Friday, November 14, 2014

JUDAH CHARLES

I mean seriously it is November. And practially already the MIDDLE of November. How is that even possible? These last few months have flown right by it seems.

As of today I am 6 months pregnant! 24 weeks. Crazy town. I keep saying I want November and December to go slow (because I'm a freak about the holidays) and then once January comes, time can speed up again so we can hurry and meet our Judah boy in February!!

I realize I haven't actually blogged about the fact that we found out in October that we are having a boy, so....we are having a BOY!



Can not tell you how excited we all are. In a way I feel like I've known him for so long already. We've always known we'd name our next boy Judah (to praise) Charles (after my dad) so any time we talked about a 4th baby, we already referred to it as Judah. Even Asher has been saving his cars and clothes for Judah since he was like 4. 

The day we found out, the kids were out of school so they got to come with us. It was one of those days that will stay in my memory forever.  Like in my heart, I knew God promised me a boy, so when the ultrasound tech said "boy" it was like the best punch in the stomach you could get. Like, hit you in the face with God's goodness right then and there. Confirmation. His promises are true.
I cried. Just cause in that moment the knowledge of how much God loves us was so heavy on me. He was giving us our boy...our promise. And our boy was active and chubby (already) and perfect.

I've kicked myself just about every day for not being better about writing about this pregnancy. There are so many layers to it that I have processed and walked through and sometimes I wish I had written more about it along the way.  So many of you have followed me on this journey of motherhood since the beginning. I still get emails from other women who stumble across my blog and let me know how my words helped them or encouraged them. I want to still be able to do that. Because there isn't just the process of hoping through the loss and struggle, but there is also the process of holding on to that hope through the blessing too. 

Thats where I'm at now. Every day is a process and a choice to keep holding on to my faith and choosing not to fear. 

I feel like there is so much I could go in to, but I'm just going to leave it here for right now. I wanted to jump back in to my blog, but that first sort of akward "where've you been" post had to get out of the way. So here it is. Now lets move on shall we? I have so much I want to share. So much I want to document even for myself. Hope you'll stick around. Or come back. Or whatever.

As I type this, Mia is singing Let it Go as loud as she can in the living room, and Judah is kicking up a storm. Life is precious. I just want to encourage you to not lose hope. Even in the good. Burry your feet down deep inside it.

I'll be back with more. 
Love to you all. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

H A W A I I

Brandon and I got to spend some time in Hawaii a couple of weeks ago. A church we were once a part of when we lived there, has a conference each year so we decided to try and make it to this one. We also thought it'd be a good time to get away for our anniversary since we are coming up on our 10th one in November! We rarely really "celebrate" it in any big way because it usuaully falls on Thanksgiving. But we've always said we'd do something special for our 10th one.

We stayed at a hotel within walking distance to the beach. Visited and ate at all of our favorite spots. Hiked a huge cliff on one of our first days that I was pretty proud of myself for doing, being that this body of mine has barely seen any physical activity since I got pregnant and stopped running. Felt good to take this (then) 16+ week pregnant body of mine up a giant cliff and look back at what I had done. That was probably one of my favorite memories from our trip. I was just glad I still had it in me.

Also, the one night we walked to dinner, stopped at the Cheesecake Factory on our way back to the hotel and then laid in bed watching movies for the night. That was my favorite too. I mean yeah the beaches and beauty of Hawaii were amazing, but that cheesecake and that hotel bed?...heaven ;)

We went to the Dole Pineapple Factory just for the pineapple ice cream, visited our favorite beaches...spent one of the days driving around the entire island in a convertable, shopped, ate...then spent the last night there watching the sun go down. One of my favorite things to do and one of the most beautiful places to do it.

I'm so glad we were able to take this trip together. It was so special to go back to the place where it all began for us 10 years ago and reflect on where we are now. Can't imagine what the next 10 years will bring but I feel like it's gonna be good.

..I have to say though, it is always nice to get away but even better to come home to your own bed...am I right? :)










 ((17 Weeks!))



xo,
Laura

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

{Hope Unswervingly} Baby #4!


