women in community :: Roo Mag

I'm excited to tell you guys about a brand new site today!
 

It's Roo Mag, a brand new women's website created by Candace Cameron Bure {I've loved
her since she was DJ on Full House!}, and it's edited and managed by three awesome believing ladies- Clare Smith from Peak 313 Fitness, Ruth Schwenk from the Better Mom, and Courtney from Women Living Well.

You'll find all kinds of encouraging articles over there about life, parenting, marriage, money, beauty, DIY projects and more from some of my favorite bloggers.  They have such an amazing group of women collaborating together for one purpose!
Here's one of my favorite parts of the site's mission statement:

The extreme feminist mindset is a minority in our society, and although pop culture tends to portray it as the norm–real women believe differently.

Modern women in the trenches of motherhood can feel isolated at times, and want a watering hole where they can gather with like-minded women.

And I'm so excited to be a part of Roo Mag as a contributor! I'll be over there each month writing about two things I love- fashion and thrifting! I feel so blessed to get to be a part of this new site, and so humbled to get to work with some of the best bloggers on the web. They are amazing!

It's so exciting! I love it and I have a feeling you will too. :D I can't wait to see what the Lord does with it!

monday update :: share your feast + so vintage market + more

It’s Monday! I’m excited about the new week! I think the four-day weekend made coming back to Monday a little easier, don’t you? It was such a wonderful weekend!

It all started with Thanksgiving preparations last Wednesday- it was basically a massive cooking spree for Thursday’s lunch! If you follow along on facebook, you might’ve seen my cooking updates and grocery pics along the way. :D It was a big spread- 22 lbs. of turkey, mashed potatoes, artisan bread, fudge, two cakes, cookies, ham, rolls, veggies, and more!

We were blessed to be able to share our feast with a sweet single mom from Kenya and her 15 month old. She fit right in with the family, and we got to hear her story and get to know her more over the few hours she was here. Very exciting! It was so cool to make a new friend!

A couple of other friends and lots of family came over at different points in the day, so we got to kick back and enjoy each other’s company. I was so completely involved in everything, I only took one picture!

Yeah, so here’s our only Thanksgiving pic- it’s of our guest that didn’t stay around too long. ;)

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We did get the tree up this weekend though- we let the kids decorate it mostly, can you tell? ;)

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And since Friday night I’ve been tearing up my living room and dining room getting ready for the So Vintage Market at my house this coming weekend!

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My living room will be overtaken {in a good way!} with adorable vintage finds, furniture, lamps, mirrors, and more all day Friday and Saturday, and half of the Market’s profit goes to Parental Care Ministries! If you are in the East Texas area, I would love to see you!! Email me for directions if you think you might be able make it!

Oh, and would you guys please pray for our week around here? We are going to be crazy busy, and I’m praying that our week will be productive, peaceful, and honoring to the Lord, even in the midst of lots and lots of big things to get done with lots of little ones running around. I would be so grateful if you would pray for us too!

I hope you have an awesome week! I’m so thankful for you all of you!! :D

P.S. only three days left to enter to win the winter glam package!

{what i wore this week} warm and cozy edition

We came back from vacation to 80 degree temps and one week later it's sweater time! Whoop! Yay for changing Texas weather!

Sweaters seem to be one of my staples in the winter, so I'll usually end up buying one or two cute ones at a good sale price at the beginning of the season. I think neutral sweaters are a great investment for your wardrobe, especially since you can wear them over and over again.

I got to pair a $20 swingy Old Navy sweater with my eBay Cole Haan leather boots, my thrifted $7 AE skinny jeans and my $6 army green Old Navy dress:


 I loved pulling out the $4 thrifted plaid and another $20 cardigan to go with my $9 blue AE clearance cords!



And I think this was my favorite: another clearance $10 J. Crew top with my new wool skirt from Land's End Canvas- it was a super deal at $12!



