Goodwill finds at $15/Mix it


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Over the weekend my family and I went to Fredericksburg, VA for my hubby’s cousins Eagle Scout Court of Honor pinning ceremony.  We stayed with his family members, and family from everywhere came and hung out or stayed the weekend.  It was fun to enjoy some family time, and good food.

My hubby gave me a few hours of shopping time and so I hit up the closest Goodwill.  I think it was the best Goodwill I had been in for years. It had all kinds of brand names and high end brand clothing; but the prices were higher and things were ran different in this particular Goodwill than the one back home. I went in with a $15 budget so that I wouldn’t over spend, since traveling tends to put me in a “shop til you drop mode” or “spend more money than needed.” So I will review what I bought or didn’t and why and what pieces I wish I had but it wasn’t a need.  My best deal is posted in the “Bought section” of this post. I will start out the post with what I didn’t buy/wish I had.

What I didn’t buy:

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When I showed my hubby this picture he couldn’t stop commenting on how cute I looked in this outfit and how thin and flattering it looked but this Banana Republic denim jacket was too little on me so I didn’t buy it, and I decided against the Elle blue shirt even though I regret now that I didn’t get it because it was too cute. I DID buy the snake skin belt for $0.99.

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there is that belt I bought. I tried on this chambray top and loved it except it wasn’t a stealer price and somehow I didn’t feel like it gave me the shape I was wanting.  There is that blue Elle shirt again that I wanted but didn’t need. ;( The pants and shoes are mine in these photos.

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This dress shirt had cute colored strips but with or without the denim jeans under it I still felt like it was too tight fitting and shows off too much of my curves and post prego belly.

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This Old Navy floral top is my own if you remember I got it in the clothing swap from my friend, read that post here.  I loved the skirt for its comfortable fit but the price range of $7 was not what I was willing to pay. The white pants were too khaki for me.

What I did buy:

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I loved the comfortable fit of these green pants from 1st Kiss brand. So I had to get them.

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This striped tee was $4.50 and so versatile so I got it and wore it with the new green pants on Sunday.

I got the snakeskin thin belt for 99 cents that you see in the above photos.

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THE STEALER- 50% J.Crew pants with brand new tags for the price of $3. SO I wore these right away for the day.

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Did I stick with my budget?

J.Crew pants-$3

Belt-.99 cents

Striped tee-$4.49

Green pants-$6.99

= $15.47 YEP!
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Bloggers Who Have Inspired me # 4


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I apologize for not posting this post last night like I told some of you I would, but mommy duties came first. I almost didn’t get to it tonight since I am still packing for an out of town trip tomorrow through Tuesday with my family to see an Eagle Scout court of Honor ceremony for my hubby’s cousin. Post on that later. But I needed to publish it. So without further adieu, I am thrilled to bring you this fourth part of the series “Bloggers Who Have Inspired Me!” If you did not capture my other posts in this series than read here, here, and here.  Hopefully you will be inspired. With the permission of these bloggers to share their posts and blogs I am THRILLED to finally share these with you. If you see a post from one or all of them that you like feel free to follow them or link up to their link-ups as I am sure they would be most appreciative of this gesture 🙂

**Also to the bloggers that I have chosen as inspiration please be courteous and be thankful for the feature. It has become a pet peeve of mine when I feature you because I like your stuff and I get your permission but no thank you for doing so. Just swing a comment below or shoot me back an e-mail. Let me know what you think!! I love you all!

Fashion/Pinned it Did it:

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When I saw this post of Tieka (first picture) and her outfit I was immediately inspired because I had in my closet a floral dress in similar colors that I didn’t know how to style and I had a similar colored cardigan. I had to pin it right away. I don’t wear hats but you can see in my photo I choose the red vintage Philipe purse instead. Isn’t it almost casual meets classy. Happy dance to finding a style that fits the dress. You can read my post from last Monday about this outit I copied and pinned here. Thank you Tieka!

Fashion:

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Sammi styled in this post here a lovely butterfly dress.  I had just stumbled upon her blog one night and read the post for that nigh and fell in love with this dress. Her blog is filled with cute ways to style a dress similar to this. I love the mixture of patterns and her adorable red peep toe shoes are in almost every outfit photo. Go check her out.

