Wednesday, September 24, 2014

it's over {and saying goodbye forever}

It's over.

No one was injured. My husband is amazing. The cars all worked, the children were happy and diligent workers, and we made it. out. alive. And let me tell you- there were at least two straight-up miracles of the Lord that we saw firsthand over the last week.

There are always lots of reasons to be thankful! :D Praise the Lord, for He is good! I'm so in awe that He cares about every detail of our lives, and even in the times that we feel completely overwhelmed and want to give up or lose it, He answers when we call on His name. He gave me more strength than I knew I had to keep going.

I'll spare you all the details of the last couple of weeks, but I will tell you this: the process of moving was extremely difficult for us this time around. 


It probably didn't help that I sorted through every single drawer and cabinet before I packed and organized it. That's not exactly what you're supposed to do the week or two before moving, but it was what it was. I didn't want to move anything I didn't need, you know? ;) And I didn't realize how much time it took to go through it all. We had so much stuff!!

Our house was pretty much in this kind of chaos until the end:


I even had the kids organizing their toys using the same throw-it-all-out-there method:

We love Lego blocks don't we? ;) Best toy ever.
And good news- I ended up finding all those pencils and pens I lost over the last 4+ years:


Packing up 7 people and all their junk was challenging for sure. :) We purged, sold, and gave stuff away at every turn and we still had way too much left. It's convicting to see how we've {mostly I've} collected more and more over the years. I remember moving to college with just a few boxes. And now we've got truckload after truckload...hmm.

But another praise...can I say- I'm so impressed with this man? He is a hard worker, and his boys are following in his footsteps. They were awesome.


And then, right in the middle of it all, the baby and I got sick. :( I tried to muster up a full smile after our closing, but I knew I couldn't really smile until Christmas... {a.k.a. after we were completely moved out}.


I felt like this baby looked here- physically and mentally... :) He was pretty good, but I had at least two meltdowns that I can remember. That poor Home Depot employee probably never expected to help a bawling female looking for metal #8 1/2 inch screws...


But, like childbirth, you know there has to be an end at some point.

And it finally came.

Empty and full of echoes, we said goodbye to our very old house one last time...

 




As much as we loved our house, it's comforting to know that walls, windows and doors don't make a home.

It wasn't too hard to leave it behind, because we know that no matter where we live, our home is where our people are.

And they're going with us on this journey. :)

Thanks be to the Lord for His help and for His many, wonderful blessings. It's amazing to me that we are entrusted with the bringing up of these eternal souls and that the Lord provides exactly what we need to do it.

He abundantly provided this perfect house for us, at just the right time and price we needed it. What a blessing our very old home has been to us over the last four years. It gave us a place to host friends and strangers...as well as a place to work hard and to learn how to remodel for years. ;)

Thank you Father, for your love for us. Thank you for our wonderful home, where you led my husband to salvation. Thank you for changing our hearts. Thank you for bringing us Zane there, and for giving our children rooms in which to run and play.

Thank you, Lord God, our abundant provider, for the sweet memories that we were given in our big, old dream house. You have been so good to us, Father. We praise your name for the good gifts you have given us. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

giveaway: Messy Beautiful Love: Hope and Redemption for Real Life Marriages

Right now we're knee deep in moving and homeless to boot. :) It's a lot like labor- and we're in transition. :) The reaaalllly painful part of it. :D

Instead of sharing more messy moving pics now, I have something much more fun planned- another giveaway!! :D

Darlene, from Time-Warp Wife was so sweet to send me a copy of her beautiful book, Messy Beautiful Love: Hope and Redemption for Real-Life Marriages^ and a lovely journal a couple of weeks ago. I met her at Allume back in 2012:


She's an awesome Christian homemaking blogger- she is inspirational and focuses on serving the Lord first, and especially through the lens of home and marriage. She has tons of printables and resources over on her blog too! :)


