Monday, July 27, 2015

He Spoke

But did she hear?


This past weekend I attended She Speaks 2015. She Speaks is a conference for women in Christ.
Writers. Authors. Bloggers. Speakers. Leaders.

And then it's for people like me. One who doesn't know which end is up, much less have a clue what I am or what I want.....but is merely excited about meeting a favorite famous author!

Throughout the weekend, and normally as we sat down for meals, I kept getting asked "Are you in the Speaker or Writer tract?" Ha! Seriously, it got to be a bit comical after I told the 100th chick that "Girl, I ain't got a clue! I'm just here." Sweetly, some women would say they didn't really know either why they were there and some would just sweetly nod. And girls, I am a Christian, so I won't pretend to know what they were thinking about me!

And then of course there are the Ones. Oh they know. You know the Ones.
"I am a writer. I have a blog with 1.2 million readers and I'm published. Like for real published. And I've got my stuff to-gether honey!"

Ok, so maybe I added a bit to that but still. Still they know! And I'm a wee bit jealous of that knowing.

So here I clue what tract I signed up for. All I know is that I signed up and I'm a fan of "The Best Yes", my long-time-no-see frand is in town, and it's going to be an amazing weekend. Hooray!

I am not lying when I say that when I walked into those doors, I wasn't prepared for the revelation that God would do to my heart. I am a Christian. I love Jesus. I love His girls. I love to read Jesus books. I love to write blog posts. I love to talk. And I love really good food. She Speaks was about all of that and so much more. But oddly enough, what God revealed to me wasn't even about me at all.

I went in wanting answers.
I needed confirmation.
I yearned for clarity.

I. I. I.
Me. Me. Me.

It's freaky to the point that I'm beginning to think these ladies sat down months ago during their planning stages and said "Y'all, now God spoke to me last night, and He said there's this girl and she's going through some junk and she's going to need us to wave a big flashing bright sign in her face and her name is going to be Amanda. And she's going to be in X Y & Z sessions. Now you go. Go step right on her little manicured toes."

Worship started and the room swelled. You could feel the Spirit of Christ. Hands raised and hearts open.

The waterworks started and like a broken spigot, I couldn't turn it off. It would've been embarrassing but I am certain not a single soul cared about me or the snot running down my lip. Every person was embraced fully by the arms of Jesus and the world went so dim. Nothing else mattered. Reality had ended. Me ended.

It is incredible, the gift of God that is peace.

Workshop after session after prayer, God showed up with His sense of peace. Only peace that He can give and I'm not even telling a story! I have wrestled with some "stuff" going on in my life for months, years even. And the moment I let God fully enter in, His peace captivated my heart and my mind and Jesus opened my eyes to a world I never knew existed for me. A path that seems so scary, suddenly seemed lit up with hope and promise. The way seemed clear.

A servants heart. That's where it's at. I know it sounds so simple. Too simple, even. But over and over I was reminded that THIS...all of isn't me. I can't make very little time for God each day and then expect Him to make all the time in the world for me and my plans. I can't beg and plead for my purpose to be revealed if I am not willing to see His purpose. I can't await big and grand things from Him if I am not willing to trust that He will provide the means to make them happen financially, spiritually and even emotionally.

A servants heart. I kept hearing it over and over. The bible says "For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake." It isn't about me. I am a vessel, for sure. But God has created some really great amazing and talented spirit-filled vessels. Ones that listen to Him for their next course. I am nothing. But I am a servant of Christ, I am nothing that is something. Something and someone, only by the grace of Christ Jesus, that God wants to use to share His gospel. That's all. "Nothing more. Nothing less."

So Saturday rolled around. Reality was coming back into focus and with every little blip of home calling, I began to toss like a ship in the sea. I would go into the prayer room and pray with palms up to receive His instruction. "God just send me a SIGN! (And when you DO send me a sign, I'm going to need to it flash in bright yellow blinking blinding letters so that I'll know it's You; and God, if it pleases you of course, then I would love if you would just make everything else just go away. That way I'll knowwww for sure, sure!") I would read my Bible app. I would journal. I would stuff the fears and questions only for them to bubble back up to the top and threaten to make me forget every good thing God had done in me over the weekend.

"Child. Be still so that I can show you the way."

I saw the signs. They may not have blinked. But they were there. I saw the flashing arrow saying "THIS WAY!" I heard the audible voice because He had his vessels saying it. I feel the push. I feel the nudge. There is no question.

But I still don't know if I HEARD Him. Like really, truly LISTENED.

