January 31, 2013


ever have one of those days that just doesn't start right? man i've been having a lot of those lately!!!! i immediately feel overwhelmed & annoyed with everyone in my home. it's like i'm looking for someone to be upset with. & yes, a lot of physical things could add to this attitude... lack of sleep, not making time for time with the Lord, fussy/sick children, not getting as much quality time with husband. but there is NO excuse to treat my family like this. really there's no reason to be so annoyed & have such an angry outlook on my day... i have been given sooooo much! i found myself, just this morning, getting so frustrated with their sin toward each other & their lack of obedience & respect for me. i was taking it personally that they weren't listening to me & i was raising my voice because they weren't responding to my instruction. 

way too often i give into despair. i think... "ah, i've ruined the day! there's no hope! i can't wait for this day to be over!" but by God's grace & strength, WE CAN REDEEM OUR DAYS!!! even on the worst day... even if it's in the afternoon & we've been frustrated all day... it's not too late to repent before the Lord & to our children & change the way we are handling things. we HAVE to make the choice... things won't change on their own. 

so this morning i was annoyed & i felt like living in that frustrated/annoyed state all day... but i knew it wasn't helping anyone! & wow how our attitude affects the whole family!!!! i took the boys into their room, i sat on their bed (so i was at their level), i lined them up in front of me, i had them put their toys away (so they knew this was important) & i asked them to look me in the eye... then i repented. i said, "boys, do you remember how mommy has been angry with you all morning?" obviously, they all said, "yes." ;) & then i said, "mommy was wrong, i shouldn't have treated you like that. i sinned against you & against God when i was angry with you. will you forgive me?" & i asked each one individually to forgive me & i told each of them that i loved them & loved being their mommy & we gave hugs. immediately the atmosphere in our home was lighter & peaceful. PRAISE THE LORD FOR HIS GRACE!!!! He never gives up on us!!! just because i'm 28 does not mean i have it together. just because i have 3 little ones, i have not arrived. i am a sinner & so desperately in need of Him EVERY MINUTE!!!! & believe me there are far too many days & moments that i don't fall on His grace! i don't repent! i pray that by His sanctifying work in me He will give me grace to get over my pride & tell my family & Him i was wrong & need forgiveness. 

cling to Him today mommies & sisters & friends!!! WE CANNOT DO ANY OF THIS WELL WITHOUT HIM!

January 29, 2013

very happy news indeed

baby girl!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
ah we're beside ourselves! 
although she's not growing in my belly... she may not be conceived yet, or she may be growing in her birth mom's belly right now!!! the Lord has led us to adopt a baby girl domestically!!! we are guessing the wait will be about a year. we are in the process of finalizing our adoption of amos & then we'll be starting over! :) there are days, like today, that i think, "what in the world are we thinking?! another one?!!!" but what a gift that the Lord has called our family to give a baby girl a home & a family. what a joy to call her ours. what an honor to be her mommy & daddy. what a delight to have some hair to play with & some cute clothes to dress her up in!!! how spoiled will this little one be by her 3 big brothers?!! & we feel like they're ready for a baby. jude asks just about everyday... "are we going to get our baby sister?" so we trust the Father in this new journey & season & we say "yes" to all He has for us! even if it doesn't always make logical sense to the world. yay!!!! mommy needs some more estrogen in this house!!! to answer a very legitimate question... we would LOVE to have more children biologically if the Lord wills, but for now this is how He is growing our family & we're more than great with it! (& i strongly dislike being pregnant. ;) ) we'll keep you updated as this little one's story unfolds. 

January 28, 2013

a day with a 2 year old (guest post)

hi! my name is tiffany valdez, and i'm a pregnant wife and momma of a little toddler named Amos. i live in beautiful, sunny southern California and am learning how to love and glorify Jesus in the midst of the craziness that is a stay at home mom's life. that's me and my little baby girl in my belly.

i thought i'd take you on a simple day with a super cute 2 year old. we were a little bit more "on the go" than usual this past Wednesday - but it was a rare overcast day, and i thought it would be a perfect day to capture some moments. i'm treasuring these last moments with just my little amos and i before our baby Lucia makes her way into the world.

