Zion's Birth Story.

My due date of January 2nd, 2016 had come and passed. As did many more days with no signs of oncoming labor. From the very beginning, I had said this baby would come between January 11th-15th. And I was totally at peace with that. I was just enjoying the last days with baby in my belly. My nerves were beginning to pick up because I knew the pain that was coming for me to endure during labor, but I was keeping my eyes and heart focused on Jesus to bring me through it.

At 8 days overdue, on Sunday January 10th, the hubs and I got ready for bed and did what husbands and wives do to express their love for one another (insert winky face). And right afterwards I felt like I was leaking. I thought that maybe just being towards the end of the my pregnancy, I had accidently peed a little. I put on my pajama pants and then wet through them. Not a ton of fluid but enough that it made me uncomfortable to change. I then wet another pair of pants enough to need to change again. Still not thinking much of it, I tried to go to sleep. Every time I got up during the night to pee or check on the other kids, I would have more fluid come out. At this point I thought, okay… maybe my water actually broke. And then the nerves kicked in and I didn’t sleep that well the rest of the night and I was basically up from 1am-4am. I called my midwife in my morning to let her know about the fluid but it wasn’t extremely definitive if my water actually broke, if there was an outer sac leak, or maybe if it was just very watery discharge.

I went about my day on Monday the 11th and continued to leak enough fluid that I had to wear a pad and change it throughout the day. If your water does break, your body will continue to create the fluid anyways so you will continue to leak. I snuggled, napped, and played with my two youngest kiddos. My mind constantly on pending labor and everything going on.

I knew that things were starting to make progress so I wanted to help it along. I was diffusing my essential oils, applying them topically and ingesting them in hopes to kick start contractions since I had truly believed my water had broke. And if it had, at 8pm that night before, it would be 24 hours that it have been broken for. I had also been pooping throughout the entire day (and the whole next day as well as a form of my body cleansing and preparing for birth.) I started noticing muchmore mucus discharge around 2:30 that afternoon as well that also just continued. Some contractions began on that Monday and were present between 3:30-5:30pm and then stopped for a while. Things were happening.

Seborn and my 2 older girls got home from school and we were all excited that things were starting up and we would have our baby soon! We went about our evening and contractions began again at 9pm and became more intense. They continued on throughout the night until 6am and were 10-15 minutes apart. I tried my best to sleep in between contractions but between nerves and the pain, it proved to be quite difficult. Night 2 of little sleep.

Woke up to a beautiful morning on Tuesday, January 12. It was my sisters 26th birthday and I was SURE to give her a big present today. I was absolutely convinced today would be the day!

I was ready for Yancy baby #5 to arrive! Plus, I felt like I already had a lot of labor under my belt and didn’t have much energy to go longer than this day. Today needed to be the day. I felt I had been “mentally laboring” for days (maybe weeks, ha) and had been contracting since 9pm the night before already.

I applied and ingested more of my Young Living essential oils and decided to try my breast pump to stimulate contractions as well. I took a hot bath to relax and found out later that I was NOT supposed to take a bath once your water has already broken. But all was well. Throughout the day I continued to use my oils and breast pump and just be in positions to labor through contractions.

9:30am-12:30pm Contractions were about 5 minutes apart and more on the mild side but beginning to pick up and my parents and sister came to get our other kids around 1pm so we could buckle down and get this baby here! They were able to stay in our apartment complex in the community room while we labored in our apartment.

12:30pm-3:00 Contractions were about every 10-15 minutes but had really intensified in pain. I needed to stop and focus on each one and quietly moan through the pain.

They were painful contractions. Low and deep and I was able to go about life in between them but really needed to zero in while having them. They were painful and unending. Knowing that after one, another would come. I needed something to lean on and moan through some of them. At times, they were inconsistent. But mostly stayed between 10-15 minutes apart besides the morning where they started to pick up and were only 5 minutes apart. But no noticeable progression occurred after that or later on in the day. I continued to work hard it though. I was laboring to try to speed labor up. I was working through the pain and working to make things happen. And the intensity of the contractions made me feel like this baby was coming soon.

I continued to switch things up. I rested for a while. Then my husband and I went walking through our apartment hallways. We went up and down stairs. I did squats in the kitchen. We tried distracting me through contractions while watching a movie. Contractions continued to stay 10-15 minutes apart and still very painful. But nothing really progressing. It was discouraged most of the day. I felt this negativity about the whole situation. I was melting in frustration that I was still in labor. Had been all day. My husband had taken the day off work. My parents and sisters took their whole day to watch our kids and there was no baby here. And didn’t seem like one was coming any time soon. What was the point of this whole day?! Negativity definitely got the best of me many times throughout this day. And my sister…. my sweet sister had spent her whole entire birthday here waiting… and no baby. No birthday present. Happy birthday, Keena!

 

My midwife came over around 6pm that night to check on me and test if my water had broken. Because at 8pm this evening, we are looking at 48 hours of my water being broken. The first test came back negative but I let her know that with one of my other kids, the test came back negative as well but then they realized it really had broken. So, we retested a different way and sure enough, my water was definitely broken and we were going on 48 hours of it now. I needed to make sure to keep an eye on my temperature, not take a bath, make sure nothing was ever on the toilet seat, and no intercourse. We just needed to make sure there was no way any bacteria would be able to enter.

By about 7pm, we had the kids come back and got them ready for bed and everyone went home. Seborn and I went to bed… not knowing what the night or tomorrow would bring us. At this point, I just thought I would end up laboring an entire day more.

Throughout the night, I had deep and low contractions every 10-15 minutes. Another night of very little sleep. I do not like laboring sitting or laying down. I can’t stand it. I need to be up and on my feet (or knees.) So with every contraction, I would roll out of bed and lean up against my bedroom wall or go squat over the toilet and work through the contraction. It was so deep and low… and painful. I felt not much contraction through my whole stomach area but all below and in my pelvis. There were many contractions that were so painful and deep that I would come back to bed shaking with the chills. Some of the contractions made me nausea and I was close to vomiting. I tried my best to sleep in between but it was an intense night of labor. The constant waking up with contractions… and very painful contractions, was utterly exhausting.

In the morning, Wednesday January 13th, I awoke at 7am… exhausted. I felt defeated. I had nothing left. My dad came to pick up all our kids again around 7:30 am and brought them back to work with him at the church. I sat on the couch and my husband came over to me and asked if there was anything he could do for me. I said I just needed to cry. So he held me as I wept in his arms. I told him I was just tired. I was done. I missed the kids. I just wanted baby here. The pain was overtaking me. I didn’t want to go on or felt that I could.

