Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Snow Day #2 {spring-style}

We had a another "snow day" Sunday morning!  It was a very brief dusting that melted very quickly, but the girls were EXCITED!  You just never know what kind of weather you will get here in Oklahoma!  It will be in the 60's tomorrow!  

Brooke loves the snow AND the sun.  My kind of girl (the sun part that is).  We already have our bathing suits packed for our Destin Trip!

Sweet Lily Reese.  I love those chubby cheeks.  She isn't that adventurous, and doesn't love the cold...

"Ok Mom, I posed, now can I go inside???"

Lauren is my little comedian.  She constantly says funny things to make us laugh.  She is trying to catch the snow in her mouth here.  

The snow was a bright spot in our crazy weekend.  I'm thankful for unexpected blessings, family and a God who is sovereign and in control of every aspect of our life!

"As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven, 
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire"
Isaiah 55: 10-11

Monday, March 25, 2013

Tiffany {mother of sweet Rosalie}

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Today as I sit here reflecting on the last almost 10 months now, many different emotions come to my mind. We have been through more in the last 10 months than I could have ever imagined I would go through, let alone have the strength to still be standing today. Rosalie our 2 year old daughter nearly drowned in our neighborhood pool. She by the grace of God and God alone is still here with us today.   I will tell you I have not stood this entire 10 months on my own two feet at all. My love, my passion, my prince of peace, my savior... Jesus Christ is the only reason I am here today. He has carried me this whole time. I would have fallen apart the first few moments of her accident, had God not stepped in and given me the choice to choose his peace, versus what the world understands to be of her accident.  I know now that I stand today so that his Kingdom might be glorified through Rosalie and that he might uphold me enough so that he can use my hands and feet to bring honor to his name.

As mom’s we put so much pressure on ourselves to be the best! To make sure that our children are taken care of, the house is clean, dinner is ready for our working men or  that we are giving enough attention to our sweet husbands not putting them last all the time in our busy lives. How in the world are we supposed to uphold all of this pressure in this day and age? God doesn’t want us to put this much pressure on ourselves, he wants us to let go and give it all to him and let him guide our path. This is one of my biggest struggles life is so demanding! I use to try so hard to control my life in such a way that I started to push God out. This was a devotional that has always stuck with my heart:

“Sometimes My Sovereign Hand- My Control over your life- places you in humbling circumstances. You feel held down, held back, and powerless to change things. You long to break free and feel in control of your life once again. Although this is an uncomfortable position, it is actually a good place to be. Your discomfort awakens you from the slumber of routine and reminds you that I am in charge of your life. It also presents you with an important choice. You can lash out at your circumstances- resenting My ways with you- or you can draw closer to Me. When you are suffering, your need for Me is greater than ever. The more you choose to come near Me, affirming your trust in Me, the more you can find hope in My unfailing Love. You can even learn to be joyful in hope while waiting in My presence-where Joy abounds. Persevere in trusting Me, and I will eventually lift you up. Meanwhile, “Cast all your anxiety on me, knowing that I care for you affectionately and am watching over you continually.”
“Jesus Today” By: Sarah Young

Before Rosalie’s accident I remember getting so stressed out about all the things that I had to do and wanted to do. I got so caught up in life that I forgot to live. Really think about that statement….. I was so caught up in “life” that I forgot to “Live”. Wow when I looked at it that way, what kind of a life is that?? I have learned through her accident how real satan is and how much he wants to get into our hearts and tell us that we are failures.  He wants to put lies in our hearts so that we spend all our time away from God trying to control our life. The more I focused on my worldly “circumstance” or what the world told me I needed to be like, the bigger space that starts to wedge between me and God. When that space starts to spread further and further the more worry, anxiety, fear, negativity and un-peacefulness I feel about my circumstances in my life. It is so true that you have a choice to either lash out which results in a very negative un-peaceful life…… Or you can draw near to God trusting him with your life and accept the way your life is trusting in God’s plan for us, which is to always prosper not to harm.

