Praise God for Work



In reading Loving the Little years, the author talks about how we use certain words to excuse ourselves from the work God has given us. She gives the example that she would say "I'm so overwhelmed!" And this phrase created a license in her life to excuse her from the work she was given. She had 5 kids. Twins, tandem nursing. She WAS overwhelmed  But she insisted she stop saying that phrase. 

She compares it to when mothers ask their children to clean their room. We've all seen it, even if we aren't parents. The kid lags, complains, drags their feet. If they would have done the work without complaining, they'd already be done by now. 

She challenges the reader to identify their phrases that they cling to to excuse them from the work God's given them and strike it from their mouth and heart.

So I prayed God would go ahead and show me the phrase I use to drag my feet. What I became aware of is I don't have just a phrase. I have several. 

"I'm so tired."
"It can be really lonely being staying at home."
"I don't feel understood."
"This work is repetitive."
"I have the right to be heard/understood/affirmed"
"It'll mess up E's routine."

 Its these phrases that I constantly go back to to excuse myself from opportunities to be the wife, mom and friend I'm called to be. Am I tired? Yes. Is it really lonely being here all day? Yes. Do I have a right to be heard, understood and affirmed? Perhaps...Does ministry and gathering with others mess up Eowyn's routine?You betcha.

Despite the reality of this situation, the fact is the work still needs to be done. By me. Children, friendships and marriage are huge blessings. and they are huge work.

I've been challenged to quit saying these things both with my mouth and my heart. The facts of my circumstances do not give me a way out of the work that I'm called to.

And when I come to God with all these complaints, I think he listens. Just like a mom listens as their child goes on about all the reasons why they shouldn't have to clean their room. And after I'm heard...I feel the push to get up and go do what God told me to do in the first place.

Praise God for his Grace. Praise God for giving me such a loving husband. Praise God for giving me such incredible friendships. Praise God for giving me Eowyn with her giggly face. Praise God for work.

Baby Items I'd Recommend Part II


Baby Items I'd Recommend II

I've been slowly accumulating things over the past 5 months that have made mom-hood easier. Ultimately, products are always something we can do without; several people have raised children prior to these inventions. So I shy away from claiming these are 'Must haves.' Yet,  they have made the past several months go by more smoothly.   I thought I'd share these with you all. I also shared my recommendations when Eowyn was just 3 months.  Check out part one here.

I have mentioned this before, but I finally am feeling pretty comfortable in my mom state. It has taken a while. Eowyn's 7 1/2 months old. I give kudos to those moms that find their groove early on. I am not one of them. I still feel like I'm in a perpetual cycle of problem solving, but it doesn't seem to leave me the emotional wreck it once did (Praise All Mighty.) These products have in some ways helped that. Eowyn has a cold? I got some gadgets for that. I don't want to buy more wipes? Cloth wipes to the rescue. I keep side flashing people when feeding Eowyn? DIY nursing Poncho. Life has just been made a little easier. Read below for the other recommendations of the gadgets and gismos I'm glad somebody made.

Sleepers-Its basic. But near every mom agrees. If there's one thing Eowyn hangs out in ALL the time, its sleepers. Why? Because its a shirt, pants, and socks all in one zip. Sundays are pretty much the only day she wears all of her other cute clothes. And every Sunday we seem to lose a sock. So? Sleepers for the Win.

The Baby Bullet-I love this thing. I LOVE this thing. When purchasing things, the underlying motivator for us is often "Will this save us money in the long run?"  So, when we got this as a gift from the parents, we were stoked. Why? Because a) it's awesome and easy to clean and does exactly what it says it will and b) we don't have to spend all that cash on baby food. Bonus, I think Eowyn likes it better than jar food. (Probably because its fresher and introduces a lot more textures than the good ol gerber container.) I am still figuring out how to make mass amounts and store it on the go. Any recommendations would be appreciated.

Vic's Baby Rub (Target/Walgreens)- Our rite of passage as parents happened a few months ago when Eowyn got a nasty cough and cold. She struggled and this stuff proved to work just as it did when Ben and I were young sickly things. Tried and true. 

Grandma El's-This is my latest discovery. I could write a whole post on the saga that was Eowyn's most recent, and most severe diaper rash. It took us about a week to figure out it was ammonia burn from build up in our diapers, then we spent the next two week trying to strip all our diapers (which included switching detergents, boiling inserts, washing those things a gazillion times, and finally (the one thing that worked) we used good ol dawn and bleach. Check out the you tube video of how to do it here.) Needless to say, the diapers were now clean, but Eowyn still had the rash and I wanted to fix it fast. I used SEVERAL different ointments thanks to all the ones I received pre-baby plus a few of my own purchases and this is the only thing that seems to be working. And its cloth diaper safe.  I've only had it for a few days-so we'll see, but I'm hopeful.

