Sage |O-N-E

27 09 2015

Happy birthday, Sage! I can’t believe it has been a whole year since you made us a family of four. Today we party!

Sage Bartley - 12 months photo by Ashley Bartley - mom

Your First Birthday

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Wearing size 24 months and 2T | Long, wispy blond hair | Eyes – blue like mommy’s, shaped like daddy’s | Dimples for days | Sleeping in your crib | Teething | Nursing at least 3x a day and alllll night | Refuses bottles | Eats everything | Loves bananas | 92nd percentile for weight | 99th for head | Refuses Wubbanub | 10 fingers | 10 toes | Loves being worn | Wears cloth diapers | Climbs staircases | Smiles in a straight line | Rides tricycle | Walks with help | Gives sloppy kisses and hard hugs | Bites Mommy

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(Bites Mommy.)

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They grow so fast

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You and your brother are 26 months apart and the very best of friends. He’s the first person you call for in the morning from your crib, and he constantly looks out for you. Your brother is quick to say, “No more babies, I just want Sage.” ❤

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Sage, as you fell asleep (for round one) on the eve of your birthday, I prayed over you, so many things.

I love you.

Facebook Timeline Cover

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Sage 12 month birthday collage - photos by Ashley Bartley





Stitch Fix | September Review

15 09 2015

I was pleasantly surprised this fall to check my Stitch Fix account and see that I had a large credit to put toward my 4th fix! I had taken a long hiatus from Stitch Fix during my last pregnancy (although now they do offer a maternity line!). Last year at this time, I was super pregnant and wearing maxi skirts to work every day, so now I’m in need of new fall clothes!

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This is literally my favorite part. Opening the box. (Try it!!)

My stylist listened to my requests in my style profile and found clothes that would be perfect for work or weekending with my family. I had specifically requested a light jacket, work pants, and long necklace similar to one by Kendra Scott. She also threw in a shirt for a date night, but let’s be real… I have 2 little guys at home that need all the time they can get with us on the weekend after a long week of preschool!

So let me just tell you how the unboxing went down. Now that I have a new job, its new location makes it easy to stop in at home before picking up my kids from daycare. So that’s exactly what I decided to do when my husband texted me that my Fix had arrived. We had an appointment scheduled that afternoon before we picked up the kids, so I ran home after work and in the comfort and quiet of my newly-clean room, I scoped out the box.

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First glance: love olive, love all the stripes and neutrals. I only counted 4 clothing items, so I knew there’d be a jewelry piece involved. Stitch Fix always sends 5 items, and you can make your profile very specific as to what you’re looking for, what colors you love, and what types of pieces you’d like to receive. Being open-minded will allow your stylist to push you to try things you might overlook in the store that you end up loving!

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Kut From The Kloth Siena Cropped Pant

These olive pants were an instant win. Love the fit – stretchy and flattering, while professional enough to wear to work and in a flattering olive color that goes with many pieces in my closet. I had requested an olive army jacket, so this was the next best thing. The pants did have one tiny flaw, so I was given the opportunity to get 15% off or exchange for a brand new pair… I took the discount, and a few easy stitches by hand will fix them right up.

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Thrift store shirt, $2 🙂

Target is running a sale this week on their Merona skinny fit cropped pants (BOGO 50% off), so I’ve bought a few more pairs similar to these in other colors.

Mystree Jackie Striped French Terry Asymmetrical Jacket

I also loved this jacket. I was on the fence about it for the entire 3 days that I was allowed to keep the box. I even went to Kohl’s and tried similar asymmetrical jackets, but they weren’t nearly the same quality. I also found the same jacket on the Stitch Fix BST Facebook board in my size and almost snatched that one up. In the end though, I decided to be good and only spend what I had received in referral credits. Otherwise, I’d be wearing it right now!

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I heard a lot of feedback from other girls that this jacket was too short for them, but I have a super-short torso thanks to the spine surgery I had as a teenager, so the fit was perfect on me. I was a little weary of the busyness of the stripes but loved the navy and white. And the pockets! I could live in this jacket, so soft and thick. Alas, it was dry clean or hand-wash only, so… DEALBREAKER.

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Renee C Charle Split Front Knit

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Keeping an open mind… the first dolman I’ve ever tried. I loved the stretchy fit of this, the thin stripes, the navy color, and the uber-soft fabric — oh, it was cozy!, but that’s where the love story ended. I am personally not a fan of dolman sleeves and felt like I was swimming in this shirt.

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Photobomber ❤ I took this picture later when deciding what to keep!

Skies are Blue Galla Mesh Detail Sweater

Gahh. “Mesh sweater.” Whyyy. My stylist thought this would be “fun for a night out” paired with the long necklace she also sent.

