God First

Lorena J Ford

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We live in a social media driven world. It’s so easy to get distracted by Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, the News app etc. We fall victim to their rabbit holes and before we know it, we’ve been scrolling through our phones for an hour!

I’m talking to myself here too. This verse says, “Seek FIRST…” not second, not when you have time, not when it’s convenient for you, but FIRST.

Lately, I find myself first thing, as soon as I open my eyes, reaching for my phone and opening Instagram or whatever app to see what I missed while I was asleep.

It became second nature, an addiction of sorts.

Man oh man did conviction hit me like a ton of bricks! I felt God asking me where He stood in line in my life. Talk about a wake up call!

The funny thing about it all, is that most of…

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Chicago

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I cannot believe it’s already been almost TWO weeks since we took our trip to Chicago. Time seriously needs to slow down a bit, because that means my girls are growing fast too!

Sam and I went on our baby moon to the wonderful Windy City. The first time I went to Chicago, I was just entering my teenage years and it was for my brother’s boot camp graduation. It’s crazy how different things look to you as a kid versus an adult. I just knew, despite the harsh cold, that Chicago was a pretty cool city, and obviously memorable. I’m glad that I finally got to go back as an adult and with my most favorite person in the world!

Every year since our oldest was born, Sam and I have made it a point to get away together without the girls.

(Also, let me add that my anxiety goes through the roof, having to leave my babies! I don’t like leaving them, but I know that Sam and I really need the time alone).

Day in and day out, we have the same routine of responsibilities we need to take care of. After a while, Sam and I get worn out and stressed and barely spend time together because we’re so tired. Date nights aren’t enough to catch up and take a breath.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re absolutely needed and important, but after a while, you need some alone time with your spouse that lasts more than a couple of hours every few weeks. SO, that’s why we made it a point to get out of town without the kids every year.

Last year on our anniversary, however, we did a little 3 day “staycation” in the city, where we’d spend all day exploring, adventuring and relaxing with couples massages, and came back home at the end of the night to the girls; and that was lots of fun and gave us the alone time we needed just as well.

We feel and believe that as parents, and even if you don’t have kids, it’s good to disconnect from everyone else except each other. We get to focus on just each other and really catch up and talk…actually have conversations without distractions and screaming kids asking us for something every .02 seconds! lol

Anyway, Chicago has so much to offer! We ABSOLUTELY loved and enjoyed it. We went for 4 days and despite battling the cold weather, we got a lot done! Here’s some of the highlights of our trip and if you’re thinking of visiting, hopefully serves as some inspo!

DAY ONE

We caught a super early flight and as soon as we got to the hotel to check in and leave our bags, we headed out in search of BREAKFAST! HA We were hungry, y’all!

Luckily, there was a restaurant called Yolk right across the street from our hotel. Which by the way, we stayed at The Langham and it was absolutely amazing! It’s a beautiful hotel with exceptional service and an A M A Z I N G spa!

After breakfast, we explored Magnificent Mile, before heading back to our hotel for our couples massage 💆🏽‍♀️💆🏻‍♂️ it was much needed and very relaxing.

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The only picture we got of our hotel was the hallway 😂
Baby moon
Feeling relaxed after our massages and ready to eat up some steak!
Chicago eats, chicago food, rpm steak, baby moon, travel, chicago travel, things to do in chicago
I didn’t get a picture of our steaks and our “millionaire potatoes,” which O M G… but here’s our yummy dessert! The cotton candy was complimentary.
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To finish off our first night, we did some bowling, which was also located across the street from our hotel.

I LOVE that everything was literally within walking distance from our hotel. We were right on the river and a short walk from Mag Mile and TONS of different restaurants.

DAY TWO

Ya’ll… day two was CUBS GAME DAY! It was literally a check off of my bucket list! A dream come true for me, as I’ve been a cubbies fan since I was a kid.

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I bought that hat when I visited Chicago the first time! I told myself that one day I’d be back and wear it to my first Cubs game!! It’s a 14 year old baseball cap y’all!!

