Coming Home – A Christmas Card Photo Session

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A few weeks ago, I wrote this post about how Kennie and I are trying to raise enough money to come home for the holidays. One of the ways we are doing this is through the Christmas cards I designed. After I posted that blog, I had tons of people contact me and say they wanted to order cards, but needed to get an updated picture first. So… you’re welcome! I contacted one of the most talented photographers I know, and a very dear friend, Katie. We decided to partner up to bring you this amazing deal:

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::::: WHAT YOU WILL GET :::::
A 25 minute Photo Session with Katie Kubler
10 Digital Images
1 Printable Christmas Card design by Lizzy Gray Kitchens

::::: WHERE :::::
Conger park in Hernando, MS

::::: CHRISTMAS CARDS :::::
You may choose one of the designs already available on my etsy shop, one of the five exclusive designs made just for this event, or a custom design made specifically for your family.

There are only 15 slots and they are going to go fast! Go here to purchase your time slot today!

Don’t need Christmas cards for yourself? Give this as a gift!

All the proceeds go to the Kubler’s adoption and to bringing the Kitchens home for Christmas. Thank you in advance for all your support!

4 months

ezra_four_month 2013-10-22 09.25.43 2013-10-22 09.24.17This post is WAY overdue… but how is it time for this post already?!

Ezra, you turned four months old on Saturday (the 12th). With every day that goes by, I just love you more.

New things this month:

– you rolled over! Back to tummy (sept. 30)

– Now that you know how to roll, that’s pretty much all you do.

– You’ve started laughing.

– You love looking at yourself in the mirror.

– You weigh 16lbs.

– You are wearing your 3-6 months clothes.

– You drool…¬†a lot.

– I can barely keep you swaddled. Somehow you always wiggle at least one arm out.

– You now love to be on your tummy.

– You do this really cute squeal when Daddy plays with you.

– You’ve been sleeping in your own bed really well… at least for the first half of the night.

Mr. Mittens makes you smile.

– You really like being around other little kids.

 

As for Mommy, I’ve lost all of my baby weight plus more this month. I gained 40lbs while pregnant with Ezra and have lost 45. Whoo hoo! Thanks goes to nursing!

 

Ezra, thank you for bringing so much joy into our lives. We love you more than you’ll ever know!

 

I’ll be home for Christmas… if only in my dreams.

Does anyone know what is happening in 77 days? I do! (Drum roll, please…) That’s right, it’s Christmas!!! My all time favorite holiday (for more reason than one) is just around the corner! I’m even more excited about it this year because this will be Ezra’s first Christmas. Yes, I realize she probably won’t realize it’s different than any other day, but to me, it’s a pretty big deal!

Last year, Kennie and I went to Turkey for Christmas. We wanted to take a trip, just the two of us, before little Ezra came along. Turkey is an amazing country! We saw so many unforgettable things. In a lot of ways, that trip was like a dream.

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565021_10152382360225007_608543006_n36527_10152390326795007_1471271269_n735056_10152367529315007_1640327845_nEven with all of the memories we made and the fun we had… it just didn’t feel like Christmas. We missed all of our family traditions and gatherings. Oh-man, my heart ached for home.

So with all that said… in 77 days Christmas will be here again. I cannot express to you my desire to spend Christmas at home with our families. I so want to spend Christmas Eve night celebrating with Kennie’s side of the family and then waking up the next morning to Ezra in her Christmas pjs- enjoing the day sitting around my family’s Christmas tree. Ah, I can smell the cinnamon candles burning already.

But there’s one problem. It costs a fortune to travel half way across the world – a fortune that we just don’t have. But I’m determined. I’m determined to try.

Starting now, I will be selling Christmas cards as an effort to bring the Kitchens (us :)) home for Christmas. I have six designs ready for purchase and will be adding more as time goes on. I would also love to do something totally custom for you! All of the design are available either to purchase as a digital file (you would have them printed yourself) or I can print them for you and send them to you. The printing company I use is the same one I used to have our wedding invitations printed, so I know they will be good quality!

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More design are available on my etsy shop. Let me create something for you this holiday season!

 

p.s. Need something else designed? Wedding invitations, Party invitations, logos, brand design? You name it! I’d love to help!

FIFTEEN DAYS

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Y’all. Today is October 1st.

in 15 days these three lovely faces will be at my front door… insert happy dance… and some woot-wooting… and tears of joy! Can you tell I’m excited?? So ready to see them and to get to share our home away from home with them.

Ezra’s pretty pumped too…

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“What? Pop, Nana, and Aunt Wendy are coming all the way to Africa to see me?”

Yeah, it’s a good day ūüôā We only wish Holden and Gillian could join them (miss y’all!)