When we seek God with all our hearts to help us in our daily lives, everything else will fall into place. I can’t change what has happened in my past I can only push forward living every step hand in hand with our savior. But we can tell satan to get thee behind us resisting him daily and choosing to take up our cross and walk with Jesus. Satan will try to break us making us feel as if our life is the way it is because we have failed in some way or another.  But these are lies! We must put all of our trust in our Lord and Savior at all times resisting the lies satan has told us. Then and only then can we truly live hand in hand with our Lord. This is my life verse and it has gotten me through so much in the last 10 months.

“Trust in the lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your path straight” Proverbs 3:5-6

God knows our hearts and he knows how hard it is to live in this world.  Jesus walked this earth and was faced with all the things we are faced with so he is a friend that truly understands. We can turn to him anytime and he will take our fears away and bring peace to our heart. My life is forever changed because of what we have been through with Rosalie but it has woke me up to not take life for granted and to always lean on God trusting my life and my loved ones lives in his hands. He knows what is best for all of us and he can give us peace that surpasses all understanding. He can bring us hope when the world tells us there is no more hope left and he can save us when we have nowhere else to turn. He is the Lord of Lords, king of Kings and he saved my life. But when we fail and we fall down he is there ready to pick us up and walk with us or mostly in my life he carries me, either way he is so gracious and he will get us up this mountain we just have to continue to seek his face. Thank you all so much for praying for Rosalie she is such a little miracle from God and we continue to believe God for her full restoration. Love you all and thank you for letting me share my heart today! God bless you all!!

“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” Psalm 31:24

“Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 25:5

{you can visit Rosalie's Prayer page on Facebook here}

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Be Still...

This week I have struggled emotionally and fallen into the trap of insecurity.  

Doubts about myself as a mother, a wife, a friend...

Thinking about my worth, my role, my job, our future....

Comparing myself to others...

Thinking about everything except TRUTH.  

When Landon called during lunch I expressed my emotions, unable to keep the tears from rolling down.  There were six little hands patting my back and holding my hands. Like a sweet and Godly husband he reminded me that these are all lies that I am believing about myself as a result of comparing to others.  He reminded me to "be still"...to remember that God has blessed me with talents, and that it might not necessarily be MY time to use those talents.  

“We're going to have to let truth scream louder to our souls than the lies that have infected us.” 
Beth Moore, So Long Insecurity

As I thought on that statement some more, I realized he was completely right.  God has shut several doors over the last year to different opportunities that weren't HIS timing.  I thought about what He has for me now.  My role as a wife and a mother....my three beautiful, amazing, smart and healthy little girls.  My focus should be on being a Godly example to these girls and pouring my life into them.  He has blessed me with talents that are being used to better my family, and not to be used to measure success.  I know that He has great plans for my family.  For my Girls.  I have to rest in Him....His love....His plan for us!  

What's the cure? Reading His word, thinking on truth, remembering my blessing, keeping my eyes fixed on HIM.  Remembering that I am redeemed, that HE loves me, and that I am accepted by Him.  

I just love this song by the David Crowder Band.  If you have some time please take a couple minutes to listen!  

Monday, March 18, 2013

Natalie {mom of multiples}

I am thrilled, actually a little giddy, to have the opportunity to write on Tamara’s blog. I thought it might be appropriate of me to give you a glimpse into my life before we begin. Well, first, I love to write. Absolutely love it. Always have, so this opportunity is extra special for me. I am the mom of three amazing boys, 11 month old twins and a two and a half year old. It’s been, well quite a journey. A few things about me… I am very type-A, very. I guess that means I like to be in control- all the time. And I am very private. I never really “extended” myself and let few people “in.” Well, I know you’ve heard it a thousand times, “the Lord must have a sense of humor…”, but it is absolutely true.

