Thursday, August 13, 2015

Just Because

Just because baby 3 seems to get no blog love, and I haven't even gotten her birth story written yet, I can at least share her incredibly gorgeous newborn photos taken by my wonderfully talented friend Jenna. It is so hard to pick a favorite, so I'll just post a bunch of our sweet little AnnieB.

That's just a handful, so i think I may have to make an album just with her newborn pictures in it! It's hard to believe that she will be three months old on the 21st... fastest three months of my life! She was in the 20th percentile for height and weight when she was born, but at her two month appointment she had beefed up to 12 pounds, 12 ounces and is now in the 75-90th percentile! I guess she won't be a little peanut after all, so she is following in the footsteps of her brother and sister. Mama makes good stuff I guess! She is absolutely a dream baby... so content and quiet! I've never had one so quiet... even her cry is pretty tame, and I often double check the backseat just to make sure that she wasn't forgotten. My heart is so incredibly full with these three!

Thursday, July 30, 2015


It's amazing what a little paint on the walls and new flooring can do to a space! We actually have more done than these pictures show, but here is the work in progress. Our crown molding should be done this week and our furniture is in (but all piled in the middle of the room right now) so I should have before and after pictures of our space soon! Well, all except the kitchen, which is set to arrive at the end of August. Thankfully though it's starting to look like home!

View from the old kitchen. The room closes to view (the old dining room)
is the kitchen expansion and the room with the big window is the new dining room.

From the other direction... both rooms will be one big kitchen. Woo!

Our little floor model.

View from the back toward the front door.
The hallway is gray (or greige as they say) and the rooms are all a blue/gray color.

Jake cannot handle not being in any of the pictures. Neither can Mario.
And I spy a sleeping baby.

New floors, recessed lighting, and paint in the living room. So much better!
We're hoping to get everything moved in and situated over this next week. Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Who's Who?

So apparently Josh and I make clone babies. Everyone keeps telling me that Miss AnnieB is looking more like Jake and I would have to agree, but I remember thinking that Lilly looked just like him, too! So I decided to do a little research... can you figure out who's who?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Because a New Baby is Not Crazy Enough

On the 1 year anniversary of the day that Josh and I MET, we had gotten engaged, married, he had taken a new job to plant a church campus, we bought a house, moved, and were pregnant with Jake. Yeah, it was nuts. When I was about 3 months pregnant with Lilly we felt like it was time to plant our own church, so at six months pregnant we moved again and started working on getting our church started with a 15-month-old son in tow. She was 5 months and he was almost 2 when we planted. Yeah, crazy again. So it's only fitting that in the same month that we had our newest addition, we also closed on a house... and then completely ripped out the downstairs and started renovating. Yeah, we have a problem.

We would have NEVER considered taking on this project if my husband did not know how to do most of the work involved. Plus, my father-in-law owns his own construction company, so we can get his guidance and assistance when we don't know how to do something (and by we, I mean Josh). It has become somewhat of a family project with Josh, his dad, my dad, our sister and brother-in-law, our nephew, a few friends, and even our kids helping out! It's not much to look at yet, but here are a few before and after shots of our project in process...

Family room before

All cosmetic changes happening here... carpet out, hardwood going down (in the entire downstairs actually), fan down, recessed lighting will be going in, cream colored trim and built-in shelving to all be painted white, walls to be painted (color TBD), chunkier wood for mantle will be installed

Here's more of the major changes: 
View from the front door before... a skinny hallway leading to the family room/kitchen area

Now... hall closet and built-in shelving removed to make it more open

Here is the view from the back of the house looking toward the front door. The front hallway is at least double in size! Looking at this picture, that family room is to the left from where it was taken. The kitchen is to the right and that door goes to the basement.

This is basically where I was standing to take that shot above. 
It's a bit dark, but that is our kitchen before:

Up close, it was a TINY kitchen and the refrigerator awkwardly stuck out. There was a doorway to the dining room to the left of the refrigerator. When we made our offer, we knew we would want to expand the kitchen eventually, and since we have the house we are renting through the end of July, we just decided to go ahead and do it now. So out went the wall between the dining room and the kitchen, and the old dining room will make our kitchen over twice the size:

Bye-bye old kitchen wall

Before: the old dining room, taken from where the kitchen door used to be:

After: standing in the middle of the old kitchen, looking at the new addition to the kitchen. That third room in the front will become our new dining room down the road. When we move in, we may use it as more of a TV room for the kids since the new kitchen will have an island with seating:

And from the other angle. This is taken from the new dining room. You can see the front hallway to the right, and Jake doing something weird on the stairs. The dining room is gone, but Jake is staying.

