Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Miley shouldn't be their role model anyway...

So, the horrid, disgusting, disturbing "performance" from Miley Cyrus on the VMA's has sparked a lot of debate and discussion...and now, its my turn.  After reading several really wonderful blog posts about it, one here:


I have decided to weigh in on the topic and here is my two cents...  Miley Cyrus should not be a role model for our children.  I know we don't have complete control over who our kids look up to in life, in all actuality we have a lot LESS control than we would like.  But, in saying that, here is what I want to teach my children:  people who aren't followers of Christ, who don't claim to be looking to the creator of morality, should not be expected to live moral lives.  Therefore, we should not be looking up to them as a guide of what a good life should look like.  We should spend a WHOLE lot LESS time talking about how sad it is that we can't allow our children to look up to Miley Cyrus anymore... who started off as a Disney star, etc, etc...and spend a whole lot MORE time talking about how our children should not look up to people who do not claim to be followers of Christ.  We should teach our children to be christ followers, to be people who live lives worthy to be followed.  We have to teach our kids that we live in a world full of people.  People are fallen, messed up, and have no compass by which to live their lives unless they are followers of Christ.  That's it...bottom line.  Celebrities, musicians, professional athletes...they are all people, nothing more/nothing less.  Let's spend time teaching THAT to our kids.  Let's make sure they know that "Miley's" are just people who don't know Jesus.  People who don't claim to follow a set of morals.   People who need a savior just as much as we do.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

MY life lived not about ME.

  So here goes, the cliche' that we all hear all the time.  We hear it in church, in school, from parents, quotes, marriage books etc.  Live life for OTHERS and not yourself.

We all jump on the bandwagon and give a hearty AMEN whether we hear this in church, on Facebook, or in a small group.  But, do we really LIVE this.  I mean I am right there with the rest of the world in quickly saying, YEAH I do.  When I step back though, and re-examine myself for a few minutes, I can see where I quickly fall short.  We all do it within our comfort zone.  We will do things for other people if we feel that it is within our "gift set".  We will love people even when they are unloveable until it becomes REALLY hard.  But, what about when our husband is going through a really tough time and is acting in a way that isn't him?  Can we love him in the midst of that?  We will volunteer at church in the area that we want to or is convenient for us, but what about the area with the most need?  What about as a parent?  Do we do things and discipline in ways that will best benefit our children, or do we do it in ways that make us feel better?
  I don't know about you, but I want to live a life that makes a difference.  A life that pleases God.  A life that SCREAMS Jesus!  And what did Jesus do while he was on this earth?  He served others....he washed people's disgusting/filthy feet for crying out loud!  He lived the ultimate sacrifice and DIED for us, the sinners who would turn their backs on him, who sinned against him, who did not deserve love AT ALL!  Jesus, in his dying moments as he hung on the cross, forgave a man who hung beside him.  A man he was dying for, a man who did deserve punishment.  Can we live our lives to help and love those who "don't deserve it"?  How quick are we to say in life, "well, they don't deserve me."??  Or what about this, "I can't serve in that capacity because it doesn't work for me."  Or, "they haven't said sorry, I can't forgive them."
  What if we started living in a way that helped others even when we didn't want to.  What if we made our minds up that we would start being a selfless people.  How many lives could we touch with that kind of perspective?  We could be genuine life changers.  People would care about what we wanted them to know because they would know how much we cared.  So, LET'S DO THIS!  I struggle with this, just as much as the next person.  I try constantly to be selfless, but then make excuses when things get hard or inconvenient.  It's time to stop making excuses, stop being half-way selfless (which really isn't self-less at all), and live a life for others.  Let's be Jesus to the world...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Mommy of 3, and this is ME!

SO, in the technologically advanced world that we live in today, we are subject to more information as parents than ever.  Am I thankful for that???  OH YES!  Being a new mom at the age of 20 and having no one else around me that was having children that young, I was completely engulfed in the plethora of information that could be found on the internet, blogs, books, etc.  BUT, it also has become overwhelming, and critical at times.  Maybe that's not the right description (I don't always have a way with words, lol), but you mom's know what I am talking about.  That mom who is constantly posting on FB all the perfect things she has planned in her day for her children, or the blog that talks about no processed foods and only ingredients that I have never even heard of, or just the constant opinions that you come in contact with.  It can get overwhelming, it can make you think you are doing a horrible job as a parent, and it can just become downright discouraging.

