Monday, December 30, 2013

Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014!

What 2013 Looked Like for Us:

*Best Meal*: for our 5th anniversary we went to a restaurant in Rochester, MI called "Kruse & Muir on Main". The service was fantastic, but the food was incredible. My meal was lobster and shrimp with saffron cream! We then had homemade chocolate mousse (on the house because it was our anniversary!) Absolutely SUPERB!

*Favorite Book*: "Not a Fan" Kyle Idleman :-)

*Soundtrack*: The Rend Collective Experiment "Campfire"

*Movies*: "Frozen" and "Impossible"

*Songs*: "He is with us" Love & the Outcome, "What are we waiting for" Matt Papa, and "Worn" Tenth Avenue North

*Favorite place we visited*: Lake Ann, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Traverse City, and Glen Arbor (all with my little family, parents, brother and SIL in August!)

*Epic Moment*: When we were at North Park for our final night of candidating and then left so they could vote for Michael. After we left and went to a local coffee shop to wait to hear, they called us with the news that the church had voted us in with an overwhelming YES! As we walked back into the church that evening, tears of joy were in both of our eyes as the wonderful people clapped and cheered for us. We then had a short time of prayer and everyone came forward to congratulate and welcome us as their new pastor and his wife. We will never forget that beautiful night!

*Most Poignant*: our mission's trip to Detroit. I can't speak for anyone else, but I know that my life and outlook was forever changed as we ministered to the people there. We went to help them, but I think we were helped and encouraged even more by their love and acceptance of us. :-)

*Greatest Joy*: watching my children grow and not only love us and each other, but learn about Jesus and how He died for them!

*Scariest afternoon*: when my grandma was undergoing a quadruple bypass and we weren't sure if she was going to make it. So thankful that God spared her life and she is still with us :-)

*High Point*: moving to Grand Rapids is definitely #1, but meeting Kristyn Getty at the gospel coalition conference in April and getting my picture taken with her was a close second. ;-)

*Theme Verse*: 1 Peter 5:10
"And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you."

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

20 Questions...

I thought I would ask my almost 5 year old some important questions. Enjoy!

1. What is your favorite color?

2. What is your favorite toy? Thomas and Captain America

3. What is your favorite fruit? Apples and Oranges

4. What is your favorite TV show? Super Squad

5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch?
Macaroni & Cheese

6. What is your favorite outfit?
My Captain America shirt with muscles

7. What is your favorite bible story? Jesus and Adam & Eve

8. What is your favorite snack? Fruit "lever"

9. What is your favorite animal?
A bear like Winnie the Pooh!

10. What is your favorite song? Thomas

11. What is your favorite book? Anything about baby Jesus

12. Who is your best friend?
Ethan, Hunter & Bradley

13. What is your favorite cereal? Granola

14. What is your favorite thing to do outside?
Shovel snow (he is most definitely his father's son on this one!!!)

15. What is your favorite drink? Chocolate almond milk

16. What is your favorite holiday? "Trunk or treat" and Christmas

17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night?
Captain America and angry bird

18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
Waffles with syrup

19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday?

20. What do you want to be when you grow up?
A man :-P

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Food is food...

Me: "do you love food?"
H: "yes! I love food AND I love dessert!"
Me: "dessert is food"
H: "no it's not. Dessert isn't food. It's just....dessert. And it's yummy!"

I agree. Dessert deserves its own special group. :-P

Monday, July 15, 2013

His favorite food...

Me: "what is your favorite food?" (I'm expecting to hear pizza, spaghetti, pb&j, etc)
H (with great enthusiasm): "hmmmmmm. I know! The buffet!"
Me: "ummm, the buffet is your favorite food?"
H: "yep it is. The CHINESE buffet"
I guess he knows what he likes :-P

The Big Smell....

Naptime conversations....
H: "Mommy, what is that big smell?"
Me: "Are you talking about my breath?" (I had just eaten some Indian spiced sweet potatoes)
H: "yeah. You smell like chicken and I just want you to know that you are making me HUNGRY!!!"

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Aunt Sarah's Wedding

Me: "What are you going to do at Aunt Sarah's wedding?"
H: "have lots of fun!"
Me: "yes it will be a lot of fun. What else?"
H: "I'm going to be her merry little man!" :-D

David and Goliath...

