Feb 28, 2014

Saturday Snippets


One of my dearest friends upon moving to Phoenix was our pastor's wife. Love this list of what not to say to your pastor's wife, because I watched her walk through many of these scenarios.

I liked these tips on how to make time for blogging. I'm slowly creeping back into the game! :)

You don't know what teachers do. I just found out one of my former high school students died this week, so this piece really resonated with me.

The only six words parents need to say to their kids about sports...

I've been reading about alkaline foods lately, because I've been thinking about changes we need to make in our household diet as Zianne will be starting solid foods in the next few weeks.

Another thing to think about... how much I am wiling to share about my children's lives online?

An excellent piece on how and why miscarriage should be treated differently by the pro-life community...

After six successful months together, I officially killed my house plants this past week. I'm sad, but I'm hoping this guide will help me keep my next round thriving!

Feb 27, 2014

Flowers Fade Friday: When we don't "like" Scripture...

If you follow me on Instagram {@jenrussum}, you know that I often post reflections on the Bible from my morning quiet times. I don't always share what I read or write, but women seem really encouraged when I do, so it's become a semi-regular habit of mine.

One of my goals in 2014 is to dig deep in Scripture. Over the past few years, I've read the Bible all the way through a number of times. If you've never read the whole Bible, I strongly encourage you to do so. It will change your life and your understanding of God's salvation story. However, this year I decided it's time to go deep in the Word instead of reading broadly. I've chosen to go though a some "power passages" of the Bible, and spend a few weeks in each one, really studying the verses, line by line, word for word. I started with Romans 8, and it was so encouraging. Oh, how He loves us. Nothing and no one can separate us from God's love for us in Jesus.

I decided my next passage should be from the Old Testament, so I chose one of the most clear and powerful prophesies about Christ, written about 700 years before His arrival to this world. If you aren't familiar with the Servant Song in Isaiah 52:13-53:12, it says that Jesus would be beaten to a bloody pulp - to the point where he wouldn't even look human, that he would be despised and rejected by men, and that it was God's will that He suffer this way.

What?! On the surface this seems starkly different from the God we can cry out to as "Abba, Father"  in Romans 8:15. It doesn't seem very comforting to read that Jesus was stricken, smitten, and afflicted on our behalf. That He was a silent sheep led off to slaughter.

No. We don't like it.

As I flipped to Isaiah and started studying it verse by verse, I thought, "This is hard." The Old Testament often doesn't seem as straightforward as the New Testament. I had to decipher the "I," "he," and "we" in the text and figure out if the pronouns were referring to God, Jesus, or Israel. There were phrases that didn't quite make sense, and I was tentative as I took notes, because I didn't know if I was getting it "right" and I didn't want to misinterpret Scripture, especially if I wanted to share my thoughts with others. Finally, I read through a sermon to help me gain context for the passage. I didn't "like" studying Isaiah the way I liked studying Romans.

And you didn't like it either. 

Usually, when I post Scripture on Instagram, a number of women will "like" the photo. Many of my believing friends. Some young ladies I've mentored through the years. Fellow bloggers. Scripture pictures don't get as much attention as cute baby pictures, of course, but that makes sense since I have many non-believing friends who aren't going to "like" Bible posts. Nonetheless, any given Scripture-related photo usually gets 15, 20, or even 25 likes on average.

But the other day I posted notes on Isaiah 52 and 53  on Instagram and not one person liked it for at least the first two or three hours. Not a single "like" in my significantly sized social media circle. As I write this, more than 24 hours later, the picture has seven likes.

I don't care, of course. I do not post about the Bible to gain attention or because it's popular. My Bible posts on this blog always receive the least traffic, and my Bible Instagrams always have the fewest likes out of all my photos. But I know they have impact, and I am fairly certain God wants me to keep posting them {for now}, so I'm obedient to that. If one person is encouraged or challenged by the Word, it was worth it. If I receive one email with a question about Scripture from a reader, it was worth it. If I receive a phone call from my cousin to tell me she shared my advent posts with friends, it was so, so, so worth it. And if I receive no feedback or no "likes" at all, it's still worth it, because I firmly believe that God's Word goes out and will not come back empty, without accomplishing what He desires {Isaiah 55:11}, even if I never get to see the fruit it bears.

