Life is Hard AND God is Good

Friday, February 22, 2019

I'm not quite sure how to begin today's post so I'll just cut to it--

Earlier yesterday, Dustin and I received the worst news.  Our birth mom decided to parent the baby.  The little baby, who we were so excited to call our son, hasn't been born yet, but she's made the decision to parent.

Please excuse me if my thoughts are jumbled because I'm still processing the news and my emotions.  Because we've been so open about the fact that we're adopting and our match, Dustin and I felt it was best to go ahead and tell everyone now as opposed to later for a couple of reasons.  Even before we got the news that she'd changed her mind, both Dustin and I had multiple people talk to us about our upcoming due date and arrival because everyone has been so genuinely excited for us.  People literally ask us every day and everywhere we go, and it would be so awkward of us for someone to ask us who hasn't heard.  And also because we still covet your prayers.

This has been such a confusing time for us.  We're angry, hurt, confused, and yet, I sympathize with her because I know she's bonded with that baby.  She's felt him kick.  And while we trusted that she would follow through with her word, I can't stay angry at her for her decision.  Yes, I've loved that baby since the day we were matched 4 months ago, but I've also loved her and prayed for her.  And this must be what God says is best.

We've both been blown away by close friends and family who have covered us in prayer and have spoken truth to us in this time.  Adoption is so hard.  Infertility is so hard.  The strong desire to be a parent without any success is so hard.  And we don't understand why God allows some things to happen, but He does.  I'm reminded that God is always good and everything He does is for His glory and our good--that is, to be more like Christ.  Dustin and I reminded ourselves that when we began this journey, all we have wanted is for God to be glorified.  So in the midst of our pain, we are trusting in Him and His plan for us and our future children.  Even when I don't understand what is going on and it hurts, He knows what's best.  He only does good things.  Life is hard because sin entered the world in Genesis 3 and the world has been groaning for redemption ever since.

I'm reminded of this verse from Paul's letter to the Corinthians:

"For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.  So death is at work in us, but life in you." 
-2 Corinthians 4:11-12

Our suffering here on earth is for Jesus' sake--He gets the glory through it all. 

Please pray for our hearts as we try to figure out what is next.  We so desire to be parents, but I'm so scared this is going to happen to us again.  We don't want to be ruled by finances, but the reality is, we've lost money now that she's changed her mind.  Pray that we trust God in His plan for us.

Coffee Talk Wednesday!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

I'm doing another Coffee Talk Wednesday with y'all because let's face it, I'm doing good just to get a blog post up at this point haha!  Hopefully the beautifully styled shoots return soon....but it has to be sunny for that to happen ha!

So, let's pretend we're sitting in a comfortable coffee shop and I'm drinking a skinny vanilla latte :)

-Yesterday started what feels like our 40 days and nights of rain.  Not really that long, but I think into the weekend?  Some areas are even expected to get 10 inches of rain, though, in that time, so I've been paying attention to the reported flooded areas.  Let's also hope the ceiling in my classroom didn't leak overnight because it rained so hard last night...yuck!

-The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills started up again and I really have decided it's my favorite franchise.  Teddi is probably my favorite cast member and then maybe Dorit after that because of her random accent haha!  I'm not liking her look this season--80s??  Please don't bring back the 80s fashion, Dorit.

-Some of my students have been so excited about the baby coming soon that they ask me every day.  Yesterday, I had a sweet little girl bring me a present and it was such a kind, sweet thing for her to do--although she is such a sweet little girl naturally!

-Have you heard about the Faster Way to Fat Loss program?  Sometimes referred to as FWTFL?  I've been researching it a lot lately--especially after lots of bloggers have posted--and I've decided I'm going to start it in April after things are most likely calmed down.  I could write a whole post on how fertility medicine messed up my metabolism, and I just need a jump start to get back to where I used to be pre-meds.  This is one of the blogger reviews that sold me.

-When Calls the Heart is about to begin a new season and I am excited!  That is one of my favorite tv shows!!  It's based on a series of novels, so I bought those on my iPad and have been slowly making my way through them.  I'm currently in book 3 and the books are WAY different than the tv show.

-I've started doing yoga at home a couple of days a week.  I finally found a channel where the yoga is challenging and mostly doable for me.  I love feeling stronger and also a little more flexible.  I sleep really good on days I do yoga!

That's enough of my ramblings for today--I hope y'all have a good Wednesday!

My Favorite Children's Books (So Far!)

