Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Two years

Two years ago this past Sunday (which this year so endearingly fell on Grandparent's Day) my sweet mom came to pick Preston & Bella up for a fun weekend at the cabin. I remember so vividly her walking in the door, having our chat, me running all over grabbing last-minute things & her shaking her head because she said I packed more than enough & reminding me she had young kids once ;) ...& no she did not need all the instructions ;) It was definitely an inside joke that as many nights she would have the kiddos overnight, I way over-explained alllll the details of when this, where that, etc. As we got the kiddos packed up, I started to feel weary. I think of this feeling all the time; I just for some reason felt worried about the drive, worried everyone would be ok, etc...more than I normally do. After all the hugs & kisses, I watched them drive off, blowing kisses & waving. For a reason I knew not why then, I stood at the end of the driveway for an extra long time, until the car was well out of sight, waving goodbye. On September 14, 2013, my life was forever changed when I received a phone call that still to this day seems unreal. She had passed, and even now I  hardly find the courage to believe it. I look back on the past two years as a learning curve. There have been countless situations where I needed her advice & guidance more than ever. One of my worst nightmares was of losing her, & it became a sickenly awful reality. I thank God for a loving husband, amazing children, & those closest to me that have probably heard way more than they were bargaining for in the wake of losing her these past years. I feel like God has taught some amazing life lessons since then, & though she is not by my side, I know her heart & spirit will always guide me. One of the many things I always remember her telling me when I was upset or hurt or just plain feeling down was to "rise above it." It sounds SO simple, but most days I am going through something tough or just want to be sad it's not that easy. Though my mom had many a day that she could choose to be sad, I always saw her rising above it & choosing to be positive in times when it would not have been so easy. This week I have let myself be sad, because I feel like I really try my hardest most days to rise above life's bumps-- whatever they might be. I miss her more than I can describe, I miss the thousands of memories we never got to share, I miss the gazillion memories I know Preston, Bella, & Vivi would have. And I miss mostly my best friend and confidante and the hours on the phone & in person dissecting so many things a mama & daughter do. But in lieu of letting myself spiral in forever sadness, I know that God's plan is not always our plan. I wake up each day with renewed hope for living a life as a mother, wife, friend, & overall woman that would make her proud. I feel many days she did so much better, but the one thing that guides me more than anything is just the immense, deep, love I still feel from each & everyday I spent or spoke to her. She was always so wonderful sharing how much she loved us & how much we meant to her. I feel her love all day everyday, and so much more. That alone, along with the occasional snippet in time I will be doing something, & I can hear her joking with me, knodding her head or shaking it, is what makes me know that this life & the precious memories sure is and are sweet. I need to remember that and on the hardest of days like today, know that I have a million beautiful memories that I get to hold in my heart forever & ever. I thought I had no words, but apparently I had a lot this time around. But there just are never enough. The beautiful smiley face that my step-dad had so lovingly placed with her epitaph says it all. She wanted more than anything for my brother & I & truly all of those around her to be happy. No matter how hard the days without her, I do try my best, & many days just because of her. 💛 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Walking by Faith, not by Sight

Losing a parent at the age of 28 was just about one of the biggest shocks I could ever imagine happening.  The year-and-a-half  of grieving since this tragic accident have taught far too many "life lessons" to delve adequately into.  As a young wife and mother of three, life and all its lessons from the previous decades hit me like a crashing wave.  I knew my whole life I had strong faith, walked with the Lord, believed, read His word, and tried to live it out the best I could.  Yet when September 14, 2013 ended, and I had to accept that my earthly walk with my sweet mom had passed, there was an intense feeling of anxiety that swept over me.  How in the world was I to hold strong for myself and my little ones, how on earth could I go on without being able to physically pick up the phone multiple times a day to seek advice from the one whom I trusted guidance most? 

