Archive | Family

r.i.p. to my forever home

I was 9 months pregnant and feeling every sweaty step as I approached the front door. When I woke up that morning, I had no idea that an effort to humor my husband in checking out an open house “for fun” would result in us finding it: our forever home!

I fell in love with the house before the home tour was over. It was a fixer upper with good bones, lots of dreamy natural light – and to put icing on the cake – it was a huge bargain in our dream neighborhood! We’d always known that our next house would potentially be our forever home, but we never dreamed we’d find it so soon!

We immediately put an offer on the house, closed on it the day after I gave birth, and moved in two-weeks postpartum. The plan was to begin renovations weeks after moving in, but those weeks turned into months. I grew impatient.

I’d be nursing with nothing better to do than stare at the walls. That’s when the discontent would start to sneak in. I’d criticize and complain over every imperfection of the home. I made an inventory list of every little change I wanted to make – nothing was negotiable. It’d just have to fit into the budget.

When the renovation-monster began rearing it’s ugly head on my family, I realized that I needed to do a heart check. I asked myself:

What if I got everything I wanted?

What if my Pinterest board dreams were executed to a T and my home became the envy of Instagram?

Would that make my family happier? Healthier?

Would I be a better wife/mom/homemaker?

Would my “forever home” satisfy me forever?

Would I somehow be closer with God?

The answer to that last question was an obvious and resounding “NO.” In fact my obsession with  my earthly dwelling was actually driving me from the presence of my Savior.

God’s Word is full of wisdom and exhortation against trusting in wealth and possessions, but the verse that speaks to my heart is actually from a passage about worry:

Fear not little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

Luke 12:32

All the temporary things in the world can’t satisfy me like the one person I can never lose – Christ!  His kingdom – his presence, his power, his work – are the only things that matter! One day we might move or lose our house to an unfortunate circumstance. But my eternal home is unshakeable.

When my priorities are properly in submission to Christ, I’m set free from the influence of the renovation-monster. A heavenly perspective also helps me to realize that it’s ok to be excited about the remodel. If used correctly, our home can be an effective tool in kingdom work.

I love this quote from Gloria Furman’s book, Missional Motherhood:

“We leverage our homes for gospel work. For those whose hope is in the coming kingdom, our homes are less like treats and more like a network of foxholes for planning and hosting kingdom advances into this present darkness. Our homes are centers of hospitality to show strangers and neighbors the light of Christ. And they are equipping centers for traveling ambassadors to help them on their way to doing the King’s business”.

When my heart and hopes are set on Christ, I count my material blessings for what they are – gifts given for accomplishing kingdom purposes. And in that proper light I can enjoy my home to the fullest – it won’t own me.

I look forward to raising our family within these walls. I can see gospel-conversations around the kitchen table, teaching our kids to read from their bibles, hosting studies, and helping to mend broken hearts with true comfort from the seats of our comfy couch.

I still have high hopes that we’ll live in this house for many years. But the term “forever home” is hilariously relative in light of eternity.

So I’m officially retiring the phrase until I reach my true Forever Home.

 

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Camping with an 8 month old

camping with an 8 month oldcamping with an 8 month oldcamping with an 8 month oldcamping with an 8 month oldcamping with an 8 month oldcamping with an 8 month old

Last month we took Everly on her second big adventure…camping in Havasupai Falls! While camping down in the Grand Canyon with an 8 month old may seem overly ambitious to some, it’s an inevitable rite of passage for the Bennett family. We take groups of people to Supai on guided tours as a side biz and we went down last year while Everly was 5 months old on the inside!

This trip was also a really important heart check for me. Although we enjoyed Everly’s first adventure to Mexico at 5 months, I found myself too often mourning the change of pace that came with traveling with a baby.

So approaching this camping trip I let go of all expectations. Not in a pesimistic sense, but one open-handed to whatever new blessings the Lord had in store for our adventuring family.

True to his gracious character, God far exceeded whatever shallow expectations I had in mind!

Everly slept!

Mom slept! (Can I get a hallelujah!)

Everly ate on schedule and even experimented with new foods!

We got over 6 miles of hiking in with Everly asleep on Mike’s back.

And I got to explore a part of the canyon I hadn’t in over four years!

Tips and Tricks

With only 1 camping trip under our belts, we are by no means experts, but the things that worked for us we are more than happy to pass on!

