Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Women Living Well book study: Chapters 4-6 discussion + study guide

This is the second week of our Women Living Well Study. You can find all previous study posts here.


How was your second week of studying? I loved reading all of your discussions last week! Thank you for sharing your thoughts!! It's so fun to discuss this together! :D

I really enjoyed this week's reading, but it was definitely a hard week of facing the truth, wasn't it? ;)

Let's go ahead and dig into chapters 4-6...

Chapter 4: The Effects of the Media Revolution

Oh, this chapter steps all over my toes in a good way. :) I love how Courtney starts with this:

"Media is amoral. In and of itself it is neither good nor evil. It is our use of it that determines its morality." {p. 37}

Media isn't my main problem. :) I'm my main problem. I love soaking in everything the internet has to offer- keeping up with friends, interacting with other women, instant knowledge of every kind {I don't even have to remember anything anymore!}, ways to do anything and everything... it could go on forever. I could spend every waking hour in front of the computer and still have more to look at or learn.

It's so good, and yet so bad for me sometimes, because not only does it take my mind to other places- it takes my attention off of God and my husband and family the most. And while my intentions are good, it can easily take my thoughts to envy and coveting what my neighbors have. Spending time on the internet gives me more knowledge like Courtney mentions, and yet it divides my attention and focus at the same time.

Blogging presents a whole new world of issues for an internet/knowledge lover like me. "I want to" turns into "I have to"- and I find that because I blog, I need to be even more aware of how the computer pulls me in. I have legitimate reasons to be online, but I don't want to live my life out in front of a screen. This week, it's hit me that I need to become more intentional about what I do online. Mindless window shopping or Pinterest surfing might not be the best thing to wind down when I spend so many hours online each day already.

Not only that, I realized this last week that I've fallen into a very bad habit of checking my email on my phone first thing in the morning before devotion time. Nothing online is that pressing, you know? It can wait. When I do check my phone first I notice my anxiety level goes up, and I keep thinking of what I need to respond to in my prayer time. That's not good for staying focused on Jesus.


In the past, I've shut down my Facebook account completely for weeks and I found I had so much more free time and I hardly missed anything that was going on. Can you believe it? If you want to do it- you can deactivate your account and it will save your information for when you decide to re-activate it. I can tell you firsthand, freedom from checking Facebook is a wonderful thing!

I've also done the 12 hour challenge since I started blogging. For a few weeks I turned off the internet for 12 hours each day, and gave myself two 15 minute check-ins so that I would stop feeling so split-brained and unfocused from multi-tasking all day long. And oh my, I was so shocked at how hard it was to turn off that silly computer! It's become such a huge part of my day that fasting from it was actually difficult!

This week my goals have been to leave the beeping phone behind while I do chores around the house, and to avoid looking at my phone until after I do morning devotions {which I started doing again this week for the first week since the baby has been here!}. Both of these have been so good for my brain and heart this week already!

I want to be able to hear THE Voice before any other voice. I want to hear His voice instead of listening to what the world says I should have or do or want. You know what I mean?

I want to remember this quote from Courtney as she closed out the chapter- I think it's such a great reminder to help me monitor my time and thoughts as I go online:

"Information is a cheap substitute for the wisdom that comes from God."

Chapter 5: Never Walk Alone

Going it alone is, without a doubt, one of the most common and effective strategies that Satan uses to discourage moms. A woman alone in her home with her ideals eventually wears down and becomes a perfect target for Satan to discourage. Sally Clarkson, Desperate  {WLW, p. 45}

Do you have a Titus 2 mentor in your life? We had a Titus 2 panel at our women's event last month and it was incredible. We only had 45 minutes of listening to 4 ladies answer questions, but it was such a gift to hear wisdom from those who've walked it before. I felt encouraged to know these Proverbs 31 ladies had been through some of the same things I am, and they'd made it through! :) Seriously though, it was wonderful.

I think one of the reasons I wanted to do this study here on the blog was that it is so good for us to walk together in community through some very practical Titus 2 advice from Courtney! I love that we all get to be online together and get to know each other and answer each other's questions. What a blessing it is to live in a time where we can meet together from thousands of miles apart! :D

You can also join a GoodMorningGirls group for a semester online and walk through a study with a group of ladies from all over the world!

Since we started homeschooling full-time again, I've been able to go to another Bible study with girls from my church- and again I can't tell you how comforting and encouraging it is to be in community and learn with other sisters in Christ. If you have a chance to meet regularly with other women who love Jesus, try and do it!! :D

Chapter 6: The Time-Warp Wife

Being a helper to your husband is not embraced by the world, but I love how Courtney addresses the role of women with these Scriptures on page 57:
  • God created wives to be helpers to our husbands (Gen. 2:18).
  • God commands wives to respect our husbands (Eph. 5:33).
  • God commissions our husbands to be leaders of the home (Eph. 5:22–24). 
It's so good to be reminded of what the Bible says, and I love how she mentions that every marriage will look different, but she also says to remember that "you were created specifically to be the helper of your man."
God gave you this ministry! It is a ministry specific to you- a job no other woman can do {and not to mention a job we'd want no other woman to do....in the words of Matt Chandler- are you tracking with me here?}. 

