Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Guest Post: Whitney Darling, 'Encouragement On The Topic Of Struggle'

 A Guest Post: Whitney Darling, 'Encouragement On The Topic Of Struggle'

 (^^A photo taken years ago when I first met the talented Whitney Darling, i thought it was only fitting to share^^)

 Oh today i have something special for you, a guest post by someone I truly admire, someone i've only met once in person but have followed along on her journey somehow via social media for several years now.  We both share friends in common, grew up in South Orange County, have two new babies both a boy and a girl, and most similarly have a calling on our hearts to share our story and be a "vessel of Gods light".  She is an incredibly gifted woman, she has a way with her words and expressing her heart so openly and beautifully, and my oh my you should see life through her eyes with the photos she takes!  Miss Whitney is a photo journalist but so much more than that.  I frequently see her status updates on my feed and am always amazed at what God is sharing through her each week.  Yesterday I came across a post of hers on her blog and was so moved by those necessary words i read, that i asked her if i could share it here in this special space and place of mine.  So today i'm pleased to share Whitney Darling with you all.

Her beautiful message of  "Encouragement On The Topic Of Struggle":

"It is the struggle in life that often renders me powerless enough for long enough to make sincere space (in my otherwise egocentric mind) for God.

I wish I could say that without toil I glorify God, that in all things good and perfect, say a lush garden or a sensitive moment, that my born instinct is to turn t0 God and be overwhelmed with thanksgiving. I wish it was my instinct to not feel good owed to me. To always recognize grace and beauty as a gift. To glorify someone who deserves glory. I wish it was my instinct to choose faithfulness to my creator. But as the book tells it: centuries of waywardness and deception has allowed for me to be a woman who is genetically predisposed to choosing myself over everything and everyone else. I am hardwired to wander from rightness.

The most basic strand of pride has created an ugly pattern in me. If I go long enough without struggling, I begin to overlook the face and works of God.

Oddly enough, even with all of the astonishing beauty and miraculous good in the world, maybe I could somehow still explain it all away. Maybe without struggle, without need, I wouldn’t have enough depth to reach for God. Maybe without struggle, I wouldn’t hope in his ability OR simply believe in his existence.

It is not until desperation that the temporary God I’ve made of myself crumbles. It is not until prostrate on the floor beating my fists in disbelief or frustration or downright anger, or maybe in the fetal position rocking my wounded self to pseudo-consolation, that I die to a role I was never meant to carry.

I truly believe that God is good, and that he wishes we would just choose to dwell with him. To be right with him. I believe he wishes that we would just choose to see clearly what he has made clear to see. That he is God and we are not. But I also believe that his graceful nature allows him to understand. It is a wonder he hasn’t given up on us. It is a wonder he sees the struggles we’ve bound ourselves to, and uses them for betterment. How gorgeous that he allows the struggles, or the deceptions from Satan, and the adulterousness of our choosing them, to again lead us back to him. What love. 

I’ve often wondered why God would even allow for Satan to rule the Earth. Great, God rules heaven. Great, Satan rules hell. But why is the land we are born on subject to both evil and good? As I’ve experienced the sorrow of a chronically ill baby, as I’ve endured the breathlessness of witnessing my dad dead on the bed in front of me at a tender nine years old, as I’ve drown in the pit of my stomach walking into a room where my (then) boyfriend and dear friend we’re having sex… as I myself, confusingly enough, have chosen to hurt people I love…

the answer has been made more lucid.

What I’ve come to thus far is this:

It is the need that draws us in. It is the brokenness that sobers us up. It is the horridness of the devil that will lead us to recognize the goodness of God.

But my LORD, pain is pain. And, in the moment, of course it’s not just a hypothetical tool for redemption. It is pain. And it doesn’t feel right to grieve the loss of comfort, or to gasp in the anguish of loss, or to grapple with the unresolved whys.

Some moments and some days, it is utterly and wholly crushing to breath.

And some of the other days, it is absolutely and emphatically beautiful to be alive.

But for those who may be in the midst of the struggle: It is your struggle that will allow you to humble up (yes, even more) and meet God’s powerfulness.

Because, struggle, for me, is where God has not yet been made King. And struggle, for me, is the sign of an unresolved/unfinished life. Struggle is symptomatic of need. And need hurts. And dear God, no one wants to hurt forever.

