August 28, 2011

Dear Jude :: 5 months old

My sweet boy Jude,

Does it still count if I say that EVERY month is just the best ever?  But really, this month was the best.  So much fun!

And talk about milestones!  You have grown so much this month.  You are now VERY interested in everything we are doing, at eating. :-)  You grab at our dinner plates and glasses trying to get a bit for yourself.  You laugh and giggle all the time and are now enjoying peek-a-boo! 

You are rolling over both ways, although you are rolling over back-to-belly way more.  Who would have thought?!?  The baby who LOATHED tummy time is now a tummy sleeper.  I would not have guessed in a million years.

You are also sitting up pretty much on your own!  You are a little wobbly, but you can sit on your own for a good few minutes before toppling over.

You started baby food this month.  I've loved making your food for you and you sure do love eating your food!  You yell out in joy before each bite and haven't found a food you didn't like.  So far it has been rice cereal, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and avocado.  All homemade with love by your mama. :-)  You are still only breastfed aside from the new solids.  And lately the deal is grabbing at mama's face the entire time you are eating.

You absolutely LOVE your daddy.  He is the light of your life, and I love to see it.  You are all squeals and smiles when he comes home and you just love to play "blast-off" or "super-baby" or "airplane" with daddy. 

And you are a GOOF ball.  You love "talking" and doing things just to get a reaction out of your daddy and me.  I can tell you're going to be a little comedian.  

You are sleeping much better these days.  Bed-time is still 7:30pm and you'll sleep until about 3-5am, wake for a feeding, then right back to bed until 7:30ish.  This is due largely to the fact that you can now find the paci and put it in your mouth ALL BY YOURSELF!!  No more screaming at night waiting for Mama to put it in a zillion times.  You are getting to be more independent!  I know it won't be long before you will do the whole 12 hour stretch.  Your mama can't WAIT for that day! :-)

You are so much fun and the sweetest boy ever.  It continues to be my pure joy to spend every day with you.  I can't wait to see what the next month holds.

Lots of kisses,


August 27, 2011

The days to come.

Lord, give me your strength and help me to conduct myself with dignity.  Help me to surrender it all to you, so I can laugh at the days to come, knowing that it is in your hands.
* * * * * * * * * *
Yes, I have been MIA lately.  I had a grant due earlier this week and it is DONE {praise the Lord}!  I need to write more {remember, writing is therapy}.  Not to mention my little man will be 5 MONTHS on Sunday.  Oye!  

Hope everyone is having a wonderful Saturday.

August 22, 2011

August memories.

Far too many summers have gone by without me digging my feet into the sand and walking in the waves.  Not this one!  I really have no excuse, living in West Michigan within an hour of a few beaches.  But of course, in previous years work always seemed to get in the way.

Hubby and I decided to take our sabbath at the beach this weekend.  Call it an extension of our anniversary weekend. :-)  But the fresh air and waves were much needed. 

Trying out the Ergo for the first time.  We decided he might not be big enough for it yet.  Either that or we're doing it wrong - he looks kinda squished!

Picnic @ the beach.

Walking the pier.

Little pumpkin face.
He fell asleep shortly after this... treasuring these moments. :-)

I love making new memories with our little family.  It was SO nice to get out and enjoy the fresh air.  We told ourselves we would do this more often.

What plans do you have to squeeze in this summer yet?

August 19, 2011

A day that changed everything.

5 years ago today I woke up with my heart full of anticipation and excitement.  Much to my surprise, I still slept well the night before {thanks be to God!}.  But August 19, 2006 would be the day my heart would become one with the man I love.

I remember on my way to the church, stopping by a Walgreens to pick up some extra bobby-pins and hair-spray.  Using my credit card, I signed my maiden name for the last time.  Such an odd feeling.  But I was thrilled to start a new family... and truly, to grow our existing families.  I am SO SO SO blessed... and thankful to have had YOU to call family for the past 5 years.