*eyeroll* I mean, seriously, how dumb can a girl be? Every single cotton-pickin' thing points me in the direction I know is right and good. But reality, in all it's pesky doubts, says "but wait?" and "what if?" and "how will you?".

So naturally, it's Monday. Like Mondayyyyyyyyyyy. I'm tired and confused and heavy-hearted. But Jesus spoke. I'm still trying to ask myself.... Did I hear? Did I really, truly hear? Because the answer is there.

So today I turn off the noise of the world. Focus on His truths.

God is my Father.
God will provide.
God didn't say it would always be easy.
God is good
God is faithful.
"For we walk by faith, not by sight."

Well now I've got chill bumps.
That's a sign!

I don't know that I'll ever not wrestle with myself and my thoughts and deciding if something is God's will or not. I don't know. I may be standing in line at the pearly gates and be like "I'm gonna need a sign that this is where I'm suppose to be, Jesus!" Maybe I will reach that point. I'm not there. But He's not done yet. This I know for sure. I am His vessel.

Lord, use me for You.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

SoleHope, 21 Day Fix & a Giveaway!

 Does that make you think? Feel a little guilty about that piece of cake you just shoved in your mouth or the soda you just guzzled on break?

Well I don't want you to feel guilty. Honestly. I think it's a good reminder though.

God has abundantly blessed us with life. Again and again each day. We shouldn't take the blessing He has given us and just say "pffft....Man, I CAN have my cake and eat it too, and while I'm at it, I'll have another slice!"

Our bodies are a temple and worth feeding with the Word and with food that is good for us. It's worth caring about and taking care of.

Starting with our nutrition and exercise.

My initial thoughts about what I put in or on my body isn't always "is this good/healthy/energizing for me?" or "W.J.E.T.?" (Would Jesus Eat This?) I admit it. I'm guilty of not remembering the great gift I've been given and how much He has sacrificed for me. I'm hard-headed about taking the time to exercise for my well-being knowing that one day, Christ will ask what I did with those gifts he gave me....including my earthly body.

"Well done, good and faithful servant" isn't just about our works but HOW we live and the light we shine to others to be good stewards of everything He bestows upon us. It just so happens though, that everyone has a body. Some shorter. Some rounded. Some a little more squishy. Some natural disposed to skinny.

But we all have choices.

And it's high time we start making better choices where our health is concerned.

So I have this idea. What better way to motivate people to do something for themselves than to do something for them and others in return?

This month, July 2015, I am offering to all new coaches and customers an amazing opportunity to not only begin the journey of BETTER HEALTH, but I'm offering to honor your decision by donating $10 per customer/coach to SoleHope. $10 sponsors a pair of shoes for a child in Uganda suffering from the debilitating sores caused by sand fleas called jiggers. ...these aren't "chiggers" folks. way way worse.

If you haven't heard of SoleHope then check them out because you'll be forever changed.

Many people have tons of shoes ~ heels, wedges, flip flops, sandals, tennis shoes, loafers ~ just sitting in a closet not being used. We take such much for granted and it's pretty frustrating when you think about the freedoms that we have "over here" vs. "over there". The choice we make to just do nothing and take advantage of this life we have been blessed with.

Those tennis shoes?
PUT THEM ON. Go run, free from jiggers. Free to choose a better path to good health.

Those hiking boots?
PUT THEM ON. Go for a walk in the woods, free from insects that burrow into your feet causing severe pain.

Those heels? Honestly, you should probably toss them because they aren't good for your back, BUT....PUT THEM ON!
Go attend church and pray for these babies in Uganda who don't have a single pair of shoes and suffer daily from the sores and infestation.

You guys. It isn't all about you.
But I want YOU to make a choice TODAY to do something FOR you that will HELP OTHERS!

So again, anyone who purchases a 21 Day Fix Challenge Pack from me will be honored with a gift of $10 donated to SoleHope in your name! On top of that, you'll also be entered into a drawing for a FREE 21 Day Fix Fixate Cookbook to help you with your weight-loss and/or fitness transformation!!!

Last but not least....

If you would like to donate jeans for Shoe Cutting Parties or if you would like to Host of Party of Your Own with a group of friends or church family, please reach out to the amazing folks at SoleHope. I am also collecting jeans for the ladies of our Sunday School Class to host our next party.

I promise if you do, you won't ever catch yourself saying "Well I would've rather just sat on my lazy behind and watched TV and had that piece of cake!" 

Nope. In fact, I bet you'll be inspired to....oh I don't know.....DO SOMETHING AMAZING WITH YOUR BLESSED LIFE! 

Get off your lazy behinds and

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

My Erin Condren Planner......I succumbed to the peer pressure!