  1. Get Osprey Child Carrier Pack. We were fortunate enough to be able to borrow one from friends and now we’ll definitely be getting one of our own! It was light weight and had an optional sun-shade  built into it – which was a must!
  2. Wear your babe. The Osprey pack worked great while hiking, but this ring sling is my at-all-times-go-to for wearing Everly. She feels safe exploring with me in the sling and it’s a great way to soothe her to sleep when it’s nap-time and we’re on the go.
  3. Dock your tot. I held out until this camping trip to get a Dock-a-Tot, and I probably won’t use it again until the next kid since Everly’s nearly out-grown it. But it worked great for this trip since Everly couldn’t fit in our sleeping bag with us and we didn’t want to lug around a pack-and-play just for night-time. Even though she’s typically a stomach sleeper, she slept soundly tucked into the Dock-a-Tot.
  4. Bundle up your babe. Did you know they make sleeping bags for babies!? I didn’t. But they’re adorable and a must for camping. I ended up getting this footmuff instead of an actual sleeping bag because it can be fastened into a stroller as well.
  5. Pack a play space. Everly was in the put-any-and-all-objects into my mouth stage during this trip, so giving her free range in the dirt wasn’t an option. We picked up a water-proof picnic blanket from Costco and it was a life-saver! It’s easy to clean, light weight, and it folds up small enough to carry in a pack. Here’s a similar one.
  6. Travel with Grandparents. This tip is the one most key to the trip’s success! Having my parents along on the trip was an enormous blessing – for everyone. 🙂

camping with an 8 month old

Any experienced camping mama’s out there have more tips to share? I’d love to hear!

 

 

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Defeating Mom Guilt

Last month we spent a weekend in La Jolla, California at the beautiful La Valencia Hotel. It was a refreshing weekend with family and friends, but at one point I had to combat a serious bout of mom guilt.

defeating mom guilt

defeating mom guiltdefeating mom guiltdefeating mom guiltdefeating mom guiltdefeating mom guilt

We were at a swanky seaside restaurant for dinner and were seated on the patio. My desert-dwelling self wasn’t prepared for the evening chill and I was agonizing over whether or not I had bundled Everly enough.

I ventured to the restroom hoping to find a changing table and a secluded place to nurse, but wouldn’t you know it – those things don’t exist in swanky restaurants! As I slid two chairs together into a makeshift changing table, I began to berate myself:

“I should’ve thought things through more before bringing Everly on this trip.”

“Who brings a two month old to a restaurant like this?!”

“Why didn’t I think to bring warmer clothes?!”

“Am I a bad mom? Or worse… do they think that I’m a bad mom?”

At that moment, an elderly woman entered the restroom and interrupted my thoughts. Seeing Everly brought a HUGE smile to her face. She came close to admire her and we exchanged a little small talk.

Then she let her guard down.

She told me how she regretted not having a child of her own. Instead of having children, she toured the world as a career ballerina performing in famous shows, including Swan Lake.

“Wow, that’s amazing!” I told her. “What an accomplishment!”

A look of sadness washed over her face as she replied, “I thought so at the time. But now look at me – I have nothing to show for it.”

My heart broke. Not only for the regret and pain I heard in her voice, but because I recognized in her my own need to seek out significance and worth in accolades.

In being the best mom, the best teacher, blogger, sister, etc. My list of identity-definers is limitless.

And so unsatisfying.

Each pursuit leaves me disappointed and empty because only one pursuit, one identity, can ever truly fulfill me.

And that is Christ.

He redeemed me when I was irredeemable. My life in him has purpose and meaning that extends beyond this present reality and into eternity. Motherhood fades, careers come and go, and trophies and accolades will burn up in the end – but my my status as a daughter of the King will never end.

So why do I strive for perfection in temporary titles? I think it will be my life-long struggle. But the fight to honor and love the Lord above all else is a worthy one.

Before I had time to process my thoughts into a meaningful response, the woman was gone and Everly and I were left alone in the bathroom. I deeply regret not being able to share the hope of the gospel with her!

My prayer is that by sharing this story, someone reading might be encouraged! This journey is nothing apart from Jesus. His grace and salvation are sufficient in this life and for all eternity!

