Friday, December 5, 2014

Jubilee, a Year later

It was a year ago today that our precious daughter was born into Heaven.  There has been pain that is for sure but what I'd like to share to day is that this pain has made the HOPE of Heaven more real to me.  When I am broken, I know that it is Christ comforting me.  When I think about Jubilee and am sad, imagine how much more broken I would be if there were no hope of seeing her again.  Because Christ is risen, I know that she is risen as well.

Last night, Jesus kept me in His peace by allowing me to think on the beauty that she is now instead of what she looked like when she was born.  I allowed my mind to wonder what she would be like.  Time in Heaven isn't like time here on earth. Is she a beautiful 1 year old or is she a beautiful young woman.  I'm so thankful that she has been spared the pain of this life.  She will never suffer a broken heart, a skinned knee, cancer, awful name calling.  She will be experiencing the love of Christ more fully than I can even imagine at this point!  That my friends is miraculous!  She gets to sing praises to the King of Kings in His presence! What an awesome thought!

Jubilee's name means a celebration of beauty or a beautiful celebration.  This broke my heart when she was first born.  That did not feel like a beautiful celebration to me in the least.  My daughter was born dead, never to play with her sister, never to see her smile, never to kiss up her beautiful little face.  Over the course of this year though, I've also realized that she is experiencing the most beautiful celebration: being in the presence of the Lord.  Jubilee was also a year of rest in the Bible, so I like to think that Jesus gave her a beautiful rest.

So today instead of dwelling on how I should be baking a smash cake and making plans for her first birthday party, I will choose to focus on the joy that she is with the Father, the Creator of the Universe and He has given her a beautiful rest. StumbleUpon

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Day 2 of Carols

Today I choose Away in a Manger because I'm hoping to teach these songs to Zoe each day as well.  Away in a Manger is a bit more manageable for her little spirit.


Have you ever gone caroling? What are some of your favorite memories caroling?

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Monday, December 1, 2014

"O Come, O Come Emmanuel" 25 days of Carols

This December, in order to help me focus on Christ, I'm posting a hymn a day. This hymn makes me think of our artisans because Christ came to "O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny." Many of our artisans have been set free! Praise God!

In our Cottage, I plan on making a wall hanging using these beautiful carols.


What are some images that come to mind for you?

What carols help you to reflect during this time of year?

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Friday, November 28, 2014

Give the Gift of Hope

One reason I'm so passionate about Trades of Hope is the Hope they offer to women.  I was recently reading an article about one of the groups we help support. They not only help the women make necklaces to support the families, but they have prayer and Bible study and now these women are supporting their communities!  How amazing is that?

And have you seen this video of Ms. Florence and how TOH has impacted her life?

That being said, Trades of Hope is offering 35% off all of their Christmas sale items.  You can get some amazing gifts for your friends and family while supporting women like those mentioned above.

Add in a picture, and what a special gift for someone to cherish!

The Nina necklace on the bottom right has been a hit at my parties so far.

Wouldn't these ornaments make lovely gifts for neighbors or teachers? They come in sets but you can always break them apart to give out as gifts.  There is also another set, this heart set that is 50% off.



And what about a beautiful scarf to keep out the winter chill!

And just as an extra incentive, any order over $150 from now until December 2nd receives this Guatemalan coin purse free!



I am so excited about working with Trades of Hope I made my 30 day goal already and am 7/10ths of the way to reaching my 60 day goal and I'm only on day 36. Woohoo!




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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Another year older, and hopefully wiser

As I reflect on my birthday I think about some of the big changes that have come through this year.

In December we lost our precious girl, Jubilee Belle.  I miss her often and though I don't cry as often and it is easier to remember that she is with Jesus and doing better than I am, it's still difficult every once in a while. I see Zoe playing with her baby doll constantly and can't help but think, she should be playing with a real live baby instead. However, God saw fit that Jubilee join Him instead and we rest in that.

We've been able to use Jubilee's death as a witness many times in the last year.  Sometimes with family, sometimes with friends, and most often with the boys.  I've been able to talk to the boys about the importance of staying strong when they want to collapse and doing what they need to do even when it's hard sometimes.  I've stressed that the best way they can care for someone who is hurt back home is to work on getting their life in order while they are here. Ironically, my emotions have sometimes taught our youth to be empathetic.  They will often ask what is wrong if I'm on the verge of tears.  Not that I do it often but when I do it is good to see they are learning empathy.

It took a few months, but we found out in June that we are expecting again, and what a blessing that is!  I'm so looking forward to baby #3.  My biggest struggle is not to worry about the birth.  I'm trying to just trust that Jesus will provide the strength I need to trust Him despite my temptation to doubt.  Things are going well so far with this pregnancy for which I'm very thankful.  I can't wait to meet our little one this March!  It's hard to believe that I've been pregnant 3 times in 3 years.  I'm so thankful for the opportunity.

