Mae is Six Months!

Where has the time gone?

I think I blinked and now Mae is six months old. Half a year. Way too old.

I haven’t posted many Mae updates, so I figured it was time for one!

I am so blessed to be her Mama. Mae is the sweetest, happiest baby. She loves attention and she will smile at just about anyone who looks her way. She loves to be held and cuddled, but she is also discovering more independence and she loves it. She loves silly noises and bright colors. She loves it when I read books to her or sing to her.

She has the sweetest smile that simply melts my heart. Sometimes I am exhausted and I don’t know what I’m doing, but then she will just lift up her little eyes with her long eyelashes and give me the sweetest look, full of trust and love, and it is all worth it.

I am loving seeing her little personality peek out. She talks all the time and makes the best expressions to go along with her vocalizations. She loves to laugh and smile and play, but sometimes all she wants is just to cuddle with her Mama.

In the past month Mae has started to roll over! She tried and tried for weeks, every time she had tummy time she would “almost roll over”. Once she started there was no stopping her! She can roll over just as quickly as I can put her down.

Mae also started eating solid foods. Her first food was sweet potatoes and although she made an awful (but adorable) face, she ate it and seemed to enjoy it! After that we tried bananas, carrots, and applesauce. Then she decided to go on a food strike and for about three or four days she refused any food, clamping down her mouth and turning her head at the sight of a spoon. She got over it though, and is back to enjoying her food in between smiles and laughs.

 

Another milestone Mae recently reached is sitting up on her own. Now that she has discovered she can do it she loves it and wants to sit all the time. Being held is still her favorite, but sitting is probably a close second.

Overall Mae is a sweet, happy, wonderful baby and we love her more and more every day!

My Prayer Binder

Photo credit: unsplash.com

A prayer journal is not the answer to a deeper, richer prayer life, but in my experience it helps. When I was a freshman in college I attended a workshop for a prayer binder led by one of my dear friends. I had attempted to keep various prayer journals and notebooks before, but for some reason this method just stuck out to me.

After that workshop I worked on creating a binder that worked for me, and I began to notice a difference in my prayer life. I was more focused and more consistent. There were times I stopped using it, and I always noticed that my prayers were brief and often not focused. Every time I go back to using it again I wonder why I ever stopped.

This is a method that works for me, but it is simply an aid. Nothing will ever replace prayer or do it for me. Prayer is still hard. It still takes time, effort, and patience, but this helps me stay consistent and focused when I stop to talk to my God.

There are so many different ways a prayer binder can be set up and used, but I this is the way that works for me right now. I have changed it several times since I first started using it as my life has changed, and I know it will change again. This is what I have now for this time in my life.

My Prayer Binder

I have my binder split into several sections. While there are certain things I will pray for every day, I have chosen certain categories to focus on for each day of the week so I can spend more time in deep prayer. If I tried to pray for everything every day I would be overwhelmed and end up skimming over things to “get done” more quickly.

I did not post any pictures of my binder because it is nothing fancy or beautiful. It is just lined paper and tabs to separate the sections. There is nothing wrong with making a beautiful prayer binder/journal, I just do not have the time or creativity to put that much effort into it!

Praise

The first section I have is one that I use every day. I try to begin my time talking to God by praising Him, and here I have a list of things to praise Him for, usually with a verse reference. I found several lists on Pinterest that I began with, but I mostly write things down as I come across them in my Bible reading

Mountain

This is the only section that I always want to keep on Sunday. The rest of the sections are assigned days for organizational purposes, but it really doesn’t matter what day of the week I focus on them.

This is the section I use to prepare to worship on Sunday morning. I have hymns and Bible passages to meditate and reflect on, as well as a list of topics to pray for to help prepare my heart and focus on worshiping with the saints.

I call this section “mountain” because of a sermon I heard once. The speaker talked about preparing ourselves to worship God just as the Israelites spent time preparing themselves to come before the mountain of God to receive the Law. Calling it “mountain” reminds me of that story and what it means to come before God in worship.

Marriage and Motherhood

In this section I have lists of Bible verses and topics to pray for in the areas of marriage and motherhood. I do not write out prayers, but I have bullet points of things I want to pray for. My prayers are different every time, but I always know that I want to pray for Sam’s role as a preacher or for Mae to grow up to know God, for example.