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Dear Everly: A Birth Story

Dear Everly,

I’ve written so many letters to you, letters filled with prayers for your life and the excited ramblings of your expectant mama. But of all the letters I’ve written to you, this one is by far my favorite. It’s the story of how you came be with us – your birth story.

Dear Everly: A Birth Story

I had hoped that you’d come early, but you kept your mama in suspense and decided to wake me up early in the morning just two days before your due date! The pains began softly – almost so softly that I wasn’t certain if I was imagining them!

Your dad and I decided that it was best to hunker down and try to relax as much as possible until you arrived. Dad made some work calls from home and I tried to nap without much success. I was just too excited to meet you! We read our favorite verses aloud. My favorite was from Psalm 139:

For you (God) formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

I couldn’t wait for the unveiling of the beautiful work of art that the Lord had been knitting together inside of me for so many months!

Suddenly those soft pains began to pick up intensity. Short of eating ice cream, I knew the only thing that could make me feel better was a warm bubble bath! So in I went! While I soaked in the tub, your dad played our love song on the piano.

Dear Everly: A Birth Story

About that time, Doula Alyssa arrived. I don’t know what we would have done without her help! She rubbed my back and helped me to get into comfortable positions for each birth pain. When I was feeling weak and afraid, she encouraged me to be strong and remember that with each breath and pain, we were getting closer and closer to seeing your face.

Dear Everly: A Birth Story

Finally, at seven in the evening, we decided that you were DEFINITELY on your way and it was time to get to the hospital. I’ve never seen your dad get out the door so quickly! Before I could even put on a change of clothes he had the car packed and ready. The sun was setting, but we could barely see it through the monsoon storm that blew in just in time to escort us to the hospital!

Dear Everly: A Birth Story

We hit nearly every red light along the way, but finally we arrived at the hospital. I waddled to the door where the amazing Doula Noleen had a wheelchair waiting for me. The nurses checked me and determined that on a scale from 1 to 10, my body was at an EIGHT! It was almost time to push!

I continued to labor in the hospital room. I was getting so tired! I remember thinking, “What if Everly doesn’t come out?!” To help speed up your exit and bring you earth side, the doctor broke my water. Now there was nothing standing in your way!

Dear Everly: A Birth Story

Through the hospital window, we saw fireworks – which was actually quite fitting because firework explosions are the only way I can think to characterize the feeling of pushing! The minutes dragged on for what felt like a painful eternity. But then suddenly – you were here!

Dear Everly: A Birth Story

They placed you in my arms and all I could do was look at you in complete shock and with absolute joy. You were here! After all the months of waiting, I was finally able to see your beautiful face.

Dear Everly: A Birth Story

Dear Everly: A Birth StoryDear Everly: A Birth StoryDear Everly: A Birth StoryDear Everly: A Birth StoryDear Everly: A Birth StoryDear Everly: A Birth StoryDear Everly: A Birth StoryDear Everly: A Birth Story

For so long I tried to anticipate how I would feel once I finally got to hold you in my arms. The love your dad and I have for you is SO much deeper than I ever could have imagined! It’s indescribable!

I pray for you everyday.

I pray that I can be every bit the mom you need me to be.

I pray that our love for you would lead you to the foot of the cross.

And I pray that your days would be full of the joy that comes from loving the Lord and serving others.

I can’t wait to watch you grow, dear daughter. Welcome home!

Love,

Mom

Incredible pictures taken by Alyssa and Noleen.

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What I Can’t Wait For

It’s now July –  my baby girl’s birthday month. Lately, the reality of her arrival has been hitting me in massive waves of excitement! There are so many things about bringing my little human home that I just can’t wait for!

What I Can't Wait For

I’m looking forward to the tangible things.

Like the smell and feel of her brand new baby skin!

And being able to hold and kiss her precious little baby hands and feet. (Does anyone else just lose it over adorable baby feet?!)

What I Can't Wait For

I can’t wait to see which features of me and which features of Mike she uniquely wears. I already know that I’ll marvel in amazement at how God knitted her together so perfectly.

And then there are the intangible things that I can’t wait for.

Like the instinctual ease of holding baby. (I was that teen that fearfully held newborns as if they were ticking time bombs)! I’m looking forward to those mama instincts, or in the very least, what I’ll learn in sick or swim fashion!

I’m looking forward to loving a completely new facet of my husband – Mike the dad. There are moments as we sit talking and dreaming about our little girl when this look of absolute tenderness comes over his face… and I just want to cry!