You can praise your husband, you can serve your husband, you can meet his needs in ways no one else can and that itself is a blessing because it gives you a chance to show the love of Christ every single day as you minister to him! 

By respecting him, by letting him lead, and by helping him you are fulfilling the commands of the Word of God. I wonder- do we take it this seriously though? I know I don't often enough. In fact, lots of times I can convince myself that I'm "helping" my husband be more tidy {according to my standards anyway} by nagging him to pick something up, but I know the truth. That habit is no good! 

I love the 5 ways to respect your husband listed on page 62. I need to set these in a reminder on my phone every day just as practical reminders of how to respect my husband! 

And then this quote: 

"Oftentimes we disrespect our husbands out of selfishness. We are not getting our way or what we want, so we go the route of criticizing, crying, or pouting." {p. 64}

Ouch again, no? This was convicting! Thinking back to nearly every time I've nagged or criticized or have said harsh, ugly things to my husband, it's been because I didn't get what I wanted. It's pride- it's placing myself and what I want higher above him and what he wants.

And then this:

"But why is it that women tend to cry and men tend to get angry? Because crying is often the result of a woman feeling unloved, and anger is often the result of a man feeling disrespected." {p. 64}

Wow. I've never realized that before, have you? Just realizing that my husband gets angry when he feels disrespected could make a difference in the way I react in the middle of an argument. It's an instant reminder for me to check my spirit and my words and respect my husband.

And another way to dissolve friction in our marriages? I'm sure it won't be easy, but I think it works miracles in our marriages to let our man take the lead:

"Submission is a heart attitude that will be displayed in our actions. We humbly allow our husbands to take the lead. When we allow the husband to take the lead, friction and chaos within marriage are resolved because this is the God-ordained order for marriage." {p. 65} {I love that she follows this with a real-life story of how hard it really is! :D}



God is so good to us- I know that the times I've followed my husband's lead and shown him respect by giving him priority that God has blessed it and my husband has responded to me with love in so many ways. I'm a very blessed woman to have such an amazing husband who loves me so very well- he has been the picture of Christ to me. Seriously. I mess up with the respect thing all the time, and yet my husband is so very good to me! 

Marriage is one of the most challenging places to live out the commands of the Lord, but the benefits of obedience far surpass the work! My prayer this week is that we can live out what God has called us to do in our marriage, and that He will help us respect our husbands as we should and give up our desire to control and criticize them, and that He will bless our efforts to love on our husbands! 

Oh dear Jesus, we thank you for your Word- we thank you for Titus 2 women like Courtney and those in our lives who can model how to walk out the commands you've given us. Thank you for husbands- thank you for allowing us to walk in relationships that model who you are. Please help us to live out what you want for us- please give us strength to control our tongues, Holy Spirit, we beg for your help as you know our weaknesses in our marriages, and in being online. Please change our hearts to want only what you desire for us in every area- and especially in our media time and the words we speak to our husbands this week. We love you and praise you for your marvelous deeds, Father! You are so good to us. In the name of Jesus we ask for help this week. Amen.

________________________________________________

Let's discuss! 
Please feel free to reply to anyone's comments below! 
{Oh, and it would be so nice if you leave your name somehow so that we know who you are. :D Anonymous can be a popular name these days! hehehe :)}

Did you make any changes to the way you spend time on the internet this week? 
I stopped looking at my phone until I had morning devotions {which were possible thanks to my husband taking the baby! Love.that.man.}

How did you show your husband love this week?


And I'd love to hear what you wrote for this: what does submission look like in your home? How does your husband lead you in your marriage? {and remember, it will be different for everyone, so please be gracious if you have an opinion. ;)} 


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

homemaking hack #11: find storage in weird places


Okay, so I must love you guys a lot to show you this kind of organizational embarrassment. But I figure if you're still around after my last homemaking hack, I can't scare you too much. ;)

Here is our bathroom storage solution BEFORE:


Here's the story: as far as we know, our house is so old they didn't have bathrooms/toilets in it when it was built in 1895, so they added bathrooms by closing in parts of rooms. Our main bathroom is huge, but our most usable bathroom is about 2.5 x 5.5 feet in size. Since it has the only shower, this is also the bathroom that we all use to get ready. Which means all of our {my} toiletries are in the tiny bathroom. :) It's small for 6 people, but that's just part of having an old house, I think. 

