Stepping Stones to God

Stepping Stones to God: what's your story? ||

Image Credit: adapted from Emily Mills via Flickr Commons

Last night half of our ladies small group shared our testimonies so that can we can know each other deeper and see how God reached into our lives to change our hearts. The situations He used were all different, but one thing is the same: There were stepping stones leading down to Him so that He could bring us UP. Stepping stones that often lead to heartache, depression, and many questions. But, oh, how God has used those situations for His glory!

My story consists of everything from living between two family’s back and forth, feeling unstable amongst all the moving we did and changing schools every few years, sexual abuse, turning to boys for what I thought was “love,” to 2 teen pregnancies, adoption, and a young motherhood.   It’s not a pretty story. My early years were filled with heartache and searching in all the wrong places. But, these latest chapters are ending up to be a lot happier…because now I have a relationship with God. I have His peace, His strength to being me through whatever He brings me to. To be honest, for many years I felt bitter and angry towards God and people in my life for not protecting me as a child or trying harder to talk to me as a teen.  Why wasn’t there more rules and discipline? Why didn’t a person who was supposed to love me, hurt me? Why didn’t God stop it?  I couldn’t answer those questions, things just were they way they were. It took counseling and a change of perspective to see how God used all these situations, even as a 4 year old, to lead me to the point of sobbing in my room at 7 months pregnant when I was 16 years old. I finally was at my lowest of lows, where I had no where to go anymore but UP with and to Him. I’m so grateful for that, I am. I am thankful for the trials that broke me and humbled me. I am thankful for each stepping stone.

Sure, it is hard to be in the situations at the moment.  Even just a year ago, I was on a stepping stone of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety (and just so. darn. tired.). It was a very hard year emotionally, but it is often during those trials that I feel Him most. He was there every step of the way, guiding me and giving me tools, helping me to discover more of myself and who He is. Helping me to move forward and forgive, helping me to change my perspective to His perspective. Looking back now over my 27 years, I finally see the answer to why that I always questioned of my childhood: to bring me to Him. 

What were your stepping stones? I’d love to hear your stories! Are you thankful for your trials?

It’s a process, for sure.

A Natural Path: Essential Oils

Stewart Quote

It’s no secret that I favor the natural life style, a path that I feel God has lead me on since Savannah’s birth 7 years ago beginning with the desire for a natural birth after 2 inductions and epidurals (yes, Sadie will be born at home God willing!).  Step by step, He’s been leading me to make changes. It started with what shampoo I used, or going from white rice to brown rice to no rice, but my life has drastically evolved over all (much to my husband’s dismay, sometimes). I’m no where near perfect in my diet or all my products, but certainly far better than I was years ago as I keep learning more.

This past year and a half God has continued growing me in learning more of how to help myself and my family without always seeking doctors and reaching for medicines (however, I do believe those certainly have their place when truly needed).  Essential oils. I know, you’re thinking, “Great, another one of those bloggers with that fad.” It actually isn’t a fad, they have been used for centuries.  Oils even have been mentioned in the Bible over 200 times! Certainly though, they are getting more recognition in our society lately as people are discovering them more widely. Even still, I remember my mother having a bottle of lavender 20 years ago before this “fad,” and now that I know what I know, I understand why she has always loved lavender! Turns out, it is one of my top favorite oils, too.

I’ve been using them for the past year and half in countless ways. I love how versatile they are! From DIY cleaning recipes, to hand sanitizer, to bug bites, to even putting a drop in our food every now and then…I love them. I didn’t write a whole lot about this but the first oil I fell in love with was doTERRA’s Elevation Blend.  I was in my mist of PPD, desperately clinging to Joy…which ironically Elevation is the Joy blend!  I couldn’t stop smelling it, it was my new perfume daily.  And granted, it did not magically pull me out of depression and I had to still work to make lifestyle changes (self care, y’all!), seek counseling, and above all else cling to the Lord…but it was a tool God used to help me in those moments of sadness for no reason and feeling just overwhelming.  Some days, it still is the oil I reach for as I aim to calm this stress of a momma of 3-going-on 4, but I have some new favorites, too! They change as my seasons change, my needs change emotionally. Physically? We all typically reach for an oil before an over the counter product now…even my skeptic husband.