It took us quite a while (almost a year, which to me was like eternity) to get pregnant with our first son, William (Will for short ). Around his first birthday or maybe a month or two before, I told my husband I thought we should start trying for baby #2. The thought process was that it took us months to get pregnant with Will so we should begin the process, expecting it to take just as long if not longer with #2. Well, it didn’t take just as long, not even close. And it wasn’t just baby #2… It was baby #2 and #3.
I know most of you probably don’t have twins (well, Tamara of course), but let me tell you having one baby is NOTHING like having two babies, nothing. And that is exactly why the Lord has such a sense of humor. NOTHING about twins has been easy for me. And NOTHING about twins is “by the book,” as I like to live. Let me back up. When I was twenty six weeks pregnant, my doctor put me on limited bed rest. I thought my world had ended. I had an eighteen month old at the time and a husband who traveled 80% of the time. My world, shattered. A few weeks later, the “limited” part turned to full so I was on full bed rest for the duration of the pregnancy. I can honestly say this was the hardest period in my life so far. But not only because bed rest is so incredibly difficult (especially with a toddler), but because I kept telling myself how awful it was and how “bad” my life was.
Will and I did everything together. It’s all I knew and it’s what I loved. Now, who was going to take care of my “baby.” I was angry because I knew I needed help, but inside didn’t want help. I wanted to make his meals. I wanted to pick him up out of his crib in the morning and lay him down in it at night. I wanted to run and play with him outside and I wanted to take him to his Little Gym class. I was so angry that I couldn’t spend these precious moments with him. I fought God hard. I outwardly said the right things and prayed the “right” prayers, but inwardly, I was in chains. I didn’t want to let anyone in, but I had to if I wanted to protect the two angels growing inside of me. It was so bad that I took a lot out on my husband and was “mad” at him when he was home and doing things with and for Will. I remember one time he let me go with them (which I normally did each week with just Will and I) to Little Gym and instead of being happy that I was out and got to see my toddler rolling around and doing summer-saults on the mats, I cried the entire class, cried. My husband was embarrassed. And this went on for the three months I was on bed rest. I cried every day I’m sure.
While on bed rest, I needed help- a lot of help with Will. God put us in the greatest neighborhood in the world. I had neighbors coming over from sunup to sundown to take care of Will. I had it all scheduled in time blocks and literally had “shifts” of neighbors all day long. I started to “soften.” I couldn’t believe how willing and loving these people were. They gave of their time and energy for nothing in return. I was such stubborn person, that I would never accept or even appreciate anything in the past. I remember when I had Will, our neighbors wanted to make us meals. I refused and said we were “all set.” I was “Natalie” and I could do it all- have a new baby, be in a brand new house, unpacked I might add (we moved in 4 days before I delivered Will), and take care of the family. Me? I didn’t need help. And this is how I lived my life- very self-sufficient, not needing or wanting help from anyone, ever. I did it all.
For the first time in my life, not only was I not in control, but there was nothing I could do for myself. I honestly wheeled myself in Dani’s rolling office chair to the bathroom. I had to rely on other people to help me, to do what I couldn’t do for myself and for my son. And for the first time in my life, I was broken.
For a long time, I lived my life on auto-pilot. Things went pretty smoothly. When I hit a trial (and I did), I sought God more, deeper. But other than that, I just did what I thought was right. I lived a good life and thought I genuinely loved God, but I was not living in light of the gospel. (Galatians 2:20)
Do you know what the chief purpose of man is? Say it. “To glorify God and enjoy him forever.” How do you think we glorify God? It certainly isn’t through loving ourselves. We glorify God by displaying His glory through worship and obedience. And if we are obedient to God, then we will have a heart for others. And that heart will be genuine, not out of duty, but because we have the love of Christ in us. Love is what encompasses His character and if He is in us, it will encompass ours as well. God has made it crystal clear all throughout His word that our purpose here on this earth is to love others. And in loving others, we are showing Christ, which means we are glorifying God. (Matthew 22:37-40) God made us to have relationships. He wants a relationship with us first and foremost, but he wants us to share his love with others. He doesn’t want us to treasure possessions; he wants us to treasure people. He wants others to see Himself when they look at us. He wants them to walk away saying, “Wow, Natalie has been with Jesus.”
Bed rest was one of the worst, if not the worst experience and time of my life. But it taught me one of the greatest lessons anyone could learn. When we think we are in control, we are in a very dangerous place. When we think our world exists around us, our family, our friends, etc., we are in a very dangerous place. Our agenda does not matter. It is really that plain and simple. The Holy Spirit did such a work in my heart, that it is almost as if I am a new person (2 Corinthians 5:17). It was through the trial of bed rest, that I saw my desperate need for Him; my need to look outside of myself (my agenda) and see a world out there that is dying for a Savior. I think for the first time, I understood what salvation really means in light of the gospel (that’s an important phrase not to miss). I do believe I was saved before this trial, I am not saying that, but I don’t believe I had an accurate picture of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. It’s impossible if your heart does not burn for others and it’s impossible if you don’t live in light of the cross. (Philippians 3:13)

