Persecuted Review

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Persecuted by PaulMarshall, Lela GIlbert, and Nina Shea is a thorough look at Christian persecution in various countries throughout the world.  The book is written like a news report, and goes through 41 different countries that are of concern as far as persecution and religious freedom infringements go.

All I can say after reading this book is: wow.  I knew that Christians were persecuted throughout the world, but this book really explained the who/what/where of persecution for me, including some places that surprised me.  The countries that surprised me most were India and North Korea, along with Iran and Saudi Arabia.  I wasn't even aware of how much persecution goes on in India at all.  And I knew that North Korea, Iran, and Saudi Arabia had a lot of Christian persecution, but I didn't realize how restrictive and severe the persecution was.  

This book was very thorough and very factual, giving a lot of statistics mixed in with specific examples of persecution in each country.  But even though the text itself was very straight-forward, I found myself really thinking more about Christians in other countries and the great need they have for our prayers!  I'm thinking of re-reading this book and praying specifically for Christians in each country.

One other thing I got from this book is how I really don't have an excuse for not telling others about my faith in Jesus.  Here are these Christians in other countries who lose their jobs, their families, their freedom, and their lives for choosing to follow Jesus - and I'm afraid to tell someone what I believe because they might give me a funny look?  It really puts things into perspective.

I definitely think this is a book that every Christian should read, and praying for Christians who are being persecuted is something we all should do more of - and this book will inspire you to do that.

Note:  I received this book for free from Booksneeze in exchange for this review.  This is my honest opinion.

Favorite Physical Feature




Hmm, my favorite physical feature about Derek . . . I'm going to say his hair.  Particularly when it gets a little scruffy.  

Most of the time it's short, but when it starts to grow out a little it will curl a little bit around his ear.  When I look over at him and he's wearing his ball cap and he has that little shaggy curl starting?  It makes my stomach flutter just thinking about it!

I also think his smile is pretty killer, and he looks pretty darn good in his jeans . . . but the curl is the feature that stands out in my mind.

Okay, now that I'm all flustered, here's a picture!



(Don't we look so young and cool?  This was about a year after we got married.  If you look close you can see a little bit of that curl I'm talking about.  Also, I miss my short hair.  That is all.)

A Box From Julianna

I have been seeing posts for the Cara Box Swap hosted at Wifessionals for a while, and this last month I decided to join in, just to give it a try.  Basically you are matched up with two other bloggers, one who is going to send a box to you, and one who you will send a box to.  

I'm glad I signed up this month, because I met two lovely bloggers through the swap!  Victoria, a lovely fashion blogger, and who I sent a box to.  And Julianna, who is a super-sweet Christian girl, and she sent a box to me!

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Each month has a theme, and this month we were supposed to send out boxes full of goodies that represented the region that we are from.  Julianna is from Texas, so I was excited to see what she would send me!  I got my box last week, and when I opened it up I was so surprised with all the wonderful treats inside!  Julianna really went all out!  

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 See?  Here's what she sent me:


-Beach Bag And Magazine

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-Starbucks Gift Card (I told her I liked Starbucks cake pops - yum!)

-A Blingy Cross Bracelet (I'm told Texans love their bling!)

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-Healthy Sexy Hair (Gotta love that Texas hair, right?)

-Jewelry Scarf (That she made herself!  I was so impressed.  They sell these scarves to raise money for the Love One project Julianna talks about on her blog.)

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-A Notepad (How did you know I'm OCD about lists too, Julianna?)

-A Texas Piggy Bank (So we can save money to visit!  Turns out Julianna lives in the part of Texas I've always wanted to visit!)

-A Bubble Gun for Wyatt (Okay, how sweet is it that she remembered my kiddos?  I can't wait to break this out, Wyatt loves bubbles!)

-Headbands for Gwen (I took some pictures of Gwen modeling the headbands!)

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-A Lovely, Personal Note (She sent me such sweet encouragement, and words that I really needed to hear!)


Julianna, it's been so fun getting to know you, and I think God knew what He was doing when He paired us up!  You've been a blessing to me this month, and I'm looking forward to following your blog now!

(Be sure to stop over at Julianna's blog and say hi!)

Head on over to Victoria's blog to see a few of the things I sent her!

Gwendolyn At Five Months

 My baby girl is five months old!