First of all, KIDS. I had a vision of kissing my kids goodbye as I rushed out the door in this for an evening out with my hubby, their tiny fingers getting hooked in the fabric and literally tearing the sweater, fresh spit up seeping through each and every hole in the mesh, impossible to clean. It featured a striped pattern where one stripe was solid, one was mesh. Because of this, I’d need a cami, but then the straps would show. It didn’t seem one bit nursing friendly, either. The cut and fit were great, and my stylist’s intentions were good… but in the end it was a no-brainer to send back.

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Nakamol Benton Beaded Pendant Necklace

This piece was interesting, but not enough for the price point. I was also afraid the chain would mess up, since it featured tiny beads that wanted to move around.

IMG_5354 IMG_5365(Also: I think I could make this?!) I did like the length and the way it hit. She gave it a good effort!

In the end, I used referral credits to purchase the pants, which ended up being free with the 15% discount added in. I even have money left over for my next Fix! She was on point with the cropped pants and striped jacket and came very, very close with the dolman and necklace. But quite a bit off the mark with the mesh sweater. Too bad, because if I had purchased all 5, I could have gotten 25% off the total.

I’ve updated my profile and my Pinterest board for my next Fix. Want to try it for yourself? Answer a series of questions about your sizes, preferences, color choices, etc., and link your own Pinterest board to see what 5 items your stylist will send! Use my link to sign up, and then use your own link to refer friends to accumulate credits in your account! Win-win. Thanks for reading!

See my past Fixes!

Linking up with Crazy Together (Kinder Craze) blog!

Stitch Fix Button Kinder Craze

www.crazytogether.com/october-stitch-fix-28-review-giveaway-linkup





Reclaiming Life Lately

6 09 2015

Last year was an act of learning to juggle a toddler and a newborn as a working/commuting mom, and our schedule was hectic and seemingly unforgiving. I wouldn’t trade my kids’ ages for the world, but I am slowly trying to make large and small decisions that will best impact our family, fine-tuning our routines in an attempt to simplify and gain minutes.

JOB | One of the biggest changes I made this year was switching my job (not my career) to a new location, cutting my commute in half. I also don’t have to be at work quite as early anymore, so that also allows me more time at home in the mornings and evenings.

SCALE | I bought a small digital postage scale and now save dozens of trips to the post office when I need to ship things I’ve sold online, which is about 3-4 times per week. I just use PayPal, which is cheaper than USPS anyway. Game-changer!

CLUTTER | I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and have spent a good chunk of time lately de-cluttering. Marie Kondo teaches how to evaluate every item in your home to determine whether to keep it or discard it. Just read it, I promise. I am the most sentimental person and I threw away things I never would have before!

I used to hate cleaning and now I actually look forward to it because I know I’m only surrounded by the items that I love and will use. My husband and I have a large master bedroom that was a constant source of stress for me with all its clutter and heavy, tired furniture. After reading Kondo’s tried-and-true, step-by-step method of “tidying,” I was able to get rid of at least 5 truckloads of stuff from my bedroom and one closet alone – some donated, most tossed, some in a yardsale pile. Once I de-cluttered, I realized we no longer had a need for 4 – FOUR! – of the large pieces of furniture in our bedroom, which were just there hiding junk! As a treat for our reclaimed space, I scored an oversized mirror at HomeGoods to hang against one newly-bare wall. (This wall used to have a changing table piled high with mountains of baby laundry all over it. We never even changed the baby on it!)

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Where a once-overflowing computer desk was, I staged a chair, ottoman, side table, throw blanket, and lamp to create a relaxing reading nook. It’s actually where I’m blogging right now!

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This freed up a lot of the furniture that had been crowding our living room. We also removed the footboard from our king-sized bed, which made a world of difference in opening up the room – who would have guessed that such a simple change would have such a big impact? I found new lamps at TJ Maxx that are brighter and more whimsical.

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I only use my dresser for running clothes and gear, but I followed the book’s advice on folding vertically and it worked!Before and after

Eventually we want to change out basically everything – the paint, flooring, bedding, and curtains (and paint the furniture and add new hardware), but right now we have other priorities. Still, it has been fun making lots of trips to HomeGoods and TJ Maxx this week for inspiration!

HomeGoods TJ Maxx

CRIB | We finally transitioned our 11-month-old out of the Pack-n-Play in our room into a crib in his own room for the first time, which we meant to do when he turned 6 months. Of course I loved having him right there with us, especially with nursing, but it’s also nice not to have to tiptoe around or worry about turning lights on anymore.

GAINS |

With these changes, I’ve been able to devote more time in the mornings to getting my kids dressed, and we all eat breakfast together now. And I can sleep in 15 minutes later than I did last year! I now have the option of swinging by the house after work on my way to daycare to unload my car and get a few chores started/done so that I can be more present with my family once we are all home. Otherwise, I’m running around trying to get things washed and repacked for the next day during my precious family time. Our things all have a place now, so nothing is left just lying around creating more visual clutter. It’s SUCH a breath of fresh air!

