Why I’m REALLY, REALLY excited for 2014

Ok, so in my last post I posted about our goals and plans for 2014…but I left out one HUGE thing….


This has been SO hard to hold in for so long!

So for now, here is the story…

I suspected for a few weeks, but every time I took a test, it was negative. So, we played the waiting game. I so badly wanted to find out if I really was pregnant or not before we went to Florida for Thanksgiving. I wanted to be able to tell my family in person. But no such luck. I had all but given up, but decided to try one last time on our last day there. I peed on the stick and then just placed it on the counter, not really paying attention to it. I washed my hands, and then glanced down at the stick….and TWO PINK LINES! I almost screamed. I grabbed it and ran through the house screaming for Theo. Theo was still sleeping, and sat up with a very confused/concerned look on his face. I shoved the stick toward him and then he smiled this big smile. It was all very exciting and overwhelming, and we had no clue what to do, so we took off for Wal-mart to find some things to help us announce it to Daniel and Kelly.

We asked Daniel and Kelly to take a picture of us in front of an orange tree (honestly, we didn’t care where it was….we just wanted to tell them.) Kelly took a little bit of coercing as it was still pretty early and not really ideal weather for taking pictures. Daniel snapped a bunch and then we said… “Wait, we have a prop”…and pulled out a onesie and some baby booties. The looks on their faces was PRICELESS. I will never forget that moment.

We went inside and skyped with my parents, sending them the picture in an email while we skyped. The internet connection was not the best, so we just saw blurry pictures of them trying to download an email. Finally, they saw the picture, and screaming and yelling ensued. Also priceless. The whole time, my Grandparents were in the room, and we had put the baby booties right in front of Grandma’s plate. Finally, she asked…”is this an announcement?”. So fun. We were just so excited that we proceeded to tell most of the rest of Theo’s family over the phone later that day. Also priceless, since my sister-in-law started jumping and screaming at the grocery store when she heard the news.

I am 10 weeks along, and so far….sorta good. I certainly have all the symptoms of the first trimester of pregnancy. I have had mild nausea 24/7 and NO energy to do ANYTHING. I am so thankful for the timing, though, because I have had over a week off of work for Christmas, and several snow days, too. Theo has been amazing…I always tell him that he is doing more work to grow this baby because he is so good at taking care of me and what I need, even when I don’t feel like eating anything. Theo is the vitamin police, and I haven’t gone with my prenatals yet. 🙂

We have had one amazing ultrasound, courtesy of Theo’s Dad (it pays to have an obgyn in the family!), where we got to see the heartbeat. Yesterday I had my first appointment with my widwife (yes, midwife…more on that later), and while we didn’t get an ultrasound, we got to hear the heartbeat, and that brought tears to my eyes!

Thank you all SO MUCH for your excitement, support and being with us on this journey from the beginning. We are truly blessed.

And many of you have asked…Are we still doing foster care? YES, we are! We choose to do foster care knowing that we eventually wanted to have our own kids, too. We are not doing foster care for US, so that we can have a child. We are doing it so that together, we can help raise children who don’t have good homes. And I know that there is a lot in it for us to learn, so we are eagerly anticipating that, too. We actually have our first homestudy with the social worker on Friday, so keep us in your prayers. We will be telling them that we are expecting, and at this point we don’t know how much that will change our timeline of plans. We had originally wanted to have a foster child in our care by the end of this year, but with a new baby coming in August, that timeline might change a little bit. But we are still continuing with that journey!



Well, it’s a new year.

On all the blogs I follow, the trend this year seems to be to throw New Year’s resolutions out the window. I feel like this happens every year, though. New Year’s resolutions: either team DO IT or team NOT WORTH MY TIME/ENERGY/I-FAIL-EVERY-YEAR-ANYWAYS.

I am 100% team DO IT. I love lists. Any excuse to make a list/goals is totally my thing. I make a to-do list every day (there are some great smartphone apps for that!), and sometimes I even include ridiculous things, like shower, just so I can cross that off my list. So when the New Year rolls around, I absolutely love another reason to make some goals.

First, I dug out my journal from last year, and I checked out some of the goals that I had for the year:

Do a chore everyday I’m not entirely sure what I meant by this, but I did a pretty good job of creating a chore schedule and sticking with it.

