Maybe we found love right where we are

Seven years ago, I said “I do” in a courthouse, in front of two witnesses, to a man I loved with all my heart. We decided to listen to our hearts instead of the “you’re too young”, and “you’re moving too fast”.  We were 20, and 21 so we were young.  We were getting married after meeting/dating for 9 months, most of which Jordan was deployed since we met while he was home on mid-tour leave. Through listening to my heart, and marrying Jordan, I’ve found Christ.
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We had many different situations early on in our marriage. We found out Jordan had a baby girl, we moved to a new state, I lost my dad to suicide, and we had our first son. Along with all the changes in the first few years of our marriage, we were constantly arguing, financially struggling, and selfishly trying to balance our own wants with parenthood.  We felt like we were at a dead end.  After talking with Jordan’s parents, we felt like heading out to the west coast (to live with them) was our last hope.  Although they gave us a place to life (rent free) and helped us figure out finances, the biggest way they helped us was by demonstrating a marriage with a foundation of Christ.  They helped us recognize our sinful, selfish desires.  Without their guidance, and without turning to God… I don’t know for sure that we would have made it to seven years.
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Although we had a rocky year or two, I am more in love now than the day I said “I do”.  Standing there exchanging rings, I thought that was the most I could ever love Jordan. I am coming to find that I actually love him more and more with each passing day.  I am not saying that our marriage is perfect. None of them are. But, now we are quicker to realize our sin and selfishness in our arguments. We are more aware how we try to emotionally cut each other down when we are angry, and we don’t do it.  There are still challenging times, but it’s worth it.
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I am beyond blessed to have a handsome, strong, Christ- following, supportive, funny man by my side to experience this journey called life.  If you asked me seven years ago where I pictured us, I would have never said where we are.  Owning a home, homeschooling our three boys, learning and growing in Christ, with a heart set for future mission trips are just a few parts of Gods plan for our live together.

Becoming a Mom

A letter to my firstborn:
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 You have taught me and daddy so much, You are such a funny, friendly, and energetic little boy. I can’t believe you are six. Pretty soon , you’ll be bigger than me, but you promised that you will still need me to cuddle you when you get bigger.  You are always discovering new things, it amazes me. You are an awesome big brother, who goes out of his way to protect his little brothers. You make them laugh, you play with them, and you are a big help.  The thing that has changed the most about you is your love for Jesus. You pray for your friends and family. You thank Him for all he has given us. Your favorite things to thank Jesus for are the animals, your family, and planet earth. I hope that you’re next year (and all the ones after!) are filled with more learning, more love, and more happiness. Daddy and I love you so, so much.

Six years ago,one week shy of my one year wedding anniversary, I became a Mom. I cannot believe how quickly the time really does pass. It seems like just weeks ago that I was holding my new born baby Carter in my arms.I was immediately filled with love and joy.  The daily challenges and the exhaustion is always worth it! Being able to watch him grow, explore, and change over the last six years has been an extreme blessing.

Becoming a Mom (now to three) is a life changing event. You love more, you worry more, you are forever changed.  Everyday is a new day filled with new laughs, new struggles, and new learning. Everyday a little person(s) depends on you 100% to care for them, teach them right from wrong, teach them how to obey, and how to love.

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You’ll always be my baby

With my (first) baby turning six, I want to celebrate. Celebrate all the ways he’s grown, and the ways he’s helped Jordan and I to grow. So much has happened in his lifetime. We’ve grown in our relationship with the Lord. We’ve lived in 3 states. We’ve purchased our first “real” home. We got through a deployment. We’ve grown our family even more. In celebrating Carter, here are a few of my favorites:

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The Hulk

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Loves naps with Daddy

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Brotherly love

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Energetic little boy

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Nature lover

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Many faces of Carter

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Sleep tight.

It’s time to ban together!

I think it’s time for Moms to start to ban together. We all have something major in common… we’re raising children. It’s challenging, fun, rewarding, and exhausting. As much as it may seem via social media, there is no perfect mom. No mom has it all together, and it’s time we start being honest with each other about our struggles.

I think it’s easy for us to feel overwhelmed and envious of other moms. It’s easy to put ourselves down when we see how ‘perfect’ someones house looked when you popped over, or how well behaved another moms child was in the check out line in the store, or being left wondering how that mom manages to get a daily workout in.  The truth is there’s always more to peoples story. Maybe you did witness a child behaving far better that yours in the store, but you missed the breakdown getting out the door. Or, maybe a mom does get to the gym every day, but maybe it’s her only time to interact with other adults all day.