I hope that you all are able to make the most of your time this holiday weekend! I’m so excited that fall will be here soon!





Sage | 11 months

29 08 2015

Oh, Sage. You are a HANDFUL.

Sage - 11 months monthly onesie

Weight: 23.6 pounds | Eyes: Blue | Hair: Blonde

You are in that clingy phase. I can’t put you down. When someone else picks you up, you cry. You burst into tears when leave daycare AND when I return – or when your brother walks past the nursery on his way to play outside with his class. But you are so snuggly! And so wiggly! Everyone loves your cuddles.

You’ve long-since given up on your standby comforts, turning down your Wubba (pacifier) for good and refusing any more bottles. I’ve started the donation process for sending all my frozen milk to tiny NICU newborns who need it – I’m so excited! I have about 200 ounces to help other babies.

Eating: You will eat anything. ANYTHING. We abandoned purees a long time ago in favor of packing big-kid lunches and giving you whatever we’re eating for dinner. It makes mealtime so much easier! You actually put away about twice what your big brother eats. You especially love ice cream!

Bath: You love your baths with E. And any water, for that matter – the beach, the lake. You are SO incredibly different from your big brother in so many ways!

Milestones: If we’re not careful, you’ll climb all the way upstairs by yourself and play happily up there. You have no fear of zooming up and attempting to fling yourself back down the entire flight. You also love to scoot around on your giraffe bike, forward and backward and ride in your Cozy Coupe. You pull up easily, walk with assistance, love push toys, and can freestand briefly. But no steps yet!

I just pray that your first steps are with me.

:::Sigh:::

Teeth: You have seven teeth – three new ones came in this week, and It was so bad that Daddy had to pick you up early from school and Mommy had to stay home all day with you the next day. Daycare thought you were sick because of your fever, but Mommy and Daddy knew better!

Sleep: You nap for an hour in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon. You typically sleep all night unless you are teething (this week), and then you nurse all night. Allllll night.

Clothes: You’re wearing mainly 24 months and 2T, sometimes still 18 months. I love finding new-to-us clothes just for you, since you are a different season/size than your brother.

I can’t believe you will be a year old in less than a month!!

Sage - 11 month onesie collage 2015





Stitch Fix #4 | An Overdue Review!

24 08 2015

IMG_6662So just WOW. I scheduled my next Stitch Fix for September and realized I never blogged about my last one from 2013! And since that last Fix, I have run a marathon and had a baby… a baby who will turn a YEAR OLD next month!

I also went back and looked at my last Stitch Fix blog review and realized I pretty much love everything that they sent me… now. But I didn’t then. Those jeans!!  I want them back!!

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And that gorgeous blue jewel-tone tunic — whyyy did I send you back? And the dress looks like it fits! I’m sure it wouldn’t now, so it’s probably for the best that I sent it back. 😉

So back to my last Stitch Fix box… let’s go find those pictures!

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How it works:

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Upon first glance – super excited! 🙂

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Stitch Fix listened to me when I said that I didn’t want distressed jeans because I couldn’t wear them to work, so they sent me a new pair of Kensie Jeans – Johnny skinny jeans. They were a perfect fit, but the wash was super-dark navy, too dark for what I wanted. Plus I was 6 weeks pregnant, so I knew I wouldn’t get to wear them much longer. So sad!!

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Status: Sent back RELUCTANTLY. #iwantthemnow

Next up: Tea N Rose Maisie 3/4 Sleeve Font Gathered Top

So glad I decided to keep this jewel-tone, because it’s exactly the color of my new school, and as teachers, we have to wear purple every other Friday. It’s also very nursing-friendly for the baby, fitting more like a wrap.

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Jefferson Mixed Stripe Knit Shirt

I thought this print was way too busy (then again, I was having horrendous morning sickness and could barely stand upright for this photo shoot – did you notice how I was holding the wall in my last picture??). Actually, I didn’t even consider keeping it because it came damaged. I did pose for a quick 6-week bump picture with it! IMG_6691

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Jaclynn 3/4 Sleeve Button-Up Cardigan

Another jewel-tone that I decided to keep (no-brainer!) was this gorgeous green quarter-sleeve light cardigan. I seriously wear this one all the time, and it was a new color for my closet. Win-win.

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The jeans, cardigan, and tunic – a whole outfit, had I kept it all!

Henry Birds on Branch Infinity Scarf

I had been wanting an infinity scarf, and I loved the navy color paired with the silhouettes. It is actually SO warm and soft. My stylist commented in her note that I had picked out and requested this exact scarf, so she honored my request!

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Status: Kept!