Our four year old son waxed eloquently on the story of David and Goliath...
H: "David went after Goliath, hit him on the head and knocked him down!"
Me: "oh no! What happened to Goliath?"
H: "he had bleed on him and then he died up!" :-D

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Blessing of a Little Life... Everlynn's Birth Story

My sweet Everlynn Sarah turned one today. It reminded me of the wonderful miracle of her birth. I thought I would share that with you tonight. :-)


I'll never forget the moment I found out I was pregnant with you. I was going to concoct some elaborate scenario to tell your Papa, but I ended up squealing and showing him the pregnancy test. From the first moments of excitement, i just knew you were going to be a girl.

I started throwing up early. It was just really rough. My day consisted of waking up, throwing up, eating breakfast, throwing up, eating lunch, throwing up, sleeping, eating dinner, throwing up, going to bed. And starting everything over again the next day. Even in the midst of 9 months of sickness, I still was so grateful for your little life and couldn't wait to hold you! I was however, extremely grateful for a wonderful group of supportive midwives as well as the opportunity to have you at one of the best and natural hospitals in the nation.

When you were about 18 weeks, we went to go for your ultrasound to see if you were a boy or girl, and make sure everything was growing properly. I'll never forget the moment when they said "It's a girl". I just KNEW it! I quickly imagined all the pink, frilly clothing, and shopping trips together. :-)

But that was quickly followed by concerns from the doctors that you weren't growing properly, especially your head. It was something that your Papa and I went to our knees in prayer for more than once. It was so hard waiting for each sonogram. I was so relieved after the third ultrasound when they gave you a clean bill of health. Who knows, maybe they were wrong in the first place, or maybe God healed whatever issue you were dealing with? No matter what, we know God is powerful and totally capable. :-)

After that was over, we were able to totally enjoy looking forward to your arrival, even in the midst of sickness! Our church threw a beautiful shower for you and your Grandmama and Great Grandma ("GiGi") came and surprised me! :-D

Because I had your brother at home 2 1/2 weeks early, I thought for sure you would be early too! Well, we got to 40 weeks, and then when you were 6 days overdue, your Mama started having complications. My blood pressure was very high, and my legs became extremely swollen and started turning purple. After seeing a wonderful team of midwives during the previous 9 months, I decided to see the doctor in charge and he recommended an induction if you were not born by the time the weekend came around. He also diagnosed me with Gestational Hypertension.

I felt so anxious. What if I had a c-section? What if I had to have an epidural? All these "what if's" were bothering me. And then I remembered who I was supposed to bringing my worries to. After much prayer and talking to Jesus, I felt calm and ready. They scheduled my induction for that saturday night at 11 pm. I prayed about that too because it sounded absolutely miserable to be induced at night. :-P They then rescheduled for Sunday at 6:00 pm. That definitely sounded a little better.

This was taken right before we headed to the hospital. :-)

I remember showing up at the hospital at 6 pm all ready to go! I was so excited! We got there, got all checked in, and they came in to talk. They said because it was super bowl sunday, they were over crowded with women who ate super bowl food that made them sick, that then made them go into labor.
They asked me to come back the next morning so they could give me more attention. :-) I didn't mind at all. I wanted to have a wonderful hospital experience and not get overlooked, or have my baby not get the best care. So we found a hotel and stayed there with your Grandmama. :-) Of course your poor Papa was up all night because your Grandmama AND your Mama snored all night long. ;-)

We showed up at 7:00 and they started the induction. Since I was already 3 centimeters and 50% effaced, they only had a couple of induction options, especially since you hadn't dropped yet. My awesome midwife gave me HALF the recommended dose of Cytotec and within a few hours you had dropped and they broke my water! I did not go into labor until my water broke, but it was so fast from that moment on. It is so amazing how God created our bodies. So much pain, but endurance as well!

I remember at one point, my one support nurse was holding onto me as I gasped in pain and was breathing low deep breaths, and she kept telling me that I could do this. That I was in control and my baby would be here soon! As I was going through transition (key word for a moment of insanity when baby is almost there but you feel like you can't go through one more second of this incredible pain), I told the nurse and my mom to give me medication! They had a little pow wow and decided to help me do whatever possible to get through this med free because they knew that is what I wanted. Within minutes I was in the jacuzzi tub, lights dimmed, essential oils going, soft music, and warm towels around my neck. I started dozing and felt comfortable for the first time.

All of a sudden I had this incredible urge to push and had immense pain during a long contraction! They got me out of the tub as fast as is possible with a largely pregnant lady, and got me onto the bed. All I wanted was to push, and push and push! But she told me to wait as she checked me. It was so hard to control. She told me my cervix was still in the way but to wait until my next contraction and I could push. Within seconds the contraction took hold of me and I pushed the cervix out of the way and she told me to push again. Two more pushes and you came rushing out, big and beautiful! They put you on my chest right away and you started nursing within seconds as your Papa cut the cord. The midwives did an amazing job and were so thrilled that your labor and delivery only took 4 1/2 hours! :-D

You were just so sweet and had the biggest eyes I've ever seen! An immense love rushed over me and tears rolled down my cheeks as I thanked Jesus for your dear little life. You were my little girl and I knew that God had blessed us much more than we could ever deserve.