Monday, February 18, 2019

I posted on IG stories this weekend about sorting through all of the children's books I've either bought or received as gifts just trying to get things organized.  And while I was trying to organize those books, I started flipping through some of them and instantly started crying as I was reading them!  I don't know how I'll ever make it through reading these books at bedtime 😂

**One that I didn't take a picture of because it's actually in our bedroom is The Jesus Storybook Bible.  This is a MUST and I cannot wait to read this every single night!  And I highly recommend this for any age....whether you are 6 months or 60 years old!

**When we first began discussing adoption, I was very contentious about buying books that featured characters of all races.  I've noticed lots of children's books have all white characters, and regardless of the race of the child we adopt, I wanted to make sure that our children's books feature a wide variety of races being represented.  Even if you have biological children, I challenge you to look at the characters in your children's books and see which races are dominant.

I ordered this book from Amazon and when it came in one day, I read it out loud to Dustin while he was fixing himself food in the kitchen.  I had to stop midway to hold back tears.  This book is so beautifully written (if you've never listened to Shai Linne's music, you need to!!) and encourages the celebration of diversity because God made us that way!  You shouldn't say you are "colorblind" because you aren't and that discounts the fact that God made us different colors--and we should see that a celebration of who God is!

I bought this book when I realized that getting pregnant was going to be much harder than I expected it would be.  As I flipped through this book while organizing, I came across the page that talked about the first time holding your baby and that's when I lost it.

My mom bought this book for me in 2007 and wrote me a really sweet note on the title page.  This book is similar to I'll Love You Forever so a really sweet book!

This book is another one with the message of celebrating the different colors God made us. But this one also talks about how God loves color because of all the different colors in nature--it's a great book, too!!

When we announced our adoption, we did so with a newborn gown with a lamb on it.  So lambs became a semi-theme of the nursery.  My mom bought me this book one day after we got matched with our baby, and it goes along with the Jellycat lambs we have!

My mom got Dustin a bunch of children's books for his last birthday with the theme of being a daddy and this was one of them.  I love this one because it's about the love a daddy has for his children and how he protects them.

My bff Janie surprised me with this book (the author of this is the same author of The Jesus Storybook Bible)!  This one made me cry because it's all about how your family is your family and your house is your home--something that's I've really thought a lot about with adoption since I will not physically birth our child.  And this book really reiterates that message without really doing so--if that makes sense haha!

Another Sally Lloyd-Jones books (can you tell I love her), this one is about the celebration of the gifts that God has given us and how He has given us all different gifts.  So what one person has isn't the same as yours--beautiful illustrations, too!

This is a board book that focuses on counting to 10 all while thanking God for making every part of you!  This book really helps point out that God is your creator and you were made wonderfully!

These aren't all of the books I have, nor will these be the last books I own!  If you have a favorite, please leave me a comment so I can add it to my list on Amazon!

Friday FAVES!

Friday, February 15, 2019

Hey, Hey, it's Friday!!!!!  I'm so excited because we've got a three day weekend ahead since Monday is a weather day for my school system!!  Woohoo!!

I've got a few FAVES to share with y'all today!!

 Last weekend Dustin was off work, so we left Saturday morning for a day trip to Nashville since we don't live too far away.  We had the best time and found a new FAVORITE restaurant--Edley's BBQ in the 12th South neighborhood.  Dustin's even talking about the next time we go back haha!

 I tried my hand at making an acai bowl, but mine didn't turn out thick enough.  I didn't like it, but Dustin did!  I took a few bites/sips since it was liquidy, and he ate the rest and loved it!  I've got to give it another try and use a frozen banana instead of a regular one.  I think that will help.

 This picture popped up on my Facebook memories from Monday and it has me wishing we had snow like this again!!  This was the year both my sister and I got married, so it was a fun last good snow living at home.  We put on our warmest clothes and played outside all morning with our mom.

 Wednesday was our first sunny day in a while, so I went over to my dad's after school to run in his neighborhood.  He ended up riding his bike while I ran and that was so nice!  Afterward, Dustin wanted to go try out the new burger place in town, so we went early since I knew they would be packed.  It was a fun, impromptu date night!

 All I wanted for Valentine's Day was for Dustin to cook dinner so we didn't have to go out to eat.  I requested the exact same meal he made last year, so he did just that!  He plated the meal so well, that I had to take a picture!  And now I've got half of a filet mignon to eat today at school for lunch!