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The other day when I signed up for my next box, I noticed lots of little changes on the Stitch Fix website for the better. And the turnaround time for getting a Fix is SO much quicker now! The profile questions were much more specific than they’ve been in the past. They want to make sure they are sending you things that will fit both your body and your style. I also noticed they’ve added a lot more “non-clothing” accessories – all types of shoes, handbags, and jewelry. I can’t wait to see what they send me next! I was fairly specific in my requests, and I’m excited to not have to brave a store with 2 little guys in tow. I usually spend the whole time nursing the baby in the dressing room!

Want to try it for yourself? Create your own style profile here! I’d also recommend putting together a Pinterest style board and linking it to your Stitch Fix profile. I do receive a credit for referring friends (that’s how I am getting my next box), and you will get credit when you begin to refer friends, too (!!), but these opinions are honest and all-my-own. Thanks for reading along, and I hope you enjoy the convenience and surprise of your next Fix. 🙂

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Past reviews:

Stitch Fix #1

Stitch Fix #2

Stitch Fix #3 <–I want you back!





Tink + Key | My Review!

20 08 2015

I truly believe that every child is a miracle from God. And I appreciate this sentiment so much more now that I’m a mommy. I was drawn to the company “Tink and Key” on Instagram when I learned of their heart for miracle babies, rainbow babies, zipper club babies – and all babies – and for their encouraging and positive messages of faith.

My body had to undergo a lot before I was ready to support a pregnancy. A few days after my 17th birthday, my orthopedic surgeon performed a spinal fusion to treat my severe case of spondylolisthesis, a condition in which my lumbar spine was perched precariously on my sacrum. I had to immediately quit ballet, running, and even PE at school for the years before and after the surgery until my spine could be stabilized. He used a cadaver bone pin to fuse my L5 and my sacrum together, supporting the fusion using bone he grafted from my hip. Recovery included wearing a plastic body brace that covered my entire torso and hinged to a second piece that encased my leg that whole summer and through the fall of my senior year of high school. I also couldn’t drive. I began physical therapy several times a week after school. In college, I continued to have spasms in my lower back and lots of pain and scar tissue until I finally got things under control in my mid-twenties by going to a chiropractor for the first time. The first time he took X-rays, he shared with me that my spine was still not strong enough to support a pregnancy. He explained that we would have to put off our dream of having children, that my spine could not handle it. I was devastated. I drove over the mountain almost every evening in those early months until I began to feel progress. Over a year later, he gave me the clearance I needed to hear, that my spine was much stronger, strong enough to support a future pregnancy.

But we lost that first pregnancy. Later, obviously, I would go on to have 2 healthy baby boys. My oldest is now 3 and is considered a “rainbow baby” because he was born after a miscarriage.

Tink & Key celebrates these miracle babies (and their mamas!) in their unique designs and graphic tees.

Here is what I’m currently drooling over in the Tink & Key line:

Rainbow Baby tee

Proverbs 22:6 tee

My Heart is Full hoodie <— LOVE!!

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made tee

Obviously I was so excited when Tink & Key sent me a shirt for my own rainbow baby to review.* In love with all things teepee/arrows/feathers/gold these days, I chose their “teepee” raglan because of the true meaning behind the shirt:

“This simple tent (teepee) is a reminder that the tent is our earthly home, and that we will endure struggles and hardships, but we can be of good courage because we know where we will dwell eternally.

2 Corinithians 5:1-10 ESV”

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Love the chevron and gold detail!

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I have all the heart eyes for their navy shirt with gold printing option, but for this review I was sent the three-quarter sleeve shirt printed on the softest American Apparel raglan. I love the clean lines and fonts they use in their designs. Both boys’ bedrooms have similar decor! The rolled edging is just too cool, and the black baseball-tee sleeves make it pop.

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The shirt is comfortable and stretchy. I sized up to a 4, although E can still rock most of his 3Ts. If I had sized way down, it could have made a cozy sleep shirt!

Each month, the company donates a percentage of their earnings to a designated charity. Read more about the causes they’ve supported here.

Thanks, Tink & Key, for supporting our journeys. All of them.

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*I agreed to publish a blog review in exchange for this awesome shirt, but all the gushings are expressly my own!





3rd Birthday | Under Construction

5 08 2015

With my oldest, I’ve always said every new age and stage is a favorite, but so far I’m really loving three. My son can dress himself, put his shoes on, get his own snack, buckle himself into the carseat (we always double-check), and is completely potty-trained. It certainly makes life with 2 little boys that much easier! So there was a big reason to celebrate turning 3. 🙂

But first… I just had to sneak in his room to transition him from age 2 to 3.

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He was very excited to wake up as a 3-year-old!

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Here’s a quick glimpse at his “Under Construction” birthday party, which was a month ago!

