Freewill

Expecting a child comes with so many emotions.  It is so incredibly exciting, but it is completely terrifying at the same time.  Not only are we responsible for the well being of our daughter, but we are responsible for her soul.  We are responsible for teaching her to live in the ways of the Lord, and raising her to have faith.  We are the role models for her future, and her relationship with God.  That is a HUGE responsibility, even more so than making sure she has all of her basic needs provided for.  The pastor at our old church in Tallahassee always used to say, that your goal as a parent should be having godly grandchildren, because that means as a parent you’ve successfully raised godly children.

That being said, there is no guidebook for parenting.  So every time Paul and I see or hear of a situation with children, we ask the questions, “If that was Aubrey, what would we do?” “How do we handle that?” “How do we keep that from happening?”  Our daughter’s future is completely overwhelming when we look forward to her teenage years, and decisions she will face.  How do we do this whole parenting thing?  These thoughts have kept me up countless nights during this pregnancy, and finally the answer came to me.

We are not raising her alone.  We pray that God will guide us with our parenting decisions, and we pray that He will help us lead Aubrey the right way.  We will teach her right from wrong.  We will teach her to respect authority.  We will teach her to respect herself.  We will teach her the dangers of drinking and driving, drugs, talking to strangers.  We will fill her with as much knowledge as we can before we send her off into the world, but from there how do you not shelter them, and keep yourself from being overprotective?

Freewill.

We can only teach our children so much, and then at some point, we need to trust them to make the right decisions, and give them the freewill to make mistakes.  The same way our Father in heaven has taught us.  We know what pleases Him, but He gives us the freewill to make our own choices, and our own mistakes.  We trust that we will do our job of raising her to the best of our ability, and then we have to leave the rest in God’s hands.  We trust that He will take care of her.

Our daughter isn’t even here yet, but as we await the arrival of our first daughter, our minds are racing.  I think that is only normal, but I think the best approach is for us to take it one day at a time.  She isn’t even here yet, so we can’t be working ourselves up with worrying about what we will do when she gets older.  Let’s work on getting her here safe and healthy.  Then let’s work on getting her to sleep at night 🙂 Until then I will continually praise God, for this gift He is entrusting to Paul and I.

Train up a child in the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. – Proverbs 22:6

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My Husband to the Rescue

The last week or so has been pretty rough for me.  I just feel like there have been a lot of things going on, and I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.  I don’t know what God wants me to do, or what direction He’s trying to tell me to go.  Yesterday was just one of those days where it all piled on at once.

I was really frustrated with work.  I kept getting kicked off the server, and it was making simple tasks take forever.  I think that, on top of my other frustrations (and pregnancy hormones) were just enough to send me over the edge.  At one point I went into Paul’s office.  I honestly don’t even remember what we were talking about in his office, but I know I was short.  When I get short, my attitude comes out often times without me meaning to have an attitude.  He hates my attitude (so does everyone else in my family). I turned and walked back into my office thinking to myself that I probably just made him mad.

A few minutes later, Paul walks into my office.  He gives me a big hug and kiss, and he says, “Do you know how much I love you?”.  I just started crying, and apologizing while telling him all the things that have been running through my mind lately.  After some reassuring words, he decides instead of having me make dinner he wants to take me out to get my mind off things.  So after work, we headed out to dinner, and we had a great night together.

I think marriage comes with a learning curve.  I think when Paul saw how short I was being he knew I was getting discouraged and frustrated.  Instead of getting mad at me for being short, which typically would lead to a fight, he came and turned my day around.  He knew exactly what I needed, and he came to my rescue.  I cannot thank him enough for being our rock when I can’t.  The longer we’re married, the more I see us learning about each other, and working together.  I loved the beginning of our relationship where everything is new and exciting, but relationships change and evolve.  Now, almost 2 years into our marriage, our relationship isn’t new, but it’s still exciting in completely different ways.  We know more about each other then we’ve ever known, and we’ve grown together.

People always tell you marriage is hard, but what they don’t tell you is that it is so incredibly worth it.

You Just Gotta Have Faith

Sometimes I think one of the hardest parts of being a Christian is having faith in God that everything will work out.  When things seem hopeless, when you have no sense of direction, when things don’t work out the way you wanted them to, you have to have faith in God that he is in control.

