Living free because Jesus Christ chose me. Wife to Anthony, mom to Samuel. Love reading, blogging, crafting & cooking! Sac State MA alumni, passionate about life.

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Wednesday
Jul092014

Sipping Chocolate 

Here in Raleigh, the Hubster and I have spent some time discovering cool places. One of our favorite spots is a local chocolate factory called, Videri Chocolate. From the minute you open the doors, your senses are excited. The smell of chocolate greets you like a warm hug. The samples are both savory and sweet. The self-guided tour appeals to your brain. 

We have been fortunate to have many, many visitors since having Sammy. And we try to always take them to Videri. When my parents were most recently here in April, we spent some time on Videri's patio talking, eating, and drinking chocolate. But it wasn't an ordinary chocolate. It was sipping chocolate. When my parents first tasted this treat, they immediately were reminded of their travels to Sao Paulo, Brazil (to see my cousins) where they also had sipping chocolate. 

Since I can't always get over to Videri, and I always want more than 2 ounces of the special drink, I figured out how to make a knock-off version. Although you can make your own version at home, I highly recommend getting over to Videri to try theirs!

The best part about this sipping chocolate is that it can be made with Almond Milk. In fact, I have perfected the recipe using almond milk. So for anyone needing less dairy, here is your new best friend!

Sipping Chocolate

(adapted from Ghiradelli's recipe)

Ingredients

1 cup 1/2 and 1/2 (or Almond Milk)

1/3 cup semi-sweet Chocolate Chips

1/8 cup Cocoa, unsweetened

1 tbsp. Sugar (raw or granulated)

1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Pinch Salt

Directions

Mix all ingredients together in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat for 15 minutes, whisking often. Temperature should be causing the chocolate to be at a low boil. Chocolate is done when it coats the back of a spoon. Pour into cups and enjoy!

Thursday
May292014

What moving across the country taught me about my beliefs

Earlier this week I shared how we moved to North Carolina one year ago. The story continues by going back in time a tiny bit to May 1, 2013...

On this particular day, I formally gave my notice to the California Department of Education (DOE) that I would be leaving work there and moving to Raleigh. Two days later, we would find out, we were pregnant with our sweet son, Samuel. Even with finding out we were pregnant, Anthony and I knew we were still supposed to move.

We had no jobs lined up. I did have a phone interview scheduled with the NC DOE and thought I would get the job. We had money in savings and were scheduled to continue being paid through the middle of August. We had a place to live until the middle of August too. We had health insurance through September. Not wanting to jeopardize our chance to get new health care and have the pregnancy covered, we didn't see a doctor to confirm we were pregnant. I just took 4 tests. 

When I gave my notice a year ago, I told my boss I had some leads at the NC DOE and he kindly said I wouldn't have any trouble finding employment. I greatly appreciated his faith in me. I wouldn't have said so at the time, but I thought I was a great employee and would be employed by July 1, at the latest. Little did I know, this would not be what happened. 

Shortly after arriving in Durham (about 25 minutes from Raleigh) on June 3, I began working at a preschool on a temporary assignment. After that ended, I worked at a pool supply store for 3 weeks. All the while, applying for many, many jobs to work for the State of NC. I had two interviews at the DOE in September. Anthony and I felt I needed to tell them I was pregnant and I didn't get the jobs. This came as a huge let down to me. How was I ever supposed to contribute to our family if I wasn't making money? How come things weren't working out for me to be successful? Why did I have to rely on Anthony and why wasn't God letting me take care of myself? 

These questions led to much thought and life reflection. I was face to face with the reality that I believed I only had value if I was making money. Here's another way of saying that: if I don't bring home a paycheck, I don't think I'm worthwhile. Which brought up the next truth: I did not believe that being a stay-at-home mom was a valuable profession. Sure, to any mom's face, I would say it was the most important job and I really thought I believed this. That is until I realized there is no paycheck. I can't be a career woman and take care of Samuel full time. 

My personal value was wrapped up in my ability to make money and be successful in the work world. Ouch. That is pretty messed up if you're a follower of Christ. And you say you are living for something greater than yourself. It isn't what a good wife would think. It certainly isn't what a loving mom would think either. But that's what I believed. 