Over the hours, days, weeks, months, and now year,  the biggest realization I have come to is that my greatest gift for coping has been something that is free, irreplaceable, and the biggest blessing ever taught and given to me besides my little family-- my faith.  It is the most precious gift I carry, lean on, and cling to  It is a priceless gift that God gave me via my parents' rich and strong faith and teaching growing up.  It was my Sunday school teachers, the Christian school I attended, the nightly prayers with both of my parents at my brother and I's bedside growing up, and the Awana program where we memorized scripture that still comes to my mind to this day that keep me on track-- taking it one day at a time, one foot in front of another.  
I may not have my sweet mom here physically right now, but I feel her in so many ways everyday.  There are days I skid through, cry through, meander through, just get through, and run through to get to the next, but altogether each day when I feel a deep darkness setting in, I call to Jesus to rescue me from letting myself feel too depressed.  I turn on Christian radio, read the Bible, or a good devotional.  And God leads me through each and every time.  That is not to say some days are just plain hard or sad, but because of the faith I was taught, saw in action, and believe in my heart, I know that everyday on this earth is fleeting.  We really do not know when our last day here will be. It sounds so harsh, but it is the truth.  Why not lean on Him and lay all of our burdens at His feet to take away from us? It sounds so simple, but we just make it too hard.  Whether you are dealing with a close loss or other hardships that are not so intense, it is so easy to get caught up in the "oh woe is me."  Of course we are all allowed to feel this way, but we need to make sure to not get stuck there.  God wants to deliver us from our pain and anguish.  All we need to do is look to Him and have faith that He will keep us going.  
There are so so many days when I feel sorry for myself, go out and see moms with their daughters and grandchildren, hear and see stories of moms and daughters, and just plain want to be sad.  But the silver lining in this sadness is the realization that I have an intense appreciation, love, and respect for my sweet mom that I always knew I had-- yet on a much deeper level.  In great times of trouble and hardship in our lives, it comes as a big blessing and epiphany to look around and be happy and grateful for what we do have.  How we train our mind to think will be the outcome of how we live out our life.  For myself, I may not have a mom to talk to and enjoy life here on earth like we did before, but I have her immense love, beautiful, sweet memories, and trust in Jesus she taught me to be so thankful for.  This is one of the greatest gifts she could have ever give me-- my faith that "God has a plan" as she said almost every day.  For me, I know His plan for my life is so different than so many others when it comes to having a mama by my side physically.  I know that part of His plan is that I need to walk by faith and not by sight.  I need to trust Him everyday-- hard days and easier ones, sad, depressing days and happier ones.  All the time I choose to walk by faith.  
I know so many whose burden might be so different than this particular one, but in so many ways the feelings are the same.  Always walk by faith and feed your mind with His word and truths, and you too can walk by faith and not by sight.  Pray and God will start to deliver from darkness or the temptation thereof.  The days are long, but the years are short.  This life is too short to not believe that God wants us to come to Him and lay our burdens down and set our hearts free.  Hold on and be grateful for all we do have and the gifts life has given us.  I walk in the knowledge that someday I will get to see my sweet mom again.  And I can tell her "thank you" for the gift of faith you gave me that kept me going and making it one day to the next. 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 states, "Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord-- for we walk by faith, not by sight-- we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.…" I choose to be rich in faith everyday-- knowing that this time here is short.  I would not give up the gift of faith for anything.  I hope this has encouraged you to realize how God created us to lean on him and walk by faith, knowing He is with us every step of the way-- sometimes carrying us through the hardest of days and times.   
 I hope you could find some kind of hope from this post for something you may be going through today, or something that may happen in the future. As I have to even remind myself daily, God loves us all and wants us to talk to Him during the good, the bad, and the ugly.  He is by our sides if we just look. 
Also, I would love for you all to check out my sweet friend Andrea's new blog!! She just started blogging, and I am SO excited to follow along with her sweet family and a very special book she is sharing that her sweet mom wrote for her to have before she passed away.  It truly is a treasure and SO inspiring, and you should visit her blog and follow along in her journey as well!  Happy Wednesday!! 
...until next time!! (which hopefully this time will not be 7 months!)  Eeeek! Having a baby sure has put this mama behind on any blogging, but I sure hope to keep up with it more!

