Thursday, December 18, 2014

This is My Life 2015 Planner Review

Exciting things today!!!!  If you are a homemaker, or if you know a homemaker, then I have found something AMAZING for you :).  I've had the opportunity the past few weeks to review a planner for A Virtuous Woman (, and I wasn't disappointed.  I actually haven't found a planner that worked for me since my working days, as a single girl.  Since the Mr., 4 babies and keeping a home has become my calling, my whole list of responsibilities have changed (and so has my memory).  So, I've kind of been working from multiple lists, scattered throughout the house, that I can never find when I need to look at them.  Well, the planner I'm about to tell you about keeps everything in one binder for me, and she thought of everything!  Aaaaaaaaand the sections on each page are even colorful and pretty, so that won major points for me.  

Here are some of the highlights from This is My Life 2015 Planner:

*Monthly calenders, for quick glance, so as not to double schedule anything.  This was especially helpful for me this month, when multiple Christmas events are planned every week, it seems.  This gave me a reference to know if we were available or not for any family dinners or company parties.  And I also used this section to keep track of any special crafts I'd told the kids we would do on a certain day.  I wanted them to know they were more important to me than any busy events this month, so I didn't want to forget any promises.

*Weekly Calendars.  These are not like any weekly planner I have ever used.  For each week, there are several sections.  One for daily housekeeping chores, which she has already listed for you, and made room to mark off each day when tasks are completed.  She has also listed weekly duties.  These were especially exciting to me because she did all the planning for me,  As long as I work through the daily and weekly tasks consistently, my home can stay clean and picked up, and I never have to think, "hmmmm. what should I tackle today?"  (And, our live Christmas tree has survived ONLY because she had listed a weekly reminder to water it).  She even has a place to keep track of how many glasses of water you drink each day!  Let me tell ya, I wasn't getting near the water I imagined myself to be drinking.  In the two weeks I've been using This is My Life Planner, I have DOUBLED my water intake :).  The weekly meal planning page was one of my favorite things!  In all the planners I have previously used, there was a little box to plan suppers for the week.  That is NEVER enough room for me to plan a week's worth of meals for our family.  This planner, however, has ample room for breakfast, lunch, supper, and even snacks, for each day of the week.  I loved this!  It made things so much easier and more organized.  And then in the extra spaces on the weekly calenders, I jotted down a few things I need to do every morning, afternoon, and evening that is specific to our household, like bring in wood for the fireplace, etc.

*Menu and Craft Ideas.  A whole page each month!!!!!  This was another favorite of mine,  Especially, this month, while I am attempting to do mostly homemade gifts for Christmas.  It allowed me plenty of room to jot down ideas, as they came to mind, and then go back later after the kids were to bed and plan materials needed and time to complete the project.  Awesome!!!  I am actually WAY more ahead on my Christmas crafts than I have ever been in my entire life!  Whoop whoop :)!!

*Journal Pages.  Throughout the planner, she has provided room to journal as you go throughout your day.  How many times have I experienced a precious moment with my family, and had full intentions of jotting it down later, but by the time family is taken care of and I have a moment, the memory is either lost in the shuffle of the day, or I am too tired to pull out my journal to write things down?  Problem solved.  I can write it immediately in my planner, which is close by, and have that memory preserved forever.

*Holiday Menu Planner, sources of recipes, and shopping list.  This was especially helpful this month.  I was able to gather all my baking hopes on this page, keep track of what I was asked to bring to various family dinners, and even had room to write out the menu for Ely's 4th birthday supper this month.  I'm not hosting family this Christmas, but if you do the hosting, there is room to list what food items are assigned to certain family members and guests to bring.  She thought of everything :).

*Gift Ideas and Shopping List.  Awesome!  I was also able to keep track of any fleeting thought I might have that so'n'so may enjoy this gift or that gift, and revisit later to make final decisions.  Then, I could also list any items I needed to purchase on our next shopping trip!  This made things so much easier than past Christmases.  I'd have a great gift idea for someone, then forget what it was before I could make it or buy it! Ha!