Our story started as friends until a mission trip building habitat houses gave each of us a deeper look at each others hearts.  And we knew that we wouldn't be the same.  We dated for 11 months before becoming engaged, and were married 6 months later.  I was 21.  Looking back, it sounds so rushed... but sometimes love does that to you.  I know today I wouldn't have done it any other way.

It is funny how when you have something GOOD... something God-given and full of truth and love... how Satan tries to taint it.  Our first year of marriage was HARD.  We'll tell that to anyone.  There is nothing like marriage to show you your own selfishness and sin.  It is something you must fight for.  And fight we have.  We need to decide daily to stop fighting each other {reminding each other I am not your enemy}, and in turn fight for oneness in our marriage.  Fight for Christ-centeredness.  Fight against worldliness and the MANY things that try to devalue marriage.  No, we will fight for US until the day we die.

And there is NO ONE ELSE I'd rather be on this journey with.  I have to say this past year I have seen more than any other year what an amazing, Godly man I have married.  He put me first time and time again when I was pregnant.  Served me hand and foot.  Drove around town to buy me food I could tolerate (and went to fetch me McFlurries on multiple occasions).  He always offers to get up to get me a glass of water or make me a cup of tea.  He does the laundry and dishes without asking.  He loves his little boy more than anything.  {P.S. How attractive is a man caring for their baby??}

And he loves me unconditionally.  Good and bad.  Messy.  Unorganized.  Sometimes emotional.  Me.

The wonderful girls we shared our day with.

The best wedding reception ever {in my opinion} as friends and family provided the entertainment.  Love love love.

Happy 5 years babe. 

August 15, 2011

Guest post from the best.

Hi friends.  Meet my sister and brother-in-law, Krista and Ben Beukema.

You may remember my post a couple months ago about them following God's call for them to become missionaries in Jamaica.  Well, today they are here as my guests to post a bit about their story.  I hope you will all be welcoming to them. :-)  And do yourself a favor and watch their AWESOME video at the end.  Powerful stuff. 

* * * * * * * * * * * * *  
Have you ever had one of those moments when you look back and realized that God has been preparing you for something? Over the past year that my wife Krista and I have spent in Knoxville has been one of the best years we could have ever asked for. We found a church that we absolutely love and is doing great things for the kingdom and through that church God has challenged us personally to do something crazy for him.
This story really begins almost 10 years ago. For those who don’t know Krista and I started dating back in high school when she was a freshman and I was a sophomore. During spring break her freshman year Krista took a mission trip that would change her life forever and through her, mine as well. Krista went to a small village in the mountains of Jamaica. She visited a deaf school and knew from that moment that she needed to reach out, teach, and minister to the deaf. Her passion lead me there the next year and for years after that. For Krista is was more than just a great place to go on a mission trip. It was her life calling. When she finished High School she went to college to get a degree in deaf education. After college we got married and Krista ended up taking a job at the Tennessee School for the Deaf in Knoxville. If she didn’t take that job then we wouldn’t have found our church, Faith Promise, and we might not have been as open to mission work. It’s crazy how things work out.

There is more to the story than I’ll share here but more importantly I want to share the why about why we are going. The Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf is a wonderful organization that reaches out to a lost people group who otherwise wouldn’t have an education, a future, and a faith. CCCD gives a free education for rural deaf kids in Jamaica. They teach them a language (sign language) and more importantly they teach them about Jesus. To be a part of what they are doing in Jamaica is exciting and even though we have a long road ahead of us we can feel God’s hand in all of it.

We are inviting people to become a part of our Journey. We would love it if you would consider partnering with us. For more information please visit our website at For more information on the Caribbean Christian for the Deaf visit

In Christ,

Ben Beukema

August 14, 2011

Link love.

I've been doing a lot of reading lately.  Real reading, yes, I read books - or rather, the Kindle. {which I LOVE}.  But I have also been finding a lot of fabulous blogs out there.  Blogs from women who encourage and inspire other women in their faith, mommy-hood, and marriage.  This week I have been SO encouraged simply by reading the thoughts and stories of other women like me.