Also, Happy birthday to my sweet MIL, Stacey – We love you!

That one time I was feeling very domestic…

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Yep. I made an apple pie. Looking at these pictures has my mouth watering… too bad it’s already ¬†a l l ¬†g o n e ¬†…don’t worry, we shared with friends : )

Also, notice the individual pie in the empty Nutella jar? Inspired by Fossil’s DIY… Perfect for when you are making a dish that you can’t really taste without messing it up. you want to make sure it’s good enough to serve to your friends/family, right??

Here is the recipe I used /// courtesy of Betty Crocker : )

 

\\\ INGREDIENTS ///

A pie crust

1/3 cup cold water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
5 cups thinly sliced peeled apples (3 large)
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
Milk
Additional sugar
\\\ DIRECTIONS ///
  • Heat oven to 425¬įF. Make pie crust. Press into pie pan allowing it to overhang about 1 inch.
  • Stir together 1/2 cup sugar, the flour, cinnamon and nutmeg in large bowl. Add apples; toss. Spoon into pastry-lined pie plate. Dot with butter.
  • Roll remaining pastry; cut into 10 strips, each about 1/2 inch wide. Place 5 strips across filling in pie plate. Weave a cross-strip through by first folding back every other strip of the first 5 strips. Continue weaving, folding back alternate strips before adding each cross-strip, until lattice is complete. Trim ends. Fold trimmed edge of bottom crust over ends of strips, building up a high edge. (Or simply roll out another round crust and leave slits for steam, as pictured) Seal and flute. Brush lightly with milk; sprinkle lightly with additional sugar.
  • Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until crust is golden brown and juice is bubbly.

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This pie really hit the spot for a southern girl who lives very far away from home.
Another recipe I tried this week that was a  H U G E  success.
Also, dying to try this and this.

 

What new recipes have you tried lately?

 

***Disclaimer- I realize that making a pie is the perfect time to show off your creative ability. There are so many ways to make them beautiful. AND I’m an artist. whoops. Besides being an artist, I’m also a mom. A mom who’s little girlie had the hiccups while she was rolling out the dough. So, yeah, mine is a little lame : ) oh well, it tasted amazing!

Bye-bye Google Reader, Hello Bloglovin’

We’re on Bloglovin’! Since google reader no longer exists (still makes me sad :() Oh, well… Bloglovin’ is great!

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Follow my blog with Bloglovin

#prayforkenya

934004_10151639908301440_1237284871_nMy heart is so heavy as I write this post.

Shock.

Fear.

Anger.

Sorrow.

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Noor Khamis / Reuters

 

Goran Tomasevic / Reuters

Goran Tomasevic / Reuters

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Goran Tomasevic / Reuters

With each new piece of information, with each new photo… the tears just won’t cease. I can’t seem to shake the fear- What’s next? What if we had been there? What if that had been my little girl… my husband… me? It so easily could have been. We had plans to go to Westgate next weekend. It would have been a completely normal thing for us to have been there.

Through the flood of questions and anxiety in my heart, God reminds me: “You weren’t.”

Then a new set of emotions kick in:

Gratitude.

Relief.

Then I think of those who were there and the cycle starts over again.

Shock -I keep thinking, “I can’t believe this happened. This is supposed to be a safe place.” I really should not be surprised. Jesus warned us that these things would happen. John 16:2-4 –¬†2¬†They will put you out of the synagogue;¬†in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God.¬†3¬†They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me.¬†4¬†I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them.¬†None of these events have come as a shock to God. This is all part of the story of our fallen world.

Fear – Fear¬†is something that began creeping into my life the day that Ezra was born. What a wonderful thing to have something you love so much… but what a crippling thought of ever having to live life without it. And fear sets in. Fear of everything… rational and irrational. Then comes this overwhelming need to protect my little girl against all harm. But that’s just it. Other than doing the obvious things I need to do to take care of her, the rest is out of my control. Philippians 4:6 –¬†¬†Do not be anxious about anything,¬†but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Anger – My heart burns as I think about the evil that took place. These men took revenge on innocent people and justified it through a passage in the Koran. “So whoever has assaulted you, then assault him in the same way that he has assaulted you.” ¬†That’s the difference. The Bible teaches us to love our enemies. Luke 6:27 & 28 –¬†Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,¬†28¬†bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

Sorrow. My heart aches for everyone who was touched by the attack.

Psalm 13:2-6 –

2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4¬†and my enemy will say, ‚ÄúI have overcome him,‚ÄĚ
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
    my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the Lord’s praise,
    for he has been good to me.

 

God has used this tragedy to remind me to cling to Him.