Recipes/Pinned It Did It:

Kym has become an almost go to blogger for questions on the blogging network (I am considering joining review sites for products/compensation) but recently she posted a simple any-one can do it recipe called S’more Croissants and right away I knew I had to pin it and try it.

Here is the picture of the results for Kym:

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Here is mine: (I should have went with Pillsbury dough instead of Kroger store bought brand because the generic wasn’t that good in appearance).

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These were SOOO Good. We had Nevaehs friend Lauren over for dinner and to watch the movie Frozen and these Smore Croissants made a great dessert. Definitely worth doing over and over again.

Random/Comical:

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Every weekday I enjoy reading Rachel’s posts which range from outfit posts, faith, crafts and random comedy.  Here is one example of a comical post that I had never laughed so hard at. Bathroom Comment Cards at a traveling rest stop. Really? people take time to leave comment cards this silly? Thank you Rachel for making my day the day I read this.   This post inspired me to just take the small things in life such as comment cards to make me laugh.

Thank you for inspiring me ladies and for responding to allow me to share YOUR ideas and posts. :). Until the next part in the series enjoy! and thanks for reading, let me know what you think!?!

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Clothing Swap


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If you remember from last post I mentioned that a best friend of mine told me she believed I liked having some newer outfits or pieces to my wardrobe because it gave me an outlet to be creative. She also knew my frustration of not having the money or time to look for clothes or outfits, so the other night she came to spend the night at our house (yay! a girls night) and lo’ and behold she brought with her some clothing and accessories in hopes of a clothing swap so she could snag some of my maternity wardrobe. God is good! (Read last post here).

So this post is about reviewing and showing off what she brought me, as these are different and typically not what I would wear but am dying too. I hope you can give me some pointers or help with how to style some of these.

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A mixture of spring colors and fall colors/prints.

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Since spring is in the air let me review these two shirts.  The longer sleeve pink tunic looking shirt is BEAUTIFUL in color with sequins, however when it is on me my shoulders and arms look bulky making me look bigger than I am in those areas.  The underarm area looks weird too. To hide this issue on cooler days I thought of pairing this with a denim jacket or white blazer/white pants and heels or wedges? What do you think?

For the floral shirt I thought an almost cobalt blue pencil skirt or midi skirt might work or denim jeans? The shoe possibilities are endless but any thoughts?

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This shirt trips me up! I guess any darker color skirt or jean such as a blue or purple might tone this down a bit. What do you think? The scarf is lovely but I don’t know yet what to do with it. Any suggestions or scarf tips you can give me would be great.

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The above flowy shirt looks lovely on me, but the sleeves puff out alittle more than I would like, but oh well.  The necklace is pretty but short (you will see in my next photo). There is that scarf again. I would like to pair the shirt and necklace but still thinking on how, since the necklace seems short or to need something more as you will see below.

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Have you ever done a clothing swap?

Some ladies at my church have been talking about it and I hope they will.  Heck! I may pray about helping out or administering it, because it is a blessing and fun.

Have a great day! Next post will be “Bloggers Who Have Inspired Me.”

Rachel xoxo
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Mix it: maxi dress and black pleated shirt


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This past weekend was fun, it included going to a birthday party for a young boy from our church who turned 2, getting to wear maxi dresses, buying the movie Frozen, some girl time with my best friend Kendall and time with my in-laws.  God is good! I am posting this on a Sunday because life is busy but I will link up to blog hops on Monday. Look forwad to my “Bloggers Who Have Inspired Me” series on Tuesday or Wednesday.

This past week I had a morning where my mood was one of discontentment. I grew grouchy and depressed for a few moments because I felt I didn’t have spring colors, newer clothes, clothes that weren’t maternity. I finally went with maternity pants and a thrifted shirt but was still discontent.  My hubby had to calm me down and remind me that I could get a new outfit or clothes soon when money would allow it. Somehow that calmed or assured me.  Later I told my best friend(a mom as well) this and she agreed with me. She herself would like to have newer outfits or pieces to her wardrobe but only when it is budgeted.  Then she said something that made me think, something that she saw was a part of me.  She told me that since I am an appreciator of art (home décor, painting, design, fashion) that she sees me needing an outlet for creativity; hence clothing.  I may not be a styler or look good most days but I do appreciate fashion and all the ways to combine things.

