September 16, 2014

Crusty Cheese.

If there was a picture that could sum up a moment in life, it could be crusty Mac & Cheese. I had just baked some fresh bread, well the bread machine had, and I had my favorite candle burning. Needless to say, the house smelled good. Maybe it was me trying to cover up the other "smells" that also seemed to keep 'popping' out that day too, but for the moment it smelled good.

As I walked out of the kitchen though, it hit me, I had two pictures, or points of view, I could choose to focus on today. One was clean, fresh and relaxing. The other was dirty, tasteless and stinky. Seems like an obvious choice which picture I or anyone would choose, but it's interesting how easy it is to pick the crusty over the delicious.

"...I have set before you life and death, 
blessings and curses. Now choose life..." 
Deuteronomy 30:19

It's a choice. Each day, each moment, I have a choice as to how I'm going to view what is going on around me. Do I have to love the dirty and smelly, absolutely not, but I don't have to dwell in them. I also shouldn't ignore those things, because even if I wished they would just disappear, the stinky things of life are going to continue to happen. So, I can deal with the yucky stuff, and then spend my time dwelling the the yummy stuff; resting in the good.

So now I'm going to go clean up a baby, rinse off some crusty cheese, and take in some good.

September 11, 2014

Mommy Moments.

"Uh-oh mommy...Mommy I'm hungry....
Mom, yucky...Mommy, mama, mom!"
If you're not careful this can happen, correction will happen, if and when you become a mom. I love that name, and all the many forms and tones it comes in. I dreamt of becoming a mom when I was little. Imagined all of the sweet snuggles, bath time fun and walks to the park. These dreams are now my reality, and I am so thankful for the little boys that changed my title and direction in life.
After adding in baby boy number two, I've learned some things already. I am surrounded by cars, trains, diapers and dirt all the time. My boys could care less if I've showered, painted my nails, exercised or eaten breakfast myself. The days go so fast, yet the hour before dad comes home seems to drag on. The moment they are resting peacefully in their rooms, I stop and scan the house...

"...Do I take a ' mommy moment,' 
or do I cook, clean or complain."

It is in this moment a choice is made, do I take a 'mommy moment,' or do I cook, clean or complain. I'll admit,  I often tend to lean toward the latter. I've realized even if dinner is ready, the house is clean and my mind is clear; if I haven't invested time in me, I'm no good. I've learned I need to fuel myself if I'm going to help my busy family run smoothly.

"If I haven't invested time in me, I'm no good."

I don't know why taking a moment for myself can be so hard. Perhaps it's because I enjoy putting others before me, but I know too that those same 'others' love me, and want me to be happy too. So I've been trying to be more diligent in taking time during the day to be at rest for me. Reading my Bible, drinking a coffee, while sitting down, putting on make-up, painting or writing, these all serve the same purpose. These are are MY moments, not theirs. I have learned its not being selfish or lazy to invest in me.
Even the woman described in Proverbs 31, after taking care of her family and home, also took care of herself. She spent time: weaving, cooking, gardening, exercising, sewing, giving, decorating, selling and studying God's word (Proverbs 31:10-31).  I used to read through this section and think, "Man that's a crazy list. I don't have time for that." But the truth is, I want the result from living a life like she did, "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come...Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her..." (Pro. 31:25,28). She is living a life of peace and rest, and those living with her on a daily basis can see a difference in her. I want this too.

"These are MY moments, not theirs."

So now, everyday, I vow to take some time to fill myself up. Some days this might be only a few minutes, while other days (depending on nap time success...or not), it might be longer. The importance is not the length of time, but the intention behind the time I set aside. I vow to be intentional toward how I treat myself. If I take a 'mommy moment,' then everyone, not just me, will be positively affected. "Honor her for all that her hands have done..." (Pro. 31:31).

September 01, 2014

"God is Bigger than the Boogie Man..."

"God is bigger than the boogie man,
He's bigger than Godzilla, or the monsters on TV.
Oh, God is bigger than the boogie man,
And He's watching out for you and me."
- Veggie Tales 'God is Bigger'

While I was sitting on the couch feeding my sweet two-month old baby, this song popped into my head. It was a song made popular by the 'Veggie Tales' movies; and the writers did their job well because it is still engraved in my brain. The thing is though, as I've lived more life, the fears and problems that I've watched family, friends and myself face are bigger than the fictional characters sung about in this song.

