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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

the new site is LIVE!!!

All the celebration emojis because my squarespace site is FINISHED!!! Yay!!!! I would love if you would hop over, take a look around, and let me know what you think!  I'll leave bloom up and running until I can get everything switched over and then this site will be taken down.  So go ahead and jump on over to www.nicolevcole.com and get cozy at our new space! See you there!
Monday, February 29, 2016

bloom is MOVING!!!!

Hey, y'all!  I just wanted to pop in quickly to let you know that bloom is MOVING to a new domain and website tomorrow! It's time for me to let "bloom" go and I'm ready to move on to something new.  I'm moving from blogger to squarespace AND switching my domain.  That's a LOT of change happening and it is going to take me a little while to get it all switched over! I really would LOVE if you would jump on board with me as I make this switch.  There are a lot of good things happening over the next few months and I want you to be part of it!  I'll be back here tomorrow with a few ways that you can keep up with me as we move to squarespace!  The website is currently password protected as I finish up a few things, but the new URL will be www.nicolevcole.com 

I can't wait for a fresh start in March!  YAY!
Friday, February 12, 2016

Business Q + A | part 3

I'm back to day with our final business Q+A!  It's been really fun to walk through these questions and reflect on where we've been.  It is a hard road, but I'm so thankful for all that we've learned in the process!  There are opportunities for growth and change EVERY SINGLE DAY and I want to be committed to growth.  Yay!  Let's finish this out. :)



"I would love to hear more about how/when you knew you would no longer work outside the home and use your business as your primary income. "

I don't know if this has been clear or not, but Tyler does not work for our business full-time.  He still has a corporate job and works with me on the weekends.  He is a boss. :)  So without giving you all the details of our financial situation, our business is not our primary income!  It has been really nice to have the freedom to pursue different things and really figure out "who" we are as a business without having to have the added stress of making sure that we have every single bill paid with what we bring in.  So it being a secondary income has really been a blessing to us in a lot of ways!  

"Also how did you decide how much to charge for your services and do you feel pressure to offer price breaks for family and friends?  How do you deal with that when you are trying to make a living from your business?"

Pricing is such a hard thing especially because markets vary from city to city.  It is definitely a growth process and we didn't charge the same 2 years ago as we charge now.  You slowly just grow over time and figure out what packages and pricing works for you!

"How did you know where to start or who to go to when it came to setting up the accounting and financial part of the business as well as the copyright part?"

We had no clue!  Ha!  This is something else that we've just figured out as we've gone.  Our business started very organically.  We didn't have this big dream of WE WANT TO QUIT OUT JOBS AND OWN A BUSINESS, but we were just pursuing a hobby and seeing what happened.  So as we've grown, we've had to figure out a lot of financial stuff as we've gone.  It's hard work, I'll tell ya that!

As far as the copyright goes, my photos and videos are owned by me because I took them.  I don't necessarily have to register them, although I could and it would probably help me if any big issue ever came up!

"When did you come up with a business name?  Before or after your first wedding?"

I think it was before!  But, it didn't really matter because no one knew who we were anyway. :)  Our first wedding we did for the cost of rental equipment and got the gig from a photographer friend of ours!  I wouldn't say we had our first "official" wedding until February of 2014 and yes, we had a business name.  We launched our Facebook page, 314 Productions, the previous October!

"What are some of the questions you ask your bride and groom about filming their wedding day?"

Our couples go through a series of questionnaires throughout their engagement.  Depending upon what your business goals are and your mission is, will really play into how details like this come together!  Overall, we think it is really important to know what their vision is for their day before it happens!

"What kind of camera would you recommend using to film and what other "tools" would you consider necessary to start?"

I use a canon, so I would say Canon!  You can get a Canon Rebel for a great price and you'll have all you need to get started!  To make personal videos you really just need a camera and an editing software! (iMovie is easy!) We will definitely use some of our "equipment" to do personal videos, but for the most part it is so much easier to just bring out the camera.  We do really love our monopods!