Below is my work of mixing or creativity using a zebra maxi dress from older posts and a black pleated looking men’s button  shirt from older posts. Since I only own one belt (a brown one) I needed to do with using a necklace that was rather lengthy (creative don’t you think?) I have had this combination planned for weeks now and so glad I tried it Saturday.

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Wearing: Maxi Dress: Isadora Collection (old)//Black pleated button up shirt: Danial Rainn (TJ Maxx on sale for $7)//Sandals: Old Navy (old)//Earrings: Charlotte Russe (old)//Bracelett: yad sale find, unknown brand.

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Take the maxi dress (post here) and black shirt (post here) and combine them to make the above results.

Which look do you like best?

How would you have been creative? Corianne of skinnedcartree actually recommend a colorful belt and cardigan for the zebra print maxi dress which I am still anxious to try- thanks for the inspiration Corianne.

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Happy 1st day of Spring! More…


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Shirt:Old Navy from last summer on clearance//Purse: Michael Michael Kors (old from TJ Maxx/gift)//Flats: Nine West (bought from Plato’s Closet a few years back)// Scarf: unknown//Pants: Motherhood Maternity//Bracelett: Yard sale find, unknown brand.

More…..green! Actually I am finishing up the week with the Green Week Link-up, thank you Ashley, Andi and Heather for a fun time and for allowing me to meet other bloggers.

I haven’t worn this scarf above since high school. I found it in one of my brothers closets the other day, brought it home and washed it believing I may get a few more times to wear it, and I am glad I did the other day.

The  Michael Kors monogrammed purse is special to me, but I will share how  soon.  I actually have a post about it that I will share with you.  The purse is several years old and is starting to get worn and honestly it isn’t a big as I am now used to for purses, plus it is kind of out of style, but I will never part with it.

What treasures have you found in your closet/attic/storage as of late that you are bringing out that maybe you forgot about?

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Money Saving Tips for PARENTS


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I have been thinking up a list of ways parents can save money for days now and when an idea has popped in my head it has gone down on my notes page on my iphone right away.  I actually lost some sleep one night composing ideas in my head.  #trueblogger/writer.

Here is what I came up with:

  • you know those kids that cry and have a meltdown over not getting crackers, candy or cookies bought at the store? well what most of the local grocery stores do here is offer samples of fruit/cheese/crackers/sometimes sushi but the best stores are the ones that offer cookies in a cookie jar. Problem solved! I don’t know if wally world (Wal-Mart) or Target does this but it doesn’t hurt to ask. But it keeps your kids from wanting you to have to buy something then that they don’t need.
  • Ask about fee waivers or scholarships for recreational events if you are a struggling financially as a family or have children from foster care/big family.  My kids have received scholarships for various recreational events.  Nevaeh took dance last year and we requested a scholarship and she received one.  That is $600 plus dollars we didn’t have to pay. All we had to get was the costumes, tights, leotards, tap and ballet shoes. My aunt-in-law stated that sometimes Girl scouts waive joining fees if you request it (depending on the troop) and our babies are on a scholarship with their infant- toddler music class.
  • Use coupons when shopping but only if you know you get that product a lot and everyone likes it.

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  • look for GREAT sales like this one at our local Kroger the other day.  Buy 3 boxes of certain cereals for $6 get a free gallon milk. Ummmm hello a steal right there.  That’s normally a $12-$15 value. I found the appls marked down to $1.
  • ask around for hand-me-down clothing for kids or shop at yard sales/consignment shops/thrift shops.
  • sometimes we have found our little tikes toys/toys in general on the side of the road (bulk trash) cleaned them up with bleach and other cleaners and just reused them.