I had this cart in there that created storage but it also took up 45% of our usable floor space in the bathroom. I've tried it in both places it will fit as you can see: 


But as I was thinking about it the other day, I realized almost everything I actually USE is in the basket over the toilet or my makeup bag. I didn't need three drawers full of stuff. In fact, the cart was mainly full of three years of hotel toiletries and products that didn't really work for me but I didn't want to throw away.

So we had this old dresser we repainted that we use for Zane's clothes now in the family closet area... in a stroke of common sense {not genius by any means, ha!}, I decided to move it into his room and use a drawer in it for bathroom storage!

On Saturday I cleaned out that cart full of old stuff:


And hallelujah, here is the AFTER: 


I only kept a drawer full {probably still too much!} and the rest was history. :)


I love how much lighter everything feels when you don't have transparent drawers of old junk taking up space. :D And this little project even inspired me to finally put the handles on the dresser and use it as a changing table again!


I love getting a little more organized and making things work that we already have. I can't tell you how many times I've looked at getting a cute basket drawer system for that bathroom and couldn't bring myself to spend the money on it. Turns out there was a better, free solution that helped me cut out clutter and use what I already owned. And it freed up all of the 4.5 sf. of floor space in the bathroom. Yay! :D

check out other homemaking hacks here!

Do you ever find unusual spaces to organize and store things?
I hide all of our gifts we buy under the bed too! {don't tell the kids! hahah!}. And here's the strange way we carry Legos on trips sometimes!

Any old house owners/lovers out there with me? :) 
I think having an old house and only 3 tiny closets forces me to keep less stuff- which is such a great thing! I sometimes get overwhelmed by how little storage space I have, but in reality it's actually a blessing.

Monday, October 28, 2013

do, read, learn, be goals for this week


Can you believe it's almost November! How is this possible? The months after you have a baby fly by! ;)

Here are this week's do, read, learn, and be goals! :D

do:
make 3 dinners ahead for this week
plan out November dinner list
list 2 more things for sale
drop off Goodwill donations
take 4 kids to dentist appointments
make a list of gifts I've collected for Christmas/birthdays
nurse the baby without doing anything else 2-3 times a day
clean out kid summer clothes
teach fitness classes/ exercise 5 hours this week

Look at that belly! The Zaner, 10 weeks old! :)
read:
the book of Philippians
2 chapters of To Live as Christ to Die is Gain*
finish reading The Skinny Rules* {I love reading food/nutrition/diet books- it's one of my favorite genres and this book is great so far!}

learn:
Isaiah 55:6-7 {totally skipped out on the last two weeks, so we're not giving up}

be:
focused

We've been running really hard in October so I'm hoping we get to calm down a little in November. A lack of sleep combined with multi-tasking all day long is making me feel a little crazy- my words won't come out right and I feel a bit like I'm spinning in circles. I'm just brain-tired, you know? Strangely enough, this happens every October because of birthday/event month, and this year it's even harder with a 2 month old. {go figure! haha!}

It's important for me to get a little more sleep and just focus my mind on Jesus more instead of worrying about all the things I have to do and all of the things I haven't done yet.

I'm aiming to spend more time away from the computer and phone this week so that I feel more focused on what I'm doing, like nursing the baby or reading a book, or cleaning out the closets. My plan is to pray and focus on Jesus or listen to worship music while I do those tasks and leave the beeping phone behind in the other room, and from Wednesday on, I'm planning to turn off the computer by 10:30 p.m. this week and go to bed instead of working late. :) I'm hoping taking these little steps will help my brain in the next few weeks!

Do you feel like you're distracted by the internet too? {we'll talk more about this on Wednesday too!}

How do you focus on being more focused on your family?





* amazon affiliate links- should you purchase that book using my link, I'll get a tiny percentage! hey! :D

Thursday, October 24, 2013

sweet kiddos + praising God for changed plans

Busy doesn't quite do the last week justice. Every moment was filled with four birthdays, parties, and events- here, and out and about, making food, grocery shopping, plus a good mix of company and regular life with kids issues... it was crazy. :) But the best kind of crazy!

And I mentioned Monday that Elijah turned 10 last weekend. That was a big deal! I can't believe we have a ten-ager now! ;)


He's so precious. Here's what he loves to wear these days- he's becoming quite the little hipster musician! {which cracks me up, because they don't have TV or watch much of anything but cartoons!}


He's taking on a style all his own. :D I bought the hat for his birthday because he loved them every time he saw one in the store. And he's the kind of kiddo who almost never wants anything. :)

And his brothers and sisters love him so much they wrote him a birthday song disguised in hieroglyphics and sang it to him, then spent their own money and bought him a gift, complete with cards and homemade wrapping paper. :D


They looooove him. :D



The song went something like: "One day there was a good day, that God made the sun, and the stars, and the trees, and the grass, and you." :)

And they wrote him a card that said, "even when your reward is heaven, you git a reward here."