For dessert, he made chocolate covered strawberries!  I ate about 5-6 haha!!  (You can see in the top where he tried to drizzle white chocolate over it, but he burned it in the microwave)

I don't think I've ever shared about my FAVORITE sheets here on the blog, but my FAVE sheets are made locally--which makes it even better!!  Last February, Dustin surprised me with this sheet set since I had been talking about wanting some.  The only thing keeping me from getting a set was the price--they were more than I really wanted to spend on sheets.  But after getting a pair, I have realized how they are worth every single penny!  The cotton is grown locally by a family we personally know, and then they've matched the creation of the sheets to heirloom sheets they own from generations past--because we all know that things made a long time ago are better quality.  These sheets get better with each wash, and we will probably never sleep on anything but these sheets!  Go read the reviews on these sheets--they are amazing.  And then order yourself a set and tell me how you love them!
**We have the Bankhead Basics fitted and flat sheet.
**We have the Heirloom Classic pillowcases.

I wrote Wednesday about my all time FAVORITE reads, so you need to check it out if you are a big reader!

I am LOVING this song!

I hope y'all have a wonderful weekend--I know I will!

Favorite Reads of All Time!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Today's prompt with Shay is PERFECT for me because I absolutely LOVE reading!  I had a really hard time narrowing down my list of "favorite" reads, so this isn't a complete list.  Just because I'm an English major doesn't mean I only enjoy reading the classics.  While I do enjoy reading those, I also enjoy reading books that don't make me think at all and are purely predictable (like Mary Kay Andrews).

Ever since I can remember, I have always loved reading.  And I'm a fast reader, so I can knock a book out in no time and then move on to the next one.  I can't wait to see what everyone else lists, so maybe I can add some books to my list!

**You'll notice I have lots of southern authors on this list, and it's not that I think southern authors are the best.....but they are ha!  There's just something about a southern author and how they embody the beliefs and hospitality of the South.  Yes, I know that the South has some bad history--but we also have a lot of good people here who would give you the shirt off their back if you need it without even knowing who you are.

**I also have a few books that are also found on the National Banned Books list.  I think it's important to read "controversial" content.  I have controversial in quotes because some of it isn't controversial at all 😜

TKM is my FAVORITE BOOK OF ALL TIME!  It's required reading for my school system (and many in AL) for high school freshman, but I actually read this on my own in the 8th grade.  I fell in love with Atticus, Scout, and Boo Radley!  I love that it was written and is set in my home state, and the theme of empathy is one that will forever stand out to me.  If you haven't read this book, you must.  But don't read Go Set a Watchman (her prequel).  I did not enjoy it at all, but that's s story for another day :)

Okay, I know I have raved and raved about this book lately, and it really is going to be one of my favorite reads of all time.  The author did a wonderful job of describing the setting and making the marshland and swamp such beautiful areas.  And she did an excellent job making Kya such a lovable character--one that I connected emotionally with immediately.  I actually clutched my chest at one point while I was reading because my heart hurt so much for Kya.  This is a book I will be reading again soon!

I remember picking this book up from our local library and loving it because it made me think.  The main character is an African American girl and she begins to think that she would be considered pretty if she had blue eyes like one of the white girls at her school.  This book really made me think about society's beauty standards and what we're telling our little girls by the kinds of marketing they see.  If you haven't read this, I highly recommend it.  It's not a long book at all, but it does have some mature content.  

"My mother is a fish" is a line that has stayed with me for over ten years--that means a book is good!  This book was required reading for me in 11th grade English and I have never forgotten it.  I actually re-read it in college, too, because I loved it that much.  As Faulkner's style is, this book is told in a stream of consciousness and you get multiple points of view as these characters are traveling to bury their mother in her hometown in Mississippi.

I could never leave off HP!  I actually would never have read HP if my 6th grade English teacher didn't set aside a few minutes a day to read us the first novel.  This was before HP became insanely popular and no one had heard of it.  After we read that first novel, my mom got me the 2nd and 3rd books for Christmas in 7th grade because they were already published.  Then after that, I used to wait in line at Books a Million at midnight waiting on the release of each book.  The last one came out my senior year, and I remember looking around at the ages of the people waiting in line and lots of them were my age--we grew up with Harry.  I've actually gone back and reread these as adults, and JK Rowling is a gifted writer who has the gift of making you think without realizing you are!

I named this my favorite book of 2017 when I read it in February of that year.  I loved it that much.  I picked this book up randomly at my local library and read it within a day or two.  This book is told from different points of view of different types of characters during the time of TUR.  Most books during this time only cover points of view of slaves, but this one gives you the point of view of a slave catcher and a "conductor" on the railroad.  READ IT!!

What are some of your favorite reads of all time?

