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DIY Chalk Paint Dresser Makeover

DIY Chalk Paint Dresser Makeover

I'm in love with repurposing old furniture. I enjoy the satisfaction of taking something old and turning it into something new. If you’ve seen any of my other DIY chalk paint projects, you know it’s a passion of mine! My husband inherited this old dresser from his great-aunt, and I’ve been itching to get my hands on it for years. I finally decided how I wanted it to look, and took the plunge into transforming it. As you can see, this dresser is very well-loved. If you look closely, it has gouges and water damage. I had to sand the water damaged spots to remove them, but I left the minor flaws and scrapes alone. The dresser is over a hundred years old, and I love that it has unique character flaws. For this project, I used the same technique that I did for my kitchen table makeover, because I loved the final result. So without further ado… What You Will Need Power sander, or a sanding tool Rustoleum chalk paint in Linen White, Country Gray & Charcoal (see picture below!) Old white T-shirts, cut up into sections Plastic cups or a paint holder (I used plastic cups and spoons and tossed them when I was done) Brushes Polyvine wax finish varnish Let's Go! 1 – First off, I took everything out of the drawers, removed the hardware, and sanded the drawers and main dresser. I used my power sander with 220 grit paper for sanding each piece. I gave extra love and attention to the water stains, making sure not to over sand those areas. The idea was to remove the stains as much as possible but not make the wood uneven in any area. 2 – Next I used soap and water and wiped the entire dresser to remove any sanding dust. I did this a few times to really clean the entire thing. 3 – I started by painting everything with Rustoleum chalk paint in linen white as my base coat. I ended up doing 3 coats of paint because the old wood needed extra love. Three coats later… 4 – After applying the linen white, I mixed two cups of paint. In one plastic cup I mixed linen white with the country gray. And in the other cup I mixed country gray with a little bit of linen white and a little bit of charcoal gray. I spent time playing with the colors until I got the exact shades I liked. 5 – Next, I worked in small sections, brushing on both colors from my cups, and then wiped each section with the old T-shirt until I got the look I wanted. I spent time playing with each section of the dresser to create the right overall texture I was looking for. 6 – Before applying the top coat, I sanded every piece again to create a distressed look and smooth out the paint. 7 – To seal my dresser, I used the Polyvine wax finish varnish. I brushed on 3 coats, waiting a half day between applications. This is my favorite finish for chalk paint because it gives furniture a glossy finish without the high maintenance of wax. 8 – Finally, I put the dresser back together and added the hardware. I deliberated between painting the hardware or replacing it altogether. In the end I left it as is. The handles are weathered and worn, and they’re original. I ended up liking the antique brass with the gray paint. That’s It! I let the dresser sit in a corner for a few weeks before we used it. I can confidently say that it has held up really well and 1 year later, the paint isn’t chipping at all. If you try this chalk painting technique for your dresser, let me know! I would love to hear from you and how your project turned out. Please note that this blog post includes affiliate links from Amazon. If you do choose to purchase something, I may earn a small commission – at no additional cost to you. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own. Thank you for your support!

Kitchen Table Makeover

Kitchen Table Makeover

I finally got around to refinishing our kitchen table, which has been on my to-do list for the last 4 years (no joke!) I’m delighted with the result, and this technique completely transformed our kitchen, giving it a light, airy feel. If you’re in the mood to refresh your table, give this technique a try! My husband and I bought this table when we first got married for $50 on Craigslist, and I’ve had every intention of painting it ever since. I finally got around to doing it. Mostly, the impending birth of our twins spurred me on. At 20 weeks pregnant, (like a crazy person!) I finally got out the chalk paint and set about refinishing our table. While our table looked nice before, the yellow wood is not exactly my taste. What You Will Need Power sander, or a sanding tool Rustoleum chalk paint in Linen White, Country Gray & Charcoal (see picture below!) Old white T-shirts, cut up into sections Plastic cups or a paint holder (I used plastic cups and spoons and tossed them when I was done) Brushes Polyvine wax finish varnish Amazon bench (optional) PAINT & TOOLS I USED: So, Let's Get Started! 1 – First, I gave my table and chairs a light sanding. I chose not to use a chemical stripping agent to strip the wax sealant off the table and chairs – I opted instead for sanding to give my furniture texture for the paint to hold onto. I used my power sander with 220 grit paper for sanding each piece. 2 – After sanding the table and chairs, I decided I wanted a bench to add more seating to our table. Especially since we will have 5 in our family after the twins arrive… So I went online and found this one on Amazon. I ordered it and followed the same technique for the bench that I used for the table. 3 – Next I wiped down the table, chairs, and bench with water and a little bit of soap to remove any sanding dust. 4 – I started by painting everything with Rustoleum chalk paint in linen white as my base coat. And a tip I learned early is to thin the paint out with just a little bit of water (less than a 1/2 tsp). If you mix the water in with the paint before starting– it will help your paint go on smoother without leaving streaks. Each coat will be slightly thinner, but I noticed I had less dripping while each piece was drying. I ended up doing 3 thinner coats but the coverage turned out great. One thing to note, the bench legs had a slight cream tint to them, so painted those white as well. I also painted a few coats of white on the bench top to have as a base. We want everything to match! 5 – After applying the white coats of paint, I then mixed two cups of paint to come up with the colors I wanted to create texture on the table top. In one plastic cup I mixed linen white with the charcoal gray. And in the other plastic cup I mixed country gray with a little bit of linen white and a little bit of charcoal gray. I spent time playing with the paint until I got the exact colors I liked. 6 – Next, I worked in small sections, brushing on both colors from my cups, and then I wiped each section with a piece of my husband’s old white T-shirt until I got the look I wanted. If the color was too dark, I used the linen white paint mix to tone the color down. And in the same way, whenever I saw a really light area, I darkened it using my charcoal gray mix. I used my rag to wipe every area until I had the right gray texture I wanted. 7 – Finally, I gave the top of my table and bench a light sanding. Then I wiped everything down to remove any dust or dirt (or dog hair) that might be lurking on my furniture. 8 – Lastly, I used the polyvine wax finish varnish to seal the furniture. I put down 3 coats, waiting a half day between applications. This is my favorite finish for chalk paint because it gives my furniture a glossy finish without the high maintenance of wax. I also like this finish better than Rustoleum Matte Finish. The polyvine wax is thicker and has a nicer hold when everything is dry. AND HERE’S THE FINISHED PRODUCT! And that’s it! We let our kitchen table sit for 7 days before we used it. I can confidently say that it has held up really well and 5 months later, the paint isn’t chipping at all. I also ended up buying foam chair pads from Bed Bath & Beyond for our chairs. It gives a little more cushion for the tush and looks nice too. If you try this chalk painting technique for your table, let me know! I would love to hear from you and how your project turned out! P.S. Follow me on social media to keep up with our family as we find adventures and do this thing called life! I am on Instagram and Pinterest! And if you liked this post, check out my kid table and chairs chalk paint makeover! Please note that this blog post includes affiliate links from Amazon. If you do choose to purchase something, I may earn a small commission – at no additional cost to you. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own. Thank you for your support!

Little Kid's Table & Chairs Makeover

Little Kid's Table & Chairs Makeover

A DIY Chalk Paint Project When we moved into our townhouse last year, one of the things I really wanted was a little kid's table and chairs for our daughter. I spent over a month looking for a cheaper alternative to the PotteryBarn Kids table I found, but I didn’t love anything as much as the PBK version. A few weeks later I was at Goodwill dropping off boxes and thought, I’ll just stop in and see what they have.
Would you believe it, there was a kid's table and chairs! It was exactly what I was looking for, and everything about it was perfect, except for the color. So, for $14.99 I was the proud owner of my new find. I figured I would just paint it to get the look I want, and I’m thrilled with the way it turned out. I’m also really glad I didn’t buy the expensive PBK version when this one ended up being perfect. Aren’t thrift stores the best? What You Will Need Power sander, or a sanding tool Rustoleum chalk paint in Linen White Rustoleum chalked decorative glaze in smoked glaze Old white T-shirts, cut up into sections Brushes Polyvine wax finish varnish Getting Started 1 – To start, I gave everything a light sanding using my power sander with 220 grit paper to sand each piece. Then I wiped each piece down to remove any sanding dust, grime, and dirt. 2 – After sanding and cleaning each piece, I painted the chairs and table using my chalk paint in linen white. I painted two coats of the white chalk paint, and went over any spots that seemed a little thin with a third coat. 3 – Next I cut up pieces of my husband’s old white T-shirts (or you can use whatever old rags you have on hand). I sprayed a little bit of the smoked glaze on the surface, and using pieces of the rag, I wiped the glaze across the top until I achieved the right textured gray color. I worked in small sections, which made it easier to create the look I wanted to achieve. I used the linen white chalk paint to tone the color down when it got too dark. And whenever I saw a really light area, I darkened it by putting the glaze onto my rag and wiping it until I achieved the right gray texture I wanted. I’m really happy I chose this route for my daughter’s table! The end result is perfect, and the color does a great job of hiding small imperfections, especially since this table receives some abuse. 4 – Finally, I used the Polyvine wax finish and brushed on 2 coats to seal the paint. The protective top coat works great and it’s easy to keep clean too. And that’s it! All in all, this was a quick project for me. It only took me 4 days to complete, and most of that was drying time. The decorative glaze look can be used on any piece of furniture, and I love the way it turned out. Bonus! The table looks fantastic in our living room. Let me know if you give this technique a try! Or if you’re searching for a similar look, check out my DIY kitchen table post. It just might be what you’re looking for. Please note that this blog post includes affiliate links from Amazon. If you do choose to purchase something, I may earn a small commission – at no additional cost to you. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own. Thank you for your support!