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The Cubs lost, but that’s ok! The experience was still AMAZING and Wrigley Field is AWESOME!

Thanks babe, for making this girl’s day!

After the game, we headed back to our hotel and for dinner we decided to check out the famous Chicago deep dish at Giordano’s, and lets just say, it did NOT disappoint!

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I meeeaaan!! drool…

 

DAY THREE

Started the day with a yummy breakfast with a view at NoMi located in the Park Hyatt.

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View of the water tower

 

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Delicious cornbread toast with pear

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After breakfast, I of course had to get the girls a gift… so we hit up the American Girl store and got one each for them. Sam was over it after two minutes of searching for their perfect doll lol

Then it was off to Millennium Park to get in that tourist pic, of course!

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Lastly, we couldn’t leave without catching Hamilton! We were able to see it on Broadway and loved it! We listen to the soundtrack all the time!  So, we had to catch it while in Chicago and it was just as amazing.

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DAY FOUR

Was our check out day, we ate breakfast at Yolk again, and just had some good old fashioned date fun. We went to FTW which is like Dave n busters and just had fun feeling like little kids. Afterwards, as our last stop, we went to a little hole in the wall, suggested by a friend, called “Da Lobsta.” It was actually really yummy, we don’t typically eat lobster, I prefer shrimp and crawfish, but this was Maine lobster, the way New Englander’s eat it in a roll and it was yum!

So, that’s it! That was our trip to Chicago! Lots of fun spent with my favorite person, best friend, and baby daddy! We were supposed to check out the Navy Pier but had put it off till Saturday, to kill time, but it was rainy that day… so to that we say, we’ll check it out next time because we’ll definitely go back to Chicago!

xoxo,

Lo

 

 

An Introduction

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lifestyle blogger, fashion blogger, mom blogger, mompreneur, faith, kids, parenting, parenthood,

INTRO TO MY INTRO

I’ve taken a little break from blogging. In fact, I believe I’ve only posted once, so far this year. Lately, I’ve been really thinking and praying about this blog and where to go and what to do from here.  With that being said, I really want to work on branding myself/blog and branching out into the social media world, mainly Instagram and Pinterest.

I actually manage an Instagram and Facebook account that on Insta, has grown to 60k+ followers in less than a year; so I’m confident that I can do the same with my own, maybe just not as quickly but who knows?!

It just makes sense for me to take my blog in that direction, and not really see it as a hobby, but as a job that I want to succeed at. If it doesn’t, I can at least say that I actually put myself out there and TRIED. I know that it requires me to really hone in and focus on my content and actually blogging, since, after all, I’ve been blogging every now and then about how I want it to take off, grow my writing and inspire/encourage others.

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Without further ado, here’s the start of it all with introducing myself a little more than in my “About Me” section. My blog is called “The Mommy Diaries,” because I am a mom, obviously, to two beautiful girls: ages 4 and 2. At the moment, I am pregnant with my third, due at the end of July. We don’t know what baby is yet, even though I’m practically 21 weeks, but we find out at the end of this month.

This pregnancy has definitely stretched me and tested me in ways I haven’t known before. So, lets just say that if this was my first, I probably would’ve stopped there. 😬

I am happily married to my high school sweetheart. We met in 9th grade, began falling in love (unbeknownst to each other) in 10th grade and began dating our Senior year. I tell him that to me, he’s the best thing that I got out of the high school we went to! In 2010, we tied the knot and have loved every minute, good, bad and ugly, of our marriage.

We both practically grew up in church, Baptist and NonDenominational, and both began leading worship at young ages. Once we became engaged, we began leading worship together on a weekly basis, at our current church. Late last year, we also released our first album EP, which you can find on SoundCloud, Apple Music and iTunes, FYI. And we’re also working on putting a full album out later this year, hopefully.

