Friday, January 11, 2019

Prayer Requests for my Mom's Upcoming Surgery

"The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit." - Psalm 34:18

On August 2nd, 2018, my Mom was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. She's been battling for her life ever since. I love my Mom so much and the thought of losing her has been unbearable. On top of that, I've been so sad that I can't be with my Mom during this time, because God has my family living in Hong Kong right now. As you can imagine, my Mom has been overwhelmed too.

I am so thankful that even though I cannot be with my Mom and hold her hand, God is with her and has never left her alone. I'm thankful that God has provided family and friends to love on my Mom and help her during this time. I am thankful that so far, my Mom's body has responded well to her chemo treatment. I am forever thankful to the Lord for being so faithful to my Mom throughout this whole process.

Next week, on Tuesday, January 15th, my Mom is scheduled to have a lumpectomy surgery. Understandably, my precious Mom is nervous and anxious regarding this upcoming surgery. Will you all please join me in prayer for my Mom in the days leading up to her surgery?

Another way you can help, would be by donating to Mom’s GoFund Me. This fund was set up by my siblings, to help my Mom with all of her extra expenses right now.

Thank you so much for your prayers!!

Prayer Requests
1. Pray for God's peace to surround my Mom in the days leading up to her surgery and on the day of her surgery. That she would float on eagles wings and rest in the peace that passes all understanding.

2. Pray for wisdom for the doctors and that they would know exactly how to help my Mom during the surgery.

3. Pray for peace for my Grandma, who has Alzheimer's, and that she won't be confused for upset by my Mom's absence. In addition, lift up my Aunt & Uncle as they care for my Grandma during my Mom's surgery.

4. Pray for a quick recovery following the surgery, without complications.

5. Pray for my Mom's magnesium levels to become normal and stay normal on their own without the help of infusions.

Ladies, don’t forget… 
 Do your self breast exams! Get your mammograms! Be proactive! Save the TATAS!

Friday, January 4, 2019

Traveling With Kids

My husband has been a commercial airline pilot for the past 5 years. Being a pilot’s wife means that our family has had the opportunity to travel all over the world. Whenever we are in the airport or on the plane, people always ask if it's the girls first trip on an airplane and they don't realize that our girls have probably logged more flight hours than themselves.  

Throughout all of our flying experiences, I have learned a lot. Nothing ever goes perfectly, but I do my best to be prepared for the unexpected. Above all, don't forget to relax and be gracious with yourself. Of course, it's hard when your kid is crying on an airplane. However, it's not going to help them calm down if you are worked up too. Before you travel with your kids, pray and ask God to help you. He will be faithful to provide just what you need, like a kind flight attendant or someone to give you a break and just hold your baby.

Here are some of the things that I do, which help me to have a better traveling experience with my kids. If you have additional tips that work for your family, please leave them in the comments.

Tips For Traveling With Kids
1. Use a backpack as your diaper bag.
When I had my first daughter, I had a cute over the shoulder diaper bag. This was fine for my first baby, because I didn't know any better and I had an extra shoulder to carry my diaper bag on. However, with each child I gained more knowledge and wisdom as a mother. Not to mention, by my 3rd child, I had run out of extra hands!! At this point in time, I began to use a backpack as our diaper bag. Honestly, I wish I would have done this so much sooner! It has made all the difference, especially now that I have twins. Keep this in mind when you travel as well. Invest in a good quality backpack that will free up your hands to pull a suitcase or hold hands with your other children.

2. Bring a stroller.
Before I had the twins, when we would fly with my older three kids, I would bring a cheaper umbrella stroller that I bought from Walmart. I did this for several reasons. First, I wouldn't be upset if the stroller got lost or broken. On one trip, I brought my nice jogging stroller, but it was so bulky and just a pain to try to lug around the airport. Second, umbrella strollers are light and very compact, so if the kids wanted to walk in the airport I wouldn't have to worry about carrying a big bulky stroller. Finally, I always like bringing a stroller with us, because if any of my big girls got tired or needed a break they could take a turn and sit in the stroller too.

Twin Exception: This past year, I have learned that twins are the ultimate exception to this rule! When we moved to Hong Kong our twins were just 2 months old and I can't carry both of them by myself, so I was forced to use our big bulky stroller in the airport. It wasn't my first choice, but it was better than trying to carry both babies along with everything else we were bringing with us overseas.

That being said, try to find a stroller that works best for you and your particular situation.