It is the unsatisfied struggler that will finally stop looking for answers within, who will die to their own self-crowned-King, and call for the true God, and in enough time, when his truth is revealed in way that is finally understood, it is the struggle that will allow us to know for ourselves what we would otherwise reject:

Only God is good.

(Praying for you who stumble here, that you would be bound up by his grace over all things in your life. And that you would be made whole this morning, even in the midst of your own powerlessness, as you begin to recognize and gladly NEED more of his presence.)"

 The Lord spoke and she listened. I had to share this because I know so many of us need encouragement in times of struggle when we are in the midst of a horrific storm.  I hope this message spoke to you.  And a big thank you to Whitney for allowing me to share her message of encouragement today.

You can see her work here, and read more about her & her story here.


See post here

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

What We Love: Honeybunch Boutique

 What We Love: Honeybunch Boutique

Hey loves, we are back!! Our little miss is 2 weeks and 5 days old! We are already almost 3 weeks over here people?! How does that happen? We are soaking up every minute of her, she is so delicious and soft and just the sweetest little birdie girl.  I cant wait to do a labor and delivery story and share our first few weeks with her with you all soon. 

Today i wanted to share these beautiful swaddle blankies by Honeybunch Boutique because we have been living in them! im a sucker for a good swaddle, and a pretty one at that! i love to match them to whatever shes wearing that day and they make for a nice photo backdrop too if youre into capturing and logging every little moment of their lives like me, haha (;  But really, i collect swaddle blankies and am always on the hunt for a new one thats different, soft, feminine, and not what you typically find in the stores.

This floral is almost all sold out, but she hand makes these adorable woven muslin pompom swaddles with different colors of poms! You need one! They're so dainty and cute, and the poms are super soft!  We picked out the white and peach combo and it pretty much goes with anything girly!

^^^ill be sharing about these adorable bows next^^^

Follow them on Facebook Here

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Introducing Layla Sienna Armstrong

Layla Sienna Armstrong

^^^24 hours, heading home^^^ 

June 4th 2015, 9:17am
7 pounds, 4 oz.  18.5 inches

^^^2 days old^^^

^^^heading home^^^

^^^3 days old^^^
We are all in heaven and Cash is adjusting so well. He is so in love with her and gives her the most tender soft kisses on her head. We are on cloud nine and just enjoying this baby bliss.  I'll be away for this week enjoying this time with my family bonding and adapting to becoming a family of 4 but ill see ya soon and you can see our daily photos on Instagram or Facebook linked on my side bar.


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

39 Weeks Pregnancy Update: Baby # 2

39 Weeks Pregnancy Update: Baby #2

^^^38 weeks^^^

^^^My in laws are seriously so sweet and got me a pedicure at Life Time Fitness so i was able to relax for an hour by myself and then work out for an hour at the gym there, afterwards we met up at the pool and they brought my little guy for some fun in the sun.  Im trying to work this baby out with the couple days i get to the gym each week and walking. ^^^

^^^38.5 week bump at the pool last weekend with my little guy & my sweet in laws^^^
^^^just about 39 Weeks Bumpin at Sea world^^^

How far along: 39 weeks pregnant (tomorrow!)

Due date: June 11 2015

Weight Gain: 26.5 lbs. 

Symptoms:  bathroom trips usually once a night, TONS of braxton hicks daily, cervical sharp pains here and there that stop me in my tracks and i have stand there cringing until they're gone. Last week i had some realllllly awful ones at night. I have alot of labor symptoms going on so read those below.. I still have lower abdomen soreness probably from the weight of the baby lying low, nausea off and on but super minor (started around 36-37 weeks again).  NESTING has started the past 2 weeks for sure.

Cravings: Chocolate, sandwhiches still.  Chocolate donuts and cupcakes sound good after having a cupcake on memorial day i crave them.  Not usually one of my cravings when not pregnant, im more of a salt girl. But its fun to spoil myself with sweet treats here and there. Craving smoothies and fresh COLD fruit.  Cereal sounds good and food is turning me off, especially at dinner time if ive had any nausea or cramping im hungry but nothing sounds good.

Wedding Rings: on.

