Your Warning: What Will You Do With Yours?

“Suddenly, they saw the fingers of a human hand writing on the plaster wall of the king’s palace, near the lampstand. The king himself saw the hand as it wrote, and his face turned pale with fright…

‘MENE, MENE, TEKEL and PARSIN.'”
(Daniel 5:5-6)


These Aramaic units of measure mean “numbered,” “weighed,” and “divided.” But King Belshazzar needed Daniel, who was known throughout the kingdom as a man of “exceptional ability and is filled with divine knowledge and understanding” (Daniel 5:12), to interpret the writing on the wall. Belshazzar knew the words, but Daniel interpreted the context.

His days were numbered, he has been weighed on the balances and did not measure up, his kingdom would be divided and given away. This was God’s message of warning for Belshazzar. We all receive God’s warnings throughout our lives. Warnings to stop what we are doing, to turn away from sin, to guard our heart…

We all have to make a choice. You can choose right or wrong. Even your choice to ignore the warning is a type of choosing. Belshazzar did not respond to the message. He chose to ignore it. He felt that his agenda was more important, but God’s warnings have a time limit on them and, unfortunately, Belshazzar put his warning at the bottom of his To Do List to address when he felt it was the right time. So-

What will you choose to do with your warning?

Will you give it the highest priority in your day and action it accordingly? Or will you side-step the issue, and allow your pride to dictate your response?


“Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust in the Lord will be joyful.”(Proverbs 16:20) 


Blog signature

 

 

Be Here

Over the past several months, I have gone back and forth about what to do with my blog. I love writing and I have a lot of topics I would enjoy writing about. But a couple of major things have come up and there were changes that I needed to make. For those of you who have been around here for awhile, I had changed to a .com website for about a year and then recently moved my blog back to this free website to help my family save money during a tough financial time. I made the decision to first go through all of my past posts and clean them up before re-releasing them here. What a task! Needless to say, it’s a task that has yet to be accomplished, with 98% of my posts still locked as private and stashed away in my review file. (sigh)

The second of the two situations that has made me rethink my blogging activities is the more important one for me… my family. There is only so much of me to go around and I have found myself stretched a little too thin this past six months. Writing has always been a hobby of mine, and the blog started out as a great way to enjoy some downtime after Little Monkey had gone to sleep. It also doubled as a type of online journal of our activities. However, with my personality (a recovering perfectionist!), my writing time slowly started to creep into regular hours of my day and it began to suffocate my daily routine, and sadly, my time with my family.

After much prayer and thinking, I have decided to dial down in the blogger world and on my Facebook page considerably. There are only 24 hours in every day. I am reminded that our son’s childhood is such a precious and fleeting season. My focus is to really be here in the moment, enjoy my family time and the blessing of being a stay at home wife and homeschooling Mommy. While I will still be sharing pictures of our days on occasion, most of my online activity will come to a screeching halt. But not before saying THANK YOU to the readers and followers of our blog and Facebook page. Your kind words and shared stories have been such an encouragement to me.

So if you happen to be looking for me, don’t you worry… I will be busy on the monkey bars and slides, picking wildflowers and throwing rocks into the river, spending the day reading Dr. Seuss and swinging on the front porch swing with my Little Monkey… with God’s peace and joy in my heart and the biggest smile on my face!


“But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”
(Robert Frost)


Blog signature

 

But My Work Seems So Useless

Good morning, Mommies!

I’ve been thinking of you and praying for you this morning. I wanted to share this verse from Isaiah that I came across today while doing my morning reading.


“I replied, ‘But my work seems so useless!
I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose.
Yet I leave it all in the Lord’s hand;
I will trust God for my reward.'”
(Isaiah 49:4)


This particular section of the chapter is focused on the servant’s commission to deliver God’s message, and the suffering and discouragement he often faced. In our roles as Mommies, there are days, even seasons, where we may feel this way, too. After all, we are serving our families and have a lot on our plates. We encourage and cheer-lead. We correct and discipline. We nurture and bring peace.

