Meal Planning Monday

Monday, August 25, 2014

It's baaaaaaaaaaaack :) I know, are you so super excited too? School starts this week which means it's back to scheduling our meals to make life a little easier.

Monday - cheese steak sammys and onion rings baked in the oven with peach cobbler for dessert...

Tuesday - stuffed peppers and mashed potatoes...comfort food :)

Wednesday - spaghetti and garlic the request of the littles

Thursday - french dip beef sammy, bacon cheese fries and homemade the request of my youngest little, this is her FAV...

Friday - it's football friday, so something quick and easy...

Saturday - out to dinner with the fam :)

Sunday - potato soup bread bowls...a family fav

Sacred Sex {Book Review}

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Sacred Sex
by Tony Evans

About the book:
Sex isn't everything that the world makes it out to be. It's more. 
This is a book about sex, for those who think about it. And if we're honest, that's everyone. Sex dominates our popular culture to a degree we've never seen before. Our world tells us that our sexuality is ours to do with as we please. Perhaps you've heard the phrase YOLO - You Only Live Once! We're meant to believe that since we only have one life, we should do whatever it is that we want with that life. But if we only have one of something, shouldn't that mean that we treat it with care and use it as it was designed to be used? God tells us that our sexuality is valuable and needs to be treated as such. The unrestricted sex of our culture is only a shortcut to personal fulfillment and, sadly, a cheapened imitation of the real thing. 
Pastor Tony Evans refuses to let the voice of God be drowned out amidst the clamor of the crowd. Crafting an argument that draws on everything from the basic science of hormones to the original Hebrew language used in the Bible to describe sex, you will discover why your sexuality is so important and why misusing it can be devastating. 
Whether you are single or married, discover how to enjoy true intimacy - the real fulfillment and satisfaction that God intended.
Another sex book up for review? Yes mam, you read that right. God created sex for husbands and wives to enjoy together beautifully. Y'all, He created it for us to enjoy, not be ashamed of!

Sex is hot topic today, am I right or am I right? I mean, every single place you look you see sex. I'm fairly sure "sex sells" is now even used in the marketing of candy bars and liquid plumber. Our culture has basically turned sex into a god. But in the Bible y'all, sex isn't dirty, shameful or a necessary evil. Sex is a beautiful gift meant to be enjoyed between a married man and woman.

The book is broken into three chapters; Sex as God Intended, The Value of Sexual Purity and Keeping Sex Sacred. The first chapter explains how sexual intimacy involved far more than two bodies experiencing contact. He explains that yada in Hebrew is the main verb that describes the first moment of sexual intimacy in scripture. The second chapter is about sexual purity and the importance of it. The third and final chapter is when Evans gets practical and speaks directly to husbands and wives. Sex, again, is more than an act. Thus men ought to continue to date their wives, love their wives, meet her emotional needs, and then reap the rewards. This always means for women to serve their husbands. Love goes both ways.

While this was a helpful book, I've read better on the subject. I guess I prefer books that are to the point and in plain terms.

I was given this book by Moody Publishers for the purpose of this review.

{Semi} Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Why We Didn't Do The Ice Bucket Challenge

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Yes, my husband and I were nominated and decided not to participate {at least not in the typical way}.  Let me explain why a little more in depth...

Is it because we're Debbie Downers, haters, rude, complainers or scrooges?  Nope.  Is it because we felt we had a point to prove?  You betcha!

We have two littles at home, are leaders in our youth group at church and my husband is in charge of little league cheerleading.  The point is we have lots of little eyes on us y'all.  Little eyes that face "peer pressure" every single day!  Oh, how hard peer pressure is to deal with.  For us older generation {cannot even believe I just admitted that} we can't even imagine the challenges these kids face today.  And honestly, whether it's in the name of charity or not, are we really going to pretend being tagged or "nominated" in a challenge (basically a dare) isn't peer pressure?  So you were nominated, now what?  If you don't do it, everyone is going to think you're either a chicken or a Debbie Downer.  We just felt someone needed to say "Hey, it's OKAY to not go with the crowd!  It's OKAY to not do something just because you were challenged or dared to do it".  We felt we needed to practice what we preach and model it.  And if that makes us wrong, haters, complainers and's OKAY!