"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful"
Hebrews 10:23

We are beyond excited to share that we are adding to this little family of ours!
Baby #4 is due March 6th 2015. I'm about 15 1/2 weeks along and it's been an uneventful, boring pregnancy just like I prayed for :) I am growing super fast and started showing early. I literally don't recognize my body each time I look in the mirror but I'm totally ok with that. I spent week 6 to 11 in what felt like hibernation...basically just sleeping and eating. Looking back now, in the middle of our currently busy lives, I'm so thankful I was able to do that. It was truly God's grace the way it all happened and in the time that it did. I feel like I was able to just rest and let my body grow this baby. I was really sick for those weeks but not one day passed that I didn't whisper the words "Thank you Lord for this healthy baby"

Bella kisses my tummy multiple times a day. Asher has taken on a whole new level of protectiveness over me...like insisting on pushing the cart when we go grocery shopping. I think it's beyond cute. Mia on the other hand has taken on a whole new level of clinginess. She's always been the baby, so talk of a new baby is apparently making her want to stake her claim for a little bit longer.
Brandon has been amazing as always. Picking up the slack wherever he can, running to the store for me at all hours..I think we all just feel an overwhelming amount of gratitude for this little baby and we don't take it for granted one bit. I'm thankful that although December was hard for all of us, it taught our kids the value for new life and how precious it is. 

I know many of you have followed our story from the beginning. Thank you for walking with us through it all. I can't wait to keep sharing this journey with you.

And if you are holding on to hope for something....don't let go.
He is faithful.








Thursday, July 10, 2014

Fancy Free

Oh hi.

Let's start by saying that I am laughing at myself right now because just two posts over I wrote something called "I will not let instagram eat my blog" and then I did. For like the whole month of June.

Where did June go ya'll?

I'll tell you where it went. To those two older kids of mine. I forgot that once those two are out of school, all regular life and responsibility and routine gets thrown out the window.  Instead its days of lazy mornings, slow coffee drinking while they tell me there dreams from the night before, a ton of coloring, days at the pool, afternoons in the backyard, popsicles, random mid-day baking, and a whole lot of attempts to keep the house picked up in the middle of it all.

I'm totally ok with it though. Where once I'd be grasping for some sort of control, I've found myself letting go more and more. It's funny, the more I do let go, the more free I feel.

At the risk of getting the Frozen sound track stuck in your head, those words really are so wise. Let it go. It's what God has been speaking to me for some time now and diving head first into the freedom of that has been so good to this weary soul of mine.

So I feel like this is a good time to finally share something else new I have started. That was a smooth transition huh? I realized I haven't yet shared it here and that not everyone has an instagram or follows me there. Shocking. Not really. But anyway, a few months ago, my sisters, mom and I started a clothing boutique called Fancy Free. What started as a conversation about how cool it would be to own an actual boutique, evolved into opening one online.

It's just fun clothes at afforable prices. I'd love for you to check out our website: here. You can read all about the name and where it came from, along with each of our roles and what we each do behind the scenes for Fancy Free. You can also follow along on instagram @fancyfreeshop.




This is my current favorite dress that we've got right now. It's super comfy with a bit of a boho vibe. Thats totally my style. There's other pieces too for basically every style I think. Thats the beauty of having 4 girls' opinions. You get a little bit of everything mixed into one. Also I went even shorter with my hair. Talk about letting go, now I can't stop. Haha!

I'll leave you with some peaks of our summer so far. Hope ya'll are doing well. Oh and hey, do you have an instagram? Leave me your handle in the comments so I can follow along and see what your up to this summer also.  I'm nosey like that ;)











xo,
Laura


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Changes & My Hair & Letting Go



So I'm going to try really hard not to turn a post about a haircut into something super deep, but I can't make any promises. 1) because it's me and 2) there really is more to my sudden decision to chop my hair than vanity. Although shoot, we all know it has something to do with it. I'm a girl after all. But still, it's deeper. 