Darlene's story is gripping from the beginning. I won't tell you everything, but here's a little excerpt from the beginning of the book:
I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t have a home. And I didn’t have a shoulder to cry on. All that I had were the shattered pieces of my life. 
A few hours later I made my way back to the house, where I started packing up a few things I could carry. Michael came into the room and sat down on the far corner of the bed. Staring straight ahead, he started to talk. This was my husband, the man I had lived with for nearly half of my life, but in every way he was different, from the sound of his voice to the way that he carried himself. We were suddenly strangers.
We exchanged words for a while,but at the end of the day I had nothing left to offer him but soiled rags, words of remorse that he couldn’t rely on, and promises where all trust was gone. My eyes were swollen from crying; my heart was heavy with shame. 
“Do you want to stay?” he asked.
AHHHH, right? Oh my goodness! She's an amazing storyteller.

If you're wondering what the rest of the book is all about... 

"Messy Beautiful Love^ delivers an incredible testimony of grace that offers hope for today’s marriages and a spark for rekindling love.

Love gets messy.

Financial problems, sickness, aging parents, a chronically unhappy spouse . . . trials will inevitably come that threaten your marriage. No matter how long you’ve been married or how strong your relationship is, sooner or later you are going to have a mess to clean up.

Messy Beautiful Love is about cleaning up messes God’s way, exchanging your ideas for His, and being prepared for both the best and the worst that marriage has to offer.

When you surrender your relationship to God, then and only then will you experience the blessing of marriage as He intended. This is the blessing of obedience.

Messy Beautiful Love^ is an invitation to that obedience. The cynical world says marriages don’t last, but God knows better. Tune out the world and tune in to Him. When you do that, a beautiful marriage is not only possible, it’s inevitable."

I'm so thankful for the chance to give away 3 copies of this book today! :D


To enter to win a copy of this book, just leave me a comment below telling me your best marriage tip the Lord has taught you in the messy times!

{it could be yours, from books, or even from others!} Also- please leave a way for me to contact you! :)
**comments closed**
U.S. + Canada only. This giveaway closes at September 18, 2014 at 11:59 C.S.T. The winner will be chosen randomly and will be notified by email.



^ = Amazon affiliate link

Sunday, September 14, 2014

the winner of the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle is...

The winner of the Ultimate Healthy Living bundle giveaway is:

Melanie Pike September 12, 2014 at 8:34 PM

I think the first book I'd read would be either "The Nourished Metabolism" or "Essentials of Essential Oils". Both would be so beneficial! As would winning this bundle, as we have 6 people (4 adults and 2 little ones, 3 years and 15 months) living under our roof, with one income overall. Tough to afford stuff like this otherwise. Blessings and thanks for the opportunity to win!


Congrats Melanie!! Please email me with your info! :D



If you didn't win, the UHLB is still available through Monday night at 11:59! :)

I mentioned it a little earlier, but this time around there are only 30,000 copies of this bundle available {total}, so if you were interested in purchasing the Healthy Living Bundle while it's for sale, you might want to get one while you can. I'm not sure if they will sell out! :)

What is it? 73 eBooks and 7 audio & eCourses, PLUS over $200 worth of bonus products you’ll really use! 

When does the sale end? 11:59 p.m. EST this Monday, September 15, 2014

Where do I get it? Purchase the bundle HERE. 

How much? The entire package is worth $1030, and it’s selling for $29.97. That's only 37 cents an ebook or course!!  
    Disclosure: I have included affiliate links in this post. Read the fine print about this bundle and read the answers to frequently asked questions about the bundle.

    Friday, September 12, 2014

    our BIG news + win an Ultimate Healthy Living bundle

    I've been waiting SO long to tell you this news!! :) Here is a picture- see if you can guess what is happening at our house this week:

    I can't believe I'm showing you this. We must be good friends.
    No, we aren't filming an episode of Hoarders at our house... ;)

    We're moving next week!! :) I have so much to catch you up on, but we sold our 1895 house last month, and Lord-willing, we are moving our family of 7 next week. It's been crazy-town around here, and boxes are everywhere. I wouldn't say we're the most organized movers, but luckily that pic was all the attic storage that was in the middle of being sorted out. It looked slightly better by the time I went through it all. ;)

    The main problem with going through everything you own? You find random things like homemade ornaments from your senior year of high school:


    I've let go of so much junk this week, but I couldn't bear to throw that one out. :) I have so much to tell you, but not much time to do it as we are in the big crunch to finish by next week! I even have lots of posts to show you of our completed house before we took everything down and boxed it away. :( It's a good move though- we are very excited about what's to come. We aren't moving far, but I'll tell you all that later! :)

    I'm very excited to share our big news with you{and the fact that we're almost done packing, Lord-willing!}. :) I cannot wait to get back into a clean house and start cooking real food again!! I hope by next weekend all this will be over. :)

    BUT- to celebrate our exciting news this weekend, I'm giving away one copy of the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle- and if you're the lucky winner, you get all of these ebooks and courses for free on Sunday! :)



    AND!! the lucky giveaway winner also gets $200 in bonuses on top of all those books and courses:
    The bonuses:
    ** a bottle of Healthy Mouth Blend from OraWellness,
    ** a baltic amber bracelet from Sweetbottoms Boutique
    **a starter culture from Cultures For Health.
    ** gift sets from Made On Skin Care Products and Homegrown Collective.

    There are virtual goodies, too – a 4-month membership to StayAtHomeYoga.com and a 3-month premium membership to meal planning service Tradishen. And as if all that weren’t enough, there are also $15 gift certificates for TheJoyfulGiraffe.com, Strawesome.com and Trilight Health. {There is a nominal shipping charge for many of the bonuses, based on each company’s standard shipping rates, and is usually $3-5.}

    After all this moving business, I'm totally going to nab some time alone this weekend and read an ebook or two from my bundle. ;) {Ha!}

    the contest is closed*

    p.s.  There are only 30,000 copies of this bundle available {total}, so if you were interested in purchasing the Healthy Living Bundle while it's for sale, you might want to get one while you can. If you win this giveaway and have already purchased one, you can give it away as a Christmas gift! :)
    What is it? 73 eBooks and 7 audio & eCourses, PLUS over $200 worth of bonus products you’ll really use! 
    When does the sale end? 11:59 p.m. EST this Monday, September 15 
    Where do I get it? Purchase the bundle HERE. 
    How much? The entire package is worth $1030, and it’s selling for $29.97. That's only 37 cents an ebook or course!!  
    Disclosure: I have included affiliate links in this post. Read the fine print about this bundle and read the answers to frequently asked questions about the bundle.

    Thursday, September 11, 2014

    family, food, and one negative side effect

    Back on Labor Day weekend {forever ago now?}, my brother Josh and sister-in-law Cayse came down from Arkansas to stay for a few days. They're extremely awesome people and we miss them like crazy, so we soaked up every moment we had together after not seeing them for 9 months. In fact, we enjoyed seeing them so much, I totally forgot to take any pictures with them. :( But I did get one shot I was very happy about...

    We played washers one afternoon, and Noah needed to get one washer in the center pipe of the box- a major long shot. It was never going to happen, and then... he got it in the center!!!


    It was so cool. :) I can't remember if it won the game, but it was crazy fun. :) I can't even believe I got that shot of him getting that shot. :D

    Zaner's getting around these days. He's standing on his own, but mostly resorts to this frog position to get from place to place: 


    After the family left, we went back to school as usual. The boys made their first loaves of bread for science:


    And here were the results of their experiment:


    I love homeschooling. :) I love experiments that involve my belly. :)

    Although there's one potential side effect of being a homeschool mom I'm not so sure about: 


    Accidentally carrying your toothpaste to the car for no good reason. :)

    Or, I guess that might be a side effect of being a mom


    It was a good trade though. Those brain cells were going to die someday anyway. ;)

    When was the last time you accidentally carried something you didn't need with you? Or washed a hammer in the laundry? hahah!

    Have you ever played washers? Is it a southern thing? 
    Either way it's so much fun!