Cook dinner at least 6x a week Well, I probably cooked dinner 7x a week most weeks of the year, but certainly not all.

Run a marathon Score. Check. Done and done.

Pray for at least 1 person/day I wish I had been better at this one. When I sit down to pray, I have a list of people to pray for, but I certainly did not do that on a daily basis.

Begin the process of adoption. A year ago, when I wrote that resolution, the picture in my head is totally different than where we are today. We have most certainly begun the process, although it happens to be the process of foster care, not necessarily adoption. Through several different books that I read, we felt led to begin the foster care process, and maybe be able to adopt from the foster care system. And, yes…we have our home study next Friday. So that process is certainly underway.

Graduate Cedarville with honors. Check. And make that high honors.

So, I didn’t do the best, but I probably did better at most of those tasks than if I hadn’t written them out at the beginning of the year.

This year, 2014, has more in store for us than we can even imagine! I am so excited to embark on the journeys that this year will bring us. One thing that we are doing is a year-long fast. After reading Jen Hatmaker’s book, 7,  I decided I wanted to do something similar. Jen Hatmaker chooses 7 things that are in excess in her life and spends one month fasting from each of them. I highly recommend her book.

Theo and I decided to change things a little bit, but to fast from something different each month of the this year. We picked 12 things and then assigned them to a month. Some months will be really tough, some months will be easier, some months will probably be harder than we would expect.

Here is our layout:

January: Fast from Spending (We can spend money for groceries (at Aldi ONLY), gas, and bills- including medical ones).

February: Fast from Music (No music in the house, car, etc.)

March: Fast from Media (No Facebook, Pinterest, Netflix, Hulu, online gaming, etc. I’m still debating whether or not I will blog)

April: Fast from Possessions (Giving away what we do not need/use, and giving it directly to people in need of those items, not just a Goodwill dump)

May: Fast from Electricity (this one was all Theo’s idea! We are still debating whether we will cheat and use the oven/fridge and an outlet for charging our phones…but we have a couple months to decide. We do want to cook over our fireplace as much as possible that month, and no lights/fans/AC, washer/dryer or heat. Internet will be allowed, but only if we go to a different location with Internet, like Barnes and Noble or Panera)

June: Fast from Waste (use compost, recycle, buy Fair Trade/organic/local)

July: Fast from Stress (take a legitimate day of rest on Sundays, spend time in prayer 7x a day, at certain hours)

August: Fast from Clothing (Choose several articles of clothing, and only wear those for a month. We are still working out the details on this one.)

September: Fast from weekend commitments (just spend time as a family)

October: Fast for Hospitality (it’s not really a fast, but something that we really want to work on- so October we will be focusing on opening our home in very intentional ways- more to come on that)

November: Fast from Food (Still working out the details on this one, too, but there will be certain things that we will be forfeiting for the month. I don’t think it will be as extreme as a Daniel Fast, but something along the lines of going without sugars, or spices or other things that we are blessed to use on a daily basis, but that we take for granted)

December: Fast from Personal Bad Habits (Theo and I are doing this together, and we both have bad habits that we would like to break. Mine would probably by my iPhone or Facebook, but Theo’s would be totally different…so we are going to pick two personal bad habits and fast from them for the month).

Phew! There is a lot to look forward to, and a lot to plan for in the upcoming year! I am excited and nervous and really praying that God uses this year in our lives to grow us more like Him, and to grow our marriage to become more like a picture of Christ and the Church.

I also added a few more goals to the list:

– Read through the Bible at least 1x

– Start making money blogging

– Pay off all school loans and be DEBT-FREE!!!!

– Finish cooking through a cookbook

– Write at least 1 handwritten letter/note a week

– Log 300 miles of running/walking

Highlights of 2013

Hello there faithful readers!

I’m sorry I have been so absent from this blog lately! There are a couple reasons, but the main ones are that I was without internet access for 10 days, and I was hanging out with family for that whole time! So, that didn’t leave much time (or resources) left for blogging!