All this to say, God is taking me on a beautiful journey of discovery and I know He’s moving hearts around me to do the same: To follow Him, to pursue a simpler and healthier life.  I’ve created a Facebook group where I’ll share more information about what has worked well for us, if you are interested in joining please do! It’ll be a place to talk about healthy living with a dash of grace mixed in. It’s a great place to start if you are new to oils. I’m not here to sell to you (but, I’ll admit, that would be an awesome blessing to our growing family if you decided to buy!), I’m here to educate and listen to your needs. You decide what to do with the information.

Or, just come hang out and say hi since Facebook doesn’t show The Grace Bond’s statuses or links much anymore :-) I truly want to get to know my readers more, so come join in the conversations!




Knowing That I’ll Need Help

Hiring Help for Momma

If you’ve read my thoughts on here at all this past year, you know it’s been a struggle at times. Basically, sleep deprivation and feeling overwhelmed by all the demands of being a wife, mom, wanna-be-writer, and everything in between was a heavy weight to feel like I could not handle anything. Praise the Lord things are so much better, most days are filled with bursting joy (some moments though…watch out…I might get hangery on you) and I am so grateful to feel like me again!  The tiredness of 1st trimester is in the past, the gagging is gone, and second trimester is pure bliss right now. I remember now why I keep doing this over and over ;-)

To be honest, I’m slightly terrified of being in that pit again after this baby comes. I’ve written before the tools that have helped me climb out of the pit, one ladder rung at a time with God leading the way, and I know those will continue to be a help. They still are a help even in these blissful days to keep me in check. Like today? I bought flowers for myself and a pretty card to use as art simply because I liked it. That right there, is a cheap way to self care ($4 bouquet, $1 card. Thank you as always for your awesome prices, Trader Joes). It lifted my going-to-bed-too late tired spirit that didn’t want to be grocery shopping, right into rays of sunshine of my Wednesday.

I’m already planning how to not be in that pit when this new baby comes. I know I’m going to need help after birth for a few months to not feel so overwhelmed. Is that a bad thing that I know I’ll need help? Does that make me weak? Does it mean I can’t handle the kids I have? No, it doesn’t.  It makes me human. We all need help and breaks at times to keep at our best. Our society has moved into such an independent mindset that we forget that our humanity once lived in a village that supported each other. It was survival.  I know I need a village, I know I need help. And, I know I will offer help to others who will need it when their needs arise. When I asked for help in my first trimester, it was such a weight lifted off my shoulders when bags of groceries arrived on my doorstep or a meal was placed in my oven that I didn’t prepare.

Knowing I’ll need help, I’m preparing for that already at only 18 weeks along. I’m a planner, ya know.  I considered a postpartum doula, but man are those expensive! Plus, upon further research they center more on teaching and helping with baby care. With this being my 4th baby I’ve parented, I’m pretty confident in that area…and it’s the one area that has not been overwhelming for me in the past. I LOVE babies. After all, they don’t talk back yet and snuggle all day :-)  But, I will need help with the stuff that does overwhelm me if I can’t or don’t stay on top of them for whatever reason. Folding laundry. Dishes. Sweeping. Vacuuming. 5 people in a house, soon to be 6, make lots of messes. Over and over and over again. As soon as I get a basket folded, another needs to be washed. That is what makes me feel like I’m drowning. So, I decided to hire a mother’s helper instead of a doula and, oh, what a God send that will be! Besides these tools I’ve learned to survive in survival mode, I think hiring help (and asking for other help as I have had to do before when truly needed) in whatever way that looks like will be a very good thing for our family. Create your village, mommas.  And yes, I’m totally willing to give up something in our budget to make this happen. My sanity is too important to not. Or, to put aside gifted baby money towards this since we don’t need many physical baby items.

A happy momma is a happy home, right? I feel like it will help me focus on the priorities of those special, yet challenging at times, postpartum months even just having 2 hours a week of help.

What do you think? Would you ever hire a Postpartum Doula or a Mother’s Helper? Would it be hard for you to let the dishes go and let someone else do them once in a while? 



It’s a…..

What is it edit

It's a girl!

My gut feelings were right, it just felt like a girl to me 99% of the time.

Sadie will be here name. I love it. (Middle name yet to be decided)

Belly is growing quickly now and her little kicks are getting stronger each day! We can’t wait to meet our newest addition in February. Though, Jaxson is a little bummed he won’t have a brother, he says he is excited to have another sister to bug :-)

18 weeks with Sadie

He or She? What will it Bee?