So, I am here to say...

-My kids do eat at McDonald's.

-My kids love TV and movies and actually have learned TONS from the things they watch.

-My kids don't always get their naps.

-My kids drink chocolate milk.

-My kids have seen mommy lose it before

-OHHH how the list could go on and on.

Bottom line...I am a good ole' southern girl who loves her children and doesn't over think things.  DO things in moderation, that's my motto.  Maybe you don't agree with that, but that's ok.  I do read articles, I do keep up with new studies, I do keep up with health...but I am far from strict, and so far my children seem to be healthy, well-rounded kids!

P.S.  THIS IS NOT AT ALL A POST DISSING THOSE MOM'S WHO DO OR DON'T DO THINGS I MENTIONED.  This is just me being honest, and saying that we have to do what we think is best for our children, and not stress over what is popular or what other people think is important.

So here's to all of the mom's of the world...don't feel discouraged by what others do, rather celebrate what is working for you and your family!!!  =)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Life is not defined by the mistakes you make, but how you choose to respond to them.

I am not quite sure why this idea/phrase has been swirling around in my head so much lately.  I haven't had some huge fall recently that has made me think about it.  I honestly think its just because I have had so many friends hurting lately.  Maybe from mistakes they have made or just because of tragic situations they have found themselves in.  And, I think this thought can apply to more than just mistakes...life is not defined by the things we face, but how we choose to react to them; life is not defined by what others do to us, but what we choose to do in return; and the one in the title: life is not defined by what mistakes we make, but how we choose to respond to them.

Here is the deal, we are going to make mistakes.  Sometimes little mistakes that we don't even think twice about, and sometimes enormous mistakes that will forever change the trajectory of our lives.  But there is one thing for sure...God is a God of restoration, of freedom, of hope, and grace.  He desires that when we fall down, we recognize what happened, stand back up, brush ourselves off and move on.  But, not only move on...move on with a new zeal to not make those same mistakes and to actively use those circumstances and consequences for the good of his glory.

Don't discount yourself or those around you because of mistakes that have been made, rather use those things to propel you toward something amazing and beautiful in the future!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Weight Loss....the old fashioned way.

So, I wanted to just take a few minutes to talk about something that has plagued me since college.  WEIGHT LOSS....ahhhhh.  I hate even uttering the words.  Why?  Because this used to be SUCH a sore spot with me.  Especially before I could make those words become a reality in my life.  For those of you who don't know...Robbie and I got married 3 weeks after I turned 18.  We were both in college, had both been "skinny" in High School, and had never cooked 3 meals a day on our own before.

There were a few things that made a perfect storm for me to gain weight.  Those things include being a working college student who had no regard for eating healthy, being a young married woman who wanted to cook "good" meals for her husband, and going on a birth control shot that totally threw my body out of whack.  To make the story short I gained 30 lbs within our first year of marriage.  To say the least I was extremely disappointed!

I tried all sorts of things to lose weight.  I started working out, I tried "all natural" diet pills, I tried the Atkins diet, tried the South Beach diet, and the list goes ON AND ON AND ON AND ON...well you get the point!  Eventually I just gave up and bought bigger clothes.  I thought, I am just going to have to come to terms with the "new me" (notice all the quotations in my post...that's me rolling my eyes over and over!) and be ok with it.  So, I went on like that for a several years, and then two children later I decided NO MORE!  I was sick of my reality of just being OK with how I looked and how I felt.  A close friend of mine was loosing weight and it inspired me to do it too.

