How to Choose Flat Iron for Natural Hair

Could you choose the best flat iron for natural hair? When you are going to choose the right one for your natural hair, you must consider some influencing factors. First of all, you must know what a ‘flat’ iron really is. What we generally mean is that a flat iron only straightens your hair, nothing more. This is not exactly the only function of a flat iron. You can also wave your hair or curl it using this iron.

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Now, the question is how you should choose the right one. Before going to choose the right flat iron, you must know your hair type first. You might choose one from different types (Ceramic, Tourmaline and Titanium), different width and temperature limits.

Find Which Hair Type You Have

There may have many different types of hair varied from person to person. Identify your hair type and choose the right flat iron suitable for you.

Fine and Considerably Straight Hair Type

Fine and straight hair requires considerably low temperature. If you have fine and considerably straight hair you should purchase a ceramic model with smooth plates. This will help you straighten your hair without any damage.

Fine but Considerably Curly Hair Type

Your hair is fine but curly. Then, choose a flat iron with high temperatures. Purchase a model with tourmaline or titanium plates which will work for your particular mixture of texture and density.

Thick and Considerably Straight Hair Type

Your thick and considerably straight hair needs more heat. So, you should go for a model with larger plates and different temperature settings so that you can control heat limit.

Thick but Curly Hair

If your hair is thick but very curly, it requires high heat as well as protection. Purchase one which will both protect your hair and ensures at least 300 to 400 degrees of temperature setting.

Let’s See the Two Major Parts of a Flat Iron and Their Specifications

Width

According to width a flat iron can be of two particular types. The first is long and thin mostly useful for straightening short hair. The other one is as long but with a wide plate useful for very long and thick hair in particular.

Plates

Straightening plates are made out of different plate materials. According to the density of your hair and your desired hair style choose the right one for you.

Different Particular Types of Flat Irons

The followings are the different particular types of flat irons. Choose the right one for you.

Ceramic Flat Irons

Ceramic flat iron offers you to smooth and straighten your hair at a low temperature. It is also effective to lock in moisture of your hair and make it healthier as most ceramic plates today even contain ionic technology.

Titanium Flat Irons

Titanium flat iron is considered as the only metal flat iron. It has different heat settings and features which have made it specific for every kind of hair. You can enjoy the same silky, shiny and healthy hair using a titanium flat iron.

Tourmaline Flat Irons

Tourmaline flat iron is naturally ionized and seal in moisture. It protects the hair from getting dry and frizzy. Tourmaline crystals generate high heat and ensure you straight, smooth and shiny hair.

So if you just consider all the discussions above and follow them well, it can be expected that you could find out the best flat iron for your natural hair. Look at your hair type and then choose accordingly in order to have the perfect match. Never be fooled by the wrong advice of others.

His first camping experience…sort of

You may or may not have noticed I haven’t posted anything since the middle of last week.

Those of you who do read this blog daily and were wondering where my post were (this would be my sister, my mom, and my mother in law), I’m sorry.  I’ve been somewhat busy.  Not too busy for it to be a valid excuse, but busy enough to say I’ve been busy and it not be a lie.

But the reality is, for me, sometimes writing here can be difficult.  My goal and intention for this blog is to lift people up, to encourage you, to share Christ and what He has done for me and my family, to be transparent in my journey because I believe we can all relate in one way or another through our trials and how we overcome them.  I know that it’s easy to feel like YOU are the only one going through this hurt or pain, but you aren’t.  We all have hurt in some way.  And by sharing my hurts here , I hope to help you not feel so alone in yours.

This means that this blog is, in a way, like a journal for me.  I truly don’t filter my heart here.  You get what you get.  The problem comes into play when my heart is feeling something I feel compelled to share, and then I remember that people I really know read this.  It would be easier if I had began this blog anonymously and then there would be no hindrances.  It’s not that I am ashamed.  But sometimes it’s easier to be 100% transparent when no one knows you.

Does this make since?

All this being said, I’m going to prayerfully attempt to be open and honest here this week.