I am not going to debate for one second that ALS isn't a horrible disease.  It's horrible and scary.  And of course money needs donated to research.  Goodness people.  That wasn't the point of our video.  Our point was this...while ALS is horrible so is abortion, breast cancer and MS.  Isn't every disease a horrible disease?  Isn't every life taken through abortion sad?  YES, the answer is yes!  So as long as we are donating to some worthy charity, one that we have passion in our hearts for, isn't that really what this is about?  Doesn't it truly just boil down to giving?  And should we really have to be prompted through a dare to give to charity?

I want every single parent out there to know that this was NOT directed to you at all.  Seriously y'all, if you and your children participated that is awesome!  Aren't all of our parenting styles different anyways?  And don't we all agree diversity is a great thing?  Again, you betcha!  This is just what we felt in our hearts we were to do and nothing more than that.

Now as for why I mentioned Romans 12:2...Paul says, “Do not be conformed to this world,” or as another translation puts it, “don’t let yourselves be squeezed into the shape dictated by the present age.” It is easy to let the world and the culture draw us in, seduce us, if you will, squeeze us into its mold, tell us how we should think and even what we should think, and instruct us how we can and can’t act and which challenge we should do. God says it's OKAY to not give in guys!

Do we feel those that participated in the challenge sinned?  Not at all.  So why quote this verse?  So those that didn't want to participate had something to cling to!

I'm sorry if us not participating in the typical way upsets you, I truly am.  Why am I sorry?  Because the point of our video wasn't to upset people.  Not at all.  It was actually meant to do the opposite, encourage people.  More specifically, encourage littles.  Again, it's all good y'all.  We knew that by taking this stand we would ruffle some feathers and we were prepared for that.  But if we gave just one little enough courage to stand up to peer pressure, then it was worth it to us.

20 {More} Budget Friendly Date Ideas

Friday, August 15, 2014

I love going on dates with my husband, whether they are little mini-dates we catch here and there or a full day together. I love that feeling of just reconnecting with him and being able to give him my full attention without interruption. I think it's so important to take time out of our busy lives to solely focus on each other. It keeps our marriage alive.

Romance doesn't have to be expensive to be great! Here is a list of free or nearly free ideas to make your dating a pure pleasure:

  • Grab your skates and head to the roller-skating rink. What, not everyone has skates like I do? Believe me, my littles remind me every year that my skates are as old as dirt. As long as you don't mind being the oldest people there who aren't chaperoning their children, it's a great way to have fun and let loose with each other.
  • Celebrate the first snow fall with a day of sledding together. At the end of the day, head inside for hot cocoa and a hot shower.
  • Jump in the car and just drive with no destination in mind. Turn the music up, sing together, hold hands and enjoy the ride. Make a love song "mix tape" to enjoy during your drive. This one is one of my favs!
  • Grab your camera and head out. Stop at scenic locations and start taking pictures of each other. Be goofy and creative. Dare each other to put those wacky pictures on Facebook! The loser has to give a massage!
  • Grab a tent, sleeping bag and head into the woods for a night of camping. Leave all the distractions behind. Spend the evening cuddling together under the stars talking for hours. If you don't have a tent, you can get one for as cheap as $25 at Walmart. Sleeping bags can be as cheap as $10. 
  • Dance lessons are fun and romantic. You’re moving, bodies are touching, and you might be working up a little bit of sultry sweat. 
  • Head to an indoor or outdoor ice-skating rink — it's the perfect excuse to hold hands!
  • Go shooting together, something we love to do. I mean, hello, seeing your guy handle a gun is pretty hot. Just remember, safety first! 
  • Stay in one night, turn off the TV, shut down your computer, and ignore your phones. Stay in the moment with each other and share your favorite memories from the past.
  • Pray together, taking turns thanking God for each other.
  • Plan your dream vacation with each other — it might be the incentive you need to start putting your loose change in the piggy bank.
  • Have your children play waiter and waitress and serve a romantic dinner, then tell them the story of how you fell in love.
  • Volunteer together. I think watching my husband serve and seeing his heart is pretty amazing and makes me fall in love with him all over again.
  • Spend the day together in the great outdoors. Go for a hike together, enjoying a day of great conversation while getting exercise at the same time.
  • Go bowling and have fun laughing together! If you're like us, that laughing will come from you accidentally stepping on the slippy lane, falling and splitting your pants. Not my most graceful moment.
  • Make a playlist {aka...mix tape} of your favorite slow songs. Cook your favorite meal together. Light the candles. Have a romantic dinner together! Once dinner is over, leave the dishes until the next day! Spend the rest of the evening slow dancing together!
  • Search out some local music! 
  • Go House Shopping.  Even if you aren’t in the market for a new house, just go browse anyway. There is just something fun about the home-browsing process.
  • Go for a moonlight walk. There is something very romantic about walking around at night, especially under the moonlight. Tell your spouse all the things you love about them and walk slowly.
  • Fill the bed of the truck up with pillows + blankets, head out in a field and hop in the back to count your lucky stars. Don't forget to take some yummy nibbles along. Have you ever saw a shooting star? It’s super romantic and you’ll be entertained for hours trying to recognize the stars and looking for them.

