Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter!

I know that Christ lives.  I know He is real!  I have never seen Him but I know Him.  He helps me.  He knows me.  He wants to help me and you.  He is a real being with flesh and bones and one day we will see Him again!  I want to always have faith in Him and be faithful to Him so I can one day be gloriously resurrected like He was, and live with him forever with my two boys, baby, and extended family.  I believe with all my heart that that day will come.



PS.  I used THIS study guide this week and it was so amazing.  There's also a section for continued study about the Resurrected Christ for this next week.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Trying to become like her

In a world where comparison is everywhere and almost second nature--on overdrive helped by social media--I am really grateful for the knowledge I have of my divine nature.  I am 100% certain that if I hadn't been taught by my parents, teachers, leaders, and friends ever since I was young, that I am a daughter of Heavenly Father, that He loves me, and that He wants me to return to Him, I would be living my life differently, and probably would greatly struggle with self-esteem, since body image and how beautiful your house is etc etc is all around us.

I want other women, and the young women I work with, and any future daughters we may be blessed with, to know that if they just truly focus on the love their Heavenly Father has for them, why they are here on earth, what their purpose is, and live their life according to those purposes, life will be easier and more beautiful, because there will be no comparing to anyone around them - except - their old self as they strive to become better.

I really loved reading this poem in the March 2016 Ensign titled, Filling the Lamp.



A drop at a time.
One thought at a time.
One good deed at a time.
One prayer, one smile.
One scripture memorized and applied in daily life.
One Church meeting attended, Spirit felt.
One time sticking up for the downtrodden.
One obedient act.
One honest friend made.
One day lived joyously.
One courageous choice.
One duty done well and promptly.
One chore finished without complaint or reminder.
One inspiring song heard, book read.
One mistake fixed.
One offense forgiven.
One grateful expression.
One kindness shown.
One recollection of divine worth that transforms.
One hug given.
Each drop of oil, small,
Together fill the lamp
Just one drop at a time.

The parable of the Ten Virgins has always held a sacred place in my heart.  My mom has had this painting hanging in our home as long as I can remember.


I remember how comforting it was to look at the women on the left, with their smiles and peaceful countenances, because they were prepared.  They had filled their lamps, one drop at a time, throughout their life.  They knew their divine nature.  They knew Heavenly Father loved them, and that these drops into their lamps would help them return to Him one day.  I always felt uneasy and sad when I looked at the women on the right who were not in the same situation.

We had a young women lesson a while ago and the teacher handed out these quotes.  These words were very encouraging to me.  I want to be a woman like that...a woman who resembles one of the prepared Ten Virgins.  I will be a woman like that.  I will do all in my power to teach my children "fearlessly", love my husband deeply and loyally, be diligent in my church callings, love others with true charity, be faithful in all things, be consistent in my temple service, and hopefully even help others fill their lamps in the process, one drop at a time.



Wednesday, March 1, 2017

When God parted our own Red Sea

So when Ollie was born, we learned a lot.

Basically, his birth cost us $9,000 out of our own pocket.

It was a nightmare.

Admittedly, this entire process of dealing with insurance, receiving bills in the mail from so many different providers (hospital, attending pediatrician, anesthesiologist, etc) was so new to me. I had never dealt with it before.  Prior to marriage, my parents always handled insurance-related things, and ever since marrying Jared, (gratefully) he and I have never had any major medical expenses.  Just the once a year check ups with our primary care doctors, and those visits were always free.

So to deal with all this was overwhelming, to say the least.

For honestly about the first year of Ollie's life, I was making phone call after phone call to my insurance company, the hospital, the pediatrician's office, the anesthetist's office, researching bills, double checking over and over again that the amounts were correct (does a $6,000 circumcision fee from the hospital sound accurate to you?  Well, it is.), researching the internet to understand how insurance and medical coding works, asking friends their stories and advice ("did your baby cost this much?  What would you do?  Can we compare bills?"), asking my parents questions, and just trying to understand the whole confusing process that can be insurance.  In the end, I came to the conclusion that all the amounts were correct, but because of one frustrating little coding decision made by the hospital, Ollie and I would each be responsible for our own deductibles, and because the costs were so high, we each hit our out of pockets ($4,500 each).

So I spent a while kind of going through my own sort of grieving process.  First being in shock, denial, then being mad, and then accepting.  That was a process of many months.

Luckily, during that time, I wasn't baby hungry.  I was still trying to understand how to be a mother and it was a joyful time but also a hard time.  There are just a lot of adjustments and "first times" and times of trying to figure things out.

But, the dark thought was still in the back of my and Jared's minds.  How in the world were we ever going to afford having another baby?  We just spent a good chunk of our savings to pay for our first born.  How on earth could we do that again?  We couldn't, in all actuality.

However, we knew we wanted to be obedient to Heavenly Father's command to multiply and replenish the earth.  We just didn't know how it would all work out.

I remember talking to my mom about it one day.  I was emotional and had basically come to the conclusion that Ollie would be our only child.  I wanted so many more children.