No, I'm not in it for the likes.

But I also think we need to pay attention to the parts of Scripture that we don't like. The parts that seem sad, graphic, and uncomfortable. The parts that point to our sin or that describe in detail how an innocent man died in our place. We need to wade through the genealogies and the prophecies that twist and turn, even if it hurts our brains to sort out who is talking and why it matters.

Isaiah 53 says some hard words. It says it was the "will of the Lord to crush him." It tells us that all along, since the beginning of creation, God and His Son had a rescue mission in place. God would send his Son to earth to die. And the Son would willingly go. And Jesus would be despised and crushed, and the Father would turn His face away as His beloved Son took on the sin of the whole world.

No, I don't like those words.

But I love them.

I love that the Son endured the cross for the joy set before Him, in order to secure my own joy forevermore.
I love that Jesus paid my penalty, completely and utterly, so that I can be forgiven.
I love that He obeyed, to cover all the times that I fall short.

I don't like that He was crushed and afflicted. But I love Him for it.

And I love the words of Scripture that remind me of these truths. Even when the verses on the page are hard to read. Even when they confuse me, bewilder me, or humble me to the core. It's worth it to trek through these passages. Even when I don't like the verses I love them, because they tell me about the One who loved me first.

Feb 26, 2014

Five Months

Growing // No well check this month, so I'm not exactly sure how big she is. My guess??? Around 21 pounds and just under 30 inches. I love my toddler-infant.

Eating + Sleeping // Zianne is still wavering between 5-6 feedings a day, depending on what our day looks like and how long she naps for. However, her naps are definitely becoming more consistent (usually 2-2.5 hours every morning, with two shorter naps in the afternoon), and we are moving toward a pretty typical five-feedings-a-day schedule. She usually wakes up between 8-8:30 {I trained her to sleep in!}, and I start her bedtime routine around 8-8:30 at night. She easily nurses for 45 minutes to an hour at night, so she isn't actually in her crib asleep until at least 9:00, but overall it's a great schedule that's working for the fam! And other than an off-week with teething {technically 8 days but who's counting?}, she's been sleeping through the night consistently since 10 weeks old!

Wearing // Zianne is in 12 month clothes and wearing some 18 month. I am about to finish up a box of Size 3 diapers, and then I'm going to move to Size 4. Technically, she is just under the weight for them, but three blowouts in two days last week convinced me we should switch. I feel like I was late transitioning her up for all the other diaper sizes, so this time we are going to make the change early.

Doing // At Z's four month appointment, her doctor gave me the heads up on all her upcoming milestones. He said she should be rolling over soon, and she might start cutting teeth anytime between 4-12 months. The very next day she rolled from stomach to back. The day after that she rolled from her back to her stomach. The next day she started acting cranky. The next day I could feel a tooth under her gums. The following day it popped through and the next tooth broke through a few days later. It was the same day that I could feel her tooth that she stopped sleeping through the night. For eight days straight, she was up once, usually twice, and sometimes three times a night, in pain. And they were really sporadic wakings, usually close together, so as soon as I fell back asleep from getting up to soothe her, she would wake up again. Also, we both got a cold that week, so the lack of sleep was especially not fun. But then I found the cure... lavender oil on the bottoms of her feet... I've become a sometimes-hippie and I'm never turning back. In other news, Zianne is becoming more mobile, strong, and alert. She can pick up her toys, even some surprisingly heavy ones. She enjoys her play mat, activity center, and sitting in her Bebe Pod chair for increasingly longer periods of time. And she fully knows how to laugh now. She still sounds like an old man chuckling, but she will laugh her head off if we laugh loudly at her or if we bounce her up and down. Also, over the past few weeks we've weaned completely off the swaddle and into a fleece sleep sack. However, since it's already a bajillion degrees here, I need to get her a lightweight sleep sack pronto.

