Monday, January 30, 2017

Caleb Byrnes

We are so excited that our precious baby boy is here!

Caleb Byrnes
Monday, January 16, 2017
7 pounds 9 ounces
20 inches

Birth story coming soon!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Let Your Light Shine

Yesterday, I had this whole post written about how awesome it was that Clemson won the National Championship Monday night (and it was awesome), but the one thing I kept going back to was something I heard Dabo say during a press conference leading up to the big game:

Let the light inside of you shine brighter than the light shining on you. 

I love this, and this phrase has kept popping into my mind over the past few days. It reminds me of one of my favorite passages from the Bible: 
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV) emphasis mine
When I heard that phrase, I started thinking about my life, and specifically, my light. What light am I shining into those around me? When people see me and talk to me, do they see God's light shining in my life? What are things I can do to shine God's light?

We all play so many different roles - wife, mom, friend, employee/employer, volunteer, and on and on, and in each of these roles, we have people looking to us. I hope that in all my roles, those around me see God's light.

Does this mean I have to be perfect? Does this mean I can't get frustrated or upset? Does this mean I have to have it all together? No, and thank goodness, because I'm certainly not those things. What it means is that I need to live in a way that shines God's light.

If I'm having a rough day at work, instead of snapping at someone for walking in while I'm in the middle of preparation for a big project, I can be gentle and kind and put my focus on that person.

If my kids are bickering over something (more than likely Nerf guns and what games to play in my house), instead of fussing, I can try to solve the disagreement in a quiet manner. If they don't want to do homework, want a short order meal, and just won't listen, I can take a deep breath before getting upset.

If I'm in the middle of something and someone calls me for something, I can talk for a few minutes to make sure there's nothing that has to be done and then politely call back later.

I don't know about you, but as I sit here thinking about ways I can shine God's light, I think about many little things that I can do differently to show others Jesus.

Last night, we read about Zacchaeus which turned into a talk about kids at school who just aren't nice and some that bully others. We talked with the boys about how even though some kids aren't nice, we don't always know what they may be dealing with.

Our kids are fortunate to have parents who love and invest in them. They don't want for anything and they know they are loved. But as we explained to them, there are children at their school who take home bags of food each weekend because their families are in need. There are kids who don't know where their next meal will come from and don't have anyone that will help them with their homework or make them take a bath.

We encouraged the boys to always be nice to these kids, for they don't know what they have going on outside of school. We talked to them about how just being nice is sharing Jesus.

While it's a simplistic example, it's one that works for all of us. It's so easy to get wrapped up into me, me, me that we forget about those around us - even those closest to us. We all have things going on - stresses, decisions to make, things we wish we could change - but the way we act under these pressures and react to those around us whether they're in our home or people we pass by on the street each day, show what we're made of and Who we worship.

Let your light shine. There's always a light shining on you by the audience around you, but let the light within you shine brighter. Be Jesus to the world.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Christmas 2017

We had a really great Christmas this year! While it's always great to spend time with family and friends, I feel like getting our shopping done so early in preparation for the baby gave us the ability to really relax and soak up all the time at Christmas. We were at home almost the entire time during our nearly two-week break and it was great!

We started the Christmas holiday by baking cookies. K.C.'s class made cookie mix in a jar during their class party, so we made his cookies. They were delicious! 

Warning: Picture overload coming next!

Are you like me? Do you make your kids take the same photos year after year? The boys know by now that before they go up to bed, we have to take a picture in their Christmas pajamas. I know one day they won't want to wear cute jammies, but until then, we're taking pictures. Kaden was particularly excited that night because not only was Santa Claus coming to visit, the Tooth Fairy was also going to be making a stop!

Santa left three piles of presents this year - one for each of the boys and one for the baby! A few weeks before Christmas, the boys were talking about how they knew Santa would want to leave the baby a stocking, so I ordered a stocking for him. When it got here a few days before Christmas, we were all so excited - until we opened the package. The right stocking was in the bag, but it had the wrong name. Thankfully, the great customer service at Lillian Vernon quickly sent out a new embroidered stocking with the baby's name so Santa would have one to fill for him.