 I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday! We have so much to be thankful for, don't we?!

laundry devotion {on mercy vs. sacrifice}

 
Today's laundry devotion is about love and sacrifice, and how they can be two separate things if we aren't careful!

Women are great at sacrificing themselves for others, and I think that's why this is important to read and study more about what the differences are between doing it out of motivation for ourselves and doing it for the Lord. I've been so excited as I've studied this- I'm always amazed at how God puts everything together in His Word!

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In Matthew, Jesus says two times, "I desire mercy, and not sacrifice." As I was reading it hit me like a ton of bricks- even today we get so caught up in the "sacrifice" that we forget the mercy side of it. I love that there are so many references to this in the Bible! Let's get started by digging into the context of that phrase a little more...


In Matthew 9, Jesus has just recruited Matthew, the tax collector as a disciple, and here's what happened next:
10 And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. 11And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" 12 But when he heard it, he said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."'
and Jesus repeats the same idea in a different situation in Matthew 12:
1 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, "Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath." 3 He said to them, "Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: 4 how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? 5 Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? 6 I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. 7 And if you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8 For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath."
Jesus was quoting this Scripture from Hosea 6:6, when God is speaking to Israel through the prophet: “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”

And again, it's the same idea that appears in Micah 6:
6 "With what shall I come before the LORD,
and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?"
8 He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
You see, the people of Israel were so lost- they were doing all the "right things" and sacrificing like they were required to do, but they didn't have the steadfast love and mercy Jesus is talking about. They were no different in His time than they were hundreds of years before when the prophets spoke to them.

It's pretty easy to see Israel's shortcomings- the Bible gives many words to the fact that they were stiff-necked and stubborn- resisting the love and authority of God himself. They thought that they could be forgiven by doing what was right- and following the law. They could make sacrifices so they might obtain mercy from God but they couldn't offer mercy to sinners themselves- they refused to love people the way God loved them.

We don't physically hold burnt offering sacrifices today, but maybe we can see the mentality of Israel in ourselves right now. I think women are extremely good at offering sacrifices. We sacrifice ourselves for others because it's the right thing to do in service to God- we give up sleep, time, food, money, work, and more for our family, friends, and jobs because we know we should- and perhaps it's in obedience to God. God made us to be helpers- it's in our nature to give ourselves for our children and husband. But when we start to do it out of requirement or for paying what is due to God, instead of in love, we are offering useless sacrifices to the Lord.

1 Corinthians 13:3 never had more meaning to me than it did when I read it in the context of Jesus' words: "If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing."

I think we can do all the things that are right- we can give to the poor, we can give every spare minute to our children, we can sell all we have and even offer ourselves as a martyr- but if we don't have the very heart of Jesus- love- it is all for naught. It's useless.

Love is the very essence of God Himself- 1 John is all about how we know we abide in Jesus- when we have love for others.

This is so convicting to me- because I can do so much out of obligation and Christian duty- I can work for my family day after day to be a keeper of the home- but if I don't do it out of love, I'm offering up a useless sacrifice to my King. I'm not abiding in Him- I'm trying to do my own saving work.

Now if it worries you that you can't love perfectly like He wants you to- you aren't alone! No man could ever love like that- except for Jesus! And He showed us the perfect sacrifice- in perfect love- when He died on the cross. He did it so that we could know His love.

You see, sinners like us would never be able to love like Jesus did- but He has given us the way to do it through Him! His Holy Spirit is present in those who believe- and is constantly working in our hearts to change us to be more like Him.

I'm reminded of that section in Matthew 7 when Jesus says:
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
Those people did amazing things in the name of Jesus- without ever knowing Him. They could tell Him all the things they had done, because they worked to gain entrance in the kingdom. Like the Pharisees, they are reliant on the deeds that they had done rather than knowing and practicing the love of God, and the deeds pouring out from His goodness.

Jesus says, "I desire mercy, and not sacrifice."

A sacrifice is giving up something that belongs to you. Love is giving back to others what God gave you in the first place.