This has been lengthy I understand, and I apologize for that. Once I start writing, it’s hard for me to stop . But, I wanted to share a tiny bit of my heart. A tiny bit of the process of regeneration that God had begun in my heart because of the two precious babies he blessed me with. It took a woman being very in control of everything to being in control of nothing for me to understand that “getting it all right” and “having it all done” does not make me whole (and please understand, wanting to be organized and having a plan is NOT a bad thing. Having a type-A personality is NOT a bad thing, but when it rules your life, it IS a bad thing and it IS sin). It took opening my home day after day to strangers to show me that they need Christ’s love. It took releasing the grip on my baby and allowing others to do “my job” for me to understand that I didn’t have to do everything all the time, and things would be OK, life would still go on. It took me realizing that it doesn’t matter who, what, or where we come from. People matter. How I act and what I say matters, ALL the time. Others may just get one “picture” of me, will they be able to tell that I follow Him?
I have learned, the hard way, that nothing matters more than what we do on this earth for Christ and the mark we leave. I have died (and am dying) to myself (1 Corinthians 5:31). Some of the things I am called to do now are very uncomfortable, but that’s what makes them great. I still have hard days and tough times. But with a surrendered heart now, I can choose how to face each day and make choices that will honor God in my words and my actions. And no I am not perfect, not even close. I still make wrong choices and I still get discouraged (I am trying to raise 3 boys, under two and a half and have a husband who travels- my attitude is not always right!) But that’s the beauty of the gospel. We can never fail because He never did and never will. Whether our attitude stinks with our children or our friend that we just spoke wrongly to, God’s grace covers it all and we have a fresh slate every single time we confess. I have learned how to serve, whether that is my children or the lady next door. I can serve others and shine Christ’s light because of the work He has begun in me. There is no better way, there is no better life, and there is no better example I want to set for my three beautiful boys. Amen and Amen! (Philippians 1:6)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Preserving precious memories...

happy moments...

sweet friends...


a mother expecting...

sibling love...

precious smiles...

sweet baby cheeks...

I'm no photographer, but I have thoroughly enjoyed taking photos of my sweet family and friends.  They make great memories, and the behind the "scenes" has kept me smiling ALL week.  If only you could have seen us on Sunday night when we took Derek & Molly's photos.  It was 41 degrees and WINDY!  My sweet kids watched from the car, and my even sweeter husband held a GIANT beach umbrella to block the wind from his pregnant sister.  Molly and I had Pinterest up on my iphone and were standing there freezing, trying to mimic the poses of all the amazing (non cheesy) maternity photos I had pinned. We won't forget that night, and I really love how their pictures turned out.  More importantly I love the sweet memories we made together, and we are looking forward to meeting our nephew this summer!

Amber inspired me to make these cute bunny shirts for the girls.  She made one similar for Will last year, but it had a little button on the tail instead of the flower.  My girls ADORE "Ammer" and just love Will to pieces.  I mean - the kid is always smiling so whats NOT to love about him!  And Jackson...those sweet chubby cheeks make me smile.  God has blessed us with their friendship and I'm so thankful!