Make Jesus Your Person

Make Jesus Your Person

Who is Jesus to you? When you think of Him, think about Him, do you see Him as something specific? I was at work one day when my best friend's mom sent me a text asking if we could get together for lunch. I remember thinking, whatever this lunch was about, I was never going to be the same afterward. I was right. During that lunch I learned that my best friend had been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. Life changed drastically after that. Over the course of the next 5 years, I spent time praying, bargaining and pleading that the Lord would cure her illness. One month after her 30th birthday, she went home to be with the Lord. I wasn't sure who I was going to be without my best friend. I felt like I had lost a limb, and I was heading into the future completely handicapped. The day after she passed, I walked out of work and I said to the Lord, "what do I do now? Who will be my best friend?" The presence of Jesus was so palpable, like He was walking right next to me as I headed to my car. I haven't heard the Lord's voice audibly that often, but on this day, I heard Him audibly whisper to me, "Will you allow me to be your best friend?" I remember hesitating for a second before responding, because I knew the weight of what He was asking of me. I knew that if I said no, I would regret it for the rest of my life; but if I said yes, I would be moving into a future that would stretch me and test me. I knew if I said yes, that I wouldn't be able to plan my future for myself, and I would be submitting to the Lord whatever His plans are for my life and future. I knew it would be scary, and I knew I didn't have any other choice. I said yes. That yes has radically changed my life. A few months ago I was listening to a sermon one morning and the pastor was sharing a story of something that happened with his daughter. She had lost something and they couldn't find it, and the pastor was going to give up on the search when the Lord said to him, "are you willing to let this go?" In that moment, something that I had been praying about for months bubbled to the surface of my heart, and I said to the Lord, "I'm not willing to let this go!" As I said those words, I was suddenly transported in the Spirit to heaven. In the vision, I was looking at myself through the eyes of someone else, and I could see myself standing before the throne of God. I was wearing a crown of gold, dressed in silk finery with slippers of silk on my feet. The floor I was standing on was made of pure gold. As I looked at myself, dressed as a princess in the courts of heaven, standing before the throne of God, I realized that's how God sees me when I pray. He sees me as His daughter, His princess, His child dressed like royalty. As I watched myself through the eyes of another, a boldness filled me that I hadn't had before, and I said to the Lord, "Father, I'm not willing to let this go! I'm not willing to give up on this dream You have given me!" As I said those words I was suddenly in my own body, dressed in finery looking up at the throne of God. I knew I had a crown of gold on my head, but I didn't feel the weight of it. I looked down at my feet and the slippers were soft, they fit perfectly. I stood on solid gold, and the steps before me were made of pure gold. I looked up at the throne and it was completely shrouded in white light, yet I could discern through the light that the Father had a shape. My natural eyes couldn't see His figure, but my spiritual senses understood He had a form. I looked up at the throne and I said to my Father, "Lord, I will not give up this dream You have given me. I will stand and I will fight. If I have to fight for years I will do that!" As I spoke, I discerned in the Spirit that the Lord shifted His weight and leaned forward to hear me better. He cared about what I was saying. He desired to hear me. Obviously the Lord can hear me without me even saying a word! But He wanted me to know, without the shadow of a doubt, that He desires and yearns to hear from His children. He wants us to come into His presence! He wants us to pray, to talk to Him! He cares about what we have to say! I lifted my hand to the throne, and as I did I noticed my arm was covered in gold bracelets of different thicknesses, and there were many of them. My vision ended with me staring at these bracelets, and I knew it was significant but I didn't know why. And then I was back in my body, and the sermon was still playing. When You Make Jesus Your Person... Your life will never be the same. There will be hard seasons, because God will ask you to go places you've never been before. When you walk with God and you give Him everything, all of you, there will inevitably be a wilderness season that He brings you through while He's crafting you into the person He wants you to become. Yes, there will be hard seasons with the Lord. But there are hard seasons without God too, and it's much better to walk those difficult times with God. When you make Jesus your person, He also gives you an indescribable joy, a peace beyond anything our natural bodies can understand, and moments of incredible glory that far outweigh the hard seasons of life. Receiving a vision from the Lord is better than any movie man has ever made. Receiving a dream from God is better than any waking moment on earth. Receiving a word of knowledge from the Spirit is better than any novel we could ever read. And these moments of glory are what Paul spoke about when he said "And we all, with unveiled face, continually seeing as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are progressively being transformed into His image from [one degree of] glory to [even more] glory, which comes from the Lord, [who is] the Spirit." (2 Corinthians 3:18) When you make Jesus your person you will have the most glorious moments of your life. He will transform you and cause you to look more like Him, and as He does that you will get to experience incredible things from Him, from heaven. You will have the chance to hear His voice, experience His presence. You Are Royalty The Lord allowed me to see myself as He sees me. When we pray, we are standing in the presence of our Father. We are royalty. Beautiful beloved reading this today, you are a prince! You are a princess! The blood of Jesus bought you the RIGHT to stand in the heavenly places with our Father! When you pray, you are dressed in royalty, crowned in gold and righteousness! (2 Timothy 4:8) You are dressed in silk, standing on floors of gold. And God shifts His weight to hear you better! He yearns to hear from you. He wants you to come into His presence and ask for what you need. He longs to hear your voice! You don't have to be formal about your prayers, you can pray whenever you have a need. As you wash the dishes, lift your requests to heaven. When you're driving your kids to school, pray for their day and for yours. As you clean the house, talk to Jesus as you would a friend. He loves that! I know for a fact that He does, because He asked me to be His best friend. And I know He wants to be yours too. And when you pray, pray with the knowledge that the Father yearns to hear from you. The Gold Bracelets I mulled these bracelets from the vision over and over in my mind throughout the next day. I asked the Lord over and over, "what does this mean? What is the significance of the bracelets?" As I was in the middle of asking the Father the next morning, a full 24 hours after I received this vision, suddenly God gave me a picture of a tree trunk. He showed me how the tree trunk has rings for each year, each growing season, and each ring shows the type of conditions that happened during that growing season. As He revealed this picture of a tree trunk and what it means for a tree, the Holy Spirit then explained to my heart, "each bracelet represents hard experiences and challenges in your life. The harder the experience, the thicker the bracelet. When you give your hardships to the Lord, He spins them into fine gold, and they adorn you." I immediately understood this to mean that every thing we go through has a purpose. Pain has a purpose in the kingdom of heaven. When you experience something extremely challenging, and you invite Jesus into your pain and hardship and walk that journey with Him, He shapes you and molds you and changes you until you are refined like gold. Your character becomes more stately and polished, and you come out of the challenging season with far greater patience and perseverance, strength and determination, beauty and loveliness. You end up walking taller and more assured of who you are, because you are more assured of who Christ is in you. It's a difficult process, with a worthwhile end. The Lord explained this all to my heart, but what He also wanted me to know is this: He knows everything that we have gone through and our difficulties are not cast aside. He ensures that we are adorned with our hardships, that we are rewarded for walking through painful trials with Him. He doesn't cast aside our tough seasons, instead He gives them places of honor and we wear them as a badge. How beautiful is that? How wonderful is our God? Today, know this: whatever hard things you have experienced are not for nothing. God has a purpose and plan for everything under the sun, including your difficult experiences. When you give Him your pain, give Him your wounds, He binds them up as a physician and heals your hurting places. "He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds [healing their pain and comforting their sorrow]." (Psalm 147:3) Not only does He heal your broken heart and bind your wounds, but He does it perfectly. In fact, He does it so perfectly that in a year or two or three, you won't have any lasting pain or side effects, but instead you will look back at your painful memories with a fondness when you remember how Jesus was your God in the midst of your suffering. Perhaps today you aren't in a challenging situation, but maybe you went through something challenging in the past and never really got over it. I want to invite you today to let Jesus into that space with you. Talk to Him about your past and pain, and invite Him into that place in your heart that is holding onto the difficulties. He will fill your hardships with His grace, and you will get to see the goodness of the Lord. He will heal the places that are still broken. It's amazing what He can do when we let Him. My friend, make Jesus your person. Invite Jesus into every area of your heart, and ask Him to be your best friend. I pray that you will experience the unbelievable life and amazing grace that only those who have fully surrendered to Jesus know and understand. It's so worth it. With Joy, Jessica