May Jesus become your All as you grow into a woman after His own heart. We love you sweetie! <3 1st="" birthday="" happy="" nbsp="" p="">

Monday, February 4, 2013

2012 in a nutshell...

1. What did you do in 2012 that you'd never done before? 
I went on my first Mission's trip! Had a baby girl in a hospital with a team of amazing midwives, (my first was born at home), and was induced. Went Paleo!

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?  
I made a goal to eat healthier, get in shape and lose weight. I lost 54 pounds by the end of the year and totally changed my diet around to be 100% Paleo. I also resolved to grow closer to Jesus and He now means more to me than ever before!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?  
No, but I had my baby girl, Everlynn, on February 6, 2012!

4. Did anyone close to you die?  
Yes, Michael's grandfather.  

5. What countries did you visit?  
None this year.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?  
a lot of things, but especially energy and more opportunities to minister to others.  

7. What date from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?  
That moment on February 6, when Everlynn was born and I looked into her beautiful big dark eyes! Love at first sight!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? 
Having a baby. Nursing with zero problems. Remodeling most of our home! Potty training Hudson.

9. What was your biggest failure?  
Worrying too much about what people think of me and trying to keep way too many people happy and pleased. Not being organized enough. Disappointing people.  

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? 

11. What was the best thing you bought?  
Decorations for our home! Baby girl bedding from Pottery Barn Kids!

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?  
My husband for being 100% supportive in my weight loss and health recovery journey!

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?  
a lot of unmentioned people

14. Where did most of your money go?  
bills, fuel, food

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?  
Michael's ordination, Everlynn's baby dedication, our housewarming party that my parents threw, and getting to go to NC for Christmas!

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?  
"In My Own Little World" Matthew West and "Blessings" by Laura Story

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: happier or sadder?  
much much happier (not that i was unhappy before, I am just healthier now)!

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?  
spent more time with God

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?  
worrying over little stuff

20. What was your favorite TV program?  
Merlin, Marple, Poirot, Once Upon a Time

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? 

26. What was the best book you read?  
"Jesus + Nothing = Everything" by Tullian Tchividjian

27. What was your greatest musical discovery? 
"The Rend Collective Experiment", "The Civil Wars", and "She & Him"

28. What did you want and got?  
My own little home

30. What was your favorite film of this year? 
 The Hobbit

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?  
I turned 31. It was low key with family, but really a fun time spent at the mall and a restaurant!

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?  
More sleep  

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012? 
Postpartum Frumpiness. Thank goodness things are looking brighter in that area.  

34. What kept you sane?  
Jesus, Michael, and much prayer

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?  
My husband, the preacher  

36. What political issue stirred you the most?  
the whole presidential election... sigh

37. Who did you miss? 
my family and my best friend Crystal

38. Who was the best new person you met?  
Sharon Floyd. The wife of the Michigan Association of Regular Baptist Churches. She is my prayer partner and is so encouraging!!!!

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012:  
letting go and learning how to live a life full of faith and grace

Monday, January 28, 2013

Mawwiage.... mawwiage is what bwings us togeddar...

Marriage IS what brings us together forever. :-)

Many couples can recount trivial challenges such as the other spouse not replacing the lid on the toothpaste or constantly forgetting to put the toilet lid down. Michael and I have most definitely faced our fair share of intense challenges in our four and a half years of marriage. Five moves, an unexpected honeymoon baby, birth and delivery, whooping cough, spending 10 1/2 days in Children's Medical Center wondering if our baby was going to make it through, a miscarriage, full time ministry, financial stress, potty training (oh yes, I could write a whole blog just about that), and trying to balance our time wisely. Wow, I think that is enough to make anyone go intensely insane, right? ;-)

Here is just some encouragement to those of you contemplating marriage, engaged, or newly married. 1. Pray together daily: Michael and I pray together daily and not only is it a time of praise and thanksgiving for what He has done, it is also a time where we exercise our faith in believing in what He is going to do in our lives. This also includes corporate worship (unless sickness is present of course). There are few things I enjoy as much as singing praise songs to the Lord on a sunday morning by my husband's side. :-) 

