Hello…

Hello?  It’s me.  (Thank you, Lionel & Adele.) Oh my goodness.  The last 8 months have…well…been full.  Here is a snapshot from today…this might explain some of what I’ve been up to.

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Morning sickness killed July/August…getting into the routine of Kindergarten & school life kicked us in the rear the next couple months…then just trying to keep up with the routine of work/school/life…something had to “fall off the beam”.  Blog? No. I can’t even compute that right now.

But, I’ve been mulling over some things & needed an outlet to express them.  So. Hello.  It’s me.  Typing away in my minuscule corner of the world wide web…

This pregnancy has not been easy.  Yes, I’m in better shape than I was with Zane & Alice.  Yes, once the all.day.morning.sickness started to subside…I felt pretty good.  Tired, but good.  So it hasn’t been so much the physical, as the mental.  The mental…

Two healthy, amazing kids…then two heart-breaking miscarriages.  When I did get pregnant again, I wasn’t expecting it.  I had put that part of my heart up on the shelf.  But, there I was.  Staring at the test.  Not wanting to tell anyone.  Mad.  Yep, mad, because I didn’t want to go through another miscarriage.  I was tired.  I had “given it to God” & was ready to embrace the season we were in.  The season of healing, & of living in the moment.

Here’s the deal – getting pregnant after a miscarriage is scary.  Getting pregnant after multiple miscarriages is scary.  It’s hard on your heart.  I had a hard time connecting with this sweet baby, because I didn’t want it to hurt as bad if the Lord decided to take him/her away.  And then.  Then I felt guilty.  Guilty, because I had sweet friends who were praying, yearning, for a baby.  Yearning to get pregnant.  And I felt ungrateful.  I was scared.

I’m going to be seriously transparent with you & say…I still am.  I’m 38 weeks pregnant & I’m still struggling with anxiety.  I’ve had a hard time preparing for this sweet one because “what if?”…”Lord, what if you take this one away, too? What if something goes wrong?” It’s a daily battle.  BATTLE.

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” – Dueteronomy 31:8 

{TRUTH.}

Let’s be real.  We can all “put on the happy face” & act like “we got this”.  But sometimes.  Sometimes life sucks.  Life is hard.  If you are in the waiting, or going through the valley, or scared, or are just having to deal with the crap of life…You are NOT alone.  I think that is what the Lord has been teaching me the most through this.  We all have “something”.  We can go to our shiny churches, chat with our shiny friends, recite the shiny verses from our shiny Bibles, fill our minute, feeble brains with all the shiny knowledge we can…and try to keep control & keep our lives as shiny as possible…BUT. Life is messy.  Life is dirty.  We need each other.  We need the REAL each other.  Not the shiny versions with all the right answers.  It took me a long time to be ready to talk about the miscarriages…& it is still scary to lay it all out & say I’m still anxious.  (Because that’s not shiny.) And, I don’t think that will ever completely go away.

Please know, you’re not alone.  It’s ok to not be ok.  It’s ok to ask questions.  He created us with emotions.  He created us to feel.  It’s what we do with those emotions & feelings that matter.  Those emotions and feelings need listened to, & then they need Truth spoken over them.  Truth of Who He Is.  Truth of Who He Will Be.  Truth of what He promises.  He’s not just a God you study, & get a shiny degree on.  He’s a God who cares so deeply for you that He sent His only Son to die the most gruesome death for you, to pay the highest price for you, but who didn’t stop there.  He rose again.  He’s a LIVING God.  He’s THE LIVING GOD.  He’s THE LIVING GOD who LOVES you so much that He will stop at nothing to make sure that Life with Him is available to you! We are His Sons & Daughters.

So even when you or I feel alone, feel scared, feel anxious, feel betrayed, feel mad, feel broken.  Truth trumps all.  It’s good to feel.  But, let’s make sure we cover those feelings in Truth.  Because “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).