Knock And The Door Will Be Opened

Knock And The Door Will Be Opened

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."
Matthew 7:7 Do you ever feel like you're praying and God's not answering? Maybe you feel even worse than that, like you're praying and God's simply choosing to not listen? I've felt that way. Many times before. But you know what? I've yet to see Him fail in His faithfulness toward me. I was meditating on Matthew 7 this morning and the Lord prompted me to look into the deeper meaning of this verse to discover the beauties within. This one verse holds the key for receiving answers to our prayers! I hope it encourages you to keep praying until you see God answer. Ask, And It Will Be Given To You There is one little verse in 1 Chronicles 28:4 where David mentions Judah being chosen of all the tribes. He goes on to say, of all the families of Judah, his was chosen, and then he says, "and among the sons of my father he liked me to make me king over all Israel." I love that verse. Do you want to be liked by God? I want to be liked by God. And that one verse has changed my prayer life and walk with Jesus. When we look at Matthew 7:7 in the Greek, the words for ask, seek and knock are in the present continuous tense. The way these words actually show up are, "ask, and keep asking; seek, and keep seeking; knock, and keep knocking." Doesn't that change your perspective completely? In fact, the Amplified Bible has it written the way we should understand it. “Ask and keep on asking and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking and you will find; knock and keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you." (Matthew 7:7 AMP) The word for ask is aiteo, which means to beg, call for, crave, desire, or require. It's a very strong word! When we come to the Lord and ask for something, He's saying beg for it. Crave it or desire it so strongly that you quite literally require that I answer you! That's what He's saying to us and to His disciples. When you ask for something from the Lord, do you come into His presence with meekness, wondering if He wishes to answer your prayer? Or do you fall prostrate before Him and beg Him to answer you? That is the one reason I believe that God has answered so many of my prayers. I can't leave the throne alone. Most days I live there. I literally refuse to leave God's presence and give up on my prayers! There are times when I go through seasons of doubt and wondering. I wonder if God hears me or cares about me, but then I remember this verse and it fuels me. Does it fuel you? If you have a need, and the only one who can answer it is God, then ask God to do it! Get to a place of total dependence that you literally require Him to do it! And don't stop asking until He either changes your heart's desire, or moves heaven and earth for your miracle to happen. The times when the Lord has blown my mind in the ways He has answered my prayers have been when I begged Him, when I literally required Him to answer me because I needed Him to. He loves this type of prayer. He's attracted to this type of prayer. He loves to be needed! Seek, And You Will Find The Greek word for seek here is zēteō. It can be meant in either a positive sense or a negative sense. In the positive form, it means to worship God. Seeking His Face, worshipping Him and following after Him is what this means. In a negative sense, it means to plot against. I find it interesting that there are wolves in sheep's clothing, doing this very thing in churches all over. They plot against God, seeking out places where He is worshipped to poison people against Him and bring down entire church bodies. This is why we need to be alert! Be aware of anything that goes against the Word of God. Zēteō also means desire, endeavor, enquire, require, and seek after (something). It's another strong word! When we ask for something from God, pray for something, we must also seek His face. Seek after His heart on the matter, and worship Him. Do you want to see God answer your prayers? Worship Him! There's a reason that the worshippers were put on the front lines of battle. There's a reason why worshipping God brings down our enemies! The same word for seek in Matthew 7:7 is used in 1 Peter 5:8: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." Satan plots against anyone he can eat, trying to make them believe lies, be anxious, and troubled in heart. But those who seek after God, won't have to worry about the devil. When we seek the Lord, He becomes our rear guard. (Isaiah 52:12) God protects our fronts when we seek Him, and our backs because we seek Him! When you pray and ask God for your miracle, don't forget to seek His face and worship Him for the God He is! Go before the Lord and desire Him, require Him to answer you, seek Him out and pray with all your heart. Knock, And The Door Will Be Opened To You The Greek word for knock is krouo, which means to rap, to knock. Pretty simple! So simple in fact, that I had to meditate on the word knock to get anything out of it. As I was pondering the word, thinking on it and mulling it over, the Lord showed me different pictures of people knocking. When you go to your friend's house, you knock knowing they want to open it to you. You might give a funny knock on the door, or a series of knocks that plays out a melody. There are also times when I feel like that with God! I'm cheeky with Him, I tell jokes and laugh about it, or I'll pray for something kind of silly and then smile at Jesus, feeling Him smile at me. Then there are knocks for emergencies. We've seen the movies, or maybe you've had an urgent knock on your door before. And sometimes that's how it is with our God. We knock with urgency, we yell out to Him, "answer me! This is an emergency! No one but you can do this!" And then there are desperate knocks. The knocks where you are crying, on your knees, with what feels like bloody fists and all you can do is put your palm on the door and plead with God to open it to you. The only words you have are tears and desperate sounds. And God asks that you give Him those knocks too. Don't Stop Asking, Seeking, Knocking There are days when it's hard to pray. There are season when I've been asking for something for weeks, months, years, and yet there is still no reply. Those are the days when my faith fails, and it feels like every demonic principality has put a target on my back and they're winning. Those are bad days. On those days, I can barely summon a prayer. But my tears are a prayer. My sighs are heard from the throne of heaven. My desperate pleas reach His ears. And so do yours. When life gets tough and it doesn't seem like anything is happening, all I have to say is keep asking and seeking and knocking. Get to a point where nothing will stop you from coming before the throne. I want to know my God with everything in me, and I want Him to know me. I want Him to like me like he liked David. And so, I have bad days, but then I wake up the next day and dust myself off, and move forward. I keep praying, worshipping, and mediating on the Word of God. It sustains me. It gives me life. It gives me hope. And it reminds me that He is faithful, and He hasn't failed me yet. When I hear of miracles happening to other people, I always think it can happen for me too. If God answered their prayer, He can answer mine too. Why? Because He's my God too. Is He your God too? Then when you hear of miracles happening around you, of God answering other people's prayers, remind yourself that He's your God too. Heaven doesn't have a supply issue, we have a demand issue. He wants to answer you, but you have to require Him to do it. Today, don't stop asking, don't stop seeking, don't stop knocking. When you ask, it will be given, when you seek, you will find, and when you knock, then the door will be opened and you will walk forward into your future of answered prayers. With Joy, Jessica

You Are Not Guilty!

You Are Not Guilty!