I have to thank my amazing husband for getting me the camera I have been wanting for years...so I can capture these moments to remember everything that is special and beautiful to me!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Jessica {loss of a precious baby}

I'm so excited to be sharing here on Tammy's blog. She's a friend from college and I've loved reading her blog since then. But I'll admit I'm  a little nervous b/c I've never considered myself a writer. The more of her guests writers I read the more self conscience I become - b/c I in no way understand the rules of writing. :)

I blog over at Gardner Clan  and mostly I just share our life story, stories of the boys, stories of moving, stories of how God is loving and active and what that looks like in my life. Mostly I blog for my own sake (and for my mom who lives in Ecuador) so i can remember things.  I love to cook and bake and invite people into our home to share food or take food to their house.  I love to RUN and finished my first half marathon ever last year. I like to do random crafts but never stick to anything. I love people and wish I could be with friends all day. I grew up in Ecuador, SA as a Missionary kid - and I believe that has shaped me more than the average person can tell. So many things are still foreign to me of how "American" woman think and operate - but I like to think I've adjusted and fit in and most people can't tell. :) I am married to one amazing guy, Richard, (and our love story is enough for it's own blog post) who shows me more about Christ's forgiveness, sacrifice and love than I ever give him. We have been married for 6 and half years and in that time have moved from the Boston to Colorado, back to PA and then back to Colorado. We also have two boys, Carson almost 4 yrs old and Landon 2 1/2 yrs old and a precious baby in Heaven that we will one day meet and get to hold. Each time we've moved God has changed us and shown us things about ourselves. We have grown closer each time we have to start over. But this last time we moved to help a church plant in Fort Collins, CO called The Crossing - we have been changed forever. God is truly teaching us more about himself and showing us how to love others and live out the Good News of Salvation every day.

I had to add this picture b/c it cracks me up
Back in September 2012 I found out that I was pregnant. I was overjoyed and more than ready to have a third child. Richard and I were esctatic and could not wait to tell our family and friends and experience the joy that new life brings to our family. I had started telling a few friends and family and although worn out and sick - I was elated. Then on October 16th - I started spotting and my heart sank. I knew that it could be nothing as that had happened to many of my friends - but I also knew the other dreaded possibility. With much fear and crying I called my parents and my twin sister - and somehow managed to call a midwife clinic (who I had not even talked with before b/c we had moved recently and I hadn't set anything up yet). Somehow in the fog I called someone to come watch the boys while I rushed to an appointment for which I was so happy they had gotten me in so quickly. Long story short we had a few days of waiting for all the blood work to come back but it was evident that my body was not sustaining this new life and for some reason God chose to glorify himself through taking our precious new life before I could hold, or see, or hear my baby.

This road that God has chosen for us to take has in no way been fun or easy. I've had almost 5 months to process it (in fact this weekend will mark 5 months) and although I do not have answers for why or how to cope with it, I can in fact say I love my God more than ever and trust in His love and care and will. Going through the loss of my precious baby has been the hardest thing I have faced in my life but especially as a mother. Nothing compares to that utter sadness and grief you feel. I have had some serious lows and felt EXTREMELY lonely through this process. Miscarriage is something that most people don't talk about, and don't tell people when it happens - but I have felt such love from friends through sharing my experience. I have learned a lot about myself. God has changed me to be compassionate and sensitive. I want to know peoples stories now - b/c everyone has a story of how they got to where they are. I view God-given life through new eyes. I had taken my two easy pregnancies and healthy boys for granted and now I am completely thankful for the precious lives God has given to me. I needed to learn that we are not to plan out our lives how we want them. God chooses ultimately the path our lives take and I can honestly say through joy and pain God blesses and I praise His name.

There are still days that my body and heart ache for my tiny baby. Everyone has moved on, so many friends have announced pregnancies since then or given birth and joy abounds with everyone else's new life. But my heart is still in the grieving and aching process. I cling to his loving arms more than ever before and He has been faithful to hold me.  I remember a friend told me during the first few weeks of facing the reality that I would never be able to hold my precious baby, I was scared about how to move on and thinking that I couldn't. She said, "The same God that has held you, loved you, and poured his grace on you that first few days when you found out, will be the same God to get you through the "moving on process". Wise words from a dear friend.

