Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Is God Really Good?

When I was in college I specifically prayed, numerous times, that God would do whatever it took to keep me in a growing relationship with Him. I remember adding (reluctantly) that I really meant {WHATEVER} it took......

I've been thinking about that prayer a lot lately as I've been contemplating our last two years since returning home from Uganda. We've experienced numerous trials and hardships in our lives and the lives of our extended family members since then and a question has been on my mind lately- Is God Really Good?

How can God really be "good" when mental illness overtakes the mind of someone you love? When finances are so tight and thing after thing drains your account, never allowing you to get ahead? When a child dies in your womb without ever having the chance to breathe on Earth? When you find out your husband or wife is cheating on you? When you desperately desire to bear children but can't? When you receive the news that you have just a few months or years to live? When you are overcome with addiction? When relationships dissolve and friends turn to enemies?  When past abuse haunts you? When everything and everyone you've ever held dear is stripped from you in a moment of tragedy? The list of terrible things that you or I have experienced in life is long...

So, tell me.... Where is God in all of that? Is He seriously GOOD in all of that BAD?

Yes, He is. Here's how I know:

The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.
Nahum 1:7

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Psalm 34:8

Not only does the Bible tell me that God is good, but it also tells me that He uses the circumstances in my life for good:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

The Lord your God will then make you successful in everything you do...the Lord will again delight in being good to you.
Deuteronomy 30:9 
 
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good, to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
Genesis 50:20

It's a difficult concept for Christians in the midst of hardship to wrap their minds around- the concept that God is good even though life sucks. Even when we're completely hopeless and helpless. Even when it seems that no matter how hard we try things just get worse. God's there. He's good in the middle of it all. And in the middle of it all He's working everything for our good.


BUT, there's an important thing to remember: God's good often doesn't look like how we think our good should look. If I was running my life you better believe there are lots of good things that I would include in my story and many not so good things I would leave out. But God is infinitely smarter and more wise than me and is working out my story for a greater good I may not or cannot ever understand. He has a birds-eye view of His creation and can see how every circumstance affects another. What happens in my life may be for the good of another person. Or for my good down the road, or for the good of humanity. No matter what, I can be assured that God will use each situation in my life for His glory! And, if I allow it to, that not-so-good situation can stretch and grow me and make me more like Jesus. It can give me understanding to comfort someone else in a similar position. It can bring healing to deep parts of a heart that can only be healed through exposing old wounds. I may never know why things I consider "bad" happen, but I can choose to believe GOD IS GOOD and HAS MY GOOD IN MIND no matter what.

When I prayed years ago that God would do whatever it took to keep me close to Him, I knew that one of the things that has an amazing ability to bring people back to the Lord is trials. Hardships bring us to our knees and force us to either deepen our faith in Christ or reject Him all together. Your life may not be going the way you planned it but it's going exactly the way God planned it. How awesome is it that God loves us enough that He will use every circumstance in our lives for His glory and our ultimate good and growth in Him! I cannot understand why God allows so much evil in this world, but I will choose to let trials and hardships build in me a stronger relationship with the Lord. And I can only do that if I trust in God's goodness.

For no one is abandoned by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion because of the greatness of his unfailing love. For he does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow.
Lamentations 3:31-33

Monday, April 20, 2015

House Tour!!

I am finally getting a house tour up on the blog! Though it's still a work in progress, I'm grateful that the Lord has given us this beautiful home. I still have lots of decorating ideas swirling around in my head but I'm not going to let a lack of decorations or missing furniture hinder my joy at His wonderful provision for us!! Living overseas for much of my life and seeing how much of the world lives, I never want to take for granted the house we have. Our home is a constant reminder to daily praise the Lord for what He has given us and to be good stewards of it.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
James 1:17

It's not easy to furnish an entire house quickly and cheaply. We moved to Florida with just a few pieces of furniture and have had to buy the rest. Thus, we are finishing up the house little by little, but each month it feels a more like home!!

Today I'm just showing you our main living areas and not the bedrooms. So.... here it goes!

I'll start with the outside of our house. This first picture was taken shortly after we closed on the house and before we had even moved in. Despite the brown, dead grass we were just so happy to finally be home owners! We live in a quiet little neighborhood and have great neighbors!

We had went to a party that day and the kids had some face painting done which is why they look a bit freaky. =) 
The front door.

This is the view you see when you first enter the house. Our entry way is still pretty much a blank slate. I have plans for an entryway table and large fun mirror on one side and a bench and hooks on the other side. I'll be excited one we get some stuff in this space!


This is our living room. We use half as a spot for our desks and half as a cozy sitting area. I ordered a large mirror for above the fireplace a few weeks ago but it arrived shattered and I had to return it. I also found out that the mirror is out of stock so I'm on the lookout for another mirror to go there! I am also contemplating painting the stone fireplace an off white to update it.