Family

Here I have pages for each of my family members with bullet points of things to pray for them. If there is a more time-sensitive need I’ll write the date by it when I begin praying, then add another date when the prayer is answered.

I also have a list of extended family members to pray for, though I do not dedicate entire pages of specific prayers for them.

People

I wasn’t sure what to call this section, so I just went with the creative title of “People.” Here I have lists of people to pray for in different categories, again with bullet points of things to pray for them. I often write out Bible verses to pray for them as well, as I do with the sections of “Marriage and Motherhood” and “Family”.

I have lists of couples to pray for their relationships, single people desiring a mate, and spiritually sick. I also have a list of friends and acquaintances to pray for with specific requests I have gotten from them. Again, I’ll add dates if it is time sensitive.

Church

In this section I have lists of churches and people in the church to pray for. I pray for the elders and deacons if a church has them, and I try to pray for families and people individually. I also have lists of people and works overseas, praying for Christians and for the gospel to spread.

Personal

Here I have several Bible passages written out that pertain to my specific struggles. As with the other sections, I have bullet points to pray through as I ask God to help me.

Psalm

Once a week I try to study a Psalm and pray through it. This is a new section for me and I haven’t done it for long, but I am enjoying it so far. In my binder I write down the theme of the Psalm and a brief outline. Then I go through the Psalm and write down adoration, thanksgiving, confession, and supplication for my own prayer.

I hope this has been helpful, and I hope you will consider making your own prayer binder! Please ask me any questions if you would like more information.

What do you do to help you pray?

Two Little Things

Often it’s little things that make a big difference in life. I have so many huge things in my life that make it wonderful, but these are two “little” things that I am enjoying right now.

Haaka

I had heard of this before, then forgot about it. Mama told me about it when she saw it on someone’s Instagram story and told me I had to get it! I still try to pump often, to keep up my milk supply and to have extra milk in the freezer for date nights and emergencies, but sometimes it seems like the biggest hassle. No, it doesn’t take that much time or effort, but it takes just enough to make me almost dread it! But no longer. I ordered an inexpensive (thirteen dollar) Haaka and our freezer is now full of milk. The hands-free method makes pumping a lot easier, and I love having milk in the freezer.

I still struggle slightly with milk supply, and I can tell a big difference if I stop taking my supplements (goat’s rue and fenugreek), or hydrating, eating well, etc. So I still don’t get massive amounts of milk, but I can usually accumulate enough for a bottle in a day or two, which I think is pretty amazing.

So this Haaka pump is making my life a little better.

Jogging Stroller

I always say Mississippi winter weather is bipolar. In one week it went from 20 degrees to 65! On the days that the temperature is close to 65 we have been enjoying our jogging stroller.

We’ve mostly used it together so our family can run together, but I have taken Mae on a few runs by myself as well. We love it! I am running a lot more now, and Mae enjoys it too.

These are the little things that are making life a little sweeter right now.

What is making your life better?

February Goals

Happy February!

I am a few days late posting about my February goals, but I have already been trying to implement them.

This month’s focus is Marriage. I thought February was a good month to focus on marriage because after my relationship with God, my relationship with my husband is the most important. I focused on establishing habits with God during January, and now I will focus on establishing habits with my husband, continuing what I began in January. Another reason I thought February was appropriate is because Sam’s birthday was yesterday, on the fourth, and Valentine’s Day is later this month.

My goals for this month include reading books on marriage, studying Ephesians 5 (I am still studying Ephesians through this month and chapter five is where I am now!), and doing various other things I have planned to strengthen my relationship with Sam.

Sam’s Birthday

Sam had an “adult birthday,” but I think it was a good one. I gave him one gift the night before, and on his birthday he had to go out of town for work. Thankfully he was actually able to get home early, so we went on a family run when he got back. This was our second time to run with Mae in the jogging stroller and we loved it! I am so thankful we get to run together again.

When we got done running I heated up the falafel I had made earlier for dinner. We had pitas, falafel, oven fries, tzatiki sauce, and toppings for the falafel for dinner. For birthday dessert we had banana ice cream.