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Taking Your Blinders Off

This post I wrote as a guest blogging spot for Loren Slocum that published here  to her blog July 8th. Today I am sharing the exact same post with you here. 

Take a walk with me through my testimony in faith in our Lord Jesus and what kept me going when I thought I was dealt one or two many cards to deal with in this life. 

We all have those dreams where we wake up and are just so happy that the bad dream or nightmare we were having was not reality.  And so many of us have those times in our lives where we certainly wish our reality was just a bad dream or nightmare.  For myself, there have been two major times in my life where I have felt the latter.  

Flashback to the summer of 1999, and it was about a month before starting my freshman year at a new school. I had just finished my first year in a new town where I had met so many wonderful friends and was a happy-go-lucky young teen of 14. I had finally felt settled in a great group of friends and life was pretty perfect.  To make a very long story short, I had been experiencing pain in my left knee for months and after much troubleshooting and doctor visits I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma (a specific form of bone cancer.) What ensued in the following year was endless rounds of intense chemotherapy treatments, about 100 overnight stays in the hospital, blood transfusions, bone scans, CT scans, x-rays, losing all my hair, daily blood draws, a knee and femur bone replacement, and many many tears. Turning 15 the day after my limb-sparing surgery was the biggest eye-opening experience of my life (or so I thought at the time). The physical therapy was harder than I could have ever imagined.  To put such a foreign object into your leg and tell it to bend like a normal one I thought was just not possible.  I was ecstatic to get a centimeter of bend every appointment.  All while going through this there was one constant person-- my sweet mom.  She quit a wonderful job that she was succeeding in to be by my side every.step.of.the.way.  She became more than ever before my confidant, best friend, teacher, comforter, and my constant shoulder to cry on.  She led me out of more days of darkness and feeling depressed than I can accurately remember.  She would always tell me to "stay strong" and "we can get through this."  I specifically remember one very hard night when I was feeling just so down and hopeless.  All I wanted (or so I thought) was for her to let me be sad, cry with me, etc.  She knelt by my bedside and said to me, "You have to be positive; stay strong, and do not think about the sad things.  Everything is going to be ok."  Needless to say it was not the "pity party" I wanted to have.  She refused to let me go into a dark place; it was just not an option.  As I got older I learned more and more that my mom had her own days where she felt the same way I did that night especially.  But while I was going through it, she never told me.  She stayed strong for me and did not let me fall into such a sad place.  

Flash-forward to present time, and I am now living life without my sweet mama for almost 10 months. God took her from us so unexpectedly that I can not even bear to fathom that she really is not physically here with me. There are many sad, lonely, and hard days where I want to let myself fall into a deep depression.  But the craziest thing is that I just know I can not.  I am not allowed, and she would not have it.  I think back to her at my bedside telling me I have to stay positive and that everything will be ok.  She always always always would tell me, "God has a plan."  I have to rest assured in some sort of peace knowing this.   I just know in my heart that all she ever wanted was for me to be happy, and that is what I need to be.  It is amazing these moments and experiences God gives you in life that eventually turn into our past that set us up to be able to persevere through our future trials in this time we have here on Earth.  We can keep our blinders on and only look at what is right in front of us-- the sadness, the fear, the depression, the anxiety-- or we can take the blinders off and know that so much of a happy, joyful life is in thinking positive, being strong, and not letting fears and sadness dictate our lives.  

think back to a childhood Sunday school song that stated so simply, "Count your blessings name them one by one; count your blessings see what God has done."  If only we could all look around and only focus on the positive that God has put in our lives, life would be so much more sweet.  I know my mom always told me to be thankful for everything God has done in my life.  And today and everyday I am more grateful than ever for the children, family, and friends and life He has given me.  

...until next time! 

Monday, June 30, 2014

We heart Matilda Jane Clothing!!

Happy Monday!!

