My 3rd Spirthday – Mountains & Valleys

Wonderful World of BreeThree years ago I made the bold decision to follow God. I chose to die to myself and live renewed in the Spirit. November 10 is my spirthday – spiritual birthday. It’s the day that I participated in the burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ who died for my sins.

I was baptized in the spirit and proclaimed Jesus is Lord of my life. Three years ago, I made this decision fully knowing that life may not get easier but I was allowing myself to be held to a higher standard. I was making the decision to live like Christ and not myself.

As I reflect on my third spiritual year as a disciple of Jesus, I remember a lot more mountains than valleys. I can remember struggling emotionally to live like Christ and not give into my selfish mentality. I fought to vanquish envy and hate and replace them with grace and love. I struggled to see the path that God was building before me. I felt desperate in my career, praying for God to give me the answer of where He wanted me to be.

But my year wasn’t just filled with many, many, many teaching moments. It was also filled with an abundance of blessings. God blessed with an amazing new job in the non-profit world where I can connect my love for the community and animals. He blessed me with my own home. He blessed me with a furry new addition to my family as well as the news of my pregnancy. I was able to meet another nephew and a great-nephew.

Day one to-day 365 wasn’t a cake walk in any way. God challenged me to live like Christ in every area of my life. He pushed me to get down on my knees and pray to allow Him to work. He reminded me what life looks like without Him and why I chose this difficult journey. But most of all, He reassured me that He is always in control.

When I try to manage my own life apart from God, I create a disaster. When I choose to glorify myself instead of Him, I fail. As I sit back and try to remeber what is was like to be 22 and fresh out of the water, it’s hard to imagine how I waited so many years to say yes to God.

No matter what the world throws at me, God’s got my back. And when the people around me are being hateful, God’s love is unconditional. And when I fail over and over, God says, “It’s okay. Let’s try it again.” He’s never given up on for one second. He’s shown me grace every time I didn’t deserve it.

I don’t know all that year four entails. I know there will be some trails but I pray for even more blessings. I’m excited for where God wants to lead me and the amazing things He wants to use me for. I hold tight to the scripture I wrote on my heart three years ago at my baptism.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make nyour paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

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Surviving the First Trimester

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Luckily for me, the first trimester wasn’t too difficult. It started off with aversions to certain foods like oatmeal, milk and fish. Then it went to strange cravings like bean and cheese burritos and limes. For the longest, I didn’t FEEL pregnant. I knew from the ultrasounds and my never-ending need to sleep that a person was growing, but I didn’t really see my stomach getting any bigger.

I’ve just hit four months and am now feeling it. I’ve had to swap my favorite skinny jeans for some elastic joggers. My new wardrobe is now filled with flowy tops, dresses and leggings. Looking back on those first three months, being pregnant was a bigger change than I thought. So I made up a few guidelines to get myself through it.

Be patient. There are so many crazy things happening to your body all at once that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Be patient with your emotional fluctuations, food aversions and even morning sickness. Hopefully, your body will balance out and you’ll start to feel like yourself again.

Don’t compare your pregnancy. We’ve all heard it. Every pregnancy and body is not the same. Still, it didn’t stop me from over analyzing my symptoms or weight gain. I was lucky enough to not suffer from terrible morning sickness like many other women. Yes, many foods did make me feel sick. Overall though, I could function pretty normally.

It’s okay to rest. I’m the kind of person that doesn’t know when to sit down. Being pregnant has forced me to slow down and relax. The hardest part for me was changing my workouts or accepting that some days my body needed sleep more than power yoga.

If you’re like me, sleeping 12 hours a day is ideal. The whole first trimester I was fighting to stay awake past 8PM. Even now I find myself wanting a midday cat nap at work. But it’s okay. Sometimes I just have to say no to going out and doing things because my body says rest.

Pregnancy is definitely an awesome experience. I get so excited every time I go to the doctor (which is a lot, just warning you) and get to see my baby on the ultrasound screen. It’s such a surreal experience to be blessed with this tiny miracle.