So I feel compelled to share the love.  I think I might do this every weekend.  We'll call it link love.  I'm just going to post a few of my favorites from the past week {although some were posted earlier in the month}.  Check these awesome women out.

Jana @ Bengali Mama :: LOVE this girl's heart.  And I'm privileged to know her in real life! I love her post this week titled Your Roots Are Showing.  She has such an eloquent and REAL way with words... and she bares her heart.  Her genuine rawness is a breath of fresh air.  Love her!

Jessica @ Naptime Diaries :: She posted earlier this month about being aware of what comes out of our mouths... and blogs {facebook posts, etc} on her post 1% change, out of the overflow.  A VERY good reminder that "out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks".  I also love her 1% change idea.  Baby steps... little changes to over time result in life change.  LOVE it.  And inspired by her, my 1% change?  Read my Bible, however much or little, at least once a day.  To center and focus my day on the Lord.  All seems better when this happens.

Courtney @ LoveLove ::  She is real about how God is our #1 priority over any relationship... and how sometimes that means things for relationships that we don't always like or understand.  Check out her post, From my heart (and my iphone) to my keyboard.  It was super refreshing to me.

Jenna @ Jenna's Everything Blog :: Just like her blog says, this girl writes about everything. :-)  Our parents were friends and she was probably one of my first friends in life!  However, we did not grow up together, so it has been fun to kind of fun to get to know her via blog the past few months.  This girl makes a mean warm salad in Warm Roasted Potato and Green Bean Salad.  I fully intend to try this out sooner than later.

There you have it.  Check 'em out. :-) You won't regret it!

P.S.  If you haven't noticed, I've rearranged things a bit around here.  I love me a blog makeover.

August 12, 2011

My big baby.

My sweet baby is growing up.  Rolling all over the place, laughing, smiling, jabbering away, and now eating RICE CEREAL!! 

He's so big.  And so so sweet. 

I think he likes it. :-)

{nevermind the gross sound of Macy eating in the background}

Love you Bubba.

August 11, 2011

When you're running on empty...

I'm sure we all have these days... or weeks.  Where you feel like you're running in circles, going nowhere fast.  That's me this week.  So, I have decided today, just to stop.  Stop running.  And just sit and be.

Jude has been sleeping better. {Praise God}.  Me?  Well... not so much.  Remember my goal to go to bed by 10pm?  Not the problem really.  The problem is once my head hits the pillow.  If only I could sleep like my husband, who starts breathing heavily pretty much once the lights are out.  I try not to get bitter.  But the past 4-5 nights my brain is in over-active mode.  Will. Not. Stop. Thinking.  The last 4-5 nights I haven't slept at all before Jude's first feeding (around 1am these days).  

I've been trying to figure it out.  I do have a lot on my mind... maybe I need to journal it all out before bed?  Maybe I need to start refusing caffeine after a certain time (although the glass of tea in the evening hardly has enough to do anything... right?).  But then I remembered the second part of my goal.  Goal #2:  Wake up earlier to read my Bible.  I have to admit that I have utterly FAILED at this goal.  In fact - today I not only slept in until Jude got up, I also took nap #1 with Jude.  This in and of itself isn't bad.  But it suddenly hit me.  I made a goal to spend more time with God... and SUDDENLY my sleep has been so horrible that I have found an "excuse" not to do that. 

I'm wondering if this is a spiritual thing.  The battle that is so very real.  That truth hit me like a ton of bricks.  So I stopped everything.  The dishes can wait.  The laundry will still be there when I'm done.  I need to make time to get in God's word even though I'm exhausted.  Running on empty.  Missed my early wake up.  Whatever.  This is important.  I'm not going to let Satan/exhaustion interfere.  It is time for me to get a bit aggressive over my time with God.  Because, without that - I feel completely empty.  There is a reason we feel this way when we try to do it all ourselves.  Because we can't.  We weren't created to.

At church we have LTG's.  Life Transformation Groups.  It is a group of 2-3 people who meet weekly to hold each other accountable and study the word together.  I am SO GLAD our church values accountability and discipleship.  I need it.  I'm in a group with two other ladies that are also in our small group.  We are going through a Max Lucado book together, A Love Worth Giving. 

