So I got an email that one of the editors at healthline.com nominated the blog as a part of heathline.com 2013 best health blogs. Now because this blog is not totally about health per say I looked into it...
Thankfully I realized that this contest includes blogs under these categories: fitness, mental health, weight loss, health and oh, yes...lifestyle blogs. I would put us under that category. So basically anyone can nominate anyone who has a blog they like and feels is worthy of the title "best health blog." I will be the first to admit that my blog doesn't really pertain to weight loss or fitness but my heart is that the blog does focus on an overall theme of living a healthy life under the framework of family, kids, decor, life, my heart, the lord, a little cancer, marriage, friends, etc. the whole overall picture of life.
If you would like to vote for us you can. First prize is $1,000 and the contest ends on 1/20/14. You can vote once a day until then. This is sorta my attempt at redemption when Ava didn't win that animal noises contest. Even though so many of you faithfully voted. We got robbed. Haha.
this whole self promotion thing feels a little silly but I thought why not. We have a family of readers out there and it could be cool to win a little blog contest.
I am writing from my phone...hence capitalization. I cant find my charger anywhere so my laptop has been dead all week.
because we have amazing friends we moved in two hours in Saturday. The fact that we moved two blocks up the same street also helped. Either way we our indebted to all those that helped. Thank you.
After everything was moved you are left with a house full of boxes. I guess adrenaline set in and a couple girls willing to organize our closet and keep the girls occupied made that possible. So we set up rooms and made beds and found toothbrushes and underwear. You know the essentials. after getting like 75% done this past week I have hit a bad spot. The house smells like paint and saw dust is covering our laundry room so washing clothes feels like a waste since you are washing them in a dirty room. Why not clean it up you ask...great question. maybe i am just stuck a little today and i would rather express my inability and lack of desire to unpack than actually unpack one more box.We have hit that point where most stuff is put away but we are waiting for furniture and floors to be done so you can't really move anything into those rooms until they are done. I am trying to tell myself that this is a part of moving and to enjoy it and to take it one box at a time. Sadly to be honest the boxes left sorta scare me because it's all random things that need a home and we aren't throwing away...just not sure where they are headed. This is not meant to sound all...poor me...or first world problems. I realize that I really have no room to complain since on top of friends willing to help and meals being brought nightly...life isn't all that bad. I know that. I promise. I just am trying to find that place between wanting to hide in my bed and just pushing through because it needs to get done at some point. So why not today? Right. Or maybe tomorrow.
Where we are today....moved in, loving our new house but not totally loving it's currently state. It's only 10:50am so maybe after a shower and a few minutes alone...I will rise to the occasion.
Excited for what this place is going to be. Yesterday I texted my friend who owns the house we've been renting for the past two years and told her we had moved out, cleaned up, and it was good to go. The Lord works in fun ways so the backstory to the house is cool. Long story short she had been reading the blog while i was sick and prayed for our family and has since shared our story with many other cancer patients and survivors and those needing some hope. Because our moved happened fast we ended up needing a place late in the game and preferably near campus and downtown. We ended up living in the perfect little house on Paul st over these past two years and she is the owner and was looking for renters exactly the same time we were looking for a place. Needless to say it was a gift for our family to find such a great place and knowing the owners cared about us and we shared a unique friendship.
Anyways...yesterday she texted back "I hope your new house blows the river house away." I cried then and I teared up now. Although I am overwhelmed with the mess and boxes and clothes everywhere...I already know for certain this place. Our first place we've ever owned is most certainly going to blow away the river house. Praying this home is a place of growth and warmth and people and family and memories and where my girls first real memories of a home will be. I love that. So I will unpack and organize even though I would rather take a nap. Because it takes some work to make a place a home and man I can't wait for this place to filled with more and more life and more and more joy.
i sat down this morning to write and as soon as i started lyla began to cry and ava walked out of her bedroom into the living room with new pajama bottoms on. lately she has been refusing to go potty before bed to which resulted in a wet pull up...so last night i told her that if she didn't go before bed and then had an accident their would be a consequence in the morning. so when she did in fact pee her bed...instead of waking me up to help her she decided to take care of it herself. she had slept on a towel and changed her pants and told me that she was so proud because she did it herself. i can just envision her walking around her room in the middle of night looking for a towel and changing her clothes all to avoid getting into trouble. oh, how i love that girl.
