Five years later…

Even five years later, you’re still a part of every day of my life.

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I see your influence in Josh and Blake without even trying.

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I hear you in mom’s advice and guidance.

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I dream of you knowing and loving your grandchildren.

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I thank God for every piece of you that He keeps with me.

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You’re on the walls in our home.

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You’re spoken about often.

You’re missed deeply.

You’re loved without end.

Incredibly proud of the man you were and forever grateful for your eternal peace.

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I love you, dad!

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Woman of the Week!

I got to do something super cool for my mom a few weeks ago – and I’m still smiling about it!

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My mom is easily one of the most incredible people I know, and it’s always been that way. Growing up, we’ve always had a close bond and enjoyed spending time together. Even through my rebellious stage, she stood by my side, always defended me, and was my biggest cheerleader.

Today she is my best friend, my shopping buddy, my shoulder to lean on, my confidant, and my hero. I’m in awe of the person she is and hope only to be half the woman she is one day. I know that sounds cliché, but she is a really special person to me and I’m the luckiest girl on earth to have her for my mom.

Around Thanksgiving time, our local radio station had a contest on their website to submit a short story about someone you are thankful for and why. Without a second thought, I submitted a story similar to the one below…

When I was pregnant with Cameron in October of 2012, I went into preterm labor at 31 weeks. My mom drove me to the hospital and I ended up being admitted with an IV in my arm and doctors and nurses viciously trying to stop labor. I had two days of steroid shots to help speed up the baby’s lung development in case the labor couldn’t be stopped, followed by 5 days of IV drugs attempting to stop the contractions and calm my body down. I was hooked up to monitors, given numerous tests, and bedridden with no option to stand up even if I needed to. One of the medications even made my childhood asthma return, so I was on breathing treatments and taken down for chest x-rays twice a day! I was terrified but tried to stay strong. I had a three year old little girl at home whose world was turned upside-down because we weren’t sure when mommy could come home. We tried to keep her schedule as normal as possible. My mom took her to school in the morning and then drove down to the hospital to stay with me for the day. In the early afternoon, she’d head back to pick Kailey up so that my husband could come spend the nights with me at the hospital. My mom kept everything calm when our world could have been totally been rocked. Without her, I’m not sure how we would have managed that week. And without nightly sleepovers at Mimi’s house, I’m afraid Kailey would have been scarred from the whole ordeal. After 8 days in the hospital, the labor seemed to have settled, although I was still having contractions every 5 minutes without fail. If I promised to stay on strict bed rest for the next four weeks and take a little pill every 6 hours, my doctor would allow me to go home. We agreed.

Even at home, we still needed help. I was allowed out of bed to use the restroom and take a quick shower once a day, but other than that I was to stay in bed at all costs. Whoever thought bedrest was a vacation is seriously mistaken. It was the longest four weeks that I can remember. My mom continued to help us each day; taking Kailey to school, keeping up with the laundry, filling prescriptions and running errands around town – all of this and still maintaining her full-time job! She was a Godsend to us and she will never know how much we appreciate all that she has done and continues to do for us.

Now… keep in mind, this is one of MANY stories I could have submitted about my mom, but ultimately I thought it showed a great example of her selflessness. But guess what? She didn’t win! I never heard a word from the radio station and after a few days, I had pretty much forgotten about the contest altogether.

A few weeks pass by and I get an email early one morning… from the radio station. They mentioned the story I’d submitted for the Thanksgiving contest and asked if I’d like to honor my mom as their Woman of the Week! They planned to call me that morning to record an interview that would be played the following morning on the air. Now on this particular day, Kailey and I were both home sick from school and work. Stomach bug sick. The last thing I wanted to do was give an interview, but there was no way I was going to pass up the opportunity to honor my mom. I quickly replied “YES!” and in less than 3 hours, the interview was complete.

http://picosong.com/YHbb <– Listen to it here!

It aired the next morning and my mom called me in tears – happy tears! It was such a great experience and I’m so grateful to Z88.3 for giving my mom such a special gift!

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Merry Christmas!

I hope that you’re home is filled with the spirit of Christmas! Christmas has changed quite a bit in our house since we’ve had little ones roaming around. This year we’re especially excited because Cameron will at least have some idea of what is going on.

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We try not to go overboard with Christmas gifts for the kids. They just had birthdays last month and they already have rooms overflowing with toys. We stick to a few fun gifts, some necessities, and leave the spoiling to the grandparents! (They’re good at it!)

Kailey is finally at an age where she recognizing December 25th not only as Christmas, but also as Jesus’ birthday. In an effort to keep our focus on the Reason for the Season, we’ve been discussing why we do certain things this time of year. I think this message can benefit all of us, at any age. I hope it can be a blessing to you!