We had a fun ultrasound this morning!  Newest baby is 16 weeks along now and we decided to find out what we are having…

…in 2 weeks. (The sealed envelope is beside me right now. Oh, the torture!)

Mark wanted to wait until the birth in February, but I couldn’t wait. Our compromise was to do a reveal party with the family. So, we are having lunch with family and my birthday cake will reveal boy or girl inside!

What will it bee

What’s your guess?

Heartbeat: 140’s

Craving salty or sweet: Salty and spicy!

Nausea: Not too bad, like my other girl pregnancies

Carrying: Higher

Chinese birth chart:  Girl




8 Tips to Living in Survival Mode


Survival mode can happen for many reasons. Sickness, family issues, job loss, pregnancy exhaustion, a new baby transition, sleep deprivation, a late postpartum depression (as it was for me this last year)…you name it.  For me, it usually stems around pregnancy and the infant stage because I am just. so. tired.

Below are the tips and tools I’ve learned in the last year to survive in survival mode. I’m writing this post for others, but also for myself. I need to remember what tools helped me climb out of the pit after my last episode of PPD that set in around 6 months postpartum after Ashlyn’s birth and sleep deprivation really hit hard.

1. Self-care is crucial. The number one thing I’ve learned this past year is how important it is to fill myself up. If I can’t fill myself up, I cannot effectively serve others whether that is my own children, my husband, or a church volunteer position. I’ve written a whole post about this in the past, but to summarize: do what makes you feel good.  For me that means taking time to just sit and read, having a set night once a week to go chat with friends at a coffee shop or go write, or doing something creativity. Things that makes me me and not just “mom.” It really makes a huge difference when you allow yourself a break to refresh! Even a few minutes daily is all it can take.

2. Have a routine. I used to think I was a go-with-the-flow kind of mom. Turns out I’m not! I’ve learned that I thrive with structure, but when I get in my anxiety-sleep-deprived-funk I start letting my structure slide. I start rationalizing that it’s okay to stay in PJ’s all day because I’m tired, or skip my morning cleaning time, or allowing too much TV instead of only at our set time.  Then what happens? I feel guilty. Guilty for looking like a slob. Guilty for not having anything done by the time my husband gets home from work. Guilty for not spending time with my kids.  I’m not saying every day has to be a set structured day with a whistle blown exactly at 8am signaling breakfast time, or that there isn’t room for rest or having off days, but the problem is when every single day things slid in the wrong direction.  Have your lazy day when you truly need it and certainly allow rest during the day, but also try your best to get some things done. I know for me, feeling productive makes me feel so much better as a whole.

3. Get ready early in the day.  As mentioned above, when I start letting things slide I also let my appearance slide. This isn’t to mean that being vain in your appearance is priority, but simply feeling more presentable even if its just for yourself and your husband makes a difference. I’ve found even the simple task of just showering before lunch makes me feel better and helps me feel more energized to tackle chores. Putting on jeans or a comfy maxi skirt instead of PJ pants makes me feel better.  Not feeling like a greasy monkey makes me feel better…Period! Make it your routine to get ready as soon as you can each day. During the school year, I like to get up 30 minutes before our kids so I get that quiet and uninterrupted time to myself. It was a drastic step in the right direction for me.

4. Small successes count.  Also adding onto to #2 on the note of routine…when I’m feeling down counting anything I did that day is considered a check to my to-do list. Got dressed by 9am? Check. Kids are fed and relatively happy? Check. Got the dishes unloaded? Check. Some days that really is all I feel I accomplish, but somedays that has to be good enough!

5. Make compromises.  Maybe it’s your food choices. Maybe it’s your cleaning expectations. Maybe it’s your idea of having actives or playdates every day of the week with your kids, when all you really need and want to do is sleep from pregnancy exhaustion. Reconfigure your priorities for this short survival season. For me? That meant not having the healthiest dinners possible every night….just having food at all had to be good enough in my nausea and exhaustion phase of first trimester. It meant that I got the laundry clean, but I didn’t fold it for a month (still climbing my way through that mountain!). Make compromises where you can, give yourself grace. What are your true priorities right now?