Meghan Markle Maternity Syle That I'm Loving

Monday, February 11, 2019

It's no secret that I love Meghan Markle.  

She's living out (almost) every American girl's dream....marrying a prince.  She's got access to loads of good fashion, and aside from the pressure from the press, I'd like to think she lives a good life.  She's been given a major platform to do good in the world, and she's married to the love of her life :)

Her maternity fashion choices have been very interesting.  I honestly thought she'd dress a little different, but I'm not hating it!  There are some outfits I like more than others, so today I thought I'd share some of the ones I've been liking!

 I think this dress is Oscar de la Renta.  I didn't like it at first, but it eventually grew on me and I really like the pop of color the shoes gave it (see below).  I probably wouldn't have paired tall boots with a longer dress, but she did and it looks good on her!

 This shows her boots better!  The olive color looks really good with the dress above.

 I once saw an interview with Meghan for Good Housekeeping and she mentioned she really enjoys a good monochromatic look.  Keep that in mind because she chooses to wear monochromatic a lot.  I like the all black look on her.  The skirt has pleats!

 I love the neckline on this evening gown and the fact that it's a darker color.  

 This one surprised me when I first saw it pop up on social media because she's not one to wear bold colors.  But as the day went on, the news began reporting how she may have dressed in purple and red to match the logo of the organization they were visiting, and an old picture of Diana dressed in purple and red popped up and I thought that was sweet.

 Meghan loves a good blush look and I love it on her!  Her make up looks really good right here, too.  Do you like the blazer with this?  Oh, and Saturday Dustin and I were in Nordstrom and I came across the Aquazzura shoe display and I saw these exact shoes-of course I had to check the price and tell Dustin how Meghan Markle wears this brand ha!  And these are very, very similar to the ones she wore most recently except hers had a higher heel (and in a maternity look that I did not like).

 Another semi-monochromatic look and this one features a dress from H&M maternity.  She hasn't worn hardly any real maternity pieces, so I was surprised to see her wear this one.  I like that Kate pairs high end pieces with low end, and I hope that Meghan will do that, too!

I LOVED this look!  Meghan went back to the Grenfell(?) Tower where she helped to create the cookbook and wore this look.  I'm pretty sure this look was from November, too.

Which of these is your favorite maternity look for Meghan?

Friday FAVES!!

Friday, February 8, 2019

Happy Friday!!!  I'm SO glad it's Friday because this has been a rough week, so bring on the weekend!  Dustin and I have something fun planned for tomorrow, and I can't wait!

Today I'm sharing a bunch of my FAVORITES with y'all!

 I have really been liking my make up routine lately and all of the products I've been using.  This photo was taken after my make up had been on for about 10 hours, and it's not looking bad!  I'll be doing a post soon about all of my current make up products!

 The only make up product that I use that isn't my favorite is my mascara.  I just can't bring myself to spend more than $8 on mascara, so I end up with clumpy lashes at the end of the day because of that.  If anyone would be willing to gift me high end mascara so I can experience that, I'd love you forever 😂😂

 I LOVE roasted brussels sprouts, so I made them for dinner earlier this week.  This was before I stuck them in the oven.  After I roast them, I like to mix together balsamic vinegar and a little local honey and coat the brussels in that as soon as I take them out of the oven.  It's life-changing!

 Dustin had to go to his diabetic doctor last week and he surprised me by stopping by Trader Joes on the way home!  He got me some Everything But the Bagel seasoning since it's so popular......and it's a FAVORITE!!!  I sprinkled it on both my avocado and my egg.  And notice how I eat breakfast at school ha!

 I know I wrote about these tights earlier this week, but I really love them.  They are thicker (so quality construction) but they also are vented...

 They are perfect for spring!!  I know it's still early February, but we've had temps this week in the 70s and it's made dressing very difficult--which make these tights perfect right now.  **Look at how long my hair has gotten!  After having the hardest time growing my hair out (I firmly think fertility meds didn't help), my hair has just exploded and has grown so much!

 The weather this week has been a FAVORITE because it has allowed me to get outside and exercise!  Yesterday, I went to the park and speed walked 2 miles and it was perfect!!  And now today, the high is 43 degrees...yuck!  I also with I had air pods 😊

Last night I had popcorn for supper and it was the best!  I have an air popper, and I just throw some spray butter and popcorn seasoning on it.  I could eat this popcorn all the time!

My girl, Meg, has had a lot of engagements so far this year--which means lots of maternity style.  This was one of my FAVORITE looks from her lately.  First, I'm a HUGE fan of monochromatic.  Second, this dress is from H&M so I love the high-low pair with the labels.  She's obviously my FAVORITE!