It’s funny how God knows exactly what you need to hear, and finds a way to deliver the message.  At bible study this week we were studying the story of Noah.  How Noah was instructed to do something that seemed absolutely ludicrous, and yet he listened, obeyed, had tons of faith and trusted in God.  I mean he built an ark for 120 years in the middle of land!! For 120 years you have to wonder if he questioned God at all.  Are you really going to flood the Earth God?  Is this really what I’m supposed to be doing right now?

Obviously, Noah’s situation is vastly different from our own situations in our lives (I mean I could be wrong, but I don’t think God has told anyone to build an ark recently), but we need to use Noah as a role model for faith in our own lives.  Even when we don’t see the big picture, and things get hard.  We have to trust in God, have faith, and know that God is in control and He has a plan.   I know this is easier said than done sometimes.  When we see things happening on a day to day basis, and we don’t see the full picture we ask God the obvious question, “WHY??”

So here I am asking God “Why?!?”, when instead I just need to have faith.  I trust that God has a plan, and when the time comes it will reveal itself to me, but it is a lot easier to have faith in God when we are building a relationship with him.  So I will pray, pray without ceasing.  After all, God has never failed me.

You Think I Would Have This Figured Out by Now…

Looking back it’s almost humorous.  All the times I get impatient, or I don’t understand why something is happening, when in reality I don’t need to.  I know that God is in control, and I just trust in Him and His ultimate plan.  I thought He taught me this lesson at the beginning of this year, but I think He likes to teach things again, just to drive the lesson home so to speak.  Let’s just look back and laugh at all the times in 2014 I was frustrated, and God’s plan prevailed perfectly.

  • Paul’s back issues brought him to the ER, and in the midst of my husband’s pain, God taught me to let go of my money issues… Doesn’t make sense?  You can read about it here.
  • Paul and I went back and forth about getting a new car.   We finally decided it was in our best interest for his job since he was spending so much time on the road.   Almost 2 months to the day, God laughed at us, and provided Paul with a new job that also came with a company car.  We have since sold my car, and now I’m driving the car we thought we were buying for Paul.  1 Car = 1 car to insure.
  • New job meant moving out of Tallahassee, and Paul and I couldn’t quite figure out where we wanted to be.  We had decided on Palm Coast Beach, up until his boss told him Orlando was “strongly encouraged”.  So to Orlando we came… not very enthusiastically.  Aside from my parents and brother, we weren’t too excited to be in the crazy big city that engulfs central Florida.  Why here?  …. keep reading…
  • New job for Paul in Orlando, meant new job for me. Except God dealt us another hand, and gave me the opportunity to keep working for a company I love, and to work from home.  Could that prayer have been answered any more perfectly?
  • Paul and I decided money and situations may never be perfect or ideal for bringing a new baby into the world, but if you let that stop you, you may never have the baby or family you’ve always dreamed of.  Back in March we started trying for our little family regardless of how much money we made, and regardless of the fact that our house was not big enough.  Month after month I would cry trying to figure out why getting pregnant was SO EASY for people (it seemed especially easy for people on my Facebook Newsfeed!).   (*Disclaimer: Paul and I did not have issues getting pregnant, I was just impatient.  I thank God every day that we were able to get pregnant, as I know many women struggle with infertility, and their dream is to be a mom)  I knew God had a plan, and I kept reminding myself of that, but I still felt disappointment each month knowing that God decided that wasn’t quite the time for us to get pregnant.  Why not ?? ….keep reading…

That brings us to today.  Where God has answered each and every prayer, and provided for us beyond our wildest dreams.  Paul got a new job with more security, and gave us even more financial stability.  It brought us to Orlando… 5 minutes from my parents to be exact (perfect when you’re expecting your first baby).  I now work from home.  Last but not least, within 2 weeks of moving, we finally got that positive test we had been waiting for.  We didn’t see God’s big picture from the beginning, we only saw His plan as it unfolded day by day, but in the end His plan is so incredibly perfect.  God has never given me a reason to doubt His plan.   I sometimes get frustrated and have to remind myself that He has a plan, but after all the ways God has provided for us…. don’t you think I would have this all figured out by now?

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” – Jeremiah 17:7-8

Time for a Testimony

This entire year has been a testimony to our faith.  There have been so many stories and blessings this year, but I figured it was time to share one of my favorites.

If you’ve been reading my blog regularly, you may remember that I’ve previously talked about the struggles we have had financially in 2014.  Starting in January we got hit with huge unexpected expenses one right after the other, and they haven’t quite ended but God has continued to provide for us through everything.