When you love, you see how God loved you and gave Himself for you and you can't help but see who you are in light of it- your heart is changed and giving yourself up for others in offering to Him becomes a natural response to His awesome love. It's not out of obligation or just doing the right thing.

Is it automatic? Like suddenly when you are saved you are overtaken with love and you never have to fight the urge to be selfish? No way.

It's a work of the Spirit- and it's at war with your flesh all the time.

In Galatians 5:17 it says that: For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

And in Romans 7:18: "I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out."

Do you feel that tension? I do like every.single.day. No matter how much I read or study or know the truth, I end up doing the wrong thing. It seems like every day I have come to Jesus deeply aware of my heart's sins- ashamed that my flesh won and that's where I feel His forgiveness and love wash over me the most. He is the epitome of mercy- of what I should be- and through His Spirit, and His love, and when I repent and seek Him, He can change this sinner's heart to be like His own.

Oh, the goodness of the Father! He transforms our sinful hearts in the most amazing way! I'm so thankful that we can come to Him, to seek Him, to desire to know His love and become like Him, and He answers us!

Over time, when we are His, we slowly get to be more and more like Him! That thought alone makes me excited to grow old! That His love would increase in my heart- and that I would offer up myself for Him, and not for my own good or profit- that my will would become more and more molded to His.

Let's read it again: "But when he heard it, he said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."

He came to call sinners- those who are sick- those in need of a Savior. Call on Him just like that- broken and repentant, realizing and confessing that you are unrighteous and unmerciful- and watch as He does His work on you! Nothing you can do will ever be enough- it is Christ alone who saves and He is faithful to answer us when we seek Him. Isn't that amazing??

What a wonderful gift to be thankful for! Praise His name and give thanks to the Lord our God, for He is good. Please pray that we seek His heart and will, and love like Him this week.

About Laundry Devotions:
I tend to think of my laundry room as my prayer closet. I spend a lot of time in there where I get away from everything else while folding clothes (laundry for six keeps a girl busy ;). It's awesome because my hands are busy doing what I'm called to do and I get to spend time with God at the same time. I realized maybe that concept would work for others who are in a super busy stage of life like me. Maybe you are in the car, or at the kitchen sink, or prepping dinner. Whatever you might be doing, I hope this short audio format helps you give you a chance to focus on God even in an unlikely setting, like the laundry room! :)
Grab the Laundry Devotions button!
Just copy and paste the code below into your blog sidebar or post's html!

i so can't do it all.

I often get asked by readers and friends in real life, "How do you do it all? Fitness classes, having four children, homeschooling, cooking, cleaning, volunteering, design work, remodeling, projects, blogging?"

The answer I give them is usually a laugh with the response that I don't sleep and I never get finished with anything, but I was thinking more about it and I think this is a better answer:

I don't do it all. 

My desire for this blog is to be uplifting and encouraging- basically for it to be a positive place to come and have community with other women. My goal here is always to be transparent and honest with you guys, and I so don't want to give the impression of being something I'm not, so here's my answer to the question in more detail in case I have. If we sat down to chat over coffee, here's what I would tell you:

I can't do everything I want to get done. I have a constant list of things I'm not getting to, and sometimes it overwhelms me, and I get massively stressed out.

I think if you came over to my house at any given time, you'd see an orderly mess. I can't ever get a perfectly clean house. Like ever. I always have at least two loads of laundry to fold {which is actually a big improvement over my first years of homemaking! lol!}.

source: pinterest
So when I say orderly mess, I mean I can get the house picked up in 45 minutes, but there are always toys out, dishes in the sink, and clothes on a floor somewhere. It's never to my internal desire of cleanliness. I can't keep up with 3300 square feet and four little kids unless I do it all day long.

My floors are never perfect. I try to keep actual food off of them ;), so they are swept/vacuumed mostly- but if you came over you'd probably see a milk spot or three under the table, because they don't get mopped as often as I'd like them to.