Seborn got up and went around our apartment and started reading out loud to me all the Bible verses I had taped up.

“A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.” John 16:21

“But she will be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.” 1 Timothy 2:15

“I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from my fears.” Psalm 34:4

“God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

“I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” Phillipians 4:13

“…the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

“We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul- not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the Glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into Joy, thanking the Father who makes strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that He has for us.” Colossians 1:11-12 (The Message).

He read that last verse to me multiple times. Telling me how God gives me the strength to ENDURE what seems unendurable with his GLORY STRENGTH. Not simply gritting my teeth and getting by, but with His supernatural strength that spills into JOY because this experience and this reward IS bright and beautiful.

It’s exactly what I needed to hear in that exact moment. I wiped my tears, I got up from the couch, and I was ready to go. Let’s do this. I got in my laboring clothes- Seborn’s flannel shirt and some snowman socks and was ready to make this the day.

Throughout the morning, we labored together. We watched a little of a movie while I worked through intensifying contractions. I tried many different positions to see what I was most comfortable with. I laid down pads in the living room and our bedroom. I tried laboring on all fours. I labored over the toilet. I knelt down over our bed while standing and kneeling. I moved around our apartment taking each contraction as it came. A couple hours later the exhaustion was setting in again.

I would labor on all fours on the ground and then basically just slowly fall to the ground on my side and lay there in and out of alertness until the next contraction came. They were beginning to be about 4-6 minutes apart and extremely intense (as they had been most of the morning since 7am).

I felt the energy draining from me at times and would bask in the restlessness. Easing through the contractions and dreading the next one because I just wanted to sleep and not feel pain anymore. And then after a while, I would dig down deep and find the strength- that Glory strength that only God can provide and I would get up and attack the labor head on- taking each painful contraction as a battle of war- not afraid, moaning and groaning and working through each one. Deep and loud moans were echoing from my mouth as I would sway my hips and imagine the baby descending. Seborn would sometimes come behind me and push my hips together providing me the perfect amount of relief during the pain. He applied my essential oils to my hips and back and would massage me. He continued to speak life into my, encouraging me that I can do this, that I’m doing awesome, and proclaiming goodness to me throughout the labor. He is completely my rock.

We kept asking each other when we should call our family and midwives to come over. We didn’t want anyone to have to arrive too early and just wait but also didn’t want anyone to miss out. But we just had no clue where we were at. This could continue all day, or this baby could be here within an hour. Seborn had told me that morning that baby would be here by noon… and I was totally okay with that!

I went to labor over our bed some more and I had a very low and painful contraction. One where I felt so much pressure but not quite enough to push yet. A bunch of fluid came out and was dripping on the mat below me and at that point I think Seborn and I both realized it was maybe time to call the midwives over. But we still thought we had a ways to go but  it would be best to have them here to be able to start setting up their gear. They arrived about 30 minutes later around 10:30am.

Once here, I started to feel slight urges to push. I wanted to just let it rip and push with everything I had but my midwife said to push with how my body was feeling the urge and to not push it beyond what my body was saying. I wanted so bad to be done, but used all the patience I could muster to just go with how my body was processing the labor.

An extreme contraction would come and then I’d wait for the next. Going through each one hoping it would be my last but knowing full well I could be in the trenches for a while. My midwives, by my side, continually guiding me and encouraging me. They both had taken turns massaging my hips and back and helping me through labor. My husband holding my hand and whispering encouragement to me with each intense pain.

And I began feeling something I hadn’t experienced in labor before. An excruciating pain in my lower back. That I just couldn’t get through. With each contraction, my lower back would pulse and pain just as much as the front and I felt I could no longer stand on my own 2 legs. I didn’t want to lay down, but I had not much left in me to stand. We tried having Seborn on his knees and being the leverage as a birth stool for me, but that position wasn’t working for either of us. So, Seborn leaned back and I laid down on him between his legs. I felt like I just fell back and closed my eyes and laid on him. I had a few contractions in this position and felt like I was able to rest a little and gain a little break with some lesser intense contractions. But I knew I couldn’t stay like this for long.

I got up a little later and went back over to lean over the bed. I was on my knees and just laid my head on the bed and had my arms flung on top of the bed too. I was limp. I would have a contraction where I felt some urge to push and I would give a little push and then I would have 3-5 contractions where there was no urge to push. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t having an extreme urge to push every time. My midwife said my body was still probably processing through the transition and dilating to the full 10cm. I just needed to wait for it to get there.

I was leaning over the bed and watched as the blood began to drip from me. Drop by drop. I just had to be close. Each contraction. Each pain. Each drip of blood. I was getting closer and closer. Keep going. Keep pushing forward. I lay over my bed… limp. My eyes opening and closing. How much longer?

Seborn was right by me, looking at me, holding my hand and speaking life into me. I looked up at him and knew I was at the end, but I needed to exercise my battle cry. I said, “Seborn, just slap me in the face and help me wake up. I need to get into Beastmode. BEASTMODE!” (Seborn and the midwives giggled.) And at that, I slowly stood up from my kneeling position and leaned over the bed…. ready for action.

No more resting. Let’s do this.

I stood over the bed, taking each contraction as it came with force and tenacity. I watched the blood continue to drip down from me. My back was still killing me and Seborn asked if I wanted him to come stand in front of me so I could hold onto him and have my back more straight instead of bent over the bed or over my knees, so we tried that. He came in front of me and I wrapped my arms around him. Next contraction. I squatted low and started pushing. I finally felt a bit more of the urge. And it came stronger than I had expected and I let out a loud scream. Just what I needed to motivate me more. I felt more pressure and asked my midwife if she saw the head yet. Not yet. Almost there.

I waited for the next contraction and was ready to bear down and get this baby out. Another contraction. More pushing. More screaming. Squatting and bearing down. More blood. Still no baby.

I was holding onto Seborn with everything I had and squatting low. He held up strong- my pillar! Another contraction. I push with everything I have. All I think I have left. I feel my midwife reach up and she is trying to help baby out. Having her hands there gave me even more of an urge to push so I pushed harder and yelled louder. I heard my midwives say the head was almost out. I pushed again. Half of baby’s head was out. That is all I needed to know. The pain was unbelieveable but I was almost there. I pushed more and they said baby’s head was out. Come on Meghan… one more push and you can get the rest of baby’s body out. Screaming and holding onto Seborn’s waist with all of my might, I squatted low and gave everything I had to push. Baby’s body came slidding out and my midwife placed baby right into my arms and wrapped a towel over us.