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Miss G has been up to a lot this month!  

On May 2nd she found her feet - she was sitting in her Bumbo and stared at her feet and she kept trying to reach and touch them. Since then  her favorite thing to do when she's laying down is bend at her waist and grab her feet.

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On May 3rd Gwen rolled from her stomach to her back!

On May 12th (Mother's Day), Gwen rolled from her back to her stomach.

She's started to get really interested in toys this month, and she'll grab for them now.

She's also gotten a lot better at sitting up by herself - she's starting to get more stable.  We've been practicing because I'm hoping to have her sitting up well before her six month session at the end of June!

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I haven't measured her again, but at her four month appointment we found out Miss Gwen is in the 99.8% for height!  I was shocked, but in a good way!  I can't believe she's so tall.  I'm curious to see if she slows down or stays in the higher percentiles for height.  She's in size 2 diapers and can now fit into some of her size 2 shoes.  She's in 3-6 month clothes, but probably not for long - she fits in some of her 9 month clothes, so it just depends on the brand!

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She's been really moving around and rolling a lot this month!  She loves to grab her feet, and I catch her studying her fingers all the time.  She has started to suck on her index finger occasionally, mostly when she's hungry, but it's cute.  And as I mentioned, we're working on sitting up!  Her favorite thing to do is still to blow raspberries, but she's also really been getting into her toys.  I put her in her exersaucer this month, and she looks really intently and grabs at all her toys on it.

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She is still nursing exclusively, but I'm thinking we'll start in on some rice cereal in the next couple weeks.  I know the pediatrician says wait until 6 months for solids, but I think 5 months is fine for rice cereal.  I'm curious to see what she thinks!  I'm also puzzled by the dairy allergy thing.  I had pretty much determined that she was allergic to dairy, but I decided to test out processed dairy (like butter baked into things or powdered milk), and she didn't seem to have a reaction - then I tried fresh dairy this past week and she hasn't had a reaction to that yet.  So now I'm just waiting to see what happens.  It would be great if she wasn't allergic to dairy, because we'll probably start supplementing with some formula before she turns a year old, and it would be nice not to have to buy the hydrolyzed protein formula - that stuff is expensive!

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I have to say, it's been rough.  I just don't know what happened - she was sleeping through the night and then right before she turned four months old she stopped.  I figured it was just a growth spurt, but she still isn't sleeping well - sometimes she'll wake up every couple hours at night, and that hasn't happened since she was a newborn!  

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I think part of the sleep problem is more me than her though.  Sometimes she'll wake up, and I don't think she's really hungry, but she is noisy, so I rush in the room to make sure she doesn't wake up Wyatt - and then I end up having to feed her, even though I know she could sleep longer.  This past week we've taken that out of the equation because we moved her into her own room!  Pictures to come, but her first night in the new room she went a good four hours between feedings, which is better than it's been in the last week or two, so I'm hoping we're getting on the right track.  Needless to say, our next baby will not be sharing a room with Wyatt or Gwen!

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Big Brother/Little Sister

Wyatt and Gwen are still getting along very well, and the cutest thing this month is that Wyatt has been doing things trying to make Gwen laugh - the other day he started blowing raspberries at her, and she was cracking up!  It was so cute.  Also, we were in the car and Gwen started crying, and Wyatt said, very matter-of-factly "Gwen, it's okay.  It's okay, Gwen, it's alright.  You're fine, Gwen."  It was so funny and cute!  He stopped being concerned when she cries a long time ago, but I think it's nice that he still tries to tell her it's okay.

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This month I've been seeing a lot of similarities in Gwen and Wyatt's personality as a baby.  They are both so smiley, and Gwen is a pretty easy baby, just like Wyatt.  You can lay her down anywhere, and as long as she can see us, she's happy. I'm always getting comments about how easy-going my kids are, and I don't take it for granted!   She also doesn't like sudden noises/movements, and Wyatt didn't either as a baby.  I'm not sure I mentioned this, but a couple months ago she cried during peek-a-boo because the sudden movement scared her! It was so sad - cute, but sad!  If things get too chaotic she gets overwhelmed too, just like Wyatt.  I think it'll be interesting to see more similarities and differences as she grows!