Anyway, I love to write. I feel I’ve always had a knack for it and it’s also where I can really express what’s going on in my mind and heart. Growing up, I never really got much encouragement, and for so long I felt weighed down by negativity. Now, as an adult, wife, mom, worship leader, etc., I WANT to encourage those around me. I want to speak words of affirmation over those who feel weighed down the same way I did. I want others to feel encouraged and empowered to pursue their goals. I want others to succeed and accomplish things they never thought possible, especially my girls who look up to me so much, already at such young ages.

That’s my hope. That’s my desire for this blog. That’s my goal. I hope that you can come here and read something encouraging, helpful, insightful, fun and as a sigh of relief. Where my heart is not to judge and point any fingers or be jealous of other’s success.

So, here’s to a new start! Hope you can come back and see what happens next! ❤️

xoxo,

Lo

 

Apple Seeds

 

It’s almost 2018! What?! How?! It is crazy how much time just passes us by in the blink of an eye.

What a year this has been! It’s been great for my family and me and I’m excited for what 2018 will bring.

Bearing Fruit, Growth, Flourishing, Motivation, Growing, Blogging,

The other day, I was eating an apple. It was so delicious, that  I ate another one. As I was cutting up my second apple, I noticed the seed; this small little seed. I looked at it, observed it and went about getting the rest of that apple in my belly.

It wasn’t until later, as I was doing things around the house, that I remembered how good that apple was. Then, the seed popped back into my head. I thought, wow, it is crazy how from that tiny little seed, came something so pretty and delicious.

I also thought about how crazy it is, that I’ve birthed two beautiful girls. I am fascinated by the fact that one small little organ inside of my body, can stretch and accommodate and house a tiny human being! God really didn’t leave out any details when He created us and molded us; to be able to do and create amazing things.

As I thought about the seed, I realized how we are very much like that apple seed. Many times in life, we undervalue and underestimate our talents and abilities. We think of our goals and we dream up dreams, but soon squash them because we tell ourselves, “I’ll never make it.” or “I can’t do that.” or “I’m not good enough.” or (insert your own excuse here).

We come up with excuse after excuse and we fail to see ourselves the way God sees us. When He thought us up and began to mold us, we were just tiny little seeds inside of our mother’s womb. However, He didn’t stop there, He knew that that tiny little seed would grow into something bigger, more beautiful, full of life and full of purpose.

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“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart;”
‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭1:5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

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As we grow up and learn the world and hear the whispers and lies of the enemy, of our “haters,” of the media, of growing up without a mother or father, we lose sight of who we were created to be. We begin to fall victim to the lies and start to conform to the shape of the box instead of thinking and growing outside of the box.

Imagine if someone saw that apple seed and just threw it away? They would have never known that out of something so small, would come a huge tree that bore these beautiful fruits. Someone saw those apple seeds and saw past their size. They had faith when they planted them, that something much better would come out.

They took the time to plant the seeds, and watered them daily. They were persistent and never gave up. It took time and effort, but the fruit…the end result, was worth it.

It takes nine months for us to go from an embryo to a fully developed baby. It takes 13 years for us to go through school. It takes 20+ years for us to become adults. It takes 4+ years to obtain a professional degree and it takes an apple tree 8+ years to grow and bear fruit from a seed.

And so, our own personal seeds (passions, goals, dreams) also need the persistence, the patience, the time and the right tools to grow. Because of the world we live in, it’s so easy for us to give up. It’s so easy for us to think we’ll never make it. It’s easy to quit and move on to what we think will make us happier; or we just settle for mediocrity.

As we grew up, school took effort. Growing up under our parents authority took effort; being obedient to them, their discipline, their advice etc. College took LOTS of effort but when we walked across that stage, it was worth all of those papers, midterms, finals and late nights of studying. We had something to show for ourselves and were proud that we did it, we made it, despite all of the obstacles and aggravations of college life. All of the seasons and ages and things we go through in life, take effort, persistence, tears, sweat, sleepless nights, but the fruits of our labor make it worth all the effort.

Going through 9 hours of labor for both of my kids… that’s what you call a “labor of love.” It wasn’t easy, but man holding them was worth all of, not just the hours of labor, but the months of holding them inside of me.