I said it in my last post that there has been a lot of new things happening in our lives. Lots of changes. Usually when change is happening and new things are happening, and I change my hair it's because I'm feeling out of control of everything else. So I do something with what I can control. Does that make sense? If you look back on pictures of my life when something big was happening.. life changing, traumatic...my hair was some kind of different style.  

When I was pregnant with Grace, I cut my hair short. When we lost her, I cut it even shorter.  Over those couple of years I'd let it grow out a little then chop it again. Back and forth, back and forth. It was totally a reflection of how I was feeling inside. Completely out of control. Insecure in what was happening in my life. A lot of sadness mixed in with happiness too. I had Bella and then we lost Faith and then I had Mia. By the time I'd given birth to her my hair was super short again. 

That was 3 1/2 years ago and I haven't cut it short since. I told myself I would never ever cut my hair again. I tied short hair with feelings of loss and struggle and uncertainty and once I had Mia and this sense of intense relief came, I never wanted to go back there again. Never wanted to be that person again. 

I would have nightmares where I woke up with this heavy feeling of sadness I couldn't shake that I had cut my hair. I had no idea up until today how much my spirit and soul and emotions have been tied to my hair. Feeling out of control, feeling in control...

Then a few days ago as this shift in my spirit is happening and I'm feeling all of these new amazing, good things happening and a new season coming, I think to myself...I would love to cut my hair but I can't. 
But wait, why can't I?? And when I really started to think about the reasons why I felt like I couldn't, I realized what lies they all were. What control this has had over me. When we lost the baby in December I remember going through some of the hardest days right around Christmas and having to put on a happy face and a cute outfit and thinking, "good thing my hair still looks good.".... Hiding behind it like maybe all the junk my heart was feeling would just go away.

Of course it didn't. Not right away and not on it's own. These last few months God has been doing a major work on my heart. I feel like especially right now my focus has never been more clear. My confidence and security feels so solid. There are some things I'm unsure of right now, some things my heart cries out for, that I can't say for sure I'll have. But even still, I have never felt so strong. I don't feel in control and I don't feel out of control. I feel strong. 

And so the time just felt right.


I literally had to catch my breath the moment I felt the first cut. My hair laying in a pile on the floor. I was in shock as I left the salon. I got lost driving back home even though I've been there multiple times and even had to turn around 3 times. I found myself wandering Target picking up candle after candle trying to decide on the "cotton candy" or "lemond drop" scent in a complete daze. My phone going off every two seconds with my sisters and friends and mom asking me how I liked my hair. I didn't know. I mean yes, I liked my hair but I was trying to process how I felt because I didn't recognize how I felt. It was the strangest feeling...and then I realized, I had let it all go. All of those years of holding on, I had finally let it go. Laying there in the pile on the floor of the salon. 

Whether I've got long hair, or short hair, it doesn't matter.  Whether I feel out of control or in control, whether I think I know what my future holds or I don't, whether I've got a plan, or I don't...whether it does or it doesn't... I'm confident in one thing- I'll be ok. I won't be devoured, or consumed. And I will see the goodness of the Lord. I know this because I already have time and time again. 

Psalm 27:13
I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord

    in the land of the living.



Here are some extra shots of the cut for those who were asking on my instagram page. Which by the way blew me away by all of the amazing responses. Yall sure know how to make a girl feel good. Thank you! and if I could, I'd hug every one of you.



Also!! If you live in San Antonio and want an awesome hair girl, please go visit my girl Michele at Salon Vense. She also does my color (which is highlights on my naturally dark-ish brown hair for those who asked about my color) She's offering you 10% off a cut, or 20% off a cut & color if you tell her I sent you. 

P.S This post never had a chance to not be deep. I totes lied. My apologies. 
xoxo 
Laura 


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I will not let instagram eat my blog


The last few months, I've let myself get pretty lazy with the upkeep of my blog. Instagram has become my crutch. My easy way out. My fun little side thing that doesn't take much time and is quick and easy.

Truth is there are a TON of new things and lots of changes happening in our lives and when it comes to finding the time to write, I've sort of let it fall way down on my daily list. Like even under the part of my list that says "watch Law & Order SVU with Brandon until I can't keep my eyes open"

But I love to write. I really do. It's a release for me. I never started this blog with intentions of it becoming anything except expressing my heart and telling our stories. The fact that I've let so much go without writing about them makes me a little sad.