“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.” PSALM 127:3

Myths About Adopting a Rescue Pet

Choosing to #adoptnotshop is one of the best decisions I could have ever made. My rescue pup, Smokey, has given more love than I could imagine. It’s almost as if he understands he was given a second chance at love.

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So many animals are lost, abandoned or surrendered everyday from not fault of their own. The Animal Foundation is a local shelter that works hard to give every animal the love and home they deserve. Still, many people have preconceived notions about adopting animals. Here are the myths we must break.

Rescue animals are troubled. 

This has to be one of the biggest myths of all. The majority of unwanted pets end up in a shelter or with a rescue group because of circumstances out of their control. Most animals are not aggressive or fighters. Many of them have owners who can barely take care of themselves or can’t afford to reclaim them.

Rescue animals don’t get along with children or other pets. 

FALSE. Rescue pets have just as much capability of loving multiple family members as a pet store pup. Many rescues may have even come from environments with multiple fur siblings. The first few interactions are important to make sure your current family doesn’t feel abandoned or threatened and your new pet feels welcomed. At first, my dogs were not best friends. My rescue was still unsure of his new home and my other pup was defensive. Eight months later, they cuddle in the same bed together. It just takes time and patience from everyone.

Adopting is expensive.

Adopting a pet has become extremely inexpensive for rescues and shelters. Every rescue pet will have a microchip, vaccines, spay/neuter and some training before heading home. All of these items combined would cost $1,000 or more! Still, giving a pet a second chance at love is worth every penny.

Rescues only have older dogs.

Many rescue groups may be breed specific, however many others, including shelters, are open admission. The Animal Foundation in Las Vegas takes animals in all conditions, of all ages and all species and works hard to help them. Other local rescues help a variety of animals all ages and sizes. There is not one breed or size fits all pet. When you find your perfect match, you just know it.

When my husband and I first met our Smokey, we knew we were going to take him home. If you are interested in adding a furry member to your family, choose to adopt not shop and save a life.

You can read Smokey’s adoption story here.

2017 Halloween events not to miss

How-O-Ween Dog Costume Contest at Downtown Summerlin

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Head to Downtown Summerlin and dress you pup to impress for the annual Howl-O-Ween Dog Costume Contest. As part of Treat Street, this contest offers pups and their parents to show off their good looks. All proceeds from the event benefit The Animal Foundation. Registration is $20 for one animals and $30 for two. Register here.

HalloVeen at Opportunity Village

The famous Magical Forest transforms into a Halloween town during October. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for children 4-12. Proceeds benefit the work of Opportunity Village. Buy your tickets here.

Springs Preserve Haunted Harvest Spooktacular

Head to Springs Preserve for the annual Haunted Harvest. Enjoy a haunted maze, petting zoo, face painting and crafts for kids, performances and food! Entry is $8 and children 2 and under are free. Buy tickets here.

TRIQ or Treat and a Halloween Celebration at the LINQ

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The LINQ honors Halloween this year with the Zombie Apocalypse. All Halloween weekend, you can enjoy music, face painting and an hourly drum line. Admission is $20.

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Prepare to be scared at the famous Freakling Bros. Trilogy of Terror. This year features The Coven, Gates of Hell and Castle Vampyre. Gates of Hell is by far the scariest haunted house I’ve been and do not recommend it for the easily scared. Tickets start at $15 a house. Get tickets here.

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Circus Circus Adventure Dome transforms into a haunted nightmare each year for Halloween. Filled with multiple house, scares and classic rides, Fright Dome is the ultimate Halloween experience. Tickets are $37.98. By tickets here.

Wonderful World of Bree

Pregnancy Announcement Photo Ideas

Deciding on what photo to take to announce my mini me was exhausting. I’d searching Pinterest and chose my favorite. Here’s what I originally was going for inspired by Karissa Abbott.