The boys always wait at the top of the stairs before they run down in the morning. How we've convinced them to continue doing this at 7 and 9, I won't ever know, but I'm not complaining!

K.C. has asked for this Nerf gun for years, but until this year, it hasn't been available. The smile on his face says it all.

 Kaden soaks in opening his gifts. He'll open a pack of gum in his stocking and get so excited. I hope he always keeps the awe and wonder he has.

The big brothers had fun opening the gifts that were left for their baby brother.

On Christmas Eve, we celebrated with Kevin's family. It's a tradition to have fondue for dinner. Since I can't have shrimp (and that's a big part of the fondue), my sweet FIL always cooks some filet mignon separately for me before the fondue. It's definitely a treat I look forward to each year.

After dinner, we go upstairs to this large closet where my MIL reads "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and my FIL reads The Christmas Story from the Bible. Once this is done, we wait for Santa to come fill our stockings. 

At church on Christmas morning - about to pop!

My dad had a yucky virus that has been going around, so we ended up celebrating with my parents the night after Christmas. It was really nice to spread it out. My mom made a great dinner and we took our time opening gifts. 

We really had a great Christmas season! 

Friday, January 6, 2017

BABY | Celebrating with Showers

I can't believe we are so close to meeting our newest son! I really can't believe it. These past nine months feel like an eternity and at the same time, like they've flown by, especially lately. I don't remember much at all about the first 25 weeks or so of pregnancy and I was just miserable (I'm keeping it real), but these last weeks since Thanksgiving have flown thanks in part to four awesome showers we have been given.

Our first shower was on Sunday, November 20, and hosted by my SIL, Kevin's aunt, and his cousin. It was such a fun shower! When I say I am overwhelmed with the things we were given, I'm not exaggerating. I think we received almost every bit of baby gear we needed at that first shower. We are so thankful and feel so blessed to have such loving friends and family!

The boys really wanted to go to part of the shower. I thought it was so sweet! They came at the beginning before going to a birthday party and brought a gift they picked out for their baby brother -- his first pair of Nikes! They picked them out all on their own when they were shopping with my mom the day before. They're orange (of course) and gray like theirs.

On the way home from the shower, K.C. asked me what my favorite gift was and was it the shoes. Of course it was! They are already great big brothers!

On November 25, we had another baby shower, this time, hosted by three of my first cousins. This was a nighttime shower and so sweet. We had delicious chocolate cake with ice cream and caramel sauce.

I love seeing his initials!

My cousin Elise trying to teach me how to use the sling. I may need a refresher when he's here!

With the hosts: my cousins Elise, Caitlin, and Erin.

Our third shower was on December 4 and hosted in my home church by my sister, best friend, and my best friend's mom. It was a sweet shower, and so great to see so many people I don't see often.

Our final shower was hosted by two of my colleagues at work. I wasn't expecting another shower, so it was so much fun to celebrate with some of the people I work with each day.

It was so much fun celebrating the baby with our family and friends!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

PREGNANCY UPDATE | 36 and 38 Weeks

37 weeks on Christmas Day!

Week: 36!

Weight Gain: I haven't stepped on the scales this week and my appointment isn't until Friday, but I don't feel like I'm gaining much weight these days. 

What's Happening: The baby weighs about 5.5 pounds and he's getting ready to meet us! He's an active guy! 

Feeling: I'm feeling better, though I've found it's harder to get comfortable at night. 

Sleep: It depends on the night. Some nights are better than others. I won't complain though!

Wearing: Leggings, leggings, and more leggings with cute tops and dresses. 

Exercise: I'm as active as I can be!

Eating: Whatever I'm wanting which seems to be carbs, vegetables, fruit, cereal, and beef once again.

Missing: These things have stayed the same: playing with my boys like normal, running, Chickfila, and my normal body.

Thoughts: I can't wait to meet our son! I can't believe that we are less than a month from my due date! I'm so thankful to God for blessing us with three boys!

Week: 38!