Thanks y'all for throwing out some really great questions this week!  We've been so blessed to be able to pursue this business for the past 2 years and we can only dream about what the Lord is going to do in the future.  This is definitely some of the hardest work I've ever done and I've been stretched in every area of my life.  But, we know that we are doing what the Lord has called us to do and we are really seeking to glorify the Lord through our talents.  Our hearts are shifting and our goals are changing, but there is so much goodness in store for 314 Productions.  I can't wait to share all the new things with you! 




Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Business Q+A | part 2



"I'm interested in hearing about how you made a business plan, how you focused your vision, and balance working from home with a strong marriage."

Am I allowed to say that I don't have an answer to this??? Hahah! We did not set out to "start a business".  The Lord really started it for us.  We were absolutely in over our heads before we even had a clue as to what we were actually getting ourselves into. I feel like a lot of businesses start out this way.  You just jump in head first and learn how to dog paddle until you can swim laps.  Our business plan, our vision, and a balance between work and life have all come over time.  We are still working on focusing our vision which will in turn change our business plan.  And balance... WHEW, that's a hard one.  One of the hardest aspects of our business in my opinion.  I don't believe we will ever be able to balance things well 100% of the time.  But, I do think making little decisions to help me work well and play well are vital.  It is sometime a monthly, weekly, and daily struggle!

"How did you learn photography and videography skills?"

TRIAL AND ERROR. And lots of it.  I've been interested in cameras and photography for a long, long time.  I've loved capturing moments and playing around with angles and perspectives.  We practice all the time and I think growing our skill set is something we should always strive for!  It has been so fun to watch Ty learn new things.  When we started he knew NOTHING about cameras or angles or what looks good and now his creativity in getting video shots BLOWS my mind!  He does a lot of the cool, technical shots and I focus more on emotion.  We're a pretty good team. ;)

We have watched a lot of tutorials and use every shoot as an opportunity to grow.  Don't be afraid to just START somewhere and document fun things in your day to day lives!  Practicing everyday is the best way to start AND you'll have sweet photos and videos of your family.   WIN WIN!

"What is your advice to someone who wants to pursue photography but has zero experience?"

Get some experience!!!!! Take your husband, your kids, your dog, your friend, your coffee cup... ANYTHING and start shooting!  Play around with angles and lighting and see what you like.  Practice, practice, practice.  Learn how to use your camera in manual mode (Photography Concentrate is a GREAT resource) and really start to understand light and how it affects your photos. There are so many amazing and FREE resources on youtube.  Take advantage!!

I've learned so much through our journey of having a business and it has absolutely changed my life and stretched me in new ways.  I'm excited to finish off this little series on Friday!  If you have any lingering questions, feel free to share them below and I'll add them to my post on Friday!
Monday, February 8, 2016

Business Q+A | part 1

At the beginning of December I opened up the blog to any and all business related questions.  I get a LOT of questions these days about our business, how we started, and what our journey has looked like that I thought it would be a good idea to talk about it openly here with you! I've broken up the questions into 3 parts, so make sure you come back here Wednesday and Friday if you're interested in reading the rest!



"I'd love to hear about what made you guys start learning and decide to make it a business."

