Monthly Archives

August 2016

Encouragement, Love, Marriage

An Open Letter to the Military Spouse & Mama

 

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To my fellow military wives and mamas,

If this letter finds you, it means that you are in this unique season of life alongside me–married to your best friend, raising your family, but sharing your husband with the military.  It means that you didn’t just marry the man; you married his career, too.  I wanted to take a moment to talk about the real struggles and the real joy this lifestyle provides.  This letter is meant to encourage you on your journey, remind you of your strength, commiserate with your emotions, and highlight the all-too-forgotten group of women who stand ready alongside their husbands.

You didn’t choose this career path, but you chose this man.

Before Matthew and I even started dating, I imagined the man I would marry one day.  I imagined my life, my future.  I had it all planned out in my head.  One of the things I knew for sure about my future was that I would never ever marry a man in the military.  That’s what I told myself.  My father had been in the military, as well as my brother, and I saw that lifestyle, and I didn’t want any part of it.  I was sure I wasn’t strong enough for that kind of a commitment.  When Matthew came into my life, we were just teenagers.  We fell in love, and we fell hard.  When we got to the point in our relationship when we knew we would have a future–that we just had to be together–Matt had news.  He was joining the Coast Guard.  I can tell you, I spent sleepless nights battling with his decision, wondering whether I could really stand by him through this venture or if I even wanted to. . .  In the end, I chose him.  His love meant more to me than his choice of career.

To you, new (or soon-to-be) military spouse, if you are torn between your man and his choice to be in the military–choose your man.  Love conquers all.  No matter how insurmountable this lifestyle seems, no matter how scary all the changes may be; if you love him, you can make it through anything.

To you, seasoned military spouse, on the days you are weary from raising your children alone, on the days you are lonely because the bed is empty and you haven’t heard your husband’s voice in days, weeks, or months, on the days you feel as though you have nothing left to give, nothing left to sacrifice for this military lifestyle–remember your love.  Remember the love that drew you and your husband together.  Its because of that love that you can overcome the loneliness, find energy to engage with your children, and uncover that last bit of courage to get you through.

You didn’t want to move away from home, but you found a new “home.”

To you, military spouse, on the day that first moving truck was being packed-all your belongings being tucked away, and all your memories of the past with it–I know the feeling.  This day is one of the hardest days.  When you say goodbye to everything you have known and move on to the unknown.  Maybe your family is waving goodbye.  Maybe hugs are shared and tears shed. . .  Today, you will have to leave your family and your friends, and you’ll wonder how long it will be until you see them again.  This day will break your heart, but there will be many others like this.  After awhile, you won’t cry as long and your heart won’t ache forever.  In fact, ‘home,’ will take on an entirely new meaning.  Home will become wherever your husband’s job takes you; wherever you are together.  Wherever you build your life and grow your nest.

You dreaded the thought of leaving your family, but you gained a new “family.”

If there is one thing I learned through this military life, it is that-no matter what-we always have each other’s back.  Moving away from your family, friends and your ‘old life’ is hard.  Moving somewhere you know no one is even harder.  You have to learn to be bold, be brave and make new friends; because, those friends might just become family.  You have something in common with every military family–living a life of sacrifice, commitment, and transience.

You have become a strong, independent woman, but you need to relinquish a little control.

Becoming a military wife, and now a military mama, I have learned to be tough, resilient, strong, independent and in control–especially when it comes to raising our baby girl.  Oftentimes, as a military wife, you are used to taking the reins and being in charge.  Your husband comes home and is back to work alongside you, but you feel as though you know what the baby needs better than him, you know what to fix around the house, you know what the kids school and sports schedule is. . . But let me tell you, military wife, your husband wants to help.  Relinquish a little of that control; because, when your husband comes home, he wants to feel like he is still an integral part of his family, that he belongs, and that he is needed.  Let him help with the baby, show him what needs fixed around the house, and ask him if he’d like to drive the kids to sports practice.  It will do wonders for his confidence, self-esteem, and sense of belonging.

sean (1)

 

 

Encouragement, Monday Motivation

Unfailing Love

I like to start off my Mondays with a great thought, something to meditate on and live out during the week ahead.  It is so easy to dread Monday when we let ourselves get overwhelmed with to-do lists for the week, things we need to get done, places we need to go. . . I think it is so important to take a moment every day to find quiet time to read the Word, pray, meditate, and THINK.  Some of our best thoughts and greatest intentions are born in moments like this.

This week, I want to talk about God’s unfailing love-a love that sustains us and revives us-and praise, thankfulness for all that He has done.

O God, you are my God:
I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.
I have seen you in your sanctuary
and gazed upon your power and glory.
Your unfailing love is better than life itself;
how I praise you!
I will praise you as long as I live,
lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
You satisfy me more than the richest feast.
I will praise you with songs of joy.
Psalms 63:1-5

Have you ever just felt empty?  As if you spend all your time and energy pouring yourself into others that there is just nothing left?  I think as a mom, we probably all feel this way sometimes!  We pour ourselves into our children every hour of every day, we pour ourselves into our husbands, family, and friends as much as we can-oftentimes neglecting ourselves.  And when we come up dry, with nothing left inside us, we wonder what went wrong.  We feel empty and frazzled and weary and dry and parched. . .  The truth is, we need to be filling our hearts and lives with the unfailing love that God wants to give us.