Some weeks my toilets are clean, some weeks they are dirty. I try not to look too hard.

I am not a morning person. I've always been a night owl and a late riser, and it was making me sleep only 5-6 hours per night. Add in 1-2 hours of exercise a day, and all the other duties I have, and the lack of sleep was just wearing me down.  After vacation two weeks ago, we decided we have to be early people, because the lack of sleep was actually really hurting our productivity. Even after just a week, it's made a huge difference in how I feel every morning.

I really feel like I work constantly. We don't have television, and we rarely watch movies anymore, so once I get home in the evening from teaching fitness classes, we eat and then I go straight back to working on blogging and housework. Every day.

I love blogging, but honestly, it's a ton of work. I wish I could say I schedule my day out, and only spend one or two hours doing it, but it wouldn't be true. So far, I've done everything here, which meant losing many hours figuring out html and css and spending crazy amounts of time in illustrator making things just right {and I'm never done!}.

I love teaching fitness classes, but sometimes it's hard to have to be somewhere at the same time every day.

I homeschool, but I've never felt any sort of torture like it. I wonder what I'm doing wrong, why they can't get it, why am I doing this to myself, and then end up thinking about taking them to school, and know in my heart that this isn't the right time for us and that. I end up crying out to God that I'm not made for this and somehow He brings relief. Sometimes it's that my husband helps out, sometimes it's that the lightbulb suddenly comes on in their brain.

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I guess I'm doing lots and lots of things. When I make a list of what I've actually done in a day, it's really a pretty good list. When I take a step back, I realize I've gotten a lot done that day. My problem is, all I can ever see is what is not done.

I want to run the race, I want to be the Proverbs 31 lady that does it all.

I try to be everything I can be, and sometimes it's too much for me to handle.

My husband is the sweetest man I've ever known, and he is constantly trying to ease my burdens. He changes diapers, helps with dishes when he can, helps them with school work and me with homeschooling, and has insisted I hire help with cleaning the house. I love him so much. He is the picture of Christ and the church. He lays down his life for me all the time. I'm so very blessed to have him as my husband.

I am working on doing less, and living more, and it's a constant effort. I want to be a faithful daughter of the King, a good momma, and a good wife- not necessarily a productive woman. When I do too much, I lose my joy in there somewhere, and that's my red flag that I can't keep at it anymore.

I'm so, so not perfect. I'm grumpy when I don't sleep, I cry when I have too much to do, and I lose patience easily when I'm overwhelmed.

I've figured out to some extent that I have to accept that things will not be finished. That I will never conquer my to-do list.  And I'm learning that when I focus on God, that things that are less important seem to fade out.

When I start to focus on Him, I stop looking at myself and what I haven't done. I'm not anything in the grand scheme of this life- He is all of it. When I look at the big picture, I think, what will I remember in 10 years? 20? Will I remember that I got five projects done, or that I played with the kids at the park? What's more important?

Will I remember that my house was messy when everyone came over for Thanksgiving? Or that we had the best time visiting and seeing each other? What's the most important thing here? People or a clean house?

Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I stress about it too much.

I've been praying that God will give the priorities I need, that He will show me what is the most important thing each day. I know the days I start with Him are the best ones. He gives my joy that doesn't happen without Him. And I can tell a difference! I don't believe that God won't give you more than you can handle. I think that this life is more than we can handle, and we have to turn to Him because of it. He has to be our source of life- for everything.

I'm still learning this, and I hope you guys are okay with that. I wish I had 10 steps to tell you of ways to become more organized with your life, but I'm no expert. I'm just a momma/wife/child of God that's learning and experimenting just like you.

I'm so thankful for all you- thankful that we can have this amazing little community across the world! That we can be honest and transparent and look to Jesus for help together- how awesome is that!! God is so good, and it's so cool that He chose us to live in this time for His purpose. It's crazy!