so today was a great day. it was full. girls slept in a bit so i was able to shower and get ready before they woke up. such a gift. then coffee and bagels with the family before ava went to school. good to sit with my favorite people and have them share what they love about me as a wife and mama. i don't share the pridefully but because it was awesome to hear my husband's heart and teach ava the importance of encouraging people we love with our words. she just said she loved me because i opened a present. it's a start.
in the midst of packing and moving and painters and electricians and a baby and nursing and meals and boxes and life. well it felt a little crazy today. but what mattered was that today i felt like people rallied around us. women from the yl committee cleaned our entire new house so it's all ready for the move tomorrow and leaders watched my girls who were hyper and tired and off their schedule. friends helped carry and load and carry and load our stuff. i got a mocha dropped off at the new house when i was feeling discouraged and overwhelmed for a second. then i got texts, phone calls, and emails. so many that when i am done here i am reading and i can finally catch up. so thank you. i felt loved. from people all over the place. many i rarely see. thank you for caring. my dad told me how proud he was of me today and i read it exactly when i needed to be reminded of that truth. sweet stef made me an ice cream reese peanut butter cake. to die for. we will eat it as a family tomorrow with candles before we sleep in our new home for the first time. ashley fed us chick fila for not joke the 6-8th time this week. can't keep track. i have an issue. i am very aware of it. but i order grilled nuggets and those are kinda healthy. then tonight when i was about to shut it down for the night...my sweet girlfriends walked in all decked out with balloons and took me out. nice style. like we ate fancy steak. and on top of that they are bringing us dinner every night this week. it is too much. words are failing me. i recall my first birthday here. my first birthday after cancer and it should have been joyful and crazy. but it was kinda sad. no one really knew it was my birthday. but a sweet friend brought my flowers and a blizzard. but this isn't about rattling off all the ways people cared for us today. although it was a day full of practical love. loving my girls and helping make our move a little easier. i am so grateful. but i more grateful for the relationships. the people who make my life so rich and so real. i am thankful that i was wrong. that i believed no place could care for us the way we'd been cared for in the past but today i was proven wrong like fifty times. they are in this with us and i do not take it for granted...not one tiny bit that we are not alone and that i am not alone and that i am living my life alongside people that care about me and i care about them. a lot.
thankful for 4 of our sweet leaders who stayed with our girls tonight while i went out with some girlfriends and justin laid floor in the utility room before the move. my husband has shocked me. he has worked countless hours to make this house into our room. this is a little sad but mostly it is good. when justin's dad passed away...one of the first things justin said. actually in the hospital over ted..."i wish i had learned more from my dad. he could do anything." babe...your dad is so proud. you have worked tirelessly to make our new home exactly what we want. be proud. you are doing it. your dad taught you more than you probably will ever realize. i have loved watching you grow in this new way.
seasons of life provide different things. sometimes we are sad and feel alone. sometimes we have people and it feels right and easy and fun. it is the ebb and flow of life. the up and down. it's just how it goes. so for today. the day i was born i am thankful and indebted to the people around us that allow our life to flow the way it does. i am so grateful.
i shared with my friends tonight at dinner that i am looking forward to 30. over the past ten it was college, dating, engagement, moving, marriage, moving, baby, cancer, moving, loss, another babe, first home, etc with lots of stuff in between...so in my ignorance i thought...wow a lot was packed into my 20's so maybe these next ten will be a little easier. i am okay with it not being easy though. i mean i don't want it all hard but i am realistic. realistic that when i was 20 and sitting with my girlfriends at dinner i would have never guessed a few of things that happened but many more i never could have imagined. so in a very hopeful way...i hope that the next ten blow me away. with accomplishing something i never thought possible. going somewhere i have never been. learning and stretching and becoming and changing and loving. really loving the people in our life we invest in. to be honest and genuine and teachable and humble and hospitable and forgiving and wise. i pray these are traits i grow into and form deeper ways and avenues to live them out.
so thank you. thank you for the outpouring of encouragement after my last post. for loving me today. for those of you that told me you are thankful that i was born. that this day exists to celebrate my life. that is deeply special to me.