Someone in authority said something to me after our first miscarriage that made me mad.  He was trying to be comforting but it came out as, “Well, maybe God is making you go through this so you can help others.”  I get what he was trying to say.  But, I don’t believe God orchestrates evil things to happen to us.  We are not tools in His tool shed or chess pieces on His chess board.  Remember, we are His sons & daughters.  Wouldn’t it break your heart to see your son or daughter broken?  Aren’t we created in His image?  Then I know He feels our brokenness.  And I KNOW He will redeem the brokenness if we let Him.  He spoke through Joseph in Genesis, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Genesis 50:20).  He sees.  He will redeem.❤

Project: {Style} V

Project: {Style} – Because, as we grow & change, our style is always evolving.  I love fashion & beauty.  I think it is FUN.  I’m figuring out what I’m comfortable in, & I’m figuring out what makes me happy.  {*NOTE: I know that beauty & fashion, are not THE source of happiness.  Jesus is my sole source of Joy.  But, He made us to appreciate beauty.  To see Him in the beauty. This is just a fun project in finding an outward expression of the joy I feel on the inside.}

Can you believe it is almost JULY?! *gasp*

I’m not okay with how fast this summer is flying by.  Seriously. Slow.the.heck.down.

This weekend we attended a super sweet wedding.  It was so lovely.  One of two weddings on the calendar for us this summer.  Love.  & let’s be honest…my favorite part of a wedding is…well…THE CAKE.  I’m pretty much an expert on eating cake.

This is the outfit I chose for the wedding…& this was something out of my comfort zone.  I do not showing my legs.  If I wear a shorter dress, I ALWAYS wear opaque tights.  But, that wasn’t going to work for this event – too stinking hot out.  So, I decided to be brave & not worry what others thought of my legs (less be real, I’m the only one obsessed with my legs, so I just needed to get.over.it.).

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Dress: Lands End | Kimono: LuLaRoe | Shoes: Aldo | Accessories: Noonday Collection

We had a great time.  Weddings are fun.❤

We had a day last week that was rainy & cool. {My fave.} So I tried out a light scarf.  This scarf is handmade {with love} in Guatemala.  The Artisans hand dye the thread & then weave the scarves on back strap looms.  So much {beautiful} detail.

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Jeans: Gap | Shirt: Ruche | Shoes: Toms | Scarf & Earrings: Noonday Collection

One of my favorite online shops is ShopRuche.com.  They have such a {fun} selection.  Lot’s of great dresses & tops.  I recently ordered this dress & was so excited to see how well it went with the Lilac Tushabe necklace I have.

The Tushabe is made {with love} out of hand-rolled beads & ethically harvested horn.  It is named after an Artisan who works with the group to support her sick husband & to ensure her children get an education.  Thanks to companies like Noonday Collection, she is able to earn a sustainable income while working a dignified job!

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Jeans: Gap | Dress: Ruche | Cardi: Gap | Shoes: Toms | Accessories: Noonday Collection

 

{If you don’t already – be sure to follow me on Instagram – @stephaniemontes.  Planning a fun giveaway very soon!🙂 }

Will you join me in Project: {Style}?  Fashion should be {FUN}.  No matter what size or shape you are.

What do you feel comfortable in?

What do you find beautiful?

{YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!}

Until next time…

{Linking up with The Pleated Poppy for What I Wore Wednesday & Happiness at Mid Life for TBT Fashion.}

Project: {Style} IV

Project: {Style} – Because, as we grow & change, our style is always evolving.  I love fashion & beauty.  I think it is FUN.  I’m figuring out what I’m comfortable in, & I’m figuring out what makes me happy.  {*NOTE: I know that beauty & fashion, are not THE source of happiness.  Jesus is my sole source of Joy.  But, He made us to appreciate beauty.  To see Him in the beauty. This is just a fun project in finding an outward expression of the joy I feel on the inside.}

I’ve still been feeling like I’m in a R.U.T.  But, I did have a {little} more inspiration this week…

(Really, I’m blaming the {Summer Funk}, I had so many goals for the summer, & it’s slipping away speeding by! Okay, I apologize…moving on from my wine whine fest.)

Have you tried Peplum tops?  I have a really hard time with them because of my body type.  So, I tried a drop waist dress to see if it would give a similar effect…

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Dress: H&M | Jeans: Gap | Cardi: H&M | Shoes: TOMS | Accessories: Noonday Collection

This necklace is made {with love} in Vietnam out of bone & ethically harvested water buffalo horn.  It is one of my favorites because it can be worn with just about everything.  I like to pair it with a fun {arm party} or chunky earrings.