So, this time I decided...no more crazy diets or pills.  I was going to do this the old fashioned way:  exercise and working out.  SO, I did!  I started calorie counting and working out every week.  I tried to stick to around 1200 calories a day at first, and when I started working out more and was on a good losing streak I went up to around 1500.  I also had little "tricks" along the way that helped me make it.  Because I have to say, I LOVE to eat and I HATE to diet.  So, I had to trick myself into feeling like I was still getting to eat what I wanted and wasn't on a diet.  Some of those things were:

1)  100 Calorie packs {MY BEST FRIEND}!  This allowed me to have snacks, eat sweets and little crunchy things like I had always done, while controlling my calorie intake.

2)  Eating ice.  GASP!!!  Yes, I know all of the dentists of the world are appalled that I am sharing this with you, but seriously it helped me soo much!  Those moments when I wanted to be munching on something and had already had my 100 calorie pack Ice was my best friend!!!

3)  CHEATING on the weekends.  This was probably the NUMBER ONE thing that helped me get through my weight loss.  Knowing throughout the week that I just had to make it a few more days and would be able to eat that thing I had been craving was absolutely vital for me.  Because ME DIETING+ NO CHEATING = GIVING UP.  When I was trying to diet with never splurging on the weekends and eating those Nachos (GASP), or eating those chocolate chip cookies (GASP), I gave up so quick.  Why?  Because it felt never ending.  I felt like I was depriving myself of all of the yummy goodness in the world and it got so old so fast.  SOOO the first thing encouragement I give to people who are trying to successfully diet is, cheat on the weekends.  Don't go crazy and gorge yourself every meal for 2 days.  But, seriously...eat what you want within reason.  Get those nachos and share them with somebody, or eat them at lunch time and have a light dinner.  My goal on the weekends was not to lose, but just to maintain.

So, before I got pregnant with my sweet girl I had lost 25 lbs!  I looked and felt better than I had in a REALLY long time!  I was so excited with my progress and how far I had come.  I have since had another pregnancy and gained the weight back.  I am a horrible pregnant person, I do not eat healthy or maintain my weigh well during pregnancy.  I just don't.  That being said, I am on the journey again.  The exact same one, lol.  I have pretty much the same amount of weight to lose.  I am now down 16 lbs and have around 13 more to go.  I am losing it SLOWLY but surely.  OOHHH and here is a little rabbit trail for ya...

DONT BE AFRAID TO LOSE IT SLOW!!!!  This is probably the number 2 encouragement I offer people who are trying to lose weight.  Lose it slow!  This makes for a journey that is doable, and one that won't end in gaining it all back.  It has taken me about 3 months to lose those first 16 lbs, and will most likely take me another 2 or 3 to lose the rest.  But, I will maintain it in the end and not kill myself, or my family, while doing it.

SO, if you haven't found something that works for you...my challenge to you would be do it the old fashioned way.  You can do it!  Because if this woman who absolutely LOVES to eat can do it, YOU CAN TOO!!

I will leave you with a little before and after pic of my first completed weight loss journey:
Yes, a shots of my face, because I always gain and lose most noticeably in my face.  I don't know if you think so...but that's a BIG difference to me!!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Lessons learned...

So, I have been very silent about this subject, intentionally, for the last few months.  For many reasons, but most of all to be slow to speak, and quick to listen {to GOD}.  Another was just to heal, and to get past all of my initial knee jerk reactions.  But, after many tears, much prayer, tons of conversations, and most of all listening for God's still small voice...I am ready to speak.  Why?  Because God has always intended for us to share our pains and triumphs with others, in hopes that we can learn from each other.

The first week in March, our lives changed as we knew it.  We left a church that the largest part of our ministry lives were spent in.  Our first 2 children were born into this church and was all they had ever known up until this point.  This was the first church in our ministry career that allowed us to so clearly see that our ministry was primarily to people far from God and not just to the people who already had a home in heaven.  We were leaving a church that our entire lives, hearts, and souls had been poured into...

I won't spend time talking about how it happened, why it happened, or anything of the sort.  But, what I do want to speak on is how it felt, what we went through, and what that means for us now.

In the beginning, I felt mad, scared, abandoned, alone, furious and so many more things.  The hardest part was being a mom to two young boys that couldn't understand why we weren't going to "our church" anymore. It was obviously especially hard for Caleb to understand and deal with.  He had so many adults and kids that were like family to him.  People who he saw every week, sometimes multiple times a week and that all changed in a matter of days.