thank you for being in this with us. whatever that may look like. my life is different because of the people we share it with. it's been a good day.
on friday i turn 30 and i saturday we move. two pretty major things in life. leaving my 20's and becoming a homeowner. it feels right. i am grateful for our life and where our family is right now.
when we moved here in september 2011 i was anxious, insecure, afraid, and sad. i covered that up by telling people (along with myself) that this move was"right" and "made sense" and "was what was best for our family."but in my heart it felt unfair. i wasn't ready for something new. new house, new town, new people (that's the scariest by far), new life. my heart was in chesapeake. i deserved the river house. i deserved rest. our family was entitled to having a second. i just finished chemotherapy. you know for cancer. it is actually kinda of a serious deal so we deserve a break. we deserve some time to heal and reflect and we deserve to do that alongside the people that just carried us through cancer and dang it i want to keep on enjoying this amazing house with gorgeous sunsets. these are our people and this is our home and i want to stay right here. cancer was big and life changing and i am not sure what it all means yet for myself and my relationship with jesus and my husband and my baby. oh, my sweet baby. i needed a second. because that's what make senses and feels right and we just were beginning to get to the other side of our valley so let me just be here. no cancer. no chemo. no hair loss. no fear. i wanted to wrap my head around the fact that holy crap i just had cancer and had a baby. not to mention i got a little chubby, lost my hair (confession: i think often about how i should have just shaved my head. been strong and courageous and owned that bald look. that grey hat was ugly and my desperate attempt to keep my "hair" which was actually just a few wispy strains was simply rooted in fear and denial. but mostly fear. what would people say? what i look like? it would be embarrassing. but looking back that grey hat was pretty embarrassing) and oh, yes raised our sweet ava, started a blog, fell more in love with my husband and my relationship with the Lord was forever changed. He wrecked me in cancer. in the most incredibly way He showed me what mattered and what life in complete devotion to Him could look like. the God i serve uses awful things like cancer to transform my life and my heart and the entire purpose of life. which is to love, trust, and obey Jesus.
cancer is hard. kids are hard. marriage is hard. life is hard. blah, blah. i do not say that to discount your heart or my own heart. my desire is to be empathetic to the stories we all have and the life we are living and sometimes they straight up suck. i hate that. i would not choose pain or heartache or loss or fear or depression or an eating disorder or a move or cancer or death or whatever it is you are walking in or will walk in or plagues you or keeps you up at night. i would not choose it. easy is more fun.
but without those things. whatever your thing is...well we don't grow. we don't break. we don't realize who we are and what we are about and what we can be and who we can be and whose we are. i know that my life matters...not because of cancer or justin or ava or lyla or a job or a skill or an education or whatever, you fill in your own blank. those things don't matter when it comes to the core of whose we are and why our life matters. my life matters because Jesus says it matters. not for any earthly person, or place or thing or some big fat accomplishment. it doesn't really matter. but He matters. He matters because He is a game changer. a life changer. i have a hope that runs deeper and wider than anything else this silly broken little world could ever offer me.
so it is easier to be comfortable? heck yeah it is. to stay put? to be safe? of course it is. but i promise. i believe it so deeply and passionately that i will never stop talking about it. the Lord allowed one of the scariest things to grow and multiply and spread throughout my body and then used poison for 6 months in my body to heal me. He healed me. He brought me from death to life. That is what Jesus is about. wait...that is the ONLY thing He is about. He is about bringing us from the darkest, scariest, most embarrassing places to the light. to eternal freedom and life and hope and purpose.
so was it scary to leave a place where my heart was so rooted it felt like someone was tearing off my arm the day we drove away from the river house. yup it did. i cried. i pretended to be fine. but mostly i made it real clear that this was going to be the worst thing ever. but in the midst of the despair and depression and putting on a happy face. joy crept in. laughter. hope. excitement. love. you see i learned to trust Jesus with my life when i had cancer. so when the Lord opened doors for us to move to harrisonburg for all sorts of wonderful things...i was in. i was scared and mad and stayed home a lot. but i was in. because for the rest of my life no matter how scary something seems or how hard or when we beg the Lord to make it easier and He doesn't...i believe His purpose (whatever it might be because sometimes i can not make sense of some really awful things that happen) is the best. His plan...well it becomes our plan. what He has for me and for justin and for our girls and for our friends, and our leaders, and yl, and this whole city...i believe it has purpose and meaning and significance. no matter what.
