December 31, 2016

2016 | A Year of Growth

There are moments when I think back to 2016 and I don't even know where to begin. As I said yesterday in my post about my hopes for 2017, it was a year of highlights, lessons learned, and growth. It's interesting how much can stay the same in a year, yet how much things can change. I have no doubt that I am not the same person who celebrated New Year's Eve with friends in 2015 and will without a doubt not be the same person who celebrated New Year's Eve December 31, 2016. 

A few key highlights come to mind when I think of this past year. From family time, to welcoming our sweet nephew, spending time with friends, and taking on a new coaching adventure, this year was definitely not a boring one. And although all these little memories made this year what it was, learning we were going to have a baby girl and our trip to New Mexico definitely stand out when I think of all the excitement that 2016 brought with it. 


Learning that we were going to become parents was a pretty surreal feeling. It's amazing how quickly things change once you hear the confirmation of such an exciting, scary new adventure. Being able to spend 2016 preparing for our sweet little girl has been nothing short of amazing. I love how much closer it has brought M and I and how much excitement it has brought to our life.

Trip to Red River

M and I had a trip planned to Mexico to get away and relax but as soon as we found out that we had a little friend on the way, we had to cancel our trip due to the Zika virus that put the fear of life in every pregnant woman around (or maybe it was just me). So we ended up deciding last minute to go to the first place we ever went together as a couple. I absolutely love Red River in the summer and was happy to go there to celebrate this new adventure and our 4th wedding anniversary. 

Of course each year comes with lessons learned, either from good experiences or not so good experiences. In my case, it was definitely a combination of both. I feel lucky that through the good, the bad, the not so fun, and the exciting, I took different things away from each and was able to grow as a person, friend, family member, and professional. I feel like life is sometimes a constant learning experience. We never stop learning and finding things that we want to make changes to or that we are proud of ourselves for. I am hoping in 2017, I find more positives than negatives and can be proud of who I grow to be. Specific lessons learned definitely were about marriage and me as a person. 


I learned a lot about the wife that I was and the wife that I wanted to be this past year. I look back and am not always proud of the time I wasted not being present with M or putting him on the back burner while I did other things. But ultimately, I'm thankful that those are lessons that I learned so that I can focus this year on putting him first, praying more for our marriage, and being a great wife while also balancing being a new momma. I feel as though great things are in store for our little family in 2017.


The growth I have felt this past year has been huge compared to what I have felt in years past. I felt for a while that I was stagnate in my growth as a person. Things were changing around me but I just conformed to whatever I needed to survive. This past year, I feel I spent some real time on myself and it paid off by teaching me that I have alot to work on as a person but there are some good qualities in there also. I hope that 2017 will allow me to showcase those good qualities while slowly growing out of the not so good sides that I know can show up in different situations. 

I am thankful for all that this year brought and taught me. There is no doubt about that. It's funny how day by day, you think nothing changes, yet when you look back and start reflecting, each moment has truly changed the path or direction you are heading in a way that may not make sense until you turn around to look at where you came from and look back ahead to see how far you have come. Happy 2017 friends. Here's to an amazing new year full of endless possibilities and adventures that are awaiting you on your path. 

Helene in Between
December 29, 2016

First Comes Love | Book Review

Book Title: First Comes Love
Author: Emily Giffin
Genre: Fiction

Growing up, Josie and Meredith Garland shared a loving, if sometimes contentious relationship. Josie was impulsive, spirited, and outgoing; Meredith hardworking, thoughtful, and reserved. When tragedy strikes their family, their different responses to the event splinter their delicate bond. 

Fifteen years later, Josie and Meredith are in their late thirties, following very different paths. Josie, a first grade teacher, is single—and this close to swearing off dating for good. What she wants more than the right guy, however, is to become a mother—a feeling that is heightened when her ex-boyfriend’s daughter ends up in her class. Determined to have the future she’s always wanted, Josie decides to take matters into her own hands. 

On the outside, Meredith is the model daughter with the perfect life. A successful attorney, she’s married to a wonderful man, and together they’re raising a beautiful four-year-old daughter. Yet lately, Meredith feels dissatisfied and restless, secretly wondering if she chose the life that was expected of her rather than the one she truly desired.

As the anniversary of their tragedy looms and painful secrets from the past begin to surface, Josie and Meredith must not only confront the issues that divide them, but also come to terms with their own choices. In their journey toward understanding and forgiveness, both sisters discover they need each other more than they knew . . . and that in the recipe for true happiness, love always comes first. 

Emotionally honest and utterly enthralling, First Comes Love is a story about family, friendship, and the courage to follow your own heart—wherever that may lead.

My Thoughts

Any of the books by Emily Giffin have been quick reads for me. She pulls you in with the story and then leaves your wanting to know where the story goes and how it ends. I started it on Monday and finished it up on Tuesday evening before I went to bed. Part of it is definitely her writing style while part of it is my need to know what happens or else I sit and make up my own endings to the story and then am disappointed when it doesn't end how I've made it in my head. 