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Photo from @karissakayabbott

But when I get to my surprise photo session, everything went out the window. My husband and I were helping out my best friend with some new photography lighting tricks. He had not idea yet that we were expecting. The session involved props so we of course brought an ultrasound.

During my husbands turn behind the camera, he busted out our proud photo and my best friend captured an amazing image.

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Photo by jessejsuth.com

In the midst of all the excitement, we decided to do our announcement photos then and there. My best friend has been a huge part of my life and always been there for me and my husbands big moments. Dating, engagement, wedding and now baby. So here are the amazing photos we announced with.

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Photo by jessejsuth.com

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Photo by jessejsuth.com

 

Remember not to over think it. Just let the surprise happen and the photos will show it.

 

Wonderful World of Bree

Amazon – My Favorite Baby Registry

After finding out the amazing news in my life, the list of to-do’s came flooding in. Creating a registry was one of them. I’d used places like Target for my wedding registry and received a gift card and coupons. But I was looking for something a little more personalized. Then, I discovered Amazon’s Baby Registry.

Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 3.11.51 PMLike any other registry, Amazon creates a categorized list to make things easier for you. I selected everything from diapers, to travel gear to lotions and maternity clothes. The best part is, Amazon offers goodie bags and free diapers for parents!

All I had to do to receive my complimentary baby bundle with tons of samples was fill out most of my registry, make sure my Amazon Prime was setup and purchase a $10 item from the list. Viola! Take a look at all these awesome items!

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As a new Mom, I’m sure I’m going to experiment with many different brands until I come across the right one. This little bundle gave me a taste of everything. The coolest part is, none of the bundles are the same. Amazon chooses top items and placed them in each box at random.

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Other options that came with this registry were of course discounts on items not purchased but also free diapers! Once you hit a certain number of purchases, Amazon will send you free diapers for a year. Who would say no to that!

Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 3.11.18 PMI’m still registering at Target too just because I know not everyone is comfortable ordering online. But the onsie options on Amazon are endless.

What other registries have you used?

Book Your Class at Wine and Canvas LV

I finally jumped on the wine and paint hype (minus the wine) and had an awesome time. I visited Wine and Canvas LV located just down the street from Sunset Station for a ghostly fun Halloween paint party.

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We started with a blank canvas and our instructor walked the class through every layer.

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Now, I’ve taken many art classes in my educational journey, but somehow never experienced canvas painting. So, I assumed this was going to be a challenge. Luckily, the instructor was a professional artist and knew how to unleash my painting ability.

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The class was a few hours, maybe longer if you include breaks for students to allow their paint to dry and make trips to the bar. Despite the flow of alcohol, the room was quiet during the entire painting instruction. Everyone was very concentrated on creating their masterpieces.

After many layers of horizontal strokes, my spooky Halloween night came to life. The scarecrow was my favorite.

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Classes are $35 per session and includes painting and instruction. Wine and gourmet popcorn are an additional cost. It’s the perfect choice for a girls night out that everyone will enjoy.

10 Things to Do To Prepare for Baby

Finding out I was pregnant was an instant whirlwind. I have plenty of nieces and nephews but still felt completely overwhelmed. Here are 10 things I started with right away to prepare for my mini me.

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1. Budget.

If you haven’t already started budgeting or your pregnancy is a surprise, start now. My husband and I set a savings goal to achieve by the time the baby arrives. We accounted for all of our bills and saved the rest. We wanted to make sure we had enough to cover bills for three months while I would be off plus the additional expenses.

2. Make a doctor’s appointment.

This may sound pretty obvious but in the midst of all the excitement selecting your doctor is key. Most women already have a specialist that does deliveries but you may not know what hospital they use or anything about the prenatal unit. Get started today.

3. Do your research.

Everyone around you will have advice. Most of it will definitely apply to you but some of it may not. Do your research and decide as parents what works best for you. After all, this will be a team effort for the rest of your life. Why not start coming together on the little stuff?

