city-life for a day or two

May 16, 2014

Last weekend we spent a wonderful weekend in Virginia celebrating my grandpa's birthday and Mother's Day. We got to see some extended family, M got some mountain-biking in, and we got some nice R & R. We traveled from there to Knoxville for a few days for M's work. It is so nice being able to go with him some when he travels. I love not being stuck at home alone and it gives us a chance to do some exploring.

M booked us a hotel right downtown, within a few blocks from Market Square District and with an awesome view of downtown and the river. It's always been my dream to live smack dab in the middle of a city and I feel like I got to experience that for a few days! Noah and I were able to meet M for lunch every day in the square. I really loved that and it made his work day seem shorter. Noah and I didn't even drive anywhere. Instead we crossed the street to the library, walked to the square for meals and to let Noah play in the splash pad, and walked back to the hotel for nap time before meeting M again. 

We ate at Tupelo Honey Cafe twice, once for breakfast and once for dinner. I love breakfast food, even for dinner, so I got their sweet potato pancakes with peach butter while M got their famous meatloaf and Noah enjoyed a gluten-free burger. We also enjoyed lunch at Trio Cafe, Cafe 4, and Tomato Head. I don't mind eating out for a few days in a row if we get to enjoy local restaurants and unique food. There are also a few fun shops in Market Square and it gave us just enough to do to kill time for awhile. 

We're back home now preparing for our move next week. We're packing up clothes to keep with us for our week in a hotel and gathering all the things that the movers can't take with them. Thursday is the big day- the day we pull out of our empty house and move on to our new city. I've found myself quite emotional this week as the day gets closer. As excited as I am to move, I have a feeling I'll be a mess next week. Let me tell you, doing all this with added pregnancy hormones makes me feel a little crazy. I'm trying to remember that it's okay to be vulnerable and to let it out if I need a good cry.

We'll be spending the weekend doing some last minute things and trying to get some rest, too. What are you up to this weekend?

Monday Letters

May 12, 2014

1. my sweet mama and Mamaw loving on Noah. 2. 15.3 weeks on Mother's Day! 3. Rita's Italian Ice after playing in the water fountain in Knoxville. 4. Walking up the creek at the local state park.

Dear M, thank you for being so nice on Mother's Day. Sorry I got mad at you for being late to dinner the night before when you were only trying to finish my gift. You're a sweetie! 

Dear Noah, you are the sweetest boy I have ever, ever met. I used to never want you to grow up, and I still kind of don't, but I'm so excited to get to be your mommy as you get older, experience new things, and come into your own. It's a privilege I don't take for granted. I promise I won't be the mom who'll keep you from flying.

Dear Baby, we get to find out if you're a girl or boy in about three or four weeks. I could wait and be surprised, but your daddy is not okay with waiting. I've felt tiny little flutters only a couple of times and I can't wait to feel you more and more as you grow.

Dear maternity shorts waistband, I love and hate you at the same time. I love you because you're comfortable for my growing belly. I hate you because you make all my shirts ride up, exposing yourself to everyone. Nobody wants to see the belly band!

Dear Dickson, it's been an interesting three years. I hated you at first, tolerated you after that, and kind of grew to like you...sorta kinda. But now that we're parting ways, the thing I'll miss the most are the friends you hold. That....and the memories of becoming a family of two, a family of three, and working towards a family of four. Give me ten days, then it's sayonara!

Dear God, You have shown your hand in my life more clearly in the last month that I've felt in a long time. I was feeling weak and doubtful and self-centered, and I remember asking You to show Yourself to me, that I needed it more than ever. I'm so thankful that you only need an invitation and you come in as Father. You are good, You are faithful, You are in control. 

Happy Monday! 

Total Truth Thursdays | Money

May 8, 2014

Can you believe it? We're on our last week of Total Truth Thursday! I want to give a huge thank you to everyone who has joined us, even if it was just for one of the weeks. Kirstin and I have really enjoyed getting to know all of you and learning your total truth!! Personally, I've had a busy month and haven't blogged as much as I'd like, but I've always looked forward to our Thursdays!

Today's topic is money.
SOURCE | Some words of wisdom from Dave Ramsey

I have a love/hate relationship with money. I wish I had more of it and hate the greed that it breeds all at the same time. All of the things that are wrong with our society and world trace right back to greed- people wishing they had more money and more power, but then I wish I had more money so we could do all of the things we want to do. It's a thin, thin line. I think that's why the Bible warns so much about wealth, not because it's a bad thing, but because the line between healthy and greedy is easy to cross. 