I love that you can now see that gorgeous window from every room!

Soooo... it's probably hard to see from the pictures, but that's where we are at right now. Next up is paint, paint, and more paint. And I mean it when I say we are painting every room in the house! When we moved in it was white, white, white everywhere, with cream trim. Look at the difference white trim will make... seeing them side by side makes the old cream-colored doors look dirty! And we'll be putting on new hardware, too.

I'm going to try and update when I can, so it could be days or months... you just never know with me! It's a family affair though, so everyone is expected to do their part!

Although some people are doing more than others!

 Just another month and this place will be home! Can't wait!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Life With Three

We welcomed Annabelle into the world a little over a month ago, and I have been trying to write her birth story ever since. The time I have to sit down and do it is few and far between, so it may never get done, but that's life with three. So far I really don't feel like going from two to three is all that different, but here are a few things I have noticed:

  • The details no longer matter. As long as I have three kids in the car when we go places, I'm good. If they are bathed and wearing matching clothes, that's a bonus. So far I've only arrived to one place to find out that Jake wasn't wearing (nor did he bring) shoes, and have driven about three miles before Lilly informed me that I did not buckle her in. After a pool trip, I packed dry clothes for them except that I forgot pants for Jake and he rode home in his undies. But hey, all three were accounted for. Every time (so far).
  • Nursing = all hell breaking loose. My house could be sparkling clean (not that it has been since she was born), but in the 20-30 minutes it takes me to nurse, it will be turned upside down. We go from clean to incredibly messy in record time these days.
  • About the above... I don't care nearly as much as I used to! Time spent not holding a newborn or playing with / fixing food for / breaking up arguments between the older two is minimal. Those precious moments are not going to be wasted spent on keeping our house spotless.
  • No matter how many times I tell them, the older two kids will NOT. STOP. MESSING.WITH the baby. I'm like a broken record. And she's like their new, awesome toy.  Thankfully they love her more than anything and we have not had any jealously issues, but seriously, STOP TOUCHING YOUR SISTER'S FACE!
  • Sleep deprivation is not as difficult this time around. Because let's be honest, I have probably had a full night of sleep only about 15 times in the past five years. Piece of cake.
  • About the above... kids, even your own, irritate you WAY more and far more quickly when you are running on very little sleep. I miss naps. For them. Which would make it possible for me. Thankfully I have a pretty healthy coffee addiction.
  • Grocery stores are evil. And I'm not even sure how half of the groceries we purchased today got into the cart.
  • I used to wonder how people could end up with so much crap in their car. And then I had three kids. I could probably survive in mine for a solid month with everything that's in there right now.
  • I have more "help" with Annabelle than I could have ever dreamed of. Thankfully she has not been smothered or dropped, and that Goldfish Jake tried to feed her didn't make it into her mouth. It's only a matter of time I'm sure.
  • I had convinced myself that I did not like the newborn phase, probably due to lack of sleep. But I am LOVING having a squishy newborn, probably because I am so much more laid back and worry way less about what I'm doing this time around. I trust my instincts and do not compare myself to what every other mom is doing. Being a relaxed mom of a newborn is way more fun than being a crazy, stressed out, worrying mom of a newborn!
  • With each kid you have, time speeds up. Please stop. I want her snuggly and little forever.
  • I am flat out amazed that the third (or fourth, fifth, and so on I'm sure) is no less special or amazing than the other two. Meeting your child doesn't get old. Feeling like your heart could burst every time you look in that little face does not ever go away. My heart has grown to an immeasurable size and I cannot get enough of her, just like I feel about the other two. It's amazing.
So life with three is really great. It's more craziness, more chaos, but so much more love, and it feels so full. I am loving our little party of five!

Oh... and on top of this, we closed on a house and have started renovating it... as in, torn out the downstairs down to the studs pretty much... because adding a third child to the mix just wasn't enough excitement for us and that's how we roll. So I'm hoping to record that journey on here soon, too, but again, I have three kids now so don't count on it! 