Ever since I was a little girl I've always had a passion for photography and cameras.  I was in high school when I started following photography blogs and my desire to learn started to grow.  For years it was just a fun hobby and I never would have DREAMED that I would make money doing it one day.  As our 2013 wedding date got closer I started thinking about some new ideas to document our first days as a married couple.  I thought a video of our first morning together at home and shots of our resort in the Dominican Republic would be fun, but I thought Tyler would think it was weird and never want to go for it. I timidly asked him one day and he was really excited about it!  Fast forward to our honeymoon and Tyler enjoyed it more than I did! Ha!  I could see his creative wheels start to spin and he still has the fun, experimental spirit today.  Towards the end of our honeymoon Tyler made the comment "Wouldn't it be fun if this could be our job!" Being the girl who totally liked to live her life inside the box, thinking about having a business seemed completely illogical.  Especially since we didn't have a clue as to what we were doing!  Ha!  But, the passion continued to grow in the both of us, the Lord continued to move in my heart and started to whisper that He had so much more planned for me than I did for myself.  In August of 2013 a dear photographer friend got us our first wedding gig.  We rented all our equipment and basically "practiced" for the day.  We had NO EARTHLY IDEA what we were doing, but we loved it.  After that, we decided to jump head first and go for it. In October we launched our Facebook page and the rest is history.  I can't say that we started a business because the Lord did every single ounce of it.  We had a business before we even knew if we WANTED a business.  The Lord completely led us into this and our business has absolutely nothing to do with us and everything to do with Him!

"When and how did you realize that a "typical" job wasn't for you?"

Right off the bat let me say that there is nothing fancy about what I do.  My job isn't better than any "typical" job and my life isn't exponentially greater than anyone else's because I work for myself.  Are there positives to working from home and working for myself?  YES!  But does that mean that someone in a "typical" job lives any less of a fulfilling life?  NO!  This is something I am increasingly passionate about because I hate that being self-employed has become this thing that is better than all other things.  I'm reminded of Colossians 3:23, "Whatever you do, DO YOUR WORK HEARTILY, as for the Lord rather than for men..." Whatever the Lord has called you to, DO THAT.  Maybe He has called you to be a nurse or a teacher or a financial advisor.  Maybe He's called you to be a stay at home mom or a chef.  Whatever it is the Lord has called you to, you can do your work heartily unto the Lord.  You can have purpose where you are NOW because of Jesus.  At the end of the day, a job will never fulfill us.  Never.  Only Jesus fulfills us.  We can be obedient to His call whether that be a call to ministry, a call to stay in your current job, or a call to leave everything you know to pursue something new.  Obedience is the key here.  We felt the Lord calling us to this business and He has provided every single step along the way.  We have no idea what our future looks like, but we pray that we hold this business with open hands because it is His, not ours.  And my prayer is that we will always be obedient to follow Him in each new season!


"What is the biggest challenge you faced while getting started?"

When you start a business, EVERYTHING is a challenge!  Ha!  For me personally, I will say that not finding my identity in our business is a challenge.  I am a perfectionist and I want to make everyone happy and proud and that isn't something I can do 100% of the time.  So I struggle a lot with feeling inadequate and WAY OVER MY HEAD.  This is something I am absolutely still working through.  I want to be able to use this business to bless others and ultimately do the Lord's will.  The more I find my identity in Christ, the more that I'll be able to do the Lord's will boldly and joyfully.  I could say so much about this! In the coming weeks and months I'll probably be asking for a lot of feedback on where YOU find your identity and purpose.  I feel like this is an area where we can ALL grow!

That's it for today, y'all!  Thank you so much for reading and for asking these questions.  Feel free to ask additional questions in the comments and I can include them in my posts this week!


Friday, February 5, 2016

January Happenings

I feel like it has been a REALLY long time since I've let you guys in to see our day to day lives.  I've spent some time away from social media lately, but that doesn't mean I haven't taken a thousand photos!  Ha!  January was quite a month for us and looking back on it makes my heart so happy.



We rang in the new year at home and we really had such a sweet night.  It was bittersweet ending the year and starting a new one, but we had a fun night dressing up, cooking dinner together, and sharing a midnight kiss!


A few days later I hit the road for Athens!  I spent the night with my favorite Georgia friends before picking up my sister and some gals from Passion in Atlanta.  It is always fun spending some time with my people!



Before I picked up the girls I spent several hours in IKEA and it was BLISS!!!! Ha!  It was such a fun time of just walking around and picking out little things for the house.  



