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February 27, 2013

Jonah Asher's one year photo shoot.. =)


Well our little rainbow of hope is now 14 months old and time isn't slowing down at all...

I had a photo shoot done for him last month and haven't shared the adorable-ness yet. =)

He's bringing joy to our lives day by day and we just LOVE him to pieces..

Jonah didn't give us too many smiles for his shoot (poor guy was fighting double ear infections) but he is still adorable as ever.

He's the sweetest baby boy. What a blessing he is to us!

Enjoy!!!

 
Our little monkey



 
He gets kissed... often. =)



 
We joked that he looked like he was waiting for a bus. =)

 
Peek!
Sweet smile

 
He LOVED the balloons!


 
Happy boy!

 
This one is my favorite. Love his sweet smirk. Love him.




 
Not too sure her.. lol. He looks surprised!
 
 

 
Kisses anyone? (part of his valentine shoot)




Sweet boy <3

 
Looking dapper.

 
I'm ONE!


 
Really Mom with the bow ties? =)

 
Okay, maybe being one isn't that great. lol

 
Sweetness.

 
He sure is growing fast, but we are loving every moment!!
 
Much Love,
Natalie

February 25, 2013

Planning, Praising and Praying...



I'll never forget when my Husband and I were about to get married.. There was so much anticipation and excitement as we were planning for our upcoming marriage. I had the dress, the venue, and the color scheme all picked out. We knew where we were going on our honeymoon. We had a place to live when we returned.. we had everything all planned out. As our day came and went, and we found ourselves the next day, just the two of us.. we giggled both saying "what now?"

We were just two kids, now married, alone on our honeymoon in another country. We were madly in love with our whole lives ahead of us.. yet we had no idea of what was ahead of us.

We thought we had our lives all figured out. We would have 2 kids (a boy and girl) and we would live back home after graduating college. Rick would work in the Church and I would teach in the school, we would have our family, we would build our dream home and live happily ever after... =)

It sure sounded good.

As the years have passed (almost 10 of them now) I think back to those days from time to time. I look where we are now and I can't help but smile.. We were so young and green back then. Our biggest problem back then was how many days to take for our Honeymoon trip.

Now that we are fully submerged into our lives of parenthood and the ministry my thoughts back then are just a distant memory, but God has been speaking to me. He's been showing me some things.

All those plans I had back then... they weren't necessarily Gods plans.

And as I grow and continue to mature in the Lord, I continue to see just what His plans are in our lives.

I have to get rid of "my plans" and fully surrender to the Lord. I surrender to His will and His desires in my life, and in doing so.. His desires become mine.

Psalm 37:4 Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

I love that verse.

So now as my precious Husband and I walk hand in hand together through this life all these years later, we can look back.. Our plans have change to praises.

We can praise God when he carried us through some of the valleys in our lives...

Like for the hard times He brought us through when we were fresh out of Bible college with a brand new baby. We were really struggling to make ends meet on his income from the Church alone.

During the time when his second job and business went under, and we had just given birth to our second son, and again we were so scared of how we would make it and pay our mortgage and bills on time.

We look back to the day that we had an ultrasound for our 3 month old baby and we heard no heartbeat. And within days of that we came home to our home flooded and the insurance company applied no coverage and called it an "act of God"..

And then during our most recent valley... When the Lord blessed our heart's desire with a little girl, and we felt like we couldn't ask Him for one more thing... until He called her back home just two short days later...

We all have trials and hardships we face in life, and these were the hardest of ours.

Yet, some of the hardest times in our marriage and the situations that cause some families to part ways, God carried us through. And we praise Him for that.

He provided His grace, strength and hope each day to help us through.. He has taught us through each of these trials and we learned to fully lean on Him.

Whatever He chooses to bring our way, we continue to praise Him. How could we not? He is the one who gives us all we have. He is the one who has blessed us with all the good things.

Ultimately, every trial He allows us to walk through is meant to bring us closer to Him.

I'm so glad to know this.

God loves me. He truly does..

And everything in my life is drawing me closer to Him.

I'm so grateful that He speaks to me and lays things on my heart. I praise Him for it.

The other thing that He has been dealing with me on, is my prayer life...

Our "planning" that we used to do has definitely started changing to praying..  I think my Husband has always been better about doing this than me.. Since I didn't start going to Church and get saved until I was 16, it wasn't something that was ingrained in me the way it was in Him. I have to work really hard at my prayer life.