3. Baby front pack carrier.
Before having my twins, this is my favorite way to travel! I always brought my baby carrier with me, to carry my youngest around the airport. There were a few times we even got by without a stroller which was nice too! The carrier allows me to be hands free and help hold other things. We have two of these now and we use them with the twins all the time. My husband carries one baby and I carry the other. If you don't have one I would highly recommend it!!

4. Airport security.
I've had some pretty interesting experiences with airport security. To make things a little easier for yourself, try to put all the baby stuff like foods and any liquids in the same bag. Traveling to Hong Kong, each of the girls had their own backpacks with snacks inside, so it took forever to get through security. Try to keep everything together, to minimize how many bags security needs to check. Also, I bring apple juice and water for formula in my bag as well. Security will check those liquids to make sure that you don't have anything dangerous. Don't forget to be gracious to the TSA workers, because they're doing their best to keep everyone at the airport and on your plane safe.

5. Snacks galore.
I am not going to lie, when we fly with our children, I let them have a lot of snacks!! They're just as hungry and tired as I am from traveling, so I always bring special treats for my girls. I try not to just give them candy, but granola bars, trail mix, string cheese, mandarin oranges, goldfish and beef jerky are a few of our favorite airplane snacks. Days before our flight, I always portion out the snacks into small snack or sandwich bags, so I don't have to worry about making a mess on the plane. It's helpful to have the snacks ready for my girls when they get hungry.

6. Entertainment.
We don't normally let the girls watch a lot of TV or movies. However, when we are flying that all changes. We bring coloring books and a variety of activities for our girls to do while we are flying. That being said, on our 15 hour flight to Hong Kong those activities only lasted so long. Thankfully, our girls had their own TV screen and we let them watch more movies and TV shows. They had so much fun picking their own movies and watching whatever they wanted to (within reason). If you're traveling with littles, cut yourself some slack and don't feel like a bad Mom if you let your kids have more screen time than normal.

7. Pack for worst-case scenario.
I've flown standby more than most people. I could tell you about all the times we thought we were going to get on a flight, but we didn't. It's torture to watch your seat be given away or have your flight get cancelled. That being said, I always pack for an emergency or missed flight. I never check my carry on bag, because it's usually full of extra diapers, wipes, formula, a change of clothes for me and my girls, extra snacks, and an assortment of toiletries. It's better to be prepared than to run out of diapers or wipes.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Cultivate What Matters: My 2019 Goals

"She believed she couldn’t so He did.” - Lara Casey

Last year, was my first year to use the "Cultivate What Matters: Powersheets" by, Lara Casey. I loved going through the process of uncovering my 2018 goals. I was slightly ambitious to think that I would be able to do this all year long, what with having twins and moving to Hong Kong. I used my powersheets from January 2018 - April 2018, then I took a break and didn't pick them up again until November 2018. I'm so proud of myself, because I used 6 months of my goal planner.

With 2019 just around the corner, I don't want to waste the rest of my goal planning notebook. I have used a sharpie to update the sections to reflect this coming year. I worked through my 2019 goals, as well as got my tending list ready for January 1, 2019.

Here's my plan for 2019...

I am going to finish the last 6 months of my 2018 powersheets. This will get me to about June of this coming year. Once I have finished using my goal planner, I will order the 6 month undated goal planner to get me through the rest of the year. Then when 2020 rolls around, I will be ready to buy the one year goal planner again. I am so excited!!

I have some big goals for myself this year and I can't wait to see the progress I will be able to make little by little, one month at a time.

Honestly, I am so excited about my word of the year for 2019. I had lots of different ideas about what my word of the year could be such as: joy, fearless, renew, trust, or intentional. However, nothing seemed to fit my current season of life. Everything changed, when I found the word 'Brave'. I immediately looked up the definition of Brave which is "ready to face and endure danger or pain, showing courage".

Upon reading this definition I was sold! I knew that this was my word for this coming year. I've been overwhelmed with fear and anxiety, but in this moment God was calling me to be brave. He was calling me to dream and do things that might seem scary if I had to do them by myself. However, with God anything is possible. I am so excited about my word of the year, that I even updated my phone background with this picture that was created by Cultivate What Matters.

“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!" 
- ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭27:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

In case you are wondering, here are my goals for 2019.