For now, what we have been up to…

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This past weekend we had No Wimps.  This was something Bart started doings several years ago with our students.  A weekend getaway with the kids.  This year they went camping and spent the whole day on the lake.  We are fortunate to have a some very loyal and hard-working volunteers.  They just happen to have awesome boats and fun toys to go along with them.

Lil’ B and I didn’t camp out or do the lake.  I thought it would be too hard having him on the boat the whole day and since it wasn’t just our little family, we wouldn’t have had any options in case he was over it or didn’t like it.  But we did join them that night for the campfire.  Lil’ B talked about it all day!

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This isn’t the best picture, I understand that.  But I love how small he looks sitting in his Daddy’s camp chair.  This won’t last much longer.  Wah!!!!!

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And his first real Smore experience.  He has had smores before, but they were made in the oven and only a couple of times.  Poor kid, I know!  He absolutely loved it!  But he wasn’t crazy about the gooey marshmallow that stuck to his face from it.  I’ve got to get him over that.

This weekend definitely gave Bart and I the camping bug.  Which if you know me, is very, VERY odd. I’m not a camping kinda girl.  I’ll do it, don’t get me wrong.  But I’d much more prefer a weekend getaway in a hotel with a pool.  My sister and brother in law are big time campers.  They go several times a year.  We went with them once before Lil’ B was born and we had a great time.  I bought Bart a tent that year for Christmas and this past weekend was maybe the second time we’ve used it.

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I’m strangely excited to be able to use it again.  I think Daddy and Lil’ B will love it and that makes me all for it!

Do y’all have any tips or advice for camping with a toddler for this non-experienced campin’ Mama?

It’s messy here

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Do you just ever have those moments?  You know the kind of moments that seem to last for days? For weeks?

I’ve always struggled with insecurities.  As I sit here putting my thoughts into words, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t wrestle with feeling less then second best, unworthy, just not good enough.  Now that I’m grown, now that I’ve lived and have life experiences under my belt, I know in my head that these insecurities are lies.

I thought really that I had overcome most of these insecurities.

But really, once you are taken out of the surroundings you have known your whole life, there is nothing more revealing to you about what you really believe.

We are on year three now.  Three years since our move from Memphis.  I’m sure some of you are wondering when I’m going to quit talking about that (see my insecurities coming into play here? always wondering what others are thinking and assuming you won’t like what I have to say, which is really about worrying that you don’t like me).  After two years in a new city, God had another turn in the road for us and moved us to Texas.

Here we go again.  A new city.  A BIG new city.  A new church.  A new house.

No familiar faces.  No one knows us.  No one KNOWS our story.

All of our friends, all of our family, all of our people who have walked with us through our journey’s are no longer here with us. It can feel very lonely.  Very isolating.

My insecurities that I thought had really moved out of my life came rising up to the top and showing their ugly faces.  The lies were suddenly loud again and overwhelming my heart.  I began to dwell on them and believe them.

I know God’s promises.  I know God is madly and furiously in love with me.  The scriptures tell me this and my heart has felt it. I know that He promises good for me, he promises to be near me, with me, for me.  I know He calls me his daughter and I even know that I have an inheritance.

But knowing and feeling are two different things and man did I really get that these last few months.  I would look at a scripture and say to God, “yeah right.  God, you made this promise but it’s for everyone else.  It’s not for me.  Why am I not good enough? What is wrong with me?”

I have never felt so alone.

It’s important to note too that no one left me alone.  Our experience here has been nothing but wonderful as far as relationships go.  It has been so easy for all of us here.  Which is why it’s all the more interesting why I was feeling this way.

I believe two things were happening with me this summer.

1. The enemy was working against me!

I was at a very vulnerable place and therefore more susceptible to the attacks from the Enemy.  I believe with everything that I am in spiritual warfare and I know without a doubt that the Enemy was prowling around desiring to destroy me.  He used my insecurities as his weapon of choice.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. ~ Ephesians 6:12

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.~ 1 Peter 5:8

I was not arming myself for the battle.

