Joel 2:25 "The Lord says, "I will give you back what you lost to the stripping locusts, the cutting locusts, the swarming locusts, and the hopping locusts..."
Avery had her ballet presentation of what she is learning today. She got to dress up in her Halloween costume and we got to sit and watch her twirl and jump. Maybe it's my pregnancy, but I was extra emotional. I had to keep myself from bawling the entire time. I knew if I let it go, my husband and the other parents would think I had lost my mind. It is after all just toddler ballet. But, to me it's so much more. It's a sign of God's graciousness and mercy in my life.
I didn't have the childhood my daughter has. I love my parents and God has given me such an understanding and forgiving attitude towards them. They had their own hurts and wounds they were dealing with. That didn't make for an easy, carefree childhood though. I always wanted something different for my family, but had no clue how to get it. Which is why it is completely overwhelming to be sitting in a ballet studio clapping along with my husband to my outgoing, confident three year old. God has a way of restoring all the years we have lost out on. It's hard to imagine when you are stuck in such pain from your past that you will be able to have something different. And it's not a fast, easy journey. There were days when I didn't think the pain and hurt would ever heal. Eventually it did and the old patterns of coping with life begin to be replaced with new, healthier ones.
One of the things I have learned about God is that He is in the business of restoration. He restores what sin and evil took away. Those years I missed out on having a family, God is restoring. He is such a good God who loves us and delights in the smallest details of our lives.
"Don't tear your clothing in your grief; instead tear your hearts. Return to the Lord your God for He is gracious and merciful. He is not easily angered. He is filled with kindness and is eager not to punish you." -Joel 2:13
Thursday, October 30, 2014
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
I eat a lot right now. And it's safe to say that this baby is not going to be a vegetarian because all I seem to want lately is meat. Before I got pregnant the only meat I ate was chicken and occasionally red meat. Occasionally means maybe once a month. Today I found myself eyeing a bologna sandwich at school so as you can see my taste buds have drastically changed during this pregnancy. As well as my aversion to processed food. It's completely gone, I finished a box of Cinnamon Life off for a snack today.
Breakfast has become incredibly important to me. Well every meal has, but we will stick with that one for now. I have to eat something substantial. And while I would love to eat the biscuits from McDonald's every day, I know that is not the healthiest option for the baby or my thighs.
I've played around with different combinations and finally found one I love. Thought I would share in case there were any other meat eating, ravenous Moms out there.
Two Scrambled Eggs
2 pieces of Bacon (I at least buy organic)
One piece of cheese
Put all those between two slices of toasted Ezekiel bread and you have one delicious breakfast sandwich.
Posted by Ashley Brown at 7:14 PM
Monday, October 27, 2014
This morning I was reading in Exodus and read the passage where God calls Moses to lead the Israelites out of slavery. Moses told God three times he couldn't do it.
"But Moses pleaded with the Lord, "O Lord, I'm just not a good speaker. I never have been, and I'm not now, even after you have spoken to me. I'm clumsy with words."(Exodus 4:10)
Even after God reassures Moses that God Himself will give him the words to say, Moses still doubts himself. It's comforting to me to know that God can use us in mighty ways in spite of our self doubt. I doubt myself all the time, especially now that I have a three year old. Where parenting once seemed relatively easy in terms of obedience, I struggle so much with this new phase. Am I correcting too much? To little? Do I spank more, spank less? I've read countless books, articles, opinions on parenting, but all the ideas vary and at times overwhelm me. I'm learning there is no cut and dry parenting technique that works for every single child. And maybe that's a good thing, because I have to realize how utterly helpless I am without the Lord showing me what to do and what to say.
And just like Moses, I feel clumsy. Not with words, but with parenting. I'm feeling my way around a world I've never been too before. No matter how much I've prepared I am consistently caught off guard. Like today when I picked Avery up and she told me she was going to marry a boy in her class and have two girls with him. Or yesterday when she called us both hot messes. Sometimes I don't even have a response.
All this self doubt is pushing me to rely on God's ability much more than my own. My own abilities don't seem to stand a chance with my determined, outgoing three year old. But God's do. After all, He is the one who fashioned that tiny human together. He knows what she needs to hear or what works best for her and I know He is willing to impart that wisdom to me anytime I come to Him. Parenting is not easy. I have a feeling it will be the hardest and most rewarding thing I ever do in my life, but it has become a great sanctifying tool to show me my desperate need for Jesus, His grace and His Spirit. I will never lead this child into her own promised land without them.
Posted by Ashley Brown at 1:40 PM
Saturday, October 25, 2014
We have had such a good week and weekend. We have been without a grill for the last 3 months and finally got our new one in. We really tried to make a smart purchase and even though we had heard Webber's were great, we ended up ordering this Dyna-Glo grill from Wal-Mart. Much more affordable for us. It got great reviews and so far we have really enjoyed grilling on it.
Avery loves to cook with me and has gotten very adept at preparing our vegetables for our meal.
Here she is snapping asparagus. She has also developed quite an imagination and yesterday when she didn't have a baby blanket handy, she went and wrapped her baby up in a dish towel.
This morning she got sent into time out for pulling our dog Georgia's tail, and Georgia decided to go sit with her in a sign of solidarity.