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  • shop for clothing/school items on tax free weekend (if your state/stores participate)
  • join SAMS club for bulk items you know you need a lot of but buy way too often elsewhere (diapers, toilet paper, etc).
  • go to McDonalds with playgrounds on Sundays and buy $.50 hamburgers or $.60 cheeseburgers.
  • look for restaurants with free kids meal nights (usually crafts go on too).
  • have a picnic at a park with a playground.
  • some local gyms offer discounts based on family size or income bracket.
  • cloth diapers for babies (this has been a life saver for us when we didn’t have disposable diapers on hand or the money for diapers). Yes cloth diapers are more work, but save on money and the environment.
  • cook a lot of your meals, trying to use ingredients you have on hand.
  • do DIY cakes, foods, decorations, games for Birthday parties. We did a DIY of a maypole and castles made of brown refrigeration boxes for Nevaehs medieval themed birthday party last year (there were like 15 plus kids so we were glad we didn’t spend a lot on a big Birthday party otherwise).

There are probably hundreds of ways to save money that I am missing. That is where you come in.

What do you do to save money with kids? what do you do to save money in general?

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Recipes: Instant Chicken Parmesan


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I am all about simple and cheap meals so when I saw this recipe in a little booklet I own called Our Favorite Cheap &Easy Recipes by Vickie and Joann (read their blog here for more cheap and easy recipes other than what’s in my book) I had to do it. I have actually made this meal for months and each time I make it the kids get more fond of it. So here it is:

  • 28 oz. jar of spaghetti sauce (normally I buy the $1-2 jars)
  • 4 to 6 frozen breaded chicken patties (about $1.50-$2)
  • 4 to 6 slices of provolone cheese (about $3)
  • 1 to 2 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese (about $2.99- $3.99)
  • Optional: cooked thin spaghetti (about $1)

Spread sauce in an ungreased 13″X9″ baking pan; arrange frozen chicken patties on top. Place a slice of provolone on top of each patty; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 20 minute. Uncover and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly. Serve over cooked spaghetti, if desired.

The below pictures are what I took of the most recent meal. I served the patties with thin spaghetti.  The meal is quick, cheap and yummy.  *

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* All opinions are my own.
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Floral dress & pops of red and GREEN


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First of all I want to thank the ladies that responded to my last post on my goals (read it here) and for your input or suggestions. I got some great ideas from you ladies just by your comments or blogs in general recently.  One of my goals was to designate a post topic for certain days of the week.  I believe I have chosen my days/topics but it isn’t set in stone all the way.  Blogging is so fun but overwhelming and requires patience each post with an ancient computer and some nights it won’t work, so bare with me.  Here is a schedule of what might be posted.

Late Sundays or Mondays- Outfit post mainly a mix it post

Tuesdays- Recipes

Wednesdays- free day (anything goes) Once a month I will try and do my “Blogger’s Who Have Inspired Me” series here. Let’s say near the end of the month!

Thursdays-free day (anything goes)

Fridays-Casual wear or Faith and Family.

So here is my first set in schedule mix it post even though I did two mix it posts here and here on a Monday already. It also happens to be St. Patricks day so don’t get pinched! I won’t 😉

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Wearing: Floral dress:  PureEnergy(Target-old)//Cardigan: Abercrombie &Fitch (old/gift)//Leggings: Old navy//Shoes: American Eagle (Payless Shoe source brand/gift)//Purse: Vintage Philipe (been in the family since I was a girl)//Elephant earrings: gift from best friend- she got them in Africa.

Isn’t this outfit adorable! There is history behind a few pieces here.  I got the floral dress at Target the day before my wedding as a ‘wear to church after the wedding night.’ The earrings were a gift to all the bridesmaids in my best friends wedding.  She bought the earrings in Africa for all of her bridesmaids and aren’t they darling.  These are my go-to earrings when all else fails and I don’t know which earrings to wear.  The red handbag is vintage, and has been in my family forever.  Believe it or not, I actually house all of my family heirloom jewelry in it. I may do a post about the family heirlooms housed in it soon.  I don’t take this purse anywhere but loved it with this outfit.  The green cardigan was a gift from my sisters this past year when I needed more “non-maternity” clothing.  It’s a bit small and smug on me, but I love it. I wore it with this maxi dress here.