It can be very overwhelming at times. And when we don’t see the results we think we should be seeing, it can feel discouraging. But we need to trust that God will take our sacrifice of time and effort, and mold and shape it into something selfless and beautiful for our families. We need to continue on faithfully in what we are called to do and remember to trust in God for the outcome.

Have a wonderful day!

Blog signature

Become A Healthier YOU! {Post #4 in the “Taking Back My Health” series}

Welcome back for Post #4 in my “Taking Back My Health” series. I’ve chatted in the first few posts about setting goals, what health challenges I am coming back from, and how to set a strong foundation before you start exercising.

I’ve had a few people ask me about the exercises that I started doing when I first started working out again. So in today’s post I will be sharing those exercises with you and ways that I keep motivated. But first, I wanted to share with you about why I am doing what I am doing. The answer is simple: I want to become a healthier ME. Everybody’s body type, weight and height are different, so our goals for better health may also be very different (weight loss, building lean muscle, etc.). So stop comparing yourself to others around you. Whatever your reason is for wanting to start working out or to get back in shape, I hope that this post encourages you to create your own workout, one that will challenge you to become a healthier YOU.

Getting back into shape has really been a mental challenge for me. I literally have to retrain my brain to think differently about how I spend my time and my effort, how I eat and when (recovering late night chips and dip snacker here!), and I have to battle all of those ridiculous demons that tell me I can’t do this. Here are a few of the things that I do to keep myself motivated daily…

DRESS THE PART
You prepare for work by arriving on time and dressing in uniform, so treat working out the same way. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the same time every day, but be sure to carve out the time in your daily schedule. If I work out in the morning, it helps me to put my workout clothes on right away, even if I’m not working out for another hour.

REVIEW MY GOALS
At the beginning of every month I set a few monthly goals. It’s not a daily thing, but I do review my goals every few days to remind me of why I am doing this and to help me keep track of exactly what I’m doing. I keep a daily journal, logging the specifics of what I do during my workouts (how long I run, how many repetitions and sets I do for strengthening exercises, etc). I just use a basic calendar/planner and I love looking back and seeing my progress.

A MIRROR DOESN’T LIE
It’s not for everyone, but here’s why I workout in front of a mirror. When I’m lifting weights or doing my squats, I constantly check my form and make sure I’m doing it correctly. After all, what’s the point of doing an exercise if you’re not even doing it correctly? In some cases, you can cause injury.

MUSIC, MAESTRO!
I do everything with music, so this is a must for me. Create a few awesome workout playlists for yourself in your Pandora app and get moving! 

music

For the first month that I started working out, my goal was to establish a solid weekly routine of at least 4-5 days. I needed something that was challenging for me as a beginner, but realistic so that I would stick to it. It also needed to be something that could fit into my daily schedule and be something that I could do completely at home. Keep in mind that for some people, using different workout videos is the best and easiest way, and that’s great, too! I chose to put together my own workouts simply because I enjoyed doing it and I liked being able to switch up the specifics of my routines.

Here is the daily routine that I use:

  • Stretch (15 minutes)
  • 200-500 Jumping Jacks, depends on the workout I am doing that day (or jump rope)
  • Run (15-45 mins, depends on workout for the day)
  • Monthly Fit Challenge (For January, it was the 30 day squat challenge; February we are doing two fit challenges for the month- a 30 day plank challenge and 30 day butt challenge
    30dayplankchallenge30daybuttchallenge
  • And the last part of my daily workout routine is an additional workout for areas I wanted to specifically target- arms, butt, legs and abs. I wrote the workouts each on a large index card and would rotate the workouts throughout the week. Below are the exercises I have on my four index cards.

** If you’re not sure about any of the names of these exercises, YouTube is a great place to check out a quick how-to video. **

Arms:
photo (17)

Abs:
photo (16)

Legs:
photo (18)

Butt:
(This is part of the original workout from FitBodyHQ)
Butt Workout

That’s basically it. Then I follow it up with a warm down and stretch. It’s tough to make the time to do these workouts. I’m a stay at home mom of a four-year-old. My days are loaded with family, homeschooling and my daily routine at home. I’ve also recently opened a business and have started working at home. My cup runneth over! 🙂 Some days I do the workout in the morning, other days I have to squeeze it in at night before bed, and there have been a couple of days where I have had to give myself some grace because I passed out in bed before I even got a chance to work out! The most important thing is to stay focused on whatever your goals are!

df8b943536cc872bcfe86db8f0b27b8a

In my next post, I will be sharing a way that you can join me in my “90 Day Challenge.” Stay tuned!