I was depressed, so I didn’t WANT to open up the bible.  It was hard enough to believe the truth from the scriptures that I was recalling in my head.

2. God was working for me.

While the Enemy was attacking and maybe thinking he was winning, God was also at work in me.  He is ALWAYS at work!

In the Psalms, David asked God to search his heart and mind.  He asks God to test him and point out anything that offends Him. To point out his sin. Have you ever read this scripture?  Have you ever read it and meant it for yourself?  Watch out!  It’s a wonderful thing.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. ~Psalm 139:23

My commentary calls this “exploratory surgery for sin.”  I love that.  I love it because it seems so fitting, so what it feels like. Surgery.  It hurts and it’s not fun.  But surgery may be necessary for your well-being.

Wikipedia defines surgery this way:

Surgery (from the Greek meaning “hand work”) is an ancient medical specialty that uses operative manual and instrumental techniques on a patient to investigate and/or treat a pathological condition such as disease or injury, or to help improve bodily function or appearance.

God was working in me.  He was pointing out those things inside my heart that were deceitful.  He was pointing out my sin of doubt and disbelief.  He was revealing these things to me and I had a choice.

I had to choose who I would believe.

It felt like I was believing the lies.  But I knew the truth.  I knew what David said in the beginning of this same Psalm was true…

God, investigate my life;
get all the facts firsthand.
I’m an open book to you;
even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking.
You know when I leave and when I get back;
I’m never out of your sight.
You know everything I’m going to say
before I start the first sentence.
I look behind me and you’re there,
then up ahead and you’re there, too—
your reassuring presence, coming and going.
This is too much, too wonderful—
I can’t take it all in!

Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you’re there!
If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings
to the far western horizon,
You’d find me in a minute—

  YOU’RE ALREADY THERE WAITING!

Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
At night I’m immersed in the light!”
It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;
night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you…

Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful!
God, I’ll never comprehend them!
I couldn’t even begin to count them—
any more than I could count the sand of the sea.

OH, LET ME RISE IN THE MORNING AND LIVE ALWAYS WITH YOU!…

Investigate my life, O God,
find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
get a clear picture of what I’m about;
See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong—

   THEN GUIDE ME ON THE ROAD TO ETERNAL LIFE.

~ Psalm 139 , The Message (emphasis mine)

God was revealing the yuck in my heart so that I could follow him on the road to eternal life.  God’s desire for us is to be HOLY! God is a holy God.  We are made to be in his image.  He will continue to work on us, always work on us, to be more like him!

It’s still hard.  I still hear the lies but they are a little less often and a little softer.  I’m choosing to pick up my bible and open it up.  I’m choosing to write out my thoughts and prayers in my journal.  I know that God is near me.  I know there is no where I can go where he will not be.

I know that He made me and because I am His I am all I need to be!

Do you relate to this at all?  Do you ever have these moments?

I told you I was going to get my mess out here.  I hope you don’t mind.  I’ve found that there is such beauty in the mess.  There’s encouragement to be found when we share the realness.

The Huxtables, Erma Bombeck and A New Identity

Today I decided to get an old book of the shelf and re-read.  This particular book I chose for sentimental reasons.  My best friend for the last 20 years got me a copy of Forever, Erma by Erma Bombeck  not long after graduating from high school.

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Yes – we are both old souls!

However, Erma was her favorite author and I remember her and I reading it with her mom when I would hang out at their house on the weekends and after school.  We would read and laugh and read and laugh.

As I opened it today, I looked at the pages I had dog-eared back when I read this book 13 years ago.  Then I looked at the chapters I hadn’t marked.  These struck different chords.  And I laughed at things that I’m sure back then, I didn’t give the time of day.

The same thing happens when I watch certain shows.  Here’s what I mean,

I remember so vividly sitting on our green carpeted floor as a kid, right beside my older sister – who was probably pushing me away from her or poking me with her long nails – in front of the large black box watching The Cosby Show.  I loved watching Rudy, especially when her friend Peter was over.  I remember laughing histaricly with Heather as Cliff bounced all of Rudy’s friends on his one knee as they giggled.  Then he got to Peter. Sweet, silent, pudgy Peter.  And Peter kept slipping off, falling to one side and finally being held up as Mr. Huxtable held the back of his sweat shirt to keep him inches from the floor.