Please pray for this learning-momma-wife-wanna-be-Proverbs-31-lady that God will show me how to be what He wants me to be. I so desire that His will be accomplished and His glory be reflected in my life. Ahhh, it's just so heavy on my heart. I want to get to the end and be told, "well done, good and faithful servant."

Thank you for listening, and for giving me the grace to be less than perfect. I love you guys!

Mandy

finding guests for your feast {food on friday}

image via Pinterest/ awelltraveledwoman.tumblr.com
It's hard to believe Thanksgiving is less than one week away! Doesn't it seem like it was just summer when we were all sweating like crazy? I must be getting old, because it seems like Christmas was only four months ago. Seriously, where does the time go?? It's unbelievable.

Anyway, I issued this challenge to you guys a few weeks ago:
Open your hands to the poor, your home to the needy. Be the hands of Jesus to them as you welcome them into your home this year.
Show them- show them the love of Jesus firsthand by loving them and welcoming them into your life. Money doesn't change people's lives. Free food doesn't change people's lives. Jesus does. And He wants to do it through us.
Invite someone you wouldn't normally invite to your feast this year. 
Share your feast with someone who doesn't have a loving and living home. 
And today I wanted to share a few ideas on how to make that challenge happen! :D

Okay, so maybe you've decided to share your feast with others this season, but where do you find the new guests? 

Here are a few ideas:

1. Ask your neighbors.
Maybe you know a sweet elderly couple that's alone, or a family that just got transferred to your city. Someone that lives in your neighborhood that doesn't have family nearby might love to come to your house and eat a meal with you!

2. Ask your church leaders.
Your church elder or pastor might know someone lonely or in need to whom you could offer a warm home and meal. They are awesome shepherds of the flock, and their eyes may be open to someone you might have never thought of inviting.

3. Put the word out among your friends. 
Your close friends might know someone who doesn't have a place to go this year. Do you have a friend that volunteers at a shelter or with a food bank, or other type of ministry? They might be the perfect person to ask!

4. Keep your eyes and ears open.
You might see a potential guest at the grocery store, or walking down the street pushing a shopping cart. Once you really start looking, your eyes start to open to all kinds of people that would love to eat a warm dinner with a family. 

If you feel the Holy Spirit nudging you to ask someone {you will know it's Him because you probably won't want to ask that person}- just do it, don't hesitate. If you hesitate, or take time to think it through, you will probably talk yourself out of it. {I know from experience!}

It's worked that way for me so, so many times. I hear it deep in my soul,"go do this" and my mind will almost always protest immediately, but I know it's God speaking straight to me, so I know I can't think about it anymore, I just have to go do it. I also know that when I disobey his Spirit, I feel the conviction that comes with it, but when I obey, I can feel Him at work in it. Does that make sense? It's really hard to explain, but you know when He wants you to do something. Your sin nature almost always immediately rebels, but you feel great joy when you actually do it.

5. Pray for God's will to be accomplished.
Ask God to bless your attempt to share your feast, and that your heart will be in line with His will. He is so, so awesome- He will do it! And you know, if you invite others and no one comes, it might be that it's for His purpose, which we have no ability to see.

Ask Him to give you the heart to love others like He wants you to do- no matter if it's sharing your feast, or helping others in some other way. There's not just one right way to love on other people- so ask Him to show you how you can best love and share Him this season!

I just can't say it enough- I am so thrilled to see what He can do when we open our hearts and give Him reign over everything in our lives. Oh, He is such a wonderful, loving Savior! Let's make Him our focus during the holidays!


five random facts and a question for you

I always love getting to know you guys, and I so enjoy getting to find out random things about people, so I thought I would share some about me too! {I'd so love to hear your random things in the comments if you have 'em!} :D

Anyway, here are five random facts about me:

1. I love {I mean really love...okay, like can't live without} Diet Dr. Pepper. It's so, so good.
2. I graduated from a tiny Christian school, and had 14 other people in my senior class. 
We were a tight group! 

