September 28, 2012

lately grams

photophoto copyphoto copy 9photo copy 2photo copy 3photo copy 7photo copy 4photo copy 8photo copy 5photo copy 6
1) beautiful skies. our God is so great! 2) gf trader joe's snicker doodles & decaf chai in soy. so yum! 3) kitchen sink & some fall decor. 4) i'll say it again... READ THIS BOOK. 5)-6) picnic lunch. 7) brother feet. 8) honeycrisp apple with pb for lunch. 9) i got time with sweet baby rowan & his momma a few nights ago. 
10) michigan country.

follow me on instagram "@albark". 
my account is private so you'll have to request to follow me. :)
funny/favorite/current things...
*I AM CURRENTLY ON MY WAY TO SEE MY BIG SISTER IN NYC!!!!!!!!!!! seriously been excited about this for months & now it's happening! the Lord's timing is so perfect... i really need this little retreat right now.
*one of my current favorite things... that my husband is letting me do the above! he has a TON of homework & he's still excited for me to have this time with my sister. THANK U BABY!
*we got a package in the mail the other day & jude wanted to pop the big air pocket things... he asked, "can i bubble these?" ha
*jude is always talking about when he gets bigger & when he becomes a daddy. if i tell him we can't do something right now, he'll say, "but when i be a daddy i will do that." cracks me up!
*jude & i have this cute little chant that we came up with while we were in uganda. i think it became a lot of comfort to jude while our whole time there was so different & uncomfortable & not normal for him. i say (in like a singing/chanting voice), "jude, you're my favorite jude in the whole wide world." & then he says, "mommy, you're my favorite mommy in the whole wide world." then he wants us to go through sammy, amos & daddy. ;)
*the other morning sammy just wanted to sit on the couch & cuddle with me. we sat there for about 15 minutes. I LOVED IT! he reminds me of me when i was little. i just wanted my mommy to hold me... even when i got older i LOVED hugs from her, they were so comforting.
*amos makes the funniest faces. lately i've been catching him, not looking at anyone, just smiling as big & as awkwardly as he can. it's hilarious.
*sammy & amos have been wanting me to read books to them a lot lately! they haven't really been into books till now. the best part... amos wants me to read THE SAME BOOK over & over & over again. ;)
have any lately grams you'd like to share? i'm thinking about starting a weekly linkup... anyone interested?

September 27, 2012

constant sanctification

PicMonkey Collage
(embracing the camera here)

i know i've talked about this subject a lot... but it's my life. ;)
i wrote about it herehere & here.

so when it was just me, when i was just single & had no one following me around 24/7... WHAT IN THE WORLD DID I DO WITH MY SIN?!!!!!!
i guess i just didn't deal with it... maybe i didn't see most of it, or maybe i saw it & just avoided it, but all i know now is how much these little ones expose my sin & i either fight it or give in to it.

i started courting my handsome husband & that sure brought about a lot of sanctification & i thought i was doing alright. then we got pregnant & that brought about a lot of dying to self. & THEN our good good GOOD Father saw fit to give us 3 sweet little boys & the 3 of them have been the most constant sanctification i have ever known! some days i am so sad that they have to see my sin at all & that they bring a lot of it out in me & i sin against them & i have to repent & some days i don't even feel like fighting my sin toward them. i wish i could be a "perfect mommy" & love them perfectly & be all they need on this earth & be so gentle & loving & patient... but that wouldn't point them to the Lord. a "perfect mommy" would make them believe they could do this life on their own & that they didn't need the grace of God & His redemption. i need to rejoice in my failings... "for when i am weak, then i am strong." my Father gives me the ability to love these boys... even with my love that is so imperfect & inconsistent. i expect myself to be perfect for them... i expect so much of myself. i pridefully think i can "work it all out", but i can do nothing apart from Him. because i expect so much of myself i in turn expect so much out of my boys & my husband (more on that later).
Father, give me a broken & contrite heart.
how sweet the sound of saving grace!