After I picked the girls up in Atlanta we took the long way home and stopped in Nashville.  We walked around the Opryland hotel for a little while and they still had a lot of their Christmas decorations up!  Jesus was smiling down on us for sure!! Ha! 






We had some hard days at the beginning of the month.  I cried.  A lot.  But, we also spent some sweet quiet time together.  I got a new coloring book in the mail and we spent several nights together in bed just being quiet.  Sweet marriage memories!


Surprise!  Our friends moved in!  If you don't remember, we lived with the C fam for 8 months while we built our house.  We moved out in August and baby Teddie was born a week later.  They decided to put their house on the market, sold quickly, and needed a place to stay for a month while they waited to close on their new house.  Their new closing date got moved up, so they ended up only being here for a week and a half.  But it was SO STINKIN FUN to have the "family" back together!  I can't wait to show Teddie our 579543 photos together from that week and a half.  Her Aunt Nicole and Uncle Tyler love her so!








Fun fact, I've been saving text messages that people send when they encourage me or tell me they are praying for us and baby C.  I have a chapbook I'm making of all our photos #aswewaitforbabyc and it makes my cry thinking about all the sweet prayers that will be included!!! PS I die at that photo of me and Teddie.  GOSH.




This photo makes me laugh SO HARD.  We were moving them into their new house and all the pups were freaking out.  I was putting some clothes in my car to take to them and Beaumont and Oakley (their pup) jumped in the car and stayed until I was finished!  Ha!  






The month was a challenge, but it also brought some really sweet time with the Lord.  I'm so thankful for grace upon grace AMEN!!!



It "snowed" in Mississippi!  We were HIGHLY disappointed in our "snow" but we still made a fun snow day out of it.  If you are part of my everyday videography class you'll see a sample video I made from all my clips from our snow day!


We've gotten really into cooking and trying new things.  We made crepes for breakfast a few Sunday mornings ago and we felt so fancy! Hahahah 


I got to FaceTime Jamie and Bennett to celebrate Jamie's birthday!  



The last weekend of the month was BEAUTIFUL springlike weather.  Saturday we did some work in the yard and then sat around the fire pit with smores.  Sunday after church we sat outside while Ty worked on our community group lesson and I worked through my power sheets.  COME SPRING!!!!


If you made it this far, congratulations. :)  


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Introducing: Everyday Videography Class!


I am thrilled to be able to announce that I am teaching an "everyday videography" class for Studio Calico in March!  It is so sweet to me how my two skill sets and loves, teaching and creating, are coming together in one place.  I have such an enthusiasm for teaching and I love being able to teach people what I know about videography.  In this class we are going to be talking about using something we all have to capture everyday moments... our smartphones!! I love that this class is going to be such a practical tool to help you use the one thing you always have on you anyway.  Whether you're recording fun moments in college, a weekend with girlfriends, cooking with your husband, or playing in the backyard with your kids, I am excited to teach you skills and tips to help you create lasting memories.  I am truly SO EXCITED about this class and the lessons that we have planned!  It is going to be such a fun time and I would love for y'all to join me!


Head on over to the Studio Calico class page and learn more about joining in on the class!  If you do decide to join, I would love for you to go to the class message board and chime in!  I'm so excited to start class with you in March!  YAY!


Monday, February 1, 2016

FEBRUARY GOALS


This has become one of my favorite views.  
Doing dishes at the sink while reading scripture and encouragement!

Insert all the red dress, dancing gal emojis because we SURVIVED JANUARY!!!!! All the amens for this, y'all.  January is by far my least favorite month and this one held some particularly hard days for us.  But the month ended on such a sweet note and the Lord is moving mountains in my heart and He is making me NEW. Amen, Amen, AMEN. 

