Monday, January 30, 2017

Children of the World

"I know my God saved the day and I know his word never fails and I know my God made a way for me..It's gonna be alright...Salvation is here."

Those words are words to a praise song that I have sung hundreds of times...but they truly stuck out this morning. To see children from all over the world, from true hopelessness, singing about the joy and Salvation that only the Lord can give was simply convicting. How often do we claim, "It's not gonna' be alright." or "God, your way is not working out," and here they are...singing truths to us!

World Help is an organization similar to Compassion International. They take children in impoverished situations, overcrowded homes, or orphaned children and obtain sponsors for them. Through sponsorship, they are able to have schooling, clean clothing, and the opportunity to learn about Jesus. Each year, this organization brings 10-20 children to the US for 10 months to tour as Children of the World children's choir. They do this in order to raise money for their organization so that more children can be sponsored, but also to give these children an opportunity to see the US and see the opportunities that could be available if only they break the cycle of poverty and lack of education. 

Calvary was privileged to host the Children of the World choir this weekend. 10-20 sponsored children who are chosen based on grades, poise, and an application process are on the tour each year. This year, there are 13 children touring--8 girls and 5 boys. While it may seem odd that these children are taken from their 3rd World homes for a year and paraded around the US, the more I think about it, the more I is a win-win. It brings the mission field to those in the US who may never be willing or able to leave the country. It brings awareness of crises occurring all over our world. We are often so first-world blind that we forget about the rest of the world! Additionally, it opens up the eyes of the children to what opportunities are out there (outside of their little communities). Each of the girls who stayed with me wanted to be teachers, nurses, and singing teachers for children in their community..."so they could grow up and not be so very poor". What an encouragement it is to see children desiring to "be the change" in their area. How many American children have that same desire?

Moose and I got to host four precious girls at our home. Two of them stayed in our guest room and two in Eva Kate's room. I joked that we are teaching her about missions and how to share at a young age, but it is my prayer that we continue to take opportunities to share what God has blessed us with and Eva Kate grows up with the mindset that it is just what you do! Piling up in mommy and daddy's room for two nights so that sweet girls from Nepal, Uganda, and Honduras could have a comfy place to sleep while they are in the US to tell others about Jesus should be the norm! Giving up our comforts to love on others and share God's grace should be an everyday thing for us. I pray that as Eva Kate grows up, we never use the excuse that it is too difficult or uncomfortable. 

The children arrived on Friday afternoon and did a sound check at the church. Then, the host families picked them up. That evening, Morgan came over and we just hung out. The girls showed us their braiding techniques and played with EK. We ate beef stew for supper (they were fans of the broth!) and roasted marshmallows on an inside fire. We finished the evening with some cartoons and showers for all.

On Saturday morning, we met up with the other groups and headed to downtown Greenville to the Children's museum. The children sometimes get to do fun things in the cities they visit, sometimes play at the host family's home, sometimes have organized just depends on the group they are with. The past few groups had been in smaller towns, so the kids spent a lot of time riding bikes and playing games. We decided to take them to the Children's Museum for a little change.
I don't know about them, but I had a blast ;) was a lot of fun. One little girl who stayed with us, A, said "it was no fun at all." Her sarcastic and funny personality was Mackenzie's favorite! The girls loved that Auntie Mack and Auntie Mo came along to the museum and they had lots of big friends to play with. Eva Kate even enjoyed some of the events at the museum!

After the museum, we went to the mall for Chick-fil-A. My former boss, Keith, was another one of the host homes, so we hit up his Chick-fil-A for lots of yummy food! Of course, we had to spend some time using the snapchat filters!

After the mall, we were ready for a relaxing afternoon! Moose's sister Angela and her daughter Camdyn, as well as Chelsea and Livi, came over for the afternoon to hang out and visit. We had a full house and spent some time watching cartoons, playing Spoons, playing Trouble, and playing Uno! Girls after my own heart--game lovers!!!

That evening, we had a children's event at the church. The Children of the World joined with Calvary's Kidz and had a blast jumping on bounce houses, playing games, and eating pizza!

Sunday morning was the actual concert. I have it recorded on my Facebook Live if you would like to see a sampling. It was amazing! The dancing, drumming, and of course, singing was incredible...but more incredible to me was the message. These children reminded me that hope does not come from stuff..or from comfort..or even from family! Hope comes from God and God alone. How quickly we forget that every good and perfect gift is from above.......and that we can be blessed with God's love and His favor even when it appears that we are "not doing well". What a sweet reminder for us all!

After the concert, the girls all needed a turn with Eva Kate. Our girl goes with the flow so well ;)

These kiddos were so good with her!

"Uncle Keith", "Auntie Pam", "Uncle Moose", "Auntie Megan" and our girls!