Friday, May 15, 2015

My dearest Annabelle,

Hi my love. We are now within two weeks of finally meeting you and seeing your face, and it's an understatement to say that we are all excited. The wait has seemed so long this time around, and your brother and sister have been as patient as they know to be, but ask me daily when you'll be here. They have spent the past nine months rubbing on this belly of mine, kissing it, talking to it, and Lilly enjoys "reading" stories to you each night before bed. We have prayed for you, felt you flip around in there, and enjoyed every little ultrasound picture we've been able to see so far. You, my dear, are already so very loved. I'm trying to be patient and truly soak in these last days of having you all to myself, but even I am growing a little impatient. From the start you have made things a wee bit more uncomfortable than either of the other two did, and you're definitely making yourself known to me these days! Granted, I am still chasing around your siblings, which I did not have to do as much when I was carrying them, and they don't seem to slow down much for me. The three of you are definitely wearing me out these days, but you are all going to have so much fun together! I cannot believe how lucky I am to get to be the mommy of these three special people. God is so good to us.

Before you get here, I just wanted to make sure you know how much love is waiting for you once you decide to make your entrance into this world. You daddy and I talk about you all the time, and there is an entire church full of people asking when you're going to be here! Kiddo, never doubt that God has big plans for you, as He has already surrounded you with amazing people who look forward to being a part of your life. He knew you long before we did, and picked you out especially for us. I'm going to go ahead and warn you that we're not perfect, and we're going to mess up sometimes. Mommy's fuse gets a little short when i am really tired, sometimes I forget that playing on the floor with you is far more important than cleaning up the mess in the kitchen, and on occasion I place blame on one of you before I know the full story, but I'm working on it. Just know that no matter what mistakes I make and no matter how good or bad our day goes, I will always love you, always be here for you, and will always feel blessed that I can call you mine. I will do all that I can to help shape you into the girl (and eventually woman) that God has created you to be, and do all that I can to make sure you go after your big, scary dreams. I already know that you are special. You are valuable. You have talents beyond our wildest dreams. The anticipation of your arrival is hard, but I know that you are worth it.

We can't wait to have you in our arms, but I know the waiting (and discomfort, exhaustion, and all of the impending labor pain) is worth it. Brace yourself to be smothered in love... you have stolen our hearts already.

See you soon, baby girl.
xoxo, Mommy (and very anxious family)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Sometimes I hear the news and almost lose hope in the world. Between school shootings, ISIS, poverty and war in the world, and the financial situation of our country, it seriously makes me wonder if there is anything good in this world anymore. But as soon as my brain goes down that gloom and doom road, I am almost always immediately reminded, somehow, that God is in control. He has not given up on us, nor will He ever. And today's reminder looked something like this:

500 churches. 500 NEW churches. And all of this has only been in the past 12 years or so, with the bulk of them being in the past 5. Josh and I went to our very first Association of Related Churches (ARC) training as newlyweds before launching our campus in Illinois. We were probably one of 20 other couples, the "training" was more of an opportunity to hang out with other people who were crazy enough to try the same thing, but the people that we met, who were on staff and who had already planted a church before us, well, they're what got us. By far it was one of the friendliest, authentic, most joy-filled, encouraging group of people we had ever been around. I grew up in churches where I mostly felt judged (was I wearing the right thing? Did they look at me and think that I had ever messed up or was I playing the role of perfect daughter/sister/friend/Christian perfectly? Did they know that I went out partying last weekend or did I hide that well enough?), but this particular group of Christians was just so real, down-to-earth, and genuinely wanted to know us... about our hopes, dreams for this church, why we were going to go plant, and what our fears and struggles were. Yes, they wanted to know the good AND the bad, so that they could truly help us and be there for us. Special. That's what these people were.

When we felt that the time had come to plant TurningPoint (about 2 1/2 years later), it was a no-brainer that we wanted to partner with these wonderful people again. And they have been there for us every step of the way... good and bad... to once again encourage us, answer questions, and connect us to other people on this same journey. Real people who just genuinely cared, without an agenda or expectation of anything in return. And with their help, we became number #252 on February 12, 2012. It's been quite a journey, but our church would not be what it is without their help, love, and support. Honestly, I would not be the person I am today without their leadership and authentic love for us! And three years later, we are still growing, thriving, and seeing hundreds of people say "yes" to Jesus and an eternity through our church. Hundreds of people who walk in our doors broken and lost, and walk out filled with hope, restored, and wanting to share this newfound love with others.