It was one of those moments when your heart is so full it could burst. It makes me wonder how the Lord feels when His children love each other, you know?

Sometimes it hits me {like a punch in the stomach} that outside of God's grace- if I would have had it my way- we might have had only two boys {or even none!} way back then. Look what preciousness we would have missed out on:


I can't imagine a world without Zane in it- or Bella, or Ava. What joy, what an incredible blessing our family would have missed if we had chosen to follow my 8 year "plan"...

Oh, thank you Jesus for these sweet little ones. Thank you for not leaving me to my own plans.

Have you ever had a plan that you were grateful God didn't let you follow? Or a prayer He didn't answer that ended up being for your good? 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Women Living Well- the book study: Chapters 1-3 discussion


How was your first week of reading Women Living Well? I can't wait to hear!!

I'll go through chapter by chapter and highlight some of what stood out to me, and then we'll discuss our ideas down in the comments section of this post!

Introduction- The Voices

I love this way of introducing the book- there are so, so many voices that call to us everyday- many from the outside world. For me- voices that seem to distract me are not necessarily the news or people calling me- it's more like the voices of the world telling me "you're not enough."

The voice of Pinterest calls out to me and says you could do more things yourself- like build that gorgeous table or you could make that skirt yourself instead of buying it. Twitter calls me and says you should speak up more and tweet more often. Email calls me and says you should respond more often or more quickly. Magazines and store websites call me and say you should look more like this...

More, more, more of things that will never satisfy me. Ever.

What if instead, I long for more of Jesus, to become more like Him? He is the only one who can still the voices and fill up the calling for more. Like Courtney says- He is the living water- the source of life.

Chapter 1

But how do we become more like Him?

We get to know Him- and Courtney tells us how we can connect with the Lord- by slowing down and getting away from the voices to hear the one Voice that changes our lives. I loved this:
Sweet reader, when we do not slow down and rest, we miss God’s voice {emphasis mine}. We tend to feel overwhelmed, irritable, frustrated, and unappreciated. Emotionally we can lose our way. We have been deceived into thinking that more is better: more food, more clothes, more toys, and more decorations. More, more, more falsely promises to make us happy. Even when we are pursuing something noble, such as serving others or volunteering, the overactivity threatens to bring chaos to our homes and families.
I know for a fact that quiet time with Jesus makes a huge impact in my life. When I go for extended periods of time without being alone with God, I feel anxiety and sinful anger or irritation build in my chest, and I start to let it out on those around me- especially my family- before I even realize what I'm doing. The battle in my spirit goes from trying to seek the Lord for help and ends up with my setting my eyes on silly temporary things like how messy my house is and how big my list of things to do is.

The Word of God is so powerful- and pouring out my heart to God and seeking His will for each day before it begins doesn't always change my circumstances, but it does change my heart. The kids might still make a huge mess with cereal before I can even walk in the kitchen, but when I've met with the Holy Spirit before I go into my day, I seek His help when I feel overwhelmed instead of acting sinfully angry toward my children.  

I loved this section at the end of the chapter on page 11- it rang so true in my experience:
God wants us to drink deeply of His living water every day. He wants us to find refreshment, comfort, and satisfaction through His Word. David used the analogy of a deer: “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God” (Ps. 42:1). 
Are we thirsting for Jesus, or have we made ourselves so busy that we don’t even know our soul’s greatest need—solitude with God?

Do you want to be a better wife? Study your Bible. Do you want to be a better mother? Study your Bible. Do you want to be a better homemaker? Study your Bible.
It's all in one place- the Word of God. We just have to seek after Him there in it.

Chapter 2

But what if we can't find the time?

I think we all have those hard seasons where time alone is rare! That season has just happened to me this very year. ;)

After 3 years of wonderful longer devotion times alone in the morning, I had a new little one in August... :) And like that, I'm tired and just want to sleep through the morning when Zane is actually really sleeping. He wakes up several times a night to nurse, and I'm a very light sleeper. So quiet times have been random and not always possible after I get up running to get to homeschooling or church most days. 

I miss it so very much- and I'm excited to tell you this week was the first time in forever I got to sit down in the morning and drink coffee! The baby was still sleeping when I woke up, so I had some time alone with Jesus. And that time was so precious to me! So, so sweet.

I've been making it a goal of mine for the last few weeks to do devos at lunch- but long quiet times are still not possible for long with a needy baby and a short homeschooling break. But like Courtney says on page 14- my hunger and thirst hasn't died, and Jesus has thankfully been in my thoughts all through the day.