Anyone who knows me knows I love love love fashion and and especially love tot/kiddies' fashion as well!  I love styling and putting together outfits for both Preston and Bella, but especially love the girl clothes.  And with Vivi coming in less than four months, it has gotten even more fun! :) I wanted to share with you all a super huge sale that Matilda Jane clothing is having (JUST in case you have not heard of it yet!)  It ends today, and if you have never bought this brand but have wanted to this is a PERFECT and ideal time to do so!! EVERYTHING is 35% off-- that means all the lines listed on the website!! 

I have become hooked on this brand in the last few months, and it is VERY quickly becoming my favorite children's brand right along with Janie and Jack!! The reason I love love love Matilda Jane is the quality, comfort, and super cute and adorable styles and prints!! Every piece is so unique and exudes a whimsical effect. You just can't match the quality, comfort, and affordability-- especially on a great sale like this!! 

How CUTE is the packaging!? This was a picture I took of my very first order! 

Andrea is a favorite blogger of mine over at Momfessionals  that got me hooked initially, and if you are interested at all in purchasing anything you can do so by creating a wish list on Matilda Jane's page and putting as the trunk keeper and Andrea McAnally as your Jane!! 

Below I am sharing some of the Matilda Jane pieces we have!! Bella loves wearing them! They are seriously the MOST comfortable clothes I have ever bought for her while also being the most unique! I just love how so many pieces mix and match and the fun prints; I honestly can not say enough great things about the brand. I was skeptical at first, but once your first order comes you are convinced. :) 

These pictures she is wearing the Butterfly Lulu Dress.  I love so many of their dresses because you can "winterize" them in cooler temps by adding a cute short or long-sleeve shirt underneath!  It gives the effect of a whole new outfit and look! :)

This was on Cinco De Mayo, and I thought the bright colors were perfect for this day-- or really any summer or fall day! It is the Perry Inn Knot Dress, and you can find it here!

This is a favorite top that initally sold out, but some sizes have popped back up! I bought it in a 4 so it could last her another season! Sometimes I buy to fit perfectly now or a little room to grow-- depending on the style and what other pieces we have that match! You can find the Pontoon Halter Top here! I think it is gone in smaller sizes, but you might get lucky if it pops back up. :)

This is the Larks Lake Ellie Top! This I purchased in size 2 to fit perfectly this summer! 

A fun matching picture with her Bitty Baby in our cat-eye sunnies from this spring in the Perry Inn Knot Dress! The nice thing about the knot dresses is you can "extend" the strap to grow with your little girl. :)

Mother's Day matching in the Gloria Bubblegum Dress! :) 

These pictures are a perfect example of how you can "winterize" and layer the pieces.  The Georgie Tee and Love Bug Knot Top can be worn separate or together to add a whimsical, unique look! I would have never ever ever paired these together, but when I saw it paired in a picture on the website, I was convinced! :) 

Some sweet kisses from big broski!! :)

Why are you taking my pictures SO early after waking up!? ;)

She was SO tired right after waking up when I tried to snap a picture of) the made-to-match bow with the dress! ;)

The Cakewalk Tank Dress can be found here! She has worn this a lot; it is a favorite and a perfect twirling dress! The fun thing is that SO many of the Matilda Jane Clothing outfits/pieces have made-to-match headbands you can purchase through Etsy! Two of my favorite are London Raquel and Cozette Couture! Each of them have a plethora of matching headband options to match Matilda Jane! I also love that they both run specials frequently for 20% off if you follow them on Facebook or Instagram! 

This is another favorite for twirling! A lot of moms have told me that they have this style frequently; I think this print is sold out now, but they will definitely be having more in this style probably in the future! 

The Trellis dress is in my top favorites! :) I love love love the color comb with the roses!

The Pond Hill Cookie Tank and these shorties are so sweet paired together. 

Something I have been having so much fun doing is getting a few matching pieces for Bella and Vivi to wear together when she is born! :) Below are the matching pieces they have so far, and Matilda Jane makes it so fun to match and coordinate two little girls! I just can't wait to see them together in these! :) The really nice thing was that most of these pieces I bought even cheaper than the 35% off when Matilda Jane Platinum's Good Luck Trunk did a major sale a few weeks ago that was over 50% off on some older lines.  The items sell super fast, but I got lucky to grab some matching pieces for the girls before some sold out. :) I am newer to this brand, but I am told this sale does not happen often, and it is always a random gamble what will show up! 