*Plenty of pages to keep general notes

*Inspirational quotes to keep you excited about your home :)

*Read more about this line of planners at

When the opportunity was presented to review, I was hopeful.  But honestly, before I got a look at it, I assumed it would be like all the rest I had tried, and that I wouldn't have enough room to write out my hopes for productivity each day.  It was a pleasant surprise to start looking through each page, and realize this planner just might change my life, and help me stay on track.  After two weeks of heavy use, during one of the most busy and hectic months of the year, I am going to say, I love it so far!  And, it's looking like I'm gonna be ahead of the game this year!  I may even get to sleep Christmas Eve night, instead of staying up all night trying to complete everything I'm behind on :).  I am going to recommend this planner for any wife, mom, grandma, homemaker, and even any young girls that help out around the house a lot.  I think this would be an excellent way to practice organization in homemaking before marriage even, and would make a GREAT gift to any busy lady!!  Go to, to see the planner, and to get your very own This is My Life Planner for 2015.  Y'all, we might just be organized this coming year!! :).

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

She Let Herself Go

I stood in line at the thrift store (yes, I know. I love it there), when I heard two young girls talking behind me...
"She used to take such good care of herself.  Now that she's married, she just kind of let herself go.  Wonder why people do that when they get married and have kids?" "Yeah, I don't know.  It's like they just don't care anymore."

My heart twisted a little.  I stood there, uncomfortable, knowing those girls could have easily been talking about me.  I also was sure a few people could have said similar words about me.  And I hurt inside.  Because I used to think the same thing about other girls.  "Wonder why they don't 'stay pretty' for their husband?" was a thought I'd had often.  How rude.  Because now I know better.  All those wives and moms HAD let themselves go.  But not in the ways I imagined.  As I drove home, I thought about what I could have told those girls about their sweet friend.  It might have went something like.....

How wonderful for your friend!  Being a wife is so fun, and being a mommy brings such joy.  And she must be very good at both if she has let herself go, like you say.

It may seem she doesn't care anymore, but she must truly care so much more than you think.

Because, you see, the time she used to spend getting her beauty sleep, she now lets herself go sooth bad dreams, clean soiled sheets, and lovingly tuck her babies back in, so they will feel cozy and safe.

Maybe she used to get up to shower and get fixed up for the day, but she now lets herself go make coffee and breakfast for a husband who has a long day of hard work ahead.

She used to shop for the latest fashions? Oh, but she now lets herself go shop for shoes for rapidly growing little feet, checks sizes to make sure all little bodies will be warm for the winter, and washes clothes from a never ending pile of laundry, so everyone will be clean and dry.

The time spent working on her tan, she now lets herself go stand with a husband she wishes she could spend more time with, in hopes she can be a help to the project he is working on.

She did used to go to the gym, but she now lets herself go help split, stack, and bring in wood so her family will be warm.

Yes, I know her skin has suffered.  But, she lets herself go make sippy cups and sandwiches, and forgets to drink water for herself.

The time she spent on her nails, she now lets herself go dig in the dirt with her bare hands to find worms with excited little faces, in awe that there are things living in their favorite digging spots.

Oh, how she used to love to read and learn.  Now, she lets herself go into a world of imagination books, and teaches instead.

Her quiet time she so cherished, she now lets herself go with the flow of endless chatter and giggles.

She has let herself go.  But, don't feel badly for her, because I know if you asked her, she'd say every single moment is more than worth it to her.  And, don't be too hard on her either.  While you beautiful girls go about the rest of your day, the hope will cross her heart that she will still be beautiful to a husband she loves more than life.

That is what I could have told them.  But, just like I would have never understood before, they can't understand now.  How do you really explain the joy and contentment of being a wife and mommy?  How do you explain that what looks challenging from the outside, is actually quite fulfilling and lovely in every way possible?  Hopefully, they'll get to find out for themselves soon :).

Monday, December 15, 2014

Friday Fruit Talks- week 2 {Love- and my struggle to bear it}

So, I do know today is not Friday.  And I do also realize this post was due to go out TWO Fridays ago.  It was not forgotten.  It was, however, postponed.  You see, I didn't want to start our look into the fruit of the Spirit, by discussing love.  Because, if I am honest with you, this is an area that is rarely exhibited in my spirit :(.  Love my husband?  Oh, yes.  My children?  For sure.  My family and friends?  Definitely.  Buuuuuuut, a "friend" that has wronged me or hurt me in some way?  A little more difficult.  Someone that I just seem to clash with in every aspect of personality and life in general?  Yeah, we're treading dangerous waters.....