Instead of being left discouraged and like we aren’t doing it “right”, we should feel proud. Proud that we are who God created us to be, we are Moms. We are the perfect parent for our children, even if we don’t have our house in order 100% of the time, if the kids don’t eat organic gourmet meals every night, and if we aren’t a size 2.  God created us to be the moms children need. And, if you’re interested in how that other mom works a full time job but still seems to manage her house, ask her about it. If you’re interested in how a mom can juggle the daily tasks on motherhood and still make time for fitness, ask her. We need to communicate more, and help each other out more.

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If you notice another mom struggling, offer her help, share an honest store, and give her the encouragement she may need. It will be appreciated.

10 Things I love about Motherhood

Although I can sometimes find myself feeling exhausted, unaccomplished, and overwhelmed, I am so grateful that I am able to experience all that Motherhood has to offer. I’ve been thinking a lot lately on all the joys that Motherhood can bring, and how ironic it is that somehow witnessing brothers hugging, or sharing a laugh can erase the previous overwhelming frustration of freshly painted walls being colored on. After following Mama Kat’s blog for some time, I’ve decided to join in on her writing prompt for this week, and come up with 10 things I love about Motherhood.InstagramCapture_879b28f2-47c4-415a-949c-05aba0348777

1. Everyday is a new day. Kids keep you on your toes. You think you have motherhood mastered, then baby number two (or three…) comes along, and you have to re-learn sleep patterns, likes/dislikes, and food preferences.  I have one son who loves dinosaurs, one who loves trucks, and one who is too young to enjoy anything more that getting into everything he’s not suppose to, which makes every minute of every day different than the one before.

2. Kids say the funniest things. I have a book that I jot down hilarious things that my boys say. The other day, Carter (5) said “When I get big, like 20, I can  sleep in the garbage!” Jesse (3) was very concerned, and said “Um, Carter, that’s very far away. And you can’t sleep in the garbage, that’s yucky you will get sick and have to go to the hospible. And get shots.” Carter then replied “Oh, yeah. I forgot. I mean I can sleep on the roof.”  It’s amazing the conversations I witness on a daily basis.WP_20150126_005(1)

3. I get to play with new toys! I know they were excited about the racetrack they got for Christmas… and that marble run. However, I may have been slightly more excited to play with it with them!

4. I get to witness change and growth on a daily basis. Being a Stay at home mom has been the best blessing.  I know not everyone has the opportunity, but when Jordan and I talked about it, we had to figure it out. I couldn’t just stay home without other “sacrifices” (And by sacrifices, I mean financial ones- cars without car payments, inexpensive month to month cells with data only connecting to wifi, etc..) but it was what we chose to do in order for me to be home. I’m 100% sure we made the right choice in exchanging worldly possessions for time with my boys.InstagramCapture_be549bb0-0fe7-401b-a157-396c1f98f8a5

5. I learn daily, too. From patience to how they learn best, I am constantly learning more about them, and about life everyday.  They’ve started ‘reminding me’ about the stage of my heart, (“Mommy, is yelling having a mean heart or nice…”) and more about talking about what I did wrong, and apologizing for it. The learn from example, and that’s sometimes tough.

6. The love from a child.  My heart is constantly full of love from my boys.  They are always telling me they love me, asking if I want to snuggle, and coming to me when they are hurt, sad or mad. When I’m not here (like when I snag a few hours to sneak out of the house… or when I drop them off at the gym and workout) they miss me, they come running to me, arms wide open, yelling “Mommy!!!!!”, and can’t wait to tell me all about our time apart.

7. Everyday is a new adventure. Since Carter is homeschooled, and we do most of our book work in the afternoon when the little boys nap, we have the opportunity to go exploring during the day.  They love checking out a new park, going on walks or bike rides, and finding new fun places to hang out.  Carter has been asking about going in the woods (I’m assuming he means hiking….) and once the weather gets nicer, I have lots of day trips in mind!  Even if we stay home for the day, we’re building dinosaur caves, and zoos, each day is ‘someplace’ new.

8. Their overwhelming sense of joy. Whether they master a great new accomplishment (like sliding down the 15 foot fireman pole at the playground, or finally getting across those monkey bars in the back yard) or draw an awesome spaceship, all by themselves, they are overflowing with joy.  They have a great sense of accomplishment, that is contagious. I would have never imagined myself being so excited about that first poop on the potty…. but let me tell you, I was just as excited as they were!

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9. Endless cuteness. Although my boys will say “Mom, I’m not cute, I’m cool.”, they are totally cute.

10. Reading throughout the day, all day long. I can never get sick of hearing “Mom, can you read me this book.” Not only does it give me more time with them , teaching them (and sneaking in some cuddles…) but also forces me to stop the ‘busy-ness’ and sit down with my boys. I’ve written before how I tend to get caught up in the to-do lists of life, and I feel like sitting and reading with them helps me to absorb the greatness of motherhood.