This is BY far my FAVORITE matching Matilda Jane outfits for the girls so far!! When I saw these dresses over half off it did not take long convincing myself that they were must-haves...especially when I saw the adorable coral crush knee-high socks with lace trim!! I mean oh my goodness HOW adorable right!? ;) 

And I just can't wait for the girlies to twirl together in these dresses!! :)

And this matching/coordinating set I love because Vivi's top (pictured middle) can match two of the tops that Bella has! It is like two matching outfits with only 3 pieces. ;) Here you can find the Georgie TeeBitty Ballerina Top, and Judy and Ethel Tank

I hope you enjoyed delving in and sharing with me on my new love of Matilda Jane clothing! Again, if you have never bought before and have been thinking of it, today is a PERFECT time to do so! This is the last day of the 35% off sale.  You can make a wish list by going to the website here, click on "Our Collection/Collection," and browse by collection or however you wish! You can add  items to your wishlist, and then email it to ! Also, you can put your Jane as Andrea McAnally (her email is ! 

...until next time!! 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Quote-worthy Day!!

Quotes are one of my absolute favorite things; today I thought what better topic to share than some of my favorite ones!

I have vivid memories of being in 8th grade and sitting and talking about them with my bestie Lindsay. We were both equally obsessed and shared them back and forth like " notes" all the time! Looking back I feel like it was such a "funny" thing to be so "into" at that age, but it really told so much of who we were. We loved talking, analyzing, and looking deep into topics. It was so much fun, and I am so happy to have those fond memories. :) I just wish I could run across some of them we loved! It would be so much fun to take a peek back into our 14-year-old minds. :) 

We all see them all over social media-- quotes, quotes, and more quotes. Some stir our conscience, others inspire, but most of them somehow motivate us to better ourselves; they are all my favorite. My habit is to screenshot them into my camera roll on my phone when I come across one that speaks to me. I try to go back every few days and re-read them. How many times do we just scroll through, read something that provokes interest, think "I need to remember that" and we forget it the next moment!? I do this all.the.time! This is exactly why "screenshot-ing" them helps by being able to go back and look through them! I don't know about you, but there is not much better added "positive" to your day than running across words that provoke in an uplifting way. :) 

Below I am sharing some of my favorite ones from the last month or so. I hope some of these make your day brighter, happier, and more positive-- and better yet some may be JUST what you needed to hear to get you through today! 

Whitney English posted this to Instagram the other day, and I love love loved it!! 

I ran across this and posted it the other day-- HOW true is this!? ...and such a great reminder to us all! Sometimes you run across those quotes that mean an extra lot to you, and this was one of them! 

...I threw this in for fun!! I saw it at a boutique awhile back and thought it was a perfectly girly and glamorous quote to share! ;)

This sign was in Francesca's, and I could not help but take a picture of it because it rang so true. Happiness is so much about perspective and a choice.  It also reminds me of a post from this last winter I blogged about "A Little Bit of Happy after a lot of Sad"

One of my absolute favorite places for inspiring, motivating quotes and stories is Proverbs 31 Ministries. You can find them on Facebook, and I absolutely recommend following them. They make so many days seem easier to navigate through. They brighten many gloomy days and give for better days ahead on those extra tough ones. Below are some of their more recent posts that have helped me through a lot of days. 

This last one is just something extra I wanted to share. It was the number ONE thing people regretted in their last days. A lady who worked in hospice for years wrote this, and I thought this one was definitely worth sharing. How true and SIMPLE does this seem!? The hard thing is that so many (oftentimes without realizing it) live their life to always live up to others' expectations. When I ran across this it stuck as a great reminder to myself to not get caught up in "all of that."  If there is advice I can take from anyone, I will full well take it from people in their last hours; it definitely has an impact. 

Well thank you for stopping by for a "quotes galore" post!! I hope something rang true or inspired you in one way or another!! 

...until next time!!