Shea Moisture Baby Eczema Therapy - Ben has eczema, our baby has it too (man, our kid has weird skin issues.) We tried lots of different moisturizers and this is what is working the best. Plus it smells good and it really does a great job of moisturizing skin. I kind of want another tub for myself.

Cloth Wipes-I'm not sure why its taken me this long to switch over to cloth wipes, but after my last batch of wet wipes ran out, I decided to go ahead and score etsy for some cheap ones (I wasn't really interested in sewing them all, especially since I don't have a serger-but several people find it quite easy to do, so if you'd like-there's that option!) I was also in search of a wet bag for my purse. Two for One Deal. Found them both together and snatched those babies up. I'm glad we did. Its been an easy transition. If you don't switch to cloth wipes I'd recommend buying normal wipes on amazon in bulk. That's saved us a lot of money.

Go Ga Ga Toy Line - Perhaps its because my child loves all things fuzzy, but this line with the wood, fuzzy fabric and fun colors has both Eowyn and I pretty happy. We have this and a giraffe and both are favorites for E. They also seem to absorb a lot of drool, so that can be a positive or a negative depending on how you look at it.

BumGenius Diapers-We have a smallstash of bumgenius diapers. One of the 4.0's and the rest FLIP. We also have a good lot of fuzzibunz. Now, no one likes to admit costly mistakes-and I don't know if I'll go so far as to claim it was, but I'll have to say  Bumgenius wins over fuzzibunz in our house.  We've had no issues with BG. None. Period. with sizing or fitting or leaking. We had the issues with cleaning them, but that was our whole stash. Where as with fuzzibunz, we still struggle with getting the right sizing, and thus with leaking. They ARE trimmer, more customizable etc. but Bumgenius seems to do the job better both with their 4.0 and FLIP line without any work. The link I provided is to a website called Cotton babies. I've gotten a lot of great deals through them.

Bummis Bio-Soft Liners-When we welcomed ourselves to the world of baby-food poop, we needed to problem solve. We were contemplating a diaper sprayer, but decided to give these liners a go. These have been especially nice not just for the occasional nasty, but also because we can use our non-cloth-diaper-safe ointments without fear of getting build up on our diapers.

Small Wet Bag- Finally got one for my purse. I would argue its not a need, plastic bags work fine. But when it came with the cloth wipes, I was pretty happy. I'm liking its ability to lock in smell and prevent moisture on anything else in my bag.

DIY-Nursing Poncho. I have a nursing cover, and I like it quite a bit. But I have found that I've had the occasional "flash your friends" from the side because my daughter is an acrobat and likes to fling her little legs in the air just as soon as she's hooked them under the corner of the cover. Looking for a solution, I found this DIY and am loving it. I made two for about 15 bucks and I actually like one of them for everyday wear. I  did change the DIY instructions a bit. (She just says to sew one line, when I actually prefer the poncho to be even on both sides, meaning I cut 7 or so inches to one corner, and left 7 or sew inches on the other and sewed to the bottom conrer( imagine a teepee or an upside down V for the hole where your neck goes. Comment below if you have questions.) But its a great poncho and can be made in less than 30 minutes.

B. Baby Blocks-My sister recommended these and I like this toy line a lot. The colors are great, and Eowyn likes to gnaw on them. She's just getting the hang of grabbing and tossing them too.

Nosefrida The Snotsucker Nasal Aspirator-Yes that's its' name. Okay. So, I was scoring the internet one day and stumbled upon this guy. After reading laugh-out-loud reviews I showed Ben and he said "Wow that's gross, and funny." and that's where we left it. Those crazy people. Until about a week later when Eowyn was struggling to breath while eating. Should we do it? We did. We purchased this bad boy and there was no turning back. Not only does it fix the problem waayyy better than the bulb (Because really-does that thing even work?And its impossible to clean.) this is all sorts of satisfying. There's a filter so no nasty boogers get into your mouth or anything, and she can breath again without me going at her with that blue bulb for several minutes. This takes seconds. It definitely has made Eowyn like me a little better when she has a cold.

JJ Cole Satchel Diaper Bag- I like cute quality bags. If you've known me, you know that when I get a purse I run that bad-boy into the ground. Take my Jo totes (the yellow camera purse I love), that was my one and only for two and half years. But it was breaking, and baby was coming. So, I found this beauty, saved it to my favorites and sat on it for 6 months. I got a gift card during a baby shower and bought this. Still proving to be durable and is able to hold an incredible amount of things. Plus its got like 12 pockets which makes my organized-prone heart happy. Cost per wear is now in the cents range. .28 as of today. (Nerdy, but cool.)