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The other day I was saying "I love you" to Gwen really fast, and she was laughing and laughing.  Wyatt was in the other room, but when he heard me he started calling out "I love you!" back to me, so I said "I love you more!" back to him, and he said it back to me, and Gwen kept laughing.  And back and forth the I-love-you's and baby giggles went.  It was one of those perfect motherhood moments.


Gwen has the sweetest little personality.  She smiles all the time.  It takes a little bit to get her to laugh, but when she does it's so cute - it's this little belly laugh, and I love it!  She laughs when I kiss her tummy - I think she's ticklish.  She loves kisses - if you kiss her face she'll  squint her eyes until they are almost closed, and give a huge, open-mouthed smile, then she just flutters her eyes  and smiles and waits for you to kiss her again.  Even when she's crying, when you pick her up she'll give a little smile through her tears, and it's so sweet.  She is so precious.

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(Pictures from my first Mother's Day with Gwen on the outside.  Last Mother's Day we were just telling our families that we were expecting her!)


My Precious Gwen Girl,

My sweet girl, you'e changed so much this month!  You are no longer the squishy little infant - you are a rolling, playing, laughing baby!  

I'm having so much fun watching you grow, and I love all the ways you've been interacting with us this month.  I love how you wave your arms (your entire arm) all around when you get excited.  I love the way you close you're eyes and give a big, gummy, open mouth grin when we give you kisses.  I love how you still grab onto my hair so tight while you're eating.  

love how suck so hard on my arm or hand when you are hungry.  I love how when I bring you into bed to feed you in the middle of the night, you bend at your waist, swing your legs up, and roll over toward me, and you sleep so soundly when you are snuggled next to me.  I love how I still have to remind you that you have to take your fingers out of your mouth to eat.  I love watching you study your toys so seriously.  I love watching you with your daddy and brother - you already have such a distinct and special bond with both of them.  

These are precious days, my Baby Girl, precious baby days.  I can't even tell you how much I love you - I love everything about you, and I hope you always remember how precious you are to me.

Love You More Than All The Leaves On The Trees,


30 Days Later . . .

Last Monday my 30 Day Challenge ended!  Here are the rest of the outfits.

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Some days I forgot to take pictures so I would just take two the next day, and somewhere along the way I must have miscounted, so you all get a bonus outfit!

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I had to include Gwen in one of these, so I dressed her up in her matching skinnies for the day!  

You know how when you wear a coordinating outfit with your kids everyone seems to point it out, and then you just kind of laugh and say "Oh yeah, we do match!" because you feel a little awkward admitting you planned it?  No, that's just me?  Well, I decided to change things up and readily admitted that I planned for Gwen and me to match, and all the teenage girls and sweet old ladies at the store thought it was great!  

Anyway, here is what I learned.

-I really can do a lot more with my clothes, and it's not as hard as I thought it would be.  I didn't have too much trouble coming up with outfits, except for the last few days (hence why a couple of the outfits are a little too similar).  I'm thinking if I ever do this challenge again I'll include shoes though, just to make it a little more challenging.

-Accessories really are important.  They are the main way you can change an outfit up.  I think I need to invest in more scarves.

-I really do like my clothes.  I liked everything I picked to be part of the challenge, but after I was done I looked at my clothes and felt like I had so many options!  I really do have a lot of nice stuff, and I think I can think of more ways to wear what I have now.

-I probably could have less stuff.  I've been systematically cleaning things out the last few months, because I had so much that I just didn't wear anymore, but I feel like I still have a lot.  I think I'll be purging again at the end of summer.  If I don't wear something all season, there really is no need to keep it.

This was a really fun experiment overall, and I'm glad I tried it!


Note: Several of you asked about that green polka dot shirt I wore in some of my outfits in my last post - I got it at Forever 21 on clearance. I think it was suppose to come with a belt, but I like it better without one anyway!  Let me know if you want to know where I got anything else!


Dear Reader

Dear Friend,

Don't worry, I'm not quitting blogging!  I realized when I thought about my title for this post letter that after not blogging much last week, it might sound like I was shutting the ol' blog down.  I'm not.  You may breathe a sigh of relief now (just kidding).

I just thought it was time for a good, old-fashioned, what-I've-been-up-to update, and so I'm writing you all a "letter".

