Enjoyment in this Life

“Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot.” –Ecclesiastes 5:18

 

Sometimes a girl just needs a good book and a hot cup of coffee to put a smile on her face. It truly is the little things.

Because let’s be real, life is difficult.

God reminds me to enjoy the gifts He has placed in front of me each day- a breeze on a humid afternoon, laughing over a goofy joke with my husband, enjoying a new flavor of coffee, listening to the radio, painting my nails, or getting caught in the rain.

I need to be reminded to slow down and enjoy life.

And I need to be reminded of it often.

Caught in the Rain

Very recently, I did get caught in the rain while on a walk.

It was one of those days where I was tired, my house was a mess, my baby wouldn’t nap, I didn’t have time to prepare a real meal (string cheese & chips, anyone?), and the to-do list in my head kept growing. Going on a walk seemed like the only logical decision to possibly calm my baby, keep my dog entertained, and gain back some sanity.

My neighbors probably thought I was insane when I left my house with both my son and dog in tow because clearly rain was approaching, but I just needed to get out of the house for a bit (mom-life).

We walked for maybe ten minutes, until I realized rain REALLY was going to come at any second. Literally, when I made the decision to turn around, it started to downpour.

And I started running.

And unexpectedly, laughing.

I realized how ridiculous I must have looked in that moment as I ran.

I was the lady running in a downpour, pushing a stroller with a baby that clearly wasn’t shielded from the elements, and my short-legged dog was trying to keep up.

Adding to the hilarity, my dog would decide to stop without warning. We would be running full-tilt, when suddenly I’d get jerked to the right, and I’d almost tip over the stroller. All because my dog felt the need to stop and shake off excess water, in the middle of a downpour. 

So the laughter kept coming, and it became a needed release from the day.

After reaching the front door, still laughing, and the rain continuing to pound down even harder, I decided to stop and watch my son enjoy the rain. I took him out of the stroller and we walked back in the rain so we could experience it together.

It was a special moment just to stand there together and watch him see, feel, and fully experience rain. I saw his eyes study it, and his face crinkle as the rain touched his cheeks. He watched my gesture as I showed him rain in sign-language before we quickly moved back into the house to dry off.

The cutest moment came later when we had probably been back in the house for about five minutes. My son was crawling around on the floor and suddenly stopped to look up at the window, reaching out his arm he attempted to make the sign for rain. I picked him up, and we went to the window together to watch the rain, and I showed him once again the sign for rain as he reached his little hand out to touch the glass.

I recount this story as a reminder to myself to be flexible, laugh a little, and enjoy the little moments. Because, as my pastor accurately and opportunely reminded us a couple weekends ago, “in the end, it’s the little moments that add up to becoming the big moments.”

I don’t want to be the mom with the memories of trying to be the perfectionist, trying to keep everything unnaturally organized, or stressing because I didn’t finish my to-do list. But rather, I want to be the mom with the memories of laughter, appreciating a moment, and enjoying life, even on a difficult day.

This moment in the rain, was a special moment. It was a beautiful gift that God gave me to experience, and I’m so happy that I slowed down and took the time to appreciate it.

Because I can easily see another rushed and aggravated version of myself in this situation. The perfectionist in me easily creeps back in, and I find myself aggravated with the day not going according to my plan.

I know the part of me that would have taken this rainy moment, and made it part of a “crappy day”, rather than a precious gift. And I’m sure there will be future days, where I’m rushed, negligent, and anxious. So, I hope this reminder will serve to help me slow down, be thankful, and turn to God in the stress of life, so that I can see the gift that is before me each day.

And enjoy the little things.

 

Current Favorites: Enjoying the Little Things

 

Book-

Hands Fhfmree Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters! By Rachel Macy Stafford 

I can’t say enough good things about this book and how it brought me to realize the importance of slowing down, living in the moment, and not always planning for the next one. I started reading it back in the spring and just finished it at the end of this summer. It’s not that long of a read, but it’s one of those books where I just wanted to read about a chapter a week, so that I could really apply it to my life. Each chapter emphasizes the importance of relationships and getting away from the distractions that pull us away from what really matters. I know I can easily be distracted by to-do lists, e-mails, social media, my appearance, and get taken away from what really matters- relationships. This is definitely a book I will read over and over again because all of it is such a good reminder! Even if you’re not a mom, she has another book called, Living Hands Free: 9 Habits to Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, and Loving More. I haven’t read it, but I would bet it’s probably just as insightful.