6. Ask for help!  This was a humbling experience for me. I had to ask for help recently and broadcasted it on my Facebook. I was truly beyond exhausted (I have been known to fall asleep on the floor at a birthday party….for real…), emotionally spent, and felt I couldn’t offer anything to anybody anymore.  I asked for prayers, help grocery shopping, childcare, and laundry folding. And guess what? The response was amazing and such a blessing!  I wrote more about that experience over at The Young Mommy Life: Would You Ask A Friend to Fold Your Laundry?  Chances are you have a village around you, friends and family who want to help you if they just knew what you are going through. Speak up and use your support.  

7. Know this is only a season.  Really, our lives are a blink of an eye in the grand scheme of things. And this season you’re in? It may feel like it has been or will be forever, but it won’t be. Things will get better.  Your babies will sleep one day. Circumstances will change. You won’t be pregnant forever. Having the perspective that it won’t be this way always helps me make it through one day at a time.  And really, that’s what survival mode is: Taking one day at time.

8. Seek professional help if needed. At my lowest point last year when Ashlyn was around 6 months old I had a scary thought,  “I just want to go to Heaven. I’m not a good mom or wife. I mess up everything. They would be better off without me here to mess them up.”  I remember nursing my daughter, thinking that thought, and just crying. I truly felt broken and no good to anyone in my life. I had lost my purpose and drive in life. I had lost myself amongst laundry and diapers.  While I knew that I would never take my own life, I really wished God would just beam me up to Heaven where life wouldn’t be so dang HARD. Why is parenting so hard, after all? It is supposed to be this glorious picture of joy. It’s not always, and I thought I was doing it wrong.  That thought scared me, and told me that I needed help beyond my own family and friends advice. I sought out counseling through my church and went roughly once a week when I was able. And guess what? These things I’ve listed I learned in counseling. It’s not a shameful thing to seek counseling, it’s a beautiful process of self-discovery. God has taught me so, so much through it.

What tools help you in survival mode? I’d love more suggestions for when the I fall into the next pit! 

The Silence in Survival Mode


Silence in

It has been quiet around here, I know.  I’m just getting out of survival mode.

At 12 weeks pregnant now, my need for survival mode has lifted in the last week or two. But, the months before that I have been exhausted to the point of daily necessary naps, living off boxed mac and cheese (at least it’s organic?) and take out, and ignoring my large mountain of laundry.  My kids watched way too much TV and it literally was weeks in between seeing playdates and friends. Sigh.

This wasn’t how I planned my summer. I had grand plans to have some kind of activity every day for the kids, whether it was the library or playing in water outside. It’s just not happening this summer.  I have guilt that I can’t do and be what everyone needs right now, but I’m learning to be okay with that…for now. I’m learning that it is okay to let things go, like the dishes, and do them when I do get a spurt of energy. And while I know I should be eating healthier right now for myself and this new little one, I know that when I am feeling better I can make the healthy changes I need a whole lot easier. ‘Cause I’ll have energy to chop a zucchini and onions again! I’m getting there.

I’m also learning that survival mode looks like humbling yourself and asking for help. I have the best friends, I really do.  I have had people do my grocery runs and offers to watch my children so I can nap or brought us a REAL homemade dinner.  People have even offered to fold my mountain laundry! I am so amazed and blessed by the support I’ve received simply by asking for what I needed. It was hard to do, but it has really lifted some weight in the last week.  In turn, it has been easier to just enjoy the moment of where we are in life right now despite it not being what I had hoped for this summer break.

To be honest, I feel like my last year has been a survival, since last summer after Ashlyn’s birth and I hit a late PPD.  I was just getting out of the pit that I felt I was in and feeling like me again. I was in a good routine for cleaning, getting ready early in the day, we had a set TV time that limited their watching to only when I needed a break, I had a set writing schedule for my blog and other various articles or book writing, I even had a set night out once a week to visit friends or go write (and enjoy a rare piece of cheesecake..hmmm).  Pregnancy has thrown all that out for now, simply because I do not have the energy. I’d rather nap than write or be in bed at 8pm than just be going out to visit others at that time.  Not being able to fill up my own self-care cup has taken a toll and I started sinking into that pit again. Now that I have energy, it is much better. That, and a refreshing vacation for 10 days visiting family and a trip completely alone with my hubby for 6 glorious days. But that’s another post.