I mean sure, I've written so many stories in my head. While I'm running, or laying in bed at night, or the rare times I'm in a quiet car alone. I write stories. And I can feel that same nudge from when I started this blog 3 years ago saying "Tell them. Tell those stories"..
But how on earth could I write about that? How can I share that? It's too much! Too much for a blog!
Who is even still reading? Who really cares to? Anyone? Bueller?

And all I hear back is "Just Start."

If I'm truly living for an audience of one then all of those questions are already answered, right?
Right...
So I'm going to do that. I'm going to start telling my stories again.

Please don't think it will always be heavy cause I have plans on sharing my whole30 experience here and also another huge change that I'm making soon. Totally vain. Nothing big I swear ;) But still I'm excited to share them here. Cause seriously y'all, God is not asking me, or you or us to have it all together and perfected into a pretty little package with a bow on top with lots of really well said perfect words. He's just asking us to let him use us. Use those passions. Use those talents and interests.  So what are yours? I bet there's some way you can extend them a bit further and let God use them too.

If your still checking in on my blog, thank you. It has and will always be a blessing to me. I'm excited for this new chapter & season we are going into and I'm excited to tell the stories of them as we go.



Thursday, April 24, 2014

This Is Why












I had a conversation with someone a few weeks ago that I haven't been able to forget. She had just heard we lost our baby this past December and through a flood of words I know she wasn't processing through (a better word might be "filtering" through,) she said,

"Gosh, I think if I were you I would just give up. I'd just be content. I'd just...Stop."

It felt like someone sucker punched me in the stomach right at that moment. All these thoughts swarmed through my mind. Does she really think that? Do other people think that? Should I stop? Should I give up? Do people think I'm not content?? Why don't I just stop? Why don't I give up?

Right about that very moment Mia came running up to me and wrapped herself around my leg. I looked down at her, blinking tears away as quickly as I could and she just looked right back up at me and smiled. That girl. I just look at her and the love she has for me is intense. It's like a little peak straight into heaven. A reminder. 

And then all those ugly thoughts of doubt and fear...They stopped right then.
 "This is why."

This little life, this little girl... This is why. 

When we first met, Brandon asked me "How many kids do you want?" I'll never forget his face when he asked me or where we were. I can see it in my head so clearly still.

Without hesitation I answered, "Four."

"Me too"

There's too much to gain to not keep asking for, keep believing for, braving, and hoping for. Yes I know what loss and grief and sadness is. But I know what hope, and love and the gift that life is even more. I feel the precious heavy weight of it. I hold it in my arms every day. Lay my hands on its head at night as I pray, watch as it sings and twirls in the afternoon sun.
And I whisper these words to myself...

These 3.
This gift. This life.
This beautiful moment.
This is why.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Bella Grace at 5 Years Old


Last night I laid next to Bella in her little twin size bed as she fell back to sleep. I brushed her hair back and watched her breathing get heavier and I stared at her little face. Remembering that same profile as a little baby and memorizing how she is now. Sometimes I think I can stop time by just closing my eyes and freezing that moment in my mind. I closed my eyes and started thinking about all of the little things she does and says right now. How she's changed in her short little 5 years and how she's stayed the same.

She has this thing lately where she likes to give me the "I LOVE YOU" sign with her hand. I think it's the cutest, sweetest thing. At the most random times. In the middle of a busy afternoon, or just as I am putting her to sleep she'll throw it up with a big smile on her face. I give it back to her and she smiles even bigger. I think about little things like that and how one day she'll remember that she and her mom had that special thing they'd do.

The little freckle on the back of her arm that I've stared at since she was a tiny baby in my arms is fading. No one else would probably know it's there except me.

She's so fiercely affectionate, so deeply emotional and attached and loving...she doesn't know when to stop talking, she's super bossy, and so set in her ways, but Lord is she loving. Intensely loving. She's a note giver too. Little folded up construction paper and crayon love notes are scattered around our house. Rainbows and flowers and her family. I don't want to forget these things. I keep as many as I can, thinking of those days when she is old and grown and how I'll want to bring her back to 5 years old.

