Monday, October 24, 2016

GPS- Guided Travel Articles

Hey y'all! As you know, Aaron and I have huge hearts for travel and the adventure that comes along with it. Between our travels overseas and all over the country, we have truly loved meeting wonderful people in new places, and seeing so much history and culture around the world. Although our traveling will look a little different when Baby K comes into the world in March, we are still planning several more adventures for the future (and for when Baby is here too)! 

If you're like us, you like to travel on a budget, while also maximizing your time in the places you choose to visit without wasting time planning in the moment. At the same time, you want to know what you're seeing while you visit. Lately, I've fallen in love with the perfect solution to both problems: travel article apps. These are the articles that you find while browsing and think, "Man, this will come in so handy when we are in _____ city!" You can save the article for later, but what if I told you there was a better way to do it- on that involved embedded maps and a personal tour guides of sorts? They're called GPS-Guided Travel Articles, and they are also the newest offering from GPSMyCity, an awesome app that I shared in my post on What to Do in Kansas City. 

Why Use GPS-Guided Travel Article Apps?

Great question. Think about all of the times you need to look up a location or an article while traveling. Once you find a good review, you've got to look up the restaurant or attraction, and then look up the directions or find it on a map. And you have to have either data or internet access. But with GPS guided-travel articles, you've got GPS coordinates embedded into an article, so that all you have to do is download the article and you're set! The tracking in the articles lets your iPhone chart the route within the city you're visiting, and keeps you moving from location to location, so all you have to do is enjoy the experience without getting lost. The articles can be read off-line, on a plane, on the subway, anywhere! No internet needed. 

Just so you know, you can automatically download and read any GPS guided-travel article for free, but if you choose to upgrade for a small fee (and purchase the app for $1.99), you'll get the access to all the great offline GPS features! So cheap and easy! Best of all, you'll get to have your own little tour without having to pay a hefty amount for a tour guide. What a great way to see the city and remember what you saw!

How to Access GPS-Guided Travel Apps

You've got a couple of options:
1. Click the link at the end of an article or blog post that has been turned into an app. You'll be prompted to download the FREE GPSmyCity app. After that, check out the post, and you can download for free or upgrade to get the GPS-guided version. 
2. Download the FREE GPSmyCity app, and then browse for any city to find articles! 


Want to give them a shot for free?

You're in luck! Some of my very own posts have been turned into article apps! In celebration, I'm offering a free travel article app giveaway. For one week (from October 24th to October 31st), you can check out the following article apps from my posts and upgrade for free on the Kansas City app to see how it works:

What to Do in Kansas City (Free Upgrade!)

Feel free to check out some of my other popular travel articles, where I share tips on saving money, visiting the best places in the shortest amount of time, and making the most of your visits with inside tips! 


Thursday, October 20, 2016

5 Ways I'm Conquering My Pregnancy Fears

From the very moment you find out you're pregnant, it's easy to let fears and worries creep into your mind. And honestly, it's pretty easy to be afraid even before you're pregnant (see Nine Reasons I'm Afraid to Have a Baby). From fearing the pain of miscarriage to worrying about all of the things that could possibly go wrong along the way, pregnancy is a strange journey of incredible excitement, anticipation, and underlying anxiety about what could happen. As the weeks tick by and I move closer and closer to my due date, old worries are fading away and new ones are replacing them. But lately, I've found peace in the midst of these concerns. Here are five ways I'm conquering my pregnancy fears. 

1. Keeping the Big Picture in Mind

In the moments where I'm most worried or fearful about all that is to come, I'm learning to remember the ultimate joy at the end of this journey: the blessing of raising our sweet child. I know that I won't necessary love things like the gestational diabetes test, getting an IV, or pushing through labor (literally), but I know that all of these things are necessary ends to a means. And if that ending places our beautiful baby in my arms, I know that everything will be oh so worth it. I won't care what I have to go through to get there: meeting Baby K, finding out their gender, naming them, and raising them up to love the Lord will be the sweetest, hardest, best journey ever. So it's all worth it.

2. Thinking Positive and Believing in Myself

I looked in the mirror the other day at 9Round and found myself asking, "Can I do this? Can I really bring a child into the world?" And then I stopped and considered that I was 20 weeks pregnant, coaching softball, and still working out daily. And I thought, "Heck yeah, I can do this! I'm going to rock this!" Why is it that it's so easy to let ourselves be negative, but we're so slow to be positive and believe in ourselves? I'm finding that a positive mental attitude can quickly erase the fears that whisper to me randomly throughout the day. I'm choosing to believe that I can do this, just as so many women have before me, and so many will after me.

Pregnancy Announcement Photo, Baby Shoes


 3. Finding and Reaching out to a Support System

I have been absolutely blown away by the incredible support of all the amazing mothers out there! From helpful advice on cribs and car seats to celebration of my pregnancy, moms have engulfed me with love and encouragement, and I am truly grateful. Of course, my family and mama friends have also been so wonderful, and I couldn't do this without them. But it has been oh so encouraging to see the love and support from so many who don't know me, yet are fabulous listening ears and encouragers! Y'all rock!