This post contains affiliate links. I purchased an Erin Condren planner with my own money on my own accord. If you want one of your own, feel free to use my link and I'll get $10 for referring you, my friend!! Don't forget to create your own account for $10 off your first order!

I caved.

I've been hearing all about Erin Condren Planners for years. Seriously, every photographer and her mother has one. Any good mother that is. {insert shameless guilt trip} So I figure if I'm going to be a REAL homeschooler, (and a good mother at that!), I should probably start getting my ducks in a row and being a little more intentional...a little more organized. Or else we'll all be pulling out our hair two weeks in!

I know my family. We can make a mess and it doesn't really drive us crazy, but we thrive best when there's order and routine. I'm really hoping that my new planner will be the miracle that everyone says they are.

Maybe it'll even wash the dishes or scrub toilets.

But if not, at least I'll know when I need to do those things instead of just guessing that it was Monday, three weeks ago. We will be real grown-ups.

There are so so so many pretty planners.

I had a hard time choosing but I didn't labor over it. I went with my gut and actually hit "complete purchase" before I gave it a second thought. Shocker. Yes, I know.

I got the purdy little watercolor ditty below. It's no secret I love watercolor art!

 Isn't it pretty?! I love the quote....

"Nothing can dim the light that shines from within."

That might be my new motto for the rest of the year, I love it that much. I'm committing it to memory and something that I'll remind myself of daily. I almost can't believe how everything has transpired...but God is faithful to those that trust Him. I will continue to let the light of Jesus shine and be witness to the goodness that is Him. I'll continue to pray for God to guide, lead, direct, prod, push, pull, show me. I'm so excited!!!

But back to the planner....The price tag on it is a tad hefty; however, I hear that they are worth every single solitary dime. I'm sure I'll love it. I love to plan and organize. Hopefully I will use this baby to it's full potential.

I also got one of their snap-in meal planner accessories. I think I'll love this because it wipes off, it can move from one week to the next and I won't have to use my daily spots for meals. I like that. And I love lists so this makes my eyes happy!

My planner should ship sometime in the next week. Once it arrives, I'll take some pretty pictures and do a quick initial "first impression" review! Can't wait!! 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Battle of Truth and Love

Let me just go ahead and preface this post with the admission that:

  • Yes, I'm a sinner. Saved by grace not because of my works but only by the power of Christ Jesus, who now lives in me.
  • I do not know it all. I don't claim to know it all.
  • I'm well aware that I'm pretty much talking to myself here (no one reads my blog! ha!). 
  • And that I know, fully, that not everyone will agree with me and if someone does read this blog who doesn't agree with me, they could leave nasty comments. So be it. 

Every blogger and their mother has an opinion over the whole Bruch Jenner drama. Some opinions are more loud. Some are never spoken. Some speak but back down at the first bit of opposition.

I don't even want to hash out my opinions over his choices. That's not the point of this post.

What I want to say is this...

To my Believer friends,
Have you slowed down enough in your defense and prosecution on the case at hand, to pray for the person in the spotlight or your friend with whom you don't agree? Have you prayed for our nation when the stuff of life (ie. media drama) hits the fan? Have you given yourself over to be fully used for the Kingdom of Christ so that your words and actions are bringing Him glory? Please don't get me wrong, I have an opinion and thought and "prosecution" about this matter. I want to defend the cross and scripture, and I have. But I want to talk about something that's going on behind the scenes.

In the midst of the hash-tagging, name-slinging, comment-posting, scripture-quoting, article-sharing, is a very real, very fierce battle for the hearts and minds of believers on all corners of the earth, and I dare say, especially the United States. Y'all, do you see that this is a spiritual war?  And not just between believers and unbelievers. This is among Christians, "believers".

I know some people who don't believe in spiritual warfare. Then again, I know people who don't believe in the Holy Spirit, yet believe in demons...and I know people who don't believe in either. I know Christians who don't believe that this is a very real thing. So I know the concept of warfare is lost on them. But folks, there is a war going on and we aren't equipped with the right armor. Our battle cry is weak and muted. We aren't even using the right weapons for this war.

Over the past few days, I've seen lots of comments, read many articles. I've watched "Christians" tell "Christians" to watch what we say and how we say it. I've seen progressives tell conservatives to get a grip on reality and embrace the ever-changing tide of "normal". Truly you can see it all. What bothers me the most is that the devil is tricking and luring people away from the true principles of the Word of God WITH the Word of God. He's using what is our best defense as his own weapon because he knows that we don't know the true meaning, we've not prayed for our eyes and ears and hearts to be open to the truth, we've not spent time in study so that we are correctly using the Sword as it was intended.