I think we had to move here and not get "stable" jobs until December for me to realize how my measure of God's provision was my ability to provide for myself. And no sooner did the stable job come, that Anthony needed to resign because he didn't feel comfortable with staying there. So here we were in North Carolina, 2,770 miles away from our families with no jobs, a new baby, and one month of money left. 

I would have never agreed to move to North Carolina one year ago had I known what was coming. 

I needed to rely on God. In other words, I needed to be put in a circumstance where I actually needed God. I enjoyed relying on myself, because I knew I would come through. I've always prided myself in my ability to achieve and earn gold stars.

Moving here has taught me that God comes through too. Even if it's at the last minute. As of today, we have never gone without food, shelter, or clothing. Our daily needs have been met. What a huge gift it has been to be taken care of just as scripture promises. 

If God clothes the field grass, will he not clothe you? If He feeds sparrows, will he not feed you? No need to worry dear child, God cares far more about you than birds or grasses. 

Proof that God has taken excellent care of us!

Monday
May262014

Packing up and Leaving Sacramento

A year ago today, we set our alarms early. We needed to get up and be ready because we had family coming to help us finish up packing our house. We had people stopping by to purchase our couches. I was 7 weeks pregnant and felt pretty cruddy in the morning. The one thing that helped: Jamba Juice smoothies. I stopped by Tupelo Coffee, the Hubster's "Cheers" (where everybody knew his name), and got him a latte. We'd need fuel to get going on this dreary, bittersweet day. 

As the morning progressed, we were simultaneously loading our U-haul Box, our CR-V, my dad's truck, and sister-in-law's car with unwanted items and things that just wouldn't fit. Our neighbor's stopped by to say goodbye. Our landlord stopped by. "Where do you guys want this?" was a very familar phrase heard that day, and weeks later.

My sister Heidi called, "When do you think you're leaving? We're going to come over," as Anthony and my Dad put the final touches on the U-haul pod.

Anthony and Dad headed over to U-haul to drop off the box, after much drama, they returned home 2 hours later. They did overhear a lady asking if U-Haul had anything to pack a "Chester Drawers," we're pretty sure she meant a Chest of Drawers but it has become quite the joke to Anthony and Dad. We had them meet us down the street at Togo's (a sandwich shop). There we said goodbye to Heidi, Caleb (my brother-in-law), and sweet Olivia. 

We finally got everything packed in one of the vehicles, locked the front door, and put the keys in our mailslot and heard the keys fall to the ground in our living room. Our cleaner would come later that day to do a final cleaning. We hugged my parents, Scott (Anthony's step-dad), Brianna (Anthony's sister) and Chad (Brianna's husband) and headed south on 57th Street, for the last time. It started drizzling, the weather matched our emotions perfectly.

We got on the Capital City Freeway and headed East. We took a little detour to say goodbye to our friends Dan and Jackie, who were also moving this very day. Seeing 2 empty houses on the same day was a lot to take in.

We got back in the car and continued East on Interstate 80, another stop, to say goodbye to my grandparents in Granite Bay. We didn't realize it, but it would be one of the last times we'd see them together. They've both passed away since we moved to NC. 

We finally got going and made our final stop to say goodbye to my cousins in Applegate. At each stop, we gathered with our family and friends and prayed. 

As Sacramento began to be further behind us in the rearview mirror, I was a mix of emotions. Excited about what the future would bring, what would the roadtrip be like, how would we like our new church, what would the weather be like, when would we find new jobs, a new car, etc. I was also reserving myself from thinking too much about what we were leaving, our entire life up to that point. Our support system, our jobs, friends, family, well-known roads, familiarity, and I didn't know it then, but a sense of comfort we have not had since we left our house that afternoon.

We finally arrived at our first place for the night, Elko, Nevada. We spent the night and the next morning as we were checking out of the 2-story hotel, I took the stairs with the guitars, and Anthony took the elevator with the rest of our things. The power went out and he was stuck in the elevator. After 30 minutes, I finally called the fire department myself and the firemen showed up and got Anthony out of the elevator. 