Loving // Sophie the Giraffe. Her weird teething toys {Micah thought they were a waste of money, but she loves them}. Spinning her Wonder Wheel. Sucking her fingers upside down by day and sucking her thumb to put herself to sleep. Her first ball. Watching mom cook dinner while listening to country music. The girl loves T. Swift.

Loathing // Being on her stomach to play. She rolls instantly onto her back, now that she can. Not getting attention. Like a typical firstborn, she likes for people to pay attention to her at all times. Getting dressed. She is not a fan of anything that has to be pulled over her head these days.

Daddy's girl // Sadly, Micah doesn't get to see Z much on weekdays. Usually he gets her out of her crib in the morning and she is all smiles before he leaves for work. By the time he gets home at night, she is slipping into her cranky, tired mode. Some people call this the "witching hour," but I always think of it as the "long march to bedtime." Thankfully, Micah's found a new activity to keep her entertained during this time. He holds her and they run, literally, to every mirror in the house. When they get to each one, they stop, stare, and he says "Look! It's dad and Z!" and then they go running to the next mirror. Thanks to the fact that our house boasts original 1979 mirrored closet doors, they stay entertained by this game for quite some time. Micah's work hours switch next week and he will be home earlier, so hopefully he and Zianne can spend some quality, less meltdown-like time together in the evenings.

Mishaps and milestones // Another sweet milestone this month... Zianne now reaches for me to pick her up. It started as the mildest reflex... her arms would twitch upward just a little bit when she wanted me to grab her, but now it's a full-on reach and ever so cute. I often stand over her and say "up" and she'll reach out her arms to me. Other than teething and a cold, we didn't really have any mishaps this month... except that Micah and I got to go on a long-awaited date night while my parents watched Z and when we dropped her off I realized I forgot to bring milk for her. Ugh. I wanted to cry, but my parents are awesome and drove all the way back to our house to pick up our child's food supply, so we could still go on our date. Bless them.

See Zianne's other monthly updates here: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4

Feb 25, 2014

Mama Style: Scowlin'

Never mind that my baby is tiny in these pictures... since we all know Zianne is anything BUT tiny these days. I am trying to get caught up on editing and posting pictures from this winter, mainly for my own archives {but I hope you enjoy them too!}. These were taken on the day Z turned two months. Although I'm pretty sure we snapped these pics before her well check visit, by the scowl on her face you'd think she had already received her shots...

Poor Z baby. Life's hard with a photo-obsessed mother.

Jen's look:
Shirt: Old Navy {similar or similar}
Polka dot denim: Nordstrom {similar}
Shoes: Australian boutique {similar or similar}
Necklace: Ever+Mi Crush {similar}

Zianne's look:
Top: Heart onesie {similar personalized onesie or similar outfit}
Headband: Gift {similar or similar}

|Linking up with The Pleated Poppy and Because Shanna Said So|

Feb 24, 2014


Valentines from daddy...

Lounging around the house...

Five months old...

Antics at home // Adventures at the park...

Working mama...

Play dates // Nursery progress

||To see more of our life lately follow @jenrussum on Instagram||

Feb 23, 2014

Honey Spice Bread

Considering I just pulled this honey spice bread out of the oven about an hour ago and half of it is already gone, I'd say this is a recipe worth sharing. It's perfect for breakfast, dessert, or a midday snack. Although we love banana bread around here, the flavors in this bread were a nice change of pace!

What you need...
3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
4 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
4 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 cup milk

What you do...
1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease two bread pans.

2. Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and salt in a bowl.

3. Beat egg whites on medium speed until stiff peaks start to form. Pour into a separate bowl and set aside.

4. Add sugar and egg yolks to mixing bowl and beat at medium speed until well blended. Add melted butter and honey and continue to mix until smooth. 

5. Reduce speed to low. Add in half of the flour mixture and mix. Add milk and continue to mix. Finally add the rest of the flour and mix until smooth.