Do you see the war? The war is for your soul. If you are a believer, there is a war going on to win you back over to the devil. If you are an unbeliever, I guess you could say you are "lucky" because they don't have to fight so hard for you....but luck isn't what I'd hang my victory flag on.

This isn't just about one man's choices and whether we can "love him enough" to accept him because in reality, the ONLY love that can satisfy and accept him (us) fully, for whoever you are, is the love of Christ. This is about the devil weaseling into our lives and captivating the hearts of those who are not so strong in their faith to take a stand against right and wrong and to DEFEND faith and morals.

This is about people second-guessing their beliefs because they don't want to come across as "unloving".
This is about Christians standing down because they are scared what someone (even other Christians!) might think.
This is about Believers being afraid of "offending" or that they might lose a Facebook "friend".

(lots of " " " " going on here if you catch my drift!)

Dear Sister, I can promise, the amount of Facebook friends you have doesn't matter one iota to Jesus. I can promise that Jesus wasn't sent here for us to throw his teachings around as if he were nothing but a good man who gave fist bumps and tossed around the word "love" as if it were just an emotion and something you do just because it makes people feel good.

First of all, let me say... Jesus is God is the Holy Spirit is the Word is the Life is the Truth.
You cannot separate them.
They were in the beginning. They are now. They are the end.
All of this has already been set in motion.
He was. He is. He is to come.

Our desire to please the hearts of man, to make people happy and feel loved, is far from the idea of what the Bible teaches about love. Jesus is agape love. Jesus is intimate, deep, compassionate love. He IS Agape and the Way to wash us clean and remove all stains. His love is agape because it isn't a superficial, just doing it to make you feel good, give you warm-fuzzies, kind of love. Don't hear me wrong, that sort of love isn't necessarily evil or bad. It isn't wrong to love someone, ever. But a passive love without action and truth is just stale and empty and without Jesus. Jesus didn't ever once portray himself as a passive lover of mankind. He was active in His corrections and teachings.

You see, Jesus is God. And God is Truth. And God didn't speak truth and give us the rest of the Bible just for it to be tossed to the side and be considered less important than love, just because He said it was "greatest". You miss the point. Love needs Truth needs Hope needs Faith. They can't exist without the other.

As such, without truth, you can not truly love.
Without love, you can not truly know truth.
Without hope, you can not fully have faith.
And without faith, you can not fully have hope.

You guys! Don't you see??

The battle isn't just about "loving your neighbor" and it surely isn't just about the battle of sin (although that is battle, don't get me wrong). This isn't about a man's sinful nature because we all have that. The commenters are quick to point out how "sinful" we are, how judgmental we are, how wrong we've got it, how unloving we are, how holier-than-thou we are. But believe me, we know our sin. We know our shortcomings. We also know redemption and turning from sin. We know that Grace is the only permanent eraser. We know that we can't know someone's heart and "judge" where they are on their walk with the Lord. But we do see the fruits; or lack thereof, of men because of the gift of discernment. This is a battle of hearts and minds of Christians and our example, our witness to the world.

So don't sit back, Christians, giving no credence to the Truth. And don't you dare reduce Jesus to a character like Barney who walked around singing "I love you, you love me...". If "love is all you need" was Jesus' theme song, then man, where's the beef?!? Don't tell other Christians that the truth of Christ is not as important as love and that we are "not being very Christian" because we want to stand for truth just as much as we want to stand for love. Dear heavens to betsy, don't belittle the entire purpose of His existence and the purpose of our creation!!

He is everything love and truth and MORE. 

He is our protector. Even on Facebook.

He is also....
   Our Deliverer, even in the worst of sin.
   Our Refuge, even in trial.
   Our Defender, even in times of assault.
   Our Liberator, even in times of war.
He is our Redeemer, our Rescuer.

He gives the Word so that we could personally know Him and know what He intended for us. So that we would have the "weapon" of knowledge to discern good and evil. So that we could, with His power vested around us, we could fight and help win souls to Christ. He loves us and He has given us the tools. I earnestly challenge anyone who wants to use scripture as their defense to read the full context of the verses being used. Don't just regurgitate what's been tossed around so carelessly and used erroneously. Be prepared for battle. Defend what is good in the eyes of God...not just what feels good. Because there is, indeed, a difference.