Seborn sat on the bed and I leaned back against him, holding our precious child. Weeping uncontrollably and gazing on our perfect baby! HERE! In my arms! At last! At 11:35am on a beautiful January day. The perfect day God had planned. And Seborn was right, baby came before noon!

All I could say over and over again is “This is amazing! You are amazing!” I just stared at baby and was in pure awe. And then I’d look at Seborn and tell him how much I loved him. And then look back at baby and say how much I loved baby. Pure joy in this moment. Seborn asked me if I wanted to look and see if it a boy or a girl and I said, “Not yet. I just want to be in this moment right now.”

And about 5 more minutes after just being in heaven on earth, I finally looked and saw that we had a BOY! Our second son. I just held him in my arms and couldn’t take my eyes off him. We were cradled so perfectly in Seborn’s arms. I was going back and forth between giving my husband and son kisses. Was this real life?!

I got settled onto my bed and nuzzled my baby in close, skin to skin. My family arrived with all our kids shortly after and were able to meet the little guy! I had just birthed the placenta and had let my midwives and family know beforehand that we would be taking some pictures and I wanted to leave the chord attached until after that was done.

 

I laid there with little Zion in my arms, sweetly resting on my chest. I had tried to breastfeed him within maybe 15 minutes of his birth and he latched on right away and was a pro. About 1 1/2 hours after his birth, we were ready to take pictures and begin the baby exam and for me to hop in the shower. Since Zion had stayed attached to his placenta for so long, all the precious chord blood went right back into him and the chord was completely drained of all the blood. It was also really cool when Seborn cut the chord and they were able to see the 2 vessels in the chord. (Refer to previous posts for 2 vessel chord info.) We took some incredible placenta pictures and I hopped in the shower. I tell ya what, that after birth shower is Uh. Maze. Ing. (Especially in your own shower in your own home.)

 

Seborn finally got to hold his son and it was incredible to see his beaming face. His second son. Our oldest, Makkedah 6, had asked us if she can be the first one to hold the baby after us so she was up next and the look on her face was priceless as she beheld her new baby brother she had waited so long for.

 

 

All of us gathered around as the midwives did his newborn exam and checked out every nook and cranny. He was such a little trooper and weighed in at 7 pounds 1 ounce and 20 1/2 inches long. And my midwives are incredible. Throughout the entire journey of pregnancy, labor and birth, they have just been amazing. Always giving me the time, love and commitment I need and the knowledge, advice and care that you can’t find anywhere else. And when I think of all the unnecessary medical interventions that would be pushed on me if I was in a hospital, I am so grateful for the patience and wisdom I get from my midwives. I went over 63 hours with my water broken and baby and I were just fine. Who knows what they would have made us do if we weren’t able to do homebirths. I also found out that Jeanne had to get involved with the pushing phase because Zion’s head was tilted to the side (which also caused the back pain.) His head was unable to crown because the cervix wasn’t fully opening. Jeanne recognized what was going on and was able to push aside the rest of the cervix and help tilt his head so that he was able to descend correctly.  Grateful for my precious midwives and their care. 

 

You can see the original post with included pictures here.

 

New Years' "Resolutions."

It is now 2018. 

New Year. New You.

Although I've heard that some people want to steer away from the phrase "new you' because we don't want the perception that YOU isn't already great how you are.

Granted, yes... you rock. YOU are marvelous. Just as you are.

And I love who I am as well. And also, I hope that I always have the ability to grow and become new. I sure HOPE that I never stay the same me. I always want to leave room for growth in who I am as a human, woman, mother, wife, friend, business owner, influencer, entrepreneur, risk-taker..... insert every title I am proud to hold. I don't want to stay the same. I want to continually be transformed into the likeness of God and walk in His calling for my life. So, I'm okay with a new me. I don't want to stay the "old me" or even the "same me." 

And then there are the people who don't like to use the word "resolutions." Mostly because "resolutions can fade and so we prefer the term goals or dreams." Whatever word you use:

resolution

goal

dream

vision

intention

mission

ambition

The point is... YOU get to decide if you will follow through with it. Not the word. The word doesn't determine how the definition is lived out and reached. YOU DO. 

Just because we call it a "New Years Resolution" does not automatically label it is something that we will purpose toward for the first 7-14 days of January and then abandon. That's not what a resolution is. That's what people have made it to be.

So, if you've created that own definition in your mind, let me clear it up.

 

RESOLUTION:

1. The act of resolving or determining upon an action, course of action, method, procedure, etc.

2. resolve; a decision or determination: to make a firm resolution to do something.

3. the mental state or quality of being resolved or resolute; firmness of purpose:

 

YOU get to decide if you will walk purposefully and intentionally in the "resolutions" you set forth for your year. Or at any point in your life. It doesn't really matter if you call it a "goal" or a "dream"- we are in the same playing field here. 

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Resolutions have been sworn off of as this temporary fantasy that lasts only about a few weeks and has no place in our lives (because we are better than that, right?) But finding RESOLVE in your life is a beautiful thing. It shows determination and grit and courage. Changing old habits and creating a new structure of health and thriving in your life is a worthy act to live. 

I've got a whole list of things I want to accomplish this year. And I keep this list handy all year long. I reassess it, making sure it is challenging yet tangible. I check in on my progress as the months go by. Halfway through the year, I see where I'm at. I create an action plan on how to achieve these goals and truly live out my resolve to grow and accomplish these resolutions I've set forth for my life. I purpose to keep it accessible and achievable all year long. 

I would love to know... what are your resolutions for the New Year. And if this post didn't clear your mind for what the true definition of "resolutions" is, feel free to use whatever word tickles your fancy. 

Photos by Brittney Lee Photography

Photos by Brittney Lee Photography

Photos by Brittney Lee Photography

Yancy Christmas Card 2017

YANCY FAMILY CHRISTMAS CARD 2017

This past year has brought some very incredible moments in time. Let’s recap:

February- Seborn + Meghan took a trip to Cancun, Mexico (their first trip alone in like, a bajillion years.)

March- Moved into our home in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.

August- Found out God has blessed us with baby Yancy #6 + we had 3 International students move into our home.

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Seborn- In his second year as the assistant principal at Benilde St. Margaret’s. He reinstated his real estate license this year and has been pursuing his business as a Realtor, representing  sellers + buyers as well as investment properties. He still runs consistently and is always up for a trip to the movies.

Meghan- Is entering her 5th year of homeschooling the kids. She has a blast running her Young Living business, ministering through Instagram + social media, running her blog + website, and writing her first book.