So don't let Satan deceive you into feeling guilty... Therefore there is now no condemnation [no guilty verdict, no punishment] for those who are in Christ Jesus [who believe in Him as personal Lord and Savior]
Romans 8:1 The Amplified Bible has a wonderful way of writing the scriptures and calling out the hidden meanings within the original Greek text. Often the original meaning and phrasing gets “lost in translation.” This verse is one of those places where our English doesn’t pull out the full meaning of the original Greek text. But if you look at it in the Amplified, then we can see the true richness of what the Holy Spirit meant when he showed this to Paul. Starting with the first part, there is now no condemnation, no guilty verdict, no punishment for the believer. There is absolutely none! In the Greek, the word no condemnation is like a megaphone to say you will never ever ever be found guilty by the heavenly courts ever again! There is absolutely nothing you can do, no wrong you can commit, that will ever separate you from God’s love. You are free from any sin you have ever committed, or will ever commit. God doesn't judge you! I think we have a hard time believing those words, that God doesn't judge us today as believers. Our conscience likes to condemn us when we commit a wrong. The devil comes against us and tries to remind us of our wrong-doing, and even pastors are guilty of focusing on people's sin instead of on our sanctification. 1 Corinthians 6:11 says that we have been sanctified and justified. Jesus' blood sanctifies us and justifies us and makes us worthy to come before the Lord. His blood did it! His blood also covers you and gives you the gift of no condemnation forever and ever. All you have to do today is believe it. When the devil comes to steal this Word from your heart by condemning you for something you did in the past, don't let him. Keep this verse in the forefront of your mind, remind yourself that you are free from condemnation because of Jesus Christ. If he comes to attack you, look to Jesus! This is how you renew your mind and keep yourself free from feeling guilt over something in your past. Christ died to set you free from having a guilty conscious, honor His sacrifice by receiving it. The second part of this verse is the clause for someone to know they aren’t condemned. The only catch of not being found guilty in the court of heaven is to believe in Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. That’s it! And once you do, you will never ever be condemned, ever again. If you have put your trust in Jesus, and accepted Him as your Lord and Savior, then know that God is not angry with you. We can read about His anger in the Old Testament. However, did you realize that after Jesus died on the cross, God doesn't get angry with His people? Anyone who has believed in Christ, Jew or Gentile, will never receive God's wrath ever again! The only ones who will feel His anger, His justice, are those who do not put their trust in Him. But for the rest of us, He tells us beautiful things like this: Come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16) Beloved, I pray that in every way you may succeed and prosper and be in good health [physically], just as [I know] your soul prospers [spiritually]. (3 John 1:2) For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 30:17) But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one. (2 Thessalonians 3:3) The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all. (Psalm 34:19) When you supply it, they gather it. You open your hand to feed them, and they are richly satisfied. (Psalm 104:28) You may not always feel God’s love. You may not always have feel good feelings coursing through you, but this verse says that your feelings on this issue don’t matter. The truth is you are not found guilty for any past sin or wrong. No matter what. So even when you don’t feel loved, even when you feel condemned or guilty, know today it is not God who condemns you. Recognize the true author of those lies (the devil), and renew your mind. His Word says there is now no condemnation for those who believe in Him. Take Him at His Word. When you feel attacked or condemned for a past wrong, come before the Lord and tell Him that you take Him at His Word. Tell the Father that you know you are not guilty because His Word declares it. And lay whatever guilt or condemnation you feel at His feet. Sometimes our conscience reminds us of a past wrong we committed. When something comes up over and over again in your mind, learn how to receive God's forgiveness, and also how to forgive yourself. I wrote an article on this very topic because when we know we've done someone wrong, we often have a hard time forgiving ourselves for our past mistakes. (Read Jesus Says You Are Forgiven!) Today, know in your heart that you are blameless in God's sight. Come to His throne and ask for whatever you need and He will hear you and answer you. Ask, and keep on asking until He answers your request. He hears you, and He will come to your rescue. (Read Knock And The Door Will Be Opened) Keep these verses in the forefront of your mind and remind yourself over and over that you are not condemned. Shed any guilt you feel over the past at the foot of the cross, and walk forward in complete freedom in Christ Jesus. With Joy, Jessica

Prayer: When You Need A Miracle

Prayer: When You Need A Miracle

"Every day holds the possibility of a miracle."
-Elizabeth David Praying when there's no answer, is hard work. It's also heart work. It takes courage and strength to keep praying. It takes perseverance and patience to keep going even when there is no reply. It takes dependence on God, and trusting that He knows what He's doing. It's in this process, in this season of waiting for God to move, that the real work happens. And it happens in us. I wrote this prayer while in the middle of writing Knock And The Door Will Be Opened. As I was studying the Word of God and writing this article, He gave me a prayer for those who are waiting on the Lord for their miracle. A prayer for those who are in the wilderness and wondering when, when will you see your Promised Land? Waiting is hard. I think it's harder than receiving a no from the Lord. We struggle to wait on Him, because that means we're giving up control of the situation. It means we're giving up control of the way we perceive our life should go, the way we plan for it to turn out. That's hard. But yet, God's Word says He is faithful, and His Word tells us to ask, seek, and knock. Beautiful friend, today don't stop asking from the Lord. Don't stop seeking His face, and don't stop knocking until He opens the door. Lord, today I'm not just asking for my miracle, I'm begging for it. I require you to answer me! Answer my prayer! Lord God in heaven, hear my voice! I won't give up. I won't stop asking for {name your miracle}. I so desire for You to give me what I need! No one but You can. Lord, I seek Your face, Your heart, Your will in this matter. If You have a different path for me, then change my heart's desire. If this is the right path, then lead me out of the wilderness. Bring me to my promised land! Father, I praise You. I praise You for Your faithfulness, I praise You because You are mighty to save, and You are with me. I praise You because You take great delight in me. Sing over me Lord! Hear my cry and sing over me! Father, I'm knocking on the door and only you can answer it. I pray the blood of Jesus Christ into my life, into my situation, and over myself and {name specifically what the blood must cover}. The blood of Jesus speaks of better things than Abel, better than any man who's ever lived, and I call on Your blood to cover me, cover my miracle, and bring it forth. In Jesus name, hear my prayer! Answer me! Give to me my miracle! Amen! “I am the LORD, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me?"
Jeremiah 32:27 (NLT) Verses mentioned in this prayer: Matthew 7:7, Zephaniah 3:17, Hebrews 10:19, Hebrews 12:24