Dr. Bronner - Castile Soap-I use this to make our cloth wipe formula. A lot of people just use water, but after our nasty burn/ rash, I wanted to make sure Eowyn was clean. Other DIY wipe solutions require all sorts of essential oils and this seemed to be an easy way to skip that. I add a few drops to our water solution, and pour it over the wipes. Some people love this stuff for the thousands of other ways they can use it (clean your floors, wash your hair, do your laundry...), I've just used it for our cloth wipes and its mild enough to not agitate. It'll last us forever. You can find it in the beauty aisle at target.

So there you have it. I don't get any perks from recommending these, they are just my opinions.

What are a few of your favorites? I'd love to know.

Joe & Sarah // Covenant Marriage


Today I have the privileged of introducing you to one of my dear friends & mentors Sarah Sweetman. Its an  honor to get to have her on the blog here today! She has been an encouragement through several stages of my life and all those that know this beauty would probably give me an "amen" when I say how genuine her heart is and how well she  encourages others! She also writes a special blog that you can check out (and follow!) called  A Sweet Life.  Hop on over and check it out.

One of the first things that attracted me to pursuing a friendship with Sarah was how she and Joe related to one another. As I was approaching marriage (when my relationship with Sarah deepened) she played a big role in encouraging, and challenging my heart. Throughout my engagement, marriage and most recently new-mom hood, she's added a lot of perspective, encouragement and the truth. This past year especially, as I got the opportunity to spend more one-on-one time with her, I got a lot of peace about becoming a mom, being a helper to my husband and enjoying this stage of life. Just getting to watch Sarah, her husband and their baby girl is a blessing. Its a privilege to get to feature her today.

Meet Sarah:

Hello! My name is Sarah. I am a wife {of five newlywed years} and a mommy {of one soon-to-be two girls}. But most importantly I am a child of God, redeemed by His son Jesus, in whom I ultimately live life for.

 My husband and I work with The Navigators at The University of Minnesota – Twin Cities; loving, serving, mentoring, and equipping students to grow as followers of Jesus Christ. I spend most of my time in our home, loving and carrying for my little {growing} family. I love the home and anything that goes in it…people, fun thrifty finds, photography, cooking & baking, artsy projects, even cleaning and organization. I blog {when time allows} as an artsy expression in capturing the little glimpses and memories being made in our home, family and life. I’d love for you to visit me –

What first attracted you to your spouse?

Neither Joe nor I know of the first time we met. I like to say “he just showed up on my doorstep”. He really didn't,  but we did meet somewhere in the context of the house I was living in during college. Joe was not on my radar when he came into my life, but apparently I was on his. So in hindsight I would say the first thing that attracted me to Joe was his intentional and respectful pursuit of me. On our first date {which I didn't fully see coming} he was stating his intentions/desires. He stated he wanted to date me, not just to date me but with the intention of asking the Lord if marriage would be his desire for us. This was a prayer answered {that a man would initiate, be serious about dating and be upfront and honest in his intentions of pursuing me} and the first of many ways my heart was captivated toward this “tall, dark and handsome” man!

What have been some of the best parts of being married?

Simply put - just living life together, hand-in-hand.

I remember driving away from our wedding reception asking the question “what now?” I mean we had just spent the last 8 months planning for this one day and now it was over. Don’t get me wrong, our wedding planning was a lot more than just planning for the wedding day; we spent a lot of time discussing and praying over our marriage but in that moment I simply saw Cinderella and her Prince riding off into the sunset to “live happily ever after” and wondering “what does that look like?"

It was my new hubby’s response that I love most because it lead us on our first adventure of living life as husband and wife… stopping at Starbucks for a little “cup of Joe” {in full wedding attire} and then off to find a spot to enjoy our first meal together {a picnic of reception leftovers in a tucked away park with a cute white gazebo}.

Now by far the best parts of just living life together haven’t always been the picture perfect moments of picnics in gazebos. We have had many similar beautiful moments fill our marriage but we also have had many of those painful trial-moments that don’t seem beautiful. But in God’s eyes they are the beautiful tools he uses to grow and shape us more into his image.

To many marriage vows often are just hoops to jump through but to us, looking straight in each other’s eyes and saying “for richer or poor, in sickness or in health, so long as we both shall live” are the life and breath of our marriage {it’s why we chose Hab 3:17-18 as one of our wedding verses} and to me that is what living life together means and what brings me the most joy in being married to my Joe. I wouldn’t trade those hard moments for anything; they are the tools that have deepened our love in God, each other and have grown our marriage the most as we have lived life together.

In the struggling times of your marriage, what were a few key things that kept you going?