2. Live sacrificially: It seems like some couples seem to think it is always the wife who is supposed to give up everything when she gets married, has kids, etc. However, Michael and I believe this is a two way street. If the husband comes home from work and the house is STILL a mess, the toddler is wreaking havoc, the baby is running around in a dirty diaper, and the wife is laying on the couch feeling sick and exhausted, it is not for the husband to berate her in her failings that day. It is time for him to change that diaper, get her a drink of water, and put his arms around her. But this also goes both ways. If your husband is stressed over a work or school project, don't complain about his lack of attention to you on that day or that he is not helping with the children. Take care of the kids, make dinner, rub his neck and tell him you love him. This applies to intimacy as well. ;-) 
3. Submit one to another: The bible says the wife is to submit to the husband. However, the Bible also says that the husband is to love his wife. It is not loving to treat your wife like she is a door mat. Marriages equals mutual respect of each other. This involves discussing important decisions. There are definitely times when Michael says we need to do something that I don't want to do, but I do it because I trust him that he is wise and since he rarely asks me to do much (outside of caring for the house and Hudson), I do it (though he never asks me to do anything we haven't talked about). Most men want a partner in life, not a puppy.  Please treat your wife like than equal! This goes for the wife too. Don't discount the decisions your husband makes. Don't make him afraid to lead because of what your reaction might be. 

4. Never do any name calling: Words are like wounds, they will heal but always leave a scar. Think twice before opening your mouth. Try to say I love you instead. 

5. Do not try to change each other: If there is something you do not like about the person you love before you get married, it isn't going to magically disappear after the vows and honeymoon are said and done. You have two options here. Either discuss it before marriage (and be open about your own bad habits and such) and try to encourage change, or you need to accept it after marriage. Things CAN change, but it is up to God and not you. As a wife, I certainly do not want to be a "leaky faucet" so I try to take it to the Lord when something irritates me and not get on Michael constantly (and vice versa). Have a teachable spirit and take constructive criticism to the Lord in prayer instead of reacting. It's not my job to be the Holy Spirit in his life.

6. Do not correct or criticize in front of others: Thankfully, Michael has never done this to me, but I have been around people who do this. It really does wound! It can discount a persons opinion and make them shut off communication because they are afraid they are going to be embarrassed or hurt again. If your spouse says something you consider incorrect, inappropriate, or ignorant, do NOT tell them that in front of others. This is a BIG no-no! This also goes for other people correcting or criticizing your spouse. Nip it in the bud!

7. Keep your communication free and open: Set aside 30 minutes each evening to sit and discuss your day, feelings, etc. Do not let other things crowd out sharing your hearts with each other. These distractions can come in the way of TV, internet, and yes, even children. 

8. Go on weekly dates and keep the romance alive!: Michael and I do not have a lot of spare money for dates, but most of the time (usually monday evenings) I will make a meal and we will eat it at home with a lit candle and romantic music playing. We talk about life and try to avoid talking about work/church stuff and it helps us to stay connected. :-)

9. Do not let your children crowd out your relationship with your spouse: It is all too easy to get so wrapped up in your child''s cuteness, antics, and milestones that it comes before anything else, but most importantly your spouse. Make sure that you aren't ignoring your husband or wife in favor of your kids. Your kids grow up and leave eventualy, but it is till death do you part with your spouse. When the kids leave, you want to be able to still have a loving and open relationship with your husband or wife. 

10. Give your spouse the freedom to be themselves: Whether this is their hobbies, clothing or hair styles, personality, etc. We don't have money for me to keep up on a lot of the current clothing fashions and such, but Michael always makes sure to budget enough for me to get my hair cut. Even when I am wearing the same clothes as 2 years ago, a stylish cut keeps me feeling pretty and feminine. Budget needs to be taken into consideration. If one of you knows you don't have the money for something, don't buy it. Wait till a special occasion comes along and buy it then (after saving for it). 

I am by no means a marriage guru, especially only having been married 4 1/2 years, but after going through some intense hardship, God has not only kept the two of us together, but has knit us even more tightly than ever before. When a couple has the joy of the Lord and a mutual love for Christ, being continually in His word as a couple and praying together draws you even closer. I love it when my friends tell me that their husband is their best friend and companion. There is nothing better than that. So in closing, marriage is not a challenge to me. It is a life changing, character growing,and love expanding experience. Couples who pray together and find joy in Jesus WILL find joy in each other.

Remember to keep your priorities straight....

About Me

My photo
My name is Stephanie and I grew up in Florida. I have been drawing since I could hold a crayon. Even though I never had any formal training, I am well known for my vibrant style. I enjoy painting murals, drawing wall art, colorful stationary & invitations, and many other artistic projects. I am currently working on writing and illustrating my first book.