Belly button: out

Exercise: cardio once a week. Im lucky if i get to go twice. But mostly just walking here and there

Sleep: sleep is good compared to my first pregnancy. i wake up just once to use the restroom & its easy for me to fall asleep

Maternity Clothes: Yes

Excited for: labor! Well, also a bit nervous. But i cannnnnnnot wait to meet her and see what she looks like and meet her little personality.

Missing: nothing right now, im really just enjoying this time being pregnant with these last few days i have left

Pre Labor Signs: YES!  I have had plug showing up almost every day since last week. I have had bloody show (sorry TMI) here and there, cramping with lower back ache off and on and braxton hicks like crazy. I lost a pound this week which also happened the week i had my son. I have had lose stools (sorry I know its tmi but its the truth and this is a pregnancy post afterall), which can also be your body clearing itself out for labor, so who knows if thats a symptom!?  My abdomen is achey down low as i mentioned above and sometimes my bones ache down there.

Dr Update: My dr started internal exams at 36 weeks so here is the breakdown since i dont do weekly pregnancy updates. 
week 36 exam: 56% effaced, no dilation, baby was high at -3 station.
week 37 exam:  60% effaced, no dilation, baby was still high at -3 station.. so basically no progress. Dr told me to not hold back and exercise and walk like mad to get this baber lower.
week 38 exam:  60% effaced, 1/2 cm dilated, baby moved down lower to -2 station. I was happy for that little progress! Started losing plug around here and had some on and off bloody show with cramping/braxton hicks and back ache
week 39 exam: Check was today, im 2 cm dilated!! WOOHOO! 60% effaced still, SUPER ripe/soft, and baby is -2 (although also told baby is -1 so not sure).

 ***Dr did a membrane sweep this morning so ive had lots of cramping/with dull back ache for several hours (which is normal) and a little spotting.We will see if anything happens otherwise i will have another sweep next week***  Also my ultrasound i had at 36 weeks for growth came out to be completely normal, baby measured 36 weeks and 2 days, she was around 6.7 lbs already (give or take a pound they said; i guess theyre hard to get an accurate measurement at that late in gestation).  So thats sooo great!

I hope you all have a wonderful day! I have some other fun posts planned for this week so keep checking back!!   
OH and be sure to leave a comment below with your guess for when baby will come, as well as birth weight and height just for fun!!!

See my pregnancy posts with my first baby at 37 weeks pregnant here, 38 weeks pregnant here, &  at 39 weeks pregnant here.

Monday, June 1, 2015

What We Wear: PinkBlush Maternity

What We Wear: PinkBlush Maternity

Hey loves, I cannot believe we are quickly approaching 39 weeks pregnant this week! AH! This lady will be here any day, and she is giving mama tons of action that the day is soon. I will try to post a pregnancy update tomorrow to share! For now I wanted to share more on this great shop that carries a maternity and non maternity line! PinkBlush maternity has tons of cute maternity dresses, shirts, & skirts to choose from. They even carry nursing friendly attire that has its own section to make it easy for us mamas that dont know what to wear those first few months when you feel like you're nursing all day long. I shared the above coral maternity dress  that i wore to my sisters baby shower sprinkle yesterday on my instagram. It was the perfect spring dress thats comfty and highlights the bump with such a cute pop of color.  See more below!

^^^I paired this maternity maxi dress with turquoise/gold jewelry which i think goes nicely with the peach^^^

^^^I fell in love with this crochet pocket and for some reason i just love wearing a long sleeve tight shirt with a baby bump, i think its one of the cutest styles paired with ripped skinny jeans or in this case, some charcoal gray leggings for comfort in my last couple weeks of pregnancy. I love the length of this shirt, no pregnancy bellies exposed here. lol.  Shop pinkblush maternity tops here for more bump friendly apparel.^^^

^^^38.5 weeks pregnant. Soaking up every bit of this bump as I can these last few days^^^
^^^ I love love this gray casual t-shirt maxi dress. You can wear it before, during and after pregnancy. Its the perfect maternity maxi dress because you can dress it up or down, its comfortable and its stylish. It hugs all the right places.  I paired it with a maroon beanie for some casual style and a gold bangle and my loves intials David Yerman necklace. Its currently on sale so head there now to scoop it up!!^^^

((sorry for the iphone quality selfie photos, aint no body got time for professional ones at 38/39 weeks pregs! Am i right or am i right?!))

Shop PinkBlush Maternity now for some cute and trendy maternity clothes.