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We are having a year of no-donuts, so we sent the leftover spare tires home with family. 🙂

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Growth chart rulers 2015 Looking forward to what’s in store for T-H-R-E-E! 





Sage | 10 Months

28 07 2015

Sage 10 months onesie

My sweet guy turned 10 months this week!

Sage gets into everything now – he beelines for the stairs or the edge of the bed… eats everything in sight, edible or not. Today I noticed him chewing on a woodchip that he bit off a wooden train at the dentist’s office. Yesterday he was sucking on a plastic size label he pulled from a hanger in a dressing room. No wonder he’s tipping the scales at over 23 pounds! He still loves his sweets, though. He has four teeth (top middle/bottom middle), but the dentist today said he sees 2 more coming in on top, which he predicts will help close up the huge gap between his two front teeth. He’s also really bad about biting us! Like just now. Any suggestions for curbing that habit?

Sage still loves to nurse, and we will continue with it until he loses interest. (E was weaned at 18 months intentionally.) I’m planning to still pump when I return to work next month.

He crawls quickly and pulls up in bed and pushes walking toys around. His vocab still consists of hi, hey, ma-ma and da-da and his brother’s name. His new favorite thing is to point at anything and everything. He wears cloth diapers when we can actually pin him down for a diaper change. He wears size 18-24 months but is starting to wear a lot of E’s 2T hand-me-downs.

He loves laughing and playing with his brother, babywearing, looking in the mirror, walks in the stroller, and crawling around in the sand. He’s still a fairly good sleeper and is STILL in our room with us. He does not like being startled but does love hide-n-seek and peek-a-boo games. He loves any toy or book but has given up his pacifier/Wubbanub completely. If we try to give it to him, he just throws it, so we took both of them away for good.

Sage - 10 months onesie collageWe love you!





When God Calls You to Move…

24 07 2015

So I blog, but I never share the things I write in my paper prayer journal. But here is the series of thoughts  I wrote this summer… and how I feel that God led me to step out of my comfort zone to leave the job I LOVE to move to a job much closer to home.

July 6, 2015 (31st birthday): God, please help me to grow closer to you this year. And to be nicer. And to yell at my kids less. And to love big. And find grace. Laugh at myself more. Ask for help more. Notice more. Help me to seek the quiet place where I can hear You. Help me to give my best yeses. God, thank you for loving me. And for putting my husband on my path to braid my walk with his. Thank you for the blessings of my boys. Amen.

July 14, 2015: God moves in big ways. This summer, the elementary school close to my house has been on my heart as a potential place for me to work sometime in the future. Currently, I commute to another city for my job. It takes me 2 hours roundtrip, including daycare dropoff/pickup. I met the principal and secretary of the school while taking the boys to a summer reading program there and enjoyed talking to both of them. Just for fun, I had timed the commute and later had a playdate at the school. [But still, there was no reason for me to anticipate an opening there anytime soon.]

Last night in my women’s Bible study we talked about discerning God’s will. We are reading the book, “Is That Really You, God?” by Loren Cunningham. One woman mentioned that every opportunity we face could either be a potential detour or God’s will for us. We talked about how it’s easier to steer a moving vehicle, so maybe we should just go for opportunities – don’t agonize over the decisions. God will be in all the places. Maybe our calling is more about glorifying God for the opportunities we are given – recognizing that the pieces coming together come from God. Another friend likened listening to God to playing hide-n-seek with a toddler – He’ll give signs and not hide so well that we can’t find Him. He’ll “stick a foot out, make some noises” – God doesn’t try to trick us, but sometimes we think He is.

“Have you checked your life lately against your original call?” We also talked about the discipline Cunningham describes of not talking about your calling until God gives permission to do so. Today, by chance, I ran into the counselor at the elementary school near my house. I made the choice to go over to her to say hi, and when I asked her about her summer, I learned that she had just gotten married and moved out near my school — really?! I jokingly told her that we should trade, since I live right around the corner from her school, and she will be commuting as well. She said, “you know, we should!”  She immediately sent an email to our supervisor, and I did the same. We learned that the process to switch is quite simple – both principals have to be in agreement, we both submit a written request to transfer, Central Office approves it, and it’s a done-deal. I didn’t think I was one to overshare until today. I am bursting to tell EVERYONE how things seemed to be lining up for a move.

Can a door opening be a counterfeit? Or only if it steers me away from His will? “The will of God is doing and saying the right thing in the right place, with the right people, at the right time, and in the right sequence, under the right leadership, using the right method, with the right attitude of heart,” Cunningham wrote.

Still July 14, 2015:

After dinner tonight, my husband said he felt a push to take me on a prayer walk at this local school. As we neared the school, we almost chickened out because of the rainstorm surrounding us as far as the eye could see. As we approached the city lines, we could see that it had already rained. But we both felt like this school was where we needed to be that night. The local Christian radio station was playing “Praise You in this Storm” – my husband noticed and pointed it out to me.