4. Being Honest about My Fears

Being willing to share our hearts and struggles together with vulnerability is a huge part of heart behind this blog's mission statement: to love fiercely, learn fearlessly, and live fully. I've found that holding in my fears only lets them eat away at me, making me into a monster who boils up and eventually spills over with emotion. So I'm choosing to be honest about my fears: with my husband, with my friends, and with those I love most. Even if it means waking my sweet hubby up in the middle of the night, crying about something random and seemingly unimportant, I'm doing it. Because I know that I need to be honest with myself and with others in order to work through these fears.

Pregnancy Announcement Photo, Baby Onezie, Younglife


 5. Trusting that God's Plan is Good...No Matter What

A few weeks ago at church, while I was leading the song "It Is Well", I found myself moved almost to tears by these lyrics: "So let go my soul, and trust in Him. The waves and wind still know his name...And through it all, through it all, my eyes are on you. And it is well with me." In the moments when I find myself most worried or afraid about labor or motherhood, I stop and remember that God is good, that He is sovereign, and that His plans are to help me and not to harm me. So if there are complications or problems along the way with our baby, labor, or everything in between, I am finding myself saying, "It is well, Lord." I know that His plans may not always be what I want, but they are what I need. And I find hope and peace in knowing that ultimately He has brought us to this place, given us this child, and provided us with more than we could ever dream of. So I know He is good, and that I am not in control, which is so freeing.

The journey from being afraid to have a baby to knowing I was ready for one was definitely filled with tears, joy, and the realization that my fears were not enough to keep me from yearning for a child. But along the way, God has always been good. I know that there may still be times when I freak out about labor or worry about things to come that are unknown, uncertain, and scary. But in the end, I trust that I am equipped to be a mother, that I have been chosen to have this particular baby at this particular time for a reason, and that God will not let me fall. I'm so grateful for the amazing support system that I have, for mama friends to be vulnerable with, and for the opportunity to bring our sweet child into this world oh so soon.

I'm leaving you with some of my favorite powerful and encouraging songs. I hope that their truth and peace will calm your soul and mind just as they have for me (and not just for pregnancy fears). Be sure to check out some of my other posts on motherhood too, and shoot me a message if you'd like to chat more about pregnancy, fears, or really anything!


Monday, October 17, 2016

The Best of Washington D.C.

When Aaron and I went on both our Northeast Spring Break trip and our "Anniventury" this summer, we ended up spending part of our time in Washington D.C. The first time around, we were only there for a day and a half, so we found ourselves hitting the major highlights quickly before moving on. But when we were there in June for my students' national competition, we had a little more time to really dive into the city and explore. Here are our "best of the best" for D.C., including museums, neighborhoods, restaurants, and getting around the city with ease!

The Best of Washington D.C.

Museums and Monuments

You can't visit Washington D.C. without seeing at least a few museums and monuments. All of our favorites are located on the National Mall. We really love the Air and Space Museum, the American History Museum, and the National Archives. If you visit during certain seasons, they offer extended hours. Admission is free, and these museums are also busier early in the day, so plan out your visit accordingly. Of course, you've also got to make a stop at the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, and the World War II Memorial.

Washington Monument at Night, Washington D.C.


Some of our very favorite neighborhoods in Washington D.C. were places that we didn't initially visit. Of course, you have to visit the National Mall to see the museums and monuments listed above, but D.C. has a lot more to offer too! Georgetown is one of my very favorite areas, with its cute brick streets, endless shopping venues, and great restaurant options. Of course, you have to pick up a Georgetown Cupcake there too! Foggy Bottom is nestled just between Georgetown and Downtown, and it's a great area for a walk and exploring other restaurants.

Georgetown Cupcake


When we returned to D.C. in June for our second visit in three months, we branched out a bit to try new places to eat. On our third wedding anniversary, we made reservations for the ever popular Founding Farmers. It was delicious, unique, and affordable, and I would highly recommend it. We also had We the Pizza: a pizza option with huge slices and homemade sodas. Since we really love our pizza, we also gave &pizza a try. Here, you get to choose all your own toppings, meats, and sauces for a flat rate. Delicious! D.C. has something for all tastes.

We the Pizza, Washington D.C.
We the Pizza


One of my favorite parts of our second visit to D.C was taking advantage of the Capital BikeShare program. Basically, there are bikes placed throughout the city, and you can rent them for low rates and ride them from station to station. It's quicker than trying to drive through crazy D.C. traffic, saves your feet, and is cheaper than the metro (which we took to get into the heart of the city). Aaron and I each joined the program for three days for $17, and then kept all of our trips to fewer than 30 minutes (which is doable since there are so many stations so close), so we never had to pay the extra fees. We loved it!

Capital Bikeshare Route


Of course any visit to D.C. calls for a stay in a cozy hotel of your choice. There are tons of options in a variety of areas throughout the city. We stayed a little farther out in the suburbs for our last trip, but when we go back again I would love to stay in the Foggy Bottom or Downtown areas, where there are lots of affordable options.

All in all, Washington D.C. is a wonderful travel destination for people of all ages. There is history to appreciate, great food to enjoy, and a variety of fun entertainment and nightlife to explore.


Monday, October 10, 2016

How to Book Your Vacation with IHG Reward Nights

Aaron and I love to travel, but since we're both teachers, it's not something that we can afford to drop a ton of money on all the time. Our solution? We're members of some fabulous travel rewards programs, and we pay our bills with their credit cards. This way, we make our money work for us, and we still get to travel without feeling guilt or going off budget. One of our favorite rewards programs, and very favorite hotel company to stay with, is the InterContinental Hotels Group.

