Friday, July 8, 2011

Mommy of 2 Under 2!

So I'll get right into it. This morning, before my feet touched the floor, I was changing Allison's diaper. Hailey was sitting on the bed with me, probably trying to get into Matt's night stand (her favorite thing to do). I'm not sure exactly what happened, but all I know is that I looked down and I was literally COVERED in baby poop. All over my arm, shirt, pants...had no idea a baby could poop that much. Hailey looked over and says..."Uh-oh, yucky poop!" After I let out a little whiny, "ew," I laughed. This is my life.

What can truly prepare you to be a mom...nonetheless a mom of two young ones? I'm always tired, always cleaning, always cooking, always changing a diaper...and always more in love than I've ever been. The other day I was doing my hair in the bathroom. There was a dirty diaper on the counter. I then went to get dressed, and there was a dirty diaper on the dresser. I then went into the living room, and alas, two dirty diapers on the couch! You're probably thinking, "Throw those away!!." My intention is always to throw them away right away, but before I can get to it Hailey is drawing sharpee on the tv (true story), or Alli is hungry. It's a whirlwind in our house, and I love it.

My weeks greatest moments are as follows:

  • I got to spend an hour alone Sunday morning, and was able to play piano for the worship team last minute. I can't tell you how good it felt to just be ME for a moment!

  • I successfully took both girls grocery shopping at Walmart BY MYSELF. Huge accomplishment. I wore Alli in the Baby Bjorn and fed Hailey so many berries I thought she would be sick! (and bought her a new $5 baby).

  • I went to Weight Watchers, and took both girls! They were great....and I lost more weight!

  • I took a 2 hour nap yesterday! woop woop!

Still trying to figure out exactly what it is going to look like when I go back to work in late August, but for now, enjoying every moment I have with these little ones!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My Thoughts on the Anthony Trial

So I know I don't update this blog very often...and usually when I do update it's about the kiddos...but something is on my mind that I wanted to share.

As most of you know, Casey Anthony was charged "not guilty" yesterday. I have to be honest that I did not follow this case very closely, but judging by the response of the world, many thought her to be guilty of killing her child. Now, as a mom, I literally cannot fathom that anyone would hurt their is seriously beyond me. I watched as the jury read off the counts she was charged with and wondered if maybe they felt that way it was just not possible that a mother could do that to her child. That maybe the world had not gotten that bad after all.

"On the charge of first degree murder....we find the defendant NOT say we all."
"On the charge of child endangerment, we find the defendant NOT say we all."

One by one, they deemed her NOT GUILTY. I love justice, and as a Christian, I know that my God loves it even more. I know that one day that little girls death will be justified, whatever the truth is. But, as they read off these counts, I pictured myself in Anthony's shoes, for I have been there many times. As the juror spoke out the words, "NOT GUILTY," over and over...I heard my Lord's voice. "On the charge of murder and hatred...on the charge of gossip...on the charge of YOU NAME IT I'VE DONE IT...I find the defendant, Ashley Jennings, NOT GUILTY." Everyone in heaven and hell and earth knew that I was actually guilty; that I deserve life in prison on earth, and death in hell in eternity. But my Creator, the ultimate judge, changed it all. And because my God is JUST...the giver of sin had to be dealt with. Someone had to pay the price.

Maybe she is guilty...maybe she isn't...but I WAS. I am reminded today of the freedom I have in Christ. I am reminded that now I have a purpose that lasts beyond this earth, to share this freedom with the world. I am cleansed and I am redeemed. I pray that my entire life would reflect my gratitude.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2011 Here We Come!

I love the beginning of new years! There is something so incredibly refreshing about January 1st. I think it reflects the sense of renewal in us as humans that God gives so freely everyday. The fact that whatever happened last year or one second ago, His mercy is new every moment! When looking back on 2010, I am truly amazed at how blessed I am! Of course, there were hard times. Aren't there always? It is so easy to get bogged down on what was hard, and miss the blessing. But the last 365 days have been absolutely life changing!