After Paul’s visit to the ER in February, we were getting hit with all sorts of medical bills.  Unfortunately, we had to hit Paul’s deductible before his insurance kicked in.   Unfortunately, our income varies month to month.  We know what to expect for my job, but Paul’s job was purely commission based. It varied every month, and with all of these bills coming in it was a little overwhelming.  Paul and I got a little stressed out, but we continued to pray about it.

One day, Paul got a call from someone about a product he sells.  This gentleman was referred to Paul by a friend who had met Paul at a trade show the year before.  This person never actually worked with Paul or bought from Paul and he ended up leaving the industry, but over a year later he referred his friend to Paul.

So Paul answers the phone, and begins talking to him.  Soon they determine that the products Paul sells is exactly what this man is looking for.  I believe his exact words to Paul were, “You’re an answer to my prayers”.  A few days later, the order is placed.  Paul immediately tells me the sale and the commission he will receive, which is almost exactly the same amount as one of his medical bills.

The best part of the whole sale was that this gentleman’s company was Christian based, and included the acronym “TYL”, which just happened to stand for “Thank you Lord”.  If that was not God showing us to trust in Him, and to know that He will provide for us, I don’t know what is. This man told Paul he was an answer to his prayers, little did he know he was an answer to ours.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:25-27

Falling into Place

When Paul recently accepted his new job offer, we knew what it entailed.  We would have to move, find someone to rent our house, find a new house for us, and I would have to find a job.  To me this whole process just screams STRESS! Fortunately, to my surprise most of this process has been easy.  God has a plan for us and everything has seemed to fall right into place.

Before we knew Paul got the job, his old roommate contacted him looking to rent in our neighborhood.  Paul told him that if he could hold off until Paul knew about the job, he may be able to rent from us and we would give him cheaper rent then the house he was looking at.  Low and behold, Paul accepted the job, contacted his friend, and he will be moving in the same weekend we are moving out.  Seriously?  How perfect is that?  Not only do we have a renter, but we know them.  Which makes the whole accidental landlord thing easier to take in!

So we had his job and our house rented out, but  I was stressing about finding a new job.  I work for the same company I worked at during my last semester in college – just a little over three years.  We have been voted one of the best companies to work for in Florida 3 years in a row.  Our little office really does feel like a family for the most part.  I know the people I work with care about me, and vice versa.  I absolutely love the team that I work on, and I hate the thought of leaving.  Our owners are AWESOME!  If there has ever been a problem or something I needed, I know I am able to go to them.  They know my goals in my career, and they help me make a plan to get there.  There aren’t many companies like this nowadays… or at least from what I hear.  I was terrified to find a new job, and hate the company.  I also just felt like the job I found would be in Orlando – meaning commuting on I4 everyday… I HATE I4.  I avoid it at all costs.  Hating my job and commute would not help in our transition.  Well imagine my joy when I found out that I would be able to continue to work for my company… FROM HOME!  I knew it was an option they were exploring.  I brought it up when I gave them the news that I would be leaving.  I figured it was worth a shot… but I thought it was a long shot.

No job hunt!  No commuting on I4!  No working for an awful company! The homebody in me seriously had an all out party (but by myself… because I’m an introvert)! I get to work in  yoga pants everyday and stay at home?!  Seriously, I cannot even describe how incredibly overwhelmed I was when my boss told me.

Every step of the way for this journey, God has provided for us.  I have been completely overwhelmed by the blessings He continues to give us.  To be honest, a couple years ago I would have considered it luck, but as I’ve grown in my faith there is no denying that this is God at work in our lives.  Now we are just waiting for him to give us a house to live in… that allows 3 dogs.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11

Good Reads

I’m a homebody.  I didn’t use to be, but at some point I became one and I am more than okay with it.  I may only be 25, but there is nothing about a night out at a bar that appeals to me… at all.  I absolutely love the idea of curling up in bed, on my couch, outside with a good book.  Well in the whirlwind that has been 2014 so far, I have not been reading.  You would think with all the traveling we have been doing I’d be doing a lot of reading, but it’s quite the opposite.  So after Paul and I got home from our anniversary weekend getaway last weekend, I told him, “Next weekend, I am doing nothing.  I am going to read, and lay in bed and not move”.  I did just that this weekend (along with some errands and hanging out with my sister’s adorable family),  and it was awesome!  In the last week, I had time to read 2 books and they were both awesome so I figured I would share, because if you’re like me you’re always looking for a good read!