    Have you made bread lately? Any good recipes?
    We made this recipe and love it, but I'm always up for new ones! I really want to make some rosemary garlic bread since it's almost fall. :)

    Monday, September 08, 2014

    a letter to Screwtape from my teenage self

    Long, long ago, in the last century {!}, I went to a very small Christian high school and was incredibly fortunate to have one of the best English teachers (on the planet). Looking back on those days, it was such a blessing to have a good teacher who not only believed in Jesus, but pressed us to know Him more by making us read authors like C.S. Lewis before we went out into the world. And, of course, it was also a huge blessing to have parents who sacrificed so much to allow me to be there in the first place. {Thank you mom and dad!}.


    As I was sorting through old boxes from the attic this afternoon, I found an interesting entry in my senior English journal- a class assignment in response to reading Screwtape Letters. I had completely forgotten about this letter to Satan's famous {fictitious} henchman, but I am so glad I saved it all these years. I found it quite entertaining to read this from my 17-year-old self! :) And surprisingly {or maybe not?}, 14 years later I find myself still battling with many of the same struggles I did as a teenager.


    Dear Screwtape,

    I am writing my one and only letter to express my displeasure in your former actions. I have become a first hand witness of your dastardly wiles.

    As you encouraged discord between my parents, I became confused and upset. I even wondered if God was still there. And I errantly fell into your plan. You wished me to do exactly what others have previously done, to fall away from God. But that is where you failed, Screwtape. I remained in contact with your Enemy and my Savior, Jesus Christ. And that gave me the advantage. I overcame the doubt and anger and trusted in the infallible will of God.

    I grew older, and as hormones attacked, you also attacked. I liked to throw my contumacious fits. You loved it when I slammed doors because my will was not immediately appeased. But toward the latter part of my teenage years, I realized through the convicting power of the Holy Spirit that a rebellious attitude does not please the Father. Only a sweet, humble spirit will be accepted by Him.

    Then you found another area of my life in which to parade your antics. And I easily complied to your whispered defenses in listening to unglorifying music. It was probably your easiest battle to win. To this day I struggle with wrong music.

    When I began to read my Bible and pray with an open heart, you hurriedly intercepted the petitions with thoughts of the next day's work. And you were not easily deterred. I had to pray to the Lord that He remove your presence. And as He has promised as I resisted you, you were forced to flee.

    I wanted to reiterate in this letter, Screwtape, that although you have power (in this life on earth) to affect me, your power is limited by the Father and the shed blood of Christ Jesus. Eventually you will be in a worse condition than I. An eternal position and place in the fiery flames awaits you. I am truly sorry about your future situation, and I rejoice that I will not be there beside you.

    But I forgive you, Screwtape. The wiles and temptations you created in my life were used to increase my faith in the Almighty, Omnipotent God.

    Your patient,
    Mandy



    Do you ever find yourself struggling with the same things you did decades before?

    Have you seen progress in your Christian walk with the Lord? How would you rate it now? Are you living for Him daily?

    Wednesday, September 03, 2014

    be careful whom you follow


    Jealousy.

    Awe.

    Shame.

    Inspiration.

    Embarrassment.

    The flood of emotions hit me all at once.

    I found a fun new blog, and I had a lot in common with this girl. I liked her. And she liked what I liked. She was impressive- and did challenging things that were some of my favorite to read about. And as I devoured her posts, my heart started burning with shame that I didn't do something equally as impressive as she had.

    I could do that if I worked harder... I thought.

    And then BAM... the Holy Spirit interceded and stopped my wicked heart from going further.

    Wait. What am I doing? Who is this person? Do they even know Jesus? Are they pursuing Him with all their heart? Should this girl be my role model? Should I fix my eyes on her as an example of what is good and right before the Lord?

    No. 

    In fact, in a quick scan I could tell she doesn't even claim to know Him. Her passion for what she does is awesome and she did it so well, but it doesn't seem to be coming from a heart pursuing what I want in this life. 

    Oh, Lord God what am I doing? How many blogs do I look at with this lustful heart, wishing I could be a little more like that girl? 

    Why am I reading things that motivate me to pursue worldly things out of jealousy and covetousness??