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The cloud formations were stunning. The lightning started during our prayer walk, but we continued walking around the perimeter of the school, each of us praying. We also talked a lot, and oddly enough, our toddler walked slightly ahead of us, not even begging to go to his favorite playground.
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We found a little track around the school, and I thought about potential coaching opportunities. I started the “Girls on the Run” program at my school.

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“We have about 5 minutes before the rain hits,” my husband predicted. We made our way back to the car as quickly as we could with our two little boys. As we walked, we saw a hint of pinkish/coral-colored light coming from behind the school buildings. It drew us in and took our breath away as we found the best view of the sunset right from our car.

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God had used the oncoming rain to bring us back to our car at that very moment, just as the rain grew heavy and intimidating. We strapped in the kids, and the moment we were inside our car, the amazing sunset faded back to blue and the rain started. If we had been a minute later, we would have missed God’s handiwork.

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But as the rain cleared once more, He backlit the clouds with the beautiful tips of coral again, long enough to grab some pictures.

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We were driving home when we began to notice the sunset again. I had already remarked to my husband that I felt like God had used the sunset to wave at me after my prayer walk. He kept driving, taking a different way home, as I began to wonder what other signs God would give me. We rounded a curve and this.

Just this.

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The most spectacular sunset I’ve seen. Once home, heat lightning took the stage.

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We have been talking quite a bit about calling in Bible study this week. We each received a bookmark listing of favorite scriptures collected from the group. I looked up the very first verse on the bookmark. First Thessalonians 5:16-18 was the reference. I read past it, and then I found 1 Thessalonians 5:24: “The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.” Last night in Bible study, we talked about hearing from God. But how do we know if it’s what God wants or what we want?? I had even wondered hypothetically about this other elementary school – should I start praying for it, or is that just something I wanted?

God painted quite the picture for me today. If God wasn’t nudging me the way a mom hints at a toddler playing hide-n-seek with her, I don’t know what to make of His miraculous signs.

God, this is in your hands. Please help me know what to do to move forward if this truly is Your will for me. Amen. 

July 15, 2015: 

I woke up this morning pretty nervous about the conversation I would be having with my current principal about a potential move, especially since it would follow our team meeting in which we’d be planning out the year. But instead of rehearsing what to say, I prayed that God would give me the right words to say at the right time. I felt like a MLB player being traded! I sent the principal a email to request a quick chat after our team meeting.

After the meeting, someone wanted his attention. And then he got a phone call. I wondered if this was Satan’s way of trying to get me to chicken out. (I don’t usually think of situations happening in this way, but that’s how this Bible study has made me to interpret things recently). God opened so many new doors for me today. In my meeting, I learned that this local elementary school would be building a new facility simultaneously with our new school, with identical floor plans, both to open in two years. So switching schools would not delay a new building for me. And my son would start kindergarten in a brand new school! My principal mentioned that he felt like he was in the major leagues, choosing players in the draft. The same thought I had.

Later that night, our toddler was a hot mess and was screaming for attention while I was trying to tell my husband about my promising conversations. I ended up hitting my head on my son’s metal bed frame pretty hard and lost it – I started yelling. Satan was trying to steal my joy in that moment. Would you know that the moment we finally finished our conversation, E was happy and content again!

So many doors have opened so easily – and our prayer walk last night was a bold proclamation from God.

July 16, 2015: 

No news today, except that my principal reached out to the principal of the other school about the possibility of an exchange and told me that she is on vacation.

Today was a faith day. It’s out of my hands, and God is in control. I don’t feel rushed with timing – I’ll be where I need to be. And I’ll be happy with either place.

I do think about it, but I feel at peace so far. I haven’t told any of my friends yet… that scares me. We leave for vacation to Tennessee on Saturday, and I have a feeling things will have to get real pretty soon after that.

We went back to the elementary school tonight for another spectacular sunset. I wrote “FAITH” on the rockwall with chalk. Here is where I need faith. My biggest fear is that this decision is irreversible! I’m most worried about missing my dearest friends, making new friends, and the unknown.

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July 17, 2015: Reading “Is That Really You, God?” – excerpts that spoke to me today as we planned for our trip to Tennessee:

“What do you want me to do now, Lord?

“in obedience he made travel plans,”

“Everything was happening too quickly and too spectacularly, and the amazing series of events was not over yet” (169).

“After such a stunning series of Bible-story-like encouragements, we had to plunge ahead with negotiations,” “I suppose God had to be so overwhelmingly obvious with me because He knew I might give up otherwise” (170).

I love my current school. My very best friends are there, and many of us went through pregnancies together. I am so slow to warm up to people that starting a new job would be way out of my comfort zone. It always seems to take me a whole year in a new place to feel really comfortable – just thinking back to when I went to college, grad school, started new jobs, churches, etc.