It’s a God Thing

By Don Jacobson & KLOVE

So this book has been on my list to read for quite some time.  I keep hearing about it on KLOVE, and last weekend when Paul and I ate at Cheesecake Factory in Jacksonville for our anniversary, it was only appropriate to stop at Barnes & Noble next door to browse.  I ended up finding this book, and I’m so glad I did.  This book is a compilation of short stories from different people and the everyday miracles God performs.  I LOVED this book.  It was a quick and easy read since each story is only 2-3 pages.  They are interesting, and so many of them had me thinking “GOD IS GOOD!”.  Not just that though, it also had me thinking about the events that have happened in my life and it made me think that more of it is God than I may have even considered in the past!  I think it helped me realize what counts as a “miracle”.  Some of the miracles are so small, and yet so huge.  When we think miracles, we think turning water into wine or feeding the thousands!  But this book just goes to show that God still performs miracles every single day.  We just have to acknowledge them!  I also discovered there is now a volume 2 and that may be on my list of things to read shortly!

Making Faces

By Amy Harmon

This book was lent to me by my BFF via Nook and it was awesome.  I finished it in 2 days.  I laughed and cried during this book.  It’s a romance novel that takes place in a small town where 5 boys go off to fight in the Iraq, and only 1 comes back.  When the 1 boy comes back he is filled with heartache and self hate.  The story is about how he overcomes his struggles and falls in love with a girl who is beautiful inside and out.  During the story beautiful friendships are created, and they overcome so many obstacles for a small town and a close knit group of friends.  Not only is it a good read, but it also includes pieces of scripture and has a Christian base in the story.  It is an easy read that I couldn’t put down.

Hopefully I will be able to read more over the coming weeks, and I’ll share the good ones and even the not so good ones!

Happy Monday!

Paper.

One year ago today, I married my best friend.  I have loved you almost as long as I’ve known you you, but I love you more today than I did the day I married you.  

weddding 5

 The last year has had it’s challenges, but I can’t thank you enough for being my rock.  Thank you for the nights we spend at home laughing and cuddling with each other.  I will never get enough of your smile when your laughing.  Thank you for forcing me to get out of the house and experience life.  You help me get out of my comfort zone.  Thank you for working so incredibly hard for us.  You have no idea how proud of you I am.  Thank you for the days when you clean the entire house for me by the time I get home.  Thank you for never asking me why I’m crying when I’m PMSing, and just knowing when I need a hug. 

wedding 19 

You have been the biggest blessing in my life.  You give me more grace than I deserve. You have strengthened my relationship with God more than you may ever know, and for that I cannot thank you enough.   

wedding 8

You are the man I prayed for, and God brought you into my life when I least expected it. I love you so much and I am so glad I have forever to spend with you.  You have my whole heart for my whole life.   Happy Anniversary my love!

Paper Anniversary – FSU Season Tickets! GO NOLES!

Money Makes the World Go Around

When I graduated from college I got really good at saving money (why I waited so long to start beats me) then Paul and I got engaged and my savings account rapidly began to dwindle.  Apparently a wedding will do that to your savings account.

After we got married, Paul and I took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course through our church. To say I loved it would be an understatement. In Dave’s words, I am a full blown nerd. I’ve always loved numbers (my mom is an accountant and my sister worked in finance before becoming a SAHM so I guess it runs in the family), so it was really easy for me to latch on to his basic concepts and hit the ground running! Immediately after Paul and I got married I became obsessed with paying down debt. My biggest fear is the lack of money to provide for our family. I want to give my kids an amazing childhood and be able to let them partake in activities the way my parents did. I want to be able to give them a great house, in a great neighborhood in a great school zone. I want to be able to pay for their college so they can graduate debt free the way I did. I want Paul and I to be able to retire and enjoy our time together instead of working forever.  This course provided solutions for all of my financial fears.  Sacrifice now and I won’t have to worry later! Well, Paul is more of the free spirit and has a much more faith based concept with money.  Completely rational, unless you’re his crazy money obsessed wife.  Our goals are the same, but we have slightly different ways of getting to the end result. Mine is complete sacrifice, working two jobs until we have kids, and followowing Dave Ramsey’s 7 baby steps entirely.  Paul’s is to be conscious and smart, but still have a life and splurge occasionally.