Personally, we'd love to be in a place as a family where we are debt-free with a solid plan for retirement, a good cushion in savings, and a plan to use the rest of our money as we feel led. We've been following Dave Ramsey's steps and although at times we've not stuck as closely to his plan as we should have (he'd probably yell at me if I called into his show!), it's been a huge motivator in our financial decisions and the reason we're so close to being debt-free outside of our mortgage. We don't have brand new cars, we budget, and we go without a lot of the things we really want. But when we look at our long term goals, and see how our discipline has paid off even in the first few years of our marriage, we stay motivated to get ourselves to a better place.

I feel sad about how our culture views money. I hate all the commercials meant to make us dissatisfied with what we have and that tell us we're not good enough, not smart enough, not respected enough unless we have what they're offering. I hate the advertisements that appeal to us not based on what we can actually afford, but the payment we can make. There's a difference! Aside from a big purchase like a house, if you can't pay cash for it, then you can't afford it. 

There is such an "I want it and I want it now" mentality in our culture, and I'll admit, it's hard for me to fight it. Believe me, I wish I could have what I want now, I just am not willing to go into debt to get it. I want to feel free and unbound by the weight of owing someone else, and paying extra to owe them at that!

I get annoyed when I hear people complaining about money problems when they're making poor decisions, racking up debt, and living above their means. Our entitlement culture tells us we deserve to get what we want. It takes discipline, going without luxuries and extra comforts, and working your butt off to get where you want to be. I really believe in one of Dave's most famous sayings- "Live like no one else now, so you can live like no one else later". 

Alright, it’s your turn! Grab the button below and link up your Total Truth! Also, use the hashtag #totaltruththursdays to share on Instagram and Twitter! 

undeniable blessings

May 7, 2014

I don't even know where to start today.

We've had so many wonderful and crazy things happen in the last two weeks, and I've been so excited to tell everyone in our lives. Today, I think I feel ready to spill it all here, too. My heart is just so full of gratefulness and anticipation of what is to come. 

We had a full week in Chattanooga during our house-hunting trip and ended up finding a house that we loved. At the time, our current house wasn't on the market and we weren't able to put an offer in. We got a call on our way to family's house for Easter weekend that someone else had put in an offer. We were really bummed, but decided that we'd keep looking.

We had an amazing Easter weekend in North Carolina. M's entire family was able to come and we loved getting to be together. Noah loved M's cousin's girls and they played hard all weekend. After the weekend was over, M came back home and Noah and I went to Virginia for the week to help my dad after his shoulder surgery.
M's aunt bought baby ducklings and named them after the three littlest family members. They'll eventually make their way to Virginia to M's grandparents' pond.

During that week we were apart, our house was finally put on the market. It was listed on a Wednesday, had two showings on Thursday, two offers by Thursday evening, and a contract in on Friday morning. We could not believe it! I was pretty confident our house would sell quick, but we had no clue it would happen that fast! On top of the timing, the offers themselves were more than what we were expecting to get. Financially, this is a huge blessing!

A week later, after Noah and I had arrived back home with M, we got a call from our realtor in Chattanooga letting us know that it looked like the offer on the house we loved there was going to fall through! The buyer was asking the seller to do all kinds of repairs and had apparently backed out of three other houses after the inspection was done. We gave a verbal offer to the seller, eventually put in an official back-up contract in, and found out yesterday that the other buyers released their contract. The seller accepted our offer and the house is ours!

I know what you're thinking....things like this just don't happen every day. People don't sell their house in two days and then see the contract on the house they love fall through right around the time they're able to put in an offer. All I can say is that this is God. 

I found myself praying this week, "God, please let this house work out, please let us get this, we want it so badly". And then I felt a shift in my spirit. I felt led to pray about His will. I felt so strongly about this house, but what if He had something better? And by better, I don't even mean better by my standard, but better by His. I was able to just let go and trust that He would provide the desires of our heart, even if it wasn't what we thought we wanted. We waited about a week to hear anything official and the phone call from our realtor was wonderful to get. We close on our current home on May 24th and on our new home on May 27th, meaning our things will only need to be in storage for about a week and we won't have to pay for a hotel for more than a week.