We moved yet again this year, another amazing opportunity!  We are working for a new Director who is a much better fit for us.  Instead of 8 boys, we now raise 10 and they are WAY more immature because they are the younger kids.  They want to do things with us though and that is a blessing.  Unfortunately the program is run so tightly that it's hard to do a lot of the fun things we would like to do with them.  We have to conduct three one-hour groups a week plus all of our normal stuff, it cuts out a lot of the time we would have for playing games and doing projects.

My husband had a "definitely-not-30-party".  I'm so blessed by having my husband.  He treats me so well and I'm very thankful he's willing to clean.  Haha it's probably my least favorite thing ever but I've been much better about it.  He's been very supportive through all of the rough times this year.  In fact, he's supported me in starting my own business.

I've been wanting to be a Compassionate Entrepreneur with Trades of Hope since Zoe was born.  We never had the funds to do so and so when an opportunity presented itself, I'm so glad we were able to say, "YES!"  The heart of this organization is what always kept it in my mind.  The fact that they are changing one of their taglines from "Shop. Host. Join" to "Join. Host. Shop" says a lot about the mission of TOH.  My trainer told me that we have many more groups coming to TOH saying that they have heard of how much TOH has helped others that they are hoping to sell their goods with TOH also.  Unfortunately, with less than 1,000 CE's nationwide, TOH has had to turn down some of these groups.  So I'm so thankful to be working with a company that wants to be the Hands and Feet of Jesus.

Those are the biggest changes we've experienced this year.  We pray that Jesus keeps working to keep our hearts turned toward Him and helping us to trust Him every step of the way.



I leave you with a cute video of our precious girl.  (Well, I suppose I should leave the "cute" adjective out, that's for you to decide.) StumbleUpon

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A look at some recent photos

(Please excuse that these are straight out of the camera, not a lot of time for editing lately.)

I have not included many photos on the blog in a long time unfortunately but I hope that changes here in the future.  Here is a random collection of Zoe cuteness!

Zoe got to take her first horse ride with daddy on Grammy's horse, Paige.


 She enjoyed looking at the pond snuggling daddy!
 And petting and/or torturing the kitty, Pearl.  In the photo below she had accidentally sat on Pearl.

 Then she was tuckered out!

 Bathtime and umbrella fun!


 Mama's little baker!
 And fun time in the leaves!




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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I'm so excited

and I just can't hide it!  My Trades of Hope kit came today and I'm just itching to dig through it all.  Unfortunately I don't have the time to do so today but I do have a few pieces I wanted to share with you that were instant favorites as I was digging through my box.




I love this scarf .  It is so much more beautiful in person than online! And below is a little bit about the women who made the scarf. 

Links to the other items showcased:

If you are interested, check out my site:



OH MY! I forgot to mention in this version of the video (the first one sounded like I was a chipmunk and I couldn't figure out how to fix it) that we got to listen to baby #3's heartbeat today.  What a miracle it is to grow a life within you.  Please be praying for us that we would continue to have a healthy pregnancy and that my protein levels will even out over the next month.  

BTW, the baby's heartbeat was 148-158 today, much to daddy's dismay.  Faster heartbeats (above 140) are usually girls.  He's still waiting to have a little guy of his own.  I know he will love this one as much as he adores Zoe!




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Saturday, November 1, 2014

I'm a Compassionate Entrepreneur. . .

to find out what that means feel free to watch the video below.


I'm working for an awesome organization called Trades of Hope. 

We are working to Empower Women out of Poverty.  We sell their products at a fair trade price so that they can provide shelter and medical care for their family. This also helps them to have a business opportunity to keep their children.  


Check out this story from one of the artisans:


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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halfway there!

Some may be wondering halfway to what?  Well watch the video below to find out!



If you couldn't see the video, 


























We're expecting Baby #3. 

Will it be Nehemiah or whatever girl name we eventually agree upon?


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Monday, September 22, 2014

So much has happened

since the last time I've blogged.  Zoe is growing by leaps and bounds and learning so much.  We moved cottages (a quick move across the street).  We also went on a wonderful family vacation to Kentucky with Grammie Wood and Uncle James.  We visited the Creation Museum, the Cincinnati Zoo, and did a tour of some of the horse farms.

I will post more about it in a future post but here are some pictures of things we did.

African Penguin at Cincinnati Zoo

Alpaca at Zoo

Daddy and Zoe on a camel ride at the Creation Museum.

Fish at the Zoo

Adam naming the animals in the Creation Museum

Zoe got to feed a giraffe at the Cincinnati Zoo.  Too COOL!

Silly goat in the petting zoo

Botanical gardens at the Creation Museum

Petting Zoo at the Creation Museum.  Zoe is fascinated by animals.