What I Can't Wait For

PHOTOGRAPHER

And most of all, I look forward to understanding God’s love in a deeply new and profound way. To know that the massive love I feel for my daughter can’t even compare to the everlasting and depthless love of God for me will be SO humbling!

I’ve been carrying our Everly June for almost 9 months now. In a way I feel like we’ve been planning a massive homecoming party for dear friend all this time. A friend who’ve we’ve never met, and yet somehow know so well. A little life who will change our lives forever.

We can’t wait to meet you Everly June! You homecoming party is ready for you. 🙂

What I Can't Wait For

PHOTOGRAPHER

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7 Things You Should Never Say to a Pregnant Woman

7 Things You Should Never Say to a Pregnant Woman

If you’ve ever been pregnant – you’ve been there. The moment people know that you’re expecting, your body suddenly becomes an acceptable topic of conversation.

And scrutiny.

And touching.

Don’t get me wrong! For the most part, I’ve loved the changes pregnancy has brought me and I’ll be the first to want to gush about how excited I am. BUT, occasionally over the past 8 months I’ve received some shockingly rude – and hilarious – comments.

I should preface this list by saying that I know that none of the people who made these comments were ill-intentioned, which is why I can laugh about them! So go ahead and laugh with me! 🙂

1.  Me: “I’m having a girl”. Store clerk: “Ah yes, girls steal all of their mom’s beauty.”

2.  Girl (as she compares me to another pregnant woman standing nearby): “You’re short, so the weight has to go everywhere.”

3.  My dermatologist: “Wow. When you were sitting, I thought you looked small… but now that you’re standing…”

4.  Guy: “When are you due?! You don’t look like you have much more room to grow!”

5.  (Before we knew our babe’s gender). Woman: “You’re having a girl. I can tell because you’re carrying the weight everywhere.”

6.  Fitness instructor: “How are you today, besides being SUPER pregnant?”

7.  Husband: “Sorry wifey. I finished off the ice-cream.”

Ah pregnancy – what a delightful season! Having a sense of humor is KEY!

How about you other mommies? Got any comments that top mine?

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A Wedding Reminisce

We’re counting down the days until our family goes from a party of two to a party of three! We are incredibly excited!

With all of the wonderful changes in store for our family, I can’t help but reminisce about how it all began – on our wedding day!

Wedding reminisce

Wedding reminisceWedding reminisceWedding reminisceWedding reminisceWedding reminisce

Wedding reminisce

Wedding reminisce

A Few of Our Favorite Things

We actually reminisce about our wedding day often. We have so many fond memories of the celebration and everyone who made it possible.

The Personal Touches

My sweet dad handmade the alter arch out of aspen trees…

Wedding reminisce

Wedding reminisceWedding reminisce

…and hand-crafted dozens of boxes to serve as center pieces.

A friend baked our cake.

Wedding reminisceWedding reminisce

Family and friends teamed up to set the tables, string dangling lights, and set out mason-jar “place cards”.

My talented friend Brittany from Delight in the Desert created our invitations and this beautiful chalk board to sit at the entrance of the aisle.

Wedding reminisce

My favorite personal touch was our guestbook.

With both Mike and I being so passionate about adventure and travel, we decided that a globe guest book was the way to go!

Wedding reminisceWedding reminisce

This globe belonged to my Grandma. I used to stare at it whenever I visited and daydream about the places I would go. Now it’s a focal point in our home!

The Venue

Those of you who know my hubby personally know that he is the host-extraordinare in our relationship! He loves showing people a good time; food and relaxation are his love languages.

He found  our caterer. And our venue – a gorgeous 5-acre home with a beautifully landscaped yard at the foot of Camelback Mountain.

It was beautiful, private, and perfect!

Wedding reminisce

Wedding reminisce

The Party

Some people wear two dresses, I sported two hair styles – down for the ceremony and up for the reception.  So glad I did!

I wanted my hair out of my face so that we could party hard.

And party hard we did!

Wedding reminisceWedding reminisce

Wedding reminisce

OUR PHOTOGRAPHERS

 

The Best is Yet to Come

Every adventure has it’s start. Ours began on March 7th, 2015. The next chapter begins in a few short weeks!

Wedding reminisce

Did you love your wedding? I’d love to hear about your favorite things!

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