I wanted to be in the Huxtable family.

Today, I will catch a rerun, and the show means something else to me.  I watch as Denise has a friend who goes to The Huxtables for a problem and not her own parents.  At the end of the episode, they have a Family Meeting.

Yes, I said a Family Meeting – just the two parents and all the kids!

They ask the kids who they would go to if they had a major problem or concern.  And then they explain to the kids their feelings about this.  That their hope and desire is for their kids to actually go to them, the parents.  Because, as hard as it may be – even if they are scared of getting in trouble, NO ONE loves them as much as they (Cliff & Claire) love them and can have the best solution and care for them.

I have the same thing happen when I every now and then catch a rerun of Mad About You and Everybody Loves Raymond.  They were funny back in the day they were actually on, but now – as a married woman and a mom, I really get it!

So I’m reading a little through Erma, and I read and get really for the first time her article called Lost Identity – September 18, 1965

“I never know what to say to women who ask my opinion on how they can find their “lost identity.”

I’m a poor one to ask.  Not only has my identity been lost for years, but so has my front door key.

Actually, what I represent to other people isn’t half as important as what I represent to myself.  One day, as I stood studying my reflection in a skillet lid, I plopped it down, went back to the bedroom put my hair up in curlers and changed my dress.  I put a dab of perfume behind each ear and returned to the kitchen.  When asked where I was going, I snapped, “I’m going out to the garbage can all by myself!”  No one understood.  But I felt better.

Being a stay-at-home mom is a dream come true for me.  Being a mom is a dream come true for me.  But I can so relate to this Lost Identity.  It’s a whole new ball game, and you must adjust accordingly.  But soak it all up, because it flies by!

Off The Wall Cabinets & Memphis Tennessee

I hate that I am so behind here.  But I have re-prioritized some things and hoping that it will make being back here much easier… and ultimately, more frequent and consistent.  I didn’t take starting this blog lightly, and I’ve always said that I didn’t want to be throwing stuff up that would waste your time or mine.  This is one of the reasons I have decided to temporarily close the doors on the Midwest Magnolia Etsy Shop.

Last month, Jaime flew myself and Lil’ B back to Memphis, TN two weeks earlier than we were planning on traveling back for the Thanksgiving holiday.  This time of year, things at Off The Wall get really busy on our product side of the business.  However, this year was also busy on the faux side.

So Jaime got the BRILLIANT idea of flying me in to help her with all this busyness!

And busy we were.  In addition to the kitchen cabinets we had to work on, we also had to build a mantle, coffee table, side table and fill a store order for our home accessories as well.  Whew, I just got tired all over again thinking about it.

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We never get pictures that really justify the beauty of the actual rooms.

This kitchen was gorgeous.  It was a re-model and would definitely be a cook’s dream kitchen. There was a drawer for EVERYTHING!  You wouldn’t have to put anything out on your counter’s in this kitchen, unless it was for pure want!

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Of course, before I even packed a suitcase, I had a list for Jaime of where we had to go eat for lunch!  If you didn’t know, Memphis has some of the greatest food y’all.

I’m not kidding.

I know Memphis is known for it’s barbeque, and yes, our barbeque is awesome… but oh there is sooooo many good places to eat.  And I didn’t really fully know it, much less appreciate it, until after we moved.

I’m sure Des Moines has some equally great places to eat, and I hope to eat at them all!  But good ole Southern food just can’t be beat.

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The first day back at work, my first Memphis food of choice was Huey’s.  Famous for it’s hamburgers, Huey’s is a Memphis staple.  I personally couldn’t wait to get a basket of fries, and a cheese and sausage plate.

Oh my… I might have to see if someone could FedEx me some Huey’s soon.