Swoon. love those eyes.

Dinosaur Den at the Creation Museum.  Zoe was delighted that there were little dinosaurs which she affectionately referred to as "baby dinosaurs." (above and below)


Waterfall at the Creation Museum botanical gardens.

Zoe enjoying the playground in the zoo.

Zoe made a best friend at our ranch named "Meow, Meow."  She came to visit us everyday.  It was just darling.  Plus an awesome incentive to get Zoe to do what I wanted her to do ;).

Zoe got to feed this Zonkey named. . . wait for it. . . ZOE! LOL



Zoe's favorite game is "Me Hiding" only she tells you where she's hiding and hides in the same place nearly every time.  It is so much fun to hear her squeal with delight though when we find her. 

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Happy (bittersweet) Mothers Day

I never imagined that Mother's Day would be so hard for me.  I know that I should be so grateful for my beautiful daughter Zoe, but my heart just breaks knowing that I should be holding a beautiful 5 month old daughter as well.  Mother's Day should have been joyous, instead it was marked by many tears.

It all started the day prior when we were at a friend's wedding.  She started her father daughter dance to Butterfly Kisses and I had to leave the room. My hopes of seeing Aaron do that with both of our girls shattered to the ground.  That was a psalm 13 moment of prayer for me. When Aaron and Zoe came to find me Zoe asked, "why you sad mama?" I explained to her that I missed Jubilee. She said, "Jubee home, me hold Jubee too." It was the most preciously heartbreaking moments ever. My girl is so sweet.

Almost everything in church that day made me cry.  I LOVE my church family and am so thankful for their support on Sunday. I had a few very special ladies ask how I was doing before we started church. I held myself together off and on but during Be Still My Soul, I lost it.  We had that playing before Jubilee's memorial.  It is a song that has always been dear to me.

Verses 3 and 4

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and bless├Ęd we shall meet at last

It is true that through trials we come to know Christ better and yet that pain is still so real!  Thankfully, our God understands our passion and comforts our broken hearts.  I'm so thankful that in His Word, the psalms are included.  Because of them, I realize it is ok to cry out, "why Lord?" And "Where are You in this pain?" Now I know those are mostly rhetorical questions but they are real questions.

I feel as though my thoughts are rambling. Sorry for that.

On Sunday we also went on a hike in the Gorge where we scattered Jubilee's ashes. It was so very bittersweet. We love the gorge, but it's also a reminder of Jubilee.  At times I could just see Aaron's face from that cold day.  I could hear his sobs as we said our final goodbyes to put precious one.  It was very sweet though watching Zoe enjoy playing at a place we've enjoyed so many times in the past.

Holding Zoe tightly only made me miss Jubilee all the more.  

And every time I see my cycle begin again I have a tough day or 2. I wish this were not the case. My heart longs so much for another child that my emotions go a little haywire.  Thankfully, the other day when reading to Zoe, I had an encouraging word. Our boy name has always been Nehemiah. It means according to Zoe's little Bible, God will wipe away our tears.  I find hope that someday God will give us our Nehemiah. I just wish His timing more closely matched mine.

In parting, I hope to write a more joyful post tomorrow. One with lots of pictures of Zoe. StumbleUpon

Saturday, May 3, 2014

4 Years or Happy Belated Anniversary

Dear World,

I am married to an amazing man.  I can't believe that it's been 4 years already.  We've been through some rather tight financial strains over the years but have always had a roof over our head and had a home full of love.  My poor husband, he has had to put up with so many of my struggles and has done so rather gracefully.
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Photos courtesy of Kat Ritenour Photography

Photos courtesy of Kat Ritenour Photography

We've given birth to two beautiful girls (even if we have to wait to be reunited with Jubilee). We've moved 3 times in 1 year of marriage.  Our oldest daughter turned 2.  Seriously when did that happen?  We've enjoyed many hours of family snuggle time (one of our favorite past times).

In these four years, I've become a much better cook.  (Praise God for my husband's patience in this matter).  I still enjoy baking, much to Aaron's chagrin. We've discovered that we really enjoy camping, and can't wait to start up again this summer.

And who would have thought 4 years ago that we'd actually be parents to 8 teenage boys.  Certainly not I!  I always said I couldn't do high school kids, that's why I majored in Elementary Ed.  God sure does have a mysterious way of working (like having us lead a high school youth group before starting this job).

Aaron, you are my shoulder to cry on, the twinkle in my smile, the arms that hold me when I'm broken, you are the man our daughter loves and kisses up, my personal heating pad (why I don't generate my own body heat I'll never understand). I love you more than words could ever express.

I look forward to many more years of growing old and wrinkly with you!  I love you!

Both pictures courtesy of our 2 year old. :) 


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