Blog signature

Setting Up A Strong Foundation {Post #3 in the “Taking Back My Health” series}

Welcome back for Part 3 in the “Taking Back My Health” series!

In my first and second posts I shared the fact that I had an honest intention to get my health back on track (Post 1), and also the reasons why my health was on the decline (Post 2). This was not something that happened overnight.

So when exactly was my turning point in all of this? I hit my all-time low the last two months of 2013. It was ugly. While I was continuing to experience physical problems, my mind was on overload and mentally I was starting to break down. I found myself experiencing bouts of depression. I knew I had to make a change and that it had to be something extreme. So in the next couple of posts, I’m going to share with you the specific steps that I took to turn things around. 

I know that a lot of people are curious about the actual workout programs that I’ve set up, and how I went about doing that, but before I talk about the workouts (they will be in the next post, I promise!), I want to make sure that I cover some of the most important pieces to my health journey- the important changes that I made to set a strong foundation- along with a few tricks that I’ve done to make these things stick. This same principle applies when you build a home. Do you want your home built on a strong foundation that roots your home, or on a foundation that has cracks, holes and damage in it? I think the answer is pretty obvious that we all want the strong foundation. The also applies to your health. Every step that you take from this point on should be built on top of a strong foundation. So let’s get started!

beginning
source: Pinterest

1. WATER, WATER, AND MORE WATER
Did I mention how much I hate water? Yep, that’s right. HATE. It’s flavorless and, therefore, does not appeal to me. But I also recognize how much my body needs it. For men, generally speaking, about 60% of their bodies are made up of water and for women, it’s about 55% (those figures vary depending on the amounts of muscle and fat in each person’s body).

I was drinking… wait for it… only 1-2 glasses of water every 3 or 4 days. (gasp!) Yeah, that’s pretty bad. I wonder how my body was able to function for so long on so little. So here’s the first major change that I made. I increased my water intake drastically. You can Google information on how to calculate how many ounces of water you should be drinking for your body weight, but a simple principle I came up with for myself is to drink at least one tall glass of water every hour that I am awake. It’s much simpler for me that way. I’m awake an average 12 hours, so now drink at least 12 tall glasses of water a day.

But how, since you could barely choke down one glass every few days before? Here’s how: I use a couple drops of liquid organic Stevia ONLY in the first couple glasses, to help get my water intake started. After the first couple, I’m already on a roll drinking water and I can continue for the rest of the day without it. I will usually do 3-4 drops in my first glass and I will decrease the amount in every glass for the first few glasses, basically weaning myself. I cannot stress this enough- check the label of ingredients when you buy your Stevia. It doesn’t matter that it has organic Stevia if there is a bunch of junk in there with it.

The brand that I use is Sweet Leaf Sweet Drops. Here’s a picture to show you exactly what the listed ingredients are: purified water, organic Stevia leaf extract, natural flavors. It’s just something that I came up with to help me increase how much water I drink, that’s all. I don’t plan on continuing with the organic Stevia once I retrain my mind and body to consume this amount of water daily.

photo (17)

2. KICK YOUR COFFEE HABIT DOWN A NOTCH
Coffee really does have some health benefits for certain people, but the way that I was drinking my coffee was nowhere close to being healthy. The ratio of actual coffee to Coffee Mate Vanilla creamer was 1:10 in my cup. Yeah. So for me, I really had to kick coffee out entirely, at least until I could get my habits under control.