God did give us so many good things to enjoy!! He isn't a party-pooper! So surely he finds pleasure in our happiness, right? Yes, I believe He does, our happiness is important to Him. But happiness to us does not equal happiness to God. And it is by far, not the most important reason for our existence and that's where "Christians" need to be getting it right. Our purpose on this earth has been completely forgotten...lost to the bright lights and fancy entrapment's of this world. Our purpose is to worship God. God, who, created us perfect, each of us. God is not a creator of mistakes. He made all things "good". Man succumbing to evil is what made the ills of this world, the hardships, the inability to come together as one faith, under one God, one Truth. We are to worship Him. Bring Him glory in all that we do. So hear this, both sides, there's a great responsibility that we have and we can't be dividing and hoping to conquer souls for Christ. We can not be shifting in the wind, changing the Word to fit this world, to fit what makes us happy and feel good.

There are no amount of blog posts that can say any better, any more clearly or concisely what the bible tells us. I dare you to spend time in prayer and be nose-down in His word for clarification and conviction for how to respond to the battle. Is He calling you to risk some "friendships" for the sake of the cross? is He asking you to be brave and honest and wave that flag of surrender to His truth?

It might not feel good. I warn you.
It might not be popular. So what?
It might make someone upset. I'm sorry.
And yes, it might turn someone away from Christ. But He's able.

Just like he loved, loves and will continue to love Bruce...yes, He calls us to love, be loveable, and to continue to love in spite of. But He yearns for us all to come to Him for the protection, deliverance, refuge, liberation, redemption and rescue because ONLY HE can do those things to the full extent of their definitions and allow you to BE loving, loveable and loved by others.

Know Christ in all of His full glory. If your toes aren't getting stepped on from time to time with what comes out of your study and by what other Christians are saying, chances are, you might be missing some life-saving, faith-changing, amazing sanctifying Gospel Truth.

Paul said it best....

"Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should."  - Ephesians 6:11-20

Be ready.
Go bravely. 
Speak boldly.
Love unconditionally.
Follow Him closely.
Be alert.
Pray incessantly.
Put on the armor of God.

And always,

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Top Picks Tuesday // MAY

My TOP PICKS for Tuesday, May 19th


// Cheese Curds from English Farmstead Cheese //
Just trust me, mkay? Never had it? Well bless your heart! Call them. I don't care how much it cost to ship (honestly, I have no clue what they charge for shipping!), just do it quickly and thank me later!

// Chocolate PB2 //
This is something I use almost daily. I add it to my Shakeology drinks. I love peanut butter. This is just a healthier, less fat, option. Pure peanut powder.

// Zoku Popsicle Maker //
According to my friend, Carey Pace, this is the best invention ever. Makes the perfect popsicle. We haven't yet purchased one, but it's on my wish list! Check out Carey's guest blog post for some amazing recipes.
// Wild Mountain Blueberry K Cups //
My most favorite coffee. Add a little honey and that's all you need for a tasty wake-me-up. Nuff said.


// Simply Pink by Pink Sugar Perfume //
I got this as a sample from Ulta on my birthday. Happy Birthday to ME! Smells so...sugary! Simple, fun. I like it!

// Hinterland Trading Vintage Purple Canning Jars //
Perfect for homemade creams. Or you can use them for whatever your little heart desires because they are fancy and cute and would be perfect for anything.

// Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser //
Girl, get it. I actually stumbled upon this in my mom's makeup drawer one day (sorry mom! I'll always be a snooper! ...the drawer was open for what it's worth!). I don't have a lot of makeup knowledge and I'm not loyal to a certain brand. So if you are a makeup snob and don't like the store-brand stuff, well...pooey on you!! ha! But this stuff works and has a nice price for the amount of sleepless nights this can remove from the ol' face!
// Boiron Calendula Cream //
We love this stuff for boo boos, bites and burns.


// Canon 5D MIII DSLR Camera //
I use this camera for all of my professional sessions and I sometimes even use it for my own family!! It has amazing focusing capabilities, the image files are HUGE, the pricepoint is fair for a professional camera. It's all around just a beast. I'm much more in love with this version of the 5D than the MII. And! It uses SD cards! wahooo!
// Black Rapid Strap //
This isn't the exact strap that I have, but either way, it's a perfect camera strap for photo sessions, hiking, etc. It gives you extra piece-of-mind that your camera won't go flying out of your hand with the screw-in fastener to the base of the camera. It's comfy, although maybe not as stylish as some others, but it does the job and blends in with my outfit most of the time since I typically wear black for shooting weddings.

// Canon 50mm 1.2 Lens //
I shoot indoors a lot. The 1.2 focal length often times will save me (along with the high ISO capabilities of the MIII). I love it for portraits, babies, wedding details. I just like this lens. like. a lot.
// Targus USB Card Reader //
Works like a champ. Get's the job done. That's all ya need to know. I use it for CF and SD cards.