6. Fold in egg whites with a spatula or spoon.

7. Add batter to two greased bread pans.

8. Bake at 350 for one hour or until a toothpick comes out of bread clean.


Feb 21, 2014

Saturday Snippets


This has been one of our go-to dinners lately...

Educate yourself on recovering your abs postpartum...

In honor of my sister, who is as rare as a four-leaf clover...

This week's inspiring post on motherhood, for the days it feels like you get nothing done at home...

How to support the bloggers you love. Such a good post. 

Also, this post on messy houses by the same gal...

Inside the politics of breastfeeding...

I had an excellent hospital birth with a great team of doctors, residents, and nurses, who led Micah and me to make our own informed choices regarding my care; however, this article about hospital birth vs. home birth was enlightening and horrifying all at the same time.

This series on finding your color story is fun and inspiring.

Ideas for decor and storage in a small home...

A great post and testimony about looking to God in marriage...

I have a thing for over-sized coffee mugs, and I would love to add this one to my collection...

Feb 18, 2014

Mama Style: Discount Jeans and Pool Pumps

The Russums have sadly and happily been dumping a ton of money into our house this month. It's sad, obviously, because pouring money into home repairs is one of the woes of home ownership. It's happy because we are the proud owners of a brand new AC unit and pool pump. When I imagine this coming summer, I see a clean and refreshing pool in our backyard, climate regulated afternoon nap times, and sleeping through the night without sweating. This is slightly different than how things went down last summer in our new home...

I am super thankful for these updates to our home, and I'm also thankful these repairs meant that Micah got off work early one afternoon and was able to snap a few pics of Zianne and me in the backyard as the sun was going down.

Also, grey jeans. I was uncertain, but I decided to go for it and I'm glad I did. I would like to give a shout out to LOFT, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite stores. They have the clearance prices that my beloved Banana Republic used to have, and their pants fit my body so well. 

I just ordered new black jeans from LOFT for... $16! They should arrive in the mail any day.

Get on that.

Jen's outfit:
Crochet top // LOFT
Jeans // LOFT
Shoes // Banana Republic {similar}
Watch // Timex {similar one on sale}

Zianne's outfit:
Leopard romper // Carter's {on sale!}

|Linking up with The Pleated Poppy and Because Shanna Said So|

Finish This

This game is called "Finish This," and all you have to do is finish the following prompts and link up your post below! You can also visit the other hosts of this party on their fun blogs: Nicole {Three 31} Lisa {Coastlined}, and Becky {The Java Mama}.

The bump... circa 36 weeks

I plan on buying... a new strapless bikini this summer. I wore mine out last summer because it was the only swimsuit that fit during my last trimester of pregnancy. At that point, the bump and I spent as much time in the pool as we could. In fact, my stomach is still tan from last summer, since my skin was stretched out and saw so much sun. Weird? Gross? I don't know, but my abs are tan in February and I'm okay with it.

I give LOFT five stars because... their sale prices are amazing and their clothes hold up really well. I just ordered these jeans for $16 last week.

I felt courageous when... I switched my PhD program from literature to rhetoric. At the time, it felt like a big risk, since I didn't know if it would work, if all my credits would transfer, etc. But now that I'm getting to the final stages of my program {and will soon be looking for a job}, I'm so thankful I took a leap of faith three years ago!

I feel about swimsuit shopping like I do... about going to the gym and cleaning the bathroom. It might sound dreadful before you do it, but once it's done {if you've found a flattering suit that you like}, you feel so relieved and accomplished.

    An InLinkz Link-up

Feb 16, 2014


First day back at work // Afternoon coffee // Baby Album // Finishing up the nursery

Cuddles // Stories // Marathons // Uncles

Golf tournaments // Play dates // Baby initiated hand-holding

Back time // Tummy time // Lovey time // Sleepy time

Teething and more teething

Swimsuits // Swim lessons // Grandma visits // Bath time

Football watching // Furniture rearranging // Hiking // Baby benches

||To see more of our life lately follow @jenrussum on Instagram||
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