September 26, 2012

tempeh wontons & songs of truth

mmmmmmmmmmmm!!!! i made these delicious little guys & they were super easy! they taste like those frozen pizza bites i used to eat when i was little... but SO MUCH BETTER! you know those little wonton wrappers you can buy near the tofu & tempeh at the store? well... GO BUY SOME! ;) i also used them to make some banana nutella wontons for this baby shower. soooo delicious!
to make the above picture...
you'll need:
*coconut oil
*1 onion diced
*2-3 cloves garlic minced
*2-3 tomatoes diced
*1 package of tempeh, crumbled
*daiya cheese (to taste)
*wonton wrappers

making it happen:
*sauté the onion & garlic in the oil
*add the tomatoes & sauté for a few more minutes
*add the tempeh & cook the mixture down, for about 10 minutes. you may need to use a potato masher to breakup the tomatoes & tempeh a little more.
*add the daiya & cook till melted
*the wonton wrappers come with instructions & depending on which brand you get, yours might cook differently than mine did. take a wrapper in one hand & add about a tablespoon of tempeh mixture to the middle of the wrapper. use a basting brush to cover the edges of the wrapper with water, close up the wonton & add some more water to the 2 corners that will be touching, then bend it over.
*put the wontons on a baking pan in the oven at about 375 for about 20 minutes (again, see what your brand of wrappers says to bake yours at). you can also fry them in oil (which i did for the banana nutella wontons), but i decided to go the healthier route for dinner. :)
*take them out of the oven & serve them with some marinara.
*eat 'em up!
i need these words of truth as a mommy, wife & sinner... often.
to cling to my Savior... He is all i have!
"You bore the wrath reserved for me, now all i know is grace.
hallelujah, all i have is Christ. hallelujah, Jesus is my life.
oh Father use my ransomed life in anyway You choose,
& let my song forever be 'my only boast is You'."

September 25, 2012

camping & family time

jude & daddy went camping in the backyard a few weeks ago. mommy & the little boys joined in for the fire & roasting of marshmallows (i cannot believe i ever liked those nasty things). here are some photos of our adventure.
IMG_0230IMG_0234IMG_0232IMG_0236IMG_0235IMG_0239IMG_0243IMG_0245IMG_0247IMG_0261IMG_0238IMG_0253IMG_0272IMG_0268IMG_0283PicMonkey Collage
discussed it with mike... & we're gonna build this for the boys' Christmas present (maybe not as girlie)! :) also, in the next month we're going to plan a family "sleep over" in our living room! we'll bake cookies, make some popcorn on the stove, have a dance party, sit around our fireplace & talk & laugh & be silly, watch a movie & then we'll all fall asleep on the floor together. hopefully the boys won't think it's going to be a normal thing. ha. ;)

what are some of your favorite adventures?
what new adventures would you like to have with your family?

hi to all my lovely new followers from cakies! welcome!!!
i'll be doing a giveaway in the next week or 2 so be ready for that! ;)

September 24, 2012


why in the world is it that after i go through a REALLY hard/trying season i act as though i'm just trying to catch my breath & get on with life? i move on from that "hard season" as though i never want to look back at it & move on to the joys ahead. I KNOW there will be more trials as well, but it feels as though (in the moment) that there will never be harder moments than what i just came through.

when a trying season comes to an end i should instead... rejoice in the goodness of my Father's sustaining grace & that He put those trials in my life to sanctify me & make me more like Him. i should worship Him for His goodness to me during that time & thank Him for the sin He removed from my life! 

i think of working out... I HATE WORKING OUT!!! when i'm in the moment i can think of nothing i could be doing that i hate more. i just hate it. but after i finish a workout i feel sooo good & i'm glad i chose to workout, but i also never want to do it again. ;) & if i remain faithful with it & workout day after day the results are good & lasting. so it is with seasons of trials... sanctification is not easy, but if we are faithful & cling to Him & work through those trials, by His grace... the results in us are good & lasting. we look so much "better" on the "other side". 

i'm just coming through a hard season (it only lasted about 5 days, but it felt like 5 months) with the boys. i was so short with them & so easily angered. i didn't want to be in the Word. i felt so lonely. i felt like i was drowning in despair! 

i wish i had eyes to see this in the middle of all that... but my God is soooooo faithful to me! He never left me once! He works ALL THINGS together for my good & His glory. even in my failings as a mommy this past week... HE WAS GLORIFIED! my sweet sweet husband encouraged me in being willing to be broken. just simply broken over my sin. (which i was, at the point when he was encouraging me.) i had been so stuck in & overwhelmed by my sin all week. & at the end of the week i finally came to a place of brokenness.