A while back, I shared a post about the IHG Rewards Club Credit Card: how we use it, how you earn points, and how you redeem them. Today I'm here to show you how to search within point ranges to book your dream vacation.

Although I won't be visiting anywhere in the Caribbean for a while because I'm pregnant, I'm already looking forward to doing some traveling with our little one this summer. Next on my travel bucket list? Book a trip to Miami and Key West! 

Step One:

When I'm ready to search for a hotel to book with our reward points, I go to the Reward Nights Link, and then type "Miami, FL" into the destination box. You'll select your dates next (see photo above), and the choose a point range you're looking to stay within. If you know you only have a certain amount of points, you can search for that amount, or you can buy more points. IHG is extra amazing because it lets you combine cash and points to find the perfect fit for your reservation purchase. 

Step Two:

Once you search, you'll come to a list that looks like this:

Underneath the "check rates" box for each hotel, you'll see the point values, showing different increments and points as well as cash combo options. You can even sort your results by "rates" if you'd like, and then you'll probably get the best bang for your buck! 

Aaron and I usually travel with a rental car, so we don't mind staying a little farther from the cities. We usually try to stick to booking rooms that cost 5,000 to 15,000 points, but now and then, you may want to splurge and book an awesome room in a downtown area. Here are some Miami options we would consider:

Step Three:

When you're ready, select the Miami hotel you want. You can even pick extra bonus packages, and breakfast is included most of the time! Another awesome thing about the InterContinental Hotels Group is that they let you cancel up until the evening of your reservation, and you'll get your points back (for free). The flexibility of the program is amazing, and we have always had incredible stays at clean, comfortable hotels. 

Even though we'll have baby in tow, we're excited to plan next year's vacation. With the help of great travel groups like IHG, traveling doesn't have to break the bank. Let me know if you have questions or need help. Maybe we will see you in Miami! 


Friday, October 7, 2016

18 Week Bumpdate

Time is flying, y'all. As if it wasn't moving quickly enough, I feel like tracking my pregnancy week by week has really sped it up. Ever since we announced my pregnancy at the beginning of August, I've known that I wanted to really document it in a fun way, especially because it's our first baby. So today I'm sharing my first bumpdate, as I near the 19 week mark and enjoy the "honeymoon stage" of growing a baby. Ladies and gentlemen, the bump!

On a recent trip to Target, I picked up a cute little chalkboard banner. Each week, I hang it up in our front room, put on the same striped maxi dress from our trip to Greece this summer, and have Aaron snap a photo or two of my ever-growing bump. I'm excited to have the photos to make a collage at the end of my pregnancy, and it's been crazy to see how fast the weeks are clicking by. Now that you've seen bump, here are some answers to some questions I'm getting a lot, or things you may be curious about!

How I'm Feeling

All in all, the pukey feelings of first trimester are gone, thank goodness, and I'm feeling pretty great! I've found that I have to eat a bigger breakfast than I did pre-pregnancy, and that I'm hungry pretty much all the time. I'm not as tired as I was during weeks 8-10, but I am still pretty pooped by the end of the day. With softball coming to a close, I'm looking forward to a little less busy and little more relaxation. I don't mind any of these feelings much at all when I look down to see my growing belly and keep in mind just what my body is doing right now.


What's New This Month

I've had a little bit of rib and abdominal pain every now and then, I think from a mixture of baby's kicks and the fact that all of my internal organs are pushing up, stretching, and moving around. I've also seriously "popped" within the last week or two, and I looked in the mirror last Friday to find a pregnant profile staring back at me. When did that happen? I'm also starting to feel Baby K move around in there more and more, and it's a pretty amazing feeling to know that a little life is within you.

What I'm Craving

I'm not really craving anything specific so far. I still love my all time favorites: popcorn, ice cream, queso, and chicken. There are certain things that just sound horrible to me, and I'm still noticing an increased sense of smell. 

What I'm Wearing

With the new appearance of the bump in the last couple of weeks, I'm just now getting to the point where I can't button my pants. I'm trying to hold on to the last warmth from the summer, and have been wearing lots of cute dresses from before that accommodate my bump. I've started wearing the BellaBand with my pants, and have worn true maternity jeans once. I'm also blessed with some really awesome friends who have given me maternity clothes to wear, so I'm excited (and thankful) for that, once they become a little more necessary. Also, Motherhood Maternity Bumpstart leggings for the win! Why didn't I own these before? They're amazing.

How I'm Sleeping

I've been waking up at least once a night every night to pee for basically the last three months. Guess I'm just getting ready for that when Baby comes. I'm just now starting to have to sleep with a body pillow, because sleeping on my side makes me feel like my belly is pulling. I find that I have a little trouble falling asleep, but once I do I'm sleeping really soundly and dreaming like crazy.

What I'm Looking Forward To

I'm really excited to keep feeling Baby move more and more. I'm also looking forward to our ultrasound in a couple of weeks. Even though we aren't finding out our baby's gender, I'm excited to see their cute little self and am praying for healthy results and good news for mama and baby alike. Our last ultrasound was at 10 weeks, so it will be fun to see how much Baby K has grown since then! I'm also looking forward to making progress on nursery design and planning. I recently shared my Gender Neutral Nursery Inspiration, so be sure to check it out if you haven't yet!