Today we are taking a quick trip to Birmingham for the dedication of the new ARC office building, named after the founder of this great organization. The Billy Hornsby Center for Church Planting will see hundreds thousands more church planters come through its doors to be trained, equipped, and sent out in the coming years. And with every church planter, and every new church, I am reminded that there is still so much hope in the world. As a younger generation re-discovers the Gospel, or gets introduced it for the first time, and learns to live a life of generosity, integrity, honor, love, and so much more; for them to find that they are made on a purpose and for a purpose; for others to realize that there is so much more to live this life for than just ourselves- hope springs forth anew. And so I cannot watch the news and be depressed. Sure, there are things that sadden me, and there always will be. I will always have compassion and hurt for the brokenhearted. But I will continue to keep in mind that He isn't finished yet, and His promises are always true, and never broken. 

Today as well celebrate, I am so incredibly honored, proud, and humbled to be #252. I am in awe of what God can do through an ordinary person who just decided that living selfishly and doing life her way was not fulfilling (and wasn't working), and so she said "yes" to what seemed to be a crazy dream of her husband. I am amazed by a God who promises that your past can be left behind and you can be a new creation in Him. He knew my sins and my path and gave me a husband, children, and partnered me in a ministry that I do not (nor ever will) deserve. He makes all things new, and these 500 churches are just the start of the newness that is cropping up all over the country. And they're only getting started...

[Galatians 6:9] Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Friday, March 20, 2015

"I See a Church..."

My heart could burst this morning. Here lately, I have felt the nudge to get on this blog a little bit more often, not just to keep this up as a personal journal about my family's adventures, but to write a little more often about how to do this whole motherhood thing in a way that is God-honoring. How to better pour the Word into our kids, and how to really make it worship. For the longest time I could never really pinpoint where I wanted this to go or what I wanted it to be about (particularly because it was started purely just to keep my family updated on what our family has been up to), and lately I have just felt in my heart that this is the direction I'm supposed to go. The thing is, nobody ever feels worthy enough to try and lead people in this way. I mean, I mess up DAILY. I have times when I feel like I'm knocking it out of the park, routinely getting up early and spending time with God before having to do all of my mommy duties (and honestly therefore doing them better because of a more joyful attitude), and then I have those nights when I lay down and wonder what I did all day. I think I just came to the realization that even if I did get up at 5am every single day, and even if I did read my Bible every single morning, and even if I was the most consistent, self-disciplined woman in the world, I would still have nights like that. And to be honest, no matter how hard I try, I guarantee there are going to be days where I would rather choose (and probably still will) to sit on the couch and watch  mindless TV shows instead of actively investing in and leading my children. I just really hope that over time that happens less and less. I want first and foremost what I do at home to matter, and if I can help other moms along the way find the joy in the Lord through their own journey, then I want to be a vehicle to help them, too. Even if I sometimes don't get it perfect myself.

But back to my heart bursting...

Last night I heard Josh and Jacob talking up in Josh's office. This is not a rare thing, as Jake really loves to go sit up there with Daddy and pretends to do work. But this time it sounded different. Jake was speaking with a different rhythm in his voice, and as I walked up the stairs a bit, it sounded like he was... well... preaching.  And then I heard him say, "I see a church..."

Jake has rarely sat in "big church" with me to listen to his daddy preach. He is usually back in our (awesome) kids' ministry having his own lesson, but does see glimpses of his sermons from time to time via web videos or non-Sunday morning events, like our volunteer rallies or times of prayer. On our three-year-anniversary, Josh preached a message about the church that he sees, and he used this "I see a church" phrase repeatedly. It would give you chills if you listened to it. But the crazy thing is, Jake wasn't in there, nor do I think that he has ever seen that message, and if he has, it would have been a super short snippet. But on a day when I wonder if what we do at home matters, and if we are leading our children in the right direction, and if they will end up following God and developing a faith of their own, God gave us a moment that I will cherish forever. God let us know loud and clear that it's more about what we do, and how we live our daily lives, than it is about what we tell him to do. We ccan teach him right from wrong all we want, or we can live for Him, so that He will also live to serve and love God by our example. On his daddy's podcast microphone, up in his daddy's office, this little five-year-old boy of ours preached his very first sermon, with no help from either one of us. God can use anyone to speak to us. And thanks to my little boy, my feelings have been confirmed. I don't get it right all the time, but we sure do the best we can.