I love her ideas of memorizing and meditating on the Bible by leaving it open on the table or using sticky notes and index cards with verses throughout the day. Seeing God's Word has always been one of the best ways I've been able to keep my mind on Jesus through the day!

One of my favorite ways to meditate on the Bible is to post it all over my house in different places. Sometimes it's printed out on the fridge, sometimes it's right behind my computer screen on my desk, sometimes the verses are just pictures of my actual Bible on my walls! 

Another way I love to meditate on God is to sing praise songs and have them playing in the background. And did you know you can have the Bible read to you as you work? In the summer mornings, I started playing YouVersion aloud on my phone for the kids to listen to with me- and oddly enough they all became quiet and started listening to chapter after chapter! Just hearing the Word of God spoken can change the attitude of those listening- even your kids. It's crazy!!

I'm convinced that if you ask the Lord to give you a time to get away with Him, He will provide it. I'm convicted this week to ask Him and to seek time alone with Him over choosing the internet or entertainment for myself. I want to walk with the King, more than the world. Every single day.

Here are some resources for meditating and memorizing the Word:

Good Morning Girls Online Bible Study {Women Living Well's sister site}
YouVersion
Hide God's Word {website for Bible memorization}
32 Ways to Memorize Scripture {article}
Printable Scriptures for your walls {click on the picture}:

 

A daily tool for planning daily devotion and meditation in your day- the plan:



Chapter 3

Even when you get alone with God, do you find yourself thinking about other things? I know I do! I have found asking God to protect my thoughts so helpful to fight distraction in prayer. My flesh is weak- and it's always so evident when I can't even pray to my Savior without thinking about what I have to do that day. I've occasionally journaled my prayers, and I'm encouraged by this chapter to try that again!

I love the idea of whispering your prayers for your family as you go about your day! It's such a great way to practice praying without ceasing {1 Thess. 5:17}! Doing the laundry is one time I usually talk to Jesus on a regular basis. I just pray about anything and everything as I sort out the clothes. I've also used these ideas in the past for each task to meditate on God during your daily activities- like praying specific prayers when you're applying makeup! :D I want to add more prayer to my daily tasks!

I find the more I pray and seek God, the thirstier I seem to get for Him. Is that true for you too? It's like He quenches the thirst, and makes it stronger all at the same time. I long for Him- I can't get enough of Him- and yet in seeking Him, I'm so full of thanksgiving and joy because of who He is. But at the same time I want to know Him more- to love Him more- to be with Him in eternity. I feel David when he says he pants for Him- I want MORE of God. Do you know what I mean? For now we see through the glass darkly- but then we will see Him face to face. Oh, that's the day I long for!

I have not fasted in prayer yet- but I can understand why you would and what it would do. Have you ever felt something so heavy, it was constantly on your heart, and you just felt the need to be face down on the ground seeking the Lord because you felt so inadequate and you needed Him so much? I would imagine that would be the time to fast. I'd love to hear your experiences with this- what caused you to fast, and what was the outcome? I'm also reminded of Dr. James Dobson who fasted every Tuesday for the salvation of his children- what a great thing to fast for!

Summary

So to summarize these first three chapters- remember: the voices of the world are constantly calling both you and me to move away from the King. We have to realize that we are in a battle and strive to fix our eyes on Jesus! I love how Courtney gently reminds us to realize that we need a plan in place {p. 17} and the help of our God to meet with Him on a constant basis. :) 

In our homes, we can look for quiet times to escape the noise, but even in the noise of regular life we can still pray for our families, we can study and meditate on God's word, we can memorize it, we can fast in prayer, and we can come before the throne continually throughout our day to quench our thirst for the Living Water. Thank you Jesus, for giving us ways to meet with you through the day!

Oh Father, we love you and praise you for your goodness- thank you for giving us a new heart that seeks you- a heart that longs for your voice out of a million others. It's only because of you that we could ever hear it at all- and you have shown us mercy in giving us salvation by which we can see and hear your voice through faith in your Son. Please hear our cry for you Lord- please help us to fix our eyes on you instead of anything else. Please give us a way to meet with you each day- so that we can find our joy in you and nothing else. We love you and we praise you for your Word. Please let us increase in the knowledge of your will for us and please allow us to shine your glory to those in our homes and around us. I thank you for these women and I pray that you will bless them as they strive to become more like you. We love you Jesus. 

Let's Discuss!

I'd love to hear your thoughts about the first three chapters and your study guide questions in the comments below! Here are my questions for you- but feel free to ask questions or kindly reply and share your thoughts too with other girls in the comments!

Have you made a plan to meet with the Lord each day? 

How do you quiet the voices of the world so that you can stay fixed on Jesus? 