Gospel truth found in God’s word {thank you hubby for keeping us centered on Christ}. In the harder moments it has been clinging to verses like Habakkuk 3:17-18, James 1:2-4, Romans 5:2b-5, Ecclesiastes 3:1,11,12,14, John 15:2,5,11, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, and Psalm 16:5-6 that has gotten us through. Key behind all these verses is that God is more concerned about conforming us into the image of his son than just giving us comfort and ease. In the moment this is painful but its good and beautiful when put into the perspective of God’s bigger picture!

What were some surprises you didn't anticipate in marriage?

I had gotten really good at “guarding my heart” in my singleness that when it came to allowing my husband into my heart I was caught off guard. As a single women I strived to keep my heart for God only and now being married and being allowed to bring my husband into this private part of my life was a new thing I wasn't anticipating being so hard. What did it look like to keep God my first love while letting love for Joe in there too? It was so much easier before to keep these two loves separate. No one had warned me of this adjustment and it took a good year to make sense of it and find some beginning answers.

Have you received any advice that has helped shape your marriage significantly?

The best advice that I don’t even remember where we heard it from but is something that has become a frequent phrase we use with each other often is: “believe the best”.

 In the moment {especially those hard moments that you don’t understand why he or she is saying or doing that} you need to remind yourself to simply believe the best. Often the number one reason we have had conflict or differences is because we were interpreting the other through the way we normally think or act; and being that one of us is a man and the other is a woman, well that way of thinking or communicating is not always the same and not always interpreted the same way. So “believing the best” allows us to stop and think “what is he/she trying to say or mean by __”, before we jump to conclusions. When we do this well we avoid a lot of unnecessary conflict, the kind that especially in the first year meant late night conversations that neither of us wished to be in but know must happen before we went to bed.

What little things do you do as a couple that keep your marriage enjoyable?

We prioritize intentional time for each other. It is easy to think you are spending lots of time together but the real question is “Is it quality time?” This has been even more important for us as we are engaged in vocational ministry and now have little kidios in the picture. It is easy to say “yes” to every opportunity that comes our way and it is easy to think because we do a lot of ministry things together that we are spending lots of time together. So we make boundaries to guard both us and family time. 

When we have a healthy work life balance we enjoy a more rich marriage {and family} relationship.
Practically speaking this means we schedule regular date nights and family days into our weekly schedule. This doesn't mean these are the only times we are together but these are times that we intentionally guard from other things creeping in {work tasks, emails, calls…}. We find these little additions in our schedule refreshing!

What advice would you give to a just-married couple?

Ephesians 5 is the real deal! We learned early on in our marriage that if we were experiencing conflict or difficulties in our marriage, it quickly came down to us not expressing our roles of marriage to each other well – husbands loving their wives and wives respecting their husbands. So strive to be experts in living out your role in your marriage.

Delight in the small beginnings. Our first home together as husband and wife was a 560 square foot one bedroom apartment, and lots of our furnishings where given to us or found in thrifty ways {on the side of the road, by dumpsters, on craigslist}. It wasn't like some of the homes our newlywed friends where buying at the time but we loved that home-sweet-home and have loved every other home we have lived in since. Five years later we are still renting but each new home God has brought to us has been the exact blessing we have needed for our little family {without and with kidios}. Starting off small and seeing God’s hand of provision come in time has been beautiful. We have learned a lot about the true values in life and how to find joy/thankfulness in any circumstance because of these small beginnings.

What advice would you give to a couple with young kids?

Seek God and embrace the joy He desires for you in your children. We {mostly me} found the learning curve of a newborn challenging when every resource and everyone seemed to contradict each other in instructing and giving advice in taking care of your new little one. 

It is good to research and ask for help as you embrace figuring out {loving and caring for} this little life but remember that each child is different and ultimately God needs to be your wisdom sounding board. Also God gave you your little one not so-n-so’s little one for a reason and unless you embrace that you will not be able to fully embrace the joy God intends for you in your children.

Remember “this too shall pass”. This is a frequent phrase I speak to myself when I am experiencing a challenging moment or season with my little one. {I am speaking it to myself right now for today has been one of those very off days and hard!} It is easy for me to get caught in the moment and forget the bigger picture of things, aka thinking rationally. I have heard it said “the days are long but the years are short”, and though I haven’t lived many years with kidios I find it to be true. So in the hard moments remember that it will pass and soon you will be looking back. My prayer is that when I look back on these years with little ones I see memories of me maximizing the season {despite how hard}, and I can only do this by looking to God and relying on his strength.