Today's reading was about envy {love does not envy}.  It talked about surrendering whatever worldly thing has captured our desires in pursuit of Him.  It said that God's authentic love is complete.  Trying to live apart from God's love is empty, exhausting, and draining.  I made a little note, saying, If I am feeling this way... chances are I am not allowing myself to be filled by Him.

BAM!  Spot on.

I have had a lot on my mind and heart lately.  Being a mama will do that to ya.  But I am confessing here and now that I haven't given it up.  I am clinging tightly to my own devices to try and "figure it out".  That is only a downward spiral of confusion, frustration, emptiness. 

So - while still holding onto my goal {using that term loosely here} of going to bed early and waking up early, more importantly I need to find just 10-15 minutes a day to center myself on Christ.  Surrender my day to him.  Let him fill me.  Worship just for a minute or two.  I have that much time at least.  It is so easy to get caught up in life and being busy and forget who we claim to live for.  I know I have.  But I can't function apart from him.  I've just made that perfectly clear. 

So - mini challenge/question.  How do you make sure you are centered on Christ every day?  What is it in your day that allows you to be filled with him?  I know a lot of you are busy mama's as well.  Please share in the comments.  Then we can all read and be encouraged. :-)

* * * * * * * * * *

On a less heavy and personal note, here is what today looked like.

G'morning sunshine!

Getting ready to try rice cereal for the first time!
As you can see it was a huge hit. ;-) *Video to come later.
It was too nice not to get some fresh air.

A bit of tummy time.
Best picture fail ever.
My sweet boy.

August 8, 2011

One of those days.

It has been one of those days.

Scratch that... it has been one of those nights AND days.  My sweet boy who used to get up for a 3am feeding has now decided that 1am is a better time.  And last night decided that 1am, 3:30am, and 6am were good times.  I haven't woken up more than twice in a night since he was about 2 months old!

Who knows why he has been waking up.  There are tons of theories and more than enough people saying what you should and should not do as a mama.  I should start feeding him rice cereal to fill his belly.  I should not nurse him to sleep.  I should start sleep training and letting him cry it out.  I should not let him become dependent on the paci {too late}.  They always have something to say.  You know, them.  But in all the millions of sleep and baby books I've read, I came across one piece of advice that I have clung to. {Sorry - I can't remember where I read it to reference... if I remember I will post.}  My truth to live by:  You don't need to fix what isn't broken.  And it isn't broken unless I say it's broken.  So - even though they all say I shouldn't let him have his paci or I shouldn't nurse him to sleep, if I don't see it as a problem - it isn't.  So, my son still sleeps with a paci and I will get up every once in awhile to pop it back in.  I still nurse my son to sleep at night... and on days like today when he just needs some extra love.  I don't care about the criticism.  It doesn't bother me.  And all I know is that he needs me.

Proverbs 31:15
She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household...

So, today I find myself using the eye drops for my dry, red, eyes and apologizing to my sweet boy for being so out of touch.  These out-of-sync days and nights are going to happen.  I feel that I am on the road to creating some bad habits that need to be nipped in the bud.  Habits like...
  1. Staying up late doing pointless very important things {like facebook... reading blogs... catching up on my pile of magazines that I haven't had time to touch}. 
  2. Dragging my feet in the morning.  Waking up only when Jude wakes up and not making the time to read my Bible, exercise, or have alone time.
  3. Putting too many things on my "to-do" list.  And then feeling guilty and out of it when I try to multi-task instead of focusing on my son.  Not sticking to a plan.
  4. Staying in my pajamas and not showering in 3 a couple days.  Makes it easy to stay lazy.
I can think of a bazillion other bad habits, but for my self-esteem, let's just stop at four.  The first step to change is acknowledging you have a problem, right?  These are a few things that I am recognizing as problems in my life.  It is directly effecting my energy, my motivation, and my time.  So - baby steps.  