1. Renew my love for God and His Word
2. Increase intimacy in my marriage
3. Love my girls well (joy in motherhood)
4. Life-giving home
5. Cultivate lifelong relationships
6. Prioritize healthier habits
7. Write a book (just write)
8. Personal growth & rest (self-care)

Lara Casey and her team at Cultivate What Matters have a lot of resources to help walk with you as you work to accomplish your goals each year. Lara has written two books (which I will list below) and she also has a new podcast called, "Cultivate Your Live with Lara Casey". I've been listening to this new podcast and I appreciate Lara's honesty about how life hasn't always been perfect, but God is making her mess into her message. Her passion is undeniable, so I hope you will check it out!

Finally, I have included a list of helpful, motivating books. I included Lara's books and a few others that have really encouraged me this year.

"A Simplified Life: Tactical Tools for Intentional Living" by, Emily Ley
Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life” by, Lara Casey
"Grace, Not Perfection: Embracing Simplicity, Celebrating Joy" by, Emily Ley
"Make it Happen: Surrender Your Fear. Take the Leap. Live On Purpose." by Lara Casey

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy 2019!!

Wishing you a Happy New Year!!

It’s hard to believe that is already 2019!! So much happened last year, that I'm not sure how anything could top it. I'm excited for what the Lord has in store for our family.

Hope you have had a wonderful holiday.

Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 Year in Review

 A Year in Review 
Here are some of the highlights from 2018 

- TWIN GIRLS, Evelyn Rose & Zoey Faith, born on June 23rd. 
- Moving to Hong Kong. Celebrating 12 years of marriage. 
- God's provision as we moved to Hong Kong. 
- Opportunity to homeschool with Olivia and Sophie. 
- Fun visits with family and friends before moving to Hong Kong. 
- God's protect during Super Typhoon Mangkhut.
- Unending love and support from family and friends all year long.


Our Growing Girls

Olivia loves reading and she always has her nose stuck in a book!! I (Jen) could not have made it through this year without Olivia (and Sophie) by my side. Olivia has lovingly helped hold and feed babies, which allowed me to pack or unpack suitcases and boxes. I am so thankful for her sweet spirit and her willingness to help.

Sophie is such a sweet girl!! Honestly, I think she is going to be a nurse or a doctor, because she loves to take care of other people. On modified bedrest, she was willing to rub my legs and bring me dinner when I was too tired to get up to get it myself. I'm humbled by the love and compassion that pours from her heart.

Matilda has been such a trooper with all the changes that have taken place this year. New babies. New country. She is adventurous and loves to ride the double decker buses here in Hong Kong. However, she is timid and shy, so being in a new country with lots of attention has been overwhelming for her at times.

Evelyn and Zoey are already 6 months old!! Evelyn's a snuggle bug, because after everyone else goes to bed she stays awake for extra cuddles. Zoey wants to be one of the big girls. She is already crawling. Honestly, once Zoey puts her mind to something, there is no changing her mind.


Praise and Prayer Requests

Praise that Jon has completed his first round of training and officially has his license to fly in Hong Kong with an A320 type!!

Praise that Jon and Jen celebrated their 12th anniversary.

Praise for unending love and support from our family and friends as we obediently embarked on this new adventure the Lord put before us.

Pray for Jen's Mom, Carol Bartholomew, who is battling breast cancer and has a lumpectomy on January 15, 2019.

Pray that we would be able to sell our van that is in Texas.

Pray that God would continue to provide for us financially.

Pray for Jen as she struggles with postpartum depression and homesickness.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Getting Back On Track After The Holidays

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!!

Our first Christmas in Hong Kong was peaceful and relaxing, which is exactly what our family needed. We got to FaceTime with family and friends. We played games and had fun building the girls' new LEGOS. The twins new ball, playpen has also been a hit with the whole family. The older girls would rather play in the playpen than with their own toys. I'm so glad that they have been having fun and enjoying their new gifts. Overall, we’ve had a great week celebrating the birth of our Savior, Jesus.

Honestly, I find it very difficult to make myself a priority during the holiday season.

Am I the only one!? 

I feel like ever since Thanksgiving, something shifted in my brain. For weeks, I’ve been in holiday mode. I’ve been busy taking care of everyone else and getting ready for the holidays, that unfortunately I have not made much time to take care of myself. As a result, my healthy eating habits have suffered and I’ve just eaten whatever was quick and easy, like sweet snacks or treats. Not to mention, I’ve been emotional eating, because I miss my family and friends back in the USA.

Has anyone else experienced a similar struggle?