I’ve shared with a few people on Facebook about how I kicked my coffee habit entirely the next day without any withdrawal symptoms. That was a really big deal for me because my body was so addicted to coffee that I would have severe migraines without it. It’s been 2 & 1/2 months now since I have had coffee in those insane amounts. I have only just recently started to have coffee again, but it’s about 1-2 cups of coffee PER WEEK (and in a much better ratio of coffee to creamer!). I drink this Bragg’s ACV drink 2 times a day, once in the morning and once again at around 2:00 PM when I’m starting to fade a little. When I first started doing this drink, I found that I needed it a third time around 4 or 5:00 PM. But since I’ve been doing it for a couple of months now, my body’s adjusted and I haven’t needed it that much.

So here’s how I did it…

ACV
source: Facebook

I recommend that you use Bragg’s apple cider vinegar. It has “the mother” (the cloudy stuff) in it and that’s where the benefits of ACV are. I also tell everyone that if you use honey, always use raw honey. Again, for the health benefits simply because it’s raw and unrefined. If you want a quick read on the benefits and dangers of raw honey, you can read that —> HERE.

3. LET’S TALK SUPPLEMENTS 
After living most of my life in sunny south Florida, a move up north to first Virginia and then to Ohio has been a shock for my body. I never had to worry about Vitamin D deficiency before. In Virginia, I had my Vitamin D levels checked and I was surprised to learn that after just a short amount of time, my Vitamin D levels were in the danger zone. You can read more about Vitamin D testing and treatment in this informative article —> HERE. As you can see from the chart in that article, my level of 30 was beyond deficient. I started taking Vitamin D3 supplements years ago after getting those results, but I wasn’t diligent about taking them daily. That’s another thing that I have changed. Along with a multi-vitamin, I regularly take D3 supplements.

4. I HAVE SEEN THE LIGHT! 
One of the major issues was the extreme exhaustion I talked about in my previous post. From that, stemmed depression and other issues with my mood. I started to research on light therapy, Circadian Rhythm, supplements and the affects on our bodies. My body did not have a handle on the hours of the day. I would be up all night long. And if I by sheer miracle I actually was able to fall asleep, I would still be up periodically throughout the night, unable to get right back to sleep. Years of this had left me completely exhausted during the day. I needed to retrain my mind and body on what hours were daytime and nighttime.

I decided to buy and try out a light therapy box —> (this is the one that I chose for myself). I didn’t know of anyone personally that had ever used this type of thing to combat depression and exhaustion, so I decided to try it out. Guess what… it worked. Here’s how it worked for me. The mornings had always been the worst. I just couldn’t get out of bed. For the first two weeks, I had the light therapy box sitting on my nightstand next to my bed. In the morning, I would roll over, turn the light on, and while still lying in bed, have my face about 16″ away. I would do this for at least 20 minutes every morning. And that thing is bright! I would also do it again for another 20-25 minutes around 2:00 PM when my body started to get sluggish.

After a couple of weeks of using the light therapy box that way, I found that my extreme exhaustion in the morning had almost gone away completely. I went from feeling like I had run marathons overnight and waking up dog tired to feeling more refreshed from sleep, with just a little bit of sleepiness. I decided that my body was starting to adjust and that I no longer needed it first thing in the morning. I moved it into my office area and I have it set up beside my computer. Since then, I have been able to get out of bed right away in the morning and I use the light at my desk while I’m doing my morning routine- reading my Bible, checking emails, doing my work. I have it on for about 45 minutes a day now. It wasn’t just the therapy light. I made a couple of other changes, along with the light therapy and I’m happy to report that the end result is worth it.

What other changes did I make? I started going to sleep at a decent hour, instead of my usual 2:00 AM. I went to bed even if I couldn’t fall asleep right away. I also started doing hot Epsom salt baths and using magnesium oil before bed. Here’s the magnesium oil that I bought. You can buy it from her online store and she also gives you a tutorial on how you can make it yourself. I don’t believe that I would have noticed such a timely change if I didn’t do these things together (get proper rest, therapy light, hot Epsom salt baths before bed, magnesium oil), but that is for me personally. No two people are alike, of course. This is just to give you an idea of how it worked for me.