Are you following along on Instagram? It's where I share extra little photos and fun updates from daily life. Don't miss out!


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Gender Neutral Nursery Inspiration

As soon as we found out we were expecting the arrival of sweet Baby K in March, it was pretty easy to start dreaming about a nursery and pinning away like a mad woman. Over the course of the last three years in our home, I've really enjoyed figuring out my style and tackling fun, affordable projects like our rustic dining room. But now, with baby on board, it's time to plan out what will surely be one of my favorite projects ever.

In case you missed it, we've decided to wait to find out our baby's gender. (You can read more about that here.) There are tons of amazing reasons we are happy to wait a little longer for that sweet surprise, but it does mean that our nursery will be gender neutral. And you know what? We're a-okay with that, especially since it means we will decorate once for baby and then be able to use the room for all our future kiddos! I honestly think I would want to do more neutral nursery even if we were going to find out the gender of our sweet nugget.

Source: Style Me Pretty

Our baby room is already a pale blue gray, which I love and think will work just fine, especially as we pull in pale grays and whites (like the color scheme in the nursery above from Style Me Pretty .  I'm still debating whether or not we want to paint the trim white, and/or go with some sort of white wainscoting or batten board on the lower half of the walls, like these dreamy set ups from The Little Umbrella and 100 Layer Cake-let. Thoughts?

Source: The Little Umbrella
Source: 100 Layer Cake-let 

The plan is to go with some sort of travel/map/adventure theme that will allow us to incorporate little elements from all of our adventures together. We have several fun prints and souvenirs from our trips to Europe, and we plan to use those throughout the room. Think vintage suitcases, globes, and maps in pale whites, greens, and grays. I'm slightly obsessed with this crisp, dreamy travel room from The Little Umbrella. Isn't it gorgeous?

Source: The Little Umbrella
Source: The Little Umbrella

In addition to the fun, crisp photos and mini-globes, I'm dreaming of a few super cute signs and lettering to pull the room together. We've already picked up an "Adventure Awaits" map sign in the perfect shade of blue from TJ Maxx, as well as a sweet little globe.  I'm also in love with this hot air balloon sign from WinsomeEasel.

Source: Etsy

Finally, I'm on the hunt for a super cute, pale white, gray, and green mobile of some sort. I seriously love this dreamy hot air balloon mobile from sunshineandvodka. Although I'm not sure I could take the leap and splurge on it, it's giving me some great ideas to start with. 

Source: Etsy

All in all, I'm loving the process of nursery planning and dreaming without any pressure. Knowing that this room will be used for all of our sweet babies just encourages me to take my time and have fun finding a few little pieces at a time. I'm still pinning lots of dreamy nurseries to my Pinterest Board, so be sure to go check it out! 

What are your favorites from these ideas? How have you styled your gender neutral nursery?


If you aren't already, be sure to follow along on Facebook and Instagram for updates and the latest posts! 

Friday, September 30, 2016

Five on Friday: Goodbye September, Hello Bump

Hey y'all! It's been almost a month since my last Friday update, and can you believe that it's the last day of September? Crazy! One thing is for sure, this month has been full of heat and busy weeks. With Aaron on unexpected jury duty, and me coaching nine softball games in the last week and a half, it's been especially hard to get much of anything done around here. October promises to be a slower, cooler month as I trek through my second trimester, and I'm looking forward to the change. Here's what we've been up to!

1. So Long, Softball

My second season as C Team softball coach has officially come to a close. Though the varsity girls still have districts next week, my major coaching duties are done. It was a pretty crazy season, with 16 girls, two knocked out front teeth, one ambulance visit, and the drama that comes along with high school girls. But all in all, I did enjoy my time with them, laughed a lot, and truly feel like they improved a whole bunch this year. There's nothing quite like an excuse to be out on the field again. We did tie the all time record for "most C Team wins" in school history (which we set last year) with the big number four, so I'm calling it a success!

2. Belly Poppin'

A few days ago, I shared on the Facebook page that I had officially bit the bullet and wore maternity jeans to school. Elastic waistbands for the win! I'm not to the point where I absolutely have to wear maternity clothes by any means just yet, but most of my jeans and fitted shorts won't button at this point. I'm using the BellaBand and rubber band tricks, but finding that I most often enjoy wearing comfy dresses (that all still fit) to school. I'll share a "bump date" next week with this month's bump pictures!

3. Fun Furniture 

When he's not busy being awesome in a whole bunch of other ways, Aaron's been hard at work making all sorts of awesome furniture for our home. He recently completed a beautiful shelf/island that will probably find a spot in our kitchen, as well as this super cute church pew for our front room. I'm so grateful for a handy guy who crafts such goodness with his own two hands, making these pieces even more special and saving us money at the same time! I'm looking forward to getting them painted and finished soon, before moving on to our nursery.

4. Making Music

YoungLife is back again, and we had our first club last week. There were a ton of kids there, and we had an amazing time leading the music together and watching kids hear about an amazing guy named Jesus. Singing "Set a Fire" with the kids just before the talk is always such a highlight. I'm also back on worship team at our church again this week, and I'm pretty certain that baby liked hearing us lift our voices in song during practice. Pretty cool that our little nugget can hear my voice at this point. Music is oh so good for my soul, and I'm especially loving this song right now!