I got so much done last week - I'm really proud of myself!  I decided it was time to tackle the closets in this house.  Derek and I have felt like we don't have enough storage space in this house for a long time, but I also hadn't cleaned out the closets pretty much since we moved in.  That's five years worth of stuff piled up in there.  I take that back, I did clean out the closets once.  But it was mostly re-arranging, not actually throwing things out.  

And lately Miss Gwen has just not been sleeping (I honestly can't even figure out why!), so I decided she needs her own room - then I don't have to rush in there every time she makes a noise for fear she's going to wake Wyatt up.  In order for her to have her own room I needed to combine the spare room and the office, and I needed to combine both of the closets so I could actually put the kids' clothes in one of them.  

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(Tada!  Spare room and office combined.  I almost like it better this way.)

I've also been thinking that I wanted to figure out the room situation before we even start thinking about Baby #3, because I don't want to do that project while I'm pregnant next time.  It might be my last time being pregnant (unless I can talk Derek into 4 kids), and I don't want to have to do any huge projects - I just want to enjoy it.  So it had to be done, and now was as good a time as any.


(Organized closets.  You can actually see the back wall.)


So I started on Monday and it took me clear until Thursday at 10:00 PM to finish.  My house looked like a disaster area.  But I actually threw things out!  I filled up our (large) trash can with junk, and I had a huge pile of stuff to take to Goodwill, until one of my MOPS friends mentioned that she was holding a garage sale to help raise money for her friend's adoption, so I took it all to her instead.  I hope they can get some money for some of it, and I love that it's going toward adoption.  I would love to adopt someday, but I don't really know if that's in our future, so this is a way I can support adoption even if we never get a chance to do it.

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(Painted room that will soon be Gwen's.)


Now I'm planning on taping up the room today and painting it over the rest of the weekend I did paint the room over the weekend!  Now we can move Gwen in.  And I think I need to keep an eye out for another dresser for upstairs I found a dresser for upstairs, which will make it so much easier to store the kid's clothes!  Their dresser gets pretty packed, especially when Gwen is in that weird between-sizes stage.

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(The dresser I am re-staining for the upstairs room.  This is the before picture.)


I think Derek and I have also got our vacation planned.  I think.  I probably better not say anything until I know for sure it's going to happen, but it should be fun!  I'll just say that I think it might involve camping (which could be an adventure with a toddler and a baby, but hey, my parents did it with a toddler and two babies, so I think we can handle it).

It's finally starting to warm up around here, and I'm so glad.  It was so weird - it went from winter (snowing, freezing temperatures) to summer (shorts and flip-flops weather) within a week.  It's been the weirdest spring, I tell you.  Even though it's been so warm, our leaves aren't even out yet.  Hopefully soon.  Anyway, it has me itching to take Wyatt swimming.  We've gone the the park a couple times, and it's so nice and warm.  I love it.  This year I feel like I just really need summer, if that makes sense.  I usually like fall best, but summer is just good for my soul this year.  I'm hoping to be able to plan some days out as a family too, which we desperately need.

And can I just ask for prayer for a situation I'd rather not get into right now? Just for the Lord's will to be done, and for us to be okay with that.  I'm sure I'll update you if it all pans out like I hope it will, but if it doesn't I can't really say anything.  Thanks, Friend.

Let's see, what else?  I've been reading a lot lately.  First, I've got a stack of books which need reviewing, so I've been working on those.  Then I have a stack of novels that I just want to read, and hopefully I'll get to them soon!  Then I have a stack of non-fiction books that I want to read.  I tell you, listening to Focus On The Family can be dangerous.  They're always highlighting these different books and authors, and they sound like they'd be good so I end up ordering them!  Can I just say that I love Amazon?  I can get so many books used for a fraction of the price.  I think I better hold off on getting any more books though until I finish the ones I have.

Well, I could go on and on about trying to find outfits for Gwen's 6 month photo session, or the trip we're taking to my Grandma's house at the end of June, or my birthday which is coming up, or Gwen's allergy situation, or all the cute things Wyatt is saying these days but I feel like this post letter is already getting a little long.  So I'll save that for next time (or for a few posts  in the next couple weeks).  I hope you are doing well!  I'm going to try to catch up on blog reading this week, so I'll talk to you soon.



Words To Say




This is a hard question.  I think I need to ask Derek specifically what he would like to hear me say more often, so I can say it.  