What I’m trying to get at is, if you have seeds in your hands, plant them. Cultivate them, water them, be persistent and patient and watch them sprout, bloom and grow. Don’t let fear or negative influences, self-doubt or lies stop you from flourishing.

Over time I have planted seeds, dreams and goals of mine, but have failed to water them daily, have failed at being persistent. One goal of Sam and mine that has finally bore fruit, is getting our songs out there. We did it, we’re being obedient to the Lord and have put them out there for the world to hear. It’s very vulnerable and scary, but seeing the fruits of our labor and walking in obedience has given us that extra push that we needed; a sense of accomplishment and the fear of what people might think or say is wearing off, bc those opinions don’t matter… God’s does!

In 2018, my resolution is to pick up that watering can and water my seeds (two of those seeds are my precious daughters), because I know that one day they’re going to bear many fruit. God has called us for so much more, but it’s up to us to put in the effort and water our God-sized dreams and goals.

What desires has God placed on your heart? Chase after them. Pray and seek Him and wait patiently for the fruits.

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“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭37:4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

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And take delight in knowing that there’s beauty and joy in the journey; in growing; in learning, succeeding and failing.

Make It Happen

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This past weekend, a few of my friends and I went to Waco, Texas to attend the Magnolia Silobration. It was such a fun little girls weekend trip and I loved every minute!

I absolutely love Fixer Upper and love Chip and Joanna! They’re seriously the cutest! So, going to Magnolia was definitely a highlight! Despite the killer heat, it was a beautiful weekend and all the details that they put into the Silobration were awesome. Of course being able to spend time with great friends made it a sweeter experience.

That being said, I didn’t expect to come back home feeling like I was spiritually refreshed and encouraged. After all, it’s not like we went to a conference expecting to hear a good word.

We arrived to Magnolia around noon on Saturday and we were all so excited! We couldn’t wait to taste the yummy foods at the food trucks, check out all the street vendors and of course walk around the grounds of the silos.

I love how God works and how much He loves to find us in the most random places in our lives. Looking through clothes, and wandering around in a mundane setting, shopping, I glanced over and saw a notebook. As clear as day, I heard God tell me, pick it up and buy it. So I did.

The notebook says “Make it happen,” and it’s pictured above.

Now to tie all of this in.

As the day progressed and day turned to night (I’m laughing at that sentence right now, I’m corny sometimes), it was time for the concert. The bands were so so good! Opening the night, was Castro (the band), which one of the members is Jason Castro and I remembered him from American Idol! It was so cool to see him and his siblings playing/singing, they’re so talented! Anyway, then Jon Foreman (from Switchfoot)!! played and he didn’t let us down either, and finally Johnnyswim (which I hadn’t heard their music till that day) and they were beasts! Oh man, so many talented and sick musicians/singers!

In each of their sets, they all took moments to give God glory. They all spoke of how crazy it was to see their dreams come to fruition and how blessed they felt to be able to play in front of our/a crowd. They thanked Chip and Joanna for giving them that opportunity. They sang a few worship songs and/or had messages in their songs that were inspired from The Word of God, The Bible! Their messages to us were encouraging and told us to dream big, because anything is possible. To have hope, because we can do more than what the world says we can’t.

Chip and Joanna talked about how they were struggling to flip houses, but persevered in the face of adversity. They spoke about Chip’s endeavor of starting “Chipstarter,” and encouraged people to send in videos explaining their dreams and where they want them to go. The end result being that Chip would help fund those dreams/businesses. That night, they brought up three finalists and we got to see what those dreams/business were and to everyone’s surprise, they gave all three of them checks of different amounts, to help them reach their goals.

They encouraged us to go after those God-sized dreams, because that’s what their whole Silobration was based on, a God-sized dream that they never thought would be possible.