And so I face each new day more than thankful for my two boys, ready to serve them and really enjoying each thing they say or do. I have hope in a loving God. The reason I can face each new day with a smile is because of the abundant hope that I look forward to one day being able to see my baby in Heaven. That the all Sovereign King has chosen me to be his daughter and called me to this road where he will be glorified. Without this hope of eternal life and a God who loves me I would be sad forever - but I have HOPE! And I thank my God for my boy's lives and that He has called me to be their mother for this amount of time. And I patiently (although not that easy) wait for the day when He chooses to bless me with new life again.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

"Brooke-isms" {volume II}

It's been over a year since this post.  I can't believe how big my sweet Brooke is getting!  She is a very smart, sweet and beautiful child.  She always thinks about everyone else's well being first.  I'm so thankful for that quality in her.  She is also pretty good at making us laugh these days...

Here are some of her latest "funnies"...

While we were telling Brooke about our friend Melissa who recently announced she was expecting, Brooke replies...
"Why is there a baby in her belly? Why would she EAT her baby?"

Landon took Brooke to Lowe's one night and she saw a couple things that sparked her interest...

While walking past the toilets she saw that they carried a bidet...
"That's weird, Daddy it's a little small bath!"

When they got home that night this was her prayer....
"Dear Jesus I pray for Mommy and Daddy,
Sissies, PaPa, Grandma, GiGi and Poppy.
I pray that I would share my toys...
And please let it be my birthday soon
so I can get that Tangled book from Lowe's."

Last week I went to wake up Brooke to get ready for school (soon after the Lowe's Trip)...
"Mommy when I closed my eyes I saw Tangled!"

My favorite sweet moment with Brooke lately....
"Mommy don't cry....Daddy loves you and I love you.  Most of all God loves you and sent His son."

My heart overflows with love for this sweet girl - I'm so thankful for the sweet gift of motherhood God has given me.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Mary Beth {her story as a blogging mom}

Annapolis & Company  | Our Story

Hello schooners, I'm Mary Beth. I'm so thrilled we're getting this chance to "meet" through technology. I am 25 years old to date. I'm a homeschooling mum to my 3 schooners by day and a freelance photographer by night. I'm a lover of rainy days. Starbucks coffee dates with my husband. Vegetarian food. Abstract art. Foreign countries. Family time. Sunday worship services. The ocean. Anything coastal, stripy or nautical.

Annapolis & Company | Our Story

And I'm a blogger.

If you would have asked me 5 years ago if I would be writing and photographing for Annapolis & Company today, I would have laughed. Right in you face. 5 years ago, I barely knew how to send an email, attach Word documents, or add a friend on Facebook. I had just narrowly passed my basic college computer course with a C -. I certainly didn't know a thing about blogging, nor did I intend to.

But if you asked me now, I would tell you that I'm convinced God has a sense of humor when writing our stories. He has a knack of taking the useless and weak things of this world and giving them a purpose, a story worth telling {I Corinthians 1:27}. A story that tells His story. And gives Him the most glory.

Here is mine...

Annapolis & Company | Our Story
Annapolis & Company | Our Story

I grew up the second oldest of 14 children. My parents home schooled me all the way from K-4 to 12th grade in a very sheltered environment, surrounded by my family and our small circle of friends. Technology extended as far as our schoolwork on the computer and an occasional trip to the library to research something on the internet.

Our large family moved down south and shortly after that I began college, studying Nutrition. I learned how to send emails and attach documents from my college roommates. I was 17 years old. I began dating my now-husband as a freshman and we fell hard and fast for each other...hopelessly in love. We got married in August, 2007. I was 19. He was 21.

Life did not slow down and little did I know, it was just the beginning. The Lord gave us a family right away, becoming pregnant with our Emma Claire on our honeymoon in California. Shiloh came the next year. Keller came the following year and I miscarried a fourth baby in between. I was 23 years old.

I grew up quickly during this time...going from a college student, to a mother of three in just a few short years. I juggled several moves, a fixer upper house, long hours of work for my husband, several deaths in our family, and the ups and downs of pregnancy hormones and nursing. In a word, life was hectic and I knew we needed a change of pace. Somehow, some way.