Makkedah- Turned 8 in March and began 3rd grade. She is the most sweet and tender little human and truly has a heart of gold, always thinking about other people. She is a complete daddy’s girl and learning how to play the Ukelele this year and gets to have daddy as her basketball coach.

Samaria- Turned 7 in July and began 1st grade. She knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to share her honest opinion. She loves baking and anything that has to do with food and snacks. She talks to her sibling in mommy’s tummy almost every day and loves being at home. She loves getting lost in her playtime and imagination.

Nehemiah- Turned 5 in August and began Pre-K. He has especially loved 3 more boys living in the house. When we go for family walks, he is running. His personality is continually growing and changing and it's a joy to see the little man he is becoming.

Shiloh- Turned 3 in April and loves to do Pre-K lessons with her big brother. She loves to wrestle with Neo. She wants the baby to come out NOW, so we are practicing patience. She will wear a dress every single day and then sleep in it all night long. She is all girl but is rough and tumble and hardcore right along with it. She takes crap from no one.

Zion- Turned 1 in January and creates mayhem wherever he goes. He is absolute fire and always into something. Seborn prayed that our 5th child would be so wild that I would not want any more kids. Well… his prayer was answered… somewhat. Zion is definitely the wildest little one of the bunch, but Meghan STILL wants more little ducklings. Zion is always keeping us on our toes and teaching us so much grace.

Baby Yancy #6- Is due on April 20, 2018 (but let’s be real, it most likely could be a May baby.) We are grateful to God every single day for this blessing of a child. Meghan has been feeling fantastic the whole pregnancy (maybe a few rough weeks) but otherwise, able to keep up with all the beauty of a day's tasks. And... it's a girl!

Evan, Jerry + Carlos- Our 3 International students have truly been a joy to welcome into our family. That’s not to say there isn’t bumps along the road but we love having them with us. Even is 17 and from China. Jerry is 16 and from a different area of China. Carlos is 15 and from Spain. They basically have their own apartment in our basement and we love getting to know about their culture, while sharing parts of ours with them. We already know it will be hard to say goodbye at the end of the school year.

 

So, there you have it. Our 2017. And we can’t even imagine all that God has in store for 2018.

We pray that your year, your Christmas season and your New Year is absolutely filled with blessings and joy and the comfort that only Jesus can provide. When we sit and ponder about how lovely this life truly is, it all goes back to our Savior. To His ever-present guidance and love in our lives and His constant covering over our steps. Our prayer for you is one of hope and light as you celebrate His love in your life this season.

 

Intense love from the Father from our family to yours… Seborn + Meghan + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 (+ 6 coming soon)

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Because. Oils.

You've probably seen and heard me talk endlessly about Young Living Essential Oils. I would apologize for the overload but really... when you are passionate about something, how could you and why would you keep it to yourself?

That's why I'm always talking about Jesus and how big faith plays a part in our life. I want everyone to know what life in relationship with the God of the Universe is like. I desire for everyone to experience the intense love of Christ. Because He loves you so much. So. So. Much. God encompasses everything I do in life. The center, front, beginning, middle and end of it all. And He is so deeply rooted in my essential oil journey and business that has developed through it.

It's similar to when I recommend a good movie we saw or a yummy restaurant we tried out. I don't rave about things I don't like. That would be stupid. So, if you hear me talking about and suggesting something over and over again, chances are... it's truly a REALLY AWESOME THING. And you should probably try it out. Hey, maybe it's not your sip of tea. Maybe it doesn't tickle your fancy, float your boat or tune your guitar but at least you gave it a shot. My point being, I only promote things I'm truly in love with and believe that it will benefit, encourage or bring joy to others. Bottom line... you can trust me.

Because. Oils. 

I began my journey with YL EO's in February of 2014. It was a momentous day.... eh... actually, it was just an ordinary day. Mind you, a quite extraordinary ordinary day as it marks my Oiliversary each year (yes, its a thing.) And the decision to purchase the Premium Starter Kit completely changed the trajectory of my entire life. You wouldn't think that such a small event as "buying essential oils" would change your life forever... but, nonetheless, it did.

Let me count the ways:

1. Life of health and wellness- I embarked on a journey that was no longer led by ignorance but by educating myself on what we were putting in and on our bodies each day. I can give you all the facts of all the toxins sitting in your home right now, but I'm a firm believer in people doing their own research and digging for the information instead of only taking my word for it. Google it. Find articles and facts that are the proof for how our products and food are made. It's sickening. You'll see. My mind kept expanding as I realized more and more the chemicals found in my cupboards. Sometimes, I cleared everything out in one clean swoop and other things were a slow transition into toxic-free with Young Living (even beyond essential oils, because y'all... there is so much more!) Find your flow and keep learning. 

2. Passion in Entrepreneurship- I NEVER would have seen myself as starting my own businesses, building an empire and working from home. NEVER. Especially in a network marketing capacity. But here I am and it SETS MY SOUL ON FIRE! I already felt like I was living the dream as a stay at home but God had even more unimaginable plans in store for me and our family. And I can't imagine what is still yet to come. I wake up every day excited for moments I get to "work." It is not easy to build your business, it's a freakin' lot of hard work but SO SO WORTH IT. 

3. Insurmountable Residual Income- Dude... I'm making a commission check every single month. From home. I don't need to keep products in stock, find a place to store it all and figure out how to ship it all to customers. Nope. I share my oily life and refer people to Young Living to take their own health into their hands. I tell about the empowerment that this journey provides and how everyone is capable of doing the same. And because I share a part of my life and others decide to take their own healthy path with YL, I get a "thank you" check from Young Living each month. And it gets higher and higher as time goes on. And I will continue to receive it for the rest of my entire life. 

4. Legacy for my children- My kids get to spend each day with me and they also get to see me work on my business, communicate with my team and work hard towards something. They see work ethic and perseverance every day. They see passion grow in their mama and they have grown their own passion for essential oils along the way. My oldest daughter wants to be an "oil lady" when she grows up (along with a gambit of other things) and better believe we plan on getting her her own member account when she turns 16 of which she can begin building her own business, as well. The thing of it is, all the work I am putting into this business will last my lifetime. And beyond that. You see, most jobs, you work 40+ years and then hopefully saved up enough money to retire on. But with Young Living, every once of sweat and time and energy I put into this business, will impact generations of my family. Because this business is willable. Meaning, I can will my entire business to my children and they will receive my monthly commission checks for the rest of their lives as well. I am creating a legacy for them.