To start, most of Hailey's life has been lived in 2010...and there are no words to describe that blessing. Not only in the incredible love I never knew I could feel for a human being, but in the way that God has grown me...the way that I have grown closer to the Father through the trials of parenting. It isn't easy, but nothing can show you the love of God more than raising children. You soon realize just how deep the words, "He gave His only Son" really mean. Just how much He loves His children. Even though I constantly question Him, He hopes for patient with me...and sometimes has to smack my hand so I don't harm myself. Having a daughter has changed my prayer life...I pray that she will know God even now as a child, that she will serve the Lord with all her heart...that her strong willed personality will bloom into a strong woman of God. I pray for her husband, wherever that sweet baby boy is :), that he will love the Lord and treat her like my husband treats me. That she will find adventure and fulfillment in this life. That she will be raised in a home that loves the Lord truly and deeply.

2010 has grown my marriage...and what a marriage it is! Before Hailey, I literally thought to myself most days, "I cannot believe this is the marriage that I have! It's amazing!" I didn't think I could love Matt more. Seeing Matt as a dad, AN AMAZING DAD, has grown in me a new appreciation for my man. He is so hands on! So much so that sometimes I feel a bit guilty :) He gets up in the middle of the night if need be. He always makes sure I'm rested. He changes poopy diapers with almost no complaint. He does housework, he runs errands, he shows our daughter affection, and prays with me before bed. He works full time almost always until midnight and rarely complains. I couldn't ask for a better team mate...for a better person to raise children with...for a better man to love and be loved by. He is my best friend and my husband!

Crossroads is another blessing! In 2008 (wow it's been that long) Matt and I left everything we had known up until then spiritually, and embarked on an adventure to work alongside with God in establishing health in a church. It has NOT been easy, but God has been more than faithful! There is not enough room in cyberspace to explain all that God has done. Today in church, we shared testimonies. It was an open mic time where anyone could share. Usually, these make me nervous. What if no one talks? ha! So many shared...and everyone of them talked of how the ministry at Crossroads has changed their lives. How God has shown them that they belong...that they are loved...that He is with them. That no matter where they had been, he accepts them. I was moved to tears with gratefulness. I do not boast when I thank God for allowing me to be a part of this life changing ministry. To see people that did not know the Lord two years ago, and to now see them serving God and being used to grow the kingdom. I'm moved to tears even now. I have learned that Christ truly changes lives...lives that were so entrenched in sin...that Satan thought he had won...and Christ claimed the victory. I've learned that it's easy to "play church." It's easy to know the answers to all the right questions, but nothing will sustain you...nothing will fulfill you...and nothing will protect you like the love of God.

These are just a few of the blessings 2010 has brought. 2011 is sure to be an adventure...the year we celebrate 5 years of marriage, and welcome our second daughter into the world. The year Hailey turns two. The year Crossroads steps into it's vision for the future after building a foundation...FINALLY! The year I discover more of myself, and more of God than I have before. HERE WE GO!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Quick Update on Life!

That's right. It's already been two months since Hailey's birthday! Time is FLYING BY!! She is learning so much so quickly. She babbles ON AND ON AND ON! I have no idea what she is saying, but I'm pretty sure she does! I have now defined her as a "strong-willed" child! It has been a little bit of a struggle figuring out a way to discipline her effectively. She doesn't care if I get a stern tone, or even if Matt does. She looks at me when I say, "No" or "Don't Touch", but she then proceeds to continue doing whatever it is she isn't supposed to do! Welcome to parenting I guess :) Overall, she is a complete joy! She really is an easy kid. Always has taken scheduled naps and slept all the way throught the night. She is an easy teether, and plays quietly by herself for periods of time. We are pretty lucky!

As far as this pregnancy goes, I find myself not even thinking much about it!! There are moments throughout the day when I'll think, "Hey, there is a baby growing in there! Hi baby!", but generally I find myself forgetting! There is a small amount of guilt inside me! With Hailey, I was reading books like crazy, and always day dreaming and wondering about this little child. Don't get me wrong, there are moments where I just wonder, but they are a lot less often. Maybe it is just me knowing what to expect this time! I am so so so excited to meet this little one. We have an ultrasound on December 29th to find out the sex of the baby! I have to be honest, when I do daydream, I dream about having a boy :) I have boy names picked out as well, and no girl names! What is my problem? ha! I think part of me wants to be done having children...and a boy would just make it perfect in my head. Of course, I would love another girl too...but my mind just goes right to boy. We shall see!