Quality didn't turn out great, but you can see how these two give me a run for my money.
About an hour later, I walked in Avery's room to see this
I love this dog. She is so amazing with Avery and completely devoted to us.
We also got in some good cuddle time this weekend.
I borrowed this book "The Kitchen House" from my cousin and finished it in one day. It was one of the best novels I have read in a long time.
We finished up our week with movie night and now I am off to get some much needed rest before we start all over again!
*None of these links are affiliate links. I enjoy just sharing what I like.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
This is such a sweet season for us. Having a three year old and now being pregnant with our second leaves me feeling overwhelmed with gratitude, hope and lots of joy. There was a time when I never could have sat back and enjoyed this time. For a long time I had such a fear of being happy or joyful.
Growing up in a home with addiction is like walking around on permanent eggshells. There is never time to relax or enjoy moments of peace because you know without a shadow of a doubt the other shoe is going to drop. Promises get broken, blowups come again, someone leaves. There is no consistency. At first I would let myself get hopeful, but I quickly learned the older I got that statements like "I'll never do that again" were absolutely nothing, but empty words. Hope either dies or is buried very deeply for a long time in a home with addiction and abuse.
Those years stole my sense of peace and security. I learned that bad, uncontrollable things were always around the next corner. Therefore I never allowed myself to expect anything else. It led to way too much disappointment. And if it sounds like that is an attitude easy to break, it's not. That fear followed me from home into marriage, even though my life right now is drastically different than it was growing up.
Romans 12:2 says " Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is." That is what God had to do for me. Literally transform my entire mind. He had to root out all those old patterns of self protection and replace them with His truth. I had to learn that God is not waiting to yank the rug out from under me. With Him, I have a good future and He is going to walk with me through it. Neither Him or Jesus are like the addict I grew up with. I had to stop seeing them through my wrong beliefs. It is only by God's grace that my life is what it is now. The old is gone, the new has come. It took years of working through these old strongholds and I know I still have more to tackle. There are moments now when I let fear overcome me, but those moments are becoming few and far between. And though this is a great season, I also know that hard times will come. They have before and they will again. I've learned to view them differently now. First my hard times are no longer controlled by an uncontrollable addict and that alone brings a sense of relief. Second, God has seen me through the worst and like my past, He has brought good out of every difficult season in my life. I know that He uses the seasons of difficulties to draw me closer to Him and because of my hope in his Son, joy will always come in the morning.
Monday, October 20, 2014
I have been counting down the days until I can find out if we are having a boy or girl. I'm too much of a control freak to wait until the end of my pregnancy. I want to start planning right away. I went today to get an ultrasound and the baby would not be still long enough to see whether or not its a boy or girl. It moved the entire time. I'm a little nervous as to what this may mean in the future. I've heard that babies personalities are pretty similar to how they were in the womb. I can see that with Avery. She would have bursts of energy, but would also be quiet and still a lot. Right now though she is never quiet. She is going through a phase where she is all energy. I've never seen anything like it and I wish I could just have half of the energy she puts out.
I also finally got a pair of maternity pants this weekend. I ended up getting the skinny maternity jeans from Old Navy. I really like them. They are flattering, a good color and much more comfortable than wearing a rubber band around my waist. Plus, they only cost around 30 which is 40 less than any of the other stores I looked at. The only downside was they seemed to have a strong smell to them even after I washed them. Hopefully it will go completely away with a few more washings.
This week has been off a to a good start and I'm hoping that by the end of it I will know if Baby Brown is a boy or girl.
Posted by Ashley Brown at 7:32 PM
Saturday, October 18, 2014
This week was great. We had our fall break and spent a lot of time playing. I've been almost obsessive lately with wanting to enjoy my time with Avery before we add another baby to the mix. I'm a firm believer in gratitude and trying to enjoy every season of my life.
We spent lots of time painting.
Spent time watching Daddy on the soccer field again.
The same goes for this pregnancy. It's not easy for me with all the changes my body makes on what seems to be a daily basis. I've always struggled with constant change and pregnancy seems to amp it up. I'm still adjusting to the limitations carrying a baby puts on my body. I am hungry all the time. I'm trying to eat healthy, but I can only hold out for so long. I normally don't like much meat, but for some reason I absolutely adore it pregnant. Hamburgers, ribs, deli sandwiches...all of those are on the top of my craving list lately. I do need to break down and buy some maternity jeans now. Sixteen weeks seems early to need them, but I can't stand the tightness of my jeans on my belly. And wearing that belly band drives me crazy. It's not comfortable to me. I took Avery shopping with me this weekend hoping I could find just a bigger size of jeans, but those weren't comfortable either. Baggy in the butt and tight in the tummy. I've been looking at Gap and Loft's maternity sections, but are waiting until they have a sale on pants. It's unreal how expensive a good pair of jeans are. Especially ones that I won't wear for very long. Avery was a great helper shopping and even carried my clothes around. I am just thankful we made it out of the mall without needing a potty break.
I can't wait until tomorrow. Not only for church, but also for the nap I get to take after. It's the small things in life. Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend as much as me!
Posted by Ashley Brown at 7:55 PM