We finished the night after Mae went to bed watching a documentary on Hannah Arendt, but we did not finish it because we were both exhausted and falling asleep.

I am so thankful for Sam and all he has done for me and so many others. He has been a huge blessing to so many the past 26 years and I pray he will have many more years to continue to bless others!

What are your February goals?

5 Hospitality Tips

Sam and I really enjoy having people into our home, and here are five tips I’ve learned that help make serving others with hospitality much easier.

When we first got married we talked about how we looked forward to having people over and using the time to get to know people and use it as a type of ministry and encouragement.

Now that Mae is here I do not have a lot of extra time to prepare elaborate meals or deep clean the house every time we want to have someone over. We did take a break for a little while, but we have started back inviting people into our home and our goal is to invite at least two families per month. It has already been so helpful and encouraging for us, and I am learning to simplify a lot! Here are some ideas that I’ve discovered are helpful for me in this stage of life.

1. Make double to freeze

We had a potluck at our house one Sunday afternoon and I made a pot of chili. I went ahead and bought a large package of ground beef and cooked the whole thing, but only put half of it in the chili and froze the other half. A few weeks later when we had company I made spaghetti and it was so much simpler! All I had to do was boil pasta and thaw the beef to mix with the sauce (that I did make, but I could have bought jarred sauce and simplified even more!). I chopped a quick salad and heated some store-bought French bread.

When I made chicken potpie for our guests I used chicken that I had frozen a while back. Someone made us a roast chicken after Mae was born and I went ahead and froze half of it since we wouldn’t be able to eat it very quickly. The chicken potpie did not turn out perfectly, but having the chicken on hand definitely made it easier!

If you’re already making something, it isn’t hard to do double and freeze it. That will make planning for guests much easier!

2. It’s okay to take shortcuts

I am definitely one who wants to make everything homemade, mostly because I enjoy it so much. But it isn’t always the best! In Romania I tried to make a homemade pie crust and it ended up being so tough you could barely eat it. If I had bought a crust it would have been better.

Sometimes it is better just for time’s sake! I love making homemade bread and I would have loved to make homemade French bread the night we had spaghetti for guests, but it would have just made me more stressed. We had guests over two nights in a row that week, and on top of my school and trying to keep the house clean, it would have been too much.

Cake mix and brownie mix is great! Yes, homemade might be better, but the mixes taste delicious too. Your guests will be delighted with something warm and sweet, no matter how it was made.

3. Don’t worry too much about cleaning

It’s not good to live in a pigsty, but your house doesn’t have to be sparkling either. You are doing to notice the crumbs on the floor or the dust on the shelf a lot more than your guest is. My main priorities for cleaning before guests come are the floors in the main areas, such as the kitchen and living room, clean counters and appliances in the kitchen (but I don’t go deep cleaning my oven or anything…) and general clutter tidied up. But sometimes not even all that gets done, or I forget to sweep up the pile of crumbs from the floor, but anything is better than nothing.

4. Keep it Simple

I’m sure your guests would love an elaborate three-course meal at a beautifully decorated table, but they will also love a simple meal on a clean table with minimal additions. You can serve spaghetti, salad, and bread on your everyday dinner dishes and light a candle in the room. You can put the butter in a nice dish or the bread in a basket for a nice touch, but your plastic dish or a plate will do also.

Aside from the food, I like to light a couple candles or have oils in the diffuser, and we like to play soft music in the background. I like using cloth napkins, but that is normal for us and they aren’t anything fancy! If I’m feeling up to it I LOVE using nice serving dishes that were given to us as wedding gifts, but if I don’t have time to wash them and arrange food on them, I don’t bother. 

5. Be calm and happy

This is one I am definitely still working on. The first time Sam and I had guests over in Romania I was so stressed that Sam almost cancelled it last minute. As soon as something goes wrong I feel like shutting down, but I am learning that my guests do not care, and it will be better for me, for Sam, and for our guests if I remain calm and try to go with the flow.

It is great to want to do everything the best you can, but that’s all you can do. Strive for perfection, but settle for your best.

I hope these are helpful for you! Happy hosting!