// Bible-Hi-Glider ACCU-Gel Highlighters //
So Smooooooth. Perfect for marking your favorite verses and highlighting where you want to come back to at a later time without bleeding onto other pages. And they look purdy! Get add-on for Bible journaling.

// Prima Marketing Chalk Fluid Edger Pad //
These are great little tool for edging your Bible, artwork with some nice color/texture. I also use them for stamps and just dab them onto the stamp face and, voila! The only problem is...I want all the colors!

// Sakura 6-pc Micron Ink Pen Set //
They are a must-have for any doodler, journaler, "arteest". They come in colors as well.
// Melissa & Doug Drawing Pad // 
Kids want to draw too! I love everything M&D. Their products are great and have a great price point. Right now, this drawing pad is $2.99. You can't beat that for a fairly nice quality of paper. They also make a watercolor paper pad that is great too!


// The Wayward Traveler's Guide to Waterfalls and Back Roads (NC) //
We stumbled upon this little gem at a gas station while looking for a few falls on a spontaneous trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains. It led us to "Secret Falls" which really is one of the best-kept secrets of NC! It isn't so "secret" anymore because I've been telling everyone since. If you are traveling NC, you MUST get this guide to find the falls. And don't miss your turn!!

// Go Girl //
Oh, just making sure you are paying attention.
No. I've never used one. I'd just pop-a-squat if need be. But hey, whatever floats your boat! I mean, it allows you to "urinate while standing". Talk about technology advancements!!!
// Melissa & Doug Memory Game //
Great for kids who need some attention-grabbers! It might decrease the "are we there yet" pleas, maybe just a tad! My kids have always enjoyed this set. The little blue blocks lift off with a bungee-style setup, can keep score, and you can change out the theme often enough to keep them interested.

//  2016 Rand McNally USA Road Atlas (Large Scale) //
My husband introduced me to the atlas. Fancy thing, it sure it. And sure enough has gotten us out of some sticky situations! We've never been too lost!!

 That's it for today's picks!

Happy Shopping!

Monday, May 18, 2015

At The End Of The Day, Your Feet Should Be Dirty

I'm may be crazy. And I probably have NO idea how much work I'd be creating for fact, I'm sure I don't....

But one of these days, I will have me a cow, some chickens, a couple goats, maybe a horse and definitely a muddy pig. Oh, and throw some honey bees in there for good measure as well.

I want a farm. a real farm with real farm animals...a sweet, smelly stench in the air...dirty kids! (oh, we already have that part!)

Since moving into the "barnhouse", the kids have repeatedly asked for animals and to have a farm. So the idea has always been there. We've always dreamed of this being our little farm...we have the garden and a dog! ha! But we want a "real farm" as they put it.
This past weekend, we went on a spontaneous trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Sometimes I think I was made for that place. I could totally sink my bare feet into the freezing streams and dance through the grassy knolls. I could rock my babies to sleep on a big wide front porch in a rickety old rocker with a quilt over our laps. I could see us growing old there. But the roads are so long! The curves, so curvy!! And I get super motion-sick. So trips are probably the extent of my life in the mountains. But I do love it. It feels like home to me. In fact, a little shop in Blowing Rock was where I first heard Michael Buble over the stereo system and instantly fell in love. "Home" was our song.  It's a barefoot in the rain, arms tight around each other, swaying to the beat kind of song.

But our home is where we are now. And I'm ready for my grow our peaceful haven by a few chickees and calves!

What really set my heart and mind in motion was after leaving Linville Caverns, we backtracked to a little store we saw alongside the road that was selling cheese. Cheese, as in, the best food on the planet...fresh, homemade, straight from the cow in the pasture, cheese. The Caverns give you a ticket stub, that, if you present to the store clerk at , they'll give you a dollar off your purchase! Bingo! We love a deal!

The rain pouring didn't stop us from having a blast. We ran for the door and as soon as we landed on the porch, Jasper hollered "Momma! It smells so YUCKY!"....I said, "Baby, that's the sweet smell of poopy cows!" we giggled, opened the door and I walked straight into home.

Farmer man was sitting on a cooler spooning his icecream with his leathery-tanned skin and white t-shirt and muddy boots as granny sat on the bench quilting by hand. She marveled at Alanna's teething necklace wondering where those were when her children were little! The cheese samples called our names...

...Key Lime spread with graham crackers (the grown-up's favorite)
......Buttercup cheese with spicy pepperoni (Lukas' favorite, the buttercup, not the pepperoni!)
..........Roasted tomato and basil spread with crispy crackers (who doesn't love a dip?!)