Really hard.

And some days my sweet Rick has to remind me to stop planning so much and start praying about the things on our hearts.

It's one of my downfalls for sure, and I'm asking God daily to help me to just trust and fully surrender to His plans for me. This is most definitely easier said than done in my life.

So, we began praying that God would carry us, guide us, and help us to make the right decisions according to His plans.

Sometimes you don't realize your prayer life is lacking until you face the greatest heart ache of you existence... and all you can do is look up.

For me, this was the case.

When it hurt to take a breath every day and the tears didn't seem to ever end.

I looked to Him and He was there to comfort me. He was there to carry me.

I cried to Him in prayer and He comforted me with His word. Oh how this has helped my hurting soul.

Prayer wasn't something we just "chose" to do.. It was something we "had" to do.

We needed God everyday.

We needed a touch from the Master's hand. We needed advice from our Father...

We still do.

Every. Day.

Prayer is so important. ~That's how we talk to God.

But it goes a step further... One of the ways God talks to us is through His Word. The Bible.

If we aren't reading His word.. It's like we are talking into a phone to God in prayer but when He tries to call us and gives us guidance or an answer... We don't answer. We don't pick up.

We have to pick up His word and read it. He wants to speak to us. Daily.

He has so much in store for us!

I'm sure 10 more years from now I'll look back to where I am now and be glad how much further I am in this journey of life. And as my heart ponders on the things I've been through, I truly believe I can face much of what is to come.. with God's help.

We can truly face anything this life has to bring if we walk through it with the Lord. He's there.

How is your heart today?

Have your plans fallen through?

Are you praising the Lord, even during the valleys?

How is your prayer life?

These are things we can all work on. We truly "should" be working on to better our selves as Christians and become more Christ like.

It's a daily straggle, and Satan wants us to fail, but with God's help we can do anything.

I'm trusting now in His plans, and I hope to praise the Lord and be faithful to Him in prayer... daily.

I hope this was a little bit of encouragement for you! We are all in this together!

God is good!!

Psalms 16:11 You will show me the path of life: in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.

Much Love to you!

Natalie

February 18, 2013

Birthdays, Blessings and the Birds....

January and some of February has come and gone, and my heart is finally feeling much peace and hope again. I feel I can now fully move forward with my year after struggling through these beginning months. I imagine as the years go by, it will get a little lighter and I pray so, as my heart still aches for and misses my sweet girl. Yet through it all, God is good and His blessings continue to be abundant every single day of our lives.

We have been so very busy with many things going on and I feel terrible I have neglected this blog so greatly. I am hoping to find time to write again soon. I really miss writing...

But, among the busyness of our lives, we always seem to find time to stop and celebrate sweet moments in life. Just recently we have celebrated both our younger sons birthdays, and my 30th birthday as well.

As my birthday approached this year and I've now entered a new decade of life, my heart has pondered so many things. What a journey it's been. I promise to share about my birthday and our fabulous trip to NYC soon, but I still owe you some birthday pics from Jonah's and Eli's party!!

I've talked so much this last year about our little birdie boy, Jonah Asher. And planning Jonah's 1st birthday was another huge step in healing for me.

This party was such a blessing to throw and with every project I worked on to prepare, I found myself thanking God over and over again for the lives of my children and the opportunity to celebrate them.

Since Elijah and Jonah's birthdays are only 4 days apart, we decided to have their birthdays together in early December before the rush of the holidays.

It was such a sweet day!

Both the boys reached big birthday milestones this year as Jonah turned one and Elijah turned five. What a blessing both of these little boys are to my heart and in my life.

Since I've never had the opportunity to throw Maddie Grace's 1st birthday, I think I poured even more of my heart and soul into this one. I started pinning and planning from the time Jonah was like 2 months old. =) I really do love throwing party's, it's definitely one of my passions in life.

In preparing, I knew I wanted to go off of Jonah's nursery theme and throw a Forest friends party. I wanted to also somehow incorporate Madeline into the party. I just felt like she should have a part in it. =) It all really came together turned out perfectly.

We decided on a Boys are a Hoot/Forest friends party. And with it being winter and so beautiful out we made a special Winter woodland "One"derland room for Jonah Bear. It was so special.

We had the party at my Mom and Dad's big beautiful home in the country where there was tons of space to celebrate.