5. Football Festivities

This week is homecoming at our school, so Aaron and I will be spending yet another Friday night beneath the bright lights of the football field. We love football, food, and high school kids, so Aaron and I have actually been on supervision for all four of the home football games this year. Pretty fun to cheer on my band kids, cheerleaders, dance team, and football players outside of the classroom. And I'm super excited to see who gets Homecoming King and Queen!

Last week, some senior girls were behind me at the football game. They were talking about how this week would be their last high school football game. And then I told them, "Yeah, and then one day you wake up and ten years have gone by, and you're pregnant and standing on the sidelines supervising." Time flies, y'all. Let's enjoy each second of October and make the most of it!

In Case You Missed Them This Month: 
Why We're Not Finding Out Our Baby's Gender
Our Third House-iversary 
How I Knew I Was Ready for a Baby 
A Moment with Jen: A Season of Singleness
Creative Ways to Use Mason Jars at Home 


Monday, September 26, 2016

How to Survive an International Flight

Before Aaron and I went on our 16 day adventure to Europe, we had never been on a flight longer than three hours. It's safe to say that the eight hour flight to Dublin and eleven and 11.5-hour flight home from Rome had us a bit nervous. But we did our research, made a few key purchases, and ended up handling the flight- and the jet lag- like champs. Here's how you too can survive your overseas international flights with ease.

Do your research.

Do you have certain health conditions that would make the flight extra uncomfortable or difficult? Does the airline you plan to take offer free earplugs, pillows, and blankets like most do these days? How many times will they feed you? Do you need a special meal? If so, you'll have to contact the airline directly and let them know. Ask friends what overseas flight items they have that you could borrow instead of purchasing your own. Try them out on your first overseas flight, and then you'll know what to buy for your next adventure!

Purchase necessary flight survival items.

Overseas flights almost always involve flying during sleeping hours. Make sure you have a good eye mask and earplugs that will block out sound and light since planes and the people on them are noisy. Consider getting a great neck pillow as well, especially if you're not flying in first class. You'll thank yourself for the support later.

Pack light.

I recommend using packing cubes to help you fit as many items into your suitcase as possible. We prefer traveling with carry-ons only so that we can get on and off of flights easier without having to worry about checking baggage or losing it.

Dress comfortably, and in layers.

Planes always fluctuate in temperatures, so it's best to be prepared for any scenario. I love traveling in a comfy pair of stretchy leggings and a shirt and cardigan. This way, I can move my legs around in a variety of positions, and can take the cardigan on and off as needed. I also wear slide-on shoes that are easy to get on and off during security, but I wear a pair of socks so that my feet won't get cold when I take my shoes off during the flight.

Eat and hydrate.

I didn't expect the food to be anywhere near as good as it was on all of the overseas flights we've been on. They feed you quite often. If you aren't hungry for any of the meals, save things in your small personal bag for later, and be sure to accept a drink every time they offer. Though it might make bathroom trips annoying, it will help keep you from dehydration.


I can't emphasize this one enough. Even though your body may not feel like it, try to make yourself turn off the free movies and games and make a concentrated effort to sleep. Put on your eye mask and put your ear plugs in, and at least rest. It's pivotal that you sleep on the plane while you can to help deal with jet leg. The only exception to this is when you come home, as the time change may help you if you stay awake a little longer.

Get up and take walking breaks.

This is even more important if you are pregnant or prone to blood clots. No matter your health conditions, getting up and getting your blood flowing every few hours is never a bad thing. I usually take a lap or two around the aisles before and after I use the restroom.

Stay on the schedule of the time zone you're in.

It can be incredibly hard to want to stay awake in Europe when your body is telling you it's 4 a.m., but trust me, you've got to try to acclimate to the correct time zone as quickly as you can. Make it through that first day, and then you'll sleep like a rock. Also, eat when the time zone says you should be eating.

Don't overbook your first day.

You'll be fighting that jet lag hard, so allow your first day to be a little less busy than some of your other days.  Instead of a walking tour, ride a train or trolley. Spend a little time at the cafe' sipping coffee. And then book a nice hotel room for the evening, and let yourself go to bed a bit earlier than normal. Your body will thank you!

That's it. Be sure to plan ahead for your flight, eat and hydrate, get up and go for walks, and you'll be just fine. Jet lag really isn't all that bad if you can make it through that first day! Best of luck. Let me know if you have questions or need advice!


Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Moment with Jen: A Season of Singleness

Today's Moments guest post is from one of my very dearest friends. We literally go all the way back to before we can remember, as our parents were buds before the two of us were born. Jen is funny, kind, and incredibly intentional. I love our long walks and talks, endless memories, and the simple joy of being friends with someone so wonderful. I'm so honored to have her sharing her heart and her words so beautifully on a topic that is so relevant to so many of us: singleness. 