And a cooler wall full of curds, cheese blocks, homemade pickles, farm-fresh eggs. Holy toledo.

It's exactly what I want. (To be a voluptuous farmer's wife, overdosed on cheese, obviously!!!)

I want my tanned, rugged and musky husband sitting by my side enjoying a bowl a handmade icecream or cheese drizzled with honey as the rain beats on the tin roof of my red cabin store.

I want my kids running around in muddy boots and learning the importance of raising animals and providing food for our family. 

I long to use my hands to feed people; cultivate the earth; to prick myself with quilt pins.

I really do want the simple life. I want a farm that keeps us all busy and together.

I don't want much. But it sure will take a lot to make it happen. Our garden is growing, we are on our way to a more self-sustaining life. I don't want to go backward...but forward isn't where I want to be either. There's nothing wrong with the way people use to live before traffic and cellphones and Facebook and RUSH.
I want that.

You may think I'm crazy or don't have it in me....
but it's my dream and a burning desire of my heart.

While I pound away on a computer from 7-5:30 each day, my heart beats for home.
My Pinterest board knows that farm life is on my constantly begging at me.

So if the Good Lord's willing and the creek don't rise, hopefully one day soon, I'll invite you over for some fresh cheese curd, a ripe summer tomato & watermelon salad, maybe some warm bread straight out of the oven slathered with freshly churned butter, and we can chat about the crazy chickens, our dreams, homeschooling and raising children.

Sound like a plan?
Never stop dreaming.
Never think you are too old or too invested in a career.
Never give up hope, and always...

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Top Picks Tuesday

*This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own.

My TOP PICKS for Tuesday, April 21st


//Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers//
By far one of the very best books I've ever read. I can promise that almost each "Books" section of my TOP PICKS list will include something from Francine Rivers for quite some time. Her writing style is my jam.

//The Crossway ESV Journaling Bible//
I don't even own one of these (because they are on backorder each time I go to purchase) but I already know it will be a TOP PICK for me! I can't wait to get my hands on one and start the creative process of journaling as I read through the Word! Have you seen the likes of what some arteests are doing with these things?!

//The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst//
The book our women's small group studied most recently. Lots of good little nuggets of truth and reminders packed in this pretty little black book. My life changed at the mention of Ephesians 1:15-19.

//Go, Dog Go//
Top kid pick right here. We love to read this book. It's our favorite. "STOPPPPP DOG STOPPPP!" We are quite dramatic with our reading aloud. The boys have always loved this one and like to "read along" with me and they never, ever, like my hat. :)


It's about to get all personal up in here....
No wire would also be my jam these days since I'm a nursing momma. Just makes things easier and more comfortable. I have a hard time finding a good nursing bra that doesn't cost a zillion dollars that I actually like! This isn't a nursing bra doubles as one since it is wire-free! And I can continue to wear it once we are done.

//Nike Boys Crew Socks//
Because all boys HAVE to have (a version of) these now. It should be a crime for socks to cost so much. But if you are a cool mom, you'll buy them, suck it up and eat cheese crackers for a week.

//Maxi Pants//
These are especially cute and have circulated Pinterest. Mine came from Family Dollar and are equally as cute and were only like $10...or maybe even less with their B1G1 50% off. Yes, you read that right. Family Dollar. Helping tightwads everywhere look cute and not bust the budget. You're welcome.

//Robeez Kelly the Whale Flat//
I am a big fan of Robeez. These are just precious!! We have a few pair, not exactly these...we have hand-me-downs, one pair I purchased new, one pair bought at a consignment store. They are some of my favorite shoes to put on the babies for just learning to walk and crawling around.


//Plant Guru Raw African Shea Butter//
I recently bought this to make some whipped body butter using essential oils. I've yet to do that but we do dig into this stuff for moisturizing our hands and feet, as-is. It's lovely and works really well. I am waiting on my next batch of oils to make the whipped body butter. I can only imagine how much more I'll love it whipped with some lavender, or wild orange oil. mmmmm.

//NOW Solutions Sweet Almond Moisturizing Oil//
Favorite carrier oil for my essential oils. Favorite body moisturizing oil - helps get rid of static when you wear your maxi skirts to rub it on your legs. You're welcome! Also perfect for those ashy elbows and cracked hands. Great all-purpose oil.

//HeadBlade Ultimate Sport Razor & Refills//
And one for the fellas. My bald headed husband couldn't live without this fancy little contraption! Once you get the hang of it, it provides a nice smooth shave. Use with HeadSlick and you've got yourself a sweet, slick kissable noggin!