I feel like we both do a pretty good job of reassuring each other of how much we love each other, and how proud we are of each other.  I think Derek would like me to notice the things he does to try to help me around the house more.  Sometimes I don't notice the things he does around here because of all the things I have left to do, but he really is good about trying to help me, and I don't think I say thank you enough.

As for me, I'd love to hear the words "No, no, Babe, you sleep, and I'll get up with Gwen every time she wakes up tonight," and/or "Get dressed, I already took care of the kids and we are going out."  This is coming from the sleep-deprived-and-in-much-need-of-a-break me.  It's been a long week!


(Zoo date, Summer 2010.)

New Year's Goals (5 Months Late)



A few weeks ago at work I realized that we are doing New Year's goals again this year!  Last year my boss had us write out five goals, and in July she gave us a certain amount of shopping money for each goal we completed, and we all went shopping together!  Fun, right?  I have a cool boss.

I obviously wasn't at work for the first three months this year, so I kind of got a late start.  But I finally realized what was going on and wrote out some goals.  If you remember from last year, I'm not usually one to set New Year's resolutions for myself because I feel like I'm setting myself up for failure . . . so I tried to just be reasonable.  Here is what I came up with.


1.  Read 3+ books every month.  I am doing great on this so far!  I'm in a reading mood lately, and I just want to read more in general this year, so 3 or more books a month is my goal.  At that rate I should at least make the same book total as last year, if not beat it.

2. Eat less sugar.  And ever since I made that goal, I've been failing miserably.  I admit it, I eat too many cookies, and too much fudge, and too many jelly beans.  And I drink too many mochas.  I'm really going to try to do better.

3. Write 1 letter to a friend a month.  I figure one letter a month is doable, right?  Right.  And it's better than I've done in years past.  Maybe if I stick to this one it won't take me 6+ months to respond to people.

4. Take Wyatt swimming a few times this summer.  I want to take advantage of the warm weather, and I'm really hoping Wyatt will like the water this year!  And hopefully being in a swimsuit will also motivate me to do better on Goal #2.

5.  Start planning Gwen's 1st birthday party.  First thing is to decide on a theme.  Any ideas?


And that's it.  Terribly late New Year's goals.  I think I might be able to hit all 5 this time, as long as I can do better at the no sugar thing!  Any suggestions for low-sugar, dairy-free, all-natural snacks to satisfy my sweet tooth?  And that involve chocolate?  Is that too much to ask?  

It probably is, but I'll let you know if I find something.

19-20/52 - Morning and Goofing Off

19/52 - First Thing In The Morning

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I open my eyes and see Gwen.

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I go in Wyatt's room and catch him reading his books.

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This is just a random, cute picture of my kiddos watching a Praise Baby together.

20/52 - Goofing Off

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Miss Gwen learned to roll over from her back to her stomach this week!

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Mr. Wyatt playing with his cars and looking mischievous.  My boy is growing so fast.

How We've Changed



All relationships change over time, and ours is no exception.

The most obvious has been that our marriage changed a lot after we had kids - now it's not just us, we have two other lives that we are responsible for together.  

On the one hand, it does take a lot of time taking care of two more lives, and so we have less time to just hang out and focus on each other.  We're working on making time for more dates so we can get back to having some time that is just for the two of us.  

But on the other hand I feel like we are more of a team now because of how we work together for the kids, and they glue us together in a completely different way.  They are part of both of us, and together we are the most important people in their world.  That has a way of making you closer.

Our relationship has changed over time in lots of ways, and in general, it's gotten deeper.  We know how we're both committed to each other for life.  With that comes being completely comfortable with each other - we can each show our flaws now.  

Obviously you don't have that in a dating relationship, and even early on in marriage I think you're trying to put your best foot forward, but over time you get to know each other more deeply and you see the ugly parts - but you love each other anyway.  That is true love, and I feel like that is where we are.

I know our relationship is going to continue to change, and I think that it'll just continue on the same trajectory - not that our relationship is perfect by any means.  We have had our share of rough spots, and I know we'll continue to have them throughout our life, but I think over the years our marriage will grow deeper as we go through the bumpy spots together.  

I hope someday we're that cute older couple who share meals at restaurants and still hold hands while we walk.  I think so far we're on the right track.

Callie blog

(January 2011, when we were expecting Wyatt.)
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