I connected with the characters in a weird way because I could relate them to my sister and I. Josie and Meredith are polar opposites and both dealt with their brother's death in totally opposite ways. My sister and I did the same when my dad passed away so I could sympathize with their situation as sisters. Thankfully, my sister and I had a strong relationship that set us up for being supportive and encouraging of one another as we both battled that loss. Unfortunately, the sisters in this story did not seem to have that. It was as if there was a lot of sibling rivalry/hard feelings from the beginning of their friendship that kept them from having that nurturing relationship that you tend to see with siblings. 

There are several "talk-able" topics that pop up in random spots throughout the book that make you wonder what you would do in that situation or how you would feel if that was your sister making those choices. I found myself getting upset with the characters at different points in the book because of the self-absorbed nature of their relationship. But that's easy for an outside to see and analyze. 

All in all, I enjoyed this book as a quick read. It was a reminder of how different people deal with the death of people they love, and how it can ultimately affect the rest of their life in different ways based on how they choose to deal with the death. 

Fun Information:

Until someone commented on my instagram picture about this, I didn't realize that other characters from Giffin's books were a part of the story. Love the One Your With was one of my recent favorites and so reading a little update on Ellen and Andy was precious although I didn't realize that is who it was when I was reading about their part in the story. That's definitely one I would recommend, although again, I found myself mad at Ellen a lot in that story. 


I would give this book 3.5 stars because of the issues that it brings up and talks about that you don't quite expect. My annoyance with the sisters and their relationship was more for personal reasons so maybe you can relate to them more than I did. I liked that there was some controversy and although you expect one ending, you see that things aren't always what they seem. 

Do you have ay suggestions for what I should read next? I had Jojo Moyes book One Plus One checked out from the library but didn't get around to reading it just yet. 

December 19, 2016

No Love For You Like Mine

I saw a quote when I first found out that I was pregnant that has stuck with me through this whole journey. Maya Angelou wrote "In all the world there is not heart for me like yours. In all the world, there is not love for you like mine". Just like I discussed in a recent post, I have no idea what she was talking about when she said or wrote this. Perhaps she was talking about the relationship between she and someone or maybe she was talking about just loving people in general. For me, this quote perfectly summed up my journey of becoming a mommy. 

I have never been so proud of my body as I have been to see it go through all of the amazing things that have to happen to grow and provide for a healthy baby for 40 weeks. Watching my body change in so many different ways has been a huge lesson for me. Although the instinct for any change is to reject it, I feel as though I have embraced the amazing things that are happening. I went to take my 33 week update picture (I've been slacking lately) and found myself lost in thought of this journey and what it has meant to me. 
Going into my pregnancy, I just knew I was going to be the one who was sick all the time, experiencing every single symptom that there was. In the beginning I was definitely tired and felt a bit nauseous at times, but thankfully the first trimester was during my summer break from work and I could be lazy and just relax. I never got sick and never had any other symptoms besides occasional upset stomach if I didn't eat every few hours. I honestly felt so relieved and so thankful that our sweet baby was being so good to me. 

Yesterday was officially week 33 of this 40 week journey and I find myself, more often than not, just staring at my stomach or placing my hands on my stomach to feel our sweet baby girl's kicks. I feel so grateful for the opportunity to carry and provide for her on such a deep level. She will be the only person who knows me from the inside out and my heartbeat will be the one that she remembers in times of need. I truly feel humbled by that knowledge and thankful for that small connection with her. 

Knowing that not every woman gets to experience this journey humbles me beyond belief. I have tried not to take one minute of it for granted and soak in each of the little milestones that we have reached together. In talking with other moms, it seems as though each pregnancy is different so knowing I will never really experience this again makes it even more special. I have no doubt in my mind that this experience is truly a miracle and 40 weeks that I will cherish and treasure for years and years to come. 

With grace, I hope to show our sweet girl how to love compassionately, treat others the way that they deserve to be treated, enjoy the little things in life, and cherish the things that matter most. I feel so blessed to have the honor of being her provider for these past 33 weeks and look forward to the day that I can hold her in my arms and kiss her sweet little feet that kick me throughout the day. My heart is full. 
December 12, 2016

Exactly As We See It

As I was browsing instagram yesterday (instead of doing something productive) I came across a photo that caught my eye. When I went to read the caption, I found myself typing out a response before I had a moment to really think about the reason she had posted it. Jenni is a blogger that I followed even before I created a blog of my own. I got to meet her once when I helped our friend Shay capture the wedding of a sweet couple in Austin and have truly loved following along as her sweet daughter Pippa has come into her life and grown over the past year. 