Whether you choose to sponsor a child from World Hope, send donations to Compassion International, go on International missions trips, host missionaries from foreign countries, support missions financially, or simply ought to choose something! God calls us to serve in our Jerusalem (home), Judea (our own state), Samaria (our country), and even to the ends of the world (that one is obvious, right?). What are you doing to make a difference and further the gospel right now? My heart is for the young adult in these areas. So often we focus on the children that when they "age out" of programs, they are forgotten. My prayer is that I can make a difference in these young women's lives in the Dominican Republic.

What is your heart? How can you serve? How can you help show that salvation and rescuing from the Lord is truly here. God makes a way for His own...and oftentimes it is through the work of others. What can you do?

Monday, January 23, 2017

Getting Fit and Healthy

Hey Mom...why are we eating at home and having all of this healthy stuff?!

Every year about this time, Moose and I decide it is time to embark on a diet or health food journey of some sort. Oftentimes, he diets and I exercise and we both quit by March. Grin. 

This year, I have a few Eva Kate pounds that I would like to get rid of as well, so we are taking on this journey together. We looked in to several diet and food options and finally settled on Whole 30.

Basically, Whole 30 works on a similar premise as paleo, except you slowly add things back to see what your tummy can tolerate, and the program strongly suggests that you not eat "fake" substitutes. For example, pancakes are not don't make faux pancakes with bananas and other allowable ingredients.

The concept for the first 30 days is that you remove legumes, gluten, dairy, and sugar from your body for 30 days. You let your gut recover and enjoy eating straight from nature. Essentially, you are resetting from all of the junk that you put in your system. This, in addition to drinking lots of water is suppose to cleanse your body, help you to feel better, and help you shed some pounds.

Most of the info about this program can be found here

So far, I am loving it. The most difficult thing is cooking every day and meal prepping for lunches. It, however, has not been nearly as time consuming or difficult as I thought it would be. I started following whole30recipes on instagram and found some pins on pinterest and went from there. 

We plan to go through the month of January, and possibly February, before adding anything back. Eventually, you can add legumes, then diary, and then grains (whole wheat). I truly think this will be a lifestyle change for us rather than a diet and hope to see great results in terms of weightloss and how we feel.

But...I don't know that I could've stuck with the plan without a little bit of an extra push. That's where this stuff comes in:

In addition to Whole30, we have also been taking some Plexus products. Several months ago, when I was still pregnant and TIRED, a friend of mine reached out to me about trying some of her supplements for gut health, my extreme sleepiness, and overall health. There are so many products out there that people are "peddling" that I just ignored her for a long time. Then, my OB suggested I take a probiotic. I had never in my life had issues with my belly, but pregnancy made going to the restroom VERY difficult (which is wayyyy opposite than I was used to). I turned to the friend who had reached out to me and asked her to send an ingredient list for Plexus' Probio5. Guess what? My OB Okayed it, as well as the biocleanse. Over the course of the past 6 months, my belly has begun to feel much better and so much more "regular". After I had Eva Kate, Moose and I both started taking Plexus Slim as well. What we are taking now is called the Triplex. It helps burn excess fat, balance blood sugar, regulating cholesterols, and so many more random benefits. My allergies have not bothered me at all in the past season. Both Moose and I have plenty of energy, even though we are eating fewer calories and no longer drinking soda. I have become a believer! 

This stuff works. I feel good. Whole foods + Plexus has made me a happy mama. Trust me when I say there is NO WAY I could have survived on every-2/3 hour wake ups for the past 12 weeks without some sort of help...Plexus is that for me. 

The cost is so worth it and less than our former "breakfast stop" each morning eating out... and the value of minimal tummy issues, more energy, and overall better health has been so worth it for both Moose and me.  

Trust me when I say I feel better!
I will keep you updated! 
What are you doing to get fit in 2017?

Can I help you? Is Plexus something you are interested in? Message me for even more info!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Friday Favorites-Holiday Traditions

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that December is my absolute favorite and that I love all of the traditions that come along with it. This year was extra special because it was our first Christmas with Eva Kate...yay!

I love so much going to my parents' house during Christmas time and seeing all of their decor. This year, my mom bought new stockings with all of our initials on them. It is so sweet seeing those extra letters up there! Funny story-she asked me if I knew the name of my potential second child so she could go ahead and get that letter. Grin. Maybe not quite yet! 

Chelsea and I took Eva Kate and Olivia to see Santa! The Haywood Mall Santa has been there forever, and he is just the best. His personality is so sweet, and he just looks so "lifelike". I don't know that I will spring for this splurge every year, but it was fun to do with the cousin twins this first year!

Eva Kate was confident that she needed to eat all of the things that day...and of course, she was wide awake and playing!