 

Beverage-

Paramount Coffee: Fall in Love Pumpkin Spice & Sweetie Pie Pumpkin Pie

If you’re a coffee drinker, and you love the fall, you have to try Paramount Coffee. My sister initially introduced me to these two coffee flavors a couple years ago, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Literally, even if it wasn’t fall, I would probably still drink these coffee flavors. It’s the perfect amount of fall flavors in a coffee beverage, and it saves me from spending about $5 on a pumpkin spice latte at a local coffee shop (even though they are sooo good). I purchased these two bags at a TJ Maxx and a Home Goods store. I’m so happy that I continually come across them each fall. It adds a little bit of happiness to my day at about $3.99 a bag. Yum!

 

Scent-

DKNY Be Delicious Green Apple

Scent is such a powerful sense, and the right perfume can really make me feel good at the beginning of the day. I received the DKNY Be Delicious Green Apple perfume as a gift back at Christmas, and it’s the perfect scent for fall (or any month). It’s fresh and has a romantic aroma that doesn’t make it too fruity. If you ever experienced the Bath and Body Works apple-scented lotion from way back in the day, this is a similar aroma. It still has that apple-scent, but there’s a layer of femininity and romance that make it a nice perfume to wear going about a normal week.

 

Activity-

MOPS

MOPS or Mothers of Preschoolers is an international organization that helps connect moms of young children. It starts back up every fall, and I can’t say enough good things about this organization. They allow moms to come together, talk, laugh, cry, discuss, eat, craft, pray, and connect. I love my MOPS group because it’s run by some wonderful, Godly, caring women, who are organized and willing to go out of their way to support and love moms right where they are. We just had our first MOPS meeting this past week, and our MOPS leaders did such a great job of organizing the morning, making child care accommodating for moms, and even providing a gift to everyone on the first day. MOPS, International also sends a quarterly magazine with membership. If you haven’t heard of it, and you’re a mom with young ones, I highly suggest checking them out and finding a MOPS group in your area!

 

Novelty-

Plant Nite

So, I have not tried this activity yet, but I have done the Paint Nite and had a blast
a few years ago. I got an e-mail about Plant Nite which involves creating a tabletop garden while enjoying a drink with friends. This sounds like a lot of fun to me, and a nice way to socialize while growing in my gardening skills (I’m very much a beginner). Some of the designs and plants are super cute. Has anyone tried this? I’d love to hear some reviews on anyone’s experience.

 

Thanks for stopping by, and I’d love to hear about some of your current favorites for the fall. Have a wonderful day!

Joyful Month

September is such a joyful month for our family.  And I really wanted to make this blog post special because of that. I have so many wonderful memories associated with this month, and fall is always an exciting time of year.

Summer is without a doubt my favorite season, but fall is a very close second. Who doesn’t love apple picking, corn mazes, kettle corn, harvest festivals, and pumpkin-flavored everything? It makes me smile just thinking about all that is to come for the fall season.

(On a side note, I’m excited that I’ll be doing a fall favorites blog post very soon, so make sure to look out for that!)

Significance of September:

Baptism

“…for all who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” –Galatians 3:27

Back in 2010, after my car accident and moving six hours away from my hometown for my first teaching job, I began attending a Baptist church. The church, the people, and the love it showed towards me were unbelievable.

This was the first time I was committed to learning more about Jesus, who he is, and what he did for me.

I began researching the history of the Bible and learning the evidence behind so many stories told within its pages. Evidence for Christianity by Josh McDowell was one of my favorite resources. This book is unbelievable.

McDowell is a man who once considered himself an agnostic and thought Christianity was worthless until he was challenged to scrutinize the claims of the faith. The overwhelming evidence for Christianity changed his life, and he accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior. You can read more about his story here.

Through going to church and living singly, I made so many connections through the Career Impact group for single working adults; I grew in faith and began to understand what it meant to be a follower of Jesus; I began attending Bible studies for the first time, and I actually read the Bible and had people willing to guide me through it.

No one made me feel stupid for not knowing where to find the Book of Job, or Esther, or Ecclesiastes.

No one made me feel inadequate for not knowing how to pray out loud.

No one judged me by my past or looked down on me for what I’d done.

No one thought my questions were dumb or that I didn’t belong.

No one left me feeling alone.

These people, the church, welcomed me, open arms, loved me, encouraged me, changed me, and guided me to a relationship with my Savior.

It was genuine.

It was real love outpouring from these people.

For me, the church was part of the evidence that proved Jesus IS real.