Now that your family and friends have gone home, it’s time to begin to make yourself a priority again!! That’s right, you don’t have to wait until January 1st to begin to make healthy choices again. I am looking forward to transitioning out of holiday mode and back into our regular routine.  

Here are some of the things I do to quickly get back on track, following a holiday or any other occasion that has caused me to fall off the wagon.

Tips To Get Back On Track

1. Forgive yourself. 
This is so important. Please don't skip this step. Your holidays might not have gone anything like you planned. Whether it was good or bad, you must forgive yourself for everything that has taken place over the past few weeks (or months). Guilt and shame don’t help anything! Truly forgive yourself and move on.

2. Pray for God’s help.
I have never been able to accomplish my weight loss goals without God by my side. Spend time in prayer asking God to help you make healthy choices. Ask Him to give you the strength you need to say no to the food that isn't good for you. God will hear your prayers and He wants to be your source of strength on this journey.

3. Throw away the junk.
Go through your house and throw or give away anything that isn't good for you. I know you're going to say I am wasteful, but it's better to put these foods into the garage than in your body. Purging your house of the sugar and treats that you can't stop thinking about, will leave room for you to fill up your cupboards with healthier snacks.

4. Meal plan. 
One way to get on track is to plan out your meals in advance. This will ensure that you have healthy food options for you to eat. I wrote a whole blog post about this, so check out my "Holiday Meal Planning" post for additional meal planning tips.

5. Find accountability. 
Tell your family and friends that you are getting back on track and ask them to help you on this journey. Ask them for their support and to help you say no to unhealthy foods.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

A Reflection of 2018 - God is Faithful

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”" 
- Lamentations 3:22-24

Greetings from Hong Kong!!

What an incredible year it has been. As a look back over this year, it has truly been filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. This year, we were on a roller coaster, that just never seemed to end.

Being surprised by a twin pregnancy. Spending 7 weeks on bedrest to ensure that I was healthy enough to have the twins at home. Twin girls, Evelyn and Zoey born at home. Jon's dream job offer in Hong Kong. My Mom receiving her breast cancer diagnosis, just a month or so before we were set to move across the world. Saying Goodbye to family and friends as we prepared to leave on our new adventure. Arriving in Hong Kong. Setting up our new home. Culture shock. Excitement over years of answered prayers. Super Typhoon Mangkhut. Homesickness. Anxiety. Postpartum depression. Jon traveling. Loneliness.

At the beginning of 2018, I picked my word for the year. Do you want to know what I chose?


At the time, I thought it was more about me being faithful in every area of my life. I thought I needed to be faithful to be a good Christian, a good wife, a good mother, a good daughter, a good sister, and faithfully do all things that good Christian woman is supposed to do. Like read my Bible, go to church, homeschool my kids, meal plan, make healthy meals for my family, clean my house, and stay on budget.

 However, throughout this year God has showed me that my 2018 word of the year had nothing at all to do with me! This year, was never about me being faithful in my own strength. It was about sitting back and watching God display His faithfulness in every single area of my life. The good, the bad, and the ugly!!

I am here to testify that I have been struggling, overwhelmed, resentful, angry, joyful, happy, and sad. Above it all, regardless of how I am feeling on any given day, God has been faithful!! And He will continue to be faithful, because that's who He is.

I am so thankful for God's goodness to us this year!! And always.

No matter what you faced this year or what's coming up in 2019, don't forget that the Lord is with you and He will NEVER leave you.


Reckless Love
By, Cory Asbury

Before I spoke a word, You were singing over me
You have been so, so good to me
Before I took a breath, You breathed Your life in me
You have been so, so kind to me

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn't earn it, and I don't deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah

When I was Your foe, still Your love fought for me
You have been so, so good to me
When I felt no worth, You paid it all for me
You have been so, so kind to me

And oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine
And I couldn't earn it, and I don't deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah

There's no shadow You won't light up
Mountain You won't climb up
Coming after me
There's no wall You won't kick down
Lie You won't tear down
Coming after me
There's no shadow You won't light up
Mountain You won't climb up
Coming after me
There's no wall You won't kick down
Lie You won't tear down
Coming after me
There's no shadow You won't light up
Mountain You won't climb up
Coming after me
There's no wall You won't kick down
Lie You won't tear down
Coming after me
There's no shadow You won't light up
Mountain You won't climb up
Coming after me
There's no wall You won't kick down
Lie You won't tear down
Coming after me

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine
And I couldn't earn it, I don't deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah


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