Moose and I celebrate our anniversary in December. Why am I using this picture from October? Well, because of this particular event, we didn't do much anniversary celebrating this year! ha! I love this guy so much and watching him develop into Eva Kate's daddy has been such a joy. 

Also on our anniversary this year, we attended/participated in our church's annual Hanging of the Green program. I was a Toy Soldier again this year, and Moose was the "green" king. Eva Kate hung out with her sweet friend Gracie in the nursery. lol This was during her extreme colic/milk allergy/hating life phase, so she had a hard time that night particularly. So glad that is behind us!

One of my absolute favorite events of every single December is our Friend Christmas Party. This party has changed over the years, but always includes yummy appetizers, a gift exchange, and a boys v girls game. I started hosting our friend party 5 years ago, and the group has both grown and changed over the years...but the fun has stayed the same! 

We always have more food than we can ever consider eating! Sweets and savories and all of the yummy Christmas treats are in abundance. 

We have exchanged "creative" date nights in the past, but this year, we exchanged board games. Each couple brought a game and we played dirty Santa to choose/switch. 

Oh! Also, two years ago, we started a fun new tradition...we wear our Christmas PJs! Our boys even participate in this, and I am so grateful that they go along with my silly plans.

In years past, we have participated in a Christmas light scavenger hunt. The boys have won 4 years in a row. SAD! Because of my competitive nature and desire to addition to the fact that we had 8 guys and 8 girls this year (can't easily fit in one vehicle), I changed up our activity. 

I truly, truly thought this would be a shoo-in for the girls. I really did, y'all. 
We did a Gingerbread House Decorating contest.

Friends...the guys hit it out of the park! Their house is the one on the right...and we were going to put the houses on social media for a vote. Well, there was no need. They kicked our fannies. 
SO......once again, the "girls just didn't get it" and the guys won. 

next year!

Our whole group:

This was apparently also the year of the gingerbread house. Mom hosted a Calvary Kidz Christmas Party where we also did a gingerbread house contest. My group was full of type-A kiddos and thankfully, we ROCKED IT OUT!

Look how cute!!!!!

Here is ours stacked up to their competitors. We are on the far right. Winning!

The second half of the kids party consisted of a scavenger hunt. A sweet girl in our group bailed me out as my phone died right after taking our FIRST picture. Luckily, we were near her house and she grabbed her ipad from her room! Yay Alli!

Some sweet girls and their mommy have been asking about coming to visit Eva Kate at our home. I wanted to make some yummy treats to give away. I decided to combine the two and ask these precious friends to come help me decorate my cookies while their mommy played with Eva Kate. We had a blast! J asked me if we could make this an annual tradition, and I LOVED that! She and are are of the same mind in believing that Christmas Traditions are the BEST.

Eva Kate took her first road trip in December. Moose and I always go to his parents' house on the 23rd and 24th. Because of the way the holiday weekend fell this year, we were able to leave on the 22nd and and get some extra time with his family. Eva Kate loved spending time with all of her cousins! We love this time all piled up in Canton with family and celebrating the holiday. 

We took Saville family pictures this weekend as well. Eva Kate conked out during this fun event! She was so cute. I think this might be the first time she ever slept in a photo.

We typically make our way home for Christmas Eve dinner with the Roberts fam. They go to our church's Christmas Eve service...and we meet up with them after.

We also always get to open one Christmas present on Christmas Eve...and it ALWAYS happens to be PJs. Usually, we don't have a theme, but this year because of the babies, we had one. Grin. Dad and I bought the cutest buffalo plaid baby PJs in Maine this year, so mom matched us all. Guys...this picture is one of my favorites.

Santa came! Woot woot!
Eva Kate got some fun toys, and I love how they look in our den. Moose's parents got her an exersaucer, and I can't wait to see her use it when she is a little bit bigger.

We spent the remainder of our Christmas break at a basketball tournament. It has become a tradition to watch the Lady Mustangs play ball after Christmas. Eva Kate was a complete and total trooper and played in the bleachers the whole time. I love it so much!
This year, our tournament ended with a sad moment. Mackenzie tore her ACL and Meniscus in the last game. She had surgery and is recovering very well at this time, but is out for the remainder of this season and up to 6 months. It truly broke my heart because this girl and I share a mutual adoration for basketball. It hurts my heart to see her missing, but "Coach Mack" is taking it really well...and KILLING her therapy. So proud of her!

The past two years have ended with watching our Tigers on New Years Eve. This year, we were home for the holiday, so we spent the evening hanging out with the friend group at the Clegg's house. We played games, shot fireworks, and watched the tigers! I love this!

This holiday season was the absolute best! I can't wait for many more Christmases with Eva Kate and Moose. YAY!