But 2 Corinthians 12:9 promises, “Each time He said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” Moving and being new is a weakness for me. 

I do ask the “why” questions – what is my ministry that I need to be at a different school right now and leave all my friends? And then I maybe found the answer I needed to hear:

“If the guidance moves people into a deeper relationship with the Lord, then the direction is probably from God” (172)

As divine guidance begins to unfold, it always seems to come with hard, gritty work. Gone is the thrill of the original leading” (178).

July 20, 2015: From Hebrews 11:1 (Message) “By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home… they accepted the fact that they were transients in this world… through acts of faith… they were protected.”

From James 1: “If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who ‘worry their prayers’ are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.

Right now, the light is pouring down through the canopy of trees at our cozy cabin in Tennessee, where we have now been for 3 days.

“Act on what you hear: But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.” 

This morning I woke up doubtful, I admit, even thinking that staying at my current school would be a welcomed answer – back into my comfort zone. Not hearing anything from either principal has me doubting where I am supposed to be, so I sought God’s word this morning to get my faith in check. I’m listening to the songbirds in Tennessee, sitting in a wooden rocker on the porch with my Bible, journal, and coffee. Truly a gift. Light is streaming through the woods, and I literally just heard a tree fall!

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As I bowed my head, I breathed in the sound of the songbirds. I told God I was ready to listen. The birds went silent for a moment. As I thought about what that could mean, I realized God was clearing the way for me to listen. And then the big AC unit went silent on the porch, and the songbirds went completely silent again throughout the woods. And I really felt God telling me to “stay with me on this.” After the stillness, I heard the chatter of my little boys inside the cabin, and I have to remember that my family is the reason I’m even considering this leap of faith. I’ll admit that when I woke up this morning, I wondered if God put me through this process just to see how far I’d step out in faith, just as a test. And then maybe He’d take it away from me once knowing that I grew closer to listening to Him in the process. But I continued to read in James today about this: “So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed. Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil to say, ‘God is trying to trip me up.’ The temptation to give into evil comes from us and only us.” 

So, my friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven.”

Maybe Satan is trying to have me doubt God’s plan. Trying to rationalize why I don’t have answers immediately. I’ll admit I don’t often see how or when Satan is trying to creep into my thoughts, cutting through my line of faith. But that doubt, that justification in radio silence is Satan. God wants me to put full-faith in this. And that could mean more waiting. But it won’t last forever.

God, help me to find more moments of quiet with you. To put my faith to work and give me patience in your process. Keep Satan at bay, the Satan who is trying to get me to rationalize why this plan may not be happening, at least not right away. You put this desire on my heart for a reason when you did (this summer, and especially that night of Bible study), you brought me to this quiet place in the woods (instead of our original plan to go to the beach), in the cabin of a good Christian couple — I read that your gifts are “desirable and beneficial.” This isn’t just a desire of my heart, but a gift of time with family that will be priceless. I truly believe You found me here this morning.

I am looking at some leaves on a branch of a nearby tree, and they started to raise up in the wind. And as I watched them lift and lower, the lyrics “You’re the whisper in the wind” came to mind… is it maybe Lonestar? I’m Already There? Right then, before my eyes, a bunch of water fell from the treetops right along those leaves, just in that one tiny spot.

Thank you, God, for Your counsel. The affirmation in signs that I heard and saw today. For your promise in Scripture and how it always comes at the right time, when we’re seeking Your guidance. Help me to continue to listen for Your voice. Amen. 

The tree branch waved again, the crickets fired up to add a layer of sound to the songbirds’ calls, and there is music in the woods again. And I can hear my baby crying inside now!

July 20, 2015: Had to return to my treetop porch again this afternoon – we are having a beautiful storm – heavy rain, thunder, yet we are completely protected on this porch – dry, safe, and warm. The rain is cleansing. It’s not pouring through the leaves where I saw it before. Actually, there are pretty pink blossoms where I look up.

James 4 (Message): “In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is evil.”

1 Peter 5: “God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; He is most careful with you.”

July 21, 2015: When I returned to my spot on the porch again this morning, my toddler asked why I was coming. “To pray,” I answered. “Why?” asked my 3-year-old. His new favorite question.

The “why” piece I may never know. I know the why on my end, but not God’s end. I read that God’s promise would be desirable and beneficial. Closer to home, and my boys could go to the new school with me when it opens in two years. I’m mostly at peace with the idea bc it has so blatantly been God’s will. In fact, if I did not listen to God and heed His guidance on this, I would be worried. I do worry about not seeing my friends on the daily. But maybe I don’t need to ever know why.