And I'll leave y'all with one of my FAVORITE John Mayer songs :)


Relationships Survey from The Blended Blog!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Hey y'all!!  How many of y'all stayed up watching the State of the Union address last night?  I believe that no matter what political party you align with, it's important to watch the SOTU address.  It lasted much longer than I expected it to, so by the time Dustin and I went to bed, I think I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow haha!  So I'm writing today's post early in the morning!

1. Who is your oldest friend/how did you meet?
I have friends that are still in my life from day care and elementary school!!  I think that's the best thing about living in a small town.  But my very best friend has been in my life since early high school when we met after my mom and sister and I changed to the church she went to and we met in youth group.  Dustin and I were just in Auburn spending the weekend with her and her husband!

2. Tell us about your circle of support.  Who are your people?
Oh man, I have an awesome support circle.  Not only do I have great family and a great small group at church, but my coworkers are awesome.  When I was going through IVF, my coworkers would pray with and for me at school or bring me small gifts or send me random texts letting me know they are thinking of me.  When I miscarried back in May, my coworkers were the first to show up and take care of me/us.  They brought food, called, dropped off chocolates, and made sure I didn't have to cook supper for days.  I could never leave the school I teach at because my coworkers are so great!

3. How did you meet your partner?
We were set up on a blind date by....a coworker haha!!  My coworkers are really integral to my life haha!  Dustin was a senior in high school when I was a freshman so I didn't really know him because we didn't have the same circle of friends--although we should have been in some of the same places because some of our friends were siblings.

4. How is Valentine's Day celebrated in your home?
Usually we go out to eat but last year I had surgery a few days before Valentine's Day, so Dustin made the most wonderful filet mignon with a wine reduction sauce.  I've requested that same meal again this year!

5. What is your love language?
Honestly, I've never read the book.  

6. Do you prefer receiving flowers or chocolates?
I would prefer receiving flowers any day but Valentine's Day since the prices are jacked up on flowers on that day.  Dustin, feel free to send me a spring arrangement once it warms up outside!

7. What is the most meaningful gift you have ever received or given?
I can't think of anything in particular??  Cliche, but the way Dustin proposed was very special and I do cherish my engagement ring.  This year for Christmas he surprised me with my Nespresso machine and that wasn't evens something I had asked for!  I had just been randomly talking about wanting one for months, so that showed me he had been listening and paying attention to me.  Oh, and this Christmas he got me the most beautiful necklace as a gift.  If you know me, you know that I'm not the biggest jewelry fan and any jewelry that I wear (except my engagement ring) isn't going to be big or flashy--as in, I wear pearl studs every day and that's about it.  He picked out a very simple rose gold necklace with a small strand of diamonds and it was perfect for my jewelry style!  This showed me that he knows me!

How would you answer some of these questions?

Friday/Monday FAVORITES!

Monday, February 4, 2019

Happy Monday!!!

I hope everyone had a warm weekend because I sure did!  The weather here was spectacular (think high 60s and sunny) so I'm going to be so sad when it gets cold and gloomy again.  Hurry, spring!

Since I enjoyed my Thursday night by hanging out with friends and finishing The Great Alone, I didn't get my Friday Faves post up.  So here we are on a Monday with a post reserved for Fridays....maybe this will make the weekend get here faster?!

 Saturday morning I went for a 2 mile run in a tank top (!!!) and my new running tights.  I'm still working to build up my running back to what it used to be when I used to "go out and run a quick and easy 3 mile run" 😔  It's been harder than I expected because 1. I'm very competitive with myself and am always wanting to improve on my pace which is hard when you're trying to get back in the game and 2. our neighborhood has some really terrible hills which make me tired.
**Also notice Dustin's clothes in the background on his dresser.....UGHHHH

I took pictures of two books that I want to eventually buy and read...
 I loved Their Eyes Were Watching God, so I assume I'll like almost anything Zora Neale Hurston writes.  This book looks super interesting because the man pictured (can't remember his name) lived in Alabama and tells Hurston his story.  Oh, and now that I'm typing this, I think his name is Barracoon ha!

This was in the school reading list section and one I haven't read yet.  I always find these sections so interesting.  

Random, but this title makes me think of As I Lay Dying which is maybe my favorite Faulkner novel.  If you haven't read it, you should!

Y'all know how much I love Meghan Markle.  It's borderline embarrassing 😂  I came across this short video clip and thought it was so cute!

Have a great Monday!!
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