Thursday, December 20, 2012

Family at Christmastime

It doesn't surprise me that I'm uninspired to blog lately. My own personal journal has 3 entries in the last two months. Especially this past week I've just sat here and wondered, why is this even important? This is so minimal, so trivial, just not even worth it, in comparison to recent events. But despite pain, despite the suffering and questions and wondering how something like this could possibly happen, our lives don't stop. And I really can't bring myself to say much more on the topic or I'll be reduced to tears. Many other people have said it all already, so on that note...

Yes, life is still happening around here. Rob's mom and grandma came into town on Sunday evening. It is always a tremendous blessing having family around. We've loved having someone to take care of Josiah while we spend some much needed time out with each other and with friends. And Josiah is loooooving the tons of extra attention from his grandma and great grandma (or GG, as she has rightly been named).

Tuesday evening Rob and I had a little Christmas celebration of sorts with our friends Emmie and Chris. Chris baked the MOST delicious homemade cookies, with a glass of milk of course. And I dominated humbly won a game of Farkle. At the end of the evening they blessed us with sweet, thoughtful Christmas gifts. Truly thankful for such wonderful, lasting, deep friendships.

Last night we took our Canadian relatives out for some authentic Tex Mex dinner ;-) Great Grandma had her first EVER margarita. She agreed she's missed out her whole life. If that wasn't enough, we went to Target after dinner, which GG has ALSO been missing out on her whole life. Ha. We were going to head over to Grapevine afterwards to see the beautiful Christmas lights downtown, but Josiah was on the verge of epic meltdown, so we called it a night and will try again on Saturday.

More adventure, and pictures to come, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Yellow Chair

This little yellow chair. Left as trash at someone's curb. Worthless, useless, no good anymore.


Someone noticed its beauty.

Saw its potential.

And picked it up out of the trash pile to give it new life.

I'm a little like that yellow chair. Picked up out of the muck and mud, made clean and given new life. Redemption. A beautiful new purpose in the hand of the Lord. I wasn't qualified, I wasn't even calling out for help, but He noticed me, He came, and now I'm a powerful tool all because He chose me.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Words

Sometimes I can't fully put into expressed sentences what's on my heart. Sometimes only simple words or short phrases will say it best.







Heart's desire.


God's timing.


                                                                                          Hearing God's voice.

Roots that go deep.

                                              Fruits of the Spirit.

Joy.                                                     Joy.                                       Joy.                                      Joy.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Life Lately

Thanksgiving - we trekked to Oklahoma for a few days. Josiah was a cranky mess on the drive to Oklahoma, finally slept the last maybe 45 minutes of the drive. As soon as we got to my parent's house he became severely congested and was having trouble breathing. He didn't sleep a wink Thursday night - around 4 am Rob ended up taking him for a drive around town and he slept in the car. But Friday and Saturday morning were alike - awful congestion and labored breathing. Thankfully my sister had this machine she used on Caleb (who is 5 days older than Josiah) that gives a medicated breathing treatment. I can't remember for the life of me what the thing is called though. It helped somewhat.

We came home Saturday late in the morning because Rob had to work that day. Upon returning home Josiah seemed almost back to normal, aside from a runny nose. This convinced me that Josiah can't handle being around cigarette smoke at all. I'll refrain from issuing more thoughts on smoking, but I just know that it had something to do with Josiah's labored breathing.

Needless to say, this wasn't the most relaxing vacation weekend.

The weekend before we attempted an anniversary weekend getaway. Our dog ran away from home and I cried the entire time we were gone. That was a bust. (He returned the next day and waited on the patio for us to come home) Seems like we just can't catch a break. We are in serious, desperate need of a fun, relaxing time, enjoying each other, not worrying about anything.

Is walking everywhere.
Is eating everything.
Except chicken.
And pears.
He is my heartbeat.
And my favorite son ;-)
Still praying. Praying a lot. Praying every day. Multiple times a day. For God to reverse me and Rob's roles, so he can be the money maker and I can stay home with Josiah.
I don't know how working moms do it. Maybe they have awesome jobs that they love. I still can't imagine an awesome job being better than staying at home with my kids. Soon. Soon. Soon. Would you say a quick prayer for us, that God would bless us in this huge desire that we have to switch roles?