5. Community + Connection - I never could have possibly imagined the rich relationships God would bring into my life through this Young Living family. It has been one of the biggest surprise blessings I could receive. God has restored and replenished past friendships and brought the sweetest new souls of humans into my life. Whether it's my lovely next door neighbor or a new friend from Ireland that I talk to on the daily, I am so thankful for PEOPLE. I never would have these darling gems in my life if it weren't for Young Living. It provides connection and community in the most admirable way and I often stand in awe that I get to do this each day. I talk to countless of my team members every single day. I pray for them. They are family to me and we stay close, even if we are far away. That type of miraculous friendship is available to anyone. You just need to jump in. Or hey, maybe even start with dipping a toe in.

6. Personal Growth- I am such a different person than I was 3 years ago before I began Young Living. It has positioned me in places to grow as a person, woman, Christian, writer, friend, wife, mother... the list goes on. I am an Entrepreneur now. I've expanded even beyond this and now run multiple businesses from home and have so many more dreams I want to turn into a reality. I used to be much more timid and hesitant for opportunities and now I jump at them. Even just standing in front of a group of people and teaching an oil class has become one of my favorite pastimes now. I am continually craving growth and balance in my life. Truly the Oola way. I used to spend my evenings watching endless tv shows. Now, my evenings are filled with so much more rich and rewarding activities that are growing me as a person, a professional and all the other glorious hats I get to wear in life.

Now, that I've given you a glimpse into my oily life. Let me tell you some reasons why I love the Premium Starter with Young Living (which is how my whole journey began) and how I actually save money using these oils:

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1. All my skin support needs are met with Lavender + Frankincense. {add to current face routine, make your own lotion, apply to children when they take a fall 😉}...

2. All our digestion support is found in that beautiful little bottle of Digize. It smells like black licorice but don’t let the scent fool you, my friends. It packs a powerful punch.

3. I no longer have to get 27 different poisonous cleaning products for my home because Thieves, Lemon + Purification take the cake in this category! {Puri is amaze-balls on some wool dryer balls for your dryer. Fun fact: dryer sheets are one of the most toxic things you have in your home. Google it.}

4. Low on energy? {aren’t we all? 😩} Peppermint is my GO-TO! I don’t need coffee or energy drinks- I just slap some of this minty juice on my wrists and temples and take a good ol’ whiff straight from the bottle and I am good to go!

5. We are fully supported for our respiratory systems with RC and I love making a chest rub with coconut oil! Toxic free is the way to be!

6. Feeling drained on those morning commutes or the sheer loudness of your kids? Massage on some stress away and feel the tension just melt away. It’s also great in the diffuser. No more chemical filled “room fresheners”- just use this little green bottle.

7. Panaway + Copaiba are an action packed combo that I love to use for muscle, joint and bone support. Rubbing it in right on location just relaxes those tired body parts.

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There you have it. And that is just tip of the iceberg, my peeps. There are never-ending resources and endless possibilities with this oily life. And really, I'd like to cordially invite you to join the ride with me. Be a part of my team and experience all the goodness this life provides. We are here, with open arms ready to welcome you to your oily life and our oily community. YOU are worth the investment into your health and future. Just holla back, ya'll.

 

 

Kids aren't expensive.

People are always waiting for "the right time" to have babies. To save up "x-amount" of money, to accomplish so and so goals. Let me save you some time and let you know right now...

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Photo from My Darling Depictions

 

There will never be a "right time."

It's one of those things where you just gotta dive in head first and trust God that He's got you. I mean, use wisdom and all, but the stars aren't all going to align before the time is "right." 

And let me clear some misconceptions because in MY EYES and in my experiences with 5 kids (going on 6) so far.... Kids are not that expensive. But it can really depend on your parenting style and lifestyle choices. Neither way is right or wrong but if you want a little peek into my thrifty life and how having 5 kids (+ 3 International teenage boys living with us at the time of writing this) is NOT overwhelming or expensive, read on.

Many things play into the cost of having kids- clothes, food, toys, activities, childcare, schooling, etc. And its really your choice within those things that can make or break (the bank.) 

For instance, let's just start from babyhood. Although I choose homebirth for many other reasons, another factor to consider (depending on the state you live in and your insurance), it is significantly more affordable for us than care and delivery at a hospital.

And you know when you go into a store to create your baby registry. You don't need ANY of that crap. Seriously... these are the baby items we physically have in our home. 

1. Baby clothes (most likely hand-me-downs, from second-hand stores or ridiculous clearance sales.

2. A crib (with some bedding, but nothing fancy.)

3. A pack-and-play

4. A carseat

5. Some toys (you don't really even need to buy these though, anything goes into those teething babies mouths so there are most likely a lot of doable things laying around your house that would make a darn nice "toy." Old cellphones, anyone? That 80's scrunchie in the back of your bathroom drawer? The widdled stick from the backyard? All fair game.)

6. A diaper bag

You don't need those fancy playmats... just use a blanket on the ground. It will do. You don't need all those seats to lay them in and all the gadgets to keep them occupied. I'm not saying its bad to WANT all those things. I'm just saying they are not a necessity. There are really very few things you NEED to care for a newborn baby. All those toys and huge carriers are overkill. And for my own baby carrier, I grabbed fabric at JoAnn's for $3 on clearance and learned how to wrap my baby onto me with YouTube videos.

Now, let's continue on the journey. I exclusively breastfed my babies for the first year of their life. Meaning, they don't each much else food besides my booby milk for an entire 12 months. Money saver right there, baby! Once I begin integrating food into their diet, I don't make special custom baby food, I don't buy the expensive baby food jars.... I just start giving them the exact same food the rest of us are eating for each meal. Simple as that. No extras.

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Photo from My Darling Depictions

Depending on your circumstances, you may have to add childcare into your costs here but even then, nanny vs. daycare can make a big difference. I stay at home with my children. HUGE money saver there. For the first 7 years of our marriage, we lived off of one income. In the past 3 years, I have built businesses from home and have been able to bring in residual income that way as well (which I totally love and am intensely passionate about.)

We are entering those school years now and your choices here are going to play a big part in this as well. If you choose private school, you may have some incredible extra expenses. And possibly very worth-while expenses. In our family, we homeschool and we save in multiple ways: tuition, school expenses, uniforms, school supplies, etc. I do order a new curriculum each year for them but it is something we work into our budget.

