24Oct

To Him who is able…

exceedingly above

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…” -Ephesians 3:20

There is so much encouragement to pull from this verse, but it is especially comforting to me in times of disappointments. Sometimes, I have a plan, a dream, or a wish. A way that I think would be the best for myself and/or my family. Something I really want. And sometimes what we get seems to be the opposite. Have you ever experienced times like that?

In those times of disappointments, I am reminded of this. He is able to do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.”

God’s best is beyond my wildest imaginations. And sometimes God steps in to protect us from ourselves, from our limited view of this life, and from settling for second best. 

If you’ve been around this blog for a bit, you know about our deep longing to live in the country, and that we can’t purchase a place for 3 yearsSo, renting it is. In our small tiny town, there is not a large selection of homes for rent, and even less that are in the country. We’ve only seen 1 come available in the entire 2 years we’ve lived here!

Well, last night my husband came home to tell me that there is a place in the country for rent. Similar rent (actually $25 less), 6 miles out of town, about 1/4 mile down a gravel road, so not right on the highway, and has a garage, etc. Only 2 bedrooms, but our boys happily share a bedroom now, so that would be fine. It seemed perfect. I called and set up an appointment to see it, and went to bed last night excitedly thinking about how great of a birthday present it would be for us to love this house and be able to rent it.

This morning I woke up and the woman called to let me know that she had second thoughts and no longer wants to rent to a family with children.

Bummer! I will be honest and say that I was (and am) terribly disappointed.

She ended up calling back and we are going to meet with her and look at the place, so the door is still open that it could possibly happen.

But, regardless of what happens with this or other situations in which things don’t go my way, I know that I can trust that God knows best. Always. And His ways are best. Even if it may not feel like it to us, with our limited perspective, I trust Him and His sovereignty.

Truly, so much pressure is removed when we come to accept and rest in the sovereignty of God!

My prayer for you today is that if things don’t seem to be going your way, that you would lean into Him. Trust in Him, and know that He is able to do far above our expectations or plans.

His way is always best.

17Jul

Summer Fun with Cold Stone Creamery!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Cold Stone Creamery. All opinions are 100% mine.

On Saturday, we took our boys to the park, where they did a lot of stuff that looked like this:

After all that running and jumping outside in the hot sun, what better way to cool off than with some delicious Cold Stone Creamery Creations™?! The boys had actually never been there before, so they were very excited. Ice cream is kind of a big deal in this house.

Here is my 4-year old showing off his shark Creation™…while still wearing his sunglasses. Yep, that’s our boy :)

Both boys got that same thing, except my 6 year old got his shark gummies mixed in. Here they are enjoying their ice cream…leave it to mom to get a shot with full mouths and blue ice cream lips :)

I, on the other hand, go straight for the chocolate! This is the new Summertime Creation™, OREO® Double Chocolate, which includes chocolate ice cream mixed with OREO® pieces, fudge, and whipped cream:

The whole family had a great time enjoying our ice cream. They were very reasonably priced. The boys each had a small create-your-own, while Hubby and I each had a “Gotta Have It” sized Creation™. However, we were able to use a BOGO free coupon which you can get, too, when you join the My Cold Stone Club. They will also send out additional BOGO free coupons for special occasions like birthdays, etc.

Here is our attempt at a “selfie” of the family…

And, hubby and me :)

Also, I just found out that July 20 is National Ice Cream Day. So, if you’re a person who needs a reason to eat ice cream (we’re not! lol), then there you have it…and Cold Stone Creamery is the perfect place to celebrate! They use high quality ingredients and their ice cream is made fresh daily at all locations. And, you get to watch them mix your ice cream Creations on their frozen granite stone.

For more info, Follow Cold Stone on Twitter.

I asked for flavor recommendations on facebook and got a bunch, so I know a lot of you are already Cold Stone fans!

Which new Summertime Creation™ would you like to try?