How has your quiet time changed your walk or even your week?

How has not having a quiet time changed your attitude in the past?



here are the previous posts about the WLW study:
Women Living Well: the book study {intro}
Women Living Well book study: Week 1 Assignment and Study Guide


Monday, October 21, 2013

10 things: a letter to a new mama from 10 years later


As of Sunday, I've officially been a mama for 10 years. I'm a decade in, and yet I still have so much left to learn. In any other field, a decade of training would make you an expert, but it doesn't seem to work that way with parenting because the field keeps changing.

A decade has taught me a lot, though. I know for sure I'll never be perfect at parenting...but if I somehow had the chance to go back in time, here's what I would tell the 21-year-old me, way back when they handed me a newborn all those years ago:


Dear sweet young mama,

The next 10 years will not be easy, but they will certainly be some of the most wonderful years of your life. You will have moments you want to give up, but don't look around you at the mess- look up. Your Father knows what you need, and will provide it for you at just the right moment. I promise.


Your patience will be challenged to what feels like no end- but there is an end, indeed: your sanctification in Christ Jesus. The Lord is doing great things in your heart by bringing you these challenges on a daily, or even hourly basis. You might be slow to learn, but that's okay. The Lord is full of patience and mercy, even when you run out.


The Lord will give you wisdom to do this parenting thing, and while each child will present a different challenge, here are some practical tips from a mama in the middle of it that might help you as you start on this journey of motherhood:


1. Look into their little eyes.

Look at them- really look at them. You can show your little one so much love just by holding their gaze.

2. Be proud of what those little ones accomplish, and tell them you are. You don't easily forget the praise of others, and neither do they. 


3. Understand what makes them excited and be interested in it. Speak encouraging words of life into their passions.


4. Help them practice sitting still without distractions- in places like church, in restaurants, and in waiting rooms. Teaching them how to wait will be a gift to you in the present, and a gift to them in the future. 

5. Tell them stories. Real life ones- things you've seen, places you've been, lessons you've learned- let them learn from your life experience.


6. Teach them how to be diligent by showing them how to do tasks over and over, until they're done right. It will take so much work at first, but it will be worth the effort in the end.


7. Surprise them sometimes. They will look back on it with such fondness later.


8. Tell them you love them often. Like all the time.

9. Hug them, kiss them, pick them up, and when they're too big, let them pick you up. Kind affection is a gift of it's own.


10. Pray for them out loud. When they're being stubborn, when they're hurt, when they're afraid, pray to their Father with them- in front of them- so they can learn to do the same on their own. Show them we aren't in control, and neither are they. 


If anything, hope to remember that you have been given a gift from the Lord: the beautiful blessing of being a mama of these little children. 


You can't keep them safe- their life is never in your hands, but it is always in your Father's. Love them- hug them tightly, but hold them loosely as you watch them grow. Remember: you care for their sweet little lives for only a season, but your Father cares them for a lifetime. He will give you wisdom to do what He wants if you seek Him with all of your heart.


You can do this. Because of Him.


Love, 
the older mama of your little ones


A decade flies by. What a precious boy this one is.

What do you wish you had known about motherhood when they handed you your little one?

If you don't have children, what is one thing you loved about the way your parents raised you? Or another great example you've seen?

Friday, October 18, 2013

why it's so good to grow older + my heart's desire for 31

the hubs made me rice krispie treats for my "21st" birthday ;)
So I turned 31 yesterday.

I sometimes can't believe life is going by so quickly- though 30 was one year that stretched into eternity thanks to being pregnant 42 out of 52 weeks of the year. ;) 

I woke up yesterday morning expecting the sadness of being even older to hit {turning 30 was harder than I thought it would be!}, but strangely enough I was actually really grateful to be able to have lived another year. 31 years is a very long time, and I've been so blessed to be able to experience so many things in three decades. :)

Life is something we don't deserve. The fact that we get to be alive, to know the mercy of God and enjoy His creation for any length of time is a gift, you know what I mean?

The last few birthdays I've woken up with a prayer on my heart for the next year of my life. Last year was that I would grow in maturity in Christ, and this year, I feel God has placed it on my heart to pray for boldness. For fearlessness in Jesus.

I honestly care way too much about what man thinks of me. I care too much about how I look to others, and I care too much about how I am perceived. I'm a people pleaser and approval seeker. And not in the good way you try to share in a job interview. It's not good at all.

It's vanity.

Man's opinion means nothing in eternity, and yet I can be so worried and tense over what other people say and do, especially when it pertains to me. Ugh. It's so vain.

Pride and vanity are easily some of my biggest struggles and sins. It's a constant battle, and one I don't like to even admit.