Sometimes I feel like Katherine Heigel in the movie 27 Dresses. Not in the sense that my friends are terrible at picking out bridesmaid's dresses (although it would make this post much more hilarious- endless photo shoot potential), but rather that I sometimes feel as if I will always be a bridesmaid, or better yet the professional wedding guest. Now hear me out, I LOVE celebrating my wonderful friends and you can't beat an epic dance party, am I right? But there are times when I'm lonely and feel as if I'm always going to be the single girl. Always going to be the girl who is given the plus one on the invitations; the girls who is attending all the engagement parties, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, you name it party; the girl who had to get her own dates to dances in high school; the girl who never gets asked on a date; the girl who is the third, fifth, or seventh wheel.

Jen and Kelsie in June 2013
You thought this post was going to be a rant about and wallowing all about singleness. Nah, I'm done ranting and throwing my own pity party. Trust me, the good Father God and my journals have done enough of that. Today, I want to share with you the lessons I have learned and the blessings that have come with what I have started to refer to as my "season of singleness".

Lesson #1: I am not in control. Trust God's Plan.

Dear friends, I've heard so many times in sermons that God is in control. But why is it that we small humans think we are in control!?! We watch the perfect stories play out on movie screens and pages of novels. We trick ourselves into thinking that we have control and the ability to write this same perfect story.

In 2010, I was blessed to journey over to Kenya for a short-term mission trip with my campus ministry. Raising support for this once in a lifetime opportunity taught me about letting go and letting God. My biggest take-away from that trip: God is BIG, He brings hope to the hopefuls, and He is orchestrating beautiful stories in very differing circumstances. I have so much- the American dream, if you will- and these children that we met had next to nothing, but yet were the most loving and joyful individuals I had ever met. They talked of Jesus with such purity and hope. I will always treasure the memories created during this short two week trip. The children at the school gave each one of us a Maasai name. Perfectly, mine was "Noduata", which means "one who has hope". I'm not gonna lie, I've cried a time or two when I think about the deep meaning behind such a simple nickname.

I have to give up my stronghold on control almost daily and submit to God. Patience goes hand in hand with control. This word, "control", floods the pages of my journals. I get it. It's a lot easier said than done. I wholeheartedly believe God has a perfect plan for my life. Trusting in His timing and his goodness is all this hot mess of a girl can do.

"The Lord says, 'I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you." - Psalm 32:8 

Lesson #2: Rely on the love of God first. 

When I see the beautiful love stories of friends around me, it is easy to grow discontent and take my attention off of the Lord. I have to depend on His love and faithfulness daily. To be content where I am. I am a child of God. I am adored by the King. He has me for today.

The silver lining of singleness is that I have been protected from heartbreak. It hurts me when I see my friends heading down the path to heartbreak and then hurt even more when it is alive and well. Singleness has allowed me to be present in their lives, mend broken hearts, and just be the friend they need in their corner. I am oh so thankful to have been protected from this so far in life. Do I desire to be pursued by a man? Absolutely! But, when that day comes (if it's in God's plan), I can confidently rest in the fact that Jesus loves me more than any man on this Earth ever can.

"We love because He first loved us." - 1 John 4:19

"I love you, oh Lord, my strength." - Psalm 18:1

Lesson #3: Choose to glorify God in this season of singleness.

If you know me even a little bit, you probably know that for the last 10+ years I have pursued the discipleship of young people. I started leading middle schoolers as a high school student, which then flowed into being a small group leader in the awesome ministry of Kirksville K-Life, and now I get to love, mentor, and be ridiculous with the high school students of Vineyard Church (who we are endearingly calling our "boo boos"). The leaders and mentors that encouraged and invested in my life are a constant reminder of why I desire to do the same. 

This seasons of singleness allows my heart, not to mention my home and my time, to be more or less fully open to the lives of these remarkable teenagers. I get to walk beside them in their muck and their brokenness, but also in the really happy, exciting times. I get to laugh a lot and act like a younger version of myself. I get to embarrass myself by dancing like a fool (sometimes you got to step up to the streets). I get to listen to their hopes, dreams, wishes, tragedies, boy troubles, and hurts. I get to offer discernment and wisdom. But most importantly, I get to reflect this guy named Jesus to them.

"Don't let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity". - 1 Timothy 4:12

Do you feel like the perpetually single friend in the group? You're not alone. There is nothing wrong with you. Cherish this special season of life and the freedom that comes with it. Don't waste it. So sweet friend, how can you be glorifying God in this season on singleness? Just something to pray and ponder... maybe even journal about it (I highly recommend it!). 

In the words of Queen Bey, "All the single ladies...Now put your hands up!

I love the way that Jen chooses to look at this season of singleness and see it as a time to love others and love God first with all she has. She has most definitely been a blessing to me and to many others, and I'm so grateful to have her sharing her story with such honesty today. You can find Jen on Instagram and Facebook. You are all loved, sweet friends, single or not. Let's not forget where our true worth and meaning lies: with the Lord. 

If you liked this Moments Guest Post, check out the others here. Have a story that you'd like to share on Currently, KelsieContact me here with your idea!


Monday, September 19, 2016

Why We're Not Finding Out Our Baby's Gender

From the very moment you tell people you're pregnant, you immediately field a ton of excited questions. From "When are you due?" to "How are you feeling?", people are anxious to hear about your pregnancy and intentionally ask you about your plans for baby. One question that I've gotten a lot is "Are you going to find out?" And the answer, in short, is no. But you know what's really surprised me? That people can't believe we wouldn't find out. Or that we've gotten more negative responses than positive. We know we aren't the norm, so I'm here to clear up some of the confusion as to why we'd wait to know our baby's gender until they're born.

