb, have your leg kicked right up by your ear at all times and have loved sleep since you were 9 weeks old reminds us of how laid back and gentle spirited you really are. We love you more than you can ever know, baby girl. Happy, happy Birthday Leia Darling.

xo, e.

Our tiniest secret

If you missed our latest news we are expecting sweet little baby number 3! We are filled with joy and excitement and little bit of fear 😉

This week we had a sonogram and my sweet family, especially my mama, came together to celebrate with us and tell us the gender of our teeniest tiniest member of our family.

In case you’re unfamiliar with how this works, most doctors want you to have a sonogram around 20 weeks. Some doctors like their patients to have a bunch before and after, others do not. It just depends on the office you’re in. My doctor sends us one time, unless necessary to check on the baby again. You can go to places who specifically only tell you the gender of your baby as early as 15 weeks, or do blood tests etc. We waited until our routinely scheduled sonogram. Once we get in there, we immediately tell the person doing it that if possible, we’d love for them to put our gender in an envelope for us. So she spends the first 20(ish) minutes showing us all the different pieces of our baby and then turns the screen so we can’t see the last part. Then we take the envelope to my momma and she gets to be the first in on our little secret!

Anyway, I felt bad to desire a party for myself, again. If you know my family at all, we are pretty much together every weekend celebrating someone’s birthday or graduation or holiday or baby. But they kept telling me I was being dumb and that they wanted to celebrate us and this little baby. So we decided to go for it.

So we arrived to my mamas a few hours after our sonogram, we don’t mind waiting, but only for a little bit 😉 she had the sweetest little table of treats set up and smoke bombs ready to tell us the gender of our little babe! We went to the park and lit them up. We’re excited and overjoyed at the news of our littlest bundle of joy!

And in case you’re not catching on, it’s another baby GIRL!!!!!

xo, e.

Waiting and weeping.

I’ve been quiet again. Not because I don’t have anything to say, I have so so much to say 😉 but some times life throws everything at you, at once. And you gotta deal with it as it comes.

In the middle of what feels like a million other things, we are currently trying to buy a home. There are so many hurdles we’re trying to jump through that don’t make any sense. We’ve had so many “no’s” hit us throughout the financing process, and it feels like in the mean time houses are slipping out from between our fingers.

I just hoped the process would be simple. I’ve watched lots of people walk through it seamlessly, I just assumed it would fall into place for us that way. We have the down payment. We have extra cash. Our credit scores are good. We don’t own credit cards and have never made a late payment on anything. And yet here we are, feeling like we’re swimming upstream.

We’ve waited for credit scores to rise, waited to get an approval letter, waited for a better one ;), and now we are waiting for the perfect house. This has been a season of waiting, to say the least. For a gal who likes to be in the loop, waiting to find out if the loop is even there, is beyond frustrating. But the other day I was reading through John, (Chapter 11 if you want to read through it) and I came across a piece of scripture I really hadn’t paid much attention to before.

“Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha… So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

Let’s just pause here. Let that resonate with you for a minute. After hearing this news, Jesus waits two days before starting his days-long journey to see this grieving community.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the story, Jesus does make it back to the girls and Lazarus. But when He gets there, He finds them mourning the loss of their loved one. They have buried him. He is wrapped and in a tomb and has been for four days. They both tell him he’s too late and “if only You had been here, he wouldn’t have died.” He sees them weeping and hurting and begins to weep with them. Jesus wants to see him, and when He does He tells him to come out of the tomb, and Lazarus does just that.

So lets just recap. He loved all of them, so he waited two days before going to save him? Two whole days. Where this guy was dying. Where the sisters are confident in the Lord’s ability to heal him. Where they’re hoping He’ll come to save him. Where He doesn’t. Where this man dies. Where they bury him. Where they begin the mourning process. Days of waiting and rejection and heartbreak.

Then He shows up.

I imagine the girls when this happens. How they must feel, what they must be thinking. We waited for you to come. We did all that we could. We prayed. We called on you. We trusted you’d come through. We expected you. You’re too late.