we want what make sense. we want things to work out. we want things to be easy. because hard is hard and i hate hard. but let's all get on board with a Jesus that is for you and your life and often times has far more going on than our little brains can handle. so maybe we should stop being so mad when something goes wrong or when life get's a little challenging or we just want someone to even pretend to care about our hard stuff and our story and how unfair it is and how hard it is. by no means have i walked through the toughest of the toughest or your story or your pain or crap. but as i think back on these past tens years in my twenties...i've had a few things that one would warrant a little tough. so i am not here to discount or ignore your pain or your hurt or how it's not fair. i hate it for you. but i believe that we are given in choice...either wallow or get on board. i think we need both. i needed to feel sorry myself in cancer a little bit and when we moved and how mad i was and how much i wanted just a break. i remember screaming in the upstairs of the river house..."are you freaking kidding me? (but in real life i cussed) move? start over? i can't. i don't even know what just happened these 6 months and now i have to be nice and meet people and make good first impressions and lead things and be who people/i expect myself to be...well i can't. that's too hard." i yelled that and then i continued packing boxes because there was a storm and the river house flooded and the Lord was like...hey, since you aren't really making any active attempts to leave this city and move on...i will flood the house (not destroy your stuff...thank goodness) but it is time to go. i have you and i love you and if you trust me to carry you through cancer i will carry you through anything. so when it got hard and i got sad and i was uncomfortable and needed friends and pregnancy was hard and pop pop passed away and lyla failed to sleep and etc, etc, etc. you know what? He carried me. He never left me. He didn't alway make it easy or simple or let me sleep 12 hours. but He had me and that's enough.
because now this small little place i reluctantly moved to two years ago. well now it has my heart. our first purchased home. two babies. incredibly friendships with women in similar seasons of life along with women in college who i desperate love. a church. a community. we've found our people. and although my heart aches for my friendships outside of harrisonburg i know that our heart has enough room for them all. but this place took time. it took time for me to fall in love. it was hard and i cried and i felt alone. but i rested in the Lord and what He had for me and even though a tiny part of me confidently i knew this move was where He wanted us...i still didn't want to go and that is one of the most valuable lessons i learned in my 20's. life often ends up looking different than we thought and in that difference we can cry and yell and beg the Lord to take it away. but for me i have found that running parallel to the hard things is the constant comfort and peace and hope that Jesus is for me and will never leave me and that is where i stake my life.
I meant to take pictures before we started painting and changing carpet and taking kitchen doors off...but alas I didn't get to it. So here's a preview of our new home...mid redo.
This gives you a little glimpse of our new home. It already feels different being a homeowner oppose to a renter. Our heart for this space is that it will be filled with people and meals and conversations that matter. Our girls first real memories of a house will be here and I love that. More space for more people...one day. I know that it's the people that make any space what it is and I am thankful to be here with my people. It's all a gift and we know that.
we celebrated halloween by getting candy with our good friends. we only waited an 1.5 hrs for our pizza to come. ava was a little nervous at first about going up to the door to get candy but that quickly went away. we realized quickly that she likes to linger at each door...asking questions about the decor and if the witch was real and why scary smoke was at the house. but it's cool...imagination and a little make believe is cool with us.
our little cupcake and fairy and our boy ben as a clown.
i am excited to share something cool with you on monday. but this is just a little preview.
my parents are flying in right now from oklahoma to help us with house projects but mostly to be here for little lyla's baptism on sunday. so thankful to have them here.
happy weekend. tomorrow we paint, lay flooring, etc. DYI here we come. i will be posting before and after pictures of our first HOME! so check back.
a few more photos from our shoot with our friend stef. because i am your typical lame woman who because of my own insecurities and lies in my head prefer our home to filled with pictures of our girls. but i care more about my girls growing into confident, genuine, you are beautiful no matter what size or lies you believe in your head. they are lies and you are beautiful.
so here we are. my first real photos with my girls. thankful for it.