First of all, I'd like to offer up a bit of a disclaimer. I know the majority of mamas out there are choosing to find out their baby's sex ahead of time. And you know what? That's totally awesome and perfectly fine! We don't think finding out is something that's right or wrong. I firmly believe that every set of parents needs to decide for themselves, and there are some great perks to knowing ahead of time. I'll also note that some mamas may find out their baby's gender and still do some of the things I mention below. That being said, Aaron and I are both so excited about waiting to find out Baby K's gender. Here's why we've chosen to wait:

1. We're in for the biggest, best surprise ever.

I'm a huge, huge surprise lover. Like seriously, if someone plans me a surprise anything (date, party, etc), I'm theirs forever. But what better surprise than finding out the very moment of your child's birth if they are a boy or a girl? We are beyond thrilled for a sweet little one to love, and that's enough for now, but the anticipation of finding out is my favorite part, and I'm happy to wait for that surprise at the end. I just think it will be so worth it.

2. We'll get neutral items that we'll use for all our babies.

I've been to lots of super cute baby showers where the majority of the gifts are clothes. It's super handy to have cute clothes gifted to you, but we're okay with secondhand outfits and borrowed items once baby is born. We're looking forward to getting lots and lots of diapers, and other bigger items or gender neutral onesies that we can use with all of our babies, no matter what their gender is some day.

3. It will give me extra motivation in labor and delivery.

I know: meeting your baby alone is super motivating. But if I'm real, I'm not a huge fan of hospitals, and I'm a little anxious about the whole delivery thing. If I have my eye on the prize, meeting my sweet baby AND finding out if they are a boy or a girl, I think it will be huge motivation for me. I'll be so excited and anxious to meet them and finally find out that (hopefully) the whole labor business will be a little bit more in the back of my mind.

YoungLife Baby Onesie

4. There will truly be no disappointment.

If I'm honest, we're a little bit tired of the question "Do you want a boy or a girl?" We really just want a healthy baby who loves Jesus. And we'll love our baby no matter what. Yes, Aaron would love a first-born son, but you know what? He'd love a sweet little girl too. I think it's going to be pretty dang hard to be disappointed with either when we're so caught up in finally knowing, and meeting, our little one. There's not a lot of time to sit and think about their gender being any different when they're already in your arms the moment you find out.

5. It will keep us from buying lots of extra clothes and baby goodies.

I have already stopped myself about ten times from buying cute little baby goodies, solely because they are so gender-focused that I didn't feel I could justify buying both girl and boy options. Yes, we will pick out one cute little outfit for each gender to take to the hospital with us, but other than that I'm not planning on buying any clothes (except for the cute gender neutral onesie that helped us announce). We are trying to stay budget conscious, and the decision to wait is definitely helping me to not splurge.

6. It keeps us excited and focused on baby, instead of their sex.

I am such a planner that people are surprised we aren't finding out. But I truly feel that if I did find out it would make me focus more on finding the perfect cute clothes, gender-specific nursery, or items and would cloud some of the other important things to do before baby. Like taking the time to just soak in pregnancy and the amazing work that the Lord is doing in and through my body. With His help, I'm literally building a baby, y'all! How cool is that? Our baby is more than a gender: they are a unique, beautiful soul that I pray for daily.

7. It's another way for me to release control.

Obviously, you can still trust God and find out your baby's gender. But for me, choosing to wait even though I could find out is another way to remind myself of the truth of this pregnancy: that God is in control, that this baby is His, and that ultimately I am not the one in command. I'm giving up the very thing I so desperately cling to most of the time: control. I'm also fairly certain that I'll feel totally out of control at times as a mama, so why not practice that now, right?

Parents Praying for their Baby

8. It takes the pressure off of names and other people's expectations or opinions.

We already have boy and girl names that we really like, but we're keeping them a surprise. Once baby is born, of course we will happily introduce them to the world and tell the story of their name, but for now it's a special secret that only Aaron and I share. And this way, we also avoid hearing everyone's opinions or cautions on the names we truly like. In addition to names, we're taking the pressure off of everyone's initial expectations for our baby based on revealing their sex alone (especially those who don't really know us well).

9. It's fun to guess and dream and try to figure it out.

The old wives' tales predict if you're having a boy or a girl, so it's fun to look at those and see if they'll be correct. Friends, family, my students, and pretty much everyone else gets in on the guessing, and I love the way it helps people feel like a part of our pregnancy as they guess and feel involved. At the end of the day, I love the uncertainty that I have when it comes to gender, because it just builds my anticipation (and I should probably get used to uncertainty as a parent since I'll be clueless for a while ha!).

10. It helps us enjoy each step of this amazing process, instead of rushing to the end.

Some folks say it would kill them not to know, which is totally fine. You gotta do what you gotta do. But we feel like this is helping us practice some of the patience that we'll need so much of as we parent. We've got the rest of our baby's life to know their gender, and we honestly feel like waiting four more months won't hurt. I tend to want to rush on to the next step or stage in life, and so we are consciously making this choice as a part of our desire to slow down and enjoy each step of this journey, instead of racing ahead to the end. This is just one way we're enjoying these sweet little moments as our family of two becomes three.