Anyway, I wore this outfit (minus the heels because my ankle started hurting and the purse) out to the library because my sister gave me a date for myself.  That’s right she watched the kids and I went to the library and Starbucks. It was NNNNIIIIIICCCEEE! Normally when I get time to myself I sit in a coffee shop for awhile, run errands or try to shop at Target (if money allows it).

What do you do for yourself when you are alone?

Rachel xo

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Making goals come true & your opinions


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It seems like forever since I made up goals for myself.  Goals or making plans force me to get things done.  It would anyone right? or should for that matter.  Well this post is a listing of things I know I need or want to do and I would appreciate your help/opinions/feedback as well for some of them.

Goals for this blog:

  • -be more consistent with what days I post and pick      certain topics designated for those days only.
  • -make the goal to visit at least two new blogging sites      a day and comment.
  • -I love to be inspired so I need to be on the lookout      daily for blog posts that grab my attention so that I can reference/credit      that post and blogger for my “Bloggers Who Inspire Me” series      and post a new series maybe once a month.
  • -Learn to be content with not getting a lot      of comments or visitors even though I comment on everyone I follow almost      daily.
  • -Maybe post a giveaway in the future?
  • -put recipes up- coming next (hopefully).

What are your thoughts? What do you like reading about on my blog or other bloggers? is it outfits? my faith? DIY’s? recipes? money saving tips? my family? thrifting?

Goals for my lack of cooking:

  • -learn to use my croc-pot and do some croc-pot recipes.      Any suggestions? Leave me a comment or e-mail me at Rachel.garay@me.com      with your favorite croc-pot recipe. Who knows your recipe may end up on my      next Bloggers Who Have Inspired Me (hint, hint, wink, wink, say no more).
  • -cook 2-4 meals a week. I love trying easy and cheap      recipes so if you got them share them. Comment below or e-mail.
  • learn to do scrambled eggs to where I won’t gag check I did a goal this morning. Got to  have one goal down right?

Goals for my family/relationships:

  • -Be forgiving and have grace. Realizing that just      because I don’t hear from certain friends or family members doesn’t mean      that they are mad at me but that life is in fact revolved around more than      just me. If there is actual issues pray to be forgiving or talk about it      with the person.
  • -make Nevaehs lunch for school sometimes. She keeps      begging for this and I keep telling her not today. (Mainly because we      don’t have sandwich bags or bags for the food for that matter- take care      of this, bite the bullet and just go buy baggies).
  • -make my hubby feel special and have open communication      often and think of his needs.

What do you like to do with your family? what makes them or a particular person feel special?

Goals for our house/needs:

  • mop the floor have hubby mop the floor.
  • organize the basement, moving things to storage/throw      away things.
  • buy foam tiles at Sams club for the playroom
  • get new roof on the house
  • get a new used van
  • re-grout the bathroom tile on the floor around the tub
  • finish DIY projects and get an Etsy account started to      sell the DIY projects.

Do you have an Etsy shop that I don’t know about?  Comment below with the link and I will be sure to check it out.  I love looking at other peoples etsy shops.  Even if I don’t have the money for your shop at hand I can recommend you or buy from you later- ahem Christmas.

How do you organize?

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I love your comments so don’t be shy! Rachel xo
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God is faithful!


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I was going to compose this weeks ago, but our ancient computer wouldn’t cooperate, I feared typing the wrong thing or needed God’s guidance. I was encouraged when I read this blog post by Rachel (TheRandomwritings) on how she stepped out in faith and never looked back. She inspired me more to think of the times when God has been faithful.  Anyway, I wanted to share about God’s faithfulness in my life.

As soon as I graduated with my master’s degree in early childhood special education I immediately landed my first career job as a preschool special needs teacher, then I met my husband, we got engaged 3 months after meeting, married 8 months after that and were set to trying to get pregnant a year after that. In the process, we found out a certain family member (keeping confidential) had a little girl in foster care that (they) had only just found out was their child. Right away my hubby and I were hounded with questions from social workers, family members and other therapists if we wanted to pursue foster parenting her/ custody.  Forever, I kept telling my hubby that maybe we would consider taking her but then…I got pregnant!