I guess that's all for now. Maybe some super adorable pictures later from Josiah and Caleb playing in the leaves at Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 16, 2012

This post is for my own sake, writer's therapy I guess you could say. Sometimes writing is the best way to calm my heart and my thoughts.

There is a story from the Fort Worth area that came on as breaking news last night that my heart can't shake. As I listened to the story, I sat on the floor in my living room and wept. A young mom and her one year old child - a scenario so relatable. Her car was struck by another so forcefully, it propelled her car through a fence and into a pond. She was on the line with 911 while trying to escape from her sinking car, but was unable to get out. I'm in tears now just thinking about it.

I feel such intense heartache. Mostly as a mom, and the thought of being helplessly unable to save my child. Thoughts and emotions cascade into a wrestling match, trying to make sense of things. On one hand is fear, on another hand is faith in God, on the other hand, why does it have to be like this, the other hand, knowing it's a fallen world we live in. But still, tragedy will never make sense to me, even knowing what I know about God and life on earth.

What do you do when nothing makes sense?

I have faith that heaven is real, that I will one day be in a place that is more perfect and beautiful than our minds can fathom. A place where there is no more pain, no more suffering, that ones we love and have lost will grasp us in hugs so tight. That the present troubles on earth will long be forgotten. Those of us still here on earth, dealing with pain, trials, loss, and heartache, we will blink and this momentary affliction will be behind us. Right now it doesn't feel momentary, but in the big picture, it really is.

The big picture. Heaven. Eternity. Therein my hope lies. Life on earth may not make sense sometimes, but I'm choosing today to cling to the Hope of Jesus Christ.

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Letter for Someone I Love

The chances of you reading this are pretty slim, but it's on my heart anyways. There are things I want to say to you, that you probably wouldn't listen to in person.

As I've watched your life unfold the past several years, it's been racked with many tough blows. It's been pain, heartache, rejection, and more rejection. At the same time, you've also shown tremendous strength. You earned your associates degree while being a single mom to two kids (one of those a brand new baby). That's a really big deal, and everyone around you is so proud of you.

After all you've been through, I can imagine it's hard to trust anyone, that it's hard to let anyone love you. There's a measuring stick in place and each person must measure up or the walls come up. I can understand. You don't want to be hurt again, you want to protect yourself. But as someone on the outside, it hurts US when we miss the mark by a smidge and the walls come up against us. Truth is, however, that I am human. As much as I try I will make mistakes, I will still do any say hurtful things. I'm truly sorry for those times. But I hope you know that I would never, ever, purposely try to hurt you. My love for you is genuine, it's real, and it's forever. No matter what.

I wish I could tell you how different life would be if you would accept the love of a real, heavenly Father. It's hard to wrap your mind around that, because you never knew the love of your own earthly father. But still, I pray for you quite often that God's love would penetrate your heart. That you would experience the miracle of His grace. No matter what you've been through in life, I believe God can break past all of those barriers.

I wish I could tell you that there's hope. There's real hope. That your life doesn't have to continue going the way it's always gone. That passion and drive inside of you can really take you far, especially when you are walking in the fullness of all that God has for you.

I wish I could tell you that you are worth so much more than you give yourself credit for. I wish I could tell you that you are beautiful, and you don't need to hide behind beautiful and expensive things for people to respect you. You're worth more than superficial things and empty promises.

I wish I could tell you how much your two little ones are so lucky you are their mother. You love them and care for them so much.

One day maybe I'll be able to say these things to you. One day when you'll hear me. They are left for now to this little space of mine online. I love you, and you are just on my heart today.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

More Thoughts on Grace

As I was driving home late last night, after a long day at work and an evening with the ladies of our small group, I realized how rare it is for me to get away and spend time with a group of women. Which is strange, seeing as how that was basically my life at Teen Mania for 3 years. But things change, life doesn't ever stay the same, does it?