After Paul and I paid off all the credit card debt we decided it would be best for our family to save to buy a new house and then focus on paying off student loans. So we started saving, and the harder Paul and I worked to save the faster money left our accounts. I’ve said before, that 2014 has not been an easy one financially, and we are only half way through! The faster money left our account, the more obsessed I became.  My obsession with money became an issue. Money became an idol for me, and this realization smacked me straight across the face on February 20, 2014.

Paul has a herniated disc in his back. Long story short, he threw out his back and after a week of being in pain he became physically unable to walk. He texted me at work and told me he could not put weight on his legs. I had a little panic, and after calling around to a few doctors we were told we needed to go to the emergency room. Paul is by no means overweight, but he is much bigger than me and there was no way I could get him down the steps and into the car to get him to the hospital. I called my brother-in-law and he came over and we could not get Paul to the car. I finally asked Paul if we should just call an ambulance, and his words were “we can’t afford that”… My stomach literally flipped over. Here is my husband, in excruciating pain and unable to walk and his concern is MONEY. His concern was money because he was thinking of me and what I would think.

While I followed the ambulance to the hospital I just started crying and praying. I was crying because I felt so awful that my husband thought money was more important to me than his health. I was crying because I was scared that 6 months into our marriage my husband may be paralyzed from nerve damage. I was crying because it finally hit me, God has been trying to tell me all along that HE will provide for Paul and I. That I need to let go of financial control and obsessing over savings and running numbers to figure out when we can have things paid off, and when we will financially be stable enough to have children. God was telling me to put my trust and my faith in Him that everything will work out, and I needed to stop worrying.  Dave’s teachings are based on Godly principles, but I was not incorporating God into our plan.

God has been testing Paul and I this year, probably more so me than Paul.  We continue to have huge unexpected expenses each month, and I truly feel this is God giving me this lesson over and over to make sure I’ve learned where to put my focus now.  I have come a LONG way in the last 6 months, and I still have more work to do.  I stopped logging into our bank account every hour of the day.  I am not using money as the determining factor to decide when Paul and I will be ready to start trying to have a baby.  I am not running numbers everyday to figure out what we can save and when we may be able to move.  I am not so crazy about our budget, but I do still try to follow it.  Everytime I get anxious about money, I have learned to pray.  I am letting go of control.  I am letting God’s plan unfold and trusting that we will be fine.  I am so grateful that I can rely on Paul for his strength and his faith when I feel discouraged.  This is just the beginning of our journey, but I am so thankful that Paul is the one next to me to go through it. He gives me more grace than I deserve, and he has helped me more than he probably realizes.  Just another reason why God brought Paul into my life.  He always knows just what I need.

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26

That’s What I Love About Sundays

Growing up my parents always made sure we went to church.  It was a non-negotiable in our house, and it often drove me crazy.  I was NOT a morning person growing up (I’m still not, but the requirement to be at work by 8am Monday -Friday has really helped force me to adjust), and I would miss out on fun things my friends were doing.  Needless to say, my parents waking me up to be at church by 8:30 on a Sunday, one of the only days I got to sleep in, was not high on my list of things that made me happy.  Then add that I missed out on sleepovers, beach days, etc. with my friends, which to a teenage girl is pure torture not to be involved in activities all your friends are doing.

Eventually, our parents actually changed our church schedule to Saturday nights for a few reasons, and I was so excited!  It helped my whole sleeping in issue, and I got to have sleepovers and go to the movies, etc after church on Saturday night.  As time passed though, even that wasn’t a good enough compromise.  Once I had a car and my own freedom, my Saturday night plans really filled up quickly only to be reminded by my lovely mom that we had church.

Fast forward to college when I transferred to FSU.  Church became something I attended very sporadically for a year or so.  I guess after a while, a part of me realized I needed to be going so I started meeting my sister and her husband at church on Sundays.

Fast forward even further to the present.   I have grown more in my faith in the last two and a half years then I have my entire life.  My parents laid the foundation of my beliefs for me, but I never really grasped the importance of applying it to my daily life.  I don’t know what exactly made it click for me, but I know exactly when it started.

Now I look forward to church on Sundays.  Paul and I plan our day around attending church.  I feel refreshed after we go and I started volunteering in Sunday School to get more involved.  It’s the best place for me to go when I’m feeling overwhelmed or anxious.  It is one of my favorite ways to spend time with my Husband, even though we aren’t talking with each other.  Nothing makes me feel closer to God then a great worship and spending time in His Word.

My outlook on Sundays have forever changed, and I have my parents to thank for providing a strong Christian household for us to grow up in.

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” Proverbs 22:6