I love how this psalm started out with the believer searching earnestly for God.  They were thirsting for and longing after Him.  They knew God, they had visited Him in His sanctuary.  They had a relationship with God, and they recognized their need for sustainment through His love.  Not only did they celebrate God’s love; they also saw the importance of praise.

Praise and worship is a by-product of an intimate relationship with God.  Satisfaction and fulfillment is a by-product of praise and an acceptance of God’s unfailing love in my life.  A heart in-tune to God will naturally want to praise and worship Him, and will be filled with His love.  Once we drink deeply of this love God offers, we then will have a love worth offering others, a heart full of praise, and a life of satisfaction and contentment.

If you are feeling empty, like you are at the end of your rope-like there is nothing left inside yourself for you or anyone else-I challenge you to reach out to the God who abundantly loves you.  The God who offers unfailing love.  Let His love fill you to the brim, and then some; because when you do, you will be overflowing with love and grace and goodness to give to others.

sean (1)

Baby, Favorites

4-5 Month Favorites for Baby

*This post contains affiliate links.  This means that if you choose to use these links, I may get a small commission for connecting you to the source.  I only share links to products I love and use, and that I believe will benefit you.  Thanks for supporting my little growing nest.*

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It’s time for another favorites post!  I decided to combine months 4 and 5 because not much changed between them, and the products we were using were relatively the same.  Avary did change a lot during these months, though!  I think the biggest change was that she started sitting up independently!  This definitely changed the way she played.  My little baby does not want to be a little baby, so any products and toys that allow her to play independently or be a “big girl,” she loves.

Chicco Bravo Trio Travel System, Lilla.  When we were registering for baby items when I was pregnant, I knew I wanted a travel system because of the convenience of them.  I also wanted something that was safe, good quality, but also affordable.  We love our Chicco travel system, and we purchased it in the Lilla print, which is gray with small little polka dots.  I think it is cute and definitely neutral enough to reuse for another baby.  Around 4 months, we started going on walks daily because the weather was gorgeous (not to mention Avary loves walks!), and I love love love my Chicco stroller!  It can be really windy where we live since we are by the ocean and the Chicco system is so adjustable, I can cover Avary completely with the canopies.  This is also great when she is napping!  If you’re looking for a travel system with a base, car seat and stroller–I highly recommend!

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Munchkin Fresh Food Feeder.  Avary started teething at 4 months old (crazy, I know!).  As a mama, when your baby starts teething, you really feel at a loss for how to help them!  I didn’t feel comfortable just pumping Tylenol into her-especially during the day-so I looked up some natural ways to help relieve her pain.  We had frozen teethers on hand, but she didn’t seem to like them.  I don’t think she liked holding that cold, frozen thing in her hand (poor baby!).  Nursing typically solved all problems, but while she was teething, the sucking was painful for her little gums!  I found the idea to make “breastmilk pops,” and she loved it!  All I did was freeze some breastmilk in an ice cube tray, pop it out and put it in our Munchkin fresh food feeder.  It helped to numb her gums and also gave her the comfort of mama’s milk!  The gripped ring on the feeder was large enough for her little hands to hold onto, so it was perfect. Look out for an upcoming post all about my baby teething essentials!

Baby Einstein Activity Jumper.  I couldn’t wait to try out Avary’s jumper with her!  I know a lot of babies love to bounce, and I was hoping she would, too.  Not only because it would help mama get another task or two done, but it is just so darn cute seeing a baby bounce away!!  Avary loves her Baby Einstein jumper, and it entertains her for quite some time.

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Fisher Price Shape Sorter Blocks.  Around 5 months old, we really started to notice that Avary was getting bored with her toys.  She just needed something new and a little more challenging!  We bought her this little block (super inexpensive!) and she loves it!  She obviously doesn’t know how to actually sort them-she will figure that out later-but she loves picking up the bucket and dumping them all out.  Also, we will stake them all up for her and she likes to knock them down.  These have definitely been one of her favorite toys lately.

Taggies blanket.  When we started transitioning Avary out of being swaddled (somewhere near the beginning of 4 months), we knew we wanted to replace the security of swaddling with a “lovey” item.  Someone had given us this blanket as a baby shower gift so we tried this first.  She LOVES it!  She loves having something soft to hold onto when she is falling asleep, and she loves rubbing the silky fabric tags.

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Fisher Price Smart Stages Laugh & Learn Puppy.  Avary loves this thing!  I don’t know if it is the fact that it sings (she loves music) or if it is the face (she loves toys/dolls with faces), but she laughs every single time we get it out.  It is also fun watching her try to find all the different buttons to press to play the music.

sean (1)

Encouragement, Monday Motivation

Monday Motivation: Living Loved

It’s Monday!!!  Isn’t it crazy how quickly the weeks pass by?  As a mama, the days are long and weeks and years are short!  Today I wanted to share with you another “Monday Motivation.”  If you are feeling a little empty and your past week was long and hard, if you need a little inspiration and motivation, hopefully you can find some truth within these ramblings.