If you aren’t from Memphis, and ever get to go to Memphis, I recommend you go.  You can sign your autograph on the wall, along side hundreds of other people’s.  And while your at it, join the crowd and try to shoot a toothpick in the air and add yours to the already “toothpicked” ceiling.

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As I mentioned, we wore many hats during these two weeks.  Which really isn’t all that abnormal at Off The Wall.  We also were asked to build a mantle to replace this one you see below.

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I don’t think I can really put into works how fun this was.  Though, being out of it for a year, my body was yelling at me and callin’ me names.

But, as Jaime’s dad (the man’s home at which our studio belongs and our #1 supporter) said, Thelma and Louise were back at it again!

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I hate that I didn’t have my camera at all these two weeks.  I had to use my phone to get a finished picture.  But I wanted y’all to at least see the outcome.

There is something about building something from nothing that is always so fulfilling to me.

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And finally, the two weeks were over, and we were finished with all of our projects.  Bart drove down to join me and Lil’ B to celebrate Thanksgiving with our families.  And the holiday celebrating began!

Side Note:  If you are from Des Moines and you would like to let me in on some of y’alls great places to eat, please let me know in the comment section below!  We would love to learn more about this great city we now call home.

How To Celebrate Christmas With Kids

Christmas time is truly one of those special and few times a year when being a kid can especially seem magical.  This is the first Christmas that we have really been able to have a “family” celebration in our home.  Lil’ B’s first Christmas, he was six months and I was working like crazy up until Christmas Eve.  Last year, we had just moved to Des Moines and left to go back to Memphis to celebrate the holiday.

This year, however, is drastically different.  I have been able to take the time to really invest in celebrating Christmas.  Lil’ B, almost 2 and a half, is really into it this year.  I want to do all I can to make it special for him.  It has been amazing to watch him as he is in awe of all the “magic” that seems to be in the air.

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But this year, more than ever before, I am more aware of what this holiday is really about.  And why we have Christmas Day in the first place.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’ve always taken the time to be sure to celebrate the birth of Jesus. However, now that Bart and I have a son who is just learning about Christmas, the birth of Christ has weighed heavier on my heart than ever before.

Yes, Christmas is fun in our home!  But we want Christmas to be MORE.  We want Christmas to be centered on and around the birth of Christ.  We want to teach Lil B why it is so important that God sent His son to earth.  Why He sent Jesus, to be born as a baby, in a manger. Why this miracle happened, the way that it happened, and who it happened for.

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Jesus, born a baby in a dark and dirty manger – to become a King of ALL KINGS.  A Priest above ALL PRIEST.  Lord of ALL LORDS!

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Bart and I don’t have that many Christmas traditions of our own yet.  Like I said, Christmas time has always been a busy season in our lives.  One of the few traditions Bart and I happened to make for ourselves was watching The Nativity every Christmas Eve.

Have you seen it?

If not, I hope you will rent it and at least watch it once.  I love it for many reasons.  I am always amazed to see the relationship between Mary and Joseph.  The risk’s that both of them faced. Mostly, I love how the movie portrayed the human side of the two – they were young, they were scared, they were amazed.  I could write a whole post just on this movie, so I will refrain from getting carried away here.  I just feel like it’s important to remember and appreciate and be humbled by the reality of what actually took place and the magnitude of it all.

For now, this is our only tradition.  We are working on creating some new ones with Lil’ B.

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I am looking forward to Christmas morning and watching Lil’ B as he comes down the stairs and discovers presents left for him under the tree.  But, in complete honesty, I am more excited for him to learn and understand about Jesus and how he came to this earth, to be born as a baby, so that He could die for us to give us life.

I am excited to be able to find new ways to show him this.  I am beyond humbled that God has blessed us with this responsibility.  I am grateful to be given the time to take in each second of his excitement and seeing Christmas through his eyes.

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How do you celebrate Christmas with your children in your home?  I would love to hear your traditions.  Do you have certain books you read?  Games you play?  Things you make and create?

How are you sharing the real story of Christmas?