3. My first baby weighed 9lbs, 9oz, and I was induced 5 days after he was due. His birthday just happened to fall right between mine and my husbands- mine is the 17th, hubs is the 23rd, and Elijah was born on the 20th. We have three birthdays in six days!


4. I have no idea how many people are coming to Thanksgiving at my house this year. I've given out at least a dozen extra invitations to friends and strangers trying to share my feast, and I'm crazy excited about it! I would be thrilled if I had one person I invited that showed up! 





5. I've had these verses from Titus 3 on my heart a lot lately, and I just think they are fantastic practical commands for daily living. Sometimes we get overwhelmed at how many commands we have, but these are so simple: 



Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 
 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.  
8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.
So, so many good things there!! God is so amazing!!

I think a new laundry devotion is coming next week... ;) Wohoo! I've so missed them!! 


Question: What do you guys think about going through a specific section of Scripture starting in January- working together to study God's Word in small chunks each week, with a forum of some kind to discuss it all? I'd love to hear your thoughts if that is something you would be interested in!

Linking up for Five Things Thursday!

thrifty thursday #1

After a couple of weeks off from the month long series, I figured I'd bring back a little thrifting find today!

the story:

I got my first huge crockpot my freshman semester in college. It was a Christmas gift from my mom. She promised I would love it. I had just turned 18,  and though I loved to cook, to be honest, a full sized Crock Pot didn't quite thrill me {sorry, mom!}. Fast forward a few years and the Crock Pot became a regular friend, and after 10 years and several uses later it had some serious dents, rust, and multiple cracks in the ceramic! So turns out moms are always right- I did love it!

I was looking to replace it with a newer model with a timer on it- hopefully thrifted, since I wasn't willing to pay $40 for another one.

I was so excited to find the exact model I wanted brand new at Goodwill for $8!


I love it when that happens!

P.S. Did you know you can make spaghetti marinara in the Crock Pot? I usually just make up my own recipe with a Sam's Club sized can of diced tomatoes, and seasonings {ok, and a little butter too- don't tell! ;) }, but this recipe looks yummy too!

BH Round-Up :: feasts, friends, freezer cooking and a fitness challenge

Here are a few of my favorite links around the web right now:


You can make your own free printable thanksgiving bunting! How cute and easy is that?! {ht: tip junkie}







You can also find out how to get a free freezer cooking ebook from MoneySavingMom. {she never ceases to amaze me!} :)


Oh, and have you met Joy of Grace Full Mama yet? She says she saw Jesus at Relevant, but I see Jesus shining in every post of hers- what a sweet and lovely woman! God is using her in big ways! I used to follow her old blog, the Stay-at-Home Missionary and I'm so thrilled she rejoined the blogging world in October!




My friend Kelli, of More Bang for Your Bucks, is introducing her 40 day fitness challenge! She's offering her readers a challenge to get moving and keep the holiday weight off for the next 40 days, and you can link up with her there if you would love to do the same! Who doesn't need to move it, move it, especially with all the yummy food we will be eating! I love it!







And speaking of eating yummy holiday meals, who will be sharing in your feast this year? Join us in inviting someone you wouldn't normally invite to your parties and celebrations this holiday season! You can share the love of Jesus with someone by simply sharing your table with them!

Want to sign up, or already sharing your feast this season in some way? I'd love to add your name to the list and feature you over the next few weeks!


hiking for exercise :: finding your exercising sweet spot

This is part 5 of our {fitness on friday} series on finding your exercising “sweet spot.” Check out part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4 if you are just joining in!

IMG_5671Today we’re talking again about getting exercise in the great outdoors! Last time we talked about walking and running- both of which are great ways to get your calorie burn on outside of the four walls of your home.

Another way I love to enjoy God’s creation while burning calories is to hike! I love running trails, and I also enjoy slower hiking with the family too. I love to hike climbing mountain trails- I get a great cardio workout and I always love to see a great view at the trail summit!