It was also insanely hard being 35 weeks pregnant and losing pretty much our entire support system.  All of the sudden, realizing that all these relationships that I had, and thought I would have there to celebrate and support us in this new baby entering our lives, were now gone.  I was so sad that Cali wouldn't have the same relationships surrounding her that they boys did when they entered this world.  As I sit here and write this, that reality still brings me to tears.  These were the people who had dreamed with me, prayed with me, and celebrated with me when we found out we were having our precious Cali Grace.  I was so confused by the lack of people reaching out in the days, weeks, and months after this change.  It was so sad facing the fact that things were now going to be different.  And, THEY WERE.  When Cali was born it was so hard to keep the harsh reality out of my mind that I wouldn't be going to "our church" and show her off to all the people who had been awaiting her arrival with us.  It was so hard to stay strong in the beginning.  Sometimes, I just wasn't.  I couldn't be.  But then...I heard that still small voice...God's gentle nudges reminding me that HE was there, HE had created this precious girl, and HE was rejoicing with us.  Regardless of the relationships that failed to continue after Robbie's job change, my relationship with Him was even stronger than it had ever been.

Through the last 3 months of dealing with the hurt, confusion, and tons of transition God has continually reminded me of a couple things (Most of the time through music, it's really cool that this is how God chooses to speak to me time and time again.  It was through a song that the Holy Spirit compelled me to give my life to him, and now through songs that God continues to teach me and sustain me through tough situations.  This is one of the biggest reasons I am so passionate about worship through song.)

HIS love NEVER fails! "Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me."
Although, through our situation I felt like people had "failed me" in a way, or at least didn't know how to sustain their love for me after leaving our church...God's love had never failed, was not currently failing, and will never fail me in the future.  Our present situations may change, people may come in and out of our lives, but God's love is constant and never changing.  He is always there with arms wide open.  And His love is PERFECT!  How insanely comforting is that!?!?

God has HUGE plans for us!  "Greater things have yet to come, greater things are still to be done..."
  God had allowed us to be a part of some really cool things at NLC over the years.  BUT, just because our time there had ended didn't mean God's plans had ended.  HE has constantly reminded me that His plans are so much greater than ours.  He has HUGE plans for us that He has just started to unfold.  There are greater things to come, and I must never forget that!

Here is what I want you to know after reading this...
Our situation has been insanely painful, confusing, agonizing, lonely...BUT, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  We can come out on the other side of this thing.  We have only begun to start to see that, but its there.  God has a plan and will continue to heal us.  There are some amazing people that God has placed in our lives and we are so very thankful for them!  We have grown closer to a couple of people through this (we love you Sam and Mo!), and we are starting to build some amazing new relationships through the church family God has allowed us to be a part of now.  I am so excited about where God is now taking us, and so excited to see us move on from here.  I am so thankful that God's work in us and through us is not done, just changing and becoming greater.  I am humbled and in awe to be able to watch his hand in our lives.

Thank you God for never letting me go, even in the moments of complete despair.  Thank you God for so quickly giving us a new mission.  AND thank you for how I know you will continue to bring joy and growth to our family's life!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Dear baby girl,

Dear sweet baby girl,
I have dreamt of this my entire life. This time where I would be growing a sweet little girl inside of my stomach. Dreamt of buying all of these sweet pink girly things. Since I was a little girl I have prayed for you. Prayed that one day God would bless me with a daughter. I am so excited to meet you I can hardly stand it. The thought of what is to come excites and scares me. I pray that God will guide our steps as we raise you and you will always know how much you are loved and wanted. God is knitting you together in my womb as I write this and already knows the plans he has for your life. I have desperately wanted you for a long time and hope that you know your entire life how much your mommy and daddy will cherish you!

"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well." -Psalm 139:13-14

I love you baby girl, and can't wait to meet you and see you grow into the woman that God wants you to be!


Saturday, November 12, 2011

The desire of my heart...