Wait…patiently

Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act. ~Psalm 37:7

I have been playing around with using watercolors lately.  Watercolors are a new form of creative expression for me.  I’m used to gallons of latex and oil paint.  I’m more comfortable with painting art on wood and then being able to distress and therefore camouflage all the flaws and mistakes.

I don’t love it as much.  But I also know that practice makes perfect, so I fully intend on keeping at it with the watercolors.  I love Alicia’s work and am totally inspired every time my eyes lay hold of her newest creations.  She does offer online classes and maybe someday I’ll sign up.

Another reason why I’ve been inspired to use watercolors. Lil’ B is really enjoying craft and art time. We recently took a trip to Michael’s and got him his very own watercolor set, brushes, scissors and more.  I love when we get to sit down together and just paint.

Oh my goodness, is that fun!

He definitely inspires me.  He usually just takes on a blank piece of paper, but this time he said he wanted to paint a ber-yerd (bird), so I sketched one on a page for him to paint. He is so proud of this and so is his Mama.

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Oh, by the way, I posted my watercolor on Instagram a few days ago and someone asked if they could have a download of it.  I was shocked when someone expressed a desire to have it since I know it’s not done right and I need more practice.  But hey, if someone wants it and will be encouraged by something, I’m all for sharing.

You should be able to click on the image and Save it to your computer.  Let me know if you do try and have problems.  I’m trying to figure out a way to scan my images better as well as providing them for download.

If any of you out there know a great or correct way to do this, I would love your help.

An honest look in – part of my infertility journey

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses… therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. ~Hebrew 4:15-17

I mentioned yesterday that sometimes it’s difficult for me to write here because of the fact that people I know, in addition to people I don’t, read this blog.  I appreciate everyone who takes the time out of their day to read what I have to say.  But it’s hard to truly unload what weighs heavy on my heart knowing that I’m confessing to those people closest to me.

I have had several people mention to me their struggle with infertility, either in their own lives or with someone close to them.  Infertility isn’t just a stage or a season of life with a beginning or an end.  For me, I’ve been dealing with it since I was a teenager.  It is a process. It will always be a part of my life.

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Most of you know the later part of our infertility story.  We adopted Lil’ B three years ago.He is a blessing and a miracle that we hoped and prayed for. But the road leading to Lil’ B was long and hard.

What I want to share with you is what I’m feeling today as a woman who is still struggling with infertility. I still have a strong desire to be pregnant.  It hasn’t gone away.  I assumed after Lil’ B that God would just take that longing away from my heart.  However, it is still there.

 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. ~1 Peter 5:7

I felt guilty for feeling this way for a long time.  And to be honest, I sometimes still do.  God gave me such a miracle, how in the world could I ask for more?  After Lil’ B came into our family, and I began noticing this desire hadn’t disappeared, I told no one for the longest time.  Not even Bart.  But God, because he knows every thought before we do, began speaking to me.  Gently, reminding me of this verse.  To give him “all” my anxiety, fears, worries, heartaches.  Not just the ones that I could justify, but the ones I was ashamed of and didn’t understand.

I know God doesn’t want me to feel guilty.  He wants me to still come to him, the way I did before Lil’ B, with this desire.  He wants me to be honest and open.  He wants me to lean on him, depend on him, and trust him.
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And we can be confident that he will listen to us whenever we ask him for anything in line with his will.  And if we know he is listening when we make our requests, we can be sure that he will give us what we ask for. ~1 John 5: 14-15

I want you to know that I am content.  If I am supposed to have a family of three, then that is all I want.  If God blesses us with more children through adoption (daily praying for this) only, then I will be content.  I only want what God has planned for me, because I trust he has only good planned for me.

It’s hard to explain how I can be content with what God has given me, yet still want more.  I think that this is a natural part of our life here on earth.  Our hearts are meant to long for more, because there is so much more than this.

When I look at the pictures of these women with their hands on their belly, cradling their unborn child, my heart feels many things.  I look and first think, “how beautiful.”  How amazing is our God who created all that we see.  What a gift he gave us to allow us to “create a life” when He is The Creator!  I am in awe of Him when I see a picture of pregnancy.