But He’s not. He did hear them. He did come through. He did show up. He did answer. He did the unexpected.

How often do we finds ourselves in a period of waiting and react that way? Disappointed, confused, discouraged, abandoned. Because for me, it’s basically every single time I have to wait on anything. And I mean anything, many red-lights have had me crying “WHY GOD?” But the truth is, He is there in the waiting. He loves us through the waiting. He hears our cries. He sees our hurts, and He wants to fix them. He meets us there in the mourning.

He rarely answers us in the way we expect it. He doesn’t always say yes. But that doesn’t mean He doesn’t hear us, or He isn’t there. He hurts with us. He weeps with us. He weeped with these girls, and He knew that He was headed to raise Lazarus. Imagine what it looks like when He knows there is no relief until we meet Him face to face.

I hope when you find yourself in a season of waiting this brings you some encouragement. The truth is, we will walk through lots of periods of waiting. Sometimes it’s as trivial as a loan approval, a new job opportunity, and sometimes it is heavy, heart-wrenching waiting. Waiting to be a mom, waiting for a husband, waiting for a miracle. When I write this all out, it seems silly that I would worry about the house, about the loan. But the reality is, it’s in our nature. So when we do, let this be a reminder that He cares about us, He hears us, He weeps with us in the waiting.

xo, e.

A break from the heaviness.

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So i feel as though I’ve been quiet lately. And not that anyone is looking for an explanation, but if I’m going to start writing again, I thought I’d bookmark this time for myself and my babies and my great aunt Julie who I assume will be the only people to read this.

The world is so heavy. Like really, really heavy. There are babies with cancer and dads who die out of nowhere and moms in comas and terrorist attacks and wars being fought and morals being lost and shootings in everyday places and sexual slavery stealing children. It all happens everyday. Every. Single. Day. And my heart just breaks. I feel weak and broken. I look at the world that I’m in, and I worry about what kind of place are we creating for our babies? I get sick to my stomach when I think of every second I’ve taken for granted with them, every time I’ve raised my voice unnecessarily, every time I’ve distracted instead of focused.

It’s not right. It’s not fair. I have the most incredible family around me. We live 15 minutes away from just about everyone we love. My husband works day in and day out to provide for our little family in every way we need. I stay home with my two healthy babies whom I adore. I’m literally living my dream come true.

And honestly? I feel guilty. I feel guilty that girls I was pregnant with, don’t get to hold their babies. Ladies in the same stage of life, trapped in a hospital bed. Girls I grew up with who have lost a father or a mother. Guilty that while we can get pregnant and carry our baby’s full term, I have dear dear friends who can’t conceive, or who will have to wait to meet their children. I feel guilty that I have a partner, who I am confident in, to walk through life with me, when most people walk alone. My heart breaks for these awful situations, sometimes so much so that I feel the need to quiet my joy as to not boast in my gifts.

I am spoiled rotten. And I really don’t know why. I am truly truly so unworthy of the gifts I have. For reasons that will never be clear to me, my God has shown mercy and kindness upon my life. And so today I’m deciding to be grateful instead of guilty.

I can rejoice in my blessings, in my husband, in my children, in my family, in living my dream come true (minus the mini van ;)). It’s okay to be joyful in these times, and that doesn’t take away from someone else’s hurt. Being joyful doesn’t have to be boastful.

It’s not that I haven’t been joyful, that I haven’t been grateful. It’s just that I am so grateful, that I am so joyful, that I feel like it is rude to put that on display when people around me are hurting so bad. But I’m realizing that’s part of the problem. That’s part of why the world feels so heavy, because there is only heaviness on display. So I am going to share a lot. Share my God. My babies. My life. My husband. My parties. My thoughts. My joy. Old and new. If that is something that is unappealing to you, that’s okay. But I am living my dream and I am stinking grateful for every single moment of it.

xo, e.