Give Mom a regular time out. I speak from the experience of being a stay-at-home mom here. I have found the need for a little break from the cutie a healthy addition for me and my family routine. Finding alone time is difficult with little ones constantly needing and wanting your attention, not to mention exhausting. But by scheduling in a few hours every week for me to have all to myself I find I am able to embrace my role as a mother {and wife} with more joy. I keep this “mommy time out” intentional, so I don’t fill it with errands but for some good alone time with God. It is amazing how refreshed and joyful I come back to my little one with. 

Husbands, help mommy out on this one. It might mean a sacrifice in your schedule but believe me you too will be benefiting from this act of love toward your wife.

What do you enjoy most about this stage of your marriage?

The adventures of parenting little ones together; I am so thankful to have Joe by my side, and I delight in his leadership in guiding us and keeping us seeking God in raising our children. And it melts my heart seeing the way he loves his little girls and desires to be their Daddy that displays real biblical love to them.

Thank you Sarah for sharing your heart. To keep reading more written by Sarah, like her fun updates on their coming-soon baby girl, fun craft projects and more click here. 

"The Right Kind of Damages"


"There are really two separate points I would like to make here. First of all, our bodies are tools, not treasures. You should not spend your days trying to preserve your body in its eighteen-year-old form. Let it be used. By the time you die, you want to have a very dinged and dinted body. Motherhood uses your body the way that God designed it to be used. Those are the right kind of damages."

"So realize that your body is a testimony to the world of God's design. Carry the extra weight joyfully until you can lose it joyfully. Carry the scars joyfully as you carry the fruit of them. Do not resent the damages that your children left on your body. Just like a guitar mellows and sounds better with age and scratches, so your body can more fully praise God having been used for His purposes. So don't resent it, enjoy it"-Rachel Jankovic, Loving the Little Years (Chapter 12)

I bought the book "Loving the Little Years" on a particularly rough day. I wanted the title to be my attitude towards this stage of my life. I expected a spiritual exercise, but what I got was practical. honest advice from a mom currently raising 5 kids. (Hey Mommas, go buy it. Its GOOD.) At first, I wasn't sure how to feel-I didn't get the spiritual fix-all. But as I kept reading, my heart has been changing. I read those few phrases above several weeks ago in a chapter titled "Me Time" and they keep getting at my heart. Every time I get critical of myself. Every time I wince at pictures taken. Every time I get frustrated at what is now vs. what was then. I keep going back to this.

I tried my wedding dress on this weekend. And it didn't fit. At first, I was bummed. This has been  a goal of mine that I've maintained for the past couple years. Always. fit. into. that. thing. Ben was there, he witnessed the scene. And after several jokes about the perks of this new body (a gracious husband, indeed), it turned into a much more serious conversation. He called me out. A few big realities were discovered for me. Firstly: I needed to let go of the idea that worth of any kind is dependent on a zipper's longitude. Second: when given the option, I choose the past 2 1/2 years of this blessed life I've been given over what "might have been" in order for me to be able to claim my pride of smaller hips and upper body. Hands down. 

At first I was tempted to tell myself "Brittany, you're making excuses." But I'm not. I've reached fitness goals since baby. I've met running-mile goals, I've made it back to my pre-pregnancy weight. Yet, reaching these numbers weren't as satisfying as I hoped. Possibly because those numbers still can't reconcile the fact that this is not the same body. At all. 

 My rib cage has expanded considerably. I carried E high all throughout and now-I'm changed. And after the past 7 months of going back and forth on the issue. I've embraced the reality that Rachel Jankovic wrote about. 

These "damages" are the right kind. I want them.

I am convinced we must keep these tools in good working order. God has given us them, and that carries a certain amount of respect and appreciation we must have for them. That means I'm pro-fitness and for being good stewards of our fleshly exterior. But at the end of the day, its just a tool. I keep telling myself: "Let it be used."  I am learning to gauge much of my self-perception on how I'm using this flesh to fulfill the purposes God has for it. This shift is bringing buckets of peace to this heart. This body can handle what God has made it for. 

While you may be tasting all sorts of success in your physical fitness pursuits ( Huzzah!), perhaps you're not. Or perhaps extensive focus on that area of your life is reserved for the 'not now list.' Regardless, may we choose joy and find peace. May we continue to put our flesh in its proper place and let the standard of our 18-year-old-selves (or in my case my 20 year old-bride-self) die. May I continue to praise God for the evidence that the flesh I've been given is being used well and has witnessed many a celebration. Lord knows its been a wild, incredible ride.

I hope you embrace your ne'ked self a wee-bit more, regardless if you've birthed babies or not. Joyfully. 

As always, thanks for reading.

Seven Months!


Dear Eowyn,

On your seven month birthday, here are seven things to remember about your seven month self.

1. You are graceful. When you stand up straight in the palm of my hand, I see such a strong child. It's hard to believe you're only seven months old.