The beginning of January hit me like a train and goals were basically out the window, if I'm being really transparent.  The goal was to survive and perhaps have a few hours of the day that didn't involve sobbing.  It was an incredibly hard start to the year but the Lord was at work.  Now as I look back on the month, I see all the amazing things the Lord was starting to do in my life.  I see the good days, the days with joy because of the Lord, and conviction that is leading me closer to Jesus and it is good.  I love that I can look back to January and be overwhelmed by what the Spirit was doing.  I am a different person than I was on January 1st and that alone makes me want to sob buckets.  He is a good, good Father. 

February goals!!!!!!

Now that I'm thinking about it, I don't think I shared January's goals.  I guess I subconsciously knew it wasn't going to be the most successful month.  Ha!  But I love what Lara says about setting goals... "There is nothing magical about January 1st!"
This has served as such a great reminder to me as I worked through January.  Yes, I didn't get as much accomplished as I had planned, but the heart behind goal planning isn't perfection.  And as a type A personality this is something I have to constantly remind myself.  I can so easily strive for perfection and that leads to NO GOOD PLACE.  So I am striving for progress.  For more of the Lord and less of me.  For my heart to be focused on others instead of myself.  For the Lord to take my life and use it to bring glory to the Father. I'm so excited to share these with you this month!

Each of my monthly goals pertains to one of my "big" goals for the year. 
 So I have 10!  I'm not going to share my weekly and daily goals because they come from my monthly goals mostly and are more personal.

FEBRUARY GOALS

1.  Work through "Wife after God" study and spend more time praying for Ty.
I'm excited to devote this "love" month to praying for Tyler more and letting the Lord refine me in our marriage!

2.  Be diligent to spend time in scripture every morning. 
I don't have social media on my phone at the moment, but someone I still manage to click through other apps in the morning before I open the Word.  I want to quit with the early morning distractions and have my first thoughts fixed on Scripture!

3.  Work through my prayer binder regularly.
This is something I'm hoping to talk about in the coming weeks/months.  At the end of December a friend of mine showed me her prayer binder and I was so excited to start my own!  It's all about praying scripture over your life/others and the more I do it the more impactful prayer is becoming to me.  I can't wait to chat about this more in the future. 

4.  Pray over our community group and find ways to build connections. 
I want to spend more time forming relationships with ladies/couples in our community group.  This is something I've been challenged over the past few days!

5.  Organize closets + get RID OF STUFF.
I am trying to get rid of anything and everything that isn't useful to us.  I'm tired of having random stuff that just takes up space and I long to really simplify this year!

6.  Do something active and get excited about it!
I'll be honest, exercise doesn't excite me and I have a really hard time staying consistent.  I want to have a change in attitude over this and realize that it is IMPORTANT for me to take care of my body. I want to view my body and health in a biblical way and this is something I'm going to be in prayer over this month.  I have a yoga app and a 30 day fitness app that I'm going to try to do daily!

7.  Secret goal!

8.  Organize our "process" and set a schedule for client interaction.
This will help me to stay so much more organized and efficient in my interactions with clients!

9.  Organize email folders.
A few weeks ago I deleted all the email accounts off my phone and this has been a GAME CHANGER for me.  Email is a huge anxiety trigger for me and having it on my phone with access 24/7 made me frazzled.  Now, I have set email hours and I am so much more in control of my inbox!  I am still working to organize my folders and make this process even more efficient.  

10.  Document our "everyday".
I want to make sure that we are documenting something weekly!  This helps us to learn new things, practice shooting/editing as well as capture sweet moments in our family!

YAY GOALS!!! This truly makes me so excited and I'm just thrilled that it is a new month.  I would love for you to share your goals below or link to your goals post! 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Recent Reads No. 1

It is a big goal of mine this year to read as much as possible.  I have always loved to read and it is a big relaxation tool for me.  My summers in college were spent sitting on my parents porch READING ALL THE BOOKS and while I unfortunately don't have SIXTEEN weeks off anymore (God bless college holidays) I know that I can still squeeze in some reading time.  I've been taking some time off social media since a few days before Christmas and whew is God using this time for good things.  I've been able to read some amazing books this month and I'm excited to hopefully make this a monthly post with some thoughts on each book. 