We live in Texas so we don’t have too many mountains around here, but we like to hike on vacations and at local state parks while we are at home. We don’t get to go as often as we’d like to- I’m hoping as the kids grow older we will be able to make it more and more of a priority since they love it too.

IMG_5745one of my favorite pictures from our Smoky Mountain trip!

Last year we hiked when the kids were 7, 5, 3, and 13 months a couple of miles up to a waterfall and cave, and the kids soaked up every minute of it! And we got an even better workout than we’d hoped for, carrying a three-year-old and a baby up the trail. :)

If you are lucky enough to get to live near hiking trails, you should definitely take advantage of them! Hiking burns between 300-400 calories per hour, and it’s a great leg workout too!

Maybe hiking just might be your exercising “sweet spot.” I think it would be mine if I lived a little closer to the mountains!

Here are a few hiking pictures we took on our vacation to Tennessee. Maybe you can enjoy a little hike through the Smoky Mountains too, just sitting right where you are now! ;)

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I loved it! So much beauty there!

You just can’t go wrong exercising outdoors. Oh, I love inhaling that fresh air. God is so good to let us enjoy His creation!

busy boxes for traveling with little ones

We’ve been traveling a bunch in the last few months and with four kids eight and under in one car for hours at a time, these busy boxes have seriously been lifesavers!

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I bought these colored school boxes on clearance at Walmart for $1.50 each. I think their original price was around $4. Having to buy four of anything makes you really consider the price, so I was so glad to find them on sale! The kids use them as their desks while they are in the car.

Here’s what they looked like on the inside:

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I found the mini Color Wonder kits on clearance at Walmart for $1 each, the colored pencils were $1 as well {ever since we had a crayon melt into the carpet on the van’s heater floor vent, we’ve outlawed crayons in the car!}, the Hot Wheels cars for $1 were a huge hit, and the spiral notebooks were from our homeschool closet; we had stocked up on them during the summer school supplies sales for $.10 each.

The stickers were left over from the wedding shower last month, and I printed out a state map so that the kids could color and follow along on our journey. We haven’t done a bit of geography in homeschooling yet- so it was pretty funny when they tried to guess the other states and got them all wrong. They did get Texas right though! {phew!}

Total cost of each box: $4.60

$4.60 per child for more than 8 hours of traveling in peace = totally worth it!

I think the busy boxes would be great to have for long holiday trips with little ones too. You could even add holiday projects like making Christmas cards for loved ones, or doing coloring history lessons for Thanksgiving and then add some inexpensive stocking stuffers in as a surprise, or even little snacks if you let your kiddos eat in the car.

In my book, anything that makes long trips with little ones easier is…

{insert Martha Stewart voice here}…a very good thing. :)

 

:: enter to win the november glam package from {bh} ::

november giveaway :: the winter glam package

This month’s giveaway is the winter glam package- and it’s just in time for you to get all dolled up for your holiday parties! :D

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the winter glam package includes: one hazelnut cream candle {my favorite scent ever!}, a sally hansen color quick nail polish in deep metallic purple, a beautiful vintage scarf, a metallic going out on the town clutch, and an adorable little silver vintage jewelry box.

you can enter with these two easy ways:

1. subscribe by your favorite method{s} below and leave me a comment for each one that you did {or currently do!}

:: follow on facebook ::
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follow by rss feed ::
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::follow by email::

enter your email address:

 

 

2. answer this below:

what is your favorite winter accessory that keeps you feeling glam amidst all the heavy layers?

{mine is scarves!}

 

The giveaway is open to all U.S. residents and will close on November 30, at 11:59 p.m. A winner will be chosen using random.org and will be notified by email! I hope you win! :D

what will your table look like this holiday season? the Luke 14 challenge

Our holiday season is fast approaching- only 22 days until Thanksgiving and 48 until Christmas!
 