2. You are quick to laugh. Why the word "cash" makes you giggle so much is beyond me, but I'll need to watch that when you get older, so that not all of my "cash" makes it into your hand. :)

3. You love fuzzy stuff. It doesn't matter what it is. As long as it's soft and fuzzy, you go for it.

4. You eat! I don't understand how you eat so much and yet you are still so little! You also LOVE pizza. Gnawing on the crust is one of your favorite past times. You love it so much in fact, that as soon as we are done eating, you cry for more!

5. You are entranced by music. I hold you at church, and you love to just stare at the worship team. I'm excited to see what instruments you'll play and watch you and even play with you on the worship team.

6. You are so smart! We have this exercise/activity saucer that you've been playing in for about 2 months now. Without me or your mom showing you, you know how to play with all of the toys on it. It's fun watching you figure things out.

7. You just want to be included. Every time your mom and I set you down to eat dinner ourselves, you cry and cry and cry. You just want to be part of the action! One of my favorite parts of the week is Saturday mornings. After you're done eating breakfast, you come and play with us in our bed. It's so fun to see you bright-eyed in the morning, discovering new things.

I love you, Eowyn. You are my favorite first daughter and I pray that you continue to grow and be a light to all those around you. 



Eowyn is SEVEN months old. Ben & I certainly can't believe it. Its a happy feeling when looking back on our life and both concluding that becoming parents has simply made life even better. Sleep deprived. Emotionally exhausted. But better. We laugh more too. 

The more I get to meet this little girls personality, the more  I become aware that this little girl is a willful, fiery little thing. We have a lot of hunches. and one of those is that Eowyn will want to be a part of everything, as she is now-and that she'll be a girl to speak her little mind. 

We've continually prayed she'll be a speaker of truth. That she'll stand up for what's right. When all those prayers were lifted up, back when she was in my belly, I don't think I understood what it meant to ask for such a strong warrior for Jesus. My grandma once told me that she prayed that all her children would grow to serve the Lord. But for her grandchildren, she got a little bolder and prayed we'd be 'warriors' for the Lord. When we found out we were having E, I couldn't have prayed anything less. To now see this spitfire-child, full of joy and determination; it gets me excited for what I know will be us marveling at and molding the beautiful creation that is this girl.  

Here are some stories from the past month:

We were talking about finances one night this week and I jokingly started saying the word "Cash" over-pronounced. "Give me some Cash!" "All In CASH" silly phrases like that (because hey, its the monthly finance meeting and ridiculousness helps.) Eowyn SHRIEKED  at me the first time I said it and thought it was HILARIOUS. Which surprised us. So, we obviously kept saying it. It soon turned into us forgetting about finances and saying "Ka-Ka-Ka-CASH" repeatedly. Her shrieks filled the house. We did it ALL night long to the point where she was half-laughing, half-crying. Boy did we laugh at her reaction. The following day we tried it again-and guess what? Not even a smile. But we got the whole thing recorded. Its those silly surprises that make this parenting thing a riot

 My mom has always called me her "little world changer." Its stuck with me and in a lot of ways I think its a God-thing in the way that it has encouraged me several times through my life. The other day as I was driving I was asking God what he would call Eowyn...kind of like my name my mom dubs me. RIGHT at that moment (I kid you not) a giant pick up truck pulled in front of me and cut me off. I immediately noticed the license:


 Say what?! Coincidence?!?!  I think not! I had a good laugh-out-loud  (if only you knew how fitting it was...) and told Ben about it once I got home. We've called her that ever since. Thanks Jesus.

Eowyn means business about a lot of things. One of which is Pain-Tolerance. The kid is Steel. Diaper rashes? Not a tear. Shots? A little shriek then done. Fall on her face? Just slides that mug to the side and calls it a day. She may not always be that way, and she definitely has her cry fests over other things (like being impatient about eating, walking even 4 steps away from her, etc.) But we are pretty impressed with this kid.

Gotta say, we're loving this stage.

These post might seem like overkill (THREE posts each month?!) Yes.  Why? Because we like to celebrate.

And especially 'cuz we like her.

Love you, baby-thunder.

7 Months!

{to see larger, simply click on image}

These monthly posts have definitely become one of my favorite things. The girl knows a camera well now. But sometimes, with pictures like that one above, I am amazed at how we even captured it. My girl is an expressive, shrieking, giggling, girl. Ben and I both are becoming familiar with the daily belly laughs she gives us. Love her. Every ounce.

See her grow here.

Casey & Bre // Covenant Marriage


Today is an exciting day.