So here’s a quick rundown of how my days went, while incorporating all of these changes:

  • Before bed, hot Epsom salt bath and put magnesium oil on
  • Go to bed at a decent hour
  • In the morning, light therapy box first thing (while still in bed or while I’m at my desk), along with Bragg’s ACV. With breakfast, I take my multi-vitamin and Vitamin D3.
  • Throughout the day, drink water every hour and more often if you can. Set a timer if you need help remembering.
  • Around 2:00 I will have another Bragg’s ACV and if I need it, another 20 minutes of light therapy.

I still have to keep on myself about getting to bed at a decent hour, which is so difficult for me because I’m a night owl, but I’m getting better and sticking to my plan. And I truly have seen results from doing this, so it does give me the motivation to keep going and if I mess up one day and forget to take my vitamins or forget to get to bed on time, it will be just fine. I can start fresh tomorrow 🙂 Just keep in mind that it’s not a sprint, you’re building a strong foundation and that will take time and effort.

photo (16)
source: Twitter

I hope that you are able to find something useful in my posts to help you make your own positive changes towards better health. In my next post, I will be sharing the specific exercises that I used to kick off my health journey this year, so be sure to check back as I continue on with the “Taking Back My Health” series. 

If you haven’t already, be sure to head over to MY HOME PAGE and sign up on the right side to receive my posts directly to your email. That way you won’t miss a thing! Thanks for being here!

Blog signature

Why All Of The Changes?! {Post #2 in the “Taking Back My Health” series}

In our last post, I shared goals that I had set for myself for 2014. When it came time to review them… well, let’s just say that there is a lot of room for improvement on my part, that’s for sure! Today I’m excited to share with you the second part of this little mini-series that I’ve titled “Taking Back My Health.”

For the past year or so, I have shared here and there about a few health issues that I have experienced. My health started to decline after we moved from south Florida in 2011 (significantly less exposure to the sun for Vitamin D can really do that), but, honestly, I haven’t really taken care of my body since I was in high school, if ever. If you know me, you’re probably wondering how that can be. At 5’9″, 145 lbs (at the start of my health journey), and a thin to medium body frame, it would seem that I should be fairly healthy, right? But I wasn’t. In today’s society, “health” is often defined as how thin a person appears. How naive can we, as a society, be?! So what if I was 145 pounds and thin?! I promise you, there was not an inkling of true health in that body! There are many factors that influence our overall health and every person’s body is created uniquely. This is my journey.

My body was extremely worn down. I spent years neglecting and abusing my body- not giving my body the proper nutrition, not exercising, rarely drinking water, only getting about 4-5 hours of sleep a night, and a host of other harmful behaviors. Years of doing this damage to my body were finally starting to surface as I dealt with side effects such as extreme exhaustion and thyroid issues (I strongly suspect this may have led to a miscarriage I had back in 2012).

“Extreme exhaustion” may not sound like much, but let me describe to you how this type of exhaustion affected me. I had very little sleep (anywhere between 2-5 hours a night). I would wake up in the morning and “need”… wait for it… 2-4 cups of strong coffee (not counting the additional 2 cups of coffee I would have in the afternoon!) to even feel remotely awake and able to function. For the next couple of hours, I would be in a fog. Physically- I was sluggish, mentally- I was incoherent. Within just two hours of being awake, I was already exhausted and had to take a nap. This continued throughout the day and was a daily struggle of mine. I barely had enough strength to lift objects. I had a husband, toddler, dogs and a home to care for. Something was about to give.

photo (14)
source: Twitter

I’m sharing all of this with you not to congratulate myself on my efforts to pull myself out of this mess. Nope. Not even close because I’m still in the very beginning of getting out of this pit. That’s right. It’s been a tough and ugly battle to take back my health and I’m still in the beginning of it all. But this is something that I have to do.

MY MINDSET IS: IT’S DO OR DIE. 

I’m not trying to be theatrical, but honestly, if my health continued to decline any further, something would suffer, something would die. In my life, it would have been quality time with my husband and son. There was no possible way that I could enjoy every precious moment with my family when I could barely keep my eyes open for two hours. There was no way that I could keep up with my active son when I could barely lift and carry him without getting exhausted.