You may want your kids in lots of school + community activities and that will also add to your outgoing expenses for your children. And if that's you, rock it! That's awesome. In our home, we like a really low-key lifestyle. A more simple "old-school" way of life. We enjoy almost every evening at home as a family and have very laid back weekends, if possible. We really cherish our family time and value it so we don't add too much to our schedules. Because of this lifestyle choice, our kids are not in many activities. They get to choose one activity in the summer (which is normally in the morning and runs for 2-4 weeks) and that is it. They don't have other groups they are a part of. We aren't in a homeschool co-op. We don't have weekly appointments we must attend. We don't make this choice because of the money saved, but it is a perk. We make this decision because our priority is family time. And no, we don't feel like they are missing out on anything because what is important to us is building a firm foundation in our family and faith and we are fostering an atmosphere for that.

Let's venture into entertainment. I'm always jumping on FREE events (which are everywhere) and I am quick to grab a good deal when it comes to events and fun things for us to do. We don't go to a movie unless it is a matinee. And the little ones sit on our laps so it's even less tickets we have to pay for. Groupon always has some great deals for fun kids events. Check out Eventbrite to find free festivals near you. I decided to splurge and get Valleyfair Theme Park Season Passes for our whole fam this year. Reason why... I got 2 free season passes for our 2 preschool aged kids. And I locked in tickets at the lowest price of the season. We will get to go ALL SUMMER LONG as many times as we want (and the total season pass cost will be paid for within 1 single visit to the theme park.) Being frugal doesn't mean not having fun. It's just being strategic and wise about what you do choose to do. We go out to eat with coupons and on "Kids eat free" days. It sounds like a lot of work but it just feels like second nature to me. 

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Photo from My Darling Depictions

Then there are trips, vacations, medical expenses. Some are unforeseen and some are choices you make. You can do a close short camping trip or a faraway cruise. It just depends on your preferences, stages of life, and desires for your family life. 

Want to dive into clothing? I normally won't look at a rack at Target unless it says 70% off (or more.) But mostly, I shop at Goodwill. But only on Tuesdays (tag day) and Thursdays (toddler day.) On Tuesdays, I shop for things for the house and décor or clothing for myself. I only get things that are the color tag of the day and are 75% off their tag price. Meaning, I pay between .25 and $2.00 for any piece of clothing. And there are some freakin' awesome namebrand high-end stuff there too. You just need to find the right Goodwills. On Toddler Thursdays, all kids stuff is 50% off. This is when I go get the kids clothes they need and shop for birthday and Christmas gifts. 

You see, the Target right next to my Goodwill sends all their clearance rack items straight to Goodwill. So whether it be household décor, clothes or toys, there are BRAND NEW Target items still in the packaging all over my Goodwill and all with jaw-dropping prices. I can still get really nice things for super cheap. I also always bring a bag to donate to Goodwill so I get the 25% off coupon which I always use if my items don't qualify for the deal of the day. Because I shop for birthdays and Christmas all year long, there are no huge costs when it comes around to those celebration days because I already have gifts in the garage waiting to be wrapped up. 

There is no way that is right or wrong but it is possible to live life inexpensively with kids. If you want to know my views on college, click here.

This is our current season of life. Our oldest child is 8 years old so things might change in the future. We may have more activities. Our life might look a little different. But I have the tools and resources to make the best financial decisions we can for our family. Because I would never want the excuse of "kids are too expensive" to stop me from bringing life into the world.

Santa Isn't Real.

Okay, okay. Before you get your panties in a bunch, let me tell what this blog is NOT:

1. Parenting Advice.

2. Judgement on different types of parenting.

3. Anything relating to any "judgey" thing someone may inevidably condemn me of.

Now that we have that straightened that out, let's hop right to it.

My husband and I do not teach our children that Santa is real. Or the tooth fairy. Or any other imaginary figure for that matter. That does NOT MEAN I think people who DO teach their kids those things are wrong, or silly, or bad parents. Don't get it twisted. I'm simply sharing that we have made the decision not to teach our kids that those figures are real.

And I'm writing this blog post for all the other parents who may not have wanted to teach their kids they were real, but felt pressure by society to do it so that their kids wouldn't miss out on any of the "fun" of it. I want you to know you have the freedom to make your own decisions, and they are not bad decisions. Neither side, is. Let's just get that straight.

So, here is my premise of it all. I felt some pretty intense pressure when the kids were younger that we should do things "this way" or "that way" (all in the name of "fun," right?) And my husband and I ultimately decided that we could do things our way, and it would still be ridiculously fun. 

We aren't anti-Santa by any means. We love the Santa songs, read lots of our Santa books, even go take pictures with Santa at the mall sometimes. But my kids know that he is not real. They know the true story of St. Nicolaus and how it all came to be. But when we listen to the songs, read the books and sit on his lap, they know that it is not actually a real Santa character. And it's still super fun. Our focus at Christmas truly is on Jesus. (Insert: I'm NOT saying that if you celebrate Santa that your focus is NOT on Jesus. I really feel like I need to cover all my bases here because people can be very sensitive  on this topic.) I'm literally just saying that is where our celebration of Christmas is centered around. And that we give gifts to one another because the 3 kings brought gifts to the baby Jesus. Not because of Santa.

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Let me also say, that I have the conversations with my kids not to "ruin" it for other children. They know that other people celebrate differently than us and do tell their kids that Santa is real and that we don't need to shout from the rooftops that "SANTA ISN'T REAL." (I realize the irony in the title of this blog post but it was purposeful in catching your attention and making wild assumptions of what I actually was talking about!)

Our kids know that many people celebrate holidays and milestones in different ways and so we don't go around telling people they are wrong or bad. That is not to say it hasn't happened. There may have been a few slips early on where their truth was revealed for other children and Santa, all of a sudden, became a false character. But we have gotten a handle on it, folks!

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Same thing with the tooth fairy. We teach our kids that this character is not real. But that doesn't mean we have to lose out on all the fun. The kids know that daddy is the "tooth fairy" except we created a WAY COOLER character for him to be. Seborn is officially known as The Tooth Ranger in our house, and I am his trusty sidekick. 

Whenever the kids lose a tooth, they put it under their pillow and know that daddy is going to come and exchange it for some awesome gift + a few coins or dollar bill. They are asleep super fast on those nights. And its JUST as fun as the tooth fairy, if not more.

Plus, this may sound super selfish of me, but I want my kids to know how much effort Seborn and I put into making life wonderful. I want them to know it was us who put so much thought and care into those Christmas gifts under the tree and that fun new toy under their pillow. I want them to know it was us, their parents, who poured out love to them in a "receiving gifts" sort of way, and not some fictional character. 

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Here is another perk- we never have to worry about them "finding out the truth" or dreading the day where they realize (or we'd have to tell them) that Santa or the tooth fairy are indeed, not real. I've heard it happen both ways, where it made no difference to some kids. And I've heard other stories when people remember the time, place and exact conversation that ensued when they discovered these characters where not real, and the emotions that set in at that time.