But I am now back home in Ohio, dreading starting work, and trying to milk the last few hours out of my break. In doing this, I wanted to do a little reflection on the year 2013. It has been an incredibly LONG year- I cannot believe that it was just a year ago that I started student teaching. It seems like FOREVER ago. I completed student teaching, I got a “big girl job”, we moved to a real house with a backyard (and chickens!), we researched, prayed, and started the foster care process, we grew in our marriage, ran a marathon, got involved in a church….I could go on and on. 2013 has been a challenging, fruitful, restful year. It has had surprises and setbacks, bills and traffic tickets, kitties, puppies, and chickens, life and death. Just thinking about it all reminds me of the faithfulness of God through it ALL. Through the celebrations and the funerals, the loans paid off and the traffic violations incurred (trust me…we got 4 tickets in this past year, none of which I think we deserve), God has been steady, constant, always there.

And so here is one highlight from each month of 2013:

January: The beginning of student teaching. Student teaching was the toughest 4 months of my life so far, and looking back at it makes me realize how many factors affected the whole experience. I am so thankful to have gone through it and gained the experience that I gained….but also thankful I never have to do it again!


February: February was a tough month for me, getting into the student teaching grind, feeling like there was no end in sight. Time with Theo was few and far between, and that just did not help at all. As I look through my pictures from the month, I realize how intentional we had to be with our time, and how much that paid off in the end. A highlight of February was Daniel and Kelly coming to visit, and Daniel and Theo treating Kelly and I to a spa day, complete with a massage, and hand and feet treatments!


March: We got some tats. Theo and I finally took the plunge and got our tattoos that we have always talked about but never done. I have honestly not regretted this decisions at all. I love the placement and the tat…but I don’t know if I would ever get another one.


April: Finishing up student teaching, meaning I was so close to the end, yet absolutely overwhelmed with the workload. Most evenings looked like this, with me working on a project and Theo helping me out. My Mom also arrived back in the States, adding so much excitement!


May: Graduation from Cedarville and a month of vacation! I cannot even explain how fantastic this month was. I got to see my family, I got to spend MUCH needed time with Theo, celebrated our first anniversary and a couple birthdays! I got to close one really difficult chapter and begin another.


June: June was a great month spent outside as much as possible. I also started my job and Theo started a full-time shift, so it wasn’t all play…but it sure beat those long winter months of student teaching! We tried to do stuff outside almost every day, and get ourselves to the pool or the canoeing place or SOMEWHERE outside each weekend. Oh, how I love summertime!


July: Joy’s Wedding

Theo and I traveled to New York for Peter and Joy’s wedding! It was a lot of fun.


August: Hines Family Reunion

We got to head up to Michigan for another family reunion, this one at the lake! It was dreary and overcast most of the weekend, but we took every chance we had to relax and head out on the water!


September: Completing our first marathon- together. Uh, yeah…enough said.


October: October was another month of just being- spending time outside, continuing to run, enjoying time with our cat and ourdog…all that jazz. And sometimes I think its ok to have months that aren’t a huge deal.


November: Trip to Florida for Thanksgiving!

Seeing the Hall side of the family, as well as Daniel and Kelly. Hanging out, plus the looong drive with the hubs.  We had a great time!


December: Trip to Michigan for Christmas

Spending lots of time with family, playing games, doing puzzles, relaxing, and of course, enjoying the outdoors when the temps actually got above 0.

Happy 23rd!

Today is my best friends birthday. Today she turns 23! Watch out world, let me tell you.

I’ve known her for about 7 years now, and she has always been such a faithful and encouraging friend in my life.

She is that person who knows who I am jealous of, she is the person who knows when I am having a bad day, or a good day. She is that person who knows when I am inflicting on myself a bad day and calls me out of it. She is that person who makes me laugh so hard that I almost pee myself. She is that person who has known me long before Theo, has kept up with my throughout my relationship with Theo, stood with me as my maid of honor at my wedding and now continues to support me as I go through the ups and downs of marriage.

We actually didn’t get along at first. I thought she was way too cool and was deeply jealous. Turns out she thought the same thing about me. When we discovered that, we were able to move on and form a fast friendship throughout high school and even into college. I am always amazed that we are STILL friends- not because it is hard to be friends with Tam, but because life has put great distances and different circumstances in our path. We both know we have to work to stay in touch, and that is what we have done. I am so thankful for her texts, emails, phone calls and visits.