It Is Finished

It Is Finished

What does the word 'finished' mean to you? Does it give you a sense of satisfaction? Does it calm your heart and relieve your anxiety? That's what it does for me. The dictionary definition of finished is ended or completed, perfected in all details, polished to the highest degree of excellence, accomplished. It's a complete word! It's absolute perfection. When we complete a task, it might not come out as absolutely perfect in every detail, or polished to the highest degree of excellence. When we do a project, it might be perfect, or as perfect as we can get it, but there's always something that could have been done a little bit better. When Jesus hung on the cross, right before He took His last and final breath, John records "Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." (John 19:28-30) When Jesus says it is finished, He says it with absolute certainty and resolve that His death is, and was, perfect. His death is perfect in every detail, making it possible for every person who believes in Him to be completely redeemed and forgiven! For me, finished means I have been made complete in Jesus Christ. Finished means that I have been totally and completely forgiven. And so are you. Finishing The Cup Of Wrath The gospels mention that Jesus was offered three cups of wine. These are important parts of the finished work! The first one is mentioned in Matthew 27:34 "they offered Him wine mixed with gall (myrrh, a bitter-tasting narcotic) to drink; but after tasting it, He refused to drink it" and Mark 15:23 "Then they gave Him wine mingled with myrrh to drink, but He did not take it." In multiple commentaries it is said that Jewish women would mix myrrh with wine and give it to those who were crucified to help ease their pain. Myrrh, when consumed, is a narcotic that helps diminish some of the excruciating pain of the cross, giving those who are crucified a small sense of relief. It would have dulled the senses, helped decrease inflammation and pain, as well as blocked certain receptors from experiencing pain in the brain. In essence, they would experience a high. Most criminals who were crucified would have taken this drink to help relieve their symptoms! Jesus refused this drink because He knew the cost of the cross. He knew He must endure the entirety of our pain, our suffering, our sicknesses, our diseases, and the full weight of our sin and guilt. If He did not endure all, and had taken a shortcut to dull the pain, we would not be completely and totally forgiven today. When Jesus finished the work of forgiving us, He did it perfectly. There are times when we go through extremely difficult things in life and it will be tempting to dull the pain. In fact, there may be times that we choose to dull it, to cut out the emotional or physical pain that we are in. We might choose alcohol or drugs. Maybe we even choose prescription drugs instead of doing the hard work of retraining our mind and receiving the finished work of Jesus. It could be food that's the escape, or sugar. Maybe you workout excessively, or feel the need to moderate your food intake. It could be busyness, or seclusion, or actually hurting yourself to feel something different than emotional pain. Whatever your vice is, whatever your weakness is, I just want you to know this: Jesus died for it. Jesus took every single sin, every single thing you struggle with today, and it burned on the inside of Him so that you can walk in freedom. You are free! Jesus refused the wine mixed with gall (myrrh), so that today you don't need a vice in order to live your life. You don't need alcohol, drugs, starvation, over-eating, cutting yourself, prescription medications, or anything else that keeps you from coming to Jesus with your pain. Come to Him! Come to Jesus! Put your pain at His feet, and receive His joy, His love, His peace, His provision for your weaknesses. When you come to the Lord with your cup of wine mixed with your vices and let Him have it, He will exchange it for His perfection. Receive it. Tell Jesus you receive it. Tell yourself you receive it, and do that over and over. Lay down your pain over and over. Jesus took your pain and suffering and guilt and sickness almost 2,000 years ago. It has been paid. He not only took it all, He made sure He was conscious and aware of every single enemy that tries to keep us in defeat today. So, receive it! He paid for it. The Second & Third Cup The second time Jesus was offered wine it was because the soldiers cruelly mocked Him. It doesn't say whether or not He consumed this sour wine, just that it was offered to Him. (Luke 23:36) The third time He is given sour wine it's because He asks for it in fulfillment of the scripture: "They also gave me gall for my food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink." (Psalm 69:21) John 19:28-30 says "Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." The fulfillment of the scripture that is mentioned in John is that of Isaiah 51:17 "You who have drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of His wrath..." Jesus took the cup, He drank it completely. The wrath of the Lord is described as being filled up within a cup, and only when a cup is filled to the top would He destroy a nation. Did you know that? When Jonah went to Nineveh to prophecy their impending doom, the scripture says, "Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me." Their cup had filled, their judgement was upon them. Jonah didn't want to go because these people were known to be ruthless. They were wicked! He was afraid. He lacked courage. But you know what happened? They repented. They turned from their ways and repented of their sins, and they received forgiveness. Their cup emptied out because of their repentance. Today, there is no cup of wrath. There are consequences to sin, absolutely. There is still a natural law to this earth. When Adam sinned, he gave the keys of this world over to Satan and his angels. God gave Adam dominion over this world (Genesis 1:26), Adam and Eve gave it to the devil when they sinned in the garden. But Jesus, but Jesus, he took back the keys of dominion with His death. (Revelations 1:18, Matthew 16:19) He bought our freedom. When we receive the forgiveness that Jesus bought for us, when we receive the payment He made, we come under the grace that His death bought for us. His grace encompasses us and we are able to have every blessing in Christ Jesus. Jesus, on the cross, experienced every single pain, sickness, disease, weakness, vice, everything. The entire cup of God's wrath consumed Him like fire as He became our literal burnt offering to fulfill scripture so that you and I can know this promise to our very core: This is what the Sovereign Lord, your God and Defender, says: “See, I have taken the terrible cup from your hands. You will drink no more of my fury." (Isaiah 51:22) It Is Finished! John 19:30: "he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." It is done. What do you need today? It is paid for. Completely. Not only is it perfectly paid for, it's overpaid. In the Greek, the word finished is teleō, which means to bring to a close, to finish or to end. Jesus brought to a close the covenant of the Old Testament, fulfilling the scripture that says, "Do not think that I came to do away with or undo the Law [of Moses] or the [writings of the] Prophets; I did not come to destroy but to fulfill." (Matthew 5:17) This means that today, there is nothing you have to do to earn your salvation. There's no sacrifice you have to make to atone for your sins, no guilt offering that must be given for you to not feel condemned. You are forgiven. There is no wrong you can commit that Jesus didn't already take on the cross! So don't feel condemned today, don't let your feelings get in the way of the finished work. Instead, change your mind. Change your thinking. Your thoughts dictate your feelings, so think right! Think on the finished work, think about the cross, think about what Jesus did for you, then you will feel joy, peace, and contentment. Teleō also means to discharge a debt, payment, to go over. Not only did Jesus completely pay off our debts, He went over the balance. It's like this: imagine that all of your sins and the ways you have messed up in your entire life accumulate to 1 million dollars. When you get to the throne of God in heaven after you have died (assuming you have accepting the Lord as your Savior), God looks at your name written in His Book of Life, and next to your name it says, "Debt Owed: 1 Million, Debt Paid: 1 Billion. This one is paid up." Then the Lord looks at you and says: "Welcome to heaven, my good and faithful servant." That's how great the blood of Jesus is for you and me. His blood is so perfect, so sinless, so awesome, that He didn't just cover the weight of all of our sins, diseases, angst, depression, loneliness, and fears, He overpaid the payment! By a lot! We can't possibly know or understand how great He is until we get to heaven, but receiving the overpayment every day, every time you mess up, reminding yourself you have been made righteous because of His blood, puts His sacrifice into right perspective in your mind. We need to do that. We need to have a right perspective to enjoy the full benefits of His death. He died so that we may live. So live! You Are Free Indeed If you have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, and you put your trust in Him, then know today that you are free. You are totally and completely and utterly free from anything that torments you. You are totally and completely free from any enemy that haunts you. Seize upon this truth! I used to be someone who lived in my feelings. I remember a day when I was 24-25 years old and I cried out to the Lord saying, "Why can't I control my feelings! I hate having these outbursts!" It was some time after crying out to Him over and over that He brought me to the verse: "We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:5 AMP) Did you know that living in your feelings is a proud thing? It is. It's pride to deny that Jesus has delivered us out of our slavery, out of our bondage to our feelings. It's not that feelings are bad, they help us live a fulfilled life. We cry when we are sad. We laugh when we are happy. We enjoy special moments and we are in awe when God shows up in awesome ways in our lives. But living in your feelings is bondage. When you live chained to how you feel, then you can't ever be rational, self-controlled or grounded despite your circumstances. And we destroy sophisticated arguments and every exalted thing. Do you know who has "sophisticated arguments"? The devil. And he goes around whispering lies into the lives of anyone he can destroy. Do you know what sounds like a sophisticated argument right now? "Make sure you teach your children that gender is neutral so that they may choose for themselves who they want to be." Or "men can play on women's teams and women can play on men's teams." Or "God is angry with you because of this {insert how you've messed up} sin you committed." These are sophisticated lies and exalted things that are set up against the true knowledge of God. When Satan comes at you and reminds you of your sin that you've committed, do you let him? Or when he tells you to live in your feelings and keeps you in chains to how you feel instead of to the Truth, do you just accept them for yourself? Don't! Stop letting him control you! The next time you mess up and feel the condemning guilt of it, take those thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. What is the obedience of Christ? It's stopping that thought right where it is in your mind, and telling yourself, "Jesus died for this. Jesus was obedient to my God, and He went to the cross and gave up His life so that I no longer have to be tortured by this. I no longer have to live with the guilt or shame of sinning. I am righteous! Jesus overpaid my debt! It is finished!" And every time that the lies come, remind yourself of the Truth. Every time that you mess up, remind yourself that you are redeemed. Every time that you hurt yourself or believe a lie, remind yourself that IT IS FINISHED! And stop condemning yourself for your flesh. The flesh is what it is, it's flesh. It's fallen. But you, your life, your soul and spirit are redeemed. I don't remember how long it took, but one day I woke up and I no longer reacted to things the way I used to. It was a battle to renew my mind, renew my thoughts. I can't lie and say it was easy. When the Lord called the Israelites out of Egypt, out of slavery, He brought them to the wilderness and to the promised land. In order for them to get to their promised land, they had to go in and fight their enemies. In order for us to get to our promised land, our freedom from our addictions and vices, we have to fight our enemies. We have to go in and possess our promise! And today, possessing your promises begins in your mind. Jesus died, and with His final breath, His final words, He said "it is finished." He said that for us. He said that out loud so that John would record those words that we might read them and say, "my enemies are finished because of the cross." Today, your enemy must kneel to the cross. Sit down and write out your enemies. Find Bible verses that speak against these things. Hold those verses close to you, write them on your heart. Instead of being like my friend who declares out loud that "she can't help her feelings, can't help her emotions" giving her enemy a voice and power over her life; be the saint you are and declare God's Word over yourself. If you have a disease, find a verse about healing. If you suffer from self-harm, recognize the root of your hurt and find a verse that speaks to how loved you are. If you use drugs or alcohol to numb something, look at what you're trying to numb and invite Jesus into those places with you. Find a word you can hold onto that tells you about how wonderful you are. (Genesis 1:27, Psalm 139:14, Romans 8:1) Whatever your weakness, whatever your need, whatever you lack, Jesus says IT IS FINISHED! He says to you, I PAID FOR IT! It's done! Go somewhere quiet, go for a drive, read these words aloud, and then shout out to the heavens, "I receive it!" Whatever your battle is today, receive your finished work. Jesus wants you to honor what He did for you by not trying to earn it, by not trying to add to it, but by just surrendering to it, receiving it, and letting Him wash over you. He loves you with an everlasting love, a love that is eternal. He loves you so much that He died so that you could be with Him in heaven forever. Forever! He wants to be with you forever! Receive that love my friend, and we will be together forever with Him in eternity. With Joy, Jessica