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I have had this dress for.YEARS.  I mean, YEARS.  I know I got it at Target, pre-children.  That is how well {loved} it is.  It *might* be time for me to retire it…but it’s been so stinkin’ faithful.  It’s a dress that I can throw on when I’m just not “feelin’ it”, & still feel somewhat put together.  Do you have a faithful piece of the clothing like that?

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Dress: Target | Jeans: Gap | Shoes: TOMS | Accessories: Noonday Collection

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I finally purchased a Chambray shirt a few weeks ago…& I’m loving it.  Have you worn it as a cardi?  It’s getting {hot} here in Nebraska, so layering is {key}.  This pic is from Sunday.  *Note: My dear, sweet Huz was snapping these pics for me…& this was right after he got done laughing at me as I was trying to firmly encourage my parents’ sweet crazy dog to stop jumping on me, & vacate the premises {immediately}. Bless. Bless.his.heart.

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Chambray: Old Navy | Top: LuLaRoe Irma | Jeggings: Old Navy | Sandals: Birkenstocks | Accessories: Noonday Collection

The Shine Necklace is made {with love} in Ecuador from acai, tagua, & pambil seed!  It’s an {amazing} statement piece.

AND – The Shine Necklace & the Rainforest Fringe Earrings (that I am also wearing) are 30% OFF through Sunday!

{{You can shop all accessories on my website http://stephaniemontes.noondaycollection.com.  Be sure to check out the SALE section while you’re there!  There are still some great deals to be had!  Fair Trade, Handmade, & on SALE?  Go.now. You will thank me.🙂 }}

&

Okay…I thought the whole dog ambush thing was funny, too.

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Will you join me in Project: {Style}?  Fashion should be {FUN}.  No matter what size or shape you are.

What do you feel comfortable in?

What do you find beautiful?

{YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!}

Until next time…

{Linking up with The Pleated Poppy for What I Wore Wednesday & Happiness at Mid Life for TBT Fashion.}

“Just”…

I’m having a hard time letting go of this tree.  It’s dead.  But, I keep thinking…Maybe the Lord will resurrect it!  Maybe it will bud this year!  Oscar is ready to chop it down, but I don’t want him to. I don’t know why…I mean, it’s just a tree…

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When I was in High School, I worked at nice restaurant in town as a Hostess.  I remember the owner was standing near by while I was seating a couple & as they walked in, I asked, “Just two tonight?”, they said “Yes”, & I showed them to a table.  When I came back the owner said, “Please don’t ask that again.  You can say ‘Two tonight?’ or ‘One tonight?’.  But, do not say ‘Just…’ they are our guests, they aren’t just a number & you don’t know their story.”

I was thinking about this the other day when someone told me that “you don’t understand, you just have two kids”.  I thought of my former boss.  Because he was right.  It’s never “just“.

I looked up the definition of the adverb “just”…simply; only; no more than.

It made me think.  We never know.  But God knows.

I am not just a wife, just a mom, just a…the list could go on.  We are not just a family of four.

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For you, too.  You are not just anyone.  You are His.  Bought with a price.

{You are so much more than you know.}

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And maybe that’s why I feel like it’s not just a tree.  To me it’s a symbol of a season where everything seemed to be dying & I’m just trying to hang on to some hope that He will breathe new life into this season again.

But, He’s teaching me, sometimes, you have to let go, plant some new seeds, & have faith that in this new season, a fresh anointing will fall & new life will spring forth.

No, it’s not just a tree.  It’s never just

Project: {Style} III

Project: {Style} – Because, as we grow & change, our style is always evolving.  I love fashion & beauty.  I think it is FUN.  I’m figuring out what I’m comfortable in, & I’m figuring out what makes me happy.  {*NOTE: I know that beauty & fashion, are not THE source of happiness.  Jesus is my sole source of Joy.  But, He made us to appreciate beauty.  To see Him in the beauty.  This is just a fun project in finding an outward expression of the joy I feel on the inside.}

Also: Yes, style is {FUN}.  But, let’s be honest, some days/weeks, it just feels like {work}.