We continued on the road.

That should have given us a little idea of the challenges we would begin to face as we journeyed East. We had sold almost everything, quit our good jobs, and had money in the bank to keep us afloat until we landed new jobs in Raleigh. We kind of felt like missionaries, yet, we didn't ask for support. Not financial at least. We didn't have to wait til we got the financial backing of a church, or friends, or anyone. We were self-sufficient on this faith-journey and the pride I felt in that was huge. 

Over the next few days, we put pavement between us and the West Coast. Our coffee-snobbery was thrown to the side and we were happy to see a Starbucks!

There were a huge tornado storm across the mid-west, we saw on the news. We decided to stay a couple extra days in Boulder, Colorado. Better to be "stuck" in this city than somewhere in the middle of the United States! We went to the Denver Zoo, saw a Colorado Rockies game and saw our friend Jesse who happened to be visiting his then-girlfriend Nicole in Boulder. For some reason, I couldn't enjoy our time though, I was so anxious to get to our new city. I was afraid we were spending too much money and the timeline of us getting to Raleigh was going slower than I expected. 

I, I, I. These were statements that were constantly coming out of my mouth. I wanted things to go a certain way. I had a timeframe. I had a plan and knew that it would work. If the past was any indication, the goals I set, I almost always made and with excellent results. I knew we felt God had called us to Raleigh, but I knew I would be able to make things work, so we'd be successful once we got here. Little did I know, what I had done in the past would not work anymore. 

To Be Continued...

Friday
May022014

Five Minute Friday: Mess

The word makes me cringe. I can't stand messes. I especially have a hard time with messes that are my own. It's hard to see the beauty of something when the mess is what stands out to me. 

Take this picture of our kitchen counter (which I took this morning).

The main thing I see when I look at it is how cluttered and disheveled it looks. But upon closer reflection, I see more than that. 

I see an orange mug that's filled with coffee for Anthony to take to work. I see a sweet book from the library, Betsy-Tacy. Lots of groceries. A little square box my grandparents had for me to use as a bank when I was little. A juicer. And the thing that stands out most, flowers Anthony recently bought me on our trip to Trader Joe's.

Each of these things represents other things like: a job, the ability to read, money for groceries, memories from my grandparents, the ability to make healthy food, and the love of my husband. I can look at this counter and be frustrated by its imperfection or I can look a little deeper and see the other things that it stands for. Maybe that's what I'm learning right now, how to see the beauty of messes. And this includes my own self. 

Linking up with Lisa-Jo for Five Minute Friday where we write freely for 5 minutes.

Tuesday
Mar252014

8 Years Ago...

I married my best friend.


I thought I loved him then! I didn't know you could grow to love someone more with time's passing. The weeks have turned into months and years. The time we've spent together causes my heart to grow more in love than I'd ever imagined.

We met a long time ago and started hanging out a lot in 2002 or 2003. The timeline is fuzzy, because it's hard for me to recollect being an adult and him not being around.


Our relationship has been through instant messaging, text messaging, emailing, phone calling, instagramming, and facetiming. We've been there for each other through marriages, deaths, moves, breakups, infertility, babies, and so many other things. We've been around for short hair, long hair, soul patches, clean shaven, beards, faux hawks, weight changes, and more!




There isn't a day that goes by that I don't talk to him. He's the first person I tell when something is good or bad. He's seen the best of me and sadly the worst of me too.



There have been Christmases and birthdays, steaks and cakes, feasting and eating, and coffee and coffee and coffee.


We've travelled along the entire West Coast, across the midwest, and down the East Coast. We've been on trains, planes, boats, bikes, ferries, and cars. We've walked and talked along the streets of Sacramento, San Francisco, Monterey, Portland, Seatte, Vancouver, New York City, Washington DC, Richmond, Raleigh, Charlotte, and Durham.






There have been many, many trips to the Happiest Place on Earth.



There have been sleepless nights and long conversations into the wee morning hours. There have been prayers prayed, songs sung, tears shed. And there has been a lot of laughing and joking and smiling.