We got the opportunity to move halfway across the country when I was in my third trimester with our youngest and we took it. Talk about change! This very east-coastener-fish was out of the water in Oklahoma. Stripped of everything familiar. Everything I loved. Everything I knew. And God, in all His wisdom, knew that's exactly what I needed. Weaving a story much better than I could ever write on my own.
It was around this time that my husband bought me my first DSLR camera and I impulsively began a small blog, For His Pleasure, based off of Revelation 4:11. It was everything a C minus-computer-class-student could muster. Barely readable white text on black background. Pictures the size of pennies. And writing that was all over the place. But as I wrote, I discovered a vacancy in my soul. A vacancy left from years of busyness and tragedy, pride and selfishness. And the more I wrote, the more I found I had a lot to say. It didn't matter to me if no one read it, I needed to get it out. For me.
So I plugged on.

Annapolis & Company | Our Story

I wrote and wrote and wrote. Our life parenting 3 babies in a 2-bedroom apartment, my walk with the Lord, recipes I tried, and small DIY projects. All the while, I had this tiny band of followers that would faithfully comment and encourage me to keep sharing and oh how I loved each and every one of them. All five of those dear souls.

Now it has been my experience that with change, it usually gets worse before it gets better. It stirs up the crud that has sifted to the bottom, the well-hid places of life, and when disturbed, it leaves you with a choice: to turn your head, or to deal with it. And while our life had stabilized by moving to Oklahoma, God allowed old storms and new storms to enter our midwestern world and it began testing our marriage, our belief system, and my own emotional well being.

And it was in that time of storms that God slowly broke down my barriers. The barriers I had built up of tradition and people pleasing. Pride and legalism. Anger and bitterness. Perfectionism and fear. And when I wrote, I saw myself like I would if I met myself. In black and white on a computer screen. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't escape it. I couldn't cover it up. All the acceptable behaviors and sacrificial convictions in the world were no match for the deep and dark sins I found swept in the corners of my soul. And for the first time in my life, I saw how much I needed God. Like, really needed Him.

Not needed Him at church when everyone else was needing Him too. Not needed Him at prayer time, just before a meal. Not needed Him when I needed to look good or look like I had it all together.

No. I needed Him every waking minute. I needed Him in parking lots when I couldn't walk into a store. I needed Him in the bathroom, when I wept on the floor. I needed Him in the mornings, when I didn't want to get out of bed. I needed Him when no one else was around to see me "needing Him".

And as painful as it was, there is something so comforting about needing. About being vulnerable. About resting in your Father's arms when you're too exhausted by the struggle. And when you rest. And hold His hand. And depend on Him. It's like...well...like coming home.

And for the longest time I hadn't known where home was.

Annapolis-&-Company | Running
Annapolis & Company | Our Story

Meanwhile I wrote on my blog. I'm sure there were things I wrote that made no sense to people at the time. I'm sure I was very sporadic with my posts, as I went through a period of time going back and forth with whether to continue blogging or give it up all together. There were weeks where I couldn't find any words to say. Wounds were open and raw and I didn't understand my own place in the world, much less share that with other people. Strangely, my blog continued to grow. It seemed the one thing that blossomed and flourished during a dry and withering time in my life. And I'm not exactly sure why God allowed that.

But as I wrote and photographed the world around me, as I struggled to find sense in life, and as the Holy Spirit tenderly prodded my heart, the most incredible thing happened. I discovered how I fit in with the story God had given me. Like a soothing balm, my wounds began to heal, and forgiveness swept in. Aimlessness and depression gave way to purpose and clarity. For the first time in a long time, I felt the freedom to find beauty in the world. I felt freedom to find and appreciate the good, and not all the wrong.

And I poured that out on my blog. The little things. The big things. I wanted to celebrate them. All of them. For I learned that life is an experience. Seasons will always change and I will always be adjusting my sails.

Annapolis-&-Company | Landscape
Annapolis & Company | Our Story

I've been asked by people how I learned to take pictures with my DSLR and how I come up with the content I write. And I can honestly say: it has nothing to do with me. Only that God put it in me. He saw a C-minus computer class graduate with a depraved and struggling human spirit and planted a seed in my heart: to see the beauty in the world. To give up things that do not matter, and live life full and free. To embrace the story God gave me and write new chapters with the passions He puts in my soul.

Annapolis-&-Company | Shiloh

For it's our story. Penned by God, lived by us.