I don’t know about you, but every time I spend quiet time with God, I leave feeling so refreshed, rejuvenated and on fire!  I feel God impress truth onto my heart and I want to share it.

What I love about the message of Jesus Christ is that it is completely and undeniably centered on love.  The theme of the Bible, of the life of Jesus, of our calling as believers is LOVE.

“Long before He laid down earth’s foundations,
He had us in mind,
had settled on us as the focus of his love,
to be made whole and holy by his love.
Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into His family
through Jesus Christ.
(What pleasure he took in planning this!)
He wanted us to enter into the celebration of
His lavish gift-giving
by the hand of His beloved Son.”
Ephesians 1:4-6 MSG

Wow. . . that love just blows me away.  Before I existed, before the world was even formed-we were on His mind.  We are the focus of His love.  And at the center of this love is the theme of adoption.  He chose to adopt us into His family.  The word adoption literally means ‘to choose.’  God’s love and acceptance of me as His child was not and is not dependent on who I am as a person (He had me in mind before I was a person), it is not dependent on what I have done or what I do (His love makes me whole and holy), and it is not dependent on where I have been or where I’m going (He has adopted me from an old, neglected life to a new, lavish life).  God’s love for me is a fierce, unselfish, holy, identity-giving, life-altering love!  God’s love is the very essence of adoption-to choose someone as your own, to love someone before you even know them and to give someone a new life and identity.

And with this knowledge, with this promise, I am able to live loved!  I can live in the overflow of God’s love for me.  I can live in the knowledge that I will never be neglected.  I have a Father who wants to pour blessings into my life, who wants to give me more than I can fathom, who wants to prove Himself holy in my life.  As I am the focus of His love, I can, in turn, love others well.  I can live wildly, freely, abundantly. . .

If you are living a tame, safe life and questioning your purpose and identity, if you are living as if you are an orphan instead of a child of the King, grab hold of God’s promise that you are on His mind, you are the focus of His love, and you are adopted into His family.  And start living, loved.

sean (1)

Encouragement, Monday Motivation

Monday Motivation: When You Face Troubled Waters

I wanted to start a little series on my blog called “Monday Motivation.”  (I know today is now Tuesday, but my computer has been on the fritz and I have to buy a new one!) My Monday Motivation series will feature a short, hopefully inspirational post about what I am learning in my quiet time with God.  It is kind of like a daily devotional!  I know that sometimes Mondays are hard, the start of a new week, the end of the weekend.  But Mondays are just that-a fresh start!  So this is to help your Monday get off on the right foot!

When troubles of any kind come your way,
consider it an opportunity for great joy.
For you know that when your faith is tested,
your endurance has a chance to grow.
So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed,
you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
James 1:2-4 NLT

None of us want to experience trouble, am I right?  None of us want to go through hard times.  It’s challenging, uncomfortable, difficult, hard. . . But to God, experiencing trouble is a lot like conditioning for a sport.  I’m sure we all have been watching the Olympics lately (Go #TeamUSA !).  We all know that those athletes didn’t just go out on their fields or arenas and just perform at the level we see, right?  Absolutely not!  They spent hours, days, weeks, and YEARS preparing for this ultimate challenge.  They spent this time conditioning their bodies-preparing it, getting it ready for the biggest event of their life.

If you have ever played a sport, you know that conditioning is not fun.  It is not fun, but it is absolutely necessary.  Conditioning is long and tiring and hard, but it develops endurance!  Without it, you would likely be unprepared and fail when the time of competition comes because you wouldn’t have the endurance necessary to complete the task.  Proper conditioning will go above and beyond what you will actually face.

In life, sometimes troubles come our way-our faith is tested, our resolve is shaken, our strength is weakened. . . While it is easy to think that troubles happen to make us fail, they happen to make us stronger.  Trouble comes to bolster our confidence in what God has done, to reveal the strength of our faith, to grow our resolve, to absolve our doubt. . . To cleanse us, to perfect us, to make us whole and complete, to give us the opportunity to experience great joy.

God sometimes takes us into troubled waters-
not to drown us,
but to cleanse us.
-Unknown

It is in the midst of trouble that our true selves our revealed to us.  When we are tested and pushed to the limits of what we think we are capable of handling, that is when we usually find another ounce or two of courage, motivation, inner strength, stamina, and the ability to go on.  Or if we find we are at the end of ourselves, that we have nothing left to give, that we are in over our heads, that we have no more strength to move on, let yourself be washed in the flood of God’s grace, love and protection that promises to make you whole and complete-even in your troubles.

When you face troubled waters, God will not let you drown, He will not leave you broken.  He will cleanse you, care for you, grow you, and make you complete.  Don’t be scared to face the waves today!

sean (1)