    I need to be more careful to guard my heart- to closely follow only the lives of those who are imitating God. Though my flesh fights me with everything, my spirit doesn't want to covet the lives of others. In my short time on this earth, I truly want to walk closely with people who are walking in the light of our Holy God. I want to imitate God, not man in the midst of his pursuit of worldly passions. Ephesians 5 tells me:
    1Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
    3But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7Therefore do not become partners with them; 8for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9(for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

    “Awake, O sleeper,
    and arise from the dead,
    and Christ will shine on you.”

    15Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
    Oh, man. I see people in "blogland" doing things so very well, and I love to see their excellence. And sometimes, my flesh wistfully wants to pursue things like they are.

    I do believe their content can often be both helpful and useful, but I want to remember that as a believer, I'm not called to pursue being known as a great fashionista, a DIY master, a fitness guru, or a fantastic writer or blogger, or anything else. I'm called to pursue the Lord with everything I have. I want to be careful to see that the people I spend time studying on the internet are the people who are following after Jesus with their whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. Those are the kind of people I want to be my role models. 

    Unfortunately, my sinful heart naturally wants to to build up an image of what I want to be instead of what seeking after what my soul truly needs. Solomon was so right in Ecclesiastes 4:

    4Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is vanitya and a striving after wind.

    I don't want to strive after the wind.

    I want to grow into maturity in Christ through His Word and through studying how others have done it before me. Paul tells us who to follow and who not to follow in Phillipians 3:

    17Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

    Oh, that day we will see our Savior!! My heart is no longer to be set on the things of this earth. Seeing my Savior is something worth pursuing. Living for Him now is what I long for. And to be like Him is what I want the most:

    You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48

    The reality of reading blogs is that we are studying the lives of others- sharing in their lives, and perhaps even subconsciously becoming like them in our own lives. The question is: are these the people we really want to imitate? Are they true believers seeking after the Lord?

    Sweet followers of Jesus- we have to remember the partnership we are called to:
    14Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15What accord has Christ with Belial?b Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

    “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
    and I will be their God,
    and they shall be my people.
    17Therefore go out from their midst,
    and be separate from them, says the Lord,
    and touch no unclean thing;
    then I will welcome you,
    18and I will be a father to you,
    and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
    says the Lord Almighty.”
    1Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of bodya and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.  2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1

    I pray that the Lord will help me cleanse my heart from the impurities I've subjected it to- that He would increase His holiness in my heart and reveal my sin and all the ways I've defiled it {though painful}, and that He would help me walk in the light and to leave behind even my most secret fellowship with darkness. That I would see clearly the path that He has set before me and not swerve to the left or to the right to join in with the crowd.

    I need to spend less time reading awesome worldly blogs and more time pursuing His holiness. I want to remember:

    "All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify." 1 Corinthians 10:23

    Even in blogland, 
    I need to be careful whom I follow.



    How do you guard your heart against the lust of the eyes when it comes to blogs? 


    Do you ever find yourself imitating those you are around the most?

    Tuesday, September 02, 2014

    $7 goodwill transformation + I came this close

    I made a quick trip into Goodwill a couple of weeks ago for the first time in forever. I was excited to score this huge oil reproduction for $7:


    For some strange reason the painting seemed really familiar to me. I'm definitely no art connoisseur, but the artist turned out to be a name I actually recognized: Charles Baskerville. He was a pretty well-known American painter! 

    I kind of liked the yellow/green flower boy in a way, but decided I wouldn't be going with that combo anytime soon so I made it into a chalkboard instead:


    I was happy with the new look, but I still need to work on my chalk-writing skills. ;)

    Oh, and I have to tell you, while I was in GW I also spotted this dress and kind of fell in love.


    Being married and all, I couldn't think of one good reason to buy a $99 wedding dress, ;) but this polka-dot tulle still called my name:


    It was awesome. I didn't buy it, but I came this.close to nabbing it for one of my girls to use in 20 years. ;)


    Have you found anything awesome at the thrift store lately?

    Ever bought something 20 years in advance? 
    Hey, people buy cemetery plots even earlier than that. ;) I might too if I could get a good deal!

    What did you do with your wedding dress?
    I still have mine in the attic. I can't bring myself to part with it! :) I would love one of my girls to wear it someday.
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