What she said to me changed the course of my thoughts.

"Carly, I've been thinking and praying about you and Jared.  I know this must be a time of worry and unsurety.

But.  If God can help Moses part the Red Sea - the seemingly impossible - then He can lead you to the path of finding a way to have another baby."

.....

Then one day Jared came home from work talking about a Christian health share group that his co-worker was thinking about joining.  I thought it sounded like hog wash...a group that shares each other's medical expenses?  And it's not considered insurance?  (But is recognized as insurance under Obama care, and thus is legal, aka you don't have to pay a fine for not having "insurance" when filing your taxes, etc)  Does this really work?

His co-worker at work, as well as another co-worker and his family, joined Samaritan Ministries (SMI).

Then, Ollie hit 18 months old and I suddenly got baby hungry.  I had finally become much more settled and comfortable with motherhood and I felt like I could handle another child.  It just was starting to feel right.  But how would it work?

In the back of my mind I kept thinking about SMI.  I finally decided to text Emily, one of Jared's co-worker's wives, to ask if I could call and get more information about SMI.  We talked the next day and for the first time in this situation, I felt hope.

Could God really have led us to something that would allow us to have another baby?

Was my faith that strong?

So again, I embarked on another research process.  Over the course of a few weeks I read the entire 40 page SMI guideline book, I called SMI with a list of questions, my notebook became filled with notes, I did lots of math ("would this be cost effective compared to our current insurance?") I called other SMI members in Florida to get their opinions of it, and just tried to be diligent in my research before we went to God in prayer with, "Is this right?"  In the end, I concluded that our monthly payments would be a little higher, but that the birth of any children would be completely free.

Free.

Over time, it felt right.  Through prayer, it felt right.

And so in October of 2016, we canceled our insurance, and joined Samaritan Ministries.

In December of 2016, we found out we were pregnant.



I know God answers prayers.

He helps us part our own Red Seas.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Monday, February 13, 2017

January 2017

January was a month of birthdays for my two favorite boys!

This cute little one turned two years old on January 1st.  

I love this picture so much



"Presents, mama!"

It made me so happy that we could have both families on Facetime so they could be involved!


Our Elmo-loving boy.
Happy birthday to our sweet two year old!!


I love his little toy-trails he leaves

Well, we may or may not have gone to Cici's three weeks in a row.
I have officially found my favorite dessert - their (basically undercooked) brownies (!!!!!)

This picture of Jared makes me melt!


A little Valentines decorating, to help slow-January go a little quicker.
My mom calls holidays "the spice of life."  I love that.
They add a little spice and excitement to the normal, sometimes mundane, parts of life.




Facetiming with Mikele.  He loves to wear his firefighter hat backward :)

Love this

I wanted to post this picture from lds.org to remind me of a really special day we had on January 5th.  We were able to attend a sealing for an incredible couple in our ward, Chris & Mariel.  Mariel joined the church probably about 8 years ago.  Chris was baptized a year ago, and they both went through the temple to receive their endowments in Dec 2016.  The beautiful day came in January when they were able to get sealed to each other, AND their 7-year-old daughter was able to be sealed to them too.  I have never witnessed a sealing where children are involved.  I wish I was better at describing things...but suffice it to say I am so very happy for them and the joy and spirit that was felt in that sealing room was no doubt witnessed by angels and I know God was proud of them that day.



I love watching him line up his toys

Love this

I was going through old pictures and came across these sweet ones of baby Ollie and my mom.




One of my favorites.

It got cold (for a day) in Orlando!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Little British boy

Our YW president gave a great lesson on the new mutual theme and she made these awesome plaques with the theme on them.  



Jared took Ollie to Epcot while I went to a few appointments.  Ollie was quite uneasy in the moment, but he constantly talks about "Mickey," "Minnie," and "Gofey" and how "Gofey" gave him a high five. :)


The time came to turn around his carseat...such a big boy!  
Still makes me nervous though.  Being backward is so much safer (anyone heard of internal decapitation?  I did a little while ago).  But his little legs were so scrunched and he met the age and weight limit to turn around.


Jared had a fun time golfing with friends.


And we had a SUPER fun time seeing Wicked!!!!!!!!!!  AHHH!!  Amazing




Love seeing mom and dad's Christmas present hanging on their wall

Fun mutual activity!  Sister Allred made cookies in shapes of letters and then after decorating them we held up the letters (in multiple pictures) of words creating the new mutual theme.

I finished reading this book and it was sooooooo good.

My cousin Julie and her husband Scott flew out here for a cruise and they got to stay with us for a night and go to church with us the next morning.  I just love both of them!!!  They are such incredible people and are such examples to me.

Our YM president had a great idea to take the Priests (16-17-year-old boys) in our congregation to the temple grounds every few Sundays.  Jared has joined them and has said that the spirit felt there among those boys is palpable and incredible.

These.  Were.  So.  Good.