So here is the deal, I have 2 amazing little boys that call me Mommy! Carson, who will soon be 2 and Caleb, who will soon be FOUR, wow 4! Anyway, I have always wanted to have at least one child of each sex and especially have always had a deep desire within me from the time I was a little girl to have a daughter. SO, after have 2 precious boys that I absolutely adore, and who adore their Mommy I might add ;), I wanted to try one last time to have a girl. I say one last time because it took a little convincing of my husband to even go past 2 kids. He was raised in a family of 4 kids and it was a little stressful and hectic at times, so he has never wanted to have 4 or more children.
After trying for over a year to conceive with Caleb, and then surprisingly conceiving Carson with NO "trying" when Caleb was 16 months old, we were determined to plan this one. So, since our boys are 2 years and one day apart, I really wanted our third child to be close to that so he or she could grow up close to them as well. I went off of birth control in June of this year, AND we did a lot of reading up on supposedly how you can do certain things to help you conceive a girl. NO weirdos, its not positions or anything crazy like that. Just has to do with when and how often you do the jig around when you are supposed to be ovulating. (yes, I said "the jig" lol) So, when the time came around to take a pregnancy test, its usually around 14 days after you ovulate, I took a test, and to my disappointment, NOT PREGNANT. I was a little sad, but it was the first month we tried, so I knew that we could keep trying, no big deal. But, the weird part was I just felt pregnant. Robbie kept telling me it was just me wanting myself to be pregnant and overthinking it so it made me a hypochondriac. ;) But I knew something just wasn't right. So, in secret I went and bought more pregnancy tests. Yes, in secret because those things are expensive and I know Robbie didn't want me spending anymore money on them. I took them a few days after the first and still nothing. So, at that point I started to tell myself that I really just wasn't pregnant this time. But the next week, I just still could not shake this feeling of "feeling pregnant"...so crazily I decided to buy tests one more time and this time I got the digital kind so there was no guessing on the lines. AND...
I WAS in fact pregnant. We later figured out at the doctor that I had just ovulated later than I thought. So, there goes all the "trying" for a girl out the window. All the stuff we did was now in vain, it actually was in God's hands. (as if it wasn't in God's hands all along!)
So we went when to the doctor when we thought I was eight and a half or 9 weeks along to have our pregnancy confirmed and check everything out. They always do an ultrasound to confirm and see how far along you are.
Here is our little peanut at 7 weeks! Already such a precious little miracle!
And so the pregnancy journey begun. I had already begun to experience nausea around 6 weeks, and it would wind up only lasting until 10 weeks!! Which was really awesome because with Caleb it last until 12 weeks and Carson 16. I was constantly dreaming about and praying for a daughter. Yes, I know at this point the sex was obviously already whatever it was going to be, but I still couldn't help but pray. I think it was more just conversations with God. "God, surely you will give me the desires of my heart. I already have 2 beautiful boys that I love with all of my heart. Please bless me with a little girl." And other prayers, "God, please let me be ok and happy with whatever the sex of this baby is. Every child is a gift from you." "God, please just let this baby be healthy, and let me be ok if its not."
So, I wound up changing doctors and when I got to my new doctor she kept going by my last period for my due date, instead of the due date from the ultrasound I had gotten at my other doctor. She kept saying I was further along than I was. I kept trying to correct her but I guess she just kept forgetting. So when I was 15 weeks, almost 16 I was in for a checkup and I knew we would probably schedule my ultrasound while I was there for around 18 weeks which would have been at least a little over 2 more weeks. BUT, she was still going by the wrong due date thinking I was 17 weeks. So, she said well let's schedule your ultrasound for next week since you will be 18 weeks along. My mouth was shut! haha, I knew I was only going to be about 16 and a half weeks when I had the ultrasound, but I knew it was completely possible to find out the sex via ultrasound at that point in the pregnancy. I was getting to have my ultrasound 2 weeks earlier than I expected. I was elated!!!
Those next 7 or 8 days until the ultrasound were so hard. I would lay awake at night just wondering whether I had a little girl or boy inside of me. Every time I tried to picture this baby being a boy I just couldn't do it for some reason. So, that gave me major anxiety. Knowing that statistically we were most likely having another boy and I couldn't even picture having another boy in my mind was a hard pill to swallow.
So the day comes, October 28th, the day I will get to see my baby moving around on a T.V. screen. See that sweet little profile, see the hearbeat, and find out the sex of my baby. I made it at 9:30 in the morning so I wouldn't have to wait all day, I had already done enough waiting. We are driving to the appointment and Robbie keeps telling me that I have to be ok if its a boy because it probably is. I tell him to just be quiet and let me deal with it when I find out for sure. ;) We get back to the room, we have both of our boys. So, of course my curious little 3 year old is asking all sorts of questions. On one hand it is helping lighten the mood, and on the other hand I just want him to be quiet so I can concentrate on holding myself together. The lady gets our baby on the screen, shows us the head/profile, everything looks good. Shows us the heart, everything looks good. Shows us the spine and organs, everything looks good. Then she gets down to the butt and the baby is moving like crazy. So everytime she comes close to seeing, the baby moves again. Robbie and I both think we see a penis twice and I said out loud, oh its a boy isn't it. She stays quiet, as I am sure they are trained to do, until she knows for sure what she is seeing. She then finally gets a good shot, looks over at me and says..."Well, SHE doesn't have a penis!" I immediately burst into tears, can't believe what I just heard, and I say "Are you sure?". In fact, she is sure. She shows us her girl parts and types out Princess on the screen. At, this point Robbie is crying too, YES, my husband who doesn't cry over ANYTHING!
Here she is, our precious little girl! I told Robbie over and over, I TOLD YOU! I knew there was a reason I couldn't picture having a boy, it was because I had this sweet little girl growing inside of me. God had seen fit to answer the desires of my heart. We will be having a little girl in our family, due April 9th. Cali Grace McLaughlin. I was so beside myself that day and still am. Not only has God blessed us with a healthy baby, but a baby GIRL! I still can't get over being able to say SHE and HER. I love to talk about HER moving around in my tummy! Oh how blessed we are!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Caleb's Swim Lessons