(Some) Things I’ve learned from my Mama

 

This weekend we celebrated my mom. I always, always brag on my mom. But today I feel like I have a little more reason to. My mom is my kids’ babysitter, recipe book, study guide, wise counsel, inspiration, marriage guru, shopping buddy, prayer warrior, my biggest encourager, and my truest friend. She crafts with me, cuts my hair, tells me how to cook chicken, and makes me stop at road-side oddities. She goes with me to get tattoos, to take our kids to Seaworld and to bible studies. She goes out of her way for me, often and I am so, so grateful that she is mine. I am proud of who she is, and proud to be associated with her. It is an honor and a privilege, and a huge responsibility.

When I was getting married, me and all 5 of my sibling were living at home. Me, 21, my brothers, 20, 14 and 12 and my sisters who were both under 3. She homeschooled all of them, taught classes, volunteered in her city, walked with my dad as he lost his own dad, served at her church, didn’t miss the boys’ baseball games, and planned my entire wedding. While doing all of this, she didn’t miss a beat. Her home was clean, her makeup was done, her hair was colored. Her kids were disciplined and loved on. She made dinners, hosted youth groups, baked cakes. She brought meals to people in need and made time to be with her husband. She read scripture and spent time with the Lord. She did projects for her home and mine. And yet when my brother would get home at 11, ready to talk, she’d do it. When I’d insist she go with me to every floral meeting, make the calls to caterers, cut, sand, stain and burn 200 wooden chargers, she’d do it. When she had to drive all over town to get my brothers to their games or their friends houses (homeschool community is weird, y’all) she’d do it. When my sister wanted her to paint her nails, when her mom wanted to stop by for coffee, when my dad wanted to go on a walk, she did it. And she’d do it with joy and intention in her heart. She didn’t make any of us feel like we were an obligation or a hassle. She made us feel loved and she made it all fun.

That time taught me so much. It opened my eyes to how much my mom juggled on a daily basis and how easy she made it all look. It showed me how little sleep she got to make sure she could spend the time with her kids who were leaving. It reminded me how truly incredible it is to have someone who loves me and cherishes me the way my mom does. She has taught me so very much, and I want to remember it all and tell my babies about it.

So I made a list of things I’ve learned to live and embrace from my mama.
1. Choose fun.
2. Wait for your husband.
3. But then always have more sex.
4. Be consistent.
5. You can make most things you see in the store, better, cheaper and have way more pride in it.
6. Fake it til you make it.
7. Offer food, always.
8. Make marriage attractive.
9. Style isn’t defined by labels and tags, quite a few rocking outfits have been purchased at Walmart.
10. You can always make time .
11. Follow through.
12. Clean your home, often.
13. Do things without expectation.
14. The Lord cares about the small desires in our heart, down to the color of carpet.
15. Animal print is like a neutral.
16. Other people’s perspective and opinion don’t define you.
17. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.
18. Faith in the Lord always comes back to the same basic foundational beliefs, don’t get too caught up in the rest.
19. Make memories.
20. Have a baked good available, always.
21. When nap time is outgrown, quiet time is good.
22. You do better when you feel better.
23. Spend time, not money.
24. Be a parent first, a friend later.
25. Start the day around the table with breakfast, your family and a Bible story.
26. Presentation counts. So take time to do it right.
27. Pray out loud with people.
28. Live in today, don’t worry about tomorrow.
29. Go on adventures.
30. A cute party is worth the trouble.
31. Asking hard questions is how you get to truly know someone.
32. Vote.
33. You are as capable as you think you are.
34. You define how people treat you.
35. A good bra is important.
36. Show up.
37. Remind your husband that you appreciate him.
38. Be careful with your words.
39. If you’re nice to everyone, they won’t have anything negative to say. And if they do, no one will believe them.
40. Say yes.

Mom, you’re everything I hope to be when I grow up. I love you and I’m so thankful to call you mama, and friend. You make the best food, throw the best parties, wear the cutest clothes, decorate the cutest home, have the sweetest marriage, and raise the best kids 😉 You really do know best. Happy Birthday.

xo, e.