This led to thoughts about my relationship with God after having a child. Now that's an area that is vastly different today than it was 2 or 3 years ago. Back then, I'd easily have an hour to myself in the mornings, or if I slept in, I'd have that hour in the evenings to spend time soaking in the Word. But when Josiah came, an hour to myself went out the backdoor.

At TM, we were required to have an hour of "quiet time" every day. This is a great thing, but I think if you're not careful, it can easily lead to a legalistic mindset. If I don't get this hour, then I'm a failure and I'm slacking and have a bad relationship with God.

Sadly, this is a mindset I unknowingly developed after Josiah was born. There have been so many times that I'd actually set my alarm extra early to try and get that hour in of quiet time, and Josiah would wake up 20 minutes into my reading. Then I'd get all frustrated and think well, I barely scratched the surface and didn't get real time with God in today.

It has taken time to re-wire my brain of the mindset that I have to have an hour (because in reality, I just don't have that time!). God is not sitting there with a timer, and if I miss the mark, He's not going to speak to me.

God is so pleased when we turn our hearts to him for ANY amount of time. If it's 5 minutes before we head out the door of thanking him and praising him, he is pleased. If it's 15 minutes spent reading the Word or praying on lunch break, he is pleased. We don't get extra points with Him for spending an hour vs. 20 minutes. He can speak, He WILL speak, when we simply set aside distractions and turn our hearts to him.

We live a much more free and fulfilling life when we understand God's grace, and learn to step out of legalistic mindsets.

Monday, November 5, 2012


Loving: that Josiah is walking more and more. All day Sunday he just wanted to walk all over the place all of a sudden. Also loving the cooler weather and occasional chance to wear a hoodie here in Texas, and the fact that the holidays are just around the corner!

Reading: A few weeks ago I read Sparkly Green Earrings (yet to be released...see here) but haven't picked up anything new. I neeeeeeed another good book though!

Watching:  There's not a whole lot that I'm interested in right now, but there is one show that I'm like, Okay, stop everything, put Josiah to bed, I MUST watch this. And that is Nashville. I this new show.

Listening to: lately on the chilly nights we've been having, I've stood outside under the dark sky and just taken in the silence. Living outside the city, outside of all the traffic and noisy neighbors and obnoxious music blaring from cars, I find so much peace in the stillness. And silence is rare with a little one, so I enjoy every second of it I can get.

Thinking about: how I'm going to be seeing even less of family in the coming weeks. this hurricane has us slammed at work. I hate being away from both of my guys.

Looking forward to: one of my best friends is going to have a baby definitely by Thursday - cannot wait to meet her little guy and see her become a momma. Also looking forward to the holidays and being around family. OH and also looking forward to having enough money by December to upgrade to a professional camera and graduate from my little baby DSLR!

Making me happy: really seeing results from running, pumpkin candles, snuggles with my baby boy, holiday drinks at Starbucks, the fact that I get to spend another day with my husband and son.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

On my Heart - Skipping College & Motherhood

I knew in 11th grade that college wasn't in my future. And it wasn't because I was a lazy student, in fact I took many advanced courses and maintained above a 4.0 in high school. It wasn't because I didn't have dreams for my life - I wanted to work in the music industry as a business executive most of my growing up. It's just, that I knew somehow, that college wasn't for me. So I chose to go to a year-long Christian internship called Teen Mania, and figure out God's plans for me.

While I was at Teen Mania I literally had the best job on earth, with the best boss on earth. I was Dave Hasz's assistant my third year there, and if you know Dave, then I don't have to say anything else for you to understand. During that time I fell in love with administrative work, found my niche, so to speak. I knew after leaving Teen Mania this was the kind of work I'd probably want to do.

Also while at TM, I had a mentor - Dave's mother, actually. This jewel of a woman opened my eyes to something my heart refused to acknowledge. There was more than just a "job" in my future, there was a life work, a purpose, far greater than any job out there.