The reason why God told me to buy that notebook, with the words “Make It Happen,” in the front, were because my God-sized dream is to write a book and along with Sam, to write songs that reach nations. A year ago, God told me that I needed to write a book. I thought He was crazy, and I put it off for months! Finally, after He kept reminding me of my disobedience,  I began to write little by little this year. Even though I don’t feel equipped or like it will go any where, but I’m doing it.

Christine Cain said in a sermon, to “do it afraid!” because after a while, we won’t be afraid anymore and we’ll see how far it will take us!

For years now, Sam and I have had songs sitting in the “notes” on our phones. Finally, we recorded them and they’re almost ready to be released, before the year ends!

Those are our dreams, they’re scary, but God has placed them in our hearts! The notebook represents a step in the right direction, for me in my writing and for us with our songs. Every thought as a writer and every lyric we receive will be written down in that notebook and we’re going to make them happen! Who are we to think that we’re talented, smart enough, or good enough for these things? But GOD, ya’ll…BUT GOD!

He uses the most unlikely to reach the unlikely! Oh, He’s so good! He wants us to realize that no dream we could ever dream up will even come close to the plans and dreams HE has for us!

What’s your God-sized dream?

Do it.

Dream big.

Make it Happen!

XO,

Lo 🙂

 

NOT TODAY

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Life is an oxymoron. It’s rough, tough, crazy, wild, sad, lonely, discouraging. At the same time, it’s easy, fun, chill, happy, full of love, family, friends and laughter, encouraging and hopeful.

However, lately I have been feeling discouraged.  I hate discouragement!

I know that success doesn’t happen over night. It takes time, it takes hard work and it takes perseverance. The perseverance is the part that gets me.

I wrote a post not too long ago entitled “Don’t Be Cheap,” and while the particular example I spoke on was about fitness, it also applies to other areas of my life as well. Over the last few years, I’ve started out on a couple of ventures, only to give up half-way through, out of discouragement and feeling like I wasn’t any good at it; so why keep going?

Regardless of what it is, Sam was and always is in my corner. He told me recently that I keep starting things but never get anywhere with them. He didn’t say it in a mean or discouraging way, rather he wanted to encourage me to really stick to one and go after it. I gave a million excuses as to why I dropped it and moved on to another subject.  That was maybe two or three months ago, yet it has been replaying in my head.

For much of my life, I’ve struggled with insecurity.  Over the years, the insecurities have morphed and changed from one thing to another, and lately I’m insecure in my talents and abilities. One of them is, I fear that I’m not good enough in my writing and that’s why I hardly get any readers, and the book that I’m working on, won’t get picked up because it’ll suck…with thoughts and feelings like that, it’s easy to feel discouraged, right?

Oh, but then, I remember that there is a liar and he goes by the name of devil. The father of lies, and he’s been whispering in my ear telling me all these things. You’ll never be a good writer. Your blog sucks. Your book will suck. No one will read it, etc., etc. But no, not today Satan! NOT TODAY!

When we don’t give our worries/fears/anxieties to the Lord, it leaves room for the devil to stick his nose in our life and release feelings of insecurity, fear and doubt. He loves discouraging us and stopping us from reaching our full potential in whatever it is we’re trying to accomplish.

BUT, God wants us to be successful! He wants to see us flourish and go after our goals. He wants us to use our talents, our voices, our abilities to go out and do whatever it is we have set out to do. Sometimes we will fail, but we get back up and try again. Fail and try again. Fail and try again. Fail and try something new. Fail and change our approach. Fail and then finally succeed. Sometimes we succeed after the first try. The point is no matter how many times we fail or how long the journey takes, we will succeed.

I cannot allow the devil to have any wiggle room, and Jesus tells us that DAILY we must give Him ALL of our worries. I don’t do it daily and that’s when I feel the most discouraged, on the days when my hope and my trust hasn’t been put in the Lord.

So, I guess, what I’m trying to get at is that life truly is like a rollercoaster. BUT when we set our focus on allowing God to take full control, putting our faith and trust that He wants and knows what’s best for us, we will be more encouraged than discouraged to persevere. Honestly, there are always going to be people that are better at what we do than us, but we can’t let that stop us. I can’t let that stop me, because there is always room and time to grow and get better.