When I look at these pictures, I also am reminded of my infertility.  As much as I would love to be able to experience one of the greatest blessings that God gives to women, I just may not be able to.  This is hard!  There is no sugar-coating it.  I don’t want to paint a picture here that infertility is easy if you love God.  I love God.  Infertility is not easy.  But this is when I rely heavily on the promises that God gives me and you, through his Word.  I’ve always been bad when it comes to memorizing scripture.  However, it’s amazing how after so many years of depending on it to get me through and lift me up out of a dark hole, I have come to the point where when I am feeling something, my head almost instinctively recites a certain scripture.

I lean very heavily on the promise here in 1 John.  Just knowing that God is actively listening to me brings me so much comfort.  He isn’t up in heaven, busy taking care of the world going, “Yeah, yeah.  I hear you Melissa.  You’ve told me this before.  What else is new?”  He is really listening.  Psalm 40:1 says, “I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.”  He physically and actively gives us his undivided attention.  When I read the word turned, I thought of someone having a conversation with someone else and as I approached they shifted their head around to see me coming.  However, this literally means “bent toward.”  I picture God bending down toward me like a father does to his child when he is hurt and wants to really hear and comfort their child at the same time.  He is actively getting close to us to really hear us.  We can feel his presence as he bends down to hear us.

This verse also means so much to me because it’s a reminder to seek God’s will, not mine.  I am so glad that in my life God hasn’t given me everything I have asked for simply because I wanted it.  He has protected me from so many things that I am not even aware of.  But praying and asking God for the things we want, without regard to His will for us, brings nothing but heartache and frustration.  When we begin to pray and pursue God’s will for our life, something happens.  Our desires line up with His desires for us. And then we can have confidence that he will hear when we ask him foranything.

But what makes it possible for me to find joy  in the midst of this journey is knowing that God, my relationship with him, is all I need.  Many, many times in my life God has asked me, “Am I enough?” And many, MANY times I couldn’t give him an answer because I couldn’t tell him that actually he wasn’t enough.  But in time, after lots of time with him and being more and more honest with him, He is enough.  When God becomes all you need, then the trials that you walk through not only become bearable, but your perspective for which you measure how hard they are change as well.  As I’m typing these words, I’m remembering just a few short hours ago a woman walking by me as I was on a weight machine at the gym.  A group of women were leaving one of the classes.  A woman in the middle of the group was very pregnant and it took me by surprise.  I’m not sure why, but the gym is one of the last places I expect to see big ole pregnant bellies.  Something in me at first wanted to cry. But instinctively, I called out to God.  Shouted (in my head) is more like it.  “Lord!”  And he spoke to me gently.  “I’m enough Melissa.”  There is something so precious about those moments with him that I would miss out on if I weren’t on this exact journey.

First bike ride and what i learned from it

We got Lil’ B his first bike for his birthday a few weeks ago.  Of course it was orange, go Vols!  The excitement that we had picking out this bike for Lil’ B was enormous.  We just knew he was going to love it and dreamed of all the afternoons after Bart would get home from work and they would ride together.

Lil’ B did love it… when he saw it with balloons and streamers on it.  He was excited to go outside with his Daddy and play with his bike.  But when the time came to get on and ride, the excitement was replaced with something else.

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He still loves his bike.  He loves to look at his bike.  But he isn’t confident yet.  It wobbles when he sits on it, he doesn’t like that.  How does he know he won’t fall off?

Because he can’t get passed this yet, he hasn’t learned that if he pushes the pedals he can ride the bike and the training wheels won’t allow him to fall.  And more than that, his Dad will be right there beside him for whatever he needs.

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This might not be the picture Bart and I had in mind when it came to Lil’ B and his bike, but I think this is great.  This is an opportunity for Lil’ B to learn many things.