This girl is currently working in her butt off in a rather challenging and thankless job. She is sacrificing her time, money and resources to help students who are underprivileged. And that describes her perfectly. She is always sacrificing something to help someone in need.

She has a heart that is drawn to those in need. Kind of how I think Jesus’ heart itself would be. She fights fiercely for justice. She is honest- to a fault- about her own faults, needs, wants- and those of others around her, and I can’t even count the times that this quality has helped her or someone she knows out of a less than desirable situation. She loves with passion and abandon. She is creative and artistic.

Tam, you a such a blessing. Anybody who knows you would agree with that. Your prayers, your honesty, your support- they all mean so much to those around you. I look forward to seeing what God has in store for you this year, and in the years to come.

Love you!

Happy Birthday!

And just for your  enjoyment, here is a bunch of pictures of this girl and how we have built our relationship throughout the years!

Make sure that you send her a sweet message, card or text today to wish her the best birthday!!!

Date Night!

Our last two date nights have been spur-of-the-moment dates…which can often turn into the best date nights.

A couple weeks ago I realized late into the afternoon on Sunday that I was supposed to have picked the date night that week….and I just wasn’t feeling it. So I didn’t mention it, hoping that Theo wouldn’t notice. Honestly, it doesn’t matter that much if we don’t do a date night by Sunday, but I purposely neglected to not plan for it, simply because I didn’t feel like it. So that made me feel bad.

So I decided we would go to the movies!

Theo and I hardly ever go to the movie theaters. Honestly, it’s really expensive, and I can’t sit through a whole movie anyways. Plus, I always convince Theo to buy me popcorn, and then we only eat half of the $7 bag of popcorn (and we ask ourselves all throughout the movie why we didn’t just pop our own bag of popcorn at home and sneak it in….). Plus, there are rarely any movies that we both want to see. Several times we have gone to the theater for a date night, looked over all the movies, realized that they all go to midnight, and left to just watch a $1 movie at home. Pathetic, yes? But that’s just our style!

However, this night was all different. You see, Catching Fire had come out and it was a movie that we actually BOTH wanted to see! So we bundled up and drove to the nearby theater, bought our $7 popcorn and watched Catching Fire for our date night. It was a blast. It was a good movie, better than the first one. One that I would probably actually watch again (and that is saying a lot for me!)

This past week, our date night was actually planned by my brother and sister-in-law. They gave us our Christmas gift early, and it was a fantastic gift: a date night! In this gift was a gift card to The Cheesecake Factory, two movies, microwave popcorn, sparkling grape juice, and some chocolates for dessert. Isn’t that the most wonderful present??

Due to the fact that unexpectedly got Tuesday off work, Theo and I decided to use this awesome date night.

First, The Cheesecake Factory.

Then, the movie ‘Date Night’. This movie is HILARIOUS. I was a little bit nervous that it would be a typical chick flick with a cute plot line but enough raunchiness to almost ruin the movie, but it was not like that at all. There was only one or two inappropriate scenes, and even those weren’t that bad. We munched on Popcorn and chocolates while watching the movie, and the sparkling grape juice was a hit, too!

This was such a great Christmas gift idea. It would be perfect for any couple- dating, engaged, married for 1 year, married for 40 years. It could also be a cute gift for housemates, to have a girls night in or something along those lines. You could switch up the gift, adding different themes, adding hot chocolate or nail polish or anything that you can think of! It doesn’t have to be expensive, although it can add up!

Thanks so much, Dan and Kelly for the awesome date night…and the awesome idea!

To All Those Who Dread the Holidays….

I woke up today fulling intending to do a light-hearted, nothing-too-serious post. But then I got some news that while it does not affect me directly, it leaves me reeling and grieving for some very dear friends.

And so I just wanted to write a quick post, reminding those of us who are getting caught up in the hustle and bustle to just STOP. Stop for a minute. Take time to think about those who are going through difficult times, and like a scab picked off too soon, the holiday season can often bring about a new sense of grieving.

And to those who feel as if time has stood still this holiday season, my prayers are with you.