Flash forward - I got married straight out of leaving Teen Mania...and had a baby 11 months later. Suddenly I understood what Dave's mother was saying all along. When I became a mother, I discovered my life work, and suddenly everything else seemed so dull in comparison. Every dream job I ever had before, seemed pointless. Administrative work - blah! All I want to do is be home, raising my baby (and in the future, whenever God gives them, more babies). In my eyes, there is no greater work to be done.

I'm sure there are many who cannot understand. And any women's right activist who may stumble upon this may want to scream at me. That's okay. I was there once. I couldn't understand why a woman would choose to stay at home with her babies after women have worked so hard in the past for the right to work.

Some days I struggle with the fact that I'm 23, never went to college, and have a baby. It's easy to feel judged in the eyes of the world. On the other hand, I'm learning to stand confident in God's plans - He really does know what he's doing. In my case, I'm thankful I don't have 4 years of college debt to deal with, knowing I'd never use that degree. This book I just read, Sparkly Green Earrings, the author, Melanie Shankle, addresses this topic. There's an unexplainable shift that happens to a woman when she becomes a mom. And it's OKAY to want nothing more than to raise your babies. Thank you, Melanie, thank you.

In the meantime, I'm grateful for the experience I got at Teen Mania that allows me to have a decent paying administrative job. But I pray that God would bless Rob exceedingly abundantly all that we could ask or imagine, with a job that he loves and pays GOOD. And I believe that I'll get to do my life work soon, staying home with my little boy.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sparkly Green Earrings Book Review

I love to read. Much more than I love to write. That's probably why I'm not a good blogger - I'd rather read other blogs. Case in point - Big Mama. Even more awesome, she's coming out with a book. And guess who got her hands on an advance copy of the book to read and review? Why yes, yours truly.

Melanie Shankle, author of the largely popular Big Mama blog, extends her voice beyond the blog world with her debut book, Sparkly Green Earrings. In her tale of life, motherhood, and letting go, Melanie's stories reach into the heart of every woman, whether she is already a mother, about to be one, or dreams of one day becoming one.

Melanie has written the type of book that makes you feel like you're sitting next to your best friend, sipping on coffee and sharing about life. She's warm. She's inviting. She's hilarious. And you will catch yourself more than once exclaiming, "Me too!"

Wanna know more? Check out the official review on Faith Village. February is a long time to wait for this book, but you should get it, because it's really, really good.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Resting is not something I do well. And this past week I've been forced into rest, and when I'm forced to do something, well, to be honest it can kinda make me a bit grumpy. Anyone relate?

I came down with a little sinus infection last week, but I couldn't let it stop me from running. Not running meant I was lazy, and laziness would surely gain me ten pounds. So what happened after I ran? It made things worse. Two days later I felt alright, so I decided to run again. Well that backfired, and I ended up much worse and added a cold to the mix. All because my performance mentality couldn't take a break.

Finally, finally I gave in and took a break (and asked God to not let me gain ten pounds  heal me).

And the only reason I'm telling you all about how I'm sick is because there's a spiritual metaphor to all of this. It's good, I promise.

It's a little thing called Grace. A little thing that we are so far from understanding or wrapping our minds around. Several years ago I thought I'd experienced this "revelation" or understanding of grace. I began to scratch the surface at how often I'm performance minded, rather than grace minded. It was a beautiful thing to start living life the way God intended us to after Jesus died on the cross. And I was reminded this week through my sickness that there are still performance mentalities I'm enslaved to.

Side note, this isn't some biblical study on grace. If you have questions about the teachings in the bible about grace, feel free to ask me, and we can talk more :-)

In this case, I was bad and lazy for not running (even though I was sick, it didn't matter). I couldn't rest! It's not Sunday, it's just not biblical to rest any other time.

Seriously ya'll, please tell me I'm not the only one who has these thoughts?!