This week my goal is to go to bed on time.  On time being 10pm or earlier.  And my other goal?  Wake up at 7am to read my Bible.  Jude doesn't usually wake up until 7:30, so this should give me 30 minutes of alone time.  Eventually I'd like to push that time back, but while I am still getting up at night with him, I need to make sure I am not sleep deprived.

I'll report back in a week and let you know how I did.  

What are some of your bad habits you would like to see change in?  
And what do you do to make sure you stay refreshed, energized, and ready to tackle the day?

August 7, 2011

Freeze this moment.

We had a such a pleasant, calm, relaxing Sunday afternoon.  Just lazy.  Isn't that what Sundays are for anyway?  Intentional nothingness.

Last night was a LATE night after Jordan's band played at Founders for their final show.  I haven't been out that late in a long time.  Not that I haven't been UP late... or frequently.  :-)  But it meant that today was for rest.

There was a moment of about 15 or 20 minutes when Jordan brought out his neglected acoustic guitar and entertained all of us with some of his talents.  He will just sit and play whatever comes to his heart.  He's good like that.

I think we were all a bit caught up in how good that felt.

This is pretty much what the afternoon looked like.  Jordan jamming, Jude rolling {and sucking on his now-wrinkled toes}, and me snapping away.  I've been self-teaching myself to try to take photos in manual mode.  I know our camera can take better pictures than I have been taking... and the reason is moi.  I'm not educated.  We have decided that, instead of paying someone every 3 or 6 months to take milestone photos of Jude, we are going to invest in a nicer lens for our Nikon D40 and take them ourselves.  Jordan has more expertise with the camera than I do, but I want to get to be better friends with it.  

It also has come to my attention that Jude is growing up VERY QUICKLY.  Like FAST.  SUPER fast.  Remember when I just gave birth, like, yesterday?  Well somehow he is now rolling and laughing and is slowly losing that baby-ish-ness and is turning into a little boy.  So, my goal?  Document.  Lots of pictures.  Lots and lots.  Daily pictures.  I won't post them all on here, but expect a lot more cute baby photo bombs.  I don't think anyone will mind. :-)

I'd love to see some of your favorite pics of your little ones.  Or your loved ones.  Or just your creative outlet.  I know there are closet readers out there who blog themselves.  I can't tell you how many people will randomly tell me "I read your blog."  And I'm shocked!!  I want to know who you are!  I write because I love to write.  I also write because I love to share life with other people.  That is you.  

So I am asking you to reveal yourself!  See that "follow" button on the side?  Click "Join this site".  Then I can know who you are and share the love.  

Believe it or not - I have a Google Reader list a mile long.  I do read your blogs... and don't comment enough, but I have resolved to do so.  This is just one more way to share life, encourage, and love on one another. 

August 6, 2011

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'.

In case you missed it in the 4 month update, Jude has learned a new trick.  We are quite proud of his tricks, but he doesn't quite understand our excitement yet.  Macy sure gets jealous though.  Especially because this latest trick is something SHE has never mastered.

Almost there!

And we've rolled over!!

"Why are you so excited???"

What a little bubba!!!

August 5, 2011

My mission.

I always knew that being a mama was a big job.  A LOT of responsibility.  Not always fun.  But always worth it.  I never anticipated how I would feel as a mama though.  I knew I would love my child, but this baby totally has my heart.  And ever since Jude has been born it has been SO impressed on me the importance of my role as his mama.

Not only is it my responsibility to essentially keep him alive... ya know... feed him, bathe him, change him, clothe him.  I have to teach him right from wrong... good from evil... how to behave and be polite.  I have to demonstrate love and respect.  I want to show him what a good marriage is and how a woman should be toward her husband {and Jordan will show him how to treat a lady!}.  It will be my job, more than any other, to show him Jesus Christ.  And it is just so impressed on me the weight of this job.  In a good way... I love it.  I have never felt so important than to have this role as Jude's mother.  I find myself on my knees constantly... praying for wisdom and grace. 