I hope you enjoy this as much as we have and I hope the link works! I may have to try and upload it differently if it causes any problems:

Click here to listen to Jake's Sermon

And if you want to hear Josh's version, or any of his messages actually, you can download our new handy-dandy TurningPoint Church app! I particularly recommend last weekend's message!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


I genuinely cannot believe that my little man is a five-year-old. I remember when he was born, I would look at the people around me who had children around five or six, and I would think that it would be forever before my child was that big! Moms always say it goes by fast, and since I generally like to buck the cliche, I just chose to ignore that. But they all say it because it's so darn true... the past five years have gone by in a blink, and every year seems to get faster and faster. The good news is, every year just seems to get better and better, too. Sure, I already miss his baby and toddler phases, those cute chubby cheeks and sticky hands, but with each passing year his personality gets bigger, his laugh gets louder, his knowledge and curiosity about the world gets deeper, and my love for him gets stronger. Sure, we have our days when we drive each other a little nuts, but that happens at any age... it's just a part of it. And just so that I never forget, here are some of my favorite things about our sweet, baby Jake:

  • He loves to get a laugh! He tells jokes, makes funny faces, and already understands sarcasm far better than most kids his age. And when HE laughs, it's the loudest, most amazing sound in the world and it fills the whole room. I know this comes from his dad, and that's what I love most about him, too!
  • He is such an encourager and thinks of others first! No matter what we're doing or who we're with, he is always telling others how wonderful they are, how they can do it (whatever it is in the situation) and giving others a turn. He always makes sure to make cards for his friends on every holiday and even invited a friend of Lilly's to his birthday party so that she'd have someone to play with. My heart melts with his sweetness.
  • On a similar note, he makes friends with everyone, everywhere he goes. We stayed at a condo in West Palm on our trip, and the pool was surrounded by snowbirds. He swam right up to an old man and said, "Hi, my name is Jacob. What's yours?" He befriended a 90-year-old named Robert, and eventually had the full attention of just about every senior citizen around. On our next leg of our trip he swam up to a kid around his same age, introduced himself again, and then added, "I like to play video games. What do you like to do?" I love his boldness, and hope it never goes away.
  • He is fearless. Seriously. Take this kid to an amusement park and he wants to ride Ev-er-y-thing. We just got back from Disney where he went on the Tower of Terror like it was no big deal... and of course he had a huge grin on his face the whole time.
  • His L's are still W's. I know the day that he says "Lilly" instead of "Wiwee" will crush my heart, so I am soaking it in while it lasts.
  • He is always hungry! It does not matter if we just ate a huge meal, he will be asking for a snack about five minutes later. Any time we arrive at my parents' house or Josh's dad's house, the first thing he says is "I'm hungry." It's a bit of a running joke actually. He doesn't really love sweets, and dislikes chocolate, but he loves fruit (mostly watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple, and apples), cereal, and ice cream sandwiches.
  • He's way into Lego's. He still wants us to build them, but will play with them for hours.
  • He's even more way into video games. He'd play all day if we let him (which we don't!), and I am always in awe of how quickly he can pick up on any game and excel so quickly!
  • He's athletic, but we still don't know what sport he'll end up playing. The kid loves to run (and he's pretty fast!) and he's got the build to play just about anything. We're trying baseball this spring, but we'll see how it goes. He also loves to swim and just last week ditched his floaties. I asked him to try and he swam all the way across the pool two minutes later. I was one proud mama!
  • He loves babies... partly because he has their undivided attention and they laugh at him. I cannot wait to see him with our new little one here soon!
  • He is pretty particular about what he wears. He will get dressed and then tell me that he's "stylin' and profilin'!" He tears a whole in just about every pair of pants that he has (the same knee every time) and then refuses to wear them anymore. I can't wait for this warmer weather so we can do shorts again!
  • Aside from that phrase, he has many that he says on a regular basis. Things like "silly me" when he messes something up and "what are you kidding me?" I have no clue where he picks this stuff up.
  • I love hearing him pray... it's the sweetest, most sincere, conversation with God. He can also tell you several Bible stories, but almost all of them include Noah in some capacity.  :)
Although we celebrated a couple of times on our trip to Disney last week, Jake basically informed us that he would be having a party. He told us who would be invited, what kind of food would be there, and that he would have an Angry Birds cake. I have to say, it was the most last-minute, impromptu, but incredibly stress-free party planning ever... and maybe one of our most successful parties, too! I think we should just throw it all together at the last minute every year!

Happy birthday, Jacob Stephen. Thank you for making our lives so much FUN!