Even though these problems are so much bigger; whether physical, emotional or spiritual hurts; the truth is, is that God is bigger. Going through hard times in this life is a given; one truth that I wish weren't a reality. As a mother, I wish I could protect my boys from having to suffer any sort of pain or hurt. I wish I could foresee the pain that is coming ahead.  Looking back though, over my own pain and struggles, I can clearly see that it was during those unknown times that I was brought closer to the Lord.

The trials that seemed to spring up in my own life, were not surprises to God. In fact, He knew they were coming, and is already waiting and ready to be there for me when the next one hits. He is bigger. He is all-knowing. He is God.
"The trials that seemed to spring up 
in my own life, 
were not surprises to God."
I do find myself wondering sometimes, "Why wouldn't He stop that from coming? Why did ____ have to endure that? I didn't ask for this. Why..." The conclusion that I've come to, is that sadly in this life I'm not going to necessarily understand or get answered the 'whys.' We live in a broken world where people make poor choices, we make wrong decisions and "good" people end up getting hurt. While those things are all true, God is bigger, stronger and has already overcome this world. He is bigger than the hard things I've already endured, and He isn't going to change when it comes to the things yet to come in my life. He has the power to turn a hurtful and dark situation into the light; He can make what the world intends for evil into good.
"God is bigger, stronger 
and has already overcome this world."
I can't help but think of the story of Joseph in the Bible. A young boy, so despised by his own brothers that he was sold into slavery; while his own father believed he had been viciously killed. God could have left Joseph's story there. God could have said, "Well, that's a bummer, wish his brothers hadn't made such a bad choice." The truth is, Joseph had faith. He believed that even though his present situation looked bleak, that God was bigger, and could make 'good' come of such hurt. After years apart, when Joseph meets his brothers face-to-face he lets them know what he learned, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done..." (Genesis 50:20). Joseph trusted the Lord in the midst of heartache and pain; Joseph was blessed. God is bigger, and He is able to make good out of even the hardest and most painful situations.
"You intended to harm me, 
but God intended it for good to accomplish 
what is now being done..."
So thankful that each morning when I wake up, and each night that I go to bed that I am not alone. I have a God that is, and has fought for me. He is faithful and unchanging; even when the situations in life are not. He has the power to make good out of evil. I'm thankful that He is the one, "watching out for you and me."

August 15, 2014

Joy & Contentment.

This summer has seemed to fly by; the last seven weeks especially as my family grew to four. My days seem to slip by; making breakfast, changing diapers, changing clothes, playing cars, eating lunch, feeding a baby, attempting to get two naps lined up for a few moments of quiet, snack time, cuddling on the couch, making dinner, playing outside, going on a walk, giving two little guys baths, brushing teeth, reading a story and sending two kiddos off to bed. I get tired just writing it down, knowing tomorrow is going to be somewhat the same.
Even though it's physically and mentally draining, each night when they are both asleep I sit down and am thankful for the blessing of getting to be their mom. It is a hard job but one that I wouldn't want to trade for a executive position of a six-figure salary. The "night night, love you mommy," and the tiny baby smiles are all the payment I need to know I'm doing a job well-done. Those are also the things I cling to on the not-so-good days.
It was after a really fun day at the zoo with the four of us, that I realized something. God's love, and grace shine through my two sweet little boys. During the day, each animal that Blake saw brought such pure joy to his face, and that joy radiated through him throughout the day. That night as I finished feeding Easton, and looked down, he was completely at peace; all his needs met.

Pure Joy & Complete Peace

Praying that I too can learn to live with that same joy and peace in my own life. It's a daily battle; and some days a battle from minute to minute. I know that it would be so easy to give in and let the hurts and hard things of this world take over. To let the lies creep in that say, "I'm not good enough," that "I am failing," and that, "I don't have it all together."
Thankful to have a God who already conquered those lies and the pain and trials of this world. Blessed to know that this imperfect world is not my forever home, but that He has a perfect home waiting for me. That even when I may not feel joyful based on my current circumstances, I can choose to LIVE a joyful life, because He gave me this one life to live. When I feel my wants are not being met, I can choose to LIVE a content life, because He gave me so much.