The Africa was handmade by this sweet woman I found on Etsy. She lives locally in Jacksonville and so I didn't even have to wait for it to be shipped to me, I was able to pick it up from her house. She can make any state/country/continent and put the heart over whatever state/country/continent you'd like. She can also do whatever color wood, string, and paint you want! Our heart is over Uganda, of course. Such a special country in our hearts! 






Just off of our living room sits our playroom. Probably my favorite room in the house because it keeps the kids happy and contained!! =) One thing I love about this room is the huge closet that we use for puzzles, games, and movies. I also love that this room has a door to the backyard which allows the kids to either play in the play room or play outside and go in and out as they please.






Next up is our dining room. Probably my second favorite room in the house. =) Mostly because of the pictures that are hanging on the wall. Not only were they a PAIN IN THE BUTT to hang (because, I mean.... 6 pictures all straight and evenly spaced with each other? It's harder than it looks!) but because each of those picture frames contains fabric from Uganda and I love having those pieces from Eloise's home country in our home!

We had our farm table custom made. We knew we wanted a big table so we could have lots of room for guests!!! The white shelf in there is an heirloom from Drew's Aunt Mae. I haven't decided yet if I'm going to paint it or leave it in it's current "naturally shabby chic" condition. I also haven't yet decided on what I'm going to decorate it with and right now it just has a bunch of knick knacks on it. Probably one more thing will go on a wall in this room- a wine rack- but I haven't yet decided what style I want or exactly where I want to put it.




Next to the dining room is the kitchen. I love having a little breakfast nook in there! It's so handy for feeding the kids at!! And those little white chairs that match our dining room chairs but are sized perfectly for kids with a higher/smaller seat? They kinda make me smile whenever I look at them! =) And they are so perfect for the kids to sit on! Two things I love about this kitchen - the pot drawers to the left of the stove (like seriously, I never knew how much I could love pot drawers!) and I love that all the drawers and doors are soft-close (no slamming doors or drawers that don't get shut!).






We have two bathrooms, a master bathroom and a guest bathroom. The guest bathroom has a shower curtain that I really need to iron. Who really ever likes to iron anyways....? Especially a shower curtain!? =)





 
 

And finally, here is the backyard. Drew's dad found the playset for free on the side of the road and fixed it up for us! The kids love it and swing out there most every day! The backyard is big and has plenty of room for the kids to run and play. We've cornered off a section of the yard where the kids are allowed to dig and they (especially Isaiah) love trying to dig the deepest holes they can! After living in an apartment for several months with three kids I must say that I LOVE having a backyard!!




Well, that is our house! Hope you've enjoyed the little tour! We are so grateful that the Lord provided the perfect house for us. Buying a home was a stressful process and then there's always the risk that when you finally move in, the house won't fit your family like you thought it would. We have felt nothing but at home here since we moved in and feel like this house is a great fit for our family right now. I hope we never leave! But, let's be honest, we're the Hutchesons..... we never stay any place for too long! =)


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Eloise is Three!

Today is Eloise's THIRD birthday!! In some ways it's hard to believe she's just turning three!!! Most people that don't know her assumed she was turning 4 when she would tell them it was almost her birthday. She's average height for her age so it's not her tallness that makes people think that. She has a pretty solid build though which helps. =) But I think it's mainly her mature mannerisms and the way she talks. Needless to say in other ways it's pretty east to believe she's just 3 years old as she has a typical three year old attitude. (If you have a 2 1/2 -3 year old you know what I mean.) Good thing she's so cute!! =)

Eloise is such a smart little girl. She knows her ABC's and can count to 10 (after 10 things go a little haywire!). She loves to sing and can keep a tune amazingly well! She is our little dancer and any time she hears music you can bet she's going to bust a move! She is also a budding gymnast and loves to do flips, twists, tumbles, and twirls. She can do a handstand against the wall in a second flat!

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We still have a long road ahead of us as we handle the Dystonia in her right foot. She doesn't let it slow her down though and leads a very normal life!

Ellie Bean is our little sweetheart but she has a stubborn, strong will when she wants her way! =) She likes to play with baby dolls and swing on the playset outside. Probably her favorite thing in the whole world right now is Play-Doh. She could literally play with it for hours. She makes balls and dresses for her dolls and just squishes it around all over the table. For her birthday she got two Play-Doh sets, a My Little Pony one and a princess castle one. She's been having a blast with both!

This girl loves her Play-Do!
Eloise is super sensitive and will start crying if you even raise your voice at her, let alone inflict a punishment upon her (seriously, it's pretty much the end of the world if you do). She has a compassionate heart and always wants to make sure those around her are ok. She is obsessed with her baby sister and gives her multiple kisses and hugs a day. She fights like a typical sibling with Isaiah but looks up to him and copies {everything} he does. Her favorite color is purple (with pink as a close second). Her favorite food is cheese (which she can't have because it gives her a rash- poor girl). And her favorite tv show is Bo On The Go.