This fall, something has really been on my heart, and I want to share it with you all. It started with these words of Jesus in Luke 14:12-14:
He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
 

My friends, we are going to be holding feasts in the next few weeks. To us they are important, wonderful celebrations of joy and thankfulness. We have traditions of all kinds, more gifts given and received than any of us can count, and we love it. I love, love, love the holidays. Cool weather, warm fires, yummy foods, family, and all the fun things that come with the winter season- we have been given such wonderful gifts.

But for so many people, the holiday season may be much different. For the poor it's a reminder of what they don't have.  For the disabled, the holidays might be a lonely time. For the bitter, it’s probably a time of misery. For the single, it can be a time of great sadness. For those who are grieving this year, it may be the hardest season they've ever experienced.
 
I think Americans have done a good job in providing food for the poor on each holiday. Many have a place they can go eat a warm Thanksgiving meal for free. But how many have a warm and happy home they can go to as well?
 
That's why I'm excited to bring you guys a challenge this season.
If you're in, you have over seven weeks to accomplish your mission.
 
Are you ready for it?
 
Invite someone you wouldn't normally invite to your feast this year.
 
Share your feast with someone who doesn't have a loving and living home.
 
It's really that simple.
 
I’m calling it the “share your feast” holiday challenge!
 

 
Open your hands to the poor, your home to the needy. Be the hands of Jesus to them as you welcome them into your home this year.

Show them- show them the love of Jesus firsthand by loving them and welcoming them into your life. Money doesn't change people's lives. Free food doesn't change people's lives. Jesus does. And He wants to do it through us.

 
When we open our homes to the poor, and welcome them into our lives with love, we are displaying the hope that is in us- seeing them like Jesus saw them and us both- broken, and in need of Savior. It’s simple, but I have a feeling it won’t be easy.
 
Will it be strange? I'm guessing it will be. It's not easy to change what we know, and inviting someone different than us may challenge our families and seem awkward at first. I feel like that is almost a sure thing.
 
We love the comfort of the familiar. But isn't that the most dangerous thing? Our comfort? This world is not our home- we have to be careful not to make life here more important than the life that is to come.
 
Imagine what can happen when we share the Gospel in person, with the lost, and when we give up our most precious holidays for someone else? What will that show them?

I think of my sweet friends whom I admire so much- the ones that have fostered and adopted children into their home. They are doing this very thing- opening their arms to the broken, the poor, the lonely of this world, and showing them the love of Christ in their own home every single day of the year. Those little ones no longer have to be alone every holiday- they get to share the feast with their new family.

 
In comparison it seems a small thing to open our home to do the same one or two days a year, right?
 
This is something anyone can do- no special skills or talents required, and that extra mouth can be fed at your table for very little. If your family dinners are like mine, you have more leftovers than you can stand to eat anyway!
 
Open your arms to someone who needs it this year- use the gifts you've been given to share the love of Jesus with others- this is what biblical homemaking is really about. It's about being the light in the darkness- the city on a hill- to those around you. Your home is your city- your ministry of hope in Christ. What a sweet opportunity to share what we've been given with others!
 
You can make a difference, even under the roof of your own home.
 
Love others. Welcome someone in with open arms this season. Or maybe at least just invite them!
 
Will you take the challenge? Let's do it together! What do you say?
 
Leave me a comment if you want to “sign up” and try something new this holiday season. I will manually add your name to the bottom of this post {and I'll add your site if you are a blogger too}. Let's encourage and hold each other accountable in this adventure! :D
 
I can’t wait to see what our Father will do when we work in unity for His name! Oh, please, please pray for this you guys- pray that His will be done and His glory will be made known among the people this season!
 
joining the challenge:
2. Heather from Four Loud Monkeys
3. Michelle from All That Glitter
4. MWTouch94
 
I'll be posting more ideas on where to find people and how to show hospitality to strangers in your home {something I'm learning too!} in the following weeks. I'd love to hear your ideas, and welcome any guest posts on the topic as well!