All in all to say, we still have TONS of fun, even though we do life this way. Our kids aren't missing out on anything. And we've made our own pretty cool traditions through the different ways we do life anyways. I mean, really, The Tooth Ranger is a pretty cool guy. Their dad. And our kids don't lack imagination or pretend play because of not believing in Santa or the Tooth Fairy. Their imaginations still run wild with adventurous scenarios and pretend playtime. 

This is a blog post to encourage those who may want to do things a little differently than the rest of society and I am simply offering you the invitation to GO FOR IT. Be the odd ones. Go against the grain. Your not alone in it, anyways. We are the weird ones as well. Rockin' it Tooth Ranger and Fake Santa and all. 

 

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Small Boobs

Yep. I'm talking about boobs on the blog today. Let's just pretend we've gotten home from a long day of work, and the first thing you do is take off that stinkin' bra. Plop yourself on the couch and put yo' feet up. And let's just be real and raw and transparent with each other, shall we?

If you haven't read my blog post about loving and embracing my unique (and comparibly "large" nose) and why I never got a nose job, you can check it out here. So, while we are at it, why don't we tackle another one of those socially staged assumptions.... boobs. 

I'm coming straight for you today. In America (and I'm guessing most other places in the world), large breasts are "in". It is desirable. It is the look we try to achieve and women will go under the knife to make it happen. Because that is how breasts are supposed to be, right?

WRONG. Heck no.

Let me tell you my story. I've always had a solid "nearly A" breast size. Never really phased me either one way or another. I don't remember it being a "big deal" in my mind growing up and developing. And once I got pregnant with my first child and began breastfeeding after she was born, I ballooned up to a size C. Which for me, was GINORMOUS. Let's get real, it was solid milk in there. Just engorged with some Grade A human milk. And really, at that point, those things don't look really pretty. Their rock hard, first of all. And the blueish veins that protrude outward can be quite disturbing. But I nurtured my baby with that milk. It's quite awesome, really.

Within the years to follow, I became pregnant and breastfed for at least a year (another 4 times.) That is A LOT of inflation and deflation of the boobies, I'm telling ya. A LOT. 

And to top it all off, after my 3rd baby, I busted my butt to lose 45 pounds of clinging on baby weight. And this is the moment in time where I was introduced to a whole new world of my boobs. I lovingly called them my "pancake sags." Saggy flaps of skin, basically. I'm just trying to be real with you here. Because really, I just had some skin flaps hanging from my chest. That is the best possible way to describe it. After weaning my baby and losing all that weight within a 10 month time frame, there was just nothing left.

And honestly, my boobs have never recovered from that time. And you know, I'm totally okay with it. Cuz guess what, I freakin' love my boobs! They fed all my 5 babies and will feed more! I could care less how big they are, how perky they are, how perfect they are. They are a beautiful part of me and they most likely won't ever be the same ever again, but gosh darn, I'm embracing them exactly the way they are. 

Really, I'm like, ultra comfortable all the time. I can lay on my stomach with my head gently nestled on the ground because I've got no cushioning prohibiting me from touching the floor. And yes, my babies don't have as much cushion to lay their heads on, but we make it work.

This is for all my mamas and anyone who has been called "flat-chested" or been ashamed of your "bee-stings." Whatever the world has thrown at you, throw it back in their face. Because you are beautiful! Your bra size does not define you!

And this is for all you voluptuous women as well! Girl, rock it! You are beautiful just as you are too! We must stop comparing ourselves to one another. Stop creating our own persona of what beauty is and instead, encourage one another in exactly the form we are.

And I sure hope your husband makes you feel beautiful just as you are. My hubby always makes me feel desired and loved and totally sexy! He tells me how he loves every part of ME and my body. And that alone, gives me the confidence to love every part of me too.

Today, begin speaking TRUTH and affirmations of your beauty, no matter what size you are. God made you with purpose and intent, and how big your breasts are, has no determination in what that looks like. Friend, you are absolutely stunning. Perfectly imperfect and gorgeously unique. Celebrate YOU today. And celebrate those awesome boobies you are rockin.'

Inspiring Youth with The Allstate Foundation Good Starts Young at WE Day.

This post was sponsored by The Allstate Foundation. All opinions are mine.

We Day occurred at the Excel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota on November 8. It was my first time experiencing and I was quite blown away. I had the pleasure of bringing my 8-year-old with me and it was so neat to see her eyes bright with inspiration. I barely realized that she is actually in that stage categorized as "tween" and everything the We Movement stands for, in is in support and empowerment of her generation.

I was able to join with the The Allstate Foundation to share some of their incredible work in the local community and nationally. Let me share some of their vision, mission and incredible impact with you:

-The Allstate Foundation’s Good Starts Young initiative aims to inspire the next generation of leaders and history makers to reach their full potential, serve causes greater than themselves and make the world a better place. 

-The Allstate Foundation is also the Co-Title Sponsor of WE Day MN, enabling thousands of local youth to participate in WE Day to feel inspired to take on the world. 

-In 2017, more than 5.2 million youth have participated in programs sponsored by The Allstate Foundation’s Good Starts Young initiative, including WE programs like WE Schools.

-WE and The Allstate Foundation teamed up to create WE Volunteer Now, a campaign that enables youth to join with their peers and others in their community to address social issues by planning and leading volunteer projects.

-WE is a non profit organization that offers programs to broaden students’ understanding of social issues and help them learn how to take action.

 

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It was so incredible to watch my 8 year old daughter's eyes beam with excitement for everything going on around her. There was inspirational speakers and people around every corner. Youth filling the arena with passion and ideas and creativity. 

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There was such a stellar line up of speakers and entertainers including The Allstate Foundation Good Starts Young Ambassador Alyson Stoner, Ann Curry, Grace VanderWaal, Jessie Reyez, JoJo Siwa, Margaret Trudeau and so many more! They graced the stage with their wisdom, energy and encouragement. 

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We got to be in the presence of some lovely other bloggers + their children and venture through this event together. This was our first WE day and I certainly hope not our last. This is a great event I encourage everyone to attend in an effort to raise up incredible leaders in this younger generation. They have so much potential inside of them and so much creativity to share with the world. 

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I firsthand witnessed the impact the message had on my own daughter. 

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We got to hear the heart of WE co-founder, Craig Kielburger, and how he created the WE movement so many years ago and continues to expand and build upon it, making a difference in so many peoples lives. 

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The message here is simple: celebrating everyday change-makers. And that's a pretty worthy cause to support and be a part of. 