When I realized love was the first fruit we would be looking at, I thought of all the ways I show love to those around me.  I was planning to write all about that, and quote a few verses of scripture to show how we should all show the love of Christ.  Easy, right?  Well, the day or two before that, something happened that made it near impossible for me to write anything concerning love.  I need to tell you a little background story.  Three years ago, I was deeply crushed by a certain friend.  The wounds inflicted were deep, and I barely recovered.  No apology was given, or even acknowledgment of the slight which I had been handed.  I fought bitterness.  I struggled to lay aside anger.  And, I bore it in silence, never telling a soul what she had done.

Through all that time, I still tried to extend kindness to this girl.  Every opportunity I was presented to encourage or uplift, I attempted to give my heart, to show her love.  Then, a few weeks ago, I realized she was taking my attempts at kindness, and using them to her advantage, to hurt me further.  She may not realize the magnitude of the hurt I still carry, but it is there.  And her actions showed that there had been no change in her heart concerning the original betrayal.  Frustration and anger came flooding back into my heart.  The humiliation I had endured during that season of my life, bubbled to the surface of my heart again, and I could not see any love present for this girl.  I was due, the very next day, to have our little talk, here on the blog, about love.  Yikes.  How was I going to be all nice and spiritual, when really, my heart needed some major work?

So, for the past week and a half, I have agonized with the Lord about the condition of my heart.  If the love of God is not present in my heart, do I even know Him?  I mean, really know Him?  The blog post was put on the back burner, until I could hear from Him.  Then, last night, while praying about my attitude towards her, and a few other individuals, the Lord brought a question to my heart.  Why, exactly, have I been trying to show kindness to this friend since those tear filled weeks a few years back?  Why not tell her exactly how she'd hurt me, cut off the friendship, and walk away?  What had been my motivation in attempting encouragement, praying for her often, and allowing her access to my life?  Well, this girl has never met Jesus.  Yes, she is fairly religious.  But, no salvation has ever taken place, a fact that I have agonized over, and prayed that the way I handled things three years ago, and since, will not be a stumbling block for her to accept Christ....... And, then, there it was.  Love.

Most days, when someone upsets me, I am quick to walk away, dust off my feet, and be happy to rid myself of the strife.  But, I struggle to stop caring for people's souls.  Love.  We can't always get along with everyone.  Some people are just mean, or have unintentionally offensive personalities.  And, you know what?  I am extremely difficult to get along with for most people.  I lack basic social skills sometimes, and that has come across as rude, more times than I'd like you to know about.  So, we all aren't meant to be the best of friends. God designed us all differently, and for a unique purpose.  But, once we have Jesus living in our hearts, we SHOULD have love for each other.  We should care if someone is lost, and bound for hell.  We should hurt when a brother or sister is hurting.  And we should desire to restore, when another falls.  Love.

Do I always have the best attitudes toward people, and show grace in my heart when they aren't exactly the way I think they should be?  No, I don't, and that is something I am still praying about.  But, the love and concern for their soul is there, and I'd like that love to grow.  Anyone else struggle with love, as I do?  Let's pray for each other.  That the love of God would manifest itself in our hearts, lives, and the words that proceed from our mouths, so strongly that everyone we come in contact with, will HAVE to have Him.  We can't produce the fruit of love ourselves.  But, we can most definitely allow Him to work in our hearts, and bear love in our lives.

Praying together,


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Christmas, Family, and Difficult Decisions

I've mentioned before that I grew up in a broken home.  I did not however, list ALL of the many details of my childhood that were affected by that brokenness,  Today, I'm going to open the window of my heart just a little more concerning this, and also how some of those things have carried over into my grown up years.  Let's be clear about something first, though.  Jesus CAN take all the hurt and all of the damage, and He CAN heal every single part of our hearts.  And He most definitely did so for me a long time ago.  However, you and I both know that some decisions we make, or that are made for us, do have consequences.