We've started and finished school. We've gotten into debt, we've paid off debt. We've saved up for things we needed to buy.


We've seen job: changes, successes, resignations, and hunts.

This last year has been our best and hardest one yet. Our family has grown!


We've stared together at our sweet boy and just smiled.

I can't imagine a life where Anthony wasn't in it and I'm so glad I don't have to!

Happy 8 years to my wonderful Hubster. I love you and can't wait to see what's up next.

Saturday
Mar012014

February 2014 Recap

This has been a fun month! Sisters, cousins, smiles and snow were the major highlights. I'm using my Instagram pictures to tell you about this past month. 

My sisters and niece flew in at the end of January and got to experience the craziest snowstorm Raleigh has had in many years. Lucky for us we had lots of food and things to do to stay busy. Olivia loved her cousin and calls him "Ssss" or "baby." Heidi knit Sammy the cutest green blanket. Heidi (on the left in the pic below) and Heather (in the middle) brought Samuel tons of clothes and he was able to celebrate the Olympics with his own sweater. We facetime each other quite frequently and Olivia is truly a little ham. In the picture, she thought it would be funny to have two hats on. 

The second week in February, Raleigh got hit with another snowstorm. Since we were going to be home for a few days, I finally picked up my knitting and finished a cabled headband I'd been working on since the beginning of December! I had two Valentines this year and in the photo on the bottom corner I tried getting a smooch from my little Valentine. :-)

 (click on the picture to make it larger) 

I've been inspired by my sisters to keep knitting, so I made this little green beanie for Sammy. He needed a hat for this unpredictable weather we have in Raleigh. Seriously, in one week we had snow and it was almost 70 degrees. Last week my cousin Rachel came for a week. We were spoiled by her doing so much for us. Cleaning, cooking, and calming Sam the main things that occupied her time. We took her to Bojangles, Ole Time Barbecue, and Rach ate her first hush-puppy. We also introduced her to the Godfather series and we didn't even finish the 3rd movie in a week since we kept getting sidetracked! We did create the most delicious cheesecake and ate lots of tasty desserts. 

 

Remember when I met Gretchen Rubin? Rachel helped us hang up many of our pictures/artwork while she visited. I have been so surprised at the happiness boost I've had from hanging the pictures up. Anthony is sitting in his favorite chair with a picture above him titled, "What Goes Around Comes Around". Our friend Terry made it and I have a love-hate relationship with it. It's in our front room to remind me not to gossip. 

Every now and then I like to post an old picture on Instagram, for "throwback Thursday." The picture I put up was of Anthony and me in our backyard in Sacramento. It was in May 2011 and I had just finished my Master's degree. See that little picture of Sammy? He is wearing dark green overalls with a little fox on them! My mom got them for him and he wore them to celebrate his 2 month old birthday. Seriously, the time is flying by. Lastly, the picture of Sammy and me is to show a little onesie Heather bought him when she first found out we were trying to have a baby. It says "Here Comes Trouble" and it barely fit our little man. He's over 13 pounds now! Heather also sent us the Big Bang Theory on DVD to watch in the hospital when we were having Sammy. He came early so we didn't get to watch it then but now we're hooked. Bazinga!

In case you're curious, I used Instaport and PicMonkey to download my pictures and create the collages. 

Now March is here and begins a new month of family/friends visiting, Anthony starting a new job and more new experiences. Here's to a happy March, everyone!

Tuesday
Feb252014

Mom's Company Cheesecake

I love cheesecake, but tend not to make it because it's too labor intensive. When my mom was visiting after Samuel was born, she made us her cheesecake. It is super easy and isn't difficult to make. The sour cream topping hides any mistakes, bubbles, or variations in color!