Psalm 56:3-4 РWhen I am afraid, I will trust in you.  In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?

John 16:33 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.


 

Links:

New York Times article about the attack

Ten things to know about Al-Shabab

Pictures – Careful, some of these are very graphic.

 

 

3 months

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For three months now I have had the honor of calling myself “Mommy”. These have truly been some of the most precious months of my life.

Ezra, you are three months old! Hanging out with you all day is more fun than I ever imagined it could be. The past month has been full of exciting new changes.

-For starters, we joined Daddy in Africa. You seem to like it. The weather is nice and you have lots of friends.

-You smile pretty much non-stop

-You smile with your eyes too- it melts my heart.

-You rarely cry.

-You love the book Brown Bear.

-When I sing to you, you smile and laugh every time.

-We hold long drawn out conversations . Your stories are pretty interesting.

-You will let other people hold you and love on you, but you’re kind of a mama’s girl.

-Your dad and I swear you can talk. When you were two days old you said “hun-gee” (hungry) and have been saying it ever since. This month you added “Love you”- You also say “Hey” all the time ūüôā

-When I nurse you, you like to hold my hand.

-You still love your wubby.

-Bath time is your favorite.

-You can’t stand to be alone. You don’t mind if I put you down, but you want to be able to see me.

-You hate tummy time.

-You constantly try to stick your whole fist in your mouth… you’ve gotten close.

-You sleep about 6-7 hours straight most nights.

-You love morning time- you can’t stop smiling.

-You just started wearing your 3-6 months clothes, but can still wear some of your 0-3 months.


Basically, you bring your dad and me more joy than we ever thought possible. I am so thankful Jesus chose me to be your mommy.

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Back in Kenya & a Baby Shower

Reunited with Daddy

Reunited with Daddy

Ezra and I are officially back in Kenya and settling in well. We were welcomed by hubby, Kennie and lots of dear friends. It’s so¬†good to be back. We are truly enjoying our new house and routine (house tour- coming soon). But, with all that said, saying goodbye is probably the worst. thing. ever.

Saying good bye to Mom and Wendy

Saying good bye to Mom and Wendy

But, thankfully, my parents and sister are coming to visit in October- we can hardly wait!!

Last weekend, our sweet friends and next door neighbors hosted an amazing baby shower for us. I mean, it was really beautiful. So many ladies in our community showed up and, let me tell you, my heart was really blessed.

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To my left is the lovely Nichole- she planned and hosted the event! To my right is my thoughtful, hilarious, and sweet friend Hannah. Many of these photos were taken by her.

On the left is the lovely Nichole- she planned and hosted the event! On the right is my thoughtful, hilarious, and sweet friend Hannah. Many of these photos were taken by her.

The pretty cake that unfortunately the dog got a hold of... good thing we got a picture!

The pretty cake that unfortunately the dog got a hold of… good thing we got a picture!

 

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Can you believe Alli made this beautiful blanket? She's got skills.

Can you believe Alli made this beautiful blanket? She’s got skills.

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Scars, sacrifice, & deep love /// How I deal with my post pregnancy body blues

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Photo credit: Katie Kubler

Since the beginning of my pregnancy, God has been using my precious little girl to teach me more and more about himself. Around the 30th week of my pregnancy the unthinkable happened. Yes, that’s right. My world was turned upside down. My life would never be the same. I got my first stretch mark.

This was NOT supposed to happen to me. They always say, if your mom had them you’ll have them, if not- you’re home free! Well, my mom had three children and never got even one stretch mark. So I just knew I’d sail through my pregnancy with that perfectly round, blemish-free belly. Yeah, that didn’t happen. In fact, once the first one appeared more seemed to appear everyday until I could barely remember what my stomach used to look like. All I could do was mourn the loss of my pre-pregnancy tummy until God used it to change my perspective.

I realized, first of all, that there was absolutely nothing I could have done to prevent these scars. I used all the oils and creams and nothing seemed to make a difference. Second of all, and more importantly, I realized that in order for Ezra’s body to be made perfect, mine had to be sacrificed. I would willingly accept every scar over and over again for her sake. This was the small glimpse I needed to see of how Jesus loves us.

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4, 5 ESV)

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Even now, Ezra has absolutely no idea how deep my love is for her. I know what she needs, she doesn’t. In fact, she will even sometimes struggle to accept the good things I have to offer her. I will be trying to feed her the milk she needs to flourish and grow and she squirms and cries due to her hunger pains. If she would just stop struggling and trust me to give her what she needs, wouldn’t that be much easier? How often are we like this in our relationship with God?

Commit your way to the Lord ; trust in him, and he will act. (Psalm 37:5 ESV)

And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. (Luke 12:22-31 ESV)