A major consequence of my family being split into pieces, is that holidays are so much more stressful.  Past the age of 6, there was never a Christmas where my sisters and I could wake up, enjoy breakfast and presents, and relax in our jammies the rest of the day with our family.  Oh no.  We HAD to wake up by a certain time, and there was a time limit of enjoyment at "home," because we were scheduled to be at our "other home" by a certain time, and from there go to grandparents houses. And, there was another glitch.  Which grandparent?  Which "side" would we see this year?   Difficult decision, and a big burden to lay on small shoulders that they would be the source of hurt feelings to the grandparents that weren't picked that year. Ouch.  Oh! And add to the mix that one set of grandparents were also divorced, and if one or both of our parents were remarried during that particular Christmas, there were also extra sets of step grandparents.  And let me tell ya, if you happen to be taken to a step grandparent's home, and you didn't see your actual grandparent that year, there WILL be hurt feelings.  Confused yet?  Yeah, me too.....

Now, back to present day, grown up years.  Now we have our own babies we want to have a little time with, there are in-laws that would like some time, parents, grandparents, great grand parents, company parties, church parties, and locations in at least 3 different states.  Aaaaaaannnnndddd, sweet Ely's birthday is in December.  How does a person handle that?  What decisions should we make that will benefit the most people?  Well, I don't have an answer for ya ;).  But, I WILL tell you how we have tended to base our decisions since we've been married and had our own little family.

First of all, I have had to remove all guilt from myself.  I did not break up my parents' marriage.  I did not choose to refuse to get along with each other for the next 28 years so that family occasions could be a little easier on kids and grand kids.  I am not being mean or malicious about anyone, but I can not lay that burden on my own shoulders, because it was never my decision.

Second, we have had to consider who is most important and will be most affected by what plans we make each year.  Our answer to that is our four littles.  It is not right to drag them all over the interstate, tired, stuck in a car seat for hours, overwhelmed by a sea of faces and wrapping paper, and still expect them to behave, enjoy themselves, and grasp an understanding of why we are even celebrating Christmas.  Sometimes, we can be so busy, we forget to convey that the Lamb of God came to take away the sin of the whole world.

And last, we try to use a little common sense.  If there are four events planned for the same day, we obviously can not go to all four.  If certain family members will be at several different family dinners throughout the month, then we can narrow down to ONE dinner where we will see the most people that are important to us.  We try to plan to go see Eric's family in Ohio for right after Christmas, when everyone else is already tired of seeing us ;).  And we have to let hurtful and mean words not affect us when someone is hurt we chose not to come to their specific event.  We love them, we do.  But we can not do everything.  And you can't either.  I refuse to be in such turmoil in my heart because I need to do this and do that and be here and be there, that I can't even sit down with my kids and help them put stickers on a card they want to make for a friend.  No, I do not want to hurt anyone's feelings, and no, I am not saying you aren't important to me if I don't come to your house this year.  What I am saying, is that I have had to "pick" my whole life.  And it has been a burden.  I will not pass that burden to my babies.  I will not have them feel they are obligated to push themselves beyond what they are able.  If that is mean, I am truly sorry.  If we could go every single place where family is, we would do it.  But, we can't.  And I suspect I am not the only one that has to make these difficult decisions each year.  So, I am challenging you.  Stop.  Relax.  Think of one thing you would really like to do this year.  And do it.  We aren't attempting to promote selfishness here, just that often so many expectations are placed on us by other people, who honestly do not realize that you are so stressed.  They don't do it on purpose.  We all know that.  But regardless of intentions, we can still make a choice.  I'm picking my husband and my babies this year.

What will you pick?  Choices are hard sometimes.  Life is hard sometimes.  But, we can walk through it with joy, can't we?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

To The Girl That Isn't Good Enough

Dear Girl,

I see you.  You aren't good enough.  At all.  If you were different, you'd have more friends, wouldn't you?  Except for the fact that you are the clumsiest person that ever lived, you might have been decent at sports.  You'd be picked for every part in every play, if you didn't stink at acting.  And, if your voice didn't make people want to cover their ears and run, you would be asked to sing every single solo at church, school, and randomly in the Wal-mart check out line.  Oh, and more boys would like you...... If you were prettier.   And skinnier.  And more tan.  Ugh, and your hair.  Yeah, we better just not mention that.  I'm surprised you even have the courage to walk out of the house every day.  Why exactly do you even keep trying?