My mom has an old Betty Crocker Cookbook. It's from the 70's, is hardbound and well worn. Inside this cookbook is a recipe for Company Cheesecake. I vividly remember eating this cheesecake over the years as we would have friends over for dinner or be guests at their homes. As you may know, I love modifying recipes. I didn't realize that characteristic was from my mom! Check out her recipe notes:

Mom's Company Cheesecake

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 c. Graham Crackers (aprox. 2 packages), finely crushed

  • 3 tbsp. Sugar

  • 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

  • 4 tbsp. Butter, melted

  • 3 (8 oz.) pkgs. Cream Cheese, softened (or whipped cream cheese)

  • 1 1/3 c. Sugar

  • 2 tsp. Grated Lemon Peel

  • 2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

  • 4 Eggs

  • Sour Cream Topping: 1 c. sour cream, 2 tsp. Vanilla Extract, and 2 tbsp. Sugar (beat together)

Directions

Heat oven to 350. Mix cracker crumbs, 3 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon & butter. Press in bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan. Bake 10 minutes; cool.

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Beat cream cheese in large mixing bowl. Add 1 1/3 cup sugar gradually, beating until fluffy. Add vanilla; beat in 1 egg at a time. Pour over crumb mixture.

Bake until center is firm, about 1 hour. Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate at least 3 hours, but no longer than a few days (if it lasts that long). Top with sour cream mixture.

Loosen edge of cheesecake with knife before removing springform pan. Cut and serve to friends and loved ones. Enjoy!

Sunday
Jan262014

A lot has happened...

...since my last post. 

To start we had our baby! Samuel Anthony Price was welcomed in to the world on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 7:11pm weighing 6 pounds, 14 ounces and measuring 20.5 inches.

 

The delivery was very fast and went as smoothly, especially since my birth plan goal was... to have a baby. We spent two nights at the hospital and were discharged in the afternoon on Christmas Day.

We celebrated Christmas at home as a family of 3 with a delicious meal Anthony made (heated up) from Whole Foods (thank the Lord for pre-made turkey, potatoes, gravy, and cranberry relish)! Our wonderful friends picked it up from Whole Foods for us and delivered to our house, so grateful for them. The next day my mother-in-law, Donna (or Grandma Don as we've been calling her, haha!) arrived and was our personal waitress, housecleaner, grocery shopper, and holder of the baby in the morning so we could sleep a couple hours. 

On Saturday, December 28, we received a phone call from my sister Heidi that my Grandma Coryell (Papa's sweetheart) had passed away in her sleep. We are so grateful she didn't suffer and was able to see a lot of pictures of Samuel. We also had the chance to Facetime with her on Christmas Eve and she was telling Sammy jokes. The next day, we found out Anthony's Grandpa Dave had passed away too. He had been suffering for some time and we are relieved he is no longer in pain. He helped raise Anthony and was always happy to share a bowl of French Silk ice cream and ice-cold Dr. Pepper with you, no matter the weather. 

Monday, December 30, we said goodbye to Donna and were surprised by my Mom and Dad coming into Raleigh a day early. After many delays and trip changes, they finally arrived to see our new home. They came bearing gifts and helped us organize our house. 

New Year's Eve landed us in the children's emergency room as Samuel wasn't breathing properly.

After a night of observation and tests we were discharged on New Year's Day with a clean bill of health for our sweet boy. We were grateful my parents were in town and here for the moral support we needed.  

My parents insisted we try Bojangles, we've held out for 6.5 months but gave in to the pressure. We also went out to dinner at our favorite BBQ in Raleigh: Clyde Cooper's BBQ.

We introduced Sammy to our favorite bakery and our friend: Tanya of Yellow Dog Bakery. We took Samuel to church for the first time and he was the best dressed person in the building. The following week we said goodbye to my Dad and Anthony continued orientation for his new job.

Samuel got his first official bath and gave us the cutest little grin.

My mom stayed with us another week. Thanks to my traveling hairdresser, Nicole, I finally got my hair done (third time of rescheduling finally worked)! Sammy was entertained by his Grammy (my mom) who held him and cooked Aebelskivers (Danish pancakes) for us. 

Last Saturday, we introduced Samuel to coffee culture at the Big Eastern Coffee Championship which happened to be held in Durham this year!

This past week has been our first week on our own. I began my new career as a stay-at-home mom (or domestic engineer). My boss is quite demanding, but rewards me with love and the cutest face I've ever seen. 