Reading Genesis 3 this morning: “If you do well, won’t you be accepted? And if you don’t do well, sin is lying in wait for you, ready to pounce, it’s out to get you, you’ve got to master it.”

July 22, 2015: Back on the porch. After my devotion about keeping my faith on Monday, I got an email from the other counselor that very afternoon! God’s timing is so, so incredible. In my faith, my walk, and in what He brings to fruition. Because I know He has a plan for me, I’m a little less-scared about the possibility of a new job. I decided to read Jeremiah 29:11+ in a different version, in the Message:

“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.”

I’ve always loved the NIV of this: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” “I will be found by you,” declares the Lord. 

I’m excited about a change, knowing that I have followed God’s lead through this process, as much as I am learning how. So I know there must be something good waiting for me on the other side. I always assumed I’d move eventually, I just didn’t realize it would happen so fast, and now! I’m hoping it will solve many questions for me down the road… God, continue to lead me to You, even as we leave this beautiful cabin today. Help me to find a new quiet time with You. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

July 23, 2015: We are back from our trip to Tennessee. Lots of commotion today – emails from several people who are all just waiting on me to send one quick email to Central Office officially requesting a transfer before everything can be finalized. I drafted the email but couldn’t pull the trigger on it just yet… I still felt like I needed to know more about what I was getting into. I felt like it was still a weak line in my faith, but I didn’t want to be completely blind-sided after leaving a position I love and have invested so much of myself in over the last six years. I was so afraid something was being overlooked, something was being sugar-coated. This whole process has been way too easy!

And so… an hour-long phone call to the new school. Another phone call to the woman with whom I’m switching positions. And then a 2-hour tour of the “new-to-me” building with my new principal. I heard everything I wanted to hear. I saw why this school needs a new building, too. She kept saying that this whole thing happened so quickly and that “it must be fate, it must be an intervention.”

And this is where I can’t forget about God. In my hesitation to share the news with my dearest friends, in my excitement about a fresh start, in my fears of the unknown and in my relief over logistics and no more commute, I need to praise God for this gift He has given me. And so, I shared parts of this story with my new principal. And it is here that I’ve shared more bits of the story.

It’s not over yet.





No-Sleep Week | Worth It.

13 07 2015

July is one of my favorite months, for good reason. This year, between the 4th of July, my son’s 3rd birthday, my birthday, a trip to the lake, a drive-in movie, a family trip to Busch Gardens, teaching preschoolers, and a kayaking excursion (sans kids) with a group from our church, we are EXHAUSTED in a good way!

My son loved every bit of his 3rd birthday party. We decided to invite several of his friends from preschool and church in addition to family. The theme was construction. I’m sure a blog post will come eventually. It was pretty hectic getting everything ready because we were out watching fireworks the night before, but I guess that will always be the case.

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I had jokingly “complained” to my husband that I never celebrate my birthday anymore, because my son and I have our birthdays a day apart. He went out of his way for me this year – he took off work so that we could all go to the lake. I rode my son’s new scooter around our neighborhood (where were these when I was little?!), got extra snuggle time with the baby, went to Target, drank coffee and flipped through a magazine (unheard of!), and had a yummy birthday dinner. And had my own cake, even though we had about 2 dozen leftover cupcakes from E’s party.

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On Thursday, we attempted our first drive-in movie to see Minions and Inside Out with free tickets we had. Both kids were restless, so we only stayed for Minions. We are just not movie-watchers – none of us can sit still for that long!

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We also joined my husband’s family for a day-trip to Busch Gardens. It ended up being a perfect day despite the forecast of rain – the sky was cloudy and overcast and there was a cool breeze, unreal for mid-July! There was a torrential downpour midday that pretty much emptied out the park and shut down the rides, but we were eating lunch then. When we returned to the park, the rides were reopening with essentially no lines. So I think we rode almost every ride in the park plus visited both kiddie play areas. It rained again that night while we were on a roller coaster – the rain was coming down so hard, we could barely breathe! I ended up with 18k+ steps on my FitBit even with 5 hours in the car.

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Props to Busch for having a nice nursing center in the kiddie area. I don’t care about privacy so much, but it had rained off and on and all the benches outside were soaked and all the covered seating was taken. Land of the Dragons had 2 private, locking rooms with couches, so I took advantage of the space to get my baby changed and fed before heading back out into the rainy weather.
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The next morning, we taught 24 preschoolers at church and headed out for our first kayaking adventure! We rented kayaks and dropped our kids off with family, joining our church group at my favorite lake. We loved it and were a little sad to return the kayaks the next day. Kayaking on the serene lake was basically the opposite of going to Busch Gardens. 

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(Does anyone know how to still get FitBit steps while kayaking? I didn’t get any with it strapped to my wrist! And we kayaked for HOURS!)

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I am loving summer, but here’s to hoping for more sleep this week! 🙂