I think that's why I'm kind of {in a weird way} happy about growing older- it seems like the older- the more wrinkled I get- the more children I have, the more gray hairs I find, the more mistakes I make, the more things are out of my control, the more imperfect I realize I am all the time- the more I need Jesus and the less I care about silly temporary things like how I look or what people think about me. And losing that vanity means I get to be closer to Jesus which makes growing old so worth it.

Wasn't 17 like yesterday? My goodness.
{pic that's been in the Rob's wallet for nearly 14 years}
At the rate life goes, it won't even be long until I meet my Savior. For real. My first baby is turning 10 on Sunday. I graduated from college 10 years ago. College. Crazy. 

This year I want to grow up more in Jesus and stop caring so much about myself- I want to care more about what Jesus wants for me than what anyone else thinks or says about me. I want to gracefully and with wisdom be able to speak and live boldly and without fear of the reproach of man when it comes to the truth of God's Word. Because only the Son of Man's opinion really matters in the end.


I love Jesus so much. I fail Him so often in my words and thoughts, but I'm so thankful the Holy Spirit keeps changing me. I know I am hypocritical all the time because I can't do what I know I'm supposed to do, but I know God is greater than my weakness! {and at least I'm not alone in that- Paul is ahead of me!}

1992
I honestly look forward to the day when I see my Lord. It's sometimes scary to think of this life ending because I know all of the things I didn't do right, you know? But it is so freeing, so wonderful to know that God has already forgiven me things past, present, and future through the blood of Jesus! {thank you, Matt Chandler, for reminding me of that this Sunday...} 

I am fully relying on His grace to see this race to completion, so that I may stand before Him fully complete and redeemed and made new.

Every wrinkle I earn, every new morning I wake up a little older- means I'm one day closer to seeing my Savior. Aging means I get to {hopefully} care less and less about the things of this world and myself, and become more like Him. And that is truly exciting.

Like C.S. Lewis said, "There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind." 

Turning 31 just means I'm that much closer to the finish line. :)

source: pinterest

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Women Living Well book study: Week 1 Assignment and Study Guide


It's finally time to begin our WLW book and Bible study! :D wohoo!

If you're just joining us, we are doing the very first week of our study of the book Women Living Well by Courtney Joseph! Your first reading assignment starts today- all you have to do is read the first 3 chapters of the book and then do the study guide below if you'd like.  I've listed a few passages of Scripture at the top of the guide if you want to do more in-depth studying of some of the verses she listed in the three chapters, and your weekly "home" work assignment is at the end of the study guide! 

I've tried to design this 10-question guide to be helpful to you by taking some of Courtney's practical tips and asking you to think about ways you can apply them in your own life. My hope is that we can all grow in Christ together through putting her biblically-based wisdom into practice in our own homes! :) 

I think it's going to be a great challenge, and it will be so exciting to see what good fruit comes out of walking with the King! :)

You can download and print the study guide with the link below, and we'll all meet back here next Wednesday, the 23rd to discuss our thoughts on these first chapters as well as discuss our answers to this week's study guide questions.

I'm planning on posting each WLW study post at 5 a.m. central time every Wednesday {Lord-willing}, and then our discussion will be ongoing in the comments on the post throughout the day and over the next week. You don't need to be here at a certain time by any means, just feel free to hop over whenever you can join in the discussion! You can also post your questions over on the Facebook wall if that's more your speed. :D

If you have any questions, just leave a comment below! :D I'm so excited to answer these study guide questions for myself this week! :D I can't wait to hear how your studying goes!


here are the previous posts about the WLW study:
Women Living Well: the book study {intro}

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

a wonderful birthday weekend + back to real life again

We are just getting back to normal today after a weekend away and a Monday of craziness! :D

Thanks to my awesome Dad, we had the chance to get away to Dallas to celebrate my birthday {it's not until the 17th}. He kept the kiddos while my sweet husband took me away to eat all kinds of good food and do some of my very favorite things!

We have officially determined that we enjoy predictability. Without fail we go back to the same restaurants and places and enjoy them over and over again. 

Our first stop for the weekend was lunch at a steakhouse we love:


I ordered a chicken sandwich, and Rob ordered the burger, and we always start with sweet potato fries as our appetizer. They are fabulous. And I love ordering sides as appetizers. :)



Then to our favorite mall, where they have a Corner Bakery with an electronic soda machine. :D We shared the chocolate bundt cake and a monster cookie.


 On special birthday weekends, I eat whatever I want to eat- especially when I'm at the Cheesecake Factory...


Like this Adam's Peanut Butter Cup cheesecake. Butterfinger, caramel, peanut butter cups, and peanut butter icing.... enough calories for an entire day or two right here:


But of course, we started with pizza and a salad first. ;)


I don't know how they manage to make everything taste so amazing. I think it has something to do with the bazillion grams of salt, sugar, and fat in each entree. But it was gooooood.