This year, I got my Christmas present early. A new camera :) In the past I worked for a professional photographer. I think I was spoiled to look at amazing pictures for years, and just found myself outgrowing the norm! Of course Hailey is my favorite subject, but a few people have asked me to take photos for them! There are some below. I had a lady today offer to pay me for a session :) It's quite an honor to be asked that. I love love love being behind the camera. It opens up some creative outlet in my mind! So fun!






Saturday, November 20, 2010

New Seasons!

I love fall. I love the way a tree with bright red leaves takes my breath away. As if God Himself is unveiling beauty before us. I love all the smells of fall: rain, apple pie, firewood. I love apple hill, Thanksgiving, and all the memories that emcompass it. Most of all, I love the feeling that a new season is approaching. That a new time in life is about to start. It couldn't be a better reflection of my life right now.

A month ago today, Hailey turned one. I can't believe I even just wrote that. It seems like only yesterday I was swaddling her and placing her in her bassinet...or working overly hard to get one little smile out of her. Now, all she does is smile and laugh and dance and run and learn new things. I adore her! Just thinking of her brings a smile to my face. No one else in the world has ever made me laugh so hard, or reflect on God's love the way that she has.




A few weeks before Hailey turned one, Matt and I found out that Baby #2 is on the way! I'm going to try and explain how I feel about this. At first, it was very unrealistic for us. It was hard to accept, and still is setting in for us. With Hailey, it took work. Not just physically :), but spiritually. It took time. I can look back now and say that there was never a time in my life before that I had learned more from. I learned the TRUE meaning of hope...of patience...of trust that God knew EXACTLY what my life would look like, and He was going to bring me the greatest fulfillment out of it...child or not. It was truly a hard and edifying time for me personally, I think for Matt as well. So when Hailey's first birthday was coming close, Matt and I thought...well, last time it took a while...and we don't want our kids too far apart. Let's just see what happens. I prayed one prayer. "God, help me not to have a melt down like last time. I want to truly demonstrate to you that I've grown, and DO trust you." I honestly didn't think much about "trying" to get pregnant. With Hailey there were doctors visits, ovulation tests, and different methods to track fertility. With this one, there was NONE of that! You can only imagine the surprise I got when I stopped on my way to work on a Monday and picked up the cheapest pregnancy test in the store, and saw a faint little pink line. I'll never forget the two moments now I've had seeing a positive pregnancy test! One was a complete overwhelming JOY, and the other a complete overwhelming SHOCK! I felt almost robotic that night, walking around the Galleria mall looking for a Big Sister T Shirt for Hailey so I could take her to Matt's work and tell him. When we walked in the door of Walgreens, Matt said,"Sister????? Are you pregnant???" with a shocked half smile. We ate our dinner laughing the entire time.

Since then, we've had our first ultrasound...there is nothing that can explain seeing your baby on that little monitor...the little heartbeat fluttering away. It amazes me...that all of a sudden one day the cells that will become the chambers of the heart just begin to know at that moment, God smiles and remembers the words he spoke at the first creation of man..."It is good..."

You would think that with a second baby you would think things like, "I know what to expect, I got this." But the truth is, I have NO IDEA what to expect. I just imagine myself having another Hailey! I can't imagine that there is a second child joining our family in June. They will be 20 months apart...HOLY MOLY! I haven't even started thinking about what that means yet...just trying to soak it in! We are awe and wonder that God had this as the plan for our lives. We are a little nervous too, but more than anything just dreaming of what our life will look like in 6 1/2 months.



Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Book of Revelation

Ok, so I'm going to take a break from general family updates, and let you in on a little part of my heart that God is opening! When you look at the title of this blog, you're probably immediately thinking, "Uh oh, weirdo post about 2012 and the doom and gloom of the coming end of THE WORLD." If you're not thinking that, the rest of the world sure is. Just google image search the word "revelation." You'll find everything from Jesus in the clouds, aliens, weird asteroids, and the Journey Greatest Hits album cover. For me, the book of Revelation has always been a book that was "over my head." Something that I stayed away from because I just felt that it was a mystery that only John and Jesus understood. I've skimmed through the pages...even read chapters at a time, but never studied it deeply.