our team of 2.5. :)

first stop is a local coffee shop: influx. has the best espresso, and a super clean, laid back environment. this morning we shared a bowl of yogurt and i had my standard cup of coffee. it's my current survival as i'm not sleeping so great anymore with a little baby girl kicking my belly all night. 

amos creating a dino war, and poor little triceratops seems a little outnumbered. we named him gideon. ;)

finding a dino jungle.

we love to take small walks in the city and try to study as much nature as we can find. amos LOVES to find the little bugs in the plants or grass, and to point out all the different flowers he finds.

we go for a little walk and amos spends about 10 minutes studying the bees busy working on this bush.
i love re-seeing life through a toddlers eyes.

we are moving into a new home (hopefully) on Valentine's day, so I've been busy scouring some second hand stores for some treasures to fill up the new place. we are going from a 1 bedroom apartment to a 4 bedroom house, so we have a lot of stuff to find!

we stop by goodwill to try and find some goodies.

I love this goodwill because i had an entire bookstore loft with this kids corner. it's always a fun and cheap activity to go read books with Amos, and then let him pick out one or two to take home.


amos showing off his new dinosaur book he picked out as we walk to a thrift store where i found a great vintage, wicker chair for our back yard. :)

sat for 30 minutes trying to decide on this second hand pull out bed sofa for our potential office/guest bedroom. i'm horrible at making big purchase decisions (even if it's a cheaper, second hand couch) and have passed up many good finds from hesitancy. i'm still dreaming of the modern leather white sectional that was here a couple months ago. i took the plunge with this vision in mind.


we go home and Amos eats lunch while i attack my embarrassingly large sink of dishes.

biggest excitement of our new house: a dishwasher. praise the Lord!

next task, prep dinner. i wing a ground a turkey, 3 bean chili. 

we attempt to nap but amos has been having a more difficult time lately. this day we laid for an hour or so, with no success. hoping this isn't the end of his 3 o'clock snooze.

we do some projects together. amos LOVES projects!

amos' new found love: dinosaurs/ we stamp out each type and write their names by them. we then read about each one in his new, thrift store dino book.

then we go over our letters (he is still learning many of them: "what's this one, mama?!") with thomas, his past love. i love little boys and the things they love. trains, cars, dinos. little boys are so much fun!!!

Amos plays while I pick up before my husband Ricky comes home, and we eat our dinner. Ricky went to LA for a business meeting today on the train, and we are going to go pick him up in a little bit.

more dinos and trains. :)

We head out to pick up Ricky downtown. it's pouring down rain, and due to Amos' lack of nap - he knock out 5 minutes into our drive. 

the rest of my evening is filled with spending some QT with my husband, feeding him some chili, and reading. i'm so thankful to the Lord for these seemingly mundane days. they are filled with such moments of grace and joy. He is so kind!

 thanks for spending the day, and i'd love for you to peek into some of our future days as a family of four over at see the skyline!

xo tiffany

January 26, 2013

lately grams

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follow me on instagram... @albark
(my account is private so please request to follow). 
1) self. 2) this boy amazes me everyday. he's growing so well! 3) crazy kissey face. 4) no big deal.. sammy just drove us around for the day (without using his feet to push the gas & brake). 5) sammy was out & i was trying to keep amos up so at least 2 of them could eat lunch before nap. ;) 6) 1 cent pony ride. 7) playing with grandmom in michigan. 8) ooooooooo this book!!!!!!! mike has already made us snicker doodles & oatmeal cookies!!!!! mmmm! 9) this is what my husband's life will be full of over the next 3 months! 10) mommies... READ THIS BOOK!! i really really enjoyed her other book so i knew i'd like "fit to burst". & i do!!! i've only read ch 1 & it's super good! 11) these little ones had just woken up from nap & they were cuddling in mommy's bed, eating a snack & listening to this. isn't that amazing?? free audio books!!! & really good ones at that! i also downloaded kipling & mother goose. :) 12) this big boy picked up a piece of calk & drew a "B" without any instruction. i'm soooo proud of him!!!! 13) dinner prep. 14) happiest window in our house!
funny/favorite/current things...
*last night during our family worship, mike was reading the story of the last supper from the Jesus storybook bible & jude spoke up & said, "it's just like at church when everyone eats bread!!" oh my goodness this boy! he's so smart & observant & it is good for our mommy & daddy hearts to see him learning. he sits with us during church on sunday mornings & during every sermon he'll hear something he remembers us reading or talking about & he'll tell us what he heard. they do listen at this age... we need to be careful what we say. ;)
*it's crazy how fast little siblings pick up things just because they watch their older siblings. sammy is doing so well with his colors & knows most of the ABC song. :)
*amos likes singing the melody to the ABC song, but most of the "letters" are just gibberish. ;)
*we are just about ready to finalize our adoption of amos!!!!!!
*my goodness i fall in love with my husband more all the time! THANK YOU GRACIOUS & GOOD GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!
*mike starts seminary classes this next week! we went to his orientation yesterday... pray for us! he's taking 5 classes & i've been spoiled having him around. 
*thinking about going to spend some time with my sisters in nyc in the spring! mmm!