all of life, everything, is by His grace & sovereignty anyways. i have such high expectations for myself. at times i feel like there is no one that sins like i do. (it's not even that i think other people have these high expectations of me... its just what i hold myself to. but that's pride.) i struggle with why i'm not a better mommy & why i raise my voice at the boys & why i'm so lazy with teaching them the Word & being in the Word myself. but i can't do that by myself. i can't stick to any of that in my humanness. i need Him every moment! 

His strength is made perfect in my weakness. my weaknesses are just another way i worship Him because they show my dependency on Him. & i want our boys to see that mommy is not perfect & that i'm repentant & by His grace i'm striving to be better at loving them & loving Him. praise the Lord mommies & daddies aren't required to be perfect in order to be mommies & daddies. we just need to know how much we NEED HIM! oh i need Him!

Father, continue to show me how much i need You! & make me more like You!
"the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken & contrite heart,
o God, you will not despise." psalm 51:17

the beautiful picture above & the one from this post were 
taken by this talented lady! more to come!

September 23, 2012

lately grams

1)-3) our dearest friends met us in nashville last weekend for some much needed fellowship! i cannot tell you how blessed we are by these 2 families! amos loved having the crazy olinger kids around. ;) 4) my sammy & i watching some football at grandmom & granddad's house. he loves to cuddle & he's loving mommy a lot lately... i'm LOVING IT!

didn't have much time for instagram this week (obviously)!

funny/favorite/current things...
*jude is growing up way too fast! he's such a little man & i LOVE the way he talks!
*sammy words... "yeP", "noPe" & "nun" (run).
*amos HATES getting out of the bath. he's always the first one out & the whole time i'm getting him cleaned up at ready for bed... he yells non stop. silly boy.
*i adore my husband's grandmom! i'm so blessed to have her in my life! i love to listen to her talk, even though she has to deal with us getting interrupted a lot by 3 little boys. & i love that our caroline has her great grandmom's name in her name... caroline eLOISe. :)
*i'm grateful for my aunt pam (my mom's sister) who encourages me so much in my walk with the Lord & gives me a lot of grace & reminds me of the grace i need for myself!
*i'm so so so so sooooooo proud of my husband who's working a part time job & taking seminary classes!!!!!!!!!!! don't know how he does it... glad he can operate on less sleep than i can. ;)

September 20, 2012

i need to remember this regularly

"when satan temps me to despair
& tells me of the guilt within,
upward i look & see Him there
who made an end to all my sin.

because the sinless Savior died
my sinful soul is counted free.
for God the just is satisfied
to look on Him & pardon me."

He's so good & gracious to us!
i'm tempted & give in to despair often as a mommy!
but He made an end to ALL my sin!
my ridiculously sinful soul is counted free!!! AMEN!
to look on Him & pardon me!
oh goodness! thank You Father!!!!!!!!!!!!
the best news!

September 19, 2012

our bodies are fragile

our bodies are so fragile aren't there?! we are often very unaware of how stress & food & just this crazy life affects our bodies. we don't take care of ourselves well enough. we eat fatty, sugary, processed food. we don't get enough sleep. we don't take time to slow down & be still. we don't drink enough water. etc, etc etc. there are so many ways that we're failing at caring for our bodies & therefore all these things will catch up with us at some point. many people may say... "well who cares what i eat or how much sleep i get... i want to have fun during this life." our God is sovereign over everything, even our poor choices, but ultimately it will catch up with us & then we won't be able to serve the Lord as well as we could if we were being faithful with the bodies He entrusted to us... FOR HIS GLORY! this life is not about just having fun or eating junk or staying up late. 
stress definitely has SO much to do with our well being. & there's not much we can do to avoid stress in our lives... it's just gonna happen. but we need to balance it out with being still before the Lord & in His word, & pumping our bodies full of good nutrition & supplements that will replace what our lives deplete us of. so over the past couple months my hormones have been way off. i've felt moody & so tired & achy & like i'm dragging all day. i've heard that it can take years for the effects of stress to catch up with us. about 5 years ago michael & i went through so much... with the loss of our daughter, my mom passing away, & many many other things. i think it's all caching up to me now. i've heard that when you are in the midst of all that stress that many times you just "pull yourself up by your bootstraps & get through it"... then later your body "shuts down". so i've started researching hypothyroidism & gluten intolerance (VERY similar symptoms). i'm praying for wisdom on all of this, because i miss feeling "normal" & like i'm not "falling apart". all of this has definitely reminded me of how fragile my body is & how i need to be more faithful with caring for it. it's also made me so so aware of how human & sinful i am & how much i'm in need of my Savior! it's hard enough to fight sin when you feel great... but MAN it's hard to fight it when you feel really crappy! 
have any of you gone through something like this?? 
any resources you can share would be sooo appreciated!