Visit Sponsor's Site

16Jul

When I say I’m a #boymom

How my use of the boy mom hashtag has nothing to do with gender inequality. #Boymom

Image Credit: Pixabay

I usually don’t write reactionary articles, but I read this post  and it is just really bugging me today. In it, Mandi  shares that she is offended and annoyed by the #boymom hashtag.

To be honest, I was quite surprised to learn that calling myself a boy mom could possibly be offensive.

I don’t have any girls. I am a mother of boys, hence the #boymom hashtag you might find on some of my tweets, and instagram pics…(when I remember to post there, that is).

Mandi, however, finds this hashtag offensive.

Here is what she has to say about it (condensed for space):

Our girls are about frills and fashion, but they’re also rough and tumble…So when I see one of these activities labeled with the #boymom hashtag — as if they’re things that only boys do — I get more than a little annoyed… the #boymom hashtag is used liberally for activities that plenty of girls enjoy.

Here’s the thing…My days look a lot like this:  swinging on the swingset, baking with my boys, playing legos, playing with hot wheels, dinosuars, and other toys, homeschooling, playing in the mud…and lots of jumping, climbing, and being rough. Some days, like today, it also includes sewing up pink-eared stuffed animals.

Some of the things my boys do are typically considered “boy” things and some are typically considered “girl” things. While I believe that gender differences are real, I also believe that no one fits perfectly into any little box. And that’s okay.

Because I grew up a little girl, I know that my days could look very similar if I were a mom of girls.

But I’m not. I am a mom of boys.

I think the biggest problem here is our society’s fascination with taking a positive statement and implying a negative.

When I tag something with #boymom, it doesn’t mean, as Mandi implies, that girls can’t or shouldn’t do those same activities. It doesn’t even mean all boys do them. It means that my boy does. Plain and simple. It means this is a little glimpse of my life as a boy mom. 

So lets make a deal? When you share a picture of your little girl donning her apron in the kitchen and tag it #girlmom, I’ll just comment about how cute she is. I won’t think that the fact that your girl enjoys baking somehow means my boys can’t.

And when I share a picture of my boys doing something, please don’t twist that around to mean that your girl can’t or shouldn’t do that thing. It doesn’t mean that at all. And to be honest, I think the whole idea is a bit absurd.

But, the truth is Mandi has the right to read whatever negative connotation into my celebration of motherhood that she chooses. Jon Acuff wrote a great post a while back about how I can write what I write, but I can’t control how someone else chooses to read it.

But, isn’t it exhausting to be looking for offense in everything?

Motherhood is hard enough. Life is hard enough. And the mommy wars have been raging for far too long about far too many things for us to be inventing insult and offense where none was intended.

I agree with her that we should let our kids be who they are.  I’m just confused about how my sharing about my boys doing that somehow prevents her girls from doing the same. When I browse through the #girlmom and #boymom hashtags, I don’t see moms who are trying to somehow oppress the opposite gender. I see moms who are celebrating their children and motherhood.

Let’s just all agree to enjoy and celebrate our kids…and let others do the same.

28May

A Very Special Free Gift for YOU in honor of my anniversary!

UPDATE: The Free Gift & $.99 sale for Intentional Marriage was available only on 5/28. However, for those who missed it, I am offering a 50% off coupon, which will make it only $2.49! Just use code Anniversary50 at checkout. The discount code will be good through Sunday.

The Kindle Version will be on sale for $2.99 during that time.

47_514565235463_6402_n 9 Years ago, my husband and I said “I do.” We promised to love and cherish one another for the rest of our lives–for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live.

During that time, we’ve seen all those things… Well, maybe light on the “richer,” but we make it by just fine.

We’ve experienced the death of family members, the birth of 2 wonderful children. We’ve experienced debt and the thrill of paying off debt. And we have learned to live contentedly with a very tight budget–the best things in life can’t be bought anyway!

We’ve moved several times, including our most recent move in 2012 which took me across the state and away from my hometown for the first time.

We’ve had our highs and lows. We’ve made our mistakes and said things to one another that we regret.