My Favorite Things: What I Loved Following My C-Section Birth

My Favorite Things: What I Loved Following My C-Section Birth

Maybe you're planning to have a C-section, or maybe you found out that a C-section is your only option like it was for me with my second pregnancy. Either way, if you want a C-section or have to have one, this list of my favorite things to have postpartum is for you! When I found out my second pregnancy was twins, my doctor let me know a caesarean birth was pretty likely. It's a lot harder to flip two babies into a head down position when they're lacking the space to do it! I did quite a bit of research into what I would need postop, and after having gone through it, I can tell you with certainty why you will appreciate having these things too. 1 - The Perfect Postpartum Panties I'm not kidding when I say these are absolutely going to be your best friend. These undies are so comfortable, the cotton is breathable, and with no elastic or tight edging they won't irritate your swollen belly or stitches. I wore them every day for almost 8 weeks while I was healing from the C-Section. I wore them again after having abdominal surgery. Plus, they come in several different colors. Trust me, they are perfect. Buy them here. 2 - Nursing Nightgowns I LOVED these nightgowns from motherhood maternity. I lived in them, especially while my stomach was swollen and sore following the C-section surgery. I had a really hard time wearing sweatpants for a few weeks while everything was tender and healing, and these nightgowns were the best. They are as soft as they look in the picture, come in different colors, and because they are nursing nightgowns they worked perfectly for unstrapping and nursing or pumping. Seriously, between my favorite underwear and these nightgowns, it was the closest to being comfortable post surgery as you can get. Buy them here. 3 - My Favorite Comfy Pants One of my close girlfriends sent me these pants before my surgery, and I ended up loving them so much I bought a second pair. The colors are cute, they have a few different patterns, and they are comfy. Like, comfy. It took me 3-4 weeks before I even felt like putting pants on. But once my belly wasn't as tender, these were the only pants I was able to wear. The drawstring band keeps them up and doesn't squeeze tender skin the way elastic does. Trust me, I think you'll love them too. Find the comfy pants here! 4 - Postpartum Mesh Undies If your hospital nurses don't load you up with goodies before you leave, or you forget to raid all of the drawers, you might want to order a few of these to get you through the first week or two. One of the things I enjoyed the most about a C-section was that I was cleaned out pretty well and didn't bleed nearly as much as I did following my vaginal birth. That being said, there is still some bleeding and it's nice to have disposable undies that can be tossed in the trash. I bought a few extras to have around and I'm glad I did. You can find them here. 5 - Scar Cream A C-section wasn't my first choice for my second birth, but not everyone feels the same way as me! If a C-section birth is in your future, you're probably thinking about that scar and if there's any way to lighten it up or make it less obvious. I used this for a few months following surgery after everything had healed up, and I think it worked really well for me. A year postop I had a very faint scar line, and honestly I barely noticed it. I recommend trying this product out! 6 - My Favorite Laxatives Since you're going to be a mom, or you're already a mom, 💩 is going to become a part of your regular vocabulary. That first postpartum poop for me was awful. Between the pain meds backing me up, and being backed up anyway before even going into labor because the twins blocked my bowels, I was in for a world of hurt. Dulcolax chews helped get things moving. It doesn't really matter which way you give birth to your baby, these will be a very necessary part of your postpartum journey. Get them here, and I pray you have a better experience than me. Seriously. 7 - Antibacterial Soap This soap came recommended by several surgery websites and friends of mine that had a C-section before I did. While it may or may not be necessary to wash with antibacterial soap following your caesarean birth, it did make me feel better knowing that I was washing away any bacteria and keeping my incision as clean as possible. I ended up having zero issues or infections, and my scar healed extremely well. I think this soap helped with that. 8 - Comfy Cardigans I ended up wearing cardigans a lot during the first few months postpartum. Since I spent an entire month in nightgowns, I tended to get chilly at night, and sometimes during the day. Having comfortable cardigans with pockets to stash cough drops in, my Airpods, phone, chapstick, and any other random items that I wanted to carry around with me was useful. And they kept me warm. You can find wonderful cardigans here! But this is one of my favorites. 9 - My Favorite Nursing Bras I tried several different types of nursing bras and these ones are truly my favorite. They provide wonderful support, are padded to help with leaking and keep you from showing those leaks, and work well whether you're full or depleted. They come in a few colors, black, nude and purple. After nursing I would tighten the straps up, and before going to bed I would loosen them to accommodate waking up with full breasts. But I have to say, the incredible support was my favorite. I lived in these for over a year. Worth it. I hope you find this list helpful! I honestly couldn't get by without these things, which is why they're my favorite. Trust me when I say those panties WILL be your best friend. I pray you have a very blessed pregnancy, labor, and birth! I often quoted my favorite verse while I was pregnant, and it was nice to have it in my head when I went into labor. Perhaps it will strengthen your heart the way it did mine. "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” -Joshua 1:9 With Joy, Jessica Please note that this blog post includes affiliate links from Amazon. If you do choose to purchase something, I may earn a small commission – at no additional cost to you. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own. Thank you for your support!

My Favorite Things For Newborn Twins

My Favorite Things For Newborn Twins

After officially making it through 18 months with twins, I can confidently say that there are a few things that made our journey more successful. Being a new parent is hard, and if you're a twin parent, it's even harder. Our first year with the twins tested our patience in ways I never thought possible. Every waking minute was filled with caring for our babies and toddler. The exhaustion is real! Looking back on those first pivotal months, I can say with absolute certainty that these items made our life a whole lot easier. I can't imagine what it would have been like without them, honestly. If you're pregnant with twins and trying to figure out what you will need, I hope this list helps you out! 1 - Twin Z Twin Nursing Pillow Absolute must have. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this pillow saved my sanity, or what sanity I had left. When I was flying solo during the day I could prop both babies in a hole and feed them their bottles simultaneously. This pillow was an absolute game changer! There is nothing worse than having a screaming baby waiting for food, except if you have two screaming hungry babies. This pillow will help you survive the first few months with your twins. 2 - Double Stroller There are a lot of great double strollers out there, but my absolute favorite is the Zoe Double/Triple/Quadruple stroller. We have the Zoe triple stroller to accommodate all of our kids at the same time and we absolutely love it. The best part about the Zoe double, is that you can easily add a seat attachment to have it be a triple, or add another double attachment to make it a quad. But if you're looking for something with a smaller price tag on it, The Joovy is a close second in terms of quality. Our main points when we were looking for a stroller was that it could recline to nearly horizontal so that our twins could take a nap while we walked. There were a lot of days when the only thing that would calm our kids down was taking a long walk. Other things to look for: a large basket below that can hold ALL the baby items, snacks, bottles or whatever you need. I like having snack cup holders to contain goldfish and animal crackers. And a stroller needs a mommy cup holder too. I love bringing my morning coffee or water bottle along while we're walking. And make sure you take a look at how well it folds up. If you're going to be putting it in the trunk often for day trips, you'll want a good folding stroller! 3 - Umbrella Double Stroller For Traveling We love this travel stroller by Dream On Me. Whenever we travel we bring this one instead of our Zoe Triple stroller. For one, our Zoe stroller is so much bigger and doesn't collapse as small as we need it to when we're checking it at the airport or taking a road trip. Second, it's not as expensive as our Zoe and we're less concerned with something happening while we're on the road. This stroller has treated us really well. We've taken it on road trips and flown with it. It's held up well! And if you're traveling, this bag will help. 4 - My Favorite Bottles We tried several different types of bottles when our twins were preemies, and nothing worked well to alleviate their gas and calm their bellies. Cue the 3am google search to find a bottle that would work for us! The MAM bottles are our absolute favorites. I bought two to see if they would work, and praise Jesus! They did. These bottles are annoying to clean, I will admit, because they have 5 parts to them. But once you get used to taking them apart and putting them back together, you'll be so glad you bought them. The MAM bottles prevent gas and help cure colic in babies. The venting system eliminates bubbles which can cause gas, colic and reflux in littles. They come in tons of different colors and two different sizes. We used the 5 oz bottle when they were little, and the 9 and 11 oz when they started consuming a lot more milk. Give them a try! 5 - Twin Carriers There are so many great twin carriers and Baby Bjorn's out there. We got the Weego Twin Carrier as a gift before our twins came. I used it all the time when they were little and fussy. I would scoop them up and carry them around the house together while I was cleaning or playing with my toddler. But if you're not interested in having both babies in front, then the TwinGo Carrier is for you! I've heard great things about it on my Twin Mommy Facebook groups. This one comes highly recommended by many moms. Either way, you'll be glad you have a twin carrier to keep them both close to you on the days when nothing else keeps them happy. All babies love being near mommy's body. And daddy's body too. 6 - Twin Nursery Center A twin nursery center is super helpful to have when you're having two babies. This playpen will come in handy as they get older and you can use it when you're traveling, or to just contain them with toys while you're cleaning a bathroom. Also, a twin center is awesome because it comes with diaper/wipes storage, and two baby bassinets. This one on Amazon has everything you need and comes in different colors. 7 - Extra Diaper Stations I bought this diaper caddy to keep extra diapers, wipes, and other essential baby items in another room besides the twins' room. I had this caddy on our main level so that I wouldn't be running upstairs every time the twins needed a diaper change. Having extra diaper changing stations around the house is a huge help when you're taking care of a baby! I recommend this one, but there are so many great ones on Amazon. Whatever your need and décor, I'm sure you'll find something that works for you. 8 - Bottle Holders For Baby I saw these on a Twin Mom's Facebook Group and I thought, I need that. When you're feeding one baby, it's so easy! Just hook that baby up with your open arms and you're good to go. But feeding two babies at one time, while caring for a toddler, is a LOT harder. I highly recommend a bottle holder like this one, or like this one that comes in many colors. Our preemie babies would eat every 2 hours, and being able to do a few feedings with the bottle holders while supervising them made life so much easier. I was able to play with my daughter and keep an eye on the babies at the same time. She didn't feel left out, and our twins sucked down their bottles with ease. Win win. 9 - Baby Swings When we had our firstborn, of course we got a baby swing. She wasn't a huge fan of it and we never used it for her. She preferred to be held, so we held her. With our twins, we figured we would wait on buying a second swing until we saw if they both liked being in it. They loved it. They both loved being in the swing. They loved the movement, the rocking, the music, the mobile. Our twin girl, Evelyn, had horrible gas and acid reflux, but when she was in the swing it was like she was a new baby. Some twin mama's swear by the mamaRoo. I can't comment because I never tried them, but worth noting it works with a lot of babies! 10 - Sound Machine The best invention for a baby! I don't know how anyone survives without a sound machine or a fan. White noise is key for all of our kids to get a good night's rest and not wake up to any little noises outside their room. They don't hear any cars outside, they sleep through us watching a movie that suddenly gets loud, and they fall back asleep easily with the background noise. It's an absolute must have. 11 - Baby Brezza I will admit, we never ended up getting a Baby Brezza, but I know so many twin moms and second time moms that swear by this baby item. We went to Minnesota for a family trip and our dear friends had a Baby Brezza for their baby. Seeing it in action made me wonder why we never bought one when our babies were drinking formula! It makes the bottle making process a lot easier, and having extra time is crucial when there are two. 12 - Burp Rags Two things you'll never have enough of: diapers and burp rags. You will go through so, so many burp rags. I only added this one because, well, you'll be buying more after you bring home two. It's inevitable! Even though we had so many burp rags AND we bought more after they came home, I still felt like I was doing laundry every single day. Trust me, just buy a bunch right away! You'll be so happy you did. Multiples are hard. Twins are hard. Babies in general, are really hard. But these things make life just a little bit easier. I hope you find something that will help make your first year a little smoother, and a whole light brighter. As always, drop me a comment or let me know if there is any way I can be praying for you! I hope you have a chance to enjoy the blessing of your new baby. And just know, the newborn phase won't last forever. So, even though it's hard in the beginning, it does get easier. And the joy of hearing two babies laugh is the best sound in the world. Please note that this blog post includes affiliate links from Amazon. If you do choose to purchase something, I may earn a small commission – at no additional cost to you. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own. Thank you for your support!