Jenni posted a photo of balloons from sweet Pippa's birthday party and captioned it with this "This afternoon as I was playing in the living room with Pippa, I glanced over to the entry foyer where yesterday's helium balloons still floated at the ceiling. I noticed that the first of the balloons was giving up and slowly drifting to the floor, and it was one of those odd moments in life where you see one thing but it feels so representative of something else. I sat on the floor there and cried as I watched that little blush balloon sinking in mid air, and I was reminded that beautiful things usually have a life cycle and don't last forever- which is often part of what makes them so beautiful. Babies grow up, special days end, relationships fizzle, people or animals we love die... the list goes on. Watching that balloon made me so sad as it meant the end of something that brought me great happiness, but as they say...every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end. There is hope for tomorrow, and good stuff to come." 

Pretty powerful, don't you agree? I saw her picture and was captivated by what she wrote. Being the eternal optimist that I am, I quickly hit reply and said this "I absolutely love little moments like that. They make you stop and think about so much more than what the moment really is. I hate that it brought you sadness but it makes me wonder what all the balloons that are still afloat represent. Perhaps the things or people that stick around longer than others or will fight hard against the elements to stay exactly as they are?".  Jenni was so gracious to write me a sweet comment back but ever since then, I can't stop thinking about Jenni's take on the balloons and my own. 

From her perspective, she saw the balloons as they pertained to that moment in her life. Whether it was the fact that she had just celebrated the 1 year birthday of her sweet baby girl and that first year was coming to a close, or maybe it was that people or animals that she had loved weren't there to help her celebrate, or maybe it was representative of the relationships in her life. That's the great thing about social media is that sometimes, in midst of all the beautiful white filled photos, people are posting images that mean so much more than what we see. 

From my outsider view, I was able to look at the balloons and see the other balloons still holding strong to their stance on the ceiling. I didn't have the emotions or connection to that one balloon so my first instinct was to say "hey wait, what about all the other balloons". I feel like sometimes I look at the situations that people are in and wonder why they can't see the good through the fog of the bad. But Jenni's post made me realize it's because I don't have the connection with the whole picture. I only see the side of it that has not emotion or attachment. I was able to be optimistic because my view wasn't clouded by the raw emotion of what it meant to her. 
Take this picture for example. If I asked you to name the first thing that you see in it, or tell me what it means to you, would you say the clouds, the sky, the water, the way the sun is reflecting on the water? We would have totally different views from any one who comments because of our emotion attached to it. Whether it's more emotion because of what the waves at the beach represent or because we have little emotion based on the fact that we see the beach each day.  It was a nice reminder that the pictures that we post on social media, or even or blogs, will touch people in a way that we may never have even meant for them to or known that they would. Each picture is truly exactly as we see it. 
December 8, 2016

With Grace | Volume I

When I started to think about what I wanted in my "new" blog, I knew that I wanted to write about the life that I am living. I wanted to have a space to share the ups and downs, ins and outs, and highs and lows so that I could remember to look back on each hill and valley and see the lessons that I learned. I can't quite explain what having this space back means to me. It's so nice knowing that I have somewhere I can come and chat with friends (or myself) and just talk it out.

My hope is that every week or every month or heck every other month, I can come and just talk about living with grace in this crazy little world. Whether it be sharing what I'm thankful for, how I've tried to live with grace recently, or how I am blessed with grace and love, I just want to share it here. So without further waiting, I present to you Volume I of With Grace.
This week, I had a moment where I had to take a step back and was reminded of how blessed I was by the childhood that I had. My parents were the type of parents who never missed a game, swim meet, gymnastics meet. No matter how big or how small the game was, I knew that when I looked over, either one of my parents would be in the stands or sometimes coaching me from the sidelines. It makes me sad to see sweet kiddos who don't have that support. It was definitely something that I took advantage of and and didn't appreciate until I got older. My hope is that I can provide my sweet baby girl with those types of moments and a feeling of knowing her parents are there to support and cheer her on always.

Sometimes, with grace, is the only way to make it through a situation that seems just down right crappy. I have come to the realization, after many talks with family, friends, and my mother in law, that when I have an issue with someone, it is ultimately my issue. It may come from wanting to change them, not understanding why they see something differently than I do, or ultimately not agreeing with how they handle things. But what it boils down to is that what they are doing or have done doesn't bother them or make them sleep less at night, it is how I react that affects myself only. This has been a hard pill to swallow as I tend to hold people to a high regard in their actions but am slowly learning that it's my own pride and sometimes insecurities that makes me hold on to that frustration longer than I should.

This pregnancy has truly shown me what grace is all about. I have, without a doubt, loved this whole process. Every day, my body is performing this amazing feat of growing, providing for, and protecting this sweet baby. From the moment I wake up and feel her kicks, to the minute I lay down to enjoy some rest, I am amazed by the fact that I have been chosen to carry this sweet baby girl. I know that there are many trials and triumphs that will come along here very soon but oh how it will be worth it to do it all for my baby girl.

I hope you all have had an amazing week so far. I am so thankful to you for stopping in and following along with my randomness. It's amazing what this blog world has to offer and the people that it has brought into my life. I'm glad you are one of them. Happy Friday eve friends.