Back in January, Matt's cousin Brooke (I'll just say she's MY cousin because I love her so much) told me about something called CBS that she is a part of. CBS (Community Bible Study) is exactly what the title of it describes it to be. It's a gathering of women from the community that come together every week from September to May and study one book of the bible. I was instantly intrigued when I heard about it. I have never spent a year on one book of the bible, and I dare say I can't spend an entire month in one book of the bible and stay focused. I felt drawn to this kind of study, prayed about it, and decided to join. Shortly after, I found out that the book we would be studying was Revelation. Uh oh...not that strange and potentially divisive topic of the end of the world! I was nervous but at the same time could feel my pulse start to race with excitement to walk an untrodden path in my spiritual life.

Shortly before starting the CBS study, I started a class with the Wesleyan denomination to be licensed as a pastor called New Testament Elective. I thought this could be anything from studying the culture in which God sent His son to do His something mild like Acts (ha!). When I found out the topic was Eschatology (aka studying end times), I knew that it was no coincidence. God wants me to KNOW Revelation...not just have some knowledge of it, but truly understand it!

Needless to say, I have been studying end times for the last month, and there is a new zeal in my heart for ministry, for evangelism, for my relationship with God. A few things that have been life changing for me...

1. Revelation is not too hard for me to understand. Sure, there are parts of Scripture that are a mystery, but John 16:13 says, "But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into ALL truth..." This verse is a great comfort to me that maybe my human mind cannot comprehend Scripture in all it's entirety, but God has given us the Holy Spirit to understand ALL truth....What an encouragement when starting to study such a hard subject such as end times.

2. Jesus is coming BACK! SOON! I know I know...I'm a Christian and should know this and live like it's the last days, but honestly, sometimes I forget! I think of Jesus words, "The kingdom of heaven is near." My first reaction is to see those words as thousands of years old and to subconsciously think, "what are the chances it would happen in my lifetime? Of all generations it most likely won't be this one." Let me tell you, every day that we live is ONE DAY CLOSER to us seeing our Lord's face! Whether or not I see that before I die a physical death is irrelevant really...I will see Him...and SOON!

3. Jesus is NOT who I thought He was! Going into this study, I don't think I had the correct understanding of who Jesus is. I know who He mind understands it, but I don't think my heart really connected to the idea that HE IS GOD! Read the first chapter of Revelation alone, and your Sunday School rendition of a mild and meek Jesus sleeping with lambs and talking gently will be crushed! Jesus is coming back in POWER AND GLORY! His voice will be heard by everyone and EVERYONE will know that He is God. This is the God that I worship. This is my Savior!

I find in myself a renewed sense of urgency. I don't look at Revelation as the "END OF THE WORLD" or a time of doom and gloom. Sure, it will be hard, but instead I see it as the Second Coming of Jesus Christ...the fulfillment of all God's promises. The time when all brokenness, sin, and injustice will be corrected! I can't wait. I want it to come now. I'm not afraid for once in my life of not being on the earth. In fact, I pray for Him to come. The early church used to greet each other with the word "Maranatha" which means COME LORD JESUS COME. That's going to become my new Hello to cashiers and pizza delivery guys. Ok, maybe not, but maybe it should be!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Recap for the Year!

Well, hello. You may or may not notice that my last blog update was almost a YEAR AGO! I have on my weekly calendar to blog every week, and you can see how well that works :) Let's just do a quick recap of the last year.