Today is the first post of a handful of posts that will be coming our way over the next few weeks. This blog will be featuring some of my favorite couples and their hearts as they share about their marriages here on the blog!  I asked if they would be willing to share what  makes their marriages thrive, what struggles they've faced etc. and they have agreed to share their special wealth with us.We have a wide range of married-couples in different stages (from 2 to 30+ years of marriage!) that will be  guest blogging here over the next few weeks. I'm amazed at the unique responses each have, and I'm thrilled to be sharing these with you!

The first couple I have the honor of introducing is my Sister and her husband Casey. Bre has proven invaluable in my own life as I've sorted out the first years of marriage. There have been long car-rides with her reassuring, encouraging and teaching me how to have a sense of humor through life's struggles. I feel honored she took some time to write down some of the wisdom of being married for 7 years (The perfect number!) Enjoy!

Meet Bre.

Hi! I'm Breana Carey, I've been married to my husband, Casey Carey, for seven years. We have three beautiful children (all boys) and are full time Youth and Family Pastors in Wisconsin.

What first attracted you to your spouse?

What first attracted me to my husband beside obvious physical attraction was his heart. He has a passion for God and people. He loves to serve and see people succeed in what they do.

What have been some of the best parts about being married?

I think one of the best parts is having someone to live alongside this journey we call life. Not ahead of me or behind me but right by my side. Having someone I can always count on to love me on my most unattractive days both physically and emotionally. (And I've had my share of "ugly" days)

What have been some of the hardest parts of being married?
  • Communication. I think that 95 percent of our issues have come from a lack of proper communication. Though we are still in the process of learning how to communicate the way the other one does, the majority of our issues have been solved on that front... at least for now :)
  • Selfishness has been the other hard part. As often as I want to focus on how "I"m" feeling and make everything about me, I have to have to realize its "WE" not "ME". The quicker I come to that conclusion the better the outcome of my day.
What were some surprises you didn't anticipate in marriage?

How much work marriage really is. I also didn't anticipate babies (yes, I know where they come from). We got pregnant 6 months into our marriage which threw everything into a spiraling roller-coaster of emotion, I'm not talking just pregnancy hormones either.

Advice that has helped shape your marriage?

The best advice I've been given was: " Every day try to do something or change something within yourself that will make you a better spouse, without ever expecting a change in your spouse. " Essentially: Always try to improve upon yourself without expecting your spouse to improve. In fact expect they won't, but grow yourself none the less.  

What little things do you do to keep your marriage enjoyable?

We Laugh, Laugh, Laugh. We choose to see the bright side or even comical side of every situation. Like when your sweet boy climbs in your bed to snuggle and ends up diaper-less peeing on your face...or when your husband searches the couch cushions for the remote and pulls out his hand now covered in a mushy banana.

Also we take time to hear the other person. Hear how their day was, what their dreams are, who they are evolving into. We try to keep each other a priority.

Advice to a just married couple?

Remember the good days and forget the bad. Better yet, on the bad ones, remember what you loved most about your spouse on the good days, those qualities are still in there. 

Stay positive because it is just as contagious as negativity but has a much better bi-product.

Advise to couple with kids?

Take a deep breath. Enjoy. I promise the difficult days pass and are far less frequent than the good days. Don't try to be any one else but yourself. You have unique gifts and talents that make you the best parent for YOUR children. Also remember every child is different. One could be sweet and cuddly like one my boys and the other could be a strong willed, tantrum throwing, head banger (literally) like my other boy. Each child will present new challenges and opportunities for you to shine as a parent. Each one brings out the good and/or bad qualities you didn't know you had.

 Key ways God has worked most in your marriage?

There are far too many wonderful responses for this question. My husband and I, from the beginning, made a commitment to keep God our primary focus in all that we do. From the way we treat and view each other, raising our children, and the environment we surround ourselves in. God has continued to show himself faithful from finances to miraculous health provision. But He has also given us a love for each other and our children that is definitely out of this world. Come what may, at the end of day we stand strong and with confidence in our relationship and purpose.

In struggling times what kept you going?

Ultimately God and the Purpose we have in him. But on a non-spiritual note I guess it would be Over-Communication. 9 times out of 10 we were able to discover a conclusion or reason for the difficulty we were facing and how to prevent it in the future. Sometimes it took longer because of the "awkwardness" of a conversation  but once we got past our own insecurities and communicated, we quickly saw the light at the end of the tunnel.

Advice to Wives?

Speak positively about your husband at all times (some days that will be difficult). Respect him even if you don't think he deserves it. Love and Honor him even if it doesn't feel like he loves or honors you. Be the Spouse you want to have.

What do I enjoy most about this stage in your marriage?

SLEEP!! Just kidding, (kind of.) I enjoy my family. I enjoy sitting down for a long over due rest at the end of the day and reflecting on the fact that my little boys are growing into little men that look so much like their wonderful daddy , both physically and spiritually.