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Learn how to impact change and get involved with sponsored programs by The Allstate Foundation Good Starts Young.

You can also find opportunities to rally together and take action within your community by checking out the We Volunteer Now Program.

This post was sponsored by The Allstate Foundation. All opinions are mine.

Sheltering my children.

I've always said that my main reason for homeschooling is because I wanted to spend time with my children. I didn't want to send them away for 8-9 hours a day all week long. I didn't want to only see them on nights and weekends. I wanted to be the main influence in their lives and build a foundation of our faith in their hearts.

I also said that since my husband and I began our marriage on opposite views of the whole homeschooling idea, that we would take it year by year and kid by kid and give them what they needed at the time. We were going to be very flexible. 

When we moved to our new home in March, our house was located in a prime position with a charter school within walking distance of our home. In fact, I can see the school from my kitchen window. We thought that maybe this would be the year to send the two older girls to school (3rd grade + 1st grade) and I would do Pre-K with our son and really focus on my businesses this year. 

We were excited about the thought and I also dealt with apprehensions because I felt like part of my identity was being a homeschooling mom. What if I had to let that go? What would people think? Truthfully, I got over that quick, because it doesn't matter what others think. It matters what God thinks and our obedience to Him. I also knew that I would really miss the girls and it would be a hard adjustment to send them away every day. Regardless, we moved forward and enrolled them in  school and waited for them to move up on the waiting list.

At some point in the waiting process, little things began to happen that slowly changed our perspective. And one Sunday at church, it all changed. All I can say is that it was a radical Holy Spirit change and on the way home from church, I turned to my husband and said, "I'm having second thoughts about sending the girls to school." He looked at me and said, "I've been double thinking it too!" Boom. God had been telling us both the same thing. I love when He confirms that in us. 

It wasn't a feeling based out of jitters. It wasn't a decision based out of fear. Through our conversation of God's revelation to us, we realized that homeschooling wasn't just a flimsy choice we were going to make year by year anymore but instead, a CALLING on our lives and for our kids. This is what we were called to do and how we are to raise them and we have been given this time to create a firm foundation of their character and faith in these very impressionable years.

 

Kids are so vulnerable at a young age. My kids are not perfect by any means and teach them about character and integrity daily. But if they spend even a few hours with someone who is very aggressive, angry and hits and kicks people, my kids will begin to take on those characteristics. If my kids are with someone who talks differently from them, within a matter of hours, I can hear their speech start to change. My daughter made a new friend, who didn't like the color pink, and so, she began to not like the color pink. Clearly, that does not mean that I am going to lock them in the house, never to see any other human in life. But it also means, I need to make very conscious decisions to raise them how God has called me to steward them. Because if very little things can affect their thoughts and actions, so will the big things.

 

I'm not an expert in this at all but I'm trying to lead up to a realization. I had a wonderful conversation with my mom about our decision to choose homeschooling and realizing it was our calling. It was not based out of fear, but it is based on the premise that God has given us these children to raise and steward and we want to protect them and teach them and train them ourselves. And we are capable, because God has equipped us.

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I told my mom how I obviously don't want to shelter our kids. We want them to experience the world and learn about life and in that, know that our victory is in Jesus Christ and they are FREE in Him. But I was adamant, that I don't want to shelter our kids in that.

And my mom, the wise woman she is, challenged me in that. She encouraged me TO shelter our kids. The world has such a negative connotation on sheltering. It is viewed as not exposing them to the world and keeping them locked up in a house without any socialization so they become weird and awkward. But no... let's really look at this.

Psalm 27:5

For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.

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God is our shelter and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.

Psalm 91:1

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

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God is our refuge. He covers us. He keeps us safe and protects us. He is our shield and our hiding place. So WHY... why, would He not want the same for our children. Why would he not want us to create an atmosphere of that protection for the kids he has given us to steward? God is all of those things to His children (us, as parents) and we must honor that and place our children in situations to be protected in that, not shoving them out in the world to figure it out and fend for themselves.

We are called to shelter them. It is a good thing to shelter them. We are their parents. We should shield them from the enemies traps and deceit. Especially when they are young. Their little hearts and minds don't have the capacity to know right and wrong yet, we must teach them. We must shield them and ask God to guide us in protecting them. Giving us wisdom and strength to help them flourish as they grow. 

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So, I'm not living out of fear of what they might learn from other kids, or what they might pick up in a school setting, but I'm obeying the call God has for me to yes, shelter them. To create a covering over their hearts and lives to raise them protected and comforted within how I feel God calling me to do. 

I'm not saying ya'll should homeschool your children. It's not for everyone. But I do want to challenge you, just as my mother did for me, to lose that negative view on sheltering our kids, and instead, hold them close, teach them the Word of God, and position them in a place to meet with Jesus daily. You only have so much time to plant seeds in their precious souls, so make it count now. Shelter them, just as God shelters us all. Implement a little parenting advice from the Almighty Father. 

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1 Year Blog Anniversary.

November 1, 2016 was the day it all launched. I had spent months and months building a website, preparing a blog, creating an Etsy shop and on November 1, it all launched to the public. It was so much work and I purposed to enjoy each moment of it.

My goal- to create a community of encouragement, love and finding joy in TODAY.

It has been 1 year since the launch of my website and blog and I am so grateful to God for what He has done in just 1 year!

I have faithfully posted 52 blog posts throughout this year- one every single Monday, without fail.

Now, there are some things I failed at. Can you say e-mail subscription campaigns? Yah... that didn't stay consistent. Esty shop.... didn't stay on top of that either.

But you know what, my blog grew. My readership grew. My Instagram grew. I was purposeful for an entire year on investing in my online presence, building relationships, creating my essential oil business empire through it and following the Lord's lead. And I'm so excited of what is yet to come to and where it will go.

And I have to say THANK YOU to YOU!!! For being along on the journey with me. For reading along, for interacting with me and commenting and sharing. You are freakin' amazing! Whenever I post something on Instagram, my thoughts are, "Does this add value to someones life?" And if I know that it could impact even ONE single person, I'm going for it.

So, I hope that over the past year, even one little word impacted you. I have big plans for the next year and I'm so thrilled you will be along for the journey!

In honor of the celebration, I have teamed up with some super awesome people for a giveaway. It's all happening over on my Instagram and there will be 12 winners (1 per IG account participating.) All you need to do is hop over there, follow the accounts and tag some friends in the comments! (Winners will be announced on November 1st on each accounts page!)

Thanks for celebrating with me! All the glory to God for all He is doing in each of our lives!

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