Could it possibly be that there really isn't anything wrong with you at all?  Is it even fathomable, that a Perfect, Just, Holy God, made you exactly how He wanted you to be?  A God that looked at all of His creation and HE said that it was good.  He made you.  He's the One that formed your personality before your parents even knew they'd be blessed with you.  Him.  He's the One that tuned your voice to the exact right pitch that He hoped to hear sing His praises for eternity.  Oh, yes, dear girl.  That hair.  That hair that you never can seem to get to look just right, like the "pretty girls" can.  He not only made that hair, He placed every single strand, so He could look down on that beautiful head and be pleased.

And those boys.  Did you ever consider what would happen if every single boy liked the exact same type of girl?  Yikes...... I mean really.  I want you to really think about it.  God made YOU.  He made you perfectly, so that you would fit into the puzzle of your family, your friends, and one day your husband, just exactly right.  Have you ever put together a jigsaw puzzle?  The sky is always the most difficult for me.  At least 750 pieces are blue, but each one has a specific spot in the puzzle.  If you try to force one into the wrong spot, not only will it just not work, you're also now going to have a hole where that piece SHOULD have gone.  You are that puzzle piece, sweet girl.  No, you may not look like you think you should look, be as coordinated as you think you should be, sing like the songbird you think you should, and you might even walk a little awkward.  But know this.  Jesus formed you and made you to fulfill His purpose for your life.  If a "friend" doesn't seem to like you, then maybe they weren't intended to be your close friend anyway.  Maybe their puzzle piece actually goes on the complete opposite side of the picture than yours.  And, that boy?  Yeah, you know the one.  The one you try to be perfect for.  The one that mentions he loves the color red, so suddenly that is the only color of clothes that you will wear.  If he doesn't like you because you really prefer yellow, then it IS possible that God did not ever intend for you to be the kind of girl that boy would like.  It doesn't mean there is anything wrong with you!!!!!  God might have another sweet girl picked out for that boy, and wouldn't it be sad if you forced yourself into her spot, and left her, AND your future husband, with a big hole next to their own little puzzle piece?

My point is, if someone doesn't like you.  If you don't get picked first for this or for that.  It is OK.  It does not mean there is one single thing wrong with you!  It means God has a different plan for that person or situation.  And a different plan for you.  Step back, relax, and grow in Him.

He will bring you the people and the opportunities that He has laid out for you.  All you need to do, is listen.  And obey.  And don't forget to give Him the glory, when you wake up one morning, and you realize you wouldn't change one single thing about this plan He has for you :).  Now, quit sitting here reading this blog, and go grocery shopping or something!  There might be a lonely cashier waiting for you to come serenade her with your soothing vocals <3.

Your charming friend,


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

My Monday Thrift Store Finds

The kids and I took a trip to Goodwill yesterday to get a new baby doll outfit Ely had been saving up to buy.  I was hoping to find a set (or four) of plaid curtains to hang on the main floor for Christmas. Ely found her little outfit almost immediately!  I took a little longer looking around.  And although, I did not find my plaid curtains (yet), I did find some amazing deals, and left SUPER happy :).

Last Saturday, one of the kids had climbed up and accidentally broke the glass shade to my oil lamp.  While looking through the Goodwill dishes, Ely spotted a replacement for $.50!!!!!!!  I could not believe it!  Exactly what I needed!  Here's a picture of it when we got it home, sticker still attached :).

We also found a shirt for Carli, a dress, leggings, and winter boots for Ely, and a Christmas shirt for Silas!  I also spotted a cute pair of green rain boots, hidden under a pile of stuffed animals that will fit either Silas or Mia, and will come in handy when we go creek stomping.  Someone had also donated a brand new bicycle helmet that I know will get good use here at the cabin!