That was me this week.  I haven’t been “feelin’ it”.  I wore a lot of work clothes, because, well, the last couple months I’ve been helping working for my Dad at his Pioneer Seed (corn, soybean, milo, etc.) warehouse.  And IT.IS.GLAMOROUS.😉

Ha.  Well, it may not be {glamorous}, but it is {FUN}.  {FUN} because I get to work with my Dad (& sometimes, my Grandpa).  {FUN} because Zane & Alice get to spend time with their Great-Grandparents.  & {FUN} because it’s not all year.😉

SO, in the realm of {keeping’ it real}, this is what I looked like, more days than not, this week…

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{T-Shirt: Pioneer Seed | Work Pants: Carhart | Shoes: Old}

Style is {FUN}, but don’t feel like you need to “have it all together” all of the time.

Style is the most {FUN} when it’s {REAL}.


And then today some {very special} shirts came in the mail.  They were part of a fundraiser for a fellow Noonday Ambassador & her family to raise funds to bring their little girl home from the Congo.  The shirts say “Your grace abounds in deepest waters.”

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{Shirt: Fundraiser | Jeans: Gap | Shoes: Toms | Accessories: Noonday Collection}

Because when the waters are deep, it takes a lot of {faith}.  Because when the waters are deep, it’s {hard}.  Because when the waters are deep, {He shines the brightest}.

Such a {good} reminder.
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I leave you with this…this girl is {always} dancing.  {ALWAYS}.

Don’t forget to enjoy the moment.

Because sometimes I need to remember that, too.
{Don't forget to dance.}

{Don’t forget to dance.}

Will you join me in Project: {Style}?  Fashion should be {FUN}.  No matter what size or shape you are.

What do you feel comfortable in?

What do you find beautiful?

{YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!}

Until next time…

{Linking up with The Pleated Poppy for What I Wore Wednesday & Happiness at Mid Life for TBT Fashion.}

Project: {Style} II

Project: {Style} – Because, as we grow & change, our style is always evolving.  I love fashion & beauty.  I think it is FUN.  I’m figuring out what I’m comfortable in, & I’m figuring out what makes me happy.  {*NOTE: I know that beauty & fashion, are not THE source of happiness.  Jesus is my sole source of Joy.  But, He made us to appreciate beauty.  To see Him in the beauty.  This is just a fun project in finding an outward expression of the joy I feel on the inside.}

I dropped the ball this week.  My Mom, Zane (4yrs), Alice (3yrs), & myself, ventured to Texas to pick up Brave, the pony.  So, needless to say, I snapped a lot of photos of the great “Brave” adventure, but not a lot of out outfits…& I was mostly in leggings (best travel companion, ever.) & long, comfy tops.

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{Brave is the little pony in the middle…}

Here is one I took though…

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{Shirt: Old Navy | Pants: Gap | Sandals: Birkenstocks | Accessories: Noonday Collection}

 This is a super easy outfit.  I finally found a Chambray shirt that I connect with.  Old Navy for the win!  Whenever I have the chance, I order the Tall size, because it’s often longer, & I like that.

ALSO!  The Silk Road Clutch {made with love in Afghanistan} that I’m holding is 30% off this week!!  Along with the (yellow) Bengal Necklace {made with love in India} & Jaipur Earrings {made with love in India} that I’m wearing as well!  Everything at Noonday Collection is {handmade with love} by our amazing Artisan Partners.

Isn’t the hand embroidery on this clutch stunning?

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{You can shop this sale at stephaniemontes.noondaycollection.com}

Will you join me in Project: {Style}?  Fashion should be {FUN}.  No matter what size or shape you are.

What do you feel comfortable in?

What do you find beautiful?

{YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!}

Until next time…

{Linking up with The Pleated Poppy for What I Wore Wednesday}

Project: {Style}

We went through our closets last week.  It. felt. so. good. to go through everything & PURGE.  I wanted to try to do a “capsule wardrobe”…I’m not quite there yet, but I felt like we made great progress.