The thought seems so overwhelming and so I just try and stay. Right here and now. With my Bella Grace at 5 years old.



"Mom, I'm really into Asher today. He's just so cute!"

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Almond Butter Energy Bites


The last couple of weeks I've made it my intent to eat "cleaner"---meaning no bad carbs, no processed foods, no sugar... basically no junk. 

I typically eat pretty healthy and have always strived for an 80/20 diet of good/healthy food mixed with things I love like glazed croissants and ben & jerry's blueberry graham frozen greek yogurt (YUM!!) Because seriously what is life if you can't enjoy the things you love?! I don't restrict and I never use the word "diet"--- I don't believe in them. Because trust me peeps, been there done that on the extreme in my early twenties. I learned the hard way that that is not the way to go. 

I now believe whole heartedly in a lifestyle of moderation. And that is what I want to teach my kids, particularly my girls. I know how easy it was for me to get sucked into some unhealthy habits when it came to wanting to be "skinny" and as a mom to my girls it is one of my top priorities to teach them a life of balance. To love themselves, love their bodies and to do what they can to keep it healthy. Not skinny. Healthy. I don't run and eat clean to be skinny, but to be fit and healthy. There is a big difference and I believe that the way they will think about these things begins right here in our home, watching their mom. That's pressure, but it's also an honor. So I want to make sure to be mindful of their little eyes and ears and truly lead by example.

Ok so that all being said, back to my clean eating goals over the last 2 weeks. Here's the thing here folks... I gained a good 5 lbs from December to February through the hormone craziness of my miscarriage & also going from running a ton of miles a week, to running like, NO miles over Christmas. Also I can't deny my habit of needing to have something sweet while watching my shows with Brandon late at night.  It all sort of caught up to me and 5 lbs later I decided I had to tweak some things again to get back in line.  So, in an effort to face things with balance, I've found some healthier options for us. Including our very favorite at the moment. Almond Butter Energy Bites. I totally made up the name. You can call them anything you want. 

I found a few different recipes for "protein energy bites" on pinterest and sort of mixed them all up,  played with it myself and came up with this one. They are so good as a treat when I am wanting something sweet. Or even just a quick snack. I've made them so many times over the last couple of weeks because we eat them up so fast. 



1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup of almond butter 
1/4 c of mini chocolate chips (I started with 1/2 cup but I prefer less sweet so I only add about 1/4)
1/3 cup of honey
2 tbs of chia seeds (I like the crunch these add and they are SO good for you too so I sneak them in wherever I can these days) * you could also use flax seeds.

Mix it all up, roll into small bite size balls and store in the refrigerator. They are good right away but even better after they've been in the fridge a couple hours. Brandon loves them, I love them, the kids love them. It's a win-win.

Try them! I think you'll love them too.
& let me know if you do! 

xo, 
Laura 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

+N E W+ in the Splendor Shop


The shop is open with a ton of new pieces for Spring! I've been working my little booty off the last couple of months and could not be more excited to share it with you.  I've mixed some new & trendy pieces with vintage & handmade pieces. In my own personal style I love to mix little bit of old + a little bit of new and that is what you will find in the shop. 
Head over and check it out! Hope you find something you love! 


Use code FREESHIP for free shipping through Friday!

Here are a few of my favorites! 




xo, 
Laura 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

-She Who Is Brave-






I told myself if I ever did get a tattoo it would mean something. Like truly mean something. For the last two or so years I've played with the thought back and forth of getting one but nothing ever stuck. I'm a fickle person you know. I grow out of things and am constantly evolving. 
Ok that word makes me sound so much deeper than I am... Basically, I change my mind a lot.  

Knowing this about myself, I never could commit to a tattoo. Until last year when God started speaking the word--FREE--to me. And yes I know I've written about it a lot already, but when I first started hearing it, I didn't really get it. Like, "yeah the word free--great word. But what does it mean?"
"What does it meeeeaaaan?"