"God is good all the time.
Put a song of praise in this heart of mine.
God is good, He's so good, all the time."

August 08, 2014

Amazing Grace.

Easton Wayne Bernard
June 29, 2014
7 lbs. 2 oz.  20"
I was greatly blessed over nine months ago when I found out I was pregnant, and would be a mom again. I was blessed eight months ago when I heard the sweet sound of a heartbeat.  I was blessed five months ago when I found out I was having a son. But, the ultimate blessing was when I held my sweet Easton in my arms for the first time.
It all started Saturday morning at 5:30am. Friday afternoon I had had a routine check up at was at 2cm. Saturday I woke up and felt the first of many contractions, although I knew what I was feeling was not strong enough to do much. Throughout the day my contractions would come and go, but weren't getting stronger or closer together. Around four in the afternoon we went on a walk, and that seemed to get my contractions moving along a little more; between 5-8 min apart. After eating dinner, we chose to go get checked at the hospital just in case we were further along than we thought.

We got to the maternity triage, and were checked around 7:00pm. At that point I was at 4cm, but my contractions weren't consistent enough for them to keep me. So after walking the halls for an hour and being monitored, we were sent home with the goodbye from the nurse of, "See you later on tonight."
We made it home around 9:30pm, and by ten I was laying in bed having intense contractions between 2-9 minutes apart. The "real" contractions had begun. These were strong ones that would last over two minutes at times, and often wouldn't actually come back down...I knew we needed to get to the hospital, and fast! Thankfully Aunt Carrie was already spending the night at our house to watch Blake, so we were able to leave for the hospital around 11pm.

Since it was past 'working hours' we had to check in though the ER...when they asked me what I was being seen for, I felt like the answer should be pretty obvious. Thankfully my answer of, "Active labor," was good enough to wheel me through a maze of hallways back to the Labor and Delivery unit. The same nurse 'welcomed' us back...although all I wanted was to get to our delivery room. After being checked a little after 11pm, I was at was at 6cm, and officially admitted to have my boy!

You would think walking a few doors down the hall wouldn't be so hard...but during that short FIVE minute walk my body dilated from six to ten centimeters...a pain I never could have imagined. My body would not stop shaking the whole time I was in labor...looking back, I would do it all again. Somehow the amazing anesthesiologist was able to get me a epidural in less than six minutes...something the doctor was very proud of; all I cared about was it worked, and worked fast. It was officially time to meet our newest little boy.
At 2:59am, after pushing for about 40 minutes, our sweet little Easton was born. One of the things I will never forget, is I was the one that got to pull him onto my chest. What an amazing feeling to hold your son and after so much pain, be the one that physically carries him into this world. Looking into his tiny face, I couldn't help but think how much he looked like me, and how 'big' is was...well lots bigger than his brother had been at birth.
Blake's first time meeting his little brother.
My heart was instantly so full; my family of three was now blessed beyond what I ever could have imagined to now be a family of four.
Zoo Trip - July 2014
The feelings of great blessings continued as Easton met his grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, but more importantly when he met his brother. Blake loved pointing out Easton's tiny face, fingers and many amazing memories to come watching these two grow as brothers and as friends.

February 24, 2014

Crock Pot Lasagna

Lasagna is a favorite meal that many families enjoy, including my own. But, when I tried to make it at home, it just never measured up to the ones I had ordered from restaurants. The frozen lasagna's, while convenient, were always soupy and thin, with little to no leftovers since they don't fill you up. Not to mention the fact that the ingredients in the frozen lasagnas leave much to the imagination.  I had made lasagna in a pan before from scratch, but with all the steps and not ever having it turn out how I thought it would, I just didn't think that making my favorite Italian food at home was going to work for me.