– It may be a person who has lost a loved one this past year, and this is the first Christmas that they are spending without them

– It may be the young missionary kid in his/her first year of college in his “home country” who does not get to see his/her family at Christmas— for the first time.

– It might be the young newlywed who is just so overwhelmed with all the changes to her lifestyle, and is spending the holidays with her “new” family, which is not exactly where she wants to be…but she is too afraid to say anything about her feelings because she is supposed to be young, in love and still in that “honeymoon” phase.

– It may be the elderly couple you see whose children live too far away to visit for Christmas

– It may be the young couple who lost a baby earlier in the year. This couple dreamed of watching their little one gaze at the tree lights for the first time and giggle and coo with all the attention that they would get from family, and yet all that disappeared within just several hours.

– Hey, it might even be a family who lost a pet, and this is the first Christmas without that dear family friend and companion

– It might be a young missionary couple who have abandoned so much for the sake of call, yet are facing their first Christmas all alone in a foreign country where Christmas celebrations hardly even exist.

– It might be the family who lost their jobs earlier this year, and Christmas is much, much different than they ever expected or imagined

– It might be a single Dad and his kids, who lost Mom several years ago, but Christmas can just never be the same. 

The list really could go on and on.

For most of us, Christmas is the most wonderful time of year, but for many, it is actually the worst time of the year. The day/week that many people dread, and breathe a sigh of relief when it has passed.

So lets enter this time of the year with great joy and anticipation, remembering what we are actually celebrating. Let’s be sensitive to those around us who may be facing a Christmas different from the ones that they are used to. Let’s pray that the true meaning of Christmas will shine through our actions and our celebrations. Let’s pray that those who are dreading the holidays this year will feel the HOPE, JOY and PEACE that Christ brought through his humble birth.

Glamorous, Affordable Life: { Chalkboard Christmas Printables Pt.2 }


This man

So, I married this man. Theo. He’s pretty amazing.

I could go on and on about all the things that he does for me, but instead I will tell two stories that he has brought home from work that prove that he is in fact pretty amazing.

Theo works for a company that is VERY laid-back. So laid-back, in fact, that it is very unprofessional. It’s frustrating to us sometimes (like when they make him drive a top-heavy ambulance four hours in a snowstorm), but Theo is thankful for the job, and does it with excellence even if the company does not deserve excellent workers. His company transports patients, usually ones who are stable. These patients are often going from hospital to hospital, hospital to home/nursing home, or home/nursing home to hospital.

The first story happened a couple weeks ago. Theo and his partner were transporting a patient who was paralyzed. The man apparently lived alone and only had a caretaker that would stop in to help him. As Theo and his partner carried the man into his apartment, a huge gust of wind blew a TON of leaves into the entryway. While holding the patient and the door, Theo used his foot to sweep most of the leaves back outside.

The man looked up at Theo with tears in his eyes and said, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. No one else would have done that.”

Theo was a little bit taken aback, because he hadn’t even though twice about it…he just did it. But to the patient, that meant the world.

And that is the type of thing that Theo does on a regular basis. The little things that don’t seem to make a difference, but mean the world to somebody.


The second story he told me about last night, and doesn’t know that I am writing about it.

Theo has a partner at work, and since they spend 24 hours together at work, many of those in an ambulance, they have had a lot of interesting conversations. This man’s philosophy on life is very different from ours. Make money to buy the newest and best gadgets, eat fast food since it’s convenient, don’t save money. Now, I’m not bashing this mindset, because it is very prevalent in the US, and most people simply don’t know any different. But Theo’s philosophy is very different, and he has been conversational about it at work. Most of the guys that work 24 hour shifts will not pack a lunch, but eat fast food for all four meals that they are there. Theo will pack his breakfast, lunch and dinner and take it to work. Theo says that all the guys at work ask how in world he always has the best food, and how he gets his wife to cook for him.

Last night Theo told me that his partner at work has brought his own packed lunches & dinners to work for the past two weeks, and has lost 10 pds. Just from dropping the fast food. He has not gone out drinking in 3 weeks, because he has realized that it is expensive and not worth the time + hangover time the next day. He and his girlfriend have decided to start saving their money instead of just spending it all on the latest gadgets.

And he told Theo that was all because Theo had inspired him.

Proud wife right here. Really proud wife.