Weight Gain: I've gained about 38 pounds at this point. 

What's Happening: The baby is ready to come! My body is doing what it needs to do to get ready for him. I don't think - nor does my doctor - that I'll make it to my due date.

Feeling: I'm feeling better! For about a week, I've felt more like myself than I have since May. I'm also having contractions. Nothing crazy yet, but about every 14-15 minutes apart. 

Sleep: I'm sleeping a lot better than I was!

Wearing: Leggings, leggings, and more leggings with cute tops and dresses. 

Exercise: I'm as active as I can be!

Eating: Whatever I'm wanting which seems to be carbs, vegetables, fruit, cereal, and beef once again.

Missing: These things have stayed the same: playing with my boys like normal, running, Chickfila, and my normal body.

Thoughts: I can't believe he's almost here! I've had a few moments of near panic - "am I going to be able to birth a child?" but overall, I feel really good and excited! I had to go to labor and delivery yesterday to get checked out and it was confirmed I'm in early labor. I have an appointment tomorrow morning, so I'm anxious to see what I'll find. It's crazy to me that anytime, we could have another baby boy! God is so good!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2017 | Live Well

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8

In 2017, I resolve to live well. If you're anything like me, you have a mile-long list of to-dos, many of them you feel obligated to do because they're on your calendar and others that are self-imposed, but you long for days that are carefree and full of fun.

I believe our busy lifestyles and the societal pressure to do everything and do everything well causes us (or me at least) to feel this way. This year, I resolve to be different. I want to live well, and by living well, enjoy life more fully than I already do.

This year, I resolve to Live Well by:

Nurturing my relationships. God has blessed me abundantly and I want to nurture and grow in my relationship with Him. My daily time in prayer and His Word is the vital first step in living well. His Word gives me strength and encouragement and spending time talking to Him and listening to His voice ensures that I stay where He wants me.

I also want to nurture my relationships with my family and friends. So often, I get caught up in the everyday and mundane tasks of life that I lose sight of the little moments. I don't want to do that. Yes, there are things that have to be done like laundry, homework, packing lunch boxes, and household chores, not to mention the changes that will happen with a newborn, but I want to make a conscious effort to not worry about those things as much.

Treating my body well. I can't tell you how much I've missed my regular self during this pregnancy. I'm so thankful for this baby boy growing inside of me (and so ready to meet him! #countdowntocaleb), but pregnancy hasn't been the easiest for me in terms of being normal. I haven't run since May nor have I eaten a regular, healthy meal like I normally do since then. I'm really looking forward to exercising and eating well again, but this time, with our baby boy.

Doing more for others. There's not much more satisfying than helping others and I want to strive to do this more in 2017. Whether it's paying it forward, jumping in when I hear of someone's need, or volunteering more of myself, I want to do more for those around me.

Letting go. One thing I've learned over these past months of pregnancy is that I have no control over anything. Not that I didn't know that deep-down already, but pregnancy has given me a full dose of "you can't control it all." I don't like to think of myself as a Type A Control Freak, but really, I may slightly be a Type A Control Freak when it comes to many things. This isn't a bad thing at all because it helps in many areas, but in some, like self-imposed really high expectations for everything I do, it isn't always great. I want to let go more this year. It's not imperative that the long list of things I want to do gets done. What matters most is my family and making memories with them, so if that means I have to say no to certain things during this season of my life, I will learn to do it without feeling guilty. We're about to enter a new season in our family with the arrival of the baby and I want to soak up every minute with my sweet husband and our two (soon to be three) boys.

Investing in myself. In order to be the best wife, mom, sister, friend, employee, and Christian, it's important that I invest in myself. I know that I need my daily quiet time to read the Bible and write in my prayer diary. I need to run to take care of myself and get my daily dose of endorphins. I need time with just my husband to connect with him and nurture our relationship. I need time to run around with my boys and laugh. I need to take time to read, write, and pursue other passions. This year, I want to continue investing in myself so that I can be the best version of me for those I love and come in contact with.

That's my plan to live well in 2017. What are some things you do to live well?