Walking Through Friendship

Thursday, August 14, 2014

This girl right here is a champion best friend maker. The problem comes in keeping those best friends. I mean, are my standards too high? Am I too picky? Are the friendship issues always my fault? All I know is in the end, I'm always the one left here, mouth agape, wondering what happened. Because...I thought we were friends.

God created women to crave deep personal relationships, so our friendships are a huge part of who we are. Chances are, right now you're either smiling because you're thinking about your own bestie or you're feeling sad because you wish you had a bestie. Either way, your heart connects with the idea of friendship.

I remember a time last year where it felt as if I watched friendship after friendship roll across my Facebook newsfeed. Gals going on lunch dates, littles play dates, meeting for coffee, selfies together here and there. And here I was, sitting at home taking selfies with my chickens.

A short while later, I found out one of my FAVORITE Christian women speakers was going to be speaking close to home. It seemed too good to be true! I made post after post, hoping to get at least one person to go with me. I waited as not. one. person. responded. Not even one y'all.

The most frustrating part is in my heart I feel as if I'm a good friend. I'm willing to put effort into initiating friendships. I'm devoted. I'm faithful. I do all the right things in hopes of finding heart-friends but sometimes it just doesn't happen.

I've spent a good amount of time asking God why this is happening, and what I can do about it. And by good amount of time I mean normally God and I have a chat about it daily. I'm not sure exactly what my soul is craving, but God knows. And in that gap between my longing and Him fulfilling the fellowship I desire, I'm choosing to trust His timing. And while I haven’t received a direct answer yet, He has put some things into my heart:

*  During this time of few friends, I have spent a LOT more time with my husband and kids. Our relationships have all grown so super much and I wouldn't trade that for anything. I've apologized to Joe for him having to be my everything {husband, provider, bestie, protector, etc.} but honestly, I love it.

*  I've had lots more time for God, which is a great thing! When we are in times of need, He wants us to run to Him. To crave Him. To find comfort in the love story He wrote for us. My relationship with Him has deepened, and I've found myself relying on HIM to minister to my needs rather than running around from person to person, ignoring His wisdom.

*  I've learned what toxic friendships look like and how to avoid them. While healthy friendships are blessings, unhealthy friendships can cause toxic, destructive messes in your life.

As I write this post through tears, many tears, I know God is the God of perfect time, and He arranges and spends it purposefully. I'm trusting in Him, delighting in His timing and allowing Him to fill the gap. If I’ve done all I can do to seek something and I still don’t have it, there’s a good reason. Maybe several. In the mean time, I want to intentionally discover what He wants me to learn in the waiting.

{Semi} Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Reflecting on 38

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Today is my thirty-something birthday and I want y'all to come along with me as I take a glance back at the past year. Thinking of what all this past year has held blows my mind. Honestly, it's been one of my toughest years to date (which sounds strange since it didn't hold any surgeries). Though trying at times, I am overwhelmed with joy to see all that I experienced in the last 12 months! So let's go for a little time-travel and reflect on my journey.

August was filled with a vacation. Lots of canning. Visiting a few amish farms. School shopping. And spending as much time with my littles as I could before school started.

In September I did a blog series called Love, Respect and Godly Submission. It had four different subjects {Gods Design, Respect, Hushing the World and To the Men}. I had such a great time researching and writing those posts! I also found out in September that I was chosen to be part of the book launch team for Courtney Joseph and her new Women Living Well book. And the Amish started moving into our area.

October held what felt like the beginning of my sadness. Lost friends. Loneliness. Not feeling well. It also held 3 weddings, 11 senior sessions, 1 engagement session, a day of mini-sessions and 1 newborn session. And our own big family photo session. Football football football. Ladies bible study. Lotsa photo editing. Yeah, October was a bit ridic.

My November was spent being thankful for oh so many blessings in my life. It also held me having the first ever Thanksgiving meal at my house! Put our tree up. Black Friday shopping. And I discovered an obsession with loom knitting. Who knew?