We stayed the night at a hotel, and unfortunately the Zaner didn't sleep a wink in the five hours we laid down, so I felt a bit like a zombie the next morning when we went to church here:


I love the Village church. Our church is a member of the Acts 29 church-planting network like the Village, so the style and preaching is very similar, and we felt quite at home there too. We were so excited to go to one of our favorite places in Flower Mound and worship there. Turns out it was baptism day- and it was incredible. I was bawling like a baby the whole hour they gave testimonies. I could have sat there listening all day long to people tell how they came to Him- how God broke their hearts and He changed their lives. Ahhhhh. Chill bumps. :D 

{a side note: here is their preacher Matt Chandler's latest sermon on fear and anxiety- sooo good!}

And this little guy went along for all of it and did so very good for us. He turned two months old on Sunday!  Can you believe it? {I know I can't stop saying that. I still can't believe he's out of the womb...} I'm positively in love with this baby.


He's normally a sweet baby, but through a long trip, three restaurants, a mall, and a church service, he barely made a peep {a gift from the Lord, I have no doubt, considering how much he hates traveling}. And he also made it through two Goodwill trips I hope to tell you about soon. :D

Monday meant real life was back in full swing. We spent the entire morning at the dentist for Elijah, Noah, and Isabella. Gotta love spending lots of money and time on teeth. ;) We learned that flossing twice a day is not only healthy- it's also frugal {funny, but not funny}. That and we need to go ahead and start a dental/orthodontic savings account now.


The older kids did great- we almost took up the entire dental office! At one time, they were spread across three rooms. The baby did great, but we had a lovely time with our 4-year-old throwing a fit and crying most of the 2.5 hours we were there. Ahem. ;)


The reason she was so upset? It wasn't that she had to get her teeth cleaned-  she just didn't want to have to go to the dentist NEXT time. {and at that point the next time wasn't even determined yet!}

Holy cow. I wonder what her teenage years will be like? ;) 

Do you enjoy going to the same places over and over again too? Or do you prefer to try new ones all the time?

Have you ever done kickboxing? Or Les Mills BODYCOMBAT?
I fell in love with it about 4 years ago. I used to be a TurboKick fan, and then I found Les Mills, and now I love punching and kicking way too much. :D

Ever been to the Cheesecake Factory? 
I had never been until I was 26! It's been one of our favorite special places to go ever since. :)

Friday, October 11, 2013

8 fun and thrifty Walmart finds {fall 2013 edition}


With fall arriving, you know it's that time again... :) 

I had a ton of fun doing this series earlier this spring and summer, so I had to bring it back for fall! :P {Again, I'm not affiliated with Walmart in any way, I just have fun finding unexpectedly cute and affordable items there and want to share them with you!}. 

Here are eight of my favorite Wally World finds in no particular order:

If I didn't have one already, I would have hopped on this deal! It's very colorful and so much fun!


2. Ceramic statue night lights, $12.97 {in stores only}. 
I thought these were so cute! It would make a sweet and quirky housewarming gift too! Or a perfect little night light for a nursery or a new mom's bedroom.



I've regretted buying cheap sweaters in the past, but these seem well made and get really good reviews so I wouldn't mind trying one out for $12.54. They were really cute! I'm a big fan of the longer boyfriend style.


4. the Ruffle Scarf, $6.97. 
{I couldn't find these online}. The mustard one is thick and gorgeous in real life!


5. Button knit hats, $5.97. 
We call these toboggans here in Texas. Probably because we almost never need them and have never actually used or seen a real toboggan, ever. Too bad it's so warm here, because these were PRECIOUS. :D




6. Denim Jackets, $15.44
While I'm not a huge denim jacket fan myself, I know they're extremely popular at all of my favorite clothing places: J. Crew, Anthro, and Gap. This classic one gets great reviews. And you can't beat the $15 price {instead of $75+}, unless you find one used at the thrift store or a garage sale.


And I thought they did a pretty good job styling it to be J. Crew-esque here:


7. 6x8 Canvas, $3.97 {in stores only}
I tried to find these online, but didn't see them. This little one went home with me because LOVE does save the day!! He already did! :D


I think I saw these in person the other day. This lightweight style is pretty much a winter staple here. These were very well reviewed too, and very affordable for sweating in! :D


And those are my eight favorites for fall!

What were your favorite finds at Wally World recently?

And what do you call that knit warm hat you wear in the winter? :D Beanie? Toboggan? I'm curious to hear what you say and where you're from!

Denim jacket fan or not so much? 
I have broader shoulders so they tend to look more 1990's on me. Hey, if shoulder pads ever come back, I won't have to buy any! :P

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