Hailey is almost a year old. Just typing that brings tears to my eyes. I didn't think I would be this emotional about it, but the reality that she is going to be exiting the "baby stage" is surreal. A couple of weeks ago I re-organized her room, putting away all the clothes and items that she just doesn't need or use anymore. It looks now like a little girl room rather than a baby room. The last year has been absolutely incredible. She is the BEST baby...and anyone that knows her knows I am not exaggerating when I say that. Her demeanor is so calm and sweet, and she is laid back beyond belief! The last couple of months have been so tremendous as far as her development goes. I can see her imagination starting to bloom. She can sit with a toy and play quietly for a while. She is completely OVER baby food. This started at about 8 months. She wanted anything and everything that she could chew...even though up until recently she only had two perfect teeth. Speaking of teething, she went through one TERRIBLE bout of teething that lasted three weeks. She was up at random hours (which she has NEVER done since the very beginning). She had a high fever, and was fussy in general. Let's just say it was humbling. I learned a new gratitude to God for blessing me with an easy child. Hailey has such a funny personality. She dances every chance she gets, she makes funny faces to make people laugh, and she laughs if I try and correct her. She doesn't respond to my change in tone. She just smiles. She knows "Don't Touch", but sometimes decides its more worth it to touch whatever it is than to make me not upset. This has been a challenge, and I daily ask God for wisdom in how to discipline a child! All in all, Hailey is the biggest joy in my life...the most incredible gift God could ever bestow upon me. We have hard days, days where I lose my patience just as any mom does, but at the end of a hard day, I wouldn't trade my life in for anything.

She loves the swings! Big Girl Riding The Jelly Belly Car

Eating a BlackBerry at Apple Hill (picked it herself)
Pig tails!!
Parenting has really brought a new dynamic to Matt and my marriage. I didn't really know what to expect adding a child to our seemingly perfect world. Parenting has grown in me a deeper love and respect for my husband than I could ever have thought. Before Hailey, there were times when I thought, "There is no way I could love this man more." Well, God has opened my heart to love deeper and fuller. Matt is the BEST DAD. He loves that little girl unlike he's loved anything before. His time spent with her is time spent with HER. Every time I come home from work, I get a summary of the days activities. "I took Hailey to the park, then we had a snack, then we made faces at each other, and then I had her laughing." I admit that sometimes I respond with, "BUT WHAT ABOUT THE DISHES or THE LAUNDRY." I am convicted even now writing this. Hailey is the luckiest girl in the world to have a daddy like Matt, and she knows it! He has stepped into the role of father with such ease and enthusiasm, and I couldn't imagine raising children and spending the rest of my life with anyone else. He is the calm one in this relationship for sure! I find myself flailing around sometimes, and he is always standing there in patience and understanding. Ok, enough of the mushy stuff.

Me! Beside spending my days as a mom, I am on the Executive Staff at our church, and I work at Cut Loose Hair Design on the weekends. Working at the church in this capacity has been...well I can't even think of a word. I have never been so challenged, tested, and sharpened before. Let me tell you if you don't already know it: Our God is an incredible God. Every day I get to see and play a human part in lives changed, people healed, and lifelong relationships built. It is a challenge to say the least. The enemy comes to steal and kill and destroy for sure, but our Lord is stronger and bigger and better! I love it and am humbled to have the opportunities I do at such a young age to serve God. I also love working at the Hair Salon. It really feels like an oasis for me. A place I can go where I am just me! I love the people I work with!

Last update and get ready for this one...I have a new hobby. I learned to SEW! It is the strangest thing and you're probably thinking, "What the heck Ash, are you that much of a home body?" Ok, here's the story. I went to one of our Crossroads seniors homes(Thelma...LOVE HER). I went over there more to visit her than to do anything else. As usual with the seniors, I left with more wisdom than I could ask for. She taught me how to use the sewing machine that day. I literally did not even know what a bobbin was when I walked in her front door. She showed me the very basics and let me use some of her material to make a pillow case (fancy I know). I really don't see myself as a creative person, but all of a sudden I was flooded with excitement. I left there and went immediately to the fabric store! Ever since, I sew whenever I get a free moment! I have so many projects I want to do. I want to take a vacation, tell everyone I'm going to Fiji, but really lock myself in my house and sew until the cows come home. I know what you're thinking, "You're the weirdest 24 year old ever." You're probably right :)

I will update more, I promise. Life has seemed to settle down lately, which will allow for more blog time! Thanks for reading!
Me in all my weirdness

Attempt at double fold bias tape!
Made this laptop sleeve for a friend who left on a missions trip
Laptop sleeve for me :)