My friend, or anyone who is reading this, be encouraged. Persevere and trust that God’s got your back! He’ll always see us through as we keep pressing on, but if we give up we’ll never get anywhere and we’ll always have a cloud of discouragement over our heads.

“Tell the devil NO, NOT TODAY!”

The hood called parent

Processed with VSCO with t1 presetThere’s a fine line as parents, that we teeter when it comes to giving our kids the things we wish we had as children. At least, my husband and I have that struggle. Growing up, my parents worked hard just to provide the basic things for my siblings and I, and while we weren’t on government assistance like my husband and his siblings, it was still a struggle for my parents to make sure a meal wasn’t missed.

I still remember the different places we lived, starting when I was five years old, and back then in my innocence, I didn’t know that we were “poor” in US standards. You don’t know you’re “poor” until you’re old enough to understand why you need a job and how money works… at least not back when we were kids. I think kids today know way too much, way too young but that’s a story for another day!

While I wished to have all the Barbie’s and the accessories that come along with them, my parents would simply say, “maybe one day, but not today.” My parents were stern and strict parents, however, I know that they really did wish to give my siblings and me certain things that we’d ask for; be it for our birthdays or holidays, and there were times that we would get one special wish list item and it’d light up our year!

I remember one year my mom told us that we could start a savings jar for a trip to Disney one day, and for years we’d put any and all spare change into that jar. However, every time it filled up, something needed fixing and there went that dream. We’d start over and over and over. In the meantime, we’d go on weekend trips to the beach and that made us so happy, it still does lol. I love the beach and I hold lots of great memories of vacations there as a kid! (I just wish Sam loved it as much as me and we’d be there more than just 2 days a year! lol)

Finally, when I was 15 years old, my parents surprised me with a trip to Disney World (at this point my brother had gone off to the Navy), so it was a special birthday trip for me. I know how much hard work and saving up my parents had to do to take me and for that I am so thankful!

Fast forward  13 years and my husband and I have taken our girls to Disney World since they were infants. We will be there in a month from now and I just can’t help but think that they won’t feel the same excitement that I felt when they’re 15 years old… or maybe they will, who knows? time will tell…When what felt like my whole life, that was one of the things I wanted the most… of course what so many kids dream of, meeting those two cute big-eared mice!

That’s our struggle, we want them to know and appreciate what hard work looks like and that they are blessed to have the life they have. The fact that they won’t know the struggle we knew; I am so thankful for that! I’m thankful that they will not grow up in a house with financial struggle, not very many people get to see that or know that. I’m thankful that God blesses us day after day, year after year and I know that we are only where we are by His grace, love and mercy over us!

My prayer is that we teach our girls to be thankful for everything. To not be spoiled, though I want to spoil them. I put into practice telling them “no” already when they ask for things. I tell them that they can’t always get what they want, but will always have what they need…even at their little ages of 3 and 1. I don’t want to give them everything just because we can spare the extra expense, it’s a struggle, but important.

One of the things that God constantly reminds me of is being a good steward. A good steward financially, spiritually, physically and a good steward of the two most precious little lives He’s entrusted us with! Oh, they are my heart and even through the ups and downs of parenting, I know that God’s purpose and plan for their lives is something out of this world! I know that they will be world changers and a light. They’re forces to be reckoned with and He’s given us the task to make sure that they’re led through the right path.

I’m constantly praying for God to give me the wisdom and knowledge to be the mother  that they need me to be and I don’t want to let Him down and I don’t want to let them down. I know that at times I will, however, through God and with God we can move mountains!

Daily, I pray for Him to be my portion, to give me patience, to give me wisdom in disciplining them, in teaching them and loving them. Parenting isn’t easy, it isn’t always fun, but in teaching them we also learn and grow along with them. Hopefully, that line becomes easier to balance as we continue in the journey of parenthood!