And so the Journey continues… kid stuff everywhere and the bigger meaning…

Minimizing aligns with God… who knew!?!  I did, but I forgot and needed a reminder.

I was sitting in church last Sunday after a week of vacation and spending the week prior purging and minimizing my closet.  Our pastor, Danny, ALWAYS speaks truth. He really knows how to suck you in and then lay it out so the message is clear as day!  This message was no different and in context of the weeks prior, really hit home and made this journey that started out as a way to reduce clutter and stress into a journey that also aligns to God’s will for us as his people.  I know, right! Didn’t I already know this? YES. But I forget these things sometimes, and I needed this reminder. Thank you, Danny!

Living well is a struggle y’all.  Especially with a family and a full time job.  I get STRESSED! Yes. I’m a teacher and get my summer “off.”  (Insert wicked witch like laughing here…baahaahaa!) I go to trainings, answer emails and calls, read for my three books studies, think about the next year, text my boss with grand ideas, talk to teachers when something pops into my head, and on top of that, I choose to run a small business of my own.  This girl is not “off” for the summer. So when I wanted to declutter and jump into my minimalism reboot, I added a bit more stress because I simply don’t have a lot of time to do it. Chris loves that. Heeheehee. Oh, did I mention I’m a homebody who has to recharge with quiet time… and I have a toddler.  I’m hilarious, I know. Yes. I want all the things and don’t understand why others think I can’t have them. It seriously confuses me. We can talk about that part of my crazy another time.  

So, the minimizing can sometimes feel like one more thing, but when I complete a task, a part of my brain actually opens up to be able to hold and think about other things.  It’s almost a physical experience. When I look at all the STUFF, it makes me crazy and not want to do anything because nothing has a place. Giving everything a place tones down the crazy inside my head.  I’m sure we all can agree that’s a positive.  

Soooo… when I was sitting in church listening to Danny talk about not attaching ourselves to things that in the end will simply burn and be gone but attaching ourselves to things that will last forever, it added a completely new layer of meaning to this journey that really is taking A LOT longer to finish.  That equals a bigger motivation than what I started with a few weeks ago. It means there really is a bigger purpose into putting more time and effort into our experiences rather than collecting stuff. Like we apparently like to do. Refer back to my last post in case you forgot the amount of clothes I’ve collected.  Our souls are what will last forever when this place is gone. The stuff doesn’t matter. What a load off! So here I am thinking about not just de-stressing, but also keeping my eyes on the bigger prize at the end of all this. God knows exactly what he is doing when he plants a seed in my heart and mind. I usually don’t.  I’m slow to catch on, but he keeps pushing me forward until I get it. I blame my family for my stubborn qualities. #thestruggleisreal folks. Just ask my husband.  

So this weekend we focused on purging and minimizing Brooks’ room and stuff.  We were unbelievably blessed by others when we had him and basically were given EVERYTHING and then some.  We were able to pay it forward this weekend and it was a double win! We got to bless someone, and I got to get a bunch of stuff out of my house!  IT FELT AWESOME! Toys, clothes, furniture… whew! See this giant bin…Exhibit A…

Toy Box
Exhibit A

That was FULL of toys just in the living room.  That didn’t even hold it all. Insane. Can a kid really play with that many toys?  The answer is NO. He couldn’t, and he didn’t. None of us even really knew what he had because he had so much.  Craziness.

We are now down to a few small bins in his room. See Exhibit B. Feels so good! 

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Exhibit B

We also went from two massive dressers to one dresser of clothes.  We now actually know what he has, and it feels so much less overwhelming.  Again, it really is almost a physical experience when you declutter and minimize. 

So progress is being made.  Slow but steady. We still have a lot to do.  The kitchen is probably my next stop. I’ll keep you posted, but I don’t see an end in sight to our minimizing just yet!  The hardest part to it all will be keeping it that way. But that’s another side to the journey we can get into when this is all done.  

If you want to start your own minimalism journey, check out the Minimalists website.  They have a “Start Here” section under their blog, and it’s super helpful. That’s where our journey started years ago.  On a broader note to living well and minimizing, you should read the book The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell. It’s one of my absolute favorite books and will make you rethink things in a bigger way related to this type of journey.  So good luck!  

Blessings,
April 

 

 

Here we go! Minimalism Reboot!