This is my journey towards health. And not just health. My goal is to be in better shape and healthier than I have ever been. I’ve set some pretty extreme short term and long term goals for myself. Someone recently shared something that’s impacted my way of thinking: WE CAN’T GO BIG IF WE PLAY IT SAFE!

I’m going public with my story and my journey to share with others out there because there is someone who is struggling through something very similar. I’m a solid month into my journey towards better health now.  I took the first step– to get up and start my journey. You can, too! Stick with me through the next few posts and I will share with you the very specific goals that I set for myself and also the exercises and specific changes that I made to get started and make sure that my efforts were successful.

If you haven’t already, be sure to head over to MY HOME PAGE  and sign up on the right side to receive my posts directly to your email. That way you won’t miss a thing!

photo (15)

Blog signature

A Few Major Life Changes Underway and Goal Review {Post #1 in the “Taking Back My Health” series}

It’s hard to believe that tomorrow is already the start of February! It seems like just yesterday I was sitting down to map out my 2014 goals and now here I am looking back and reviewing them to see how I have been doing so far. How have you been doing on yours?

photo (13)
source: Twitter

I’m excited to share with you that the Lord is doing an amazing work in me and also in our family. And I say that simply to praise Him! The last couple months of this past year were very dark and lonely for me. I battled personal demons that, at one point, almost completely overtook me. I’m thankful that the Lord used my best friend as His tool to love and correct me. She was obedient to God’s instructions to her, although they were not easy: to go to the front lines of battle and bring me back.

This past month has truly been life-changing. I’ve set goals for myself in various areas and I have been blessed with the opportunity to focus on something that I have wanted to do for years (more info on that soon). While on hiatus from blogging, I have been praying about following God’s lead and waiting to hear exactly where He wants me to go from here with this site. And over the past couple of weeks, He has slowly revealed it to me. (Honestly, it’s a good thing that He slowly revealed it to me because if He dropped this doozy on me on Day 1, I probably would have laughed and told Him, “That’s super funny, but not realistic.”)

So, if you’re ready to join me on this adventure or just good ol’ fashioned curious about what in the world is going on in the Hill home, I’ll be sharing with you in small bites over the next few posts, so stick around! In today’s post, I’m going to share with you my 2014 goals. I chose to categorize my goals according to different areas in my life that I wanted to keep focused on. It’s a month into the year and I’ve taken time to review the ones that I wrote for myself… Are the goals realistic? Are they attainable? Are they specific? If you need a little help with figuring out a way to make solid goals for yourself, here is a post that I found extremely helpful in managing the goals that I have mapped out.

Marriage Goals
1. Commit to daily prayer over a specific area in my husband’s life. 
As the wife of an unbeliever, my godly role in this family is vital, and at times, challenging. Staying focused on God as the spiritual head of the home is the best place for me to be. He has shown me how to truly love and respect my husband in ways that I could not have done in my own strength. An excellent book that I highly recommend to help encourage you and give you thoughtful prayer points would be Stormie Omartian’s The Power of a Praying Wife.

2. Be intentional about quality time together.
Sounds simple enough, but with opposite schedules, sometimes a husband and wife can become two ships passing in the night. 

Parenting Goals
3. Prepare lessons in advance and focus more on Bible, learning activities, and reading. 

4. Serve in the community together once a month. 

Mommy Goals
5. Stay focused on time throughout the day. Be accountable for every moment. 
I stink at time management. I can sit down for a cup of coffee and next thing I know, it’s already lunch time and it only felt like 15 minutes passed by.

6. Devote myself to deeper, more intimate prayer time, with the desire to hear and know God, and to hear Him speak to me more, not just hear myself speaking to Him. 

7. Establish and stick to a solid workout routine, healthier food choices, an overall lifestyle change for the better.
This particular goal is really where the rest of my posts in this series, “Taking Back My Health,” will come from. Everything in the series stems from this point, where I decided to add it to my 2014 goals and commit to making it happen.

8. Read 25 books.
The first 5 books that I’ve put on my list are:
The Bondage Breaker (Neil T. Anderson)
The Love Dare
Feathers From My Nest (Beth Moore)
Called To Adoption (Mardie Caldwell)
A Heart Like His (Beth Moore)

Home Goals
9. Better system of organization when it comes to bills, meal planning, doctor appointments, etc.