So, I decided to start “Project: {Style}”.  Because, as we grow & change, our style is always evolving.  I love fashion & beauty.  I think it is FUN.  I’m figuring out what I’m comfortable in, & I’m figuring out what makes me happy.  {*NOTE: I know that beauty & fashion, are not THE source of happiness.  Jesus is my sole source of Joy.  But, He made us to appreciate beauty.  To see Him in the beauty.  This is just a fun project in finding an outward expression of the joy I feel on the inside.}

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Kimino: LuLaRoe | Dolman: Jane.com | Jeans: Gap | Shoes: TOMS | Accessories: Noonday Collection

I love being comfortable.  So, I tend to lean towards longer tops.  I’m 5’10” so most of my “tops” could actually be dresses for shorter people.🙂

Have you heard of LuLaRoe?  I was just introduced to them this Spring, & the clothes are SO COMFY.

ALSO:  All of my accessories are from Noonday Collection.  I am an Ambassador with Noonday.  Every piece is {handmade with love} by Artisans from around the world.  Each piece has a {story}, which is my favorite part.  By purchasing these {beautiful, unique, handmade} accessories, you help create sustainable income for these {amazing} Artisans, who live in vulnerable communities.  To read more about our Artisan Partners & to shop visit: stephaniemontes.noondaycollection.com.

Noonday Collection is a Fair Trade company.  When you shop Noonday’s line of fashion-forward jewelry and accessories, you join a movement to create a flourishing world where children are cherished, people have jobs, women are empowered, and we are connected.

::: I’m working on a {fabulously, fun} giveaway…stay tuned!! ::: 

Alice wanted to get in on the fun, too. :) Alice's Shirt: LuLaRoe | Necklace: Noonday Collection | Skirt & Leggings: GAP

Alice wanted to get in on the fun, too.🙂 Alice’s Shirt: LuLaRoe | Necklace: Noonday Collection | Skirt & Leggings: GAP

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Dress: Old Navy | Pants: GAP | Shoes: TOMS | Accessories: Noonday Collection

This {gorgeous} tote is made {with love} in India out of goat leather by a group of artisans that are considered “untouchable”. They are lower than the caste system – only this group can touch the dead animals which are considered “holy”. By selling their goods to companies that are committed to ethical sourcing and Fair trade standards like Noonday, these artisans are now earning regular wages they can rely on, and dignity for the work they do!

Dress: LuLaRoe Amelia | Jeggings: Old Navy | Sandals: Birkenstocks | Accessories: Noonday Collection

Dress: LuLaRoe Amelia | Jeggings: Old Navy | Sandals: Birkenstocks | Accessories: Noonday Collection

This clutch is made {with love} by {beautiful} Artisans in Afghanistan.  It is hand embroidered & the detail is stunning.

Top: Anthropolgie | Cardigan: H&M | Jeggings: Old Navy | Sandals: Birkenstocks

Top: Anthropolgie | Cardigan: H&M | Jeggings: Old Navy | Sandals: Birkenstocks

Will you join me?  Fashion should be {FUN}.  No matter what size or shape you are.

What do you feel comfortable in?

What do you find beautiful?

{YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!}

Until next time…

Noonday accessories featured in this post...

Noonday accessories featured in this post… stephaniemontes.noondaycollection.com   

{Linking up with The Pleated Poppy for What I Wore Wednesday}

Being brave…

This year I’m praying for courage.  To be bold.  To not “hide” because I’m not good enough.  To not be silent because I’m scared I might be misunderstood. To not…the list could go on & on & on.

I want to be brave in sharing my journey.  I want to be authentic & tell you I really don’t like having my picture taken.  Because I have about 50lbs to lose.  Because I don’t like my hair right now.  Because I’m just in a funk.  Because, because, because…

BUT, my kids love pictures.  They love to look at photos of when they were “babies”. [Hello! You are still babies!  You will always be my babies. Stop trying to grow up so fast!] I don’t want to be the absent mom from the everyday photos.  I treasure the photos I have with my mom & dad.  It is good to mark the moment.  It is good.  So I’m going to be brave & embrace the camera more.

Here is the first edition:

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Let’s embrace the camera in the everyday.  Mark the moment.