I watched ONE episode of Marie Kondo… and I was HOOKED!  That led me to episode two. That led me to watching the Minimalism documentary again.  And so on… I LOVE summer!  lol #teacherlife

About 5 years or so ago, our fertility struggle and a friend’s ability to live on one salary for a family of four led me to the Minimalists website:  https://www.theminimalists.com/

That one little nugget set us on a little journey of minimizing.  We minimized all kinds of things: furniture, clothes, books; you name it.  We even downsized our house and went from about 2600 square feet to about 1800 square feet. But a lot has happened since that first round of minimizing. One of the biggest changes… we had a kid.  And with that sweet, adorable, silly boy comes A LOT of STUFF!  Whoa.

All that minimizing seems to have shifted once again, and I feel a NEED to reboot!  Life has become cluttered and a bit out of control again and that adds a little stress when things are so messy. So here we go! I’m using the minimalists mindset, but Marie Kondo method.  

Day one started with my clothes.  This might be a little embarrassing… hold the judgement, okay…. it happens.  Take a little peek at the before…

I took EVERYTHING out of my closet and drawers and boy was that overwhelming to see how much I really have.  Seeing it all in one pile and going through each piece of clothing was quite an experience.

What I thought would take me less than a day, took me working on it over the course of three days.  You can see why, I’m sure.  

I just finished my clothing today. There was a moment I really wanted to just throw it all back into drawers and forget about it, but I’m glad I didn’t! I LOVE the end result!  

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I’m donating a ton of stuff, and I already feel less stressed!  I even purged and organized my bathroom and went through all of Brooks’ stuff and reorganized his closet.  Luckily that took a lot less time!  Needless to say, that nice little schedule I set for myself (insert control freak eye roll here) and what I would get done this week has changed a bit.  BUT… I’m extremely glad I’ve started and already see how purging and organizing will help reduce a little bit of the stress.  Getting it done before the school year starts again is a huge bonus!

I’ll try to share a lot of before and after pictures on this journey, so hold on!  I’m pumped, and I hope you go on this journey with me.  I’ll even accept some words of encouragement along the way if you’re willing.  I’m jumping into toys and books tomorrow!  Pray my child doesn’t realize things are missing when he gets home. 

Blessings,
April

The outcome was different… and it’s okay

We are now a couple of months removed from our last round of IUI to try to have our second baby.  At that time, it felt like everything that could go well for the fertility treatment to work was going well.  Unfortunately, it simply didn’t work.  I felt a little shock, a little mad, a little like God had lied to me.  Yes.  I felt that way for a brief moment.  That’s called being a sinful human. I KNEW God had given me the desire for a second baby, so I just didn’t understand the results of our fertility efforts.

Two months later, some pouting, and even more reflection, I understand and am reminded that God DID give me that desire, but his plan and timeline is different from the one I came up with.  I have to chuckle a little bit, because at this point in my life and walk with God, I know his plan usually is different from mine.  I’m just that awesome.  I tend to make a decision, get hyper-focused, and GO.  I like to act.  Get it done.  God tends to have to slow me down and remind me that I MUST go to him when acting and it’s on his timeline, not mine.  HARD.  STUFF.Bridge Journey

So here we are with a plan that didn’t go as planned.  But.  It’s okay.  I was able to go through what we call the stages of grief a lot more quickly than I did our first go around on our baby journey. Thankful that is due to a lot more trust in God and that I don’t have to see every step or even the big picture, because I know he’s got this.  That is a very difficult thing for me because I have such a strong need for control that I know I will battle my entire life.  So I’m thankful God continues to remind me he really is in control, I can let go, and that leaning on him all the time is the one thing I need to focus on and do.  I am thankful for the most beautiful gift from, Brooks.

So… If you’re a bit of a control freak like me… try giving it to God.  It works every time.

Cheers and Blessings!
April

What does faith look like? Waiting… again…

People talk about faith a lot.  I’m one of those people. People talk about having strong faith or a lot of faith or that their faith is somehow weakening in the face of struggle or just because we are struggling.  But what does all of that mean?

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Faith or belief that God has it all under control no matter what things look like and feel like here on earth.  That’s faith to me. That we can trust in him and hope. Faith to me is knowing that even though I shed tears or fear the worst, that I can trust God knows exactly what is happening, what comes next, that He is in control, and I will be ok on the other side of it all.  I’m so thankful for the knowledge that no matter what happens on this baby journey, God is in control and I will be ok.

I don’t think just because I may cry when something doesn’t go the way I hoped or because I am sad that what I wanted in the time I wanted it means I don’t have faith.  I think in those moments that I struggle to understand, I learn to turn to Him faster and put my trust in him completely. I don’t think it means I’m losing faith or that my faith is weakening.  I think it means my faith is getting stronger. That God knows I’m not capable of handling all things this world throws at me because I wasn’t made to. I was made to rely on God. So if I’m hurting, that’s just a normal worldly feeling.  What is important is that I turn to God and His word and rely on Him even when I can’t see it all playing out ahead of me. #planner #thestruggleisreal When I don’t know or understand His timing… When I can’t understand why things happened the way it happened… I just have to sit, listen, and pray.