happy weekending!

January 24, 2013


hi friends, i have some thoughts on keeping our homes simple, clean & less cluttered. i really believe that the way our home "looks" affects the way we "feel" in it. if there is a lot of clutter, toys everywhere, dirty clothes thrown on the floor & dishes piled in the sink... it adds stress & leaves us lacking the ability to enjoy each other & be creative as a family. if my house is a mess i usually end up just thinking about how messy it is & not "being with" my family. all of that is not at all to say that our house is spotless, because it is actually quite messy at times & i love when the boys pull toys out & play & enjoy being little ones. but isn't it easier to think when your space is clear of clutter? it sure is for me! so here are a few tips...

1. the goal is to first get your house rid of things that haven't been used for over a year. yes, you'll want to hold on to a few things from childhood & a few things that hold sentiment, but limit yourself to how much of that kind of stuff you'll hold on to. only keep the things that really hold value to you. so to break it down...
-tackle one room at a time, or if that's too overwhelming... just one area in one room at a time. i would start with the room that is most lived in, whether that's the living room, play room or kitchen. if your most lived in area is less cluttered it'll help in bringing peace to your home & maybe bring motivation to get the rest of the house together. :) 
-so start by making 3 piles... 1) donate 2) trash 3) storage. everything that is left in the room should have a set place. don't just leave things laying on the floor. your kids will soon begin to learn where things "go" in the house. so when you ask them to put something away they will know where to put it. 
-keep only the things that are most used in your home visible. everything else should be stored in the room that you use them in. so if you're working in the playroom & you've already sorted the toys that you are donating, trashing & storing all the toys that are left should have their "regular spot" in the room. the toys that are played with the most should be the only ones that are visible, all the other toys should be stored in closets, etc.
-simplicity & minimalism is so important to remember when sorting through rooms. you will want to hold on to a lot more than you actually need at first. you may need to go back & sort through your house again. & i actually think our homes should be purged at least once a year. i end up doing it about twice a year... just because it's my personality to get rid of stuff & clutter drives me crazy. :)
2. now that your house is purged... work on organizing. what makes most sense in the setup of each room? what makes things more convenient for you as you go about your day to day? what will help you keep it picked up? 
-put your laundry basket in an easy access spot so you can throw dirty clothes in there instead of on the floor.
-have a regular spot for shoes that is convenient for everyone so shoes don't end up all over the house. 
-make sure your laundry room & kitchen are efficient so when it's time to get laundry & dishes done the process works smoothly & quickly.
3. toys! toys are the thing that adds the most clutter to our home... obviously. ;) 
-so we've always taught the boys to keep the toys they have out to a minimum. 
-also, before they pull out something else that has a lot of pieces to it they need to clean up the other toys they have out. all of this is teaching them to be organized little fellas & to be faithful with the things God has blessed us with. 
-the rule is... all the toys can be played with anywhere in the house, but before bed we put them all away in the playroom. no toys "live" in the living room or their room (other than their drawers of cars). :)
4. helping them play...
-i think it's so important to setup toys, craft supplies & books to encourage our kids to use their imaginations. if everything is all just thrown in one spot & there's a ton of toys & books then they will probably be overwhelmed & maybe not play with the toys, crafts or books because they don't know where to start. 
-we rotate toys in our house. i have a bin of toys in storage that i will pull out & put some toys from the playroom away & pull out new ones. this keeps the boys from getting bored with the toys they have & it keeps things less cluttered.
-i don't like throwing all the toys in a bin when we clean up. we usually put all the pieces that go with each toy together as we put them away. maybe that's a little ocd, but i believe it helps them as they play. 
-i have a little pile of their books in the living room that i rotate out on a regular basis so they have easy access to books even if they're not in the playroom. 
-i like to have the playroom setup in a way that is inviting to them & just begging for them to play. ;) toys are easy to get to, not a ton of stuff on the floor so they can walk around & get to what they're wanting to play with, chairs for them to sit & read, etc. 