As I prepared and worked for days, I just found myself finding happiness and peace in this day and in this party. It was very healing for me.

I worked and worked along side some good friends and my family to turn their home into a Forest Friends winter wonderland. It was beautiful.

But, the best part of it all... was the joy on the faces of my sweet little boys. They were both so happy. So excited!

It truly was a blessing to see and experience.

I have so many pictures to share and I think they can best describe the day, but just before I do, I want to share the special way Maddie made her presence at the party...

Just as the party time arrived and the guests were beginning to pull in, I ran to my van to touch up my makeup.

My parents home is surrounded by trees and as I walked out onto their porch, I was stopped dead in my tracks.

The noise caught my attention first.

The most beautiful noise I had heard all day.

It was hundreds and thousands of birds! They were all chirping and singing sweetly in the trees.

My eyes wandered to the right as I scanned the tree line...

They were everywhere! They were flying and hopping and landing in the treetops.

The front field was filled with them too. I watched as waves of them swooped across the land as they played with each other and hopped happily about.

I walked to my van and watched them soaring over head.

It was such a sight.

I sat in my van to put on my makeup but I couldn't keep my eyes off of them.

I felt like Maddie Grace was there.

She was smiling down on this day wishing her big and little brother the best birthday. And she was.

I gathered myself and went inside with the biggest smile on my face.

I found Rick and told him Maddie was with us. He went outside to see.

What a blessing that when I least expect it, God gives us those sweet little hugs and gifts of peace. This time it was through all those Maddie's birds. It truly was a blessing.

Enjoy..




 
These sweet Maddie birds were all around.. So sweet!

 
Welcome to the party!!!
 
 
 
Forest friend ears =)
 
 
Elijah Braden is 5!!!

 
 
Woodland mantle
 
 
 
All of the boys favorite forest friends came.
 
 
 
 


 
 
 

 
Woodland Dining room
 
 
Jonah's cake

 
Eli's cake

 
Forest friends cupcakes!!
 

 
 
Owl, Bear and Hedgehog cake pops!!
 

 





 
 
 
 
Little owl Treat table

 
Ornament candy keepsakes for the kids!


 
Boys are a Hoot treat bags!

 
Mason Jar drinks
 
 
Jonah Bear Cupcakes

 
 
"Hoot" chocolate station

 


 
 
Loved making thes fun lanterns!!

 
Jonah's "Onederland" table..
 
 
Jonah's baby book

 
A beautiful album online. I loved that it matched his theme. =)
 
 
This says "Winter Woodland Onederland"
 
 
 
Just had to post a pic of my Mom's pretty tree =)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The kiddos posing in their forest friends ears =)
 
 
 
Jonah Bear Picnic =)
 



 
The babies loved the mushroom play tent =)
 
 

 
 
Holding my sweet "ONE" year old =)

 
 
Me and my big 5 year old!!

 

 

 
 
Everyone loved the jar drinks!

 
Entering Eli's Enchanted forest...
 
 

 
Eli's archery!!


 
He was pretty good!
 
 
Forest friends masks

 
Raccoon picture frames

 
The cutest little game..
 
 
I was gonna read this by the fire... but it was strangely warm that day so we never lit the fire.. Jonah loves the puppets! =)
 
 
Pinata time!

 
Even the adults had fun!!

 
 
Time for cake!!!

 
Rick smashed Eli's face.. lol

 


 
He was a fan =)
 
 
 

 
Everyone loved all the treats while Jonah enjoyed his cake!! =)



 
The aftermath... lol
 
 
And after a quick bath and an outfit change...
 
My little Jonah Bear was ready for presents!
 



 
He loved his bear rocker!

 
And his puppy walker!

 
But my most favorite gift was the beautiful quilt Mrs. BJ made...

 
 
And look who she incorporated into the quilt... <3
 
 
My sweet girl.. miss her so.
 
 
What a great party... Everywhere I looked I saw smiling faces.
We truly are so blessed!!
 




 



 
 
 
I'm so grateful my sweet boys both had such a great party.
We are so blessed to be able to celebrate a/another year of life with our sweet boys.
We are blessed.
 
 
 
 
I'll never forget this sweet day. What a wonderful year with my boys. <3
 
I sure am grateful for many things, and I try to find happiness daily, but today I'm really grateful for
Birthdays, God's blessings... and the birds. =) It's the little things in life that truly do mean the most! =)
 
Much Love,
Natalie