Then I discovered making lasagna in my Crock Pot. So easy to make, and it is thick, tasty and there is always plenty for everyone to eat. Plus it is cheaper that buying a frozen one from the store!
Crock Pot
Italian Sausage (1 lb.)
Spaghetti Sauce (one jar)
Italian Seasoning
Mozzarella Cheese (8-10 oz)
Ricotta Cheese (15 oz)
Lasagna Noodles (uncooked)
Average Cost = $11.00

Step 1: Cook the Italian Sausage, and drain any excess grease.  Add in the spaghetti sauce, and mix.

Step 2: Combine the mozzarella and ricotta cheeses in a separate bowl. Once mixed, add in the Italian seasoning.

Step 3: Now you are going to start layering into your Crock Pot. Start by lightly spraying the pot, and then add in and spread out the sauce and meat mixture. Next place in a layer of the noodles. Remember that they do NOT need to be cooked. On top of the noddles spread a layer of the cheeses. Continue to layer: sauce, noodles and then cheese until you reach the end.

Step 4: Make sure that your top layer of noodles are completely covered with the cheese and sauce so they cook all the way through.  Sprinkle some extra Mozzarella cheese of the top, and place the lid on the pot.

Step 5: Cook for 4 hours on HIGH or 6 hours on LOW (time may be different depending on your slow cooker, so make sure that you check as it is cooking) If it appears to be done, turn the hear down to 'keep warm,' until you are ready to eat.

Hope you and your family enjoy this meal as much as I know mine does!

February 07, 2014

Toddler Days & Baby Dreams

Our family of three is soon to grow into a family of FOUR...hard for me to wrap my head around when I really stop and think about it. But, then when I think back two years ago, Jason and I didn't know the amazing gift we were being blessed with before we met Blake. Amazing to think that once again a tiny blessing is going to change our lives; change it for the better.

Blake Denver - 19 Months and Counting
Our little baby is no longer that, he is officially a TODDLER. We are so thankful for the sweet little boy that we get the privilege to be parents to.  Currently Blake is learning new things ALL the time. He is to the point that sometimes he hears a word once and can say it. He is a master of walking, and now has moved onto running. I am in love with his silly personality, and how he enjoys sharing it with everyone around him... "Hi," being his favorite thing to say still.

Some of his newest accomplishments and loves include:

  • Favorite Toys: ANYTHING with wheels, stuffed animals and bath toys.
  • Favorite Foods: Chicken dipped in ketchup, waffles (his first word almost every morning), "cooookie," grapes and more...he is a GOOD little eater.
  • Words he has mastered recently : bubbles (anything with water), help, pop, ho-ho, baby and yeah!
  • He call pick-up trucks "papa"...since both his drive them.
  • Animals he can make the sounds of: dog, monkey and horse
  • When you ask Blake where his baby is, he might point to either his tummy or mommy's. :)
  • Eating on his own! He loves using a fork, and is starting to use a spoon better too.
  • He loves swim lessons. He know kicks, "jumps" off the side and blows bubbles. 
  • He can point out people's: eyes, nose, mouth, hair, tummy, toes and fingers.

Baby Bernard #2 - 18 Weeks
Oh to be pregnant some ways it's like I never forgot what it felt like, and then in other ways I feel like I am once again totally new at this.  It has been crazy to watch this time around how fast my body "remembered" what to do, and how FAST my baby bump started growing. This pregnancy has been so much easier from a physical standpoint. I kept waiting for the morning sickness I endured with Blake to set in, but each morning I woke up intensely hungry, but not sick! That was a BLESSING considering I am now also running around after a very active 'big' boy.
We were able to keep our new little bundle a surprise until Christmas morning...something we had hoped to do with Blake, but it appears second time is the charm. We had our ultrasound wrapped in a frame for the grandparents to open...I think my parents faces sum it up perfectly. :) This new little baby is coming into such a wonderful family, and I know I am not the only one that cannot wait to meet this little guy or girl.
Grandpa and Grandma's surprised faces when they found out about Baby #2
Speaking of gender...we are having our ultrasound in a few weeks, and the following evening we are having a 'Gender Reveal Party.' This one will be a little different than Blake's, because this time Jason and I are going to find out right along with everyone else. :) Either way though, I am so thankful for this little one that is growing inside me, and am thankful for the baby brother or sister that Blake will soon have.