September 16, 2012

lately grams

i'm a little behind this week. i usually don't post on the weekends, but we were pretty busy during the middle of this week with traveling & looking for a new car. so... here goes.

1)-2) family night. downtown grand rapids. 3) picnic w the 3 sweetest little guys i know! 4) daddy & jude went to their first nfl game! 5) sammy turned 2 & i cannot believe it! 6) sammy ate his birthday cupcake w a straw! silly boy! 7) picnic dinner for sammy's birthday party. yum! 8) our friend mary took some family photos for us. cannot wait to see them! 9) amos snoozin on his trip with mommy & daddy to the south for the weekend. :) 10) southern seminary! praying our house sells so we can move in december! 11) our new pediatrician in louisville. this picture was before he got shots. :( 12) THE BEST indian food i've ever eaten!!!!
funny/favorite/current things...
*"mommy, this is my fwave-wit song." i'm not sure how it's possible, but almost anything that jude likes is his "fwave-wit". ;)
*jude was at the nfl game with daddy, the 3rd quarter was about to start & he exclaimed, "let's do this"!
*sammy just started saying, "i love you"... "duh-due".
*during our trip (we had to leave the big brothers at home with grandmom) amos has been calling jude's name trying to figure out where he is, "jew".
*i was taking a nap in the car during our trip down... i woke up & looked back at amos in the back seat & he just smiled at me & waved. :)
*amos hums the melody to "Jesus loves me" ALL THE TIME! super cute! 
*"kai"..."car" for amos.
*i LOVE that all 3 of our boys call blankets "night nights" & they call each other "bubba"!

September 15, 2012

sweet caroline

5 years ago today our beautiful caroline eloise went 
home to be with our good good Savior.
(read more here)

our Father is so good & His ways are beyond us. we trust Him, He's so worthy of our praise & our lives. there is none like Him! oh goodness we miss our girl, we grieve that we don't get to be her mommy & daddy for years. we don't get to see her grow & just be a girl... but it is for His glory & our good that He took her home. we rejoice in His purposes for us. thank You Father for caroline's sweet life... be glorified! comfort us in our sadness & bring us your joy. use our story to draw others to You.

thank you to our dear dear friends the gales
for putting flowers on caroline's grave!

September 10, 2012

sammy liam is 2

how in the world does time fly by so quickly?! we were just celebrating his first birthday. birthdays always make me realize how fleeting this life is... but even more so when they're my children's birthdays. 
oh Father, may we be found faithful with this sweet boy's childhood & instruction. may he come to know You in the next couple years. may he see You in his mommy & daddy & therefore be drawn to You. may he see his parents' weaknesses & see how much we are & he is in need of Your grace & redemption. may he stay innocent & carefree for years to come. may he learn to love You & his brothers & the people of this world with all his being. that he would not be deceived that this life is just about comfort & security, but to bring glory to Your name, no matter how uncomfortable that may be. may his sweet/spunky/feisty/funny/loving little life glorify You always.

the above pictures are 2 of sammy's favorite things!
elmo... he won't go anywhere without him. he's on his 3rd elmo (they get sooo dirty & they can't go through the washing machine. trust me... i've tried to get him attached to a different stuffed animal, but elmo is his favorite).
blackberries... one of his favorite fruits just like his mommy. he's allergic to strawberries so we stick w blackberries.
watch this video of our sammy. he's changed so much!
& watch the one on the link at the top of this post!
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