We are grateful to have survived the past 5 weeks. We already have a huge support system here in Raleigh and, of course, back in Sacramento. The tangible way people have given to us has helped carry us through these challenging weeks. I do not feel nearly as tired or beat up as one would think considering all that has occurred. I have constantly been reminded of two things that are the theme of my life and writing:

  • The Lord has been with us and has not abandoned us
  • I can live free of worry because the Lord is with us and will provide for us

Each day, I look at Samuel and am reminded of what his name means: the Lord heard my prayer. Thankfulness for the gift we have been given makes my heart want to explode with joy. 

Thursday
Dec192013

A Knitty Christmas

I have been working at a local yarn store in Raleigh called Great Yarns. The owner Mary was kind enough to hire me seasonally knowing I was pregnant and could only commit to working there for a few months. I have truly enjoyed getting to know the fellow knitting/crocheting ladies, especially Pam and Ellen. They have taught me a lot of new skills, including how to crochet and have encouraged me to push myself and try new things. 

A few weeks ago, the Hubster was perusing Krochet Kids' website and stumbled upon a cream and white striped stocking. He said, now that's a stocking that I would like to hang up! I looked at the picture and said, I can probably make that. His eyes got really big and he said, really? I said, why not? I work at a yarn store and the ladies can help me figure it out!

I went back to work and asked Ellen and Pam what they thought. They said, I should get on Ravelry (my username is malisaprice) and look up a pattern. Then we'd pick out the yarn and they'd show me how to create the large "sock". I found this Striped Stocking pattern from Bernat. Having come to the realization that I knit a little loose, Ellen suggested I use US size 7 needles and Plymouth Yarn's Encore Worsted. I bought three skeins and got busy. 

Last week I had a really bad cold and didn't go in to the yarn store. It was a bummer because I had gotten done with the easy parts of the stocking and was to the Heel section. I needed Pam or Ellen's help. Alas, I turned to YouTube and found this wonderful tutorial from Very Pink Knits with detailed videos on Christmas Stockings. 

In case you're curious, I used Encore Worsted colors Merry (1001- green and red), Winter White (0146), and Regal Red (9601) for the stockings. 3 total skeins made 2 stockings and I'm working on a smaller version for the baby!

I also chose to make a fabric lining using a little tutorial I found on Pinterest. As you may know by now, I LOVE stripes, so of course I was elated when I found a stash of fabric in my sewing desk in Christmas red, green and white stripes. I made the fabric lining slightly larger than the stocking, as the tutorial said, put the right sides together, sewed about 1/4 inch from the edge all the way down one side, around the bottom, and back up the other side. I left the top alone until I folded the edge down about 1/2 inch and sewed across the top to make a neat looking fold. 

I carefully stuffed the knit stocking into the fabric, wrong sides facing each other. I pinned the fabric to the knit stocking around the top.

Then I chose a thread that would blend in, for both stockings I used red, and hand-sewed the fabric to the knit stocking. 

Once done, I grabbed the bottom of the stocking and carefully turned it right side out, with the knit stocking showing. 

I still need to add a little ribbon to the left side of the top of the stockings to hang them up. The best part of this project has been how impressed the Hubster has been with my crafting skills. 

Amazingly, the finished size of the stockings are both very similar to each other and the pattern size! Yeah!!

One more thing, my sisters have both gotten in to knitting since I started this project and I think they'll be passing me up in knitting skills in no time. Especially Heidi, who has gotten a bad case of knitter's elbow due to knitting so much!

Monday
Dec162013

Defining Normal

Journal Entry: February 4, 2013 

"It's a normal night. I got home from work and asked Anthony if we could go for a walk. I noticed a package from Amazon sitting on the table. I didn't remember ordering anything, but, knowing me, that doesn't mean I didn't. I opened the package and found an item wrapped. It was the book, Jesus Calling, from my cousin Beth!

Anthony and I have begun to really enjoy walking together. It gives us a chance to talk without as many interruptions. I admit, we don't have as many interruptions as some people, but walking outdoors helps us focus on the conversation we are engaging in. We walked all the way to our friend Kelli's house. She gave us some water and we walked back home.