In December my general sad, unwell feeling continued. I craved the big family get-togethers we used to have. And I couldn't, no matter how hard I tried, find my Christmas spirit. Which prompted this post. But my family, ever amazing, helped me through. In the end, we had an amazing blessed Christmas. Joey got his drivers license {and my stress began, ha}.

In January I started a new online Bible study with Lysa TerKeurst called Made to Crave. It prompted this post and this one as well. It also held a bit of "getting over things". I was honest about my sadness and losing joy. And I wrote a letter to the teenage me.

Oh February, the month of love. I continued my Bible study and wrote a few more posts. This one stands out as one of my favs with this one in a close second.

March was filled with finally finding out through an ER trip why I hadn't been feeling adrenal mass. It also held a trip to Cleveland to visit my Dr. and a saddening experience on the trip home. And trying to come to terms with my loneliness.

In April we were busy. My Dad's cataract surgery. Jade's Freshman dance with a sweet boy. Easter. A visit from Papa. Trying to find my solid place to land.

May was full of fun! Regional Teens Involved {where the kids all did amazing}. Prom. Mother's Day. Getting chickens!!! Joe's birthday. A Freshman trip. Reminding myself of the many blessings in my life through this post. My baby turned 17, what?! And I did my first 5k, a color run.

In June Joe and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary. I started a new venture selling Younique makeup {seriously y'all, the 3d mascara is the bomb}. My family reunion. Bible school. Joey had his wisdom teeth removed.

July held the best family vacation ever. EVER. It was epic. My little miss went to TLC (Teen Leadership Conference} at BBC. And lotsa lotsa lotsa pictures.

To All Married Women ♥

Monday, August 11, 2014

1. don't give up. with God in your marriage, all things are possible. {1 Corinthians 13:7}

2. respect your husband. it's important and something he'll be grateful for. {Ephesians 5:33}

3. forgive. we are all sinners and none of us are perfect. {Ephesians 4:32}

4. talk + talk + talk + talk. communication is a necessity in marriage. {Proverbs 15:2}

5. don't speak badly of your husband in front of others. ever. you would expect the same in return. {Ephesians 4:32}

6. never go to bed angry. {Ephesians 4:31}

7. don't focus on his faults. everyone has faults, including you.

8. passion doesn't have to fade. simply don't allow it to. {Proverbs 5:18-19}

9. be nice. {Galations 5:22-23}

10. keep God in your marriage and honor Him. this is SUPER important. {Colossians 3:17}

11. pray for your marriage and your spouse. pray hard and pray daily. pray alone and pray with your spouse.

12. guard your heart. you don't realize how quickly and easily someone else can get to your heart. {Proverbs 4:23}

13. say i'm sorry. something that isn't easy but it's needed. {Colossians 3:13}

14. even if you feel your marriage is broken, there is always hope. give it to God! with God all things are possible! {Matthew 19:26}

15. go to church together. i have to say, i adore sitting in a pew with my husband, holding hands and listening to the sermon together. {Hebrews 10:24-25}

16. kiss him, dance with him on a whim and hold his hand in front of your kids. show them your romance. what a perfect place for them to learn about love.

17. laughter and fun are important. one of the things that drew me to my husband was how easily he could make me laugh. 17 years later we are still laughing.

18. have a gentle submissive spirit. voluntary submission is something asked of us directly by God. {Ephesians 5:22}

19. don't be selfish. life isn't all about you. {Philippians 2:4}

20. your marriage is a testimony! you never know how many people might be drawn closer to Christ because they were watching your marriage walk.

Enough {Book Review}

Thursday, August 07, 2014

10 things we should be telling teenage girls
by Kate Conner

About the book:
You are beautiful. You are valuable. You are enough.
In a book based on her run-away blog post “Ten Things I Want to Tell Teenage Girls,” which garnered more than 2 million views in two weeks, Kate Conner calls us to action in Enough. We all have teenage girls in our lives who we love, whether it’s a sister, friend, or daughter. Kate has identified 10 things these girls need to hear today from someone who loves her.
Peppered with wit and laced with grace, Kate’s list tackles relevant issues like Facebook, emotions, drama, tanning beds, modesty, and flirtation. Woven into each chapter is a powerful message of worth that transcends age, and will touch the souls of women, young and old alike: You are beautiful. You are valuable. You are enough.
A former youth-worker, wife to a college minister, and a young mom in her twenties, Conner stands squarely in generational gap, the perfect place from which to bridge it. Conner offers herself as a translator, helping you to speak your teenager’s language and equipping you with a fresh perspective from which to engage your teenage girl—one that may enable her to truly hear your heart (and your wisdom) for the first time since puberty.
I was so so super excited to get this book.  If there is one thing I'm an advocate of, it's letting our girls know they are enough.  To have them shut out the voice of the world and listen to the only voice that matters.