Curing Colic In Your Newborn Baby

Curing Colic In Your Newborn Baby

Newborn photo by Rachel Yearick at rachelyearick.com Becoming a mom is hard, and most of us probably don't feel prepared when it happens. One day, the only person we have to worry about keeping alive is ourselves. The next day we're holding an infant in our arms, suddenly aware that this little baby depends on us for survival. It's terrifying! I pray for your sake that the journey is an easy one, but if you're like me, you maybe ended up with a baby that cries a lot or has colic. My firstborn and thirdborn both cried a ton during their first few months of life. This led me to find a cure for their crying, and to figure out a way to soothe my girls. When my firstborn came along, I didn't know what I was doing. I thought maybe I just had a cranky baby. But somewhere deep down, I knew that if my baby was crying and seemed uncomfortable, that probably meant that she was uncomfortable and I searched for a way to ease her little body. Read more about my firstborn birth story here! All Babies Have Gas The one thing to remember is that all babies have gas. Their little body is figuring out how to work outside the womb, and it's our job as parents to help their bodies figure it out. If your baby isn't truly colicky, you'll be able to fix most of their gas issues with a few simple tricks! Bicycle their legs! This trick is exactly as it sounds, move their legs in a bicycle motion, and then kick them in and out. Doing this for a few minutes will move gas bubbles in their stomach and help their bodies have a bowel movement. Massage their bellies in a clockwise circle My physical therapist taught me this one to use on myself. It works great with babies too! Take your fingers and gently massage their belly in a clockwise circle, moving from just below their sternum all the way around their belly and back up. This pattern follows the motion of food as it moves from the stomach, to the intestines and bowels. By massaging your baby's belly, it will help their body move milk through their system! Get Gas Relief & Gripe Water If all else fails, getting gripe water and gas relief will help as well! We used this brand for all three of our kids when they really struggled with bowel movements or were extra fussy. It made a difference for their little bodies. While all of these methods will help a regular fussy infant, it won't help the infant that is truly suffering from colic like both of my girls did. Whether you're breastfeeding or bottle feeding, these tips will hopefully get you on the right track to a happier baby! 1. Change Your Diet This will only work if you're breastfeeding or pumping to produce milk for your little one. When I was pregnant with my firstborn, I had to cut out dairy and gluten. Every time I ate either one, I would get so sick that I immediately regretted it. After Skylar was born, I went back to eating whatever I wanted. Once she was out, my body was no longer affected in the same way by what I ate! But I quickly realized that my daughter would be super fussy and uncomfortable after she ate- and so I cut out dairy and gluten again. Because I was so sick during pregnancy when I ate gluten and dairy, it was easy to conclude that maybe she was upset with those foods and couldn't digest them well. If your baby cries a lot after eating, balls their fists and is clearly upset, then consider cutting out dairy first, and then gluten. Both of those are hard for little stomachs to process. Try process of elimination with the foods in your diet until you figure out which foods are unsettling for your baby. I know some babies have a really hard time when their mama eats garlic or onions. Each baby is unique in how their bodies handle foods. So, pay attention to what you ate on the days they are the fussiest. The more you're paying attention, the more likely it is that you will notice a pattern between the days they cry more often and specific foods you ate! Eliminating those troublesome foods will be a bummer while you're breastfeeding, but worth it to have a happy baby. 2. Take Time To Burp Your Baby This seems obvious, I know! But the days when I took time, really took time and burped my babies for 15+ minutes after they ate, they were usually happier and slept longer stretches during the day and night! It was as simple for me as laying down at an incline and propping my baby on my chest. There are a bunch of burping videos on YouTube, and each baby responds to different positions. I found for my twins that inclining their chest across my breast tissue would put enough pressure in the right spot to release gas bubbles. For our firstborn, I would stand up and burp her as I walked around the house. Each kid prefers a unique method! Find one that works for you and your baby and spend time after every feeding to get those bubbles out. I realize that spending 20 minutes burping can feel like a time-suck, but enjoy the cuddles and remember this too shall pass. 3. Prop Your Baby On An Incline To Sleep Obviously safe sleep for infants is of the utmost importance here, but we were able to safely incline our babies while they slept. Sleeping at an incline for babies helps their bodies move gas bubbles out of their bellies. When our twins were in the NICU, their little beds were elevated at an incline to help their bodies move gas more effectively. When they came home, we mimicked the same position for our twins to sleep by inclining one end of their bassinets. It made a big difference for our twins! And I wish I would have known this trick when we had our first baby, because she would have benefited from the inclined sleeping position. There are a lot of rockers and sleepers that have built-in incline to give your baby the correct sleeping position. It worked for us! I pray it works for you as well. 4. Let Them Swing During Naptime Neither my oldest or middle child liked the swing during naptimes, but my youngest took to it like a duck in water. She loved the soothing motion, and it calmed her belly when she was upset during the first few months of life. Our Evie struggled with gas and colic before she left the hospital. The NICU nurses did an x-ray to see why she was struggling so much, and all it revealed was hundreds of little gas bubbles in her belly. You can imagine how that made me feel! I did everything I could think of to help solve her little belly aches, including searching for the perfect bottles and formula to give her some relief. I kept a strict diet which made a difference, but letting her take naps in the swing during the day really helped as well. When baby's not sleeping, nobody is relaxed! So, however you get your baby to nap, whether it's a bouncer or swing, do it! They'll be happier, and you'll be happier. 5. Switch Your Baby's Formula This only applies if you have a formula-fed baby! Our twins had a combo of breastmilk and formula for their bottles. I pumped to give them breastmilk, but I also had to substitute with formula. My boy/girl twins both struggled on the formula that the NICU gave them, so we hunted for something easier on their tummies. We tried several different kinds for both of them before finding one they each liked. Our son liked Happy Baby Organics Sensitive and our daughter only liked HIPP Organic Dutch Formula from My Organic Company. Don't be afraid to try different kinds until you find something your baby likes. I realize it's time-consuming and expensive to do this, so pray that the Lord leads you with wisdom to a formula that will work for your baby right away. Take time to discern what He's telling you about your baby, because in the end, it's well worth it. 6. Find a Good Bottle Skylar never took a bottle, so I didn't realize the impact that bottles have on feeding. Our twins never took to breastfeeding, so finding bottles that helped with colic and gas was vitally important! We tried several different bottle types before finding one that helped ease their discomfort. The MAM bottles were by far the choice for our family. I recommend them if you're struggling with colic because they're intentionally designed to relieve colic and gas in newborns. These bottles come in all different sizes and colors, and I recommend starting off with the 0+ nipple and slowly moving up to 1+ and 2+ as your baby grows. Looking for the perfect baby items? My favorite things for newborn twins might have what you need! 7. Pray For Wisdom The Lord is near to do those who call on Him for help. I have noticed that God is especially close to women and He cares for our needs when we seek His face. If you're struggling with a fussy baby, call on God and ask for His guidance! And then be alert to the answers He provides. Sometimes God's answers aren't always obvious like we want it to be. Most often, it comes in a gentle whisper like in the story of Elijah. It might be that a mom friend in passing shares a tidbit with you that solved her baby's fussiness; or maybe you stumble on an article that provides you with unique ideas you hadn't tried; or maybe your pediatrician suggests a different technique. Whatever it is, those are all God-whispers when we seek His face for answers. So pray for discernment, and then open your eyes to see how He will respond to your need! And Remember... We're all trying to figure out this parenting thing. The only magic formula for being the best parent you can be is to put Jesus in the center of your parenting. He's the only one with all the answers and wisdom you need to be the best mom. We're all taking it one day at a time, trying to raise good children to become stable, healthy adults. If your baby is struggling with colic today, pray for wisdom and search for the right answers. God will lead you and He entrusted this baby to you. You've got this mama! With Joy, Jessica Please note that this blog post includes affiliate links from Amazon. If you do choose to purchase something, I may earn a small commission – at no additional cost to you. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own. Thank you for your support!