Caleb got to take swim lessons in April. It is usually a 4 week session, but because Easter is in April they just did a3week session. I have been meaning to sign him up for a while and the swim season started getting closer and closer, soI figured it was probably time. I have always loved to swim, from an early age and was actually on competitive swim teams in Middle school and high school, so it is really important for me that my kids learn how to swim and have a chance to develop a love for swimming.
Caleb already proved to us last summer that he is a little fish that loves to swim, so I knew that he would do great with swim lessons already being comfortable around the water. He was excited about his first swim lesson and was a ready and willing participantjust as I thought he would be. His fellow classmates on the other hand were another story....there was one other little girl that was totally fine just like Caleb, but the other kids were screaming bloody murder.haha. Caleb was fine for the whole lesson, but there was one point where I had to reassure him that everything was ok, because the other kids screaming and crying were starting to scare him.
I was so proud of him and how great he did. I won't say anything else because the pictures speak for themselves...

Monday, March 14, 2011

My best frand! ;)

Ok, so here's the deal. I am a pretty emotional and sentimental person, ok maybe really sentimental and emotional...BUT, I don't really like to show that side of me a lot, except with my poor husband! ;) Today, is my chance to be sentimental and emotional with all of you...for a good reason! I am so blessed to have an awesome friend, so awesome that I wanted my blog post today to be about her. Our friendship is kind of funny, we have known each other for several years now and really have only started to get close over the last 6 months or so. But, I guess good things come in cool timing sometimes! Kirsten is one of the most giving people I know. Will give up her own chance to do something she likes just so you can do it, will spend her last penny on somebody else just because she loves to do for others, and will spend all of her time serving other people just because she allows God to use her like that! I am in awe of her kids, the incredibly godly and humble kids that she and her husband Kevin have raised, and love them just as much as I do her! I just wanted to say that she is one of those friends that make you want to be a better person and make you feel privileged to just be a part of their lives! I am so thankful for our friendship...

That is all! =)