Audacious | Beth Moore


This book is one of my favorite Beth Moore books to date.  Beth's books can sometimes been daunting and long, but this one is written like she's sitting down having coffee with you.  It's an easy read but FULL of challenging truth.  The entire book is about that one word, audacious, and how we are to audaciously love Christ.  It really got me wanting Christ more and desiring more from my walk with Him than I was currently experiencing.  Here are a few of my favorite quotes.


"God tests us to bring out the real us.  He tests us to prove our faithfulness to Him in front of a devil who bets we're fakes.  God tests us to prove us genuine to a large could of witnesses surrounding us (Heb.12:1).  For crying out loud, He tests us to prove us genuine to ourselves, the last ones to usually know."


"No trouble or trial in all its bloody color is a greater reality than this ever present Savior who has pursued you and wooed you."


"Discipline can make us more Christlike but it cannot make us love Christ more.  We will never love Him just because we need to.  We will only love Him audaciously because we want to."


Buy here.







You and Me Forever | Francis Chan


If you've never heard Francis Chan preach or read any of his books... put on your seatbelt and be prepared to be CONVICTED.  His vibrant passion for Jesus makes me want to love Jesus more.  This book about viewing marriage in light of eternity is an incredible read.  I listened to it via audiobook and I can't wait to actually read back through it one day in the future.  The Holy Spirit is definitely using some of Francis' words to convict my heart and change my perspective on marriage and family.  I've recently been convicted over my view of parenthood and becoming a mother and one of the last chapters of the book totally stopped me in my tracks.  This is definitely a challenging read that I would encourage everyone to read, whether you are married or not. If you visit the link HERE you can learn about how you can download the app and read the book or listen to it for FREE. I've recently downloaded the app so I can slowly go back through some of the chapters and highlight some important passages.  Here are a couple of my favorite quotes that I've been chewing on a lot. 


"... I can honestly say that one of my biggest struggles is making sure I don't love my kids too much!  If I'm not careful, they can become the chief recipients of my love and affections rather than Christ."


"We have to make it clear to our children that we love God more than we love them.  Children are more perceptive than many parents think.  They can tell if our words are only words.  We can say all day long that we love Jesus more than them, but they see where our time and resources go.  They aren't blind to our affections nor to our lack of prayer and worship.  Kids know when we fake it."


Download for free here or buy here.






The Chronicles of Narnia:  The Magician's Nephew | C.S. Lewis


Some day I'll have to do a whole post on why I currently can't get enough of Narnia but long story short, Lois (author of Infertility mentioned below) talked about a passage in The Horse and His Boy that was really impactful to her and her husband as they dealt with the comparison trap through the struggle to conceive.  After I read that chapter, I knew that the Naria books needed to be on my reading list!  I went to the library that afternoon and have since read the first three.  There is SO MUCH theological truth buried into these books that it is unreal.  I love how Aslan mirrors Christ and some of the things that he says BLOW MY MIND.  The Lord is using these books in my life for sure.  I'll include a few of my favorite quotes from each book! 


“But I cannot tell that to this old sinner, and I cannot comfort him either; he has made himself unable to hear my voice. If I spoke to him, he would hear only growlings and roarings. Oh, Adam's son, how cleverly you defend yourself against all that might do you good!”


“You know me better than you think, you know, and you shall know me better yet.” 






The Chronicles of Narnia:  The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe | C.S. Lewis


“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” 


“Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”


“If there's anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they're either braver than most, or else just silly.” 


“You have a traitor there, Aslan," said the Witch. Of course everyone present knew that she meant Edmund. But Edmund had got past thinking about himself after all he'd been through and after the talk he'd had that morning. He just went on looking at Aslan. It didn't seem to matter what the Witch said.” (this one makes me want to dance around!!!! THINK about how walking with Christ protects us from the enemy's cutting tongue.)