While the kids were playing with the toys, I glanced through the book selection, and found 5 almost new board books!  We love books around here, and a sturdy board book is something to be appreciated when being handled by so many little hands :).

And, then, we found a little wooden crate, 3 cloth napkins, a metal candle bucket with the word "JOY" cut out of the side, and a big stainless steel hamburger flipper that Silas insisted he and daddy NEED for the grill :).

I will probably paint the little bucket to make it look a little more rustic, but all in all, I was super pleased with our trip!

Oh!  And I also got three long strands of greenery to add to our Christmas decor, and a blue plaid dress for myself :).

Disclaimer: After taking the picture of my new glass oil lamp shade, I accidentally dropped it while removing the price sticker and broke it...... Um.  Yes, I actually did that.  We had it home less than 2 hours.  Soooooo, I need to make another trip to a few thrift stores in search of yet another one......

Who else likes to thrift shop?  Anyone else find some good deals lately?

Meet Oatmeal.... Our Cabin Dog

As I'm introducing you to our cabin family, there is one member I didn't want to leave out. Our cabin dog, Oatmeal. I should explain something up front, and please don't get upset. I am not a huge animal person. I LOVE animals. But I am hesitant to take on the extra responsibilities that come with actually OWNING an animal......

So, I had just found out I was expecting our third baby, Mia, when my husband called needing me to bring an extra tire for his truck, which had just had a huge blow out. As I was driving there, I was praying about how overwhelmed I was feeling with a third baby coming. Our oldest, Ely, had only been walking a few months, and she and Silas were both still in diapers. Exhausted, drowning in daily tasks, a new baby coming, and a personal trial I was facing just seemed like too much. But by the time I reached Eric with his tire, the Lord had given me peace, and an excitement about our new little blessing.

 Then, I heard it. A whimper? Yes, definitely a whimper.  Coming from a small tote sitting in the shade near Eric's truck. He excitedly took us over to see our little surprise. A puppy! Wow. I honestly didn't know what to think. Another mouth to feed?  More poopie to clean up? My mind was racing, until she looked up at me..... she was pretty cute :).  And we HAD been talking about getting a puppy.... Maybe, she wouldn't be any trouble at all?

Well, her first year with us was a challenge for me.  She was so playful, and I spent every ounce of my pregnant energy on my kids.  So, I was not always in the mood to be jumped on, bit at (playfully), climbed on, and all the other fun things little puppies do :).  My morning Bible and coffee time on the porch was taken over by a rapidly growing pile of black fur on my lap.  And my flip flop loving feet did not appreciate having my toes licked constantly... And, although I rarely displayed a good attitude towards her, she consistently "helped" me every time I was working on something outside.

Eric worked with her a lot, and they became super close friends, and Ely also wrestled with her and climbed on her constantly.  So, they had a special bond :).

 But, I just couldn't seem to get excited about her.  Until we'd had her about a year.  We'd had to keep her on a long cable run until that point, because not only did she jump on every visitor with her big muddy paws, she had also discovered our neighbors chickens ;).  However, when our neighbors moved, and she was given more freedom to run and explore, she calmed down tremendously.  No longer did she barrel towards me and knock my pregnant (again), off balance self, down.  Instead, she would run around in circles to get her energy out, and then lay on my feet to get petted.  And instead of jumping at biting at me constantly, she would walk beside me wherever I went.  We started doing lots more things together, and I started to appreciate her company and protection.

She has become my running partner, my baby watcher, my secret keeper, and my friend.  When the kids and I are playing outside, and I need to step inside to grab something, I only have to tell her to watch the kids, and she stands at attention until I return.  She protects them fiercely, plays with them, and loves them.  She walks right by my side when I'm anywhere on the property at night, and alerts me to any opossum or raccoon that may be lurking ;).  And she's a good motivator when we're running.  She's way faster than me, but I can almost beat her in endurance!  She has become the BEST dog.  She even walks Eric to his car every morning to give him a goodbye hug.  He loves her, the kids love her, and I most definitely love her.

So, that's how Oatmeal came to be my (not so) little cabin dog.  Anybody else have a puppy that has become family?  Tell us about them in the comments :)!!