In the end, God just said Steph, I'm not keeping a score card on you, I want you to rest. You have been working really hard for your family, it's wearing you down, and I WANT you to rest, and sleep, and do nothing but sit in a chair and read for a while.

And I gave in. I rested. I listened to His voice, accepted His grace, and I feel so refreshed by His presence.

Psalm 4:8
I will both lie down in peace, and sleep;
For you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dear Josiah

Today you are a year old. I simply cannot wrap my mind around this fact, probably because I remember having you like it was yesterday. I distinctly remember having the thought after you were born that this day would come, and wondering what you would be like, look like, act like, a year from then. What would our lives as a family be like a year from then? Well it's been a year from then and...

You came out screaming and hollering, and really, it hasn't ever stopped. Just a few weeks ago your joyful and curious screaming got the cops called for an apparent domestic disturbance. Thanks baby boy. You are very vocal - if you've ever wanted something, there is no such thing as whimpering or crying. You are a screamer. But that's just who you are. You know what you want and you'll find a means of getting it. Your momma thinks you'll be a great leader because of this determined personality you have.

You are still a pretty small little guy. You were only just over 6 pounds when you were born, so it's not surprising that you are only around 20 pounds. But you sure are tall! You eat a LOT, and you love to eat anything and everything. You are not picky by any means, which I'm so thankful for. You are such an easy baby in that regard. {I'm also convinced you stole my metabolism}.

You haven't quite learned to walk on your own yet, and really aren't all that interested. Which is honestly perfectly fine with me and your daddy. We know you will get there eventually, so no rush sweet boy.

The saying dog is man's best friend? Well dog is baby's best friend. You and Boss are like the best of buds. When he wants to play he will bring you his bone and you'll sit on the floor in a round of tug of war, laughing hysterically. And when I need you to be entertained so I can cook dinner or do my hair, I'll sit you with Boss and he never ceases to capture your attention.

Josiah, you came into our lives during a very difficult time. Never in mine or your daddy's lives have we known such desperate financial times, and we had no idea how we would provide for you. But so many people showered us with gifts, and God always provided just enough money for diapers each week. I pray that when you get older you will look back at your parents' lives and their testimony and know the God we serve is the God who provides. You made the most difficult year equally the best year we've ever had.

Your momma loves you soooooo so so much baby boy. I can't say enough how you are the best thing that's ever happened. I look forward to the months and years ahead, watching you grow and learn and become who God made you to be. I pray that you will grow to know the love of Christ, that you will have such a revelation of His grace and love, that you will follow Him all the days of your life.

Happy 1st birthday baby boy!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Embrace the Camera 10*11*12

This past weekend our little town had an open house at the fire department. Josiah is too young to really enjoy all the fun stuff they had, but they also offered free lunch. Um, so not passing that up! See that middle picture? He has discovered his tongue recently and he loves to stick it out and make faces at himself. It's pretty darn cute :-)

Over here today embracing the camera...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Seeing Things Differently

**My husband gave me complete permission to tell this story** :-)

Two weeks ago Rob got into a small accident in our new car. I was so upset I couldn't even look at the car. In fact, I've refused to look at the front bumper at all since it happened, until Monday. I mean, I didn't tell Rob I was upset, I told him it was okay and that it would get fixed, but our beautiful new car has a gash in the front bumper.

I'll spare you all the minor details, but it happened while he was at the social security office, trying to get his SS card so he can work in the states. [because immigration failed us one last time, long story] That little fact just made me even more upset because if immigration would have actually done what they were supposed to do, Rob wouldn't have been in that situation in the first place.

But on Monday as I was walking past the car, I stopped and stared at the gash in the bumper. It wasn't just a result of an accident, suddenly there was so much meaning in it. It was a battle scar from a fight. Rob's fight to take care of his family.

Lately I've been worn down, tired of working all the time and not doing what I love and want to do. Feeling helpless because Rob hasn't been able to work without his SS card, wondering if I'm gonna have to work in an unfulfilling job the rest of my life.