We’ve spent the past 9 years figuring each other out, and learning the balance of marriage and how best to honor the Lord in the midst of it all…and I suspect that learning will and should continue for the rest of it, even if we’re married 50 more years.

One of the most important lessons I have learned is that marriage isn’t about “romance.” There are more important things, which I described a bit in this post.

The bottom line, life might throw us some surprises, but there is no one else I’d rather get through the bad times with or celebrate the good times with.

{Our Wedding Party–My parents and sisters, his parents and brothers}

47_514565170593_1761_n

{My favorite material thing from my wedding was my bouquet!}

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Now for a Very Special Gift

 

Back in January, I released a book, Intentional Marriage I believe in the mission and message of this book. I have loved hearing your stories of how being intentional and loving on your husband has changed your lives and marriages–it certainly changed mine!

So, today ONLY, you can get my book FREE!!! There are 2 ways to get it. You don’t have to do both, you get to choose. 

1. I am offering it FREE to all likers on facebook. Simply go here, and if you haven’t liked my page already, click “like” and click on the cover to download. This doesn’t work properly on some mobile devices.

Download FREE via Facebook

2. I am offering it FREE to all subscribers via email. If you are already a subscriber, you should see the download link at the top of this post. If you are a new subscriber, you will be redirected to a page with the download link when you confirm your subscription.


Download FREE via Email

 

I hope you enjoy the book!!! I am currently unable to offer it for free on Amazon, but you can get it there for $.99 today (normally $4.99).

Download Kindle Version for just $.99 at Amazon

 

12Mar

Our Real Food Journey (Week 1)

Follow our Real Food Journey | Serving Joyfully

Well, we survived our first week of non-processed food! I thought I’d share some general observations from our first week. But first, I will recap our “rules.”

Our Rules

(For now). We are not doing the 100 Days of Real Food pledge, but we are following similar rules as far as what constitutes “real food,” with a few exceptions.

1. We didn’t throw out everything. Though we got rid of 95% of the processed ingredients in our home, there are a few things we kept. Things that aren’t so bad, or things we eat a lot and just couldn’t bare to waste. These are things like peanut butter, cheese (with mold inhibitor and/or coloring), a loaf of whole wheat bread, and maybe 2-3 more things. We won’t be purchasing any of these again, but we didn’t throw them out yet.

2. We are making exceptions for social events. We are making exceptions for all social things. So, we will eat at church fellowship meals which is good food, but not completely whole, real food. Our kids still have treats at Sunday school and AWANA, and if we are invited to eat at a restaurant with someone, we’ll do the best we can but not stress about it. These type of things really aren’t that frequent for us, so we feel fine about these exceptions.

3. We aren’t eating all local yet. We’re working toward it, but we have a VERY tight budget, and we need to ease into some things budget wise. Eating all local meats is a goal, but not a reality just yet.

Positive Things

1. Now that we are being more conscientious about what we put into our bodies, it’s kind of hard to ignore all those yucky chemically, manufactured ingredients. One of the things we’d saved to eat until we run out and then not buy again, was some garlic bread that I had literally just purchased before we decided to start this.  The other night, we had a long day and I threw together some spaghetti and salad with garlic bread. We ate it, but it was hard for us to get past the fact that the ingredients list was a mile long.

2. Our kids are on board. For years, I have been the mom who says no to a lot of sweets, candy, etc. My oldest didn’t have his first sugary treat until he was 2. I am so thankful for that now! My younger son has my sweet tooth and he asked for candy one time and I reminded him that we’re eating healthier now, and offered him fruit. He was happy with that. Yesterday, I pulled out one of the things hubby and I decided not to throw away–homemade pancakes made with white flour, sugar, and a sprinkling of mini-chocolate chips from our freezer. Both of my children commented on how we aren’t supposed to be eating these anymore because they aren’t healthy. (I promise I’m not trying to turn them against treats all together!) I’m glad they have a base of healthy eating to make this easier for them, and glad they understand what we are doing. Though they still happily accept their processed treats at Awana and Sunday School.