10. Find a way to increase our income and work to cut down on our expenses.

So those are my goals for this year. I have kept some and the rest I need to be better about keeping track of as I go through the week. That’s the thing about goals- they need to be there, in front of our faces, not written down on a piece of paper and tucked away in our journal (eh hem hem!). Take the time to reevaluate them and maybe even change them later on, based on your level of productivity.

What about your personal goals? Where do you see yourself this year? If you haven’t set goals for yourself, it’s never too late to start right now. If you haven’t kept your goals, no problem- start today! You can do it!

Blog signature

Merry Christmas From Our Family To Yours

Hello, Friends!

We hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas! Just wanted to share a couple of pictures that we took, bummed that some of them are blurry, but hey, better than when I take them (heads get cut out of the picture!).

Christmas collage

Christmas 1

The picture that more accurately portrays our family on a daily basis! 😉

How We Roll

I’ll be taking a break from here to clean up the blog and pray about what topics the Lord wants me to share in 2014. I will still be on Facebook and Twitter… have any awesome Christmas family pictures you want to share with us? I would love to see them- tag me or private message them 🙂 I love the pictures that I’ve been seeing so far 🙂 Thank you for sharing!

Blog signature

On The Up And Up

“I’m tired, I’m worn
My heart is heavy from the work it takes to keep on breathing
I’ve made mistakes, I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed by the weight of this world…
And I know that You can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left…
Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That You can mend a heart that’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise from the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn…”

Wow. I am so worn down- emotionally, physically, spiritually. That’s what happens when you choose to take a step away from God. I hadn’t been sleeping well at night. And because I am someone who needs routine, without it, even my days were chaotic, no rhyme or reason to anything. The Bible describes this best: For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night (Psalm 51:3).

In the past month the Lord allowed me to experience a glimpse of the woman I use to be and it hasn’t been pretty.

I didn’t just take a small step away from God. He was calling me to do something specific for Him. Instead of choosing obedience, I chose to turn on my heel and walk away from His plans for my life. Like a toddler throwing tantrums or a teenager whose hurtful words are like venom, I lashed out at God. He showed me what He had in store for me and for my family, and it breaks my heart now to admit it, but I basically told Him, “No thanks. You keep Your plan. I’m going to do my own thing.”

My personal struggles with contentment, selfishness, and pride are no secret. It’s not something I am proud of, but I try to stay transparent and keep a light in those dark areas of my heart. I have seasons where life is great and everything is warm and fuzzy. And I have seasons where I am in the gutter, usually in need of serious rescue. This past month has been the latter.

The amazing thing is that even when I turned away from God, I ended up exactly where I needed to be. Completely broken and empty.

I’ve spent the last month listening to voices in my head, feelings in my heart and putting idols from my past, my personal desires before God. I am constantly battling idols in my life- that thing, that person, that feeling, a memory that I can’t let go of. (sigh) I can imagine that when I opened this door, God shook His head and lovingly whispered in my ear, “Why are you doing this to yourself again? I closed that door for you. I bound that wound for you. Why won’t you stop trying to reopen it?”

My worry? If I were to surrender my selfish dreams about where I thought my life should be, and if I laid down my dark desires, would He be able to revive me and breathe new life into me again?

So here I am. Wounded pride, tattered heart. And I’m finally done picking at old scabs and scratching at scars. This is where the Lord has been waiting to meet me- right here in the middle of my mess. He’s been patiently waiting with open arms for me to come back to Him.

Whatever you are battling now, whatever that thing, that idol is that’s come between you and the Lord, choose today to lay it down at the foot of the cross. And believe that when you do, He will refresh you and He will sustain you. The psalmist must have known a situation of physical, emotional, and spiritual struggle similar to ours, as he wrote, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26). My hope is that if you are where I was just yesterday, and you feel like you can barely breathe, that God will give you the strength to take one day at a time and that you will come to truly understand the depth of His love for you. May we choose every day: More of HIM, less of me (John 3:30)…

c71583e740107b4f261b4e8bd828bc15

Blog signature

We are sharing this post with our friends at…
Walking Redeemed

Hello Again!