One is that his Daddy is going to always be there to help him, guide him, support him and catch him if he falls.  Even though Lil’ B isn’t pedaling the bike yet, Bart is still there to show him how the bike works.  He is there standing right beside him, placing Lil’ B’s feet in the right place on the pedals and putting his hands on the right position on the handle bars.  Even though there isn’t much “riding” going on yet, which is what this bike was intended for, Bart is patient with Lil’ B as he is processing this all and figuring it out.

The second thing he will learn might not happen right away.  But these moments, these life learning lessons from his Daddy will give him a picture of how God loves him as His son.

As we do all these things for him and show him how we will always be there, Lil’ B will know that God is there for him all the more.  As his confidence builds because we support and teach him as his parents, through out his life his confidence will grow in Christ more as he depends on Him and he will be able to do great things.

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“Bud, if you wanna feel the fun of riding the bike, you are going to have to push the pedals with your feet in order to make it go. I’m not going to leave you.”

And eventually, Daddy will push the bike with Lil’ B on it for a little ways so he can see what fun waits for him ahead.  Soon enough, Lil’ B will understand that he won’t fall off.  Soon enough he will get that all he has to do is push his little feet and the wheels will start to turn and he can ride his bike.

As parents feel for their children,  God feels for those who fear him. ~Psalm 103:13

I love how God is teaching me so much about who He is and his love for us as his children as I am on this journey of parenthood.  As I look back at my life, I can see so many times that God has done just this for me.  Waiting there with me, beside me, as I just sat on the seat afraid to just push the pedals. And even now, his patience with me as I sometimes forget that even if I do fall, He is right there to catch me.

God knows before the fall even happens.  He is ALWAYS ready.

I’ve already learned this.  I already know I can trust him, He has proven this to me time and time again.  But yet, sometimes, I’m just sitting there afraid to move forward.

It’s unknown ahead.  The “what if’s” are all ahead.  Right here, I know what is happening. But right here is not where we are meant to stay.

I think sometimes what hinders us from pedaling isn’t that we are scared of the ride or the “bike”.  But we are forgetting where to put our confidence.  Are we focusing on the bike itself and our ability to ride it?  Or are we remembering the one who gave us the abilities and the one who is the source of our confidence.

Maybe it’s time to just start pedaling.

Summer birthday party

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So, the birthday event is over.  We still have some balloons floating around in the house, so he still thinks it’s his “birfday.”  But I think this was maybe one of the biggest highlights of his week.  I spotted an idea for a Water Balloon Pinata on pinterest and decided to make my own version.

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They all took turns with the bat.  I expected them to get wetter then they did, but they still had a blast.  This is a great idea for summertime.  The “big kids” wanted in on some of this fun too.

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I went with simple this year.  Hosting parties isn’t really my thing. I sweat it out for days leading up to the event.  My sister really got that gift, but I have learned a thing or two from her over the years and I try my best to channel my inner Heather.  We did just plain ole hot dogs, chex mix, and capri suns.  The boys didn’t seem to even care, they were too busy playing.  Just goes to show that stressing out and trying to do it bigger and better than the last isn’t at all what’s important.

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They were more concerned with where the best place was to eat.  They started at the table and ended up moving their plates inside the fort.

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And, as usual, what began as a mistake turned out to be one of the best surprises he could have had.

It’s common, very common, for me to put something away so that I won’t lose it when I need it.  I went to Target the day before and remembered to pick up some cupcake liners.  That night, when gathering all my things to make the cupcakes, I couldn’t find them.  I thought maybe I threw them out with the bags.

However, I remembered buying some ice cream and ice cream cones a few weeks back.  I knew it would make a special treat for Lil’ B on the hot days while playing outside.  I had seen some pictures, again on pinterest, of some ice cream cone cupcakes.  And lo and behold…

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Turned out to be the best thing I could have done.  Lil’ B was so excited to have ice cream cone cupcakes with sprinkles.  It’s all he talked about that night.  He had never seen them before and just thought they were so cool!  They were the easiest thing in the world to make too.  Definitely give them a try, if you haven’t already, for your little one’s.

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It was a great day for Lil’ B.  He had so much fun with his friends.  It was all so worth it!