But being Christ to your own son... what does that look like?  It is always easy to show God's love to people outside your home.  At work, we talk about being the hands and feet of Christ to the people who come to the food pantry or who call for financial assistance because they are low-income.  But to Jude it is {and will continue to be as he grows up} being patient, kind, slow to anger, not selfish... today it looked like changing his diaper 3 times in a matter of 3 minutes... putting my "to-do" list aside to enjoy quality time playing on the floor... reading him books to prepare for nap time... wiping up his face after spitting up {and then changing my shirt because of course it missed the burp-cloth}... changing his sheets at 1am because he wet through... and again at 4am because nobody can sleep well in a nasty diaper... snuggling him after our morning feeding and chatting about our dreams... whispering sweet prayers for his future as he falls asleep in my arms at night... and praying under my breath for patience and strength on those nights we just don't get enough sleep.

I have been somewhat surprised to discover that my job as a mama is the hardest I have worked at a job ever.  Maybe because it is life and there is no "away from the office".  Maybe it is because my heart is so invested.  Because this is what God has meant for me to do in this season. 

But I love it.  I strive to give it my all.  In only 4 short months it is so amazingly clear to me how quickly these years will go by.  I don't want to miss any of it.

A lot of these thoughts have been spurred on by an article I read on John Pipers blog called Motherhood as a Mission Field.

It says,

Motherhood is a wonderful opportunity to live the gospel. Jim Elliot famously said, “He is no fool who gives up that which he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Motherhood provides you with an opportunity to lay down the things that you cannot keep on behalf of the people that you cannot lose. They are eternal souls, they are your children, they are your mission field.

Look at your children in faith, and see how many people will be ministered to by your ministering to them. How many people will your children know in their lives? How many grandchildren are represented in the faces around your table now?

Lay yourself down. Sacrifice yourself here, now. Cheerfully wipe the nose for the fiftieth time today. Make dinner again for the people who don’t like the green beans. Laugh when your plans are thwarted by a vomiting child. Lay yourself down for the people here with you, the people who annoy you, the people who get in your way, the people who take up so much of your time that you can’t read anymore. Rejoice in them. Sacrifice for them. Gain that which you cannot lose in them.

God loves the little offerings. Given in faith, that plate of PB&J’s will feed thousands. Given in faith, those presents on Christmas morning will bring delight to more children than you can count. Offered with thankfulness, your work at home is only the beginning. Your laundry pile, selflessly tackled daily, will be used in the hands of God to clothe many. Do not think that your work does not matter. In God’s hands, it will be broken, and broken, and broken again, until all who have need of it have eaten and are satisfied. And even then, there will be leftovers.

August 4, 2011

Drumroll please....

I'm not writing this to brag... okay, maybe a teeny bit, because I'm so excited.  Mainly because this doesn't come easy to me.  But... this morning I stepped on the scale and...

10 pounds UNDER my pre-preg weight... aka... my goal weight.

Yes, you read that right.  I remember after Jude was born I was thinking it would take 6 months to get back to my pre-preg weight.  Well, that took 2 months.  2 months later I dropped an additional 10lbs.  I am SO happy.  I feel like I always have one eye on the scale, because if I don't, it seriously tends to creep rather quickly!  It feels so nice to wear jeans that I haven't fit in in 2 years. 

What have I done?  I attribute it to breastfeeding and focusing on eating clean and natural.  I am not counting calories (stopped about 2 months ago), but eating lots and lots of veggies... and not many processed foods.  The CSA we joined has been a huge help.  I wonder if being dairy-free for the past 2 months has helped as well?

Who knows.  I just know I feel good and healthy.  I feel so much better when I am putting good nutritious food in my body.  The next step?  Exercise.  I walk most days with Jude (I estimate about 2-3 miles each day), but I need to get back on the yoga wagon.  I remember feeling so strong when I was doing yoga daily.  I found and it is my new favorite for exercising.  Perhaps that will be my August goal.  Getting one step closer to an all-around healthy lifestyle.  And perhaps a new goal weight to keep up the motivation.  :-)