While I’ve climbed out of the pit again so far, I’m nervous for what will bring when this baby #4 comes. I’m obviously very sensitive to my needs to sleep, and my babies are not very conductive to that need! Ashlyn is just now sleeping through the night at 18 months, in fact. It has been a long, tiring road raising these babies. But, I know the difference next time around is that I have tools God has given me this past year while climbing up and out. And I now have the perspective that it is just a season, a fleeting part of our lives that is also filled with moments of joy and I can make it through.

 What about you? What has put you in survival mode? What tools get you out of it? 

Bloom Where You are Planted


“It is a simple phrase, but over the last ten years it has become one that I have clung to in many situations. The image of a flower emerging, no matter where the seed may have landed, is a beautiful and strong one to me. I first read this phrase on a card a teacher gave me when I was pregnant and was trying to decide what to do. It was a simple piece of pale pink construction paper to which she had pasted cut magazine words and letters that formed the phrase next to a picture of a potted flower. It hung in my room for years, even after placement. When I went to college, it hung in my dorm room as a reminder.

You are that seed, my friend. You have been planted in this rocky soil of life right now, but did you know you can still bloom where you are? You can choose to allow water and sunshine to reach you where you are, and allow growth to happen. You are not doomed to darkness forever!”

….Read more at Adoption.NET

Dispelling Myths About Birthmothers


As a birthmother, I get so frustrated at the negative stigma birthmothers have in society. From movies like Juno, to far-fetched soap opera dramas; I feel like they have it all wrong sometimes. Let’s dispel some of these myths right here, right now.

1.  Birthmothers don’t love their child.  Far, far from the truth! Generally, they love their child so much they choose to put aside their own love for the child in an effort to give him or her the best life possible. They love them enough to let them go into the arms of another parent. The love for their child is actually expressed by choosing adoption.

Read more Myths over at Adoption.NET

An Open Birthday Letter: 10 Years of Adoption, 10 Years of Love

10 Years of Life 10 Years of Adoption


Dear Anna,

Today you turn 10 years old. It is currently 8:21 pm and in my busy life of 3 kids, plus babysitting, plus growing a new little blessing, I am just now getting to sit down to write. Right now, I was pushing you into this side of earth.  Pushing you from only mine, into sharing you.  At 9:00 pm, you were born.  It seems fitting that I’m getting to sit and ponder your birth and our years together, and apart, so far during this time frame.

I’ll be honest, this has been one of the hardest birthdays for me than others have been.  The number 10 has haunted me as this day approached, how could so many years have gone by already? It is a milestone. A marker of new territory as you grow into a teenager soon. It’s a marker of what I’ve missed in your daily life, but also what I’ve been privileged to enjoy.  In preparing for this big birthday, I grieved in ways I haven’t in a long time.  Sometimes a birthmother just needs to do that. She needs to cry for the loss, cry for what could of been. But then, after some tears and feeling things she hasn’t felt in years…she’ll feel better. At least I did. In my ten years, though I have had moments of grief, I haven’t lost sight of the fact that our adoption was God’s will. I have peace with that, even now.

This actual birthday itself has been fine though. I spoke with you on the phone and was sent a picture to see how grown up you’ve become in the last 10 years.  Getting to hear your voice always, always makes the soothes the ache of missing you. Hearing you tell me that you love me helps immensely. Thank you and I love you, too!  Today actually was filled with joy for me as I remembered and celebrated all that your presence in my life has been.  God has moved in so many ways simply because you exist. From friendships formed, to the talents and dreams God has planted in my heart, your presence was the beginning of those amazingly beautiful things in my life. Best of all, you are the one who brought me back to Christ. I’m so thankful!

I hope you know how blessed, loved, and special you are!  One day you will use your own writing to tell your own story. I can’t wait to see how your next 10 years unfold, with us together at times, and apart.  I pray that God will protect our relationship and let it bloom into whatever God intends for it to be. I pray that you will grow closer to God as you grow into a young lady. I pray you will form friendships that point each other back to Him. Most of all, I pray you that make wise choices and learn from my mistakes. Without my “mistakes” though, we wouldn’t have you.  You are not a mistake, you are a gift. Praise God for His redemption and bringing so much beauty from a dark place in my life.  You light up my world as well as your parents’. Thank you for your bright smile!

Happy birthday, my first born.

Love always,

Your Birthmomma

  • May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14