Last Saturday we had a little party for the birthday girl at Chuck E. Cheese. She has been begging to go to Chuck E Cheese pretty much since her last birthday so it was a dream come true to finally go again (And I seriously hope we don't have to go again until her next birthday. That place is a mad house!).

Happy Birthday Sweet Eloise Ann!!!!

The birthday girl!
Our best attempt at fitting all five of us in the Chuck E. Cheese camera. We tried...
They loved riding rides together!!
Love my girl!
Opening presents!!
Happy Third Birthday Eloise Ann!!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Miss Olive: ONE Year!

Our little Livy Kay turned one year old on April 2nd. Wow!! That year went fast!!


Olive is a bundle of joy and delight in our home. She is mostly always happy, has a sweet and cuddly personality, and thinks everyone should bow down to her every need (trying to nix that ASAP!) =).

On Saturday, April 4th we had a birthday party for her and had a great time with the friends and family that came out to celebrate her life with us! We did a cupcake theme for her and ordered a bunch of fun and delicious mini cupcakes from this amazing bakery: Sweet by Holly. Everything turned out so cute!

At the party Livy was not feeling the best and was getting over a week of having a cold. She didn't have much interest in smashing her cake and didn't want to get around and socialize and be her sweet self much. But it was still fun!

The best part about her birthday week was that my totally amazing and thoughtful husband {completely} surprised me and arranged to have my mom fly down from Indiana and my little sister fly down from Michigan last Monday! I wasn't even suspecting a thing and had even gone to bed on Monday night when Drew showed up with them in our living room that evening. It was a totally amazing surprise and I am so glad they could be here for Olive's birthday and her birthday party. It was so special!

These kids LOVE their Meema!!!!!





Height & Weight: Olive weighs 21 pounds 10 oz (75th percentile) and is 31 inches long (95th percentile). 

Eating: She has had a cold this past week and has hardly been eating anything or even nursing but on a normal day she eats pretty much anything and everything. Her favorites are chicken nuggets, bananas, and veggies in teriyaki sauce. She still nurses several times a day and I plan to keep up nursing for as long as she is interested and I want to keep with it. Right now I am no where near wanting to end our sweet nursing relationship (and neither is she!)!!


Sleep: Two naps a day, morning and afternoon. Bed between 7 and 8, up around 11/12 to nurse then sleeps straight through to 7:30/8 am.


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Eloise was a better driver than her big brother! And couldn't go more than a few minutes without giving her little sister a kiss on the cheek!

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She's a Mama's girl but she loves her Daddy too! =) 


Personality: A ball of energy and sweet cuteness, Olive doesn't want to be left out of anything. She pretty much thinks she's the life of the party. She has very strong opinions about what she does and doesn't want and has a loud voice that she makes those opinions known with!!! She loves to give hugs and kisses, play chase with big sister Eloise, and cuddle on mommy. She has a cheesy smile that she flashes several times throughout the day and she brightens up every room.




Did I mention that she has curls!?! Seriously, I am so excited that she has some curls in her hair. I know it's not alot but I had a dream before she was born that I would have a blue eyed, blonde curly haired little girl so I am excited to see these sweet curls and hope they stick around for a while. =) 

Milestones: Just a few days after turning 11 months old Livy girl took off running! Well... walking, but it sure turned into running quickly! It is so so fun to see her toddling around and doing her best to keep up with big bro and sis.

She loves to sign "please" and wave "hi" and now says "hi" while she waves. She knows what hot means and when I give her her food she touches it with her hand, then quickly draws it back and says, "ha". When she got her smash cake at her party she ate a bit and then started signing "all done" and that was it - she was done with cake and wanted outa that chair! =)

 Sisters and friends!
The spare carseats are their favorite place to play in the garage these days!

Isaiah and Eloise: Well I'm happy to report that one year later, the novelty of having a little sister hasn't worn off for Isaiah and Eloise, especially for Eloise. Seriously, Eloise still kisses her like 20 times a day. She plays "try to get me" with her and is so cute when she s.l.o.w.l.y runs around the room letting Olive catch up to her and get her. Isaiah pushes her around in his car that he made out of a cardboard box. Every morning I know where I will find Eloise- she will be in Baby Olive's crib playing with her. Isaiah is so proud of all her new accomplishments and thinks it is so cool that now she can walk and talk. They are always on the lookout for her well being and honestly just love her! I am so so grateful for their sweet relationships!

And now for some pictures from the party! Can't believe my baby is one!! I think I might cry!



The party spread!

My sister (Katelyn), my Mom, and me!!
Olive clearly didn't like Eloise opening up her present for her!
She loves baby dolls! <3 
Good thing we had the boys to help us open presents. =)
We didn't get too many smiles out of her that day as she didn't feel too good. =( 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SWEET GIRL!!!
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