This is us now…

Not sure why, maybe it’s because I need an outlet, a place to put a “voice” to some of the crazy that has been keeping me up at night…but at any rate. Here I am. I’m back. And I’ve changed. Thank you Lord, I’ve changed, and I am still changing. Thank you, again, Lord.

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This is us now.  Well, within the last year.  We’ve changed a lot.  We’ve grown.  We’ve been tested.  We’ve mourned.  We’ve celebrated.  We’ve been refined.  We are still being refined.  We are learning to be real disciples…not just the scholarly type.  You may be offended by {or not agree with} what I type.  And I’m ok with that.  This is a record of a journey.  A beautiful journey.  I’m “setting up stones”, or recording stories, to remember where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going.  I’m expecting to grow more.  I’m expecting to be challenged more.  So here is where we are, and here is where we’ve been the last few years…

These past couple of years have been years of growth for our family. We welcomed sweet, spunky, all-around amazing, Alice to our fam on April 19, 2012.  She blesses my socks off daily.  Zane has been an awesome “big brother” to her, and I’ve seen him grow in awesome ways as well since her arrival on earth.  They are a JOY.  Yes, we have hard moments.  Yes, we have hard days.  Yes, we aren’t perfect.  Yes, I have more crazy moments than sane most days. Yes, I know some of our parenting methods are “different”. YES, we do read the Bible.  YES, we do pray for our kids, constantly.  YES, we live daily in the grace and mercy of our Savior.  Bless.  We are so blessed.

We found out in July of 2013 that we were expecting sweet babe #3. And on August 22nd of 2013, our sweet babe when to be with Jesus. Miscarriage is a precarious event. People do not really know how to act. But some people, some people DO know how to act. Some know how to pray (not just say they will, but actually take the time to pray, right then and there. That matters, folks. That matters a. lot.) and how to be there.  A baby is a baby no matter how small.  We prayed and we mourned and we knew God was sovereignly in control of our tiny lives.

Then, in February of 2014, we found out we were expecting sweet babe #4. (#4 because, again, all babies count. No matter what “age”.) And on March 13th of 2014 our sweet babe #4 went to be with Jesus. March was a tough month. March 2nd was our sweet babe #3’s “due” date. And some sweet friends also said “see you soon” to their sweet girl. The Lord is gracious. And oh so close the the broken hearted.  Thank you, Jesus.  Let me never forget these moments.

I am so grateful to friends who can have a babe whenever they will, and have a house full. Blessed. I know it’s a lot of work, blessed work. And I pray for you and the warriors you are raising.  But I am REALLY grateful for the sweet friends who have experienced loss, and who are brave to talk about it, and share in others’ grief. And pray, even when it brings up memories of hurt and loss, pray because you’ve been there.  Thank you. Thank for being there, and thank you for teaching me how to be brave. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for being a safe place for me to grow and be real.

So here we go…

Slight hiatus…

Yes, yes, it’s true.  We are still alive.  Just a bit of a blogging hiatus.  Something about time, motivation, & inspiration lacking in the blog department.  So this is what we have been up to…

— Celebrated a very special 1st Birthday.

–Bought a house.

–Began working on said house (Tore up carpet, peeled off wallpaper, sanded floors, poly’d floors, sanded cabinets, & painted pretty much everything.)

–Got really worn out by working on said house.

–Found out that a Baby #2 {due 4/29/12-ish} was adding to the tiredness.

–Began chasing around a newly walking 1 yr old.

And that’s about it in a nutshell.  Here are some pictures of our Summer/Fall 2011.

Z’s 1st Birthday!
Our New Home. (The previous owners lived in the back half & had their dental clinic in the front half. We have’t don’t much to the front half…yet.)
Living Room *Before*
Living Room *Before*
Kitchen *Before*
Kitchen *Before*
Looking from Living Room into Dining Room/Kitchen *Before*
Living Room, after a lot of paint, floors refurbished, & popcorn ceiling scraped off.
Living Room, today.
Looking from Living Room into Dining Room
Kitchen, today. It’s amazing what paint will do.
Kitchen.Kitchen.

The soon-to-be Big Brother.

And there you have it!  Until next time…