all of these are ideas. :) do what you want with them. my gracious Father has made me more laid back with 3 crazy little boys & i'm still learning. :) i was always so worried about toys everywhere & dust & dirty toilets. but above all of this, we need to be IN their lives... teaching them, shepherding their hearts, loving them & if the house gets a little messy or the layer of dust is too thick... take a deep breath & remember what mothering is about (i'm talking to myself here ;)). His grace is sufficient. & enjoy being a maker of your home. what a gift & high calling! make it HOME to them & make them ask you when you're out running errands, "can we go home?" :)

what's one tip you could share about keeping your home simple?

i have some exciting news coming next week!!!!! ;)

January 16, 2013

no cause to complain

on sunday our pastor shared a very rich message about grumbling & complaining from philippians 2:14-18...

"do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me."

he shared this quote from charles spurgeon. 
"as long as a man is alive & out of hell, he cannot have any cause to complain."

i recently went through one of the most sanctifying seasons of my life. i was so quick to despair & become angry with my boys. i was comparing my life to all the instagrammers & bloggers i followed. i felt like i was sinking. i felt like i was losing hope. i was so consumed by my sin & fallen state.

but my Father sustained me by His great grace & so graciously has sanctified me to be more than i was before those hard months began. i realized again, as i had realized before in reading this book, as our pastor was speaking. that we must stay in a state of thankfulness & gratitude to our Savior. regardless of our circumstances... if our reference point is hell & what we should deserve... then we have no cause to complain! we are doing "better than we deserve". we have every reason to be glad & rejoicing for the rest of our lives! if our lips are always speaking humble expressions of gratitude & we are so aware of where we should be spending eternity apart from Christ, then our grumbling hearts will be humbled. for when we grumble we are considering ourselves wiser than He. we may be complaining about a season of life & how ridiculously hard it is, or about loss, or the lack of things or people in our lives, we may be complaining about someone else's attitude or even just the weather. & when we do all that... when we aren't instead grateful... we are proclaiming that we know better. we are saying that He isn't handling things well. that He didn't make this world & people well & in His image. we are saying that His sovereignty isn't sufficient.

oh gracious Father, may my vision & perspective always be viewed in light of eternity. may i always rejoice in what you've saved me from. that i have been washed cleaned & now stand guiltless before a great & glorious God. who had every reason to remove me from His presence to pay for eternity for my sin against Him. but instead He came as human flesh & bore the awful sin on Himself on the cross that i might have life. & because of the life i now have... may my lips always rejoice!!! & guard my tongue from complaining & gossip & bitterness & whining & words that tear down.

by Your grace give me words of life & give me eyes to see the life i now live & rejoice in You always.
& when i lose sight... turn my eyes quickly again to You!

January 15, 2013

are we really happy?...

are we happy? we always think there's got to be something more that will make us happier than we are now. it's the same lie we believed in the garden...

"now God had given adam & eve only one rule: 'don't eat the fruit on that tree,' God told them. 'because if you do, you'll think you know everything. you'll stop trusting me. & then death & sadness & tears will come.' (you see, God knew if they ate the fruit, they would think they didn't need him. & they would try to make themselves happy without him. but God knew there was no such thing as happiness without him, & life without him wouldn't be life at all.) as soon as the snake saw his chance, he slithered silently up to eve. 'does God really love you?' the serpent whispered. 'if he does, why won't he let you eat the nice, juicy, delicious fruit? poor you, perhaps God doesn't want you to be happy.' the snake's words hissed into her ears & sunk down deep into her heart, like poison. "does God love me?" eve wondered. suddenly she didn't know anymore. 'just trust me,' the serpent whispered. 'you don't need God. one small taste, that's all, & you'll be happier than you could ever dream...' eve picked the fruit & ate some. & adam ate some too. & a terrible lie came into the world. it would never leave. it would live on in every human heart, whispering to every one of God's children: 'God doesn't love me.'"
-sally lloyd-jones, the Jesus storybook Bible