One thing I'm definitely finding out already about parenting is that there are a bajillion choices to make, and about a million different opinions on how to make them. There's no right or wrong way to approach finding out your baby's sex, but these are the reasons we're waiting. We know that sweet Baby K will be worth the wait!

Have any of you other mamas waited to find out the sex of your babies? What did you think? Cheers to all the wonderful mothers out there who have brought the most incredible, sweet bundles of joy into the world. Y'all are amazing!


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Creative Ways to Use Mason Jars at Home

Today's guest post is from Isadora Guidoni, a writer for homeyou.comShe's bringing us some fabulous ideas to take Mason jars and make them into all sorts of beautiful things. Check it out! 

Mason jars are a trend that started popping up a few years back and is still hanging around, not leaving any signs of going away. Everybody just loves them! They can be used for pretty much everything we can think of, are very versatile, and can be decorated many different ways. Here are some fun ways to use and personalize them!

A Vase

Deer Pearl Flowers
The most common alternative use of mason jar is as a vase. You can use fake plastic flowers or real ones, and the result is adorable and elegant. You can leave the jar as it is and make it simple, or decorate by making laces around it. It fits perfectly at the center of a table. It is often used in weddings!

Silverware Holder

Little Sprout Creations
At a small gathering or house party, you can use some jars to hold knives, spoons, and forks, instead of just leaving them on a tray. You can decorate it, make cards with the item’s name and attach it, or leave the jar on its side.

Hanging Outdoor Lantern

Emmaline Bride
Making lanterns out of mason jars is super easy and a great idea for a luau. Just light a candle inside it and put something around it to make it stable. You can use colorful gems, sand, seashells, water beads, etc, or even fill with water and leave the candle floating. In this tutorial you can learn how to use a wire to fix the chain and be able to hang it.

Sewing Kit

It All Started With Paint
Mason jars are great for storing items. But how about this awesome idea of making it a sewing kit? It’s definitely very creative and different. This Anthropologie knock-off by It All Started with Paint shows us how easy it is to make one.   

Bathroom Organizer

Wild Whisper Blog
A great way to organize your bathroom items is by using glass jars. They’re cheap, easy to find, and fun to decorate. You can paint them at any color you want, and you can make them combine with the bathroom colors or contrast them. The choice is yours!

Candy Jar

Country Living
A candy jar is fun to have as a permanent item of your house or even for a kids party. You can decorate it more, or let the candy show its colors. The different lids on the photo are simply made by gluing little toys on it and spray painting. Everybody will love it!


Brandi Sawyer
A very different way of using jars is using them to make a rustic chandelier. Imagine what a great mood it sets for an intimate dinner with friends. The result is so incredible and unique that it is totally worth going through the trouble of making it. This tutorial by Brandi Sawyer is very detailed and show us how to make this piece of art.

Tissue Holder

This cool tutorial teaches us how to make this creative tissue holder. It’s great to leave it on the coffee table or very useful in the nursery. Paint it to match the colors of the room and it’s going to fit perfectly.

Memories Capsule

Lauren Likes
Do you like to keep little tokens from your travels to remember the good moments? Or movie and theater tickets with a loved one? Why not keep them in a jar? It’s a great idea to have those memories in physical form to remember whenever you’re feeling nostalgic. Keep the jars on a bookshelf and you’ll find yourself having that happiness and peaceful feeling every time you look at them.

Wood Board Organizer

Chocola Design
A very different way to use the jars is to attach them to a wood board and hang the piece on a wall. You can use it on the bathroom, like the image, or on any wall of the house as flower vases or candle holders.

Spray Painted Decor

Clever Pink Pirate
An easy way of changing the look of the jar is to spray paint it. From an adorable baby blue to a kickass gold, you can use any color and the result is going to look magnificent. This is incredibly easy to do: Just turn them over (make sure to use something to cover the floor, and do it outside) and spray a generous coat of the paint. Let it dry and voilรก! Great looking jars ready to decorate your home.

Wrapped with Lace or Fabric

Doesn’t matter what the purpose of the jar is, for candle lighting, as a vase, or as a holder: wrapping it with lace makes it elegant and classy. You can also use any fabric you have laying around to decorate it. The result is so beautiful!

 Hot Glue Gun and Spray Paint Centerpieces

Pure and Noble
This creative tutorial by Pure and Noble uses a hot glue gun to write on the glass and then spray paint to finish it. The end result is delicate and unique. You can also make patterns, draw flowers or write a message to a loved one and make it a gift.

You can also use the jars as a holder or container for office supplies, kitchen supplies, and light fixtures. It can be used to make mason jar salads that you can take to work, cakes for the kids, storage cookies, as sippy cups(just making a hole on the lid and letting a straw through it).

There are infinite ideas on how to use and personalize Mason jars. You could honestly decorate your entire house with them and it would not be boring, as each one can be so different from the other. How’d you like to use them? Which idea did you like the most?

 Isadora Guidoni is a writer for, a company that connects homeowners to reliable, affordable and professional contractors for their home improvement projects. For more, check Team HomeYou out on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.

We had Mason jar decor at our wedding, and I've been in love with them ever since. What's your favorite use of these fantastic jars?