But now I see that battle scar on the car, and I know that Rob is fighting for me, for Josiah, for the ability to take care of us. I see that battle scar, and my heart is filled with joy and peace. I never thought I could be so thankful for a car accident.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Embrace It

"So it came to pass in the process of time, that Hannah conceived and bore a son."

Life often feels like a waiting game. I'm very aware that much of my life has been spent looking forward to what's next. Getting a driver's license, graduating, getting married, having a family/fulfilling career.

Everything in the meantime can seem so mundane, difficult. Maybe we look around us at others living the dreams that are our own desires. Maybe some even look at me and go gosh, I want to be married. And at the same time I'm looking at you and thinking, Wow, they have the whole world ahead of them! Enjoy that freedom!

Ironic, huh?

If you're like me, maybe sometimes you kind of feel like you're on a shelf, forgotten. You wonder how come nothing is happening, nothing is going as planned, you're prayers aren't being heard, while James over there has got his career, money, family, and life all together.

These moments (or days, or years) where the 'forgotteness' creeps into our heart, come with a choice we can make. It's difficult, believe me. Much more difficult than focusing on your unmet expectations. It's a choice to believe the truth of God's word.

That verse at the top says in the process of time Hannah conceived. She waited for years. YEARS for the promises of God and desire of her heart to be fulfilled.

But friends, His promises are true.

First off, STOP COMPARING. Comparison breeds anger, frustration, jealousy and discontentment. Those are definitely the opposite of the fruits of the spirit we, joy, peace, patience, kindness...

Second, everything you are doing has a purpose. There are NO landfills, no waste, no dumps, no garbage in the plans of God. That job you're in now that you, ahem, less than love, has a purpose. That junky car you have to drive, has a purpose. PS - don't compare your job or car to your friends...

Embrace this season you are in.
His promises are true. You are not forgotten.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Ultimate Pinterest Fail

Since 99% of the people who read this blog are my friends and family, you already know this story. So this is for the 1 person who hasn't heard yet :-)

The morning started out so innocently. I was attempting to do this on a larger scale:

I had an old cheap floor mirror (you know, the one in every college dorm) and I knew I'd never use it again. So I thought I could bust the mirror out and repurpose the frame. Easy enough right?

Saturday morning I joyfully hammered away at my old mirror out on our apartment balcony. If anything, I was having a blast smashing things. Meanwhile, Josiah is inside on the other side of the screen. Screaming. Because he recently figured out how to scream and it's fun (for him). My mommy ears were tuning him out. It's a mom thing.

After my glass smashing fun Rob and I were cleaning things up when a police officer walked by our balcony. I smiled and waved, and thought hmm, I didn't know our complex had patrol back here? Then two more officers arrive. One of them is in a bullet proof vest.

And officer 1 cautiously asked if everything was alright.

Then it dawned on me - oh my gosh - the breaking glass, and screaming baby. Someone called the cops!

Sure enough, the officer said someone reported domestic violence and screaming.

I was laughing so hard, then apologized to the officers for laughing because they wasted their time coming to check out the progress of my pinterest project. Needless to say we all had a good chuckle, and they even said they were pretty glad to find out we weren't serial killers of anything.

And the proof? I'm holding Josiah who is waving at officer 1, who is waving back :-)

All I gotta say is that pinterest project better turn out good - that's a story I want to tell every visitor that views my piece of art :-)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Rise Up.

Don't compare yourself. To the educated. To the "more experienced". Don't compare

Who you are is ENOUGH.

YOU are a beacon. A light.

YOU were made to stand out.

Don't shrink back.

Don't hunch over.

Now is the time.

Don't be afraid.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Embrace the Camera 10*4*12

Mornings. Oh man how I treasure that little bit of sweet time with my sleepy boy before heading off to work. He is so confused and obviously just woke up, aka he is cute, and sweet, and precious. I love the one on the bottom where he is reaching out to Daddy as if to say noooo more pictures pleeeeease.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Kerr Wedding

Back in August my best friend from high school got married, and what a privilege it is to share some of these sweet details from their wedding!