Matthew 17: 20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith.  For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Our faith need be but the size of a grain of mustard seed.  WHAAAAT?? That’s it?! Really? THANK GOODNESS! That’s truly all we need.  Have a little faith, turn to God, and let Him do the rest. He has the power.  We don’t need it. We just forget that sometimes. Again… the world. Not. Our.  Home.

closeup photo of four brown wooden spatulas with seds
Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán on Pexels.com

I am in waiting once again to find out if this second round of IUI is the round God says yes to this momma’s heart for another baby.  I don’t know what His plan is. If this round He says no, I’m certain I will be sad and allow myself the time to cry and mourn another month gone.  But that does not mean I don’t have faith or I don’t trust in God. I do. And I will turn to Him and give him my sadness and pray for Him to help me take the next steps he desires me to take.  

He has taught me it’s ok to be human.  It’s ok to be broken. It’s ok to feel powerless.  It’s ok to be sad. Because I don’t have to be perfect.  My perfection comes from believing in Him and being saved by his blood and His grace. I am so thankful I don’t have to be all things perfectly to be loved by Him.  You don’t either.

So ladies, let’s let go of the idea of perfection and let’s grab on to the knowledge that God is all things for us.  All we have to do it turn to Him and have a tiny bit of faith.

Blessings friends…. and #pray
April

 

The most important lessons are in the waiting…

I’m smack dab in the middle of some serious waiting right now.  Waiting on some friends’ sweet babies to be healed. Waiting on the next chapter for my campus and work family.  Waiting on the results of our IUI fertility treatment.

I’m taken back to the years of waiting for Brooks.  Waiting on whether or not I would get pregnant the next month.  Waiting on classes to show up on a schedule to certify for our foster license.  Waiting on our report from our home study. Waiting on whether we were matched with children through our foster agency.  Waiting on foster children that never came.  Waiting on results from our very first IUI.

gray double bell clock

What I’ve learned, is the real lessons, the most important lessons, are all in the waiting.  Not the end result. It’s the most difficult, yet most beautiful part of the struggle. It’s where the real magic happens.  Where the transformations happen. Where the big epiphanies happen. It’s where we are brought to our knees and finally surrender to God’s will and the knowledge and acceptance that HE is in control.  We learn that there are beautiful and perfect lessons in the sometimes agonizing waiting that He affords us. I can now look back and see it all and be thankful.

I’ve been told that there seemed to be a much bigger build up to the first time Chris and I went through our IUI fertility treatment.  That this time so many people didn’t even know until they read about it on Facebook. That’s true. I guess I could say it’s because we’ve been here before, but really it’s because I’ve surrendered control and given this entire process up to God this time and, in return, He has filled me with peace.  I almost can’t believe it myself. I’m a 100% certified control freak. (Sorry for those of you who really know me.) But this. THIS is all in God’s hands because it’s His will. No matter the outcome of this first round. I know we are supposed to be right here, in this place, in this waiting.

So I wait. And I seek God and I find Him and I learn.  Only this time, I get to learn in peace and calm and confidence because THIS TIME I have surrendered.  THIS TIME I have given up control and placed all of my trust in the only one who knows all and controls all.  I can’t wait to look back and see what I’ve learned this time.

For those of you counting down… We should know whether this round of IUI was successful in about nine more days… Sorry for the wait.  I promise to keep you updated.

In Waiting,
April

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New Beginnings… Again…

New Year, New Beginnings…. Again…  This just feels like the year of change, and I’m embracing it.  Change. That’s right. What once seemed scary and made me want to run away, now makes me feel hopeful.

We have been talking about whether to try to have a second baby since about six months after Brooks was born.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure I wanted a second baby. How in the world could I love another human like Brooks? But we needed to talk about it nonetheless.

So many of you know our long, difficult journey to become parents, and I knew there were zero guarantees.  The thought of even the possibility of having to go through loss and roller coaster emotions again was not appealing in the least.  