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We decorate the Christmas tree with lights
symbolizing that Jesus is the Light of the world.

The gifts under the Christmas Tree represent the greatest gift of all,
Jesus, and the salvation He offers.

The Christmas tree represents the cross on which Jesus died
to cover a multitude of sins… your sins and mine.

As we gather together with family and friends to open presents and share a meal, let’s remember the Reason for the Season – God’s Only Son took on flesh, lived a perfect life, and then was crucified for US so that we may live in HIM. Life gets a whole lot brighter when you have the gift of eternal life.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23

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We hope you have a Very Merry Christmas and that your day is filled with peace and love.

Whole30 = DONE!

I have a few close friends who are workout fanatics and health food junkies. I don’t pretend to fit into either lifestyle choice, but when one friend did the Whole30 Challenge right after one of my co-workers completed the same challenge, I had to see what the hype was about!

At their suggestion, I ordered the book “It Starts With Food” and read through it in about 2 days. After I had a basic understanding of the “rules” – no dairy, no grains, no legumes, no alcohol, and no added sugar for 30 days – I set out to see just how long I could survive this impossible feat. I mean, what else is there to eat?!

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I planned to start on a Monday, so I spent the weekend inhaling anything and everything that I was about to give up. I ended the day with a milkshake, whipped cream, and a cherry on top.

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Monday came. I decided I couldn’t do coffee black, so I gave it up for good. I’ve never really liked eggs, but they became my breakfast staple. I’ve never eaten so much chicken in my life. I cannot stand fish but I ate salmon. Twice. The first two weeks were toooooough. Once week 3 hit, it was kind of old-hat. I had lost 6 pounds. Better than that, I was enjoying what I was eating and my body was thanking me for kicking the bad stuff. Without this challenge, I wouldn’t have discovered my love for some of my *new* favorite foods:  avocados, kale, sweet potatoes, and olive oil.

The hardest part of this challenge wasn’t necessarily giving up my go-to foods (although I’m not saying that part was easy). It was learning what was in the foods I WAS eating. I don’t want to scare you with the details, but if you don’t know what’s IN your food, I wouldn’t put it IN your mouth.

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I made it through the entire 30 days without cheating ONCE. I’ve got to say, I surprised myself with that one and was pretty proud of my accomplishment. I lost a total of 8 pounds (bringing me back to my pre-pregnancy weight) and I was feeling energized and strong.

It’s been about 2 months since I completed my first Whole30 and I’ve been able to keep the weight off while re-introducing a few of my favorite foods. I try to stick with a 70% paleo, 30% non-paleo diet, but I don’t feel guilty on Friday pizza nights of the occasional oatmeal for breakfast. I am much more aware of what is in the foods I’m eating and try to avoid the packaged/processed foods. Even Blake has jumped on board and has been throwing more Organic and All-Natural products into the cart! I’m excited for our family to be eating REAL food!

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Party Time!

November is a big month for our family.

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In our household alone, we have three reasons to celebrate.

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And having little ones with birthdays seven days apart, we decided to do it big this year. Little man turned ONE and our princess turned FOUR. Where does the time go??

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Who doesn’t love this mouse and his clubhouse?

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It was a great day with family and friends. A little exhausting, if I’m being honest. But totally worth it!

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Living Proof LIVE!

I am SO pumped I could shout! In fact, I did! A few times. This weekend I snuck away with my mom and sister-in-law to a Living Proof conference! If you haven’t heard of Beth Moore, or if you haven’t done one of her bible studies, I encourage you with everything in me to take the time and DO IT! It will change your life in more ways than I can count. And if you can see her in person, you DO NOT want to miss it!

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When I was several months pregnant with Kailey, I went away for the weekend with my church group to a Deeper Still conference. This was the first time I’ve seen Beth live (yes, we’re on a first name basis 😉 ). She shared the weekend hosting with Kay Arthur (a very deep, devoted Christian woman who spends her life sharing Jesus with women) and Priscilla Shirer (daughter of world-renowned Pastor, Dr. Tony Evans and a great speaker and encourager of women). This conference convicted me to my core in the best way possible. It encouraged me, brought me to my knees, tore out my heart, and then renewed my strength.

When we heard she was coming to Daytona Beach, we couldn’t miss it! We bought tickets right away, ensuring there was no way that “something” could come up and pull us away. In fact, the event occurred on the weekend of my daughter’s fourth birthday and that still didn’t stop us.

6,700 women gathered together. Praised Jesus. Held hands with each other. Cried together. Laughed A LOT. And grew. Deeply. It was incredible and much needed. I think it could have lasted an entire week and we still wouldn’t have wanted it to end. We cannot wait to hear this wise woman speak to us again!

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