I'm feeling all kinds of things. I'm feeling relief that our unknowns are now, for the most part, knowns. I'm feeling excited to go to Chattanooga and start making our new house a home. I'm feeling thankful that our financial discipline is paying off. I'm sad to be leaving our current home and town- this is the first home we bought together, we brought Noah home to this house, we became a family here, we lost sleep here, we've made some friends here, I've felt lonely here, and we've begun adding to our family of three here.

I'm also feeling the absence of the blog from my life. It's been nice to have a break, but I don't think I realized how much I loved putting time into this space. I've been so busy that the time hasn't been there, but I'm looking forward to getting back to writing and interacting as life allows. I've barely written about this pregnancy and I can't wait to share more about that, too. 

The next few weeks will be insanely busy. If you think about it, any prayers, thoughts, encouragement, or tips will be greatly welcomed and appreciated!

Total Truth Thursdays 09 | Expectations

May 1, 2014

Welcome to our ninth Total Truth Thursday! If you wrote and linked up for last week, Kirsten and I want to apologize for dropping the ball on the link-up! I was out of town helping my dad after he had surgery and Kirsten and her sweet little boy had the stomach flu! It was rough, but we're back this week and ready to go! If you wrote a post for last week's free vent, go ahead and link it up on today's link-up so we can all catch up on it!
Before we dive in and link up, here are a few reminders for anyone new:
1 // You can find the list of topics for each week HERE 
2 // Kindness is key.Whether you follow the topics for each week or come up with something on your own, please remember that others may or may not agree with you, and you may or may not agree with them! Disagreements are natural, passionate opinions are welcomed, and constructive feedback is fine. However, we won’t put up with rudeness, ugliness, or name-calling. Just be nice! 
3 // To link-up, please follow Hey Kelsea Rae & These Moments Called Life on Bloglovin’ or GFC and copy and paste the button code to your post somewhere! We are so excited to get started!

Today's topic is expectations.
I've always been a people pleaser. The thought of someone being mad at me or disappointed in me used to keep me up at night, and I was usually willing to do whatever it took to make things better, even if it wasn't necessarily my fault. I've always wanted to make the people in my life proud of me, but even more than that I wanted their admiration. I think that is normal. But for me, it could easily get out of hand.

Not only did/do I struggle with wanting to please people, but there were and still are people in my life who seem to have had or have lofty expectations for me. Talk about a bad combination! I still wonder which came first, the pleasing or the expectations?! Some of these expectations came from people in my church- I was supposed to go to bible college and be a pastor's wife. Other expectations came from people in my extended family- I was supposed to get multiple advanced degrees, have a high-paying career, and be a world-renowned musician. 

So what happened when I didn't go to bible college, didn't marry a pastor, didn't get a Phd, didn't start my own business, and didn't become the next Carrie Underwood? I felt like the world's biggest disappointment. That's a terrible feeling, especially for someone who cares so much about what everyone else thinks. 

I've had a hard time the past few years trying to work past the feeling that I'm a let down to those around me. I got a big, healthy reality check, especially when I decided to stay at home with Noah. In fact, motherhood in general seems to have put this all in perspective for me. The process of becoming a mother motivated me to make strong decisions for my birth, our child, and family, even if others didn't understand or agree, and helped me realize several things.

I realized that pleasing others at the expense of what my heart is telling me is never worth it. I realized that the worth and importance of what I've decided to do with my life  isn't dependent on what someone else thinks about it. I realized that it is impossible, as well as unhealthy, to please every single person in my life. I need to do what I feel is right and what I feel called to do and let others deal with how they feel about it on their own. I am not responsible for their feelings. 

Talk about a freeing experience! Because I'm confident in what I am doing with my life, I can let go of those expectations from others and the disappointing feelings that came from not meeting them. I now refuse to allow others to define my life by whether I met their expectations for me or not. 

What about you? Did/do you have high expectations put on you by others? How do you handle it? 

Alright, it’s your turn! Grab the button below and link up your Total Truth! Also, use the hashtag #totaltruththursdays to share on Instagram and Twitter!

Next week is our last link-up! We are so thrilled that we've had participants and have had a wonderful time learning from all of you and getting to know you better. Next week the topic is money, so plan to link-up with us to send this Total Truth Thursday series out with a bang! See you then!