4. Start a registry.

I chose to use Amazon and Target because they were the simplest options. Target offers a free $20 gift card when you start a registry as well as discounts on not purchased items. Amazon does even better. You can receive free diapers, a baby bundle and discounts on everything on your registry. They both offer a step by step guide on what items you will actually need.

5. Exercise.

Through the nausea and fatigue, working out can feel like the last thing on my list. Luckily, I was already in the habit of doing 30 minutes to an hour of exercise daily. Consult your doctor on the best workout for your pregnancy but most will agree that yoga is a great choice. My doc suggested 20 – 30 minutes of low impact activity and light weights if I chose to use some. Take a look at prenatal classes in your area as well.

6. Water, Water, Water.

Water will be your new best friend. My doc suggested drinking about a gallon of water a day! At first, it seemed impossible. But I learned a little trick. Use a cup with a straw and you won’t even notice how much you’re effortlessly sipping.

7. Vitamins.

If you haven’t already started taking prenatal vitamins, grab a bottle. You little baby will be soaking everything you have to offer, including your vitamins. Choose one with high folic acid as it’s imperative for brain development. Check with your doc aboutspecific brands they recommend for any other supplements you may need.

8. Have a Baby Moon.

Through the hustle and bustle of preparing for your little miracle, parents get stressed out. My husband and I are planning to get away maybe a few times before the baby arrives. Once the baby is here, it may be a while until vacation is even in our vocabulary.

9. Make a Pinterest Board. 

With all these idea swirling around in my head, I had to get them in a central location. I’ve actually created multiple board to organize my thoughts. Head to Pinterest and get pinning!

10. Plan your announcement. 

Deciding how we would tell our dozens of family members was difficult. We decided on showing an ultrasound, having my siblings read a Baby Recipe on a chalkboard, wrapped a photo in a baby items for Nana and Facetimed and called members that we couldn’t visit. Our official announcement was a cute photo that we posted on Facebook.

Moms, what items would you add to this list?

Prayers for my Home

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Waking up today wasn’t pleasant. It was six am and my husband asked if I knew anyone at the Route 91 festival. He read the news article detailing 50 had been killed and 200+ were injured in the worst shooting our city has ever seen.

Shocked, I had not words to say. Dozens of names flashed through my head as I scrolled through Facebook looking for updates. A multitude of people I went to school with were recalling the worst night of their life. Many left before the shooting began, but some were forced into hiding for serval hours.

My heart hurts for this painful night. What was supposed to a celebration turned into a nightmare. It’s moments like these where there only comfort I can find is in God. I will never understand why this happened, but I know that He is with each and every victim and their family.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” PSALM 34:18-20

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Preparing for your heavenly bridegroom

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Being married has taught me many things. It’s taught me how to serve, to be patient and to let my husband lead. In Ephesians, Paul gives instructions to husbands and wives.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” – EPHESIANS 5:25-27

I’ve read this scripture many times. I studied out the book of Ephesians in preparing myself for marriage. But during my quiet time today, I looked at this scripture differently.

The idea of marriage is a holy union from God. The church is the bride and Jesus is the bridegroom. And as the scripture reads, the bridegroom prepares his bride to be holy and blameless. We see this process demonstrated through Jesus.

After death, Jesus goes to prepare a place for His bride (the church), and through the Holy Spirit, He sanctifies and purifies His beloved church through His Word. So, if Jesus is constantly working to prepare a place for our eternity while also cleansing us to enter the kingdom “holy and blameless” what are we doing during that waiting period?

As with any big wedding day, the bride gets her hair, makeup and nails done. She makes sure her dress is ironed, her shoes are pristine and she’s perfect for her groom. I remember taking such care to preparing myself to meet my husband at the end of the aisle. And this scripture makes me ask myself if I’m putting the same effort into preparing for the day I meet Jesus.

It is our responsibility to remain faithful – immersed in His Will and Word – and wait for Him to return and receive us. So, if today was the big day, would you be ready to meet your heavenly bridegroom?