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What do you love about motherhood? It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, and exhausted with the daily task of motherhood, (At least for me) but although some days seem long, the time flies by.

I am more than “Just a Mom”…

There are times when I feel like being “just a mom” isn’t enough.  Then there are times when I know that’s what I’m suppose to be doing. Although I may not have too many things, not having to do with the kids, that I’m doing (Besides that amazing 2-hour time frame I get to work out, Thanks YMCA!) I know that it’s just the season I’m in.  I know that even when I’m teaching, talking, showing the kids Gods love, I too, am also blessed.

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I also get to experience their every day quirks, and giggles. I get to say things that I never could have imagined myself having to say. (Such as “stop eating popcorn out of each others toes…”)  Watching the boys relationship with each other and other kids grow is fascinating. Knowing they depend on me, and look to me is amazing. (Except maybe in the middle of the night when Jesse wakes me up to tell me his bed is “too boring” and he can’t sleep in it)

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I love that although our school book learning time lasts a few hours, our learning time is the whole day. From teaching them manners, to cleaning, and cooking, they absorb the information, and crave to learn more!  Wouldn’t it be amazing if we all could follow in their footsteps when it comes to the Gospel?

We’ve been discussing Gods plan for our lives, and what we are being called to do. Jordan and I have discussed with each other, and prayed about being missionaries, which is something that has been laid on our hearts more and more lately.  We’ve started talking with more families who have gone, prayed more about what we should be doing and where we should do, and done much, much more research.  We know that this is something we are being called to do.

Our plan: Probably leave within the next 2 years, for about a year

.God’s plan: ….we will find out!

So, although there are days when I feel like being ‘just a mom’ isn’t enough, I know that God does have more for me. And that it’s nearly impossible to be “just a mom”, when in reality I’m also a counselor, chef, maid, taxi, referee, teacher, nurse…..AndyStanley

New Year, Improved You

With 2014 going out with a bang (And by bang, I mean a Noon Years Eve party for the littles, and a mostly quiet night at home with a few friends) I find it important to have goals for the year. New years resolutions seem to quickly fade out of peoples thought come February, but I find that having goals for the year are much more realistic.

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This year, many of my goals involve my family. Besides eating healthier, and gaining more muscle mass, I want to learn, and grow with my boys. I want to be able to experience, actually experience Gods grace, love, and plan for my life. I find looking back on my year, there are some big memories that stick with me, but overall I can describe it in one word: BUSY! From moving, to having a baby, to figuring out how to parent 3 little boys, traveling to NY, trying to find time to work out etc, etc…. I realize that I let a lot of the year just pass. There were days (probably more than I actually want to admit) that I would count down the hours until nap time, pray they slept for the better half of the afternoon, then counted down until Daddy got home.

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My goal is to experience every moment, every frustrating, boring, overwhelming, joyous, funny moment, and thank God for allowing me to be home with my boys, and to experience them. My goal is to have mine and Jordan’s time together, be quality time. Time where we learn more about each other, grow together, and just enjoy each others company. My goal is to be able to have God plant truth on my heart when it comes to my body image and working out. Truth that in His eyes, I’m perfect. Truth to know that I can work out, lift weights, and run without it being an idol, and truth to know if it becomes that.

I think having goals for the year, or month, or even week is healthy. It’s important that we set goals for ourselves so we aren’t just going through the motions of life.  What are your New Year Goals?

Coming to an end.

Once Christmas time is over, I am always amazed at how quickly the year flew by. This year was very busy for us. From purchasing our first home, having a baby, and starting to homeschool, there have been many changes for our family.  We spent the year laughing, learning, growing closer with our relationship with Christ, and our friends. We flew back to NY, got to spend time with family on the east coast, walked for suicide prevention, witness Jordan complete his first triathlon, and run the tough mudder together. Overall, we’ve grown in many ways over this past year. They say photos are worth 1,000 words, so here you go, our year in review:

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We welcomed our third boy to the family!

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Zachary loves the outdoors as much as his brothers.

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Carter turned 5

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Zachary now sits, crawls, and is getting his first tooth!

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Carter and Jesse have a special bond, only brother understand

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I kept running, even while pregnant with a baby elephant.

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Brianna came to spend some time with us!

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The boys were introduced to pool.

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Quality time was spent together

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Jesse turned 3, and has gotten much bigger.

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The boys enjoyed their first trip back to NY as a family of 5.

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Jordan completed a triathlon!

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Nice weather meant making memories.

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Landon and Jesses friendship and bonding continues to grow

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Two sisters and too many kids. Gwen was welcomed to the chaos of boys weeks after Zachary.

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We got to spend time with my mom and sister!

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  We completed our first tough mudder together