//Juice Beauty Green Apple Cleansing Gel//
It smells good. It's organic. It's a bit pricey. But it works!


//Huggies Little Movers Diapers//
Typically I buy what is cheapest - I'm not brand loyal. There are a few things I'll splurge on but diapers typically aren't that. My go-to once I run out of "gifted" diapers is usually the Food Lion brand. I will say though, that in this case of going with the name-brand, I didn't "splurge" because of my Amazon Mom (Prime) account. These diapers are snug, they hold the massive amounts of pee that my child(ren) produce and they are cute with their little Minnie Mouse designs. I do prefer these over anything we've tried so far but unless they are on sale, I refer back to my thrifty store-name-brand! (Newborn size, I prefer Pampers Swaddlers.)

//aden + anais Muslin Swaddle Blankets//
This one is a given. Any mother who has been gifted these heavenly pieces of fabric knows why they are able to demand such a steep price for these suckers. They are perfect for warm weather babies. Make the best nursing drape for wigglers who hate to be covered. They are easy to can use a corner for spit up and still have plenty of blanket left for whatever you need it for. They also cover a carseat nicely so baby isn't blinded by the sun or wet by the rain. I love them. Can't praise them enough. Register for them, new mother. Buy them, dear friend-of-mommy-to-be.

//Original Moby Wrap (Black)//
Once you figure it out, you'll love it. If you don't love it, then you are weird! Nah, there are SO many baby carriers & wraps out there on the market. I'm sure I would love other name brand moby-style wraps just as equally. This just happens to be the brand that Alanna was given as her first Christmas gift! We chose black, and I highly recommend a darker color for the sake drags the ground as you are wrapping baby. I haven't had to wash mine yet, but I'm sure if it were a light color, I'd notice the dirt and slobber stains more. Alanna loves to be "worn" and this one distributes the weight across the body so it causes less back pain, in my opinion anyway!

//MAM Silicone Pacifiers//
They are the perfect paci, says Alanna. They aren't heavy like the Soothies - which my boys loved...but we should've bought stock in because we lost so many! They have paci clips that fit the MAMs nicely, but you can also use other style clips, which is nice since ours always end up nasty looking!


//Blue Mason Jar Measuring Cups//
If you Pinterest, (yes I just verb'd that!), then you've seen this cute little number. Precious. Anything Mason. Anything this-color-blue. And it doesn't help that kitchen gadgets are my weakness.

//Dr. Bronner's Fair Trade & Organic Castile Liquid Soap//
I put this here because it is an all-around perfect soap for any need. It's gentile. It is perfect for facewash, handwash, booger wash....being that it is "baby mild". I mix it with some essential oils and a little water and voila! The perfect soap that lathers well and isn't harsh on our skin.

//Aladdin Mason Jar Tumblers with Straws (set of 3)//
Confession: I bought two packs of these as gifts. Only TWO of said 6 tumblers made their way to someone else. (You're welcome!) The others are our go-to drink "glasses". I love the size, love the handle, the straws are fun! And....the look like mason jars! Seriously, get some. Oh, and they don't sweat!

//Vtech 10 piece Clear Glass Cabinet Knobs/Drawer Pulls//
These are the drawer pulls we used on our bathroom cabinets....the cabinets I still don't think I've blogged about. However, they are perfectly cheap, sparkly and fancy enough that it adds some girly charm to our boy-filled house! I love them and they make me smile when I gaze at them while I'm using the potty getting ready. I priced other crystal-style knobs...yeah these were in my budget. They've chipped slightly on the faux "chrome" and one broke off right out of the box. But you can't beat $15 for 10 knobs.


//Nerf Mega ThunderBow Blaster//
The boys love it. Parents even think it's cool. Pulls back like a regular bow & arrow and let me tell you, it shoots those bullets hard and fast!!

//Clue DVD Board Game//
My kids absolutely love this game. Granted, Clue always takes a level of know-how so the real littles can't really play this one. But we enjoy the DVD aspect. They always fight over who will be Colonel Mustard though....

//Fisher Price Laugh & Learn: Learning Piggy Bank//
Something for the littles. Teaches hand-eye coordination to put the coins into the slot. The music isn't loud or annoying (because face it, that's a HUGE factor of whether it will conveniently "stop working" and get thrown in the garbage or donated to the church or given to the inlaws!) This little gem has, too, been through three kids.

That's my list for today!!

Next time maybe I'll list some different categories. There are more in these same categories though, these just happened to be the first things that jumped in this brain of mine and were recalled as "favorites" of our family members.

Hope you are already enjoying these.
If not...go on....go shopping!!!
Have fun! :)

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