However, if there is one thing I learned from our experience, it’s that I am NOT in control.  Those thoughts and fears were all based in lies sent from evil, not from God. God is in control, and it’s always better to go to HIM and see what HIS plans are for us. NOT to decide on our own and not out of fear.  So after months and months of casual conversation with Chris about a sibling for Brooks, I still wasn’t sure. I knew exactly where he stood. So I went to God. He almost immediately put this amazingly strong desire for another baby in my heart.  It was undeniable. That was about this time last year. So I decided to act before the fear took back over. I scheduled an appointment with my OB and here we are almost a year later. I just had a follow up appointment with the best OB around, Dr. Seeker.  I am slightly anxiously excited that we are officially moving forward with trying for baby number two and will be doing a fertility treatment next month! I wish I could say the “anxiously” part didn’t exist. But, I’m human and I tend to be a stubborn learner as I’ve mentioned before.

This is the point where Satan comes into play once again.  He’s really great at doubt, fear, and lies. And he’s incredibly subtle about it.  He sneaks into your mind and does everything he can to make you think you’re the one thinking these thoughts and feeling these emotions.  Thankfully, I’ve been down this road before. Thankfully, God has made me stronger over the last eight years through our first baby journey and subsequently seeking a closer relationship with Him that now I can identify the evil as not my own.  Even if it’s not always immediate. Thankful that I know to turn to God and let him fight this battle for me.

 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29:11-13

These bible verses are some of the ones I really clung to during the dark, five years we struggled the first time.  I believed them even when I felt like I would never be a mom. I believed them even when I was jealous of all the people around me who were pregnant and having babies.  I believed them when I felt smothered by loss. I still felt all of those terrible emotions, but I believed God had a plan for me, and it had nothing to do with evil.

I believe God placed this desire for a second baby squarely on my heart.  I don’t know what that means for this baby journey exactly, but I know we are supposed to be on it.  I know we are supposed to try. I know we are supposed to be in this place right now acting on what I know God wants us to do.  I know I am supposed to give up all the control and hand it over to God willingly because HE’s GOT THIS.

sky sunset person silhouette

So I leave you with one last set of verses that has been a constant reminder that I’ve needed the last eight years…. I hope it’s a great reminder for you if you too are headed on a journey this year.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? …Therefore do not be anxious, saying ‘What shall we eat’ or ‘What shall we drink’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ …But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all theses things will be added to you.  Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6: 25-34

Let’s not worry for tomorrow.  Let’s be present today and hand it all over to God.  I would LOVE for you to send up a prayer or two for my sweet family and our journey.  I’m happy to send some prayers your way too! #pray

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~ April
#pray

 

New Year to Pray

See ya later 2018!  You’ve been great, but I’m so excited for 2019!  Why? I just have a feeling. I feel so blessed at this moment.  Yes, we’ve had ups and downs and things aren’t perfect, but I cannot even begin to count our blessings from 2018, and I FEEL it all rolling into 2019 in an even bigger way.

One thing I’ve really taken away from the last 5 or so years is the power of prayer.  I also feel deeply impacted by those around me. I spent many years praying for a baby and my own life, but this past year, I’ve spent a lot more time praying for others.  Is it because I’m changing? Is it because I’m now a mom? Is it because I’m getting older? (not that much older, I’m still 29 and very wise for my age) I think it’s a combination, and I like it.  My truly selfish me is getting some push back these days, and it’s a good thing. I’m just one of those slow to learn kinda folk.

My word for 2019 is PRAY!  Not prayer, but PRAY. Action.

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A word that encourages me to go and DO IT.  Not just think about it. Not just ponder the power of prayer.  Not just listen to my pastor preach about it. But sit in the presence of my almighty Father and PRAY to him.  Every. Day. It’s a beautiful action. It’s the time I get to be a child and let my emotions and thoughts and fear be truly real.  I can be confused and sad and happy and thankful and angry and God is there, and He can handle it. All of it. He’s the only one who can handle it all and do something about it when I don’t have control or power to do anything about it on my own.  I’ve found myself in this type of position a lot in the last five years or so. Not in control when that’s all I really want.

So why don’t I spend more time in prayer getting to know my God better and deeper and lean on Him and into His word and thank Him and ask for big things in His name?  I’m worldly. And sometimes my priorities get all outta whack, and God has to bring perspective back. Again, I’m slow to the take sometimes.

So that’s my word for 2019.  That’s my action for 2019. Yes, there are other things I’m focusing on this year.  I want to read more. I want to eat a little healthier this year. I want to live in the moment more.  I want to really want to be more purposeful in my oily business that I love.

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BUT…. I want to build up my relationship with God above all, and I know that everything else will be taken care of whether it’s easy or hard.   

I’m starting my prayer / gratitude journal to help me stay accountable and to be able to look back on the year and SEE those prayers. See how my prayer life changes me.

So what’s your word for this year?  Is is a word to ponder or is it a word that encourages action? Let’s crush 2019!

 

Blessings,
April

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