13 Baby Beach Essentials

13 Baby Beach Essentials

Heading to the beach with a baby and maybe a toddler? Then this list was made just for you! The first time we took our firstborn to the beach beach (not the lake) she was 11 months old. We brought her to the Bahamas and while it was fun, there were a few things that would have made our trip easier. When we brought the twins to the ocean for the first time, we definitely felt more prepared! Now that we've done several beach and ocean vacations with the kiddos, there are a few things we recommend to make your vacation the best beach experience ever. 1. Beach Tents Depending on what type of beach vacation you want to have, will depend on which tent (or tents) work best for you. We brought our beach tent when we vacationed in Virginia Beach, and I'm so glad we did. The twins took a nap in the shade and we were able to enjoy the ocean without heading back to the hotel room early. Large Beach Tents This tent is one of our favorites for bringing to the beach. It's large, fits all of us when we're having lunch or snacks, and has great air flow so our twins could nap while we hung out. Infant Beach & Water Tent If you're looking for a way for your baby to enjoy the ocean without chasing them in the waves (which we've done, and we hate it), then this is the tent for you! Give them a taste of the water without worrying that they'll dive head first into it. Although I guess I can't promise you that they won't try to drink it... Portable Baby Beach Tent This beach tent is perfect if you're want something easy to carry around, but still want to protect your baby from the sun. This tent collapses down to a super small size! 2. Baby Life Jackets We tried a few different life preservers, water wings, and jackets at our neighborhood pool before we took our kids to the beach. As it turns out, we only like one type. Baby water wings and swim vests didn't work for us at all. Honestly, we were more worried about our kiddos in the water when they wore them! The only thing we like are life jackets. I trust that our kids are safe when they're wearing them, and I'm less anxious around the water when they have them on. I recommend finding something you like that works best for you and your family too! 3. Baby Floats We have a few different baby floats that we've used at the pool and beach. For a single baby float, I highly recommend one that has shade to keep them covered while you're in the water. But if you're looking for something a little more portable, then I have you covered there too! Covered Baby Float We brought this baby float to the Bahamas with us, and used it in the pool almost every weekend at our apartment before we moved. We loved it for Skylar! And she had a great time playing with the toys while enjoying the water with us. Small Baby Float If you want something a little more compact, this pool float is for you! The cover comes off to make it easy to carry around, and it's easy for your baby to enjoy splashing in the water. Twin Baby Float This float works perfect if you have twins or multiple kids. We bought this float for our twins to use when we went to Minnesota for the summer, and then we brought it to Florida with us the next month. I wasn't sure how sturdy this float would be but it's actually amazing. All three of our kids were able to use it no problem! Our toddler jumped into the middle when we were hanging out at the pool and it stayed stable the entire time. It's your best bet for multiple kiddos! Read about our Bahamas vacation and what essentials were important while traveling abroad with a baby! 4. Big Beach Blanket The beach isn't the beach without a blanket to protect you from the sand, lol. I love the ocean, I hate having sand in my swimsuit. Like, hate hate it. So if you're like me even a little bit, then you'll want a sandproof, waterproof beach blanket. Nothing says ocean like less sand and water! 5. Beach Toys The beach isn't the beach without toys! Amazon has some great toy options for kiddos headed to the beach. Both options come with bags to keep the toys in, which is ideal for moms who dislike rogue toys. 6. Mesh Beach Bags Every time we go to the ocean I come back with a few more shells. Maybe you or your kids also like to collect shells or rocks? I never know how to store them when we're coming home, this bag is the solution! Want a beautiful beach vacation? Consider Florida's Emerald Coast for your next adventure! 7. Baby Hats with UPF Protection Headed to the water but wary of the sun? I was paranoid about our babies burning before we were able to use sunscreen on them. Keeping their heads protected eased my anxiety. Finding the perfect baby hat with UPF protection is the way to go. 8. Baby Swimsuits with UPF 50+ I swear, swimsuits for babies are the cutest thing ever! I love me some chunky baby thighs in a little swimsuit. The Ruffle Butts RuggedButts swim store on Amazon has the cutest baby swimsuits. And they all have UPF 50+ to protect your baby's sensitive skin from burning. 9. Reusable Swim Diapers Swim diapers are perfect if you don't want to buy disposable ones. Using a swim diaper helps keep stuff in the diaper and not in the pool, while also reducing waste! This one is machine washable and comes in 6 different colors. 10. Baby Fan Baby fans are great for hot days, whether you're at the beach or on a walk. They keep baby cool and easily hook to strollers or other objects. Pop one in your baby tent while they're napping at the beach. 11. Baby Shoes In the Bahamas Skylar didn't wear baby shoes in the water, and the bottom of the pool cut up her toes when she crawled around. It killed me that she got hurt having fun! So when we brought the family to Florida, we wised up and got everyone water shoes. I'm so glad we did! They wore them everywhere. 12. Toddler Sunglasses Every baby looks cool in sunglasses...now if only they would keep them on their face. The solution is to get sunglasses with a strap in the back. They can't take them off and it will keep their little eyes protected from the harsh sun. 13. Natural Sunscreen Sunscreen is such a personal decision for most moms. It can be hard to find a product that works and is safe for your little one! We didn't use sunscreen for the first 6 months as directed, and we improvised with shaded floats, hats, sunglasses and long-sleeve swimwear. When our babies were a little older, we slathered their skin to keep them from burning. This one worked well for us. If you're headed to the water, I hope this list helps you out. We love vacationing to the ocean and lake with our kids. My husband and I grew up in Minnesota where everything is #lakelife! We are so used to living near lakes that we crave to be near the water. We literally can't go 6 months without heading back to the beach! If you're headed to the water soon, leave me a comment and let me know where!