When we got home from the walk, I made dinner. Farro with Chicken Sausage & Apples. It was even better this time. We cleaned up the kitchen, got our coffee ready for tomorrow morning, and got my lunch ready for work tomorrow. We then folded our laundry.

Sitting down, I called my cousin to say thank you. Then I Facetimed my sister, Heidi, who told me about a doctor's appointment with Olivia."

Today: December 16, 2013

I'm sitting in my pajamas eating a huge bowl of oatmeal. It's 11:00 am and I don't have anywhere to go. Not because I don't want to go anywhere, but because we have one car and Anthony took it to work. I found this old post from February and thought it would be interesting to just write today and see the differences.

In February, I was worried we would never get pregnant. We had yet to visit North Carolina for the first time, but had already purchased our plane tickets to take the trip out here. We hadn't gone up to Portland for the second time in six months to meet the team of people that we would move to Raleigh with to help start this church. We hadn't started packing up our house, saying goodbye to everything that was normal to embrace a season of nothing being normal. Well, relatively nothing being normal. 

Normal is still being married to Anthony. Talking about the future. Dreaming about what our life will look like with the addition of our son any day. Normal in February was 3 day-shift workdays at the hospital for Anthony and a 5 day work week for me at the Department of Education. We were used to getting off around the same time each day, even though they were at different hours for both of us. With a few hours of quiet before Anthony got home from work, I would blog, clean the kitchen, make dinner, go grocery shopping, walk on the treadmill in our garage or a number of other things. Almost all of these activities would be done in silence. I would stop by Jackie's house to see her and talk about our life. I would visit with our wonderful neighbor, Stacey. I would also talk with Heidi about her experiences being a mom for the first time. 

Now, normal is Facetiming Jackie in the few moments she has free (she has 3 little ones under 2 1/2 now), discussing knitting problems with Heidi, phoning my Grandma to tell her we're thinking of her, love her, and are praying for her. It's long conversations with social services to check on application statuses. It's pouring over Instagram and thinking fondly of our family and friends. Trying not to be too sad that I'm not in the picture or around for when the picture was taken. It's discussing when my parents will come to visit, before the baby's born, during, or after. Arranging baby clothes, baby stuff, baby furniture. Scouring blogs to find out what I should pack in our "Go-bag." Texting Shannon to find out do I really need _____ baby item (she knows, she has 5 sweet children). 

Normal is sending pictures to my close friends of my stomach and stretch marks and saying... "What the heck?!? Will this go away?" It's a long conversation over the phone with my Aunt Becky to find out how she's doing, the kids are doing, and for her to say, "Keep going. We love you and are here for you." It's answering for the hundredth time, "We don't know if or when we'll every move back to Sacramento. We don't know what we're doing tomorrow."

It's thinking about when the baby will come. Will I actually know when I'm in labor or will I be surprised? It's having friends over for dinner when we don't have a table and trying not to apologize about the lack of furniture. It's being hospitable and generous. It's being ok with things that are uncomfortable. It's learning that life isn't what I planned and accepting that God has not forgotten us. No matter how we feel about it. 

He is Emmanuel, the Prince of Peace, the Everlasting God, the Mighty Counselor, and the Great Comforter. He is familiar with pain, He is with us, He is probably even carrying us. It is remembering that Christmas isn't a failure if there are no presents under the tree. Or there's no money to buy gifts for family and friends. It's about the gift that we were given. Peace. God being with us. God being for us. God working through us. God using the mundane to capture my heart and say, Be Still and Know

Normal is all of these things and more. And what's so shocking is that it's in the normal, everyday life, that the Holy Spirit will speak and say: 

Do not worry about tomorrow. I take care of birds and grass. You are my daughter. How can I not take care of you? Just as you are making preparations to take care of your son, that's what I, the perfect parent, do for you. You are loved. You can never be forgotten. You are my child. Rest in me. My yoke is easy. My burden is light. I will teach you what that really means.

Is your normal any different today than it was in February?

Joining Heather for Just Write Tuesday