Had our first ultrasound of baby #2 and it was SOOOOO amazing to see that little heart fluttering and to see its little numb arms and legs moving around. :)



Loved this insight

The car in his hand ❤️

That step stool and couch arm rest are his happy place.

My view every Wednesday & Thursday morning.
"Mama?  Truck?  Trash?"
💞

While out on a walk we saw this little construction site.  He sat still for a solid 20 minutes.  I loved watching his face as he watched everything.  
Those little neurons in his brain were probably on rapid fire.


"'Baby Sign Time', mama?"

❤️

I had to run and errand to the hospital we'll be delivering baby at (same hospital Ollie was delivered at - we love it there!!) to get some paperwork and I just loved reminiscing of Ollie's birthday.



Love that quote

Ward temple night with such wonderful ward members.
And two cute temple workers photo bombing :)



^^So, I really love these things, and I rarely have pregnancy cravings but definitely had one that night 😂

Love these cute pictures a YW took while babysitting




She was babysitting so I could take Jared on his surprise birthday date...
A food tour!!

For two hours we walked around a 1-mile circle in downtown Orlando to five different restaurants.
The first was an adorable French bakery where we sampled (smaller than we had hoped, hehe) a savory crepe and delicious macarons.

The next place we didn't partake in the sampling, as they served coffee tequila. :)

This place was SO good.  It's an old train station converted into a bar-type restaurant.  
They served buffalo chicken, nachos, and oysters.  

Okay this place was even better.  The way the chef cooked the brussel sprouts made me a fan forever!  He said ingredients along the line of soy sauce, bacon, green apple...mmmmm.  We also tried tater tot casserole and mac n cheese.

I was super excited about this place because I love breakfast food...but they ended up serving a Middle Eastern tomato sauce with vegetable concoction with a somewhat fried egg on top with some toast.
(😁😅)

BUT, overall, it was such a fun afternoon.  I loved spending time with my man.  
We both love to eat and try new adventures so...it was a win in our books. :)

I love verse 3





This is powerful.  And motivating.

When we start driving down a main street in our neighborhood Ollie keeps saying "Nemo!"  I had no idea what he was talking about until one day I saw a billboard with fish on it, advertising a local aquarium store.  So one day we stopped in there and Ollie was in heaven.

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

We had our first Personal Progress mutual night with Sister Buys as our new Personal Progress leader. The whole night I was just so darn happy!  She is such an incredible woman and inspires me so much.  She plans plans plans, works hard, and executes gracefully.  She is going to really help our YW be motivated and complete their Personal Progress.  Sister Allred has called many new leaders into YW recently and I am SO excited about them!  They all just truly get the gospel and want to serve and love.

We had a fun Valentines FHE involving writing ways we have served others recently.  
It's been fun to have little FHEs with Ollie :)


I wish I had taken a picture with Lisa, but had to snap a picture of Orange Lake to remember the day. I just love this friend and that our friendship has still continued after me quitting.  She holds a special place in my heart.  We had lunch at Chik Fil A and then I went back to Orange Lake with her and got to visit with people I used to work with.  Being a full-time employee of a corporate company may not have been my favorite thing in the world, but I do know I was supposed to be at Orange Lake for those two years during that time of my life.

Celebrating Jared's birthday!  He turned 33 on January 26th.

He requested these burritos and this cake.

THIS CAKE IS A DREAM.


I love them so much

I also love finding Ollie's imagination manifested in little moments


I've slowly been trying to add to our food storage.  After talking to a woman in our stake who is so knowledgeable on the subject, and asking her basically how I should get started, she asked if we have any water storage and I said, "Well, we have a few cases of water..."  She said, "A few cases of water?!?!  You have NO water!!"  😂  So basically we needed to get working on that quickly.  Last April we purchased and purified water for three 55 gallon water barrels (she has an awesome purification process that I've typed up if anyone wants it) and then this month we did these 5-gallon water barrels that can be transferred into your car if needed.  I feel a lot more peace of mind with our water storage in place.  Now I just need to keep working on the food storage part...and I REALLY need to go through our 72-hour kits to evaluate them.  (Oh and make one for Ollie.)

I love these girls!  We had a fun girls night where we each brought our own craft and enjoyed eating brownies and talking.  Women really do need women.  I am grateful we understand and support each other.  I always look forward to these nights.  It also feels so good to work on the scrapbooking that sits in my room and stares at me!

My sister Lauren just so nonchalantly sent this picture of a sunrise on the beach in Hawaii.

Sister Mabey taught an incredible lesson about how we are daughters of a King, which makes us princesses.  She helped us better understand our divine nature, that we are destined to be queens, and the importance of living worthily to one day obtain that joy and glory.  Many of the girls described "aha!" moments and the Spirit was very present.


And so the bump pictures begin!  11 weeks.  Baby the size of a lime :)

We finished off the month by going to Magic Kingdom with some friends.  It was a beautiful day.  I love that we can just go for a few hours and just go whenever.  It's a fun family activity we enjoy.

And a few hours later...my mom arrived for a fun visit!!