this world was not meant to be like this... looking out for what we think will make us happy. we were meant to be so completely & utterly consumed with the ONLY thing that brings real happiness... our Lord! but that lie is in our hearts telling us that "God doesn't love me". & we believe that because of sickness & sadness & hardship that He doesn't love us. how could He really love us & allow this world to be lost & broken?!?! but our dear Father does! He has not abandoned us. from the beginning He wanted us to be completely happy in His always & forever love. & we still look for "something else"... we always will. we are the prodigal son. but He is it. He is all. He is enough. He is more. may our hearts be satisfied in Him alone. & when our eyes begin to wander to some other lesser love... may our gaze be fixed again on Him, our wonderful, gorgeous, beautiful, Savior!


these thoughts reminded me of similar thoughts that i had here.

January 14, 2013

daddy + mommy = teachers

we like to keep our kids close... real close & i often wonder/worry about what other people think about that. it could look like we are being controlling or manipulative. it could look like we want to keep them all to ourselves or just don't want other's in their lives. but truthfully... we are obeying this command when we keep them close...

"and these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." deut. 6:6-7

when they are young... this young... they need very clear direction & guidance from mommy & daddy. it would be easy for little ones to get confused with a lot of "teachers". they need to hear direction from one main source & as they grow older mommy & daddy can choose other teachers to be in their lives. yes, they will still have other "teachers" even when they're young... like grandparents & aunts & uncles & mommies & daddies of their friends, but they need to know who ultimately they should listen to.

so i don't need to worry about what other's think, or how it may look. we are being faithful (not always perfect at it & many times failing) to shepherd our little ones in a world of mommies & daddies that just turn them loose & hope them figure things out. i guess i worry about what other's are thinking about how we're parenting because we look very different from those around us... but so is the Christian life. 
let us be faithful to teach them well & keep them close. they need us. if we don't teach them what to value... then this world will. oh Father, give us wisdom & consistency by Your grace!

January 13, 2013

lately grams

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follow me on instagram... @albark
(my account is private so please request to follow). 
1) we're REALLY REALLY liking louisville!!! such a great city with plenty of things to do & explore! 2) date night dinner at decca. seriously, one of the best meals i've ever eaten!!! 3) sweet boys playing. 4) i love the 3 little heads that rest here. 5) sweet amos had no idea what was about to happen... 3 shots. :-/ 6) snack time. 7) popcorn snackin & meal plannin. 8) breakfast for my handsome man before he leaves for school. 9) spinach salads for lunch... pretty much everyday. 10) cute 4 year old boy. 11) grumpy after his nap, but cute picture. ;) 12) dresser & other things. 13) took this boy bowling for our date night. he LOVED IT & beat me both games!!!!! 14) southern seminary is beautiful!!! & another reason we like louisville. ;) 15) this boy. 16) curried cabbage & peas & tempeh for dinner. mmm.
funny/favorite/current things...
*when jude wants to whisper something or just say something smart he pretty much always says... "6, 9, 10, 11, 4". don't ask me why. haha!
*jude is getting better & better at taking care of his little brothers. he's rarely the one that starts a fight anymore. 
*sammy, sammy, sammy... this little boy's voice is so raspy & cute that he could say anything & it would be crazy adorable. 
*sammy, LOVES being organized. when he cleans up... he picks up one toy at a time & puts it away.
*amos is our musician!!!! oh my goodness we need to get this boy into a music class. anything he has in his hand turns into an instrument. he's always humming something or keeping the beat on something.  & he always wants to play his guitar. his favorite song is "i will wait" by mumford & sons. ha!!! he asks me to play it ALL THE TIME!
*i REALLY want to read this book & this book & this book!!!! thanks for introducing me brit!
*we have been richly blessed to find & start attending sovereign grace!
*i'm going crazy enjoying "the inspired home" photography class! my amazing husband registered me as a Christmas gift! 
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