3. It has been easier than I thought. I have to give God the praise here for helping me through it. It really is amazing how when I give up things during Lent it’s like a whole new outlook. It’s so interesting how much easier things get, mentally, when it’s completely off the table. Maybe one day I will try and share the extent of my food addiction, but it has been a major stronghold in my life. Obviously, there are things that each of us still miss, but overall it has been easier and without cravings.

Challenges

I’d be lying if I said everything about this is easy! It’s possible. But it hasn’t been completely easy.

1. The budget thing is super hard. We’ve always cooked with mostly real foods, but had snacks and some lunch things (lunch meat, etc.) that were processed, along with having white flour and refined sugar as staples in our cabinets. The white flour goes on sale here every few months for $1.50, and I would stock up at that time. The whole wheat isn’t even available in my town, I have to travel half an hour to the next town over to get it and pay $3.69.  A 4 lb bag of sugar which would last me 3-4 weeks usually, depending on how much I’m baking, regularly goes on sale here for $1.50. A 32 oz. jar of honey that will last us probably half that time is $9. And 16 oz. of maple syrup is $7. That is a HUGE difference! I’m trying not to be a nazi about it, but for a girl who has been conditioned to be very frugal in order to make ends meet, it’s hard. I have found myself asking my husband things like “what? You put maple syrup all over your toast this morning? Do you know how much that stuff costs?” and “How much did you put in your oatmeal?” Need some more prayers on this one because my poor hubby works very hard and has been a great support in this HUGE lifestyle change and he really doesn’t deserve to be grilled about putting maple syrup in his oatmeal in the morning by a crazy person! Also, I know God led us to make this change, and therefore, He will provide for it. I’m super thankful for our maple syrup, too!

2. Trying to keep snacks available is hard. I’ve been so used to falling back on semi-healthy processed things–store bought granola bars, storebought popsicles, graham crackers, gummies, etc. They’ve always had some better things like fruit and cheese for snacks as well, but now we’re trying to replace all of those other snacks with new things for 2 boys who have bottomless stomachs! I have found some great recipes which I’ve added to my Real Food Ideas & Recipes pinterest board. But I haven’t tried them all out yet, and I have been so busy that we’ve mostly been having fruit or triscuits for all snacks, which means that they are probably eating too much fruit (I’ve been conditioned to limit fruit because of the natural sugar content…any thoughts on this?), and I’m running to the store several times a week instead of my usual once. This week I’m planning to get a better handle on the snack thing, so hopefully I can have a better report on this next week. My kids are usually super good eaters, but they do not like any raw veggies at all.

3. We are always hungry! I’m not sure if it is a part of the sugar detox or what, but we are always hungry. All of us. My boys are begging for snacks in between meals (healthy ones, but still) even more than usual and my husband and I have felt hungry more as well. I’m hoping that as our bodies continue to adjust, this will get better. I’m having a hard time keeping up!

4. Sugar Detox. For a junkfood junkie (and sugar addict) like me, this has been rough. I have felt absolutely miserable, physically. I have had even less energy than normal, have had horrible headaches, and just felt overall yucky. But, I have ever confidence that I will feel much better after I cross this hurdle.

5. Buying Local, farm fresh! Just yesterday, I bought my first farm-fresh milk! I’m very excited about that. We’ve also been buying farm fresh eggs, which honestly we didn’t make a priority before because it is so much more convenient to just grab them at the store than it is to drive all over creation to the house with fresh eggs. But, we’re just going to start doing it, because it’s important to us. Next on the list is to find local meat suppliers if possible. We are in a tiny town, so some things are more difficult in that area.

6. It’s a ton of work. It really is a lot more work in the kitchen when you are making literally EVERYTHING from scratch! I have always made most things from scratch, but that step from most to everything is a big one. When you eat every meal at home and from scratch there is a lot of cooking, cleaning, dishes, etc. But, again, it’s just getting into a better routine and I feel like next week I’ll be able to have a better report about this.

So, that’s the report from our first week! Sorry this is so long. I apparently had more to say on the subject than I though!

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