The Chronicles of Narnia:  The Horse and His Boy | C.S. Lewis


“I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the horses the new strength of fear for the last mill so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.” 


“Child,' said the Lion, 'I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.” (THIS THIS THIS)


Buy the series here





The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness | Timothy Keller


This short "book" (It is less than 50 pages!) is INCREDIBLE.  I'm definitely going to have to read through it multiple times and really chew on the convicting and challenging truths.  Keller goes through 1 Corinthians 3:21-4:7 and explains what Paul is talking about.  It would be impossible to really explain this book without you reading it, SO GO READ IT!! I found it for next to nothing on Amazon.  


"The thing we would remember from meeting a truly gospel-humble person is how much they seemed to be totally interested in us.  Because the essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less."


Buy here






Infertility: Finding God's Peace in the Journey | Lois Flowers


This book has been an incredible read for me to start this year.  I have a really hard time using the "I" word, even though it does technically apply at this point in the game.  It's a lot easier for me to think that it is just taking a while for us to get pregnant instead of considering that this could be a long term or lifetime struggle.  This book has really encouraged me and challenged me.  It has been so good to read words from someone to "gets" me and this weird season I'm in.  And it has been challenging for her to really open up and talk about the sin struggles that go along with trying to have babies.  The Lord used Lois' words to really open up my heart and my mind to think about my struggles in a different light.  I feel like this is the first step to really moving forward and having joy and peace in this season, no matter how long it lasts.  Of course I'll still have bad days and struggles, but the Lord is really working in my heart in this area and it makes me so excited!  The following quote is definitely one of my absolute favorites from the book.  As so many moms around me talk about the blessing of children (which they are!!) it is easy for me to lose sight of the fact that children are not and will never be the biggest blessing in life.  This paragraph is so convicting and encouraging for me!


"I agree that children are wonderful blessings.  If they were not, infertility wouldn't be nearly as hard as it is.  I also understand why people with children might count them among the greatest blessings in their lives.  But to suggest that people without children (married or not) are somehow missing out on the ultimate blessing is both narrow-minded and unbiblical.  The scriptures (especially Psalms and Proverbs) list dozens of other sources of God's blessing.  And nearly all of these have to do with a person's heart and relationship to God and others, rather than her ability to reproduce her own genetic material.  


For example, you are blessed when you refrain from walking in the "counsel of the wicked" or standing "in the way of sinners" or sitting "in the seat of mockers" (Psalm 1:1).  You're blessed when you delight in the law of the Lord and meditate on it around the clock (Psalm 1:2).  You are blessed if your "transgressions are forgiven" and your "sins are covered" (Psalm 32:1).  You're blessed when you take refuge in the Lord (Psalm 34:8), when you make the Lord your trust (Psalm 40:4), when you have regard for the weak (Psalm 41:1), when you learn to acclaim the Lord and walk in His presence (Psalm 89:15), when you seek Him with all your heart (Psalm 119:2), when you maintain justice, and when you "constantly do what is right" (Psalm 106:3).


You're blessed when you are kind to the needy (Proverbs 14:21), when you are generous to the poor (Proverbs 22:9), when you are faithful (Proverbs 28:20), when you honor the sabbath (Isaiah 56:3), when you are disciplined by God (Psalm 94:12), when you find wisdom (Proverbs 3:13), when you serve others (John 13:11-17), when you fear the Lord continually (Proverbs 28:14), when you read the book of Revelation and take its message to heart (Revelation 1:3-4), and when you actively watch for the return of Jesus Christ (Revelation 16:14-15)."





I don't expect I'll read this many books each month, but I do hope to read a couple each month!  It's been so good for me to dive into some good books during my free moments and I hope to make this a routine in my life!  Do you have any good book recommendations for me?  I have a running list of books I'd like to read this year and I would love to add a few of your favorites!