 I enjoy that the love of my life, the person who started this Crazy journey with me is sitting beside me on this overly loved, goober stained couch

Happy Valentines Day!


Happy Valentines Day, Friends.

I'm super excited to be sharing with you guys a little mini-series on the blog. We're going to have several married-guest bloggers here sharing their marriage and advice. This starts this week. So be on the lookout!

Hope your Valentines day is filled with celebrating your loves.

What is Love?

Friday Morning



After Eowyn got done with her sickness, it seemed like a whole extra level of goofiness came out of that child. She's been shrills and giggles and sass and all sorts of wonderful this past week. We're tweeking her routine a bit to figure out how much sleep and play she needs, and this morning was one of the first times in a week she slept till 7:30. So, a much rested mama and a much rested baby had a good time goofing off before it was time for her morning nap.

She'll be 7 months next week. 7 MONTHS! No, I can't believe. Yes, you're right it does go too fast.
But, it feels good to say that it doesn't seem like its whizzing by so fast that we're missing moments. Time is time, and luckily the days are long. So even though we sometimes set the timer for when we get to put her down for bed at night (like last night) we also are celebrating that goofy girl that shoots everyone smiles and does a special shriek for her dad.

This morning I had one of my closest friends come over, but before that all this happened. I'm thankful for silly friday mornings.

 And while I will be the first to tell you of the sweetness that is our daughter. I will also tell you about the hints of sass we are already getting to see. Case in Point: The bottom left of this picture!

 Get ready, Ben. Get Ready.

 This baby gets dedicated this weekend! About time we got her saved....Just joking, just joking. We are excited though. We get to see our parents and my sister and one of her babes. We're definitely pumped.
Happy weekend, everybody.

DIY: Making Your Own Instagram Prints


The main reason I wanted an iphone for several months was because of Instagram, once it came to android, I was thrilled. Its instagram I have to thank for the thorough documentation of the little moments of our life (including some of our first pictures of our baby girl.) I have been wanting to print off these photos for some time. So I downloaded the apps to print off instagram photos but soon discovered they were just too expensive to me (especially when I often get free photos via coupons and the like.) When I found this link on pinterest, I was thrilled. Ashley of Lil Blue Boo walks you through how to edit your photos to prepare them to be printed.

While her instructions recommended ordering them at Costco (which I would recommend if you have a membership.) We do not. So with a little tweeking, I was able to print them off another sites. Here's a few helpful tips (like how to get access to your instagram photos in the first place) and some helpful suggestions below,  in case a few of you run into similar problems that I did. 

Here's the full process of how I got my instagram photos into my hands.

1. I had to get to my instagram photos. First, I took them off my phone via USB, but for some reason couldn't find half of them. So, after some research, I found Instaport that logs into your instagram account and lets you download all the images to your computer via a zip file. Win. After download, unzip the file into a folder and you'll have complete access to all your images.

2. After, I used photoshop, as Ashley's instructions recommend. I opened the pictures I wanted to print and began the process of turning them into 4X6's (step 3 of Ashleys instructions: changing canvas size.) She recommends doing a ratio of 2 to 3 and has a graph to show you approximate pixel changes. All of my photos were different sizes in pixels, so to make it quicker and easier I changed my sizing using percentages rather than pixels. I made  the width be 150% and left the height the same at 100%

3. Then I did a handy trick I learned from my few years of photoshop exploration and created an action then batch edited all the images. Rather than writing such a tutorial, I'll point you to these two. How to Create an Action & How to Batch Edit.

4.  I used the same action+batch  to then save all the images to a folder, and later uploaded them to my photo printing site of choice for about 7 cents each (much better than the .40 I found through instagram printing sites..

Once I got the images the afternoon, I was so excited. I knew I would have to cut all of the black off the images, but it surprisingly didn't take too long. Maybe an hour and half of multitasking or in mom-speak, a little over a nap time.

These photos explain some pretty common sense instructions, but were a fun thing to do while watching the Superbowl.

 Here's instructions on what to do after you get those pretties into your hands.

I used a scrapbooking tool I had to slice all the blacks off my images. I was able to cut three at a time which cut the time significantly ( I ordered 275 images. ) Next, I went ahead and picked a few of my favorites for the wall above our bed. Here are the results:

I decided on a 6 X 7 wall and used 3 finger spacing (just put my fingers in between each image) and some wall putty to avoid holes. It took just a few minutes and I'm already loving the results. Ben did the same thing to all his CD's back in college. We laughed since it reminded us both of our college days. But, those were good days and this wall reminds me of some of our favorite adventures (Hawaii, Baby being Born, Colorado, Fun Walks, & other Special Moments.) I smile every time I see it.

Happy Printing!