In September of 2011, I decided to fully commit to my faith in Jesus by being baptized.  Similar to my wedding ring being a sign of my marriage and commitment to my husband, baptism is an outward sign that I acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Savior of my life, and I commit to following Him all of my days. It doesn’t make me perfect by any means, but it shows my commitment to follow the Lord.

My family was able to attend my baptism, and thankfully, my now husband was also able to come down and attend as well (he was living 3 hours away at the time). I wish I had a photo from that day, but I know there’s a recording of my baptism somewhere at my parents’ house that I’ll have to to dig up at some point.

My husband and I are so glad God has provided us with such a church family in our current location. The church continues to love us, encourage us, and direct us back to Jesus.

It Had to Be You- Our Wedding Day

“Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate.” –Mark 10:9

My husband was continuing to grow in his faith throughout September 2011, and he fully committed to making Jesus Lord and Savior of his life at the beginning of 2012. This was also around the same time he proposed to me, and a couple months later, he was baptized. We then planned our wedding and got married eight months after our engagement on September 2.

I can remember so many moments of the day, and yet it went by so quickly. Our original plan was to have an outdoor wedding, and then the reception would be at the same venue as the ceremony.

A BIG change in plans came when several storms were coming through our area that weekend, so we decided to move the ceremony to my church 3 days before the wedding. Yikes!

It was a little nerve-racking; we had to contact all the guests, and change the time-frame for the order of events. We also had to make several decoration changes, but thankfully our family really stepped up to help out with all these adjustments.

Despite the last minute changes, and the anxiety that came with the time adjustments, I couldn’t have asked for a better ceremony. It was truly my favorite part of the whole day. It was special for both my husband and I to be making our commitments to one another, before family, friends, and God, and to have it all happen in the church where our faith-walk was initiated.

Our photographer was wonderful, and she was so flexible with the change in time and venue for taking photos. Thanks, Rachael Schirano for the beautiful photos!

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The reception was a lot of fun as well. I loved our food. My husband is a huge buffet-style fan, and I’m a huge chocolate fan, so we ended up having both a buffet and a chocolate fountain. We had these great cupcakes that were made from a local grocery store. And I have to say, they were some of the best cupcakes I’ve had, and they were about half the price of ordering from a bakery. Big money saver for us!

About one hour into the reception, I was completely exhausted when the dancing was starting. It was such a long day, but both my husband and I were happy with the result of it, and we were so appreciative that so many friends and family could come out and support us. And thankfully, it all went smoothly despite the big change in the location for the ceremony.

But the wedding is just one day; it’s the start of a life together.

The best part of it all, is that I get to be with my best friend. It hasn’t been smooth sailing by any means; there’s been some really tough times, but we continue to grow in love for one another each day, dying-to-self, and being servant-hearted towards one another. I can truly say I’m more in love with my husband today than I was on our wedding day. 

It’s never been sugar-plums, all-smiles, and butterflies, but the commitment we have to one another is one that makes our relationship stronger thanks to God.

What a Gift

“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.” –Psalm 127:3

Our son was born in September as well, and he will be celebrating his 1st birthday later this month. I don’t think I could ever put into words how much I love my son or how much joy he brings to us each and every single day. It’s a lot of work and sacrifice, but it’s completely worth it. He’s taught me so many things about life without even being able to speak or express all of his thoughts or emotions.

God’s gift of having a child is beyond words. My perspective on life has completely changed, and I believe God is using my son to change me in so many ways- in being more humble, patient, and loving towards others. My son slows me down, helps me to appreciate the simple, and he helps me appreciate the things in life that I would often take for granted.

My heart has been opened to a love that only God could create and put in my heart to feel.  

It’s remarkable to realize that the love God has for me, his own child, is even beyond the love I have for my own son. His love is unfathomable to me; it’s astounding to think about and try and wrap my head around.

It’s a love that I want to grow in understanding and sharing with others, so that they will know how much God loves them, and desires for them to be in relationship with Him.

I want my life to be a reflection of a love that could only occur because of a God who continues to mold and shape my heart to be more like His. I want my life to point back to Him: my thoughts, words, and actions.

I want others to see that there could be no other possible explanation for the love that I show other than the fact that God is changing me, shaping me, and making me into a woman that reflects His character.

 

Thank you, Jesus for so many wonderful gifts for the month of September.

 

Songs for the Month of September that I Love

“September”- Earth, Wind, Fire (Such a Fun Song)

“It Had to Be You”- Frank Sinatra (Our Wedding Song & I Love it in When Harry Met Sally)

“How Can It Be”- Lauren Daigle (Love Her & This Song)