Right away I told God- NO Way! I remember showering one night and talking with God and telling Him I didn’t want to pursue foster parenting.  No we cannot have a baby and a niece to raise. (this was when I was 6 weeks pregnant). I told my hubby and God NO, not two or three days later I had a miscarriage. I was devastated, and so was my hubby and everyone around us. I miscarried at 6 weeks 5 days. I won’t go into awful details but it was nice to have family for comfort as we grieved. In the process God reminded me of our niece and when I prayed about it I felt God’s peace and the support of others in the decision to begin foster parenting classes, paperwork, background checks and more to finally foster parent the little munchkin you see here on this blog-Nevaeh.

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In memory of Terry- miscarried July 5, 2011.

You may be wondering why I have referred to Nevaeh as ours on this blog, and she is. She is family regardless if she is our true daughter or not. Anyway in faith we took her in our home, knowing that we would have to learn to be parents quick, deal with her emotional scars or tears and keep her in line with knowing who Christ was as well and make her feel secure and loved. Because of our step of faith and taking her in I became pregnant again. Right away let me tell ya.

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(32 weeks pregnant with Xander)

This time the pregnancy was healthy- but I wasn’t. Yes, I walked a lot and played Frisbee golf with my hubby and we even hiked small trails while pregnant. So physically I was fine, but emotionally not. I had lost my teaching job. I had feelings of embarrassment, devastation, anger and depression. But God was still faithful and he allowed us to carry the pregnancy to 35 weeks- and then Xander was born.

I had it hard dealing with Nevaeh and her fits and anger while carrying for a fussy newborn. I used to wonder why God had done what he did. Why did I loose my job? why did I loose our baby Terry? How were we going to pay for the endless amount of hospital bills coming everyday? (I had an emergency C-section). Why couldn’t I handle and love Nevaeh during her fits? Why did Xander have to come early? I knew all was a BIG LIFE change and transition, but little did I know that it was a part of God’s plan.

I got unemployment, my hubby started his own construction business, we had little to no income consistency but God still provided. We held yard sales to pay big bills, we paid our medical bills off somehow and we began receiving WIC services due to pure accident when we tried to get Nevaeh back on it. We had to buy cloth diapers, and live off of cheap meals. We were poor. Yes poor. I worked in a school system where I detested poverty and people living off of governmental services but here we were doing what I hated and I hated myself for it. To this day I don’t know how we made it! and we made it without debt behind us or in front of us. God completely took care of us, our money and bills. God was faithful.

In my state of mind of “we are poor” we got pregnant again. Right away I did what any pregnant lady with no income would do and went from private insurance to Medicaid. Long story short, we found out we were pregnant with twins, we got Medicaid and right away knew God was in control. God was in control because I was in and out of the hospital during the pregnancy with hypertension issues. I was ultra-sounded twice a week during most of the pregnancy and hooked up to other machinery and given shots to protect the babies lungs in case they were born pre-term. The OBG’s were worried for Elizabeth’s growth the entire pregnancy (and so were we). But God was faithful and allowed me to carry the twins to 37 weeks on the scheduled C-section date. There was no complications for the twins or myself and both were healthy. I was grateful God gave us Medicaid or we would have died with hospital bills going with us to our grave. God was faithful.

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(32 weeks pregnant with the twins during their baby shower).

Shortly afterwards my hubby got a full-time job (with benefits) and worked a side job as well.  We ere given the right job at the right time. God knew what we needed and was faithful. My hubby still has his full-time job and has grown in the Lord through it, he has applied for a promotion that he hopes to receive (Lord willing) and we feel secure this is where God has us. God is faithful!

God taught me a lot of important lessons through this journey.  Because you see, while I was teaching I was prideful, boastful and uncaring.  My hubby and I had the money to do whatever we wanted, and I had no tolerance for the poor or those hurting financially.  In the process of losing my job, God humbled me and showed me my errors.  He showed me that HE alone could take care of me.  He reminded me that “yes” I was miserable where I was working but that being a stay-at-home mom was a part of His plan as well.  He held me and carried me when I didn’t think I could make it.  He fed us when I felt hungry. He made a way where we didn’t hurt financially like I felt we should have.  God was faithful. He gave me a beautiful family and life and I couldn’t ask for more.

Let me know what you think?

Rachel
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