It’s been awhile since I have been on here and it’s so great to be back!

Just to let everyone know, I have switched back to this site after writing at PassionateParent.com for the past year- mainly for financial reasons. Unfortunately, I lost most of my content and posts when I chose to make the switch. (sigh)

I’ve decided to stay focused on bringing you some wonderful posts to help encourage you in your spiritual walk and in your parenting journey. I’m honored to walk alongside of you and openly share my personal struggles and joyful moments, and I hope you choose to stick around, comment often, and share more of yourself, too.

Thank you for bearing with me as I go through all of the old posts on here and clean up the site a bit. I will repost them as I go. Be sure to sign up to receive our newer posts by email or follow us on Facebook and Twitter. That way, you won’t miss a thing 🙂

Blog signature

Snow Dough

Winter season is just around the corner and I’m excited to get into the spirit with Christmas and winter crafts. Today we made snow dough! It’s incredibly easy to make and amused Little Monkey for quite some time.

Supplies You Will Need:
2 cups corn starch
1/3-1/2 cup vegetable oil (we used canola)
3-4 tablespoons silver glitter (we used silver, pink and green mix)

It doesn’t make a lot of snow dough with these amounts, but we wanted to try it out and see how we like it… we LOVE it! So looks like I will be mixing up another batch to add in. We used a large plastic tote and it worked great- contained the mess and I just put the lid on and stored it under the bed until we use it again. Take a quick look around the house (especially the kitchen!) and add in all kinds of fun supplies to create a great learning activity.

This learning through play activity is great for:
Measuring and mixing
Scooping and pouring
Reviewing our shapes and letters while tracing them in the dough
…and so much more!

Update: 11/2013 We have also made a batch of cloud dough for Thanksgiving by adding pumpkin pie spice. Save a couple of your pot pie tins, muffin cups and items to decorate with and get ready to go on an imaginary baking adventure together!

Thank you to The Imagination Tree for your inspiration!

Blog signature

LM: 2 years old

Homemade Face and Body Scrub

I once heard a saying that beauty products that we use on our skin should be healthy enough to eat.

Why in the world would I want to eat my face scrub?! Well, not that you should, but I said that you can 😉 Many people think that’s unrealistic or just plain weird. Whatever your opinion is, that principle certainly is something to think about. Think about the products that you currently use on your skin. Are they safe enough to eat? Most likely the answer is no. Most beauty products are loaded with chemicals and preservatives. Many of us love the idea of more natural products, but the prices can be jaw-dropping. So for those who are interested in learning how to make your own beauty products at home, I will be sharing with you homemade recipes for a few beauty products.

Today we are going to start with a simple Homemade Face and Body Scrub from Delight Thyself. This recipe is made with four simple ingredients, is fairly inexpensive to make and you may already have some of the ingredients in your pantry.

** 2/12/2014 update- Delight Thyself website is no longer running. She may have moved to another site and I just don’t have her updated information, so unfortunately I had to take the link to her page down. However, I have created a recipe card to share her recipe. You can find that below.

It’s been 2 years since I first tried this homemade recipe and I still make and use this product today! I absolutely love it!** 

Photo Credit: Delight-Thyself

Sugar Scrub recipe card

The great thing about homemade products is that you can adjust the amounts that you use. For example, if you prefer less coconut oil (which I have found to be the case for me), then you can cut back on it or leave it out completely.

Just be sure that when you use this not to scrub the living daylights out of your skin- be gentle! And be sure to use some type of moisturizer after you have washed and dried your skin. Why? It’s my understanding that once you scrub, wash and dry your face, without some type of light moisturizer afterwards, your body will overproduce oils to help moisturize your skin. The alternative to store-bought moisturizers that I use is a little bit of olive oil on a cotton ball. A little bit of it goes a long way, so I literally only use about a dime-sized amount.

I hope this recipe helps to give you a good start on making your own beauty products at home. I will be adding more homemade beauty product recipes soon, so please be sure to check that out.

Blog signature