But the more I heard it, the more I began to get what it meant for me. And the more I walked through life these last few months, the more I really got it.  I had planned on getting this tattoo right after my half marathon this past November, but then we found out I was pregnant, and then we lost the baby. I don't think I really knew what the word meant for my life until I had to truly surrender to it all over again. 

To live free is to live brave. To take steps, chances and risks. To act, and to do, but to be still at the same time. To not worry, or rush, or stress. To do the things I've always wanted to do, but was afraid to because of fear of others, or fear of failing. To letting go of the flesh, and saying yes to the spirit and to faith, confidence, hope, strength and boldness.  


I love that to read it what it says, I have to hold my arm out. It makes me think of my arms open in surrender. It's how I want to live my life...in complete surrender to Him. Because that is truly only where freedom can be found. 

Dress: c/o  RiffRaff 
Get it Here



"Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom"
2 Corinthians 3:17 



Sunday, January 26, 2014

-ANCHORED- An Online Women's Bible Study





It all started in Family Christian Bookstore a few weeks back. I went looking for a new devotion to start for the new year. As I stood there staring at all of the options without a clue where to start, I prayed. I knew what God had been speaking to me and I knew the direction He was leading me, but I had no idea that this devotion would be a part of that. I just wanted something good to read with my coffee in the morning. So I prayed for Him to direct me to which one. I was hoping one would just stick out in the sea of options.

Then I saw a title that caught my eye and picked it up ..."What Happens When Women Say to Yes to God" by Lysa Terkeurst. Skimmed the back, read the first page and knew it was the one. I started it the very next day and went through the first few days before God stopped me with the idea of sharing it with other women. I've been asked before about the different books and devotionals that I read and I love sharing about them. In fact it is one of my favorite things to do.

So one afternoon, I found myself posting a picture on instagram inviting women to join me in an online study group of it. I had no idea what it would take to start or how to start, or even what to call it but I knew God was telling me to do it. I stood there with my finger on "publish" about to post the picture and told Brandon "everything in me is telling me not to do it."

And he said; "Then that probably means you should"

He knows me well. I was warring with my flesh that said 1) I have to have every detail figured out BEFORE I start and 2) that no one would be interested in joining.

After the first day of putting my feelers into the instagram world, I had about 50 women interested. And then 100. And now we are somewhere around 300 women who've joined the study either through the WomenAnchored Instagram or Facebook page.

Y'all, I was seriously just hoping for like 5 women.
I mean it's amazing what happens when your obedient isn't it?

But then I needed a name...If you know me, you know I'm big on words, so I didn't take naming this group lightly. I remembered that over the month of December, while dealing with the loss of our baby, I just kept hearing the word Hope, and what it means to be truly ANCHORED in it. In His word, His truth. Because Lord knows my emotions were up and down during that time, but deep down inside, at the root of everything I knew, I clung to hope and I never lost sight of it. Or of His love & plans that He has for me.

So, -Women Anchored- was born.

I have no idea where this women's group will go or what will become of it, but I know that right now & today, it's a group of women committed to studying together, learning, growing, inspiring, connecting, encouraging and empowering one another to live a life Anchored...steady, strong, and firm in God's truth.

It's not too late for you to join if you'd like! We are just on day 4, but I post a new "note" with key points from the days devotional each day on the Women Anchored Facebook page. You can keep up that way, or get yourself the book. Either one is fine by me! I just ask that you join in! Give some input, meet other women...it's all about growing together in Christ and connecting with one another! If you prefer to kinda sit on the back row, but still join, that's fine too! Just give me a little shout out somehow to let me know you're joining us and so that I can be praying for you :)

You can get the book on Amazon, download it on your iTunes, nook or kindle, or find it at Lifeway & Family Christian Bookstores. You can get the book itself if you like, but we are studying the actual "What Happens When Women Say Yes to God" devotional, so make sure you get that one too.

Hope you'll join us! I honestly feel like this is a study and group that will change and empower so many women!

Hope your having a happy Sunday. The weather here in Texas has been gorgeous this weekend!

xo,
Laura