I took this book along with us on vacation, hoping to have it read by the time we returned.  The first night we were there, I took it out on the porch with us.  I got comfortable and ready for a good night of reading.

The first few pages I totally agreed with but then I came across a paragraph that made me stop.  Did I misread it?  I read it again.  Nope, that's what it said.  I though about it and read it again.  I had Joe read it.  I just couldn't get past that one statement.  It might be me overreacting.  It might have just struck a nerve with me that it wouldn't strike with anyone else.  This is what it said:
Men like to look at women.  Even married men.  Even happily married men.  Even good, kind, respectful, stand-up men.  Even Christian men.  Men are hardwired to enjoy women.
While I do agree with that statement, for some reason I found that offensive.  To me, it made it sound like happily married Christian men like to look at "women" and it's okay because they are hardwired that way.  As in everything, we each have our own opinion.  Wanting to give the author the benefit of doubt, I continued to read it.  And boy, am I thankful I did.  Had I stopped there, I would have missed so so so many good points.  Some that I've even blogged or wrote on FB about myself!

She goes on to touch on 10 subjects we should tell our teen girls...
1. If you choose to wear shirts that show off your boobs, you will attract boys.
2. Don't go to a tanning bed {this one I'm not so sure of, this Mama loves to tan}
3. When you talk about your friends “anonymously” on Facebook, we know exactly who you’re talking about. 
4. Newsflash: the number of times you say “I hate drama” is a pretty good indicator of how much you love drama.
5. “Follow your heart” is probably the worst advice ever. 
6. Never let a man make you feel weak or inferior because you are an emotional being.
7. Smoking is not cool.
8. Stop saying things like, “I don’t care what anyone thinks about me.”
9. Don’t play coy or stupid or helpless to get attention.
10. You are beautiful. You are enough.
I know, right?!?  Those are some amazingly honest and TRUE points our girls need to realize and remember.  What I eventually realized is Kate is just honest and forward, not holding anything back {like another girl I know}.  Had I of judged this book by that little quip that I didn't like, I would have missed out on a great book.  So I guess the old adage don't judge a book by a yucky paragraph is true.    

B & H Publishing Group provided this book to me for free in exchange for this honest review.

{Semi} Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Judging Others

Monday, August 04, 2014

This is a subject God has been laying on my heart for quite a while now. And I kept saying "Awwwww God, are you sure? This is a hard topic!". I seriously doubted I could do it and i made a million excuses as to why I couldn't. Honestly, I've been putting it off. It's a risky subject to talk about. It's a subject that every. single. person. in the world like to weigh in on. As I keep putting it off, God keeps nudging me and has met me at my doubts. He even put a book in my path that was filled with this topic. Finally, today, I'm trusting Him with it.

The topic...judging others.

First of all, let me get it out there: I am a recovering judge. Not the good kind, who approaches sinners in love and addresses sin in a biblical manner. But the bad kind, who casts judgment with a condescending glance {y'all, I have this look down pat}, a whispered tsk-tsk and an eye roll. When I was first married, my husband would say "You think you're so much better than them" and I would promptly respond with "No, I know I'm better than them". I know, I know...not my most shining moment as a Christian.  I'm telling y'all, I bet working on this girls heart wore God out some days!

How many times have we all heard ‘Don’t Judge Me’, ‘Judge not’, ‘Stop Judging and Love’, ‘Who am I to judge?’ or other similar ones these days.  And I'm sure we've all saw the quote below.  I see it just about daily either on a friends Facebook wall or pinned on their Pinterest.  While I agree, we all do sin differently, I was curious about this subject from a Biblical perspective.

As Christians, we are often accused of being judgmental. Goodness, poor Phil Robertson created two media crazystorms being accused of being judgmental. As soon as you start talking about judging, the first verse pulled out is Matthew 7:1, Judge not, that ye be not judged.

I do agree with this...tearing others down, judging harshly, judging their hearts, making rash and unkind judgments is all wrong.  Totally wrong.  It's absolutely not our place to judge others hearts.  There is only one person that can do that, God.

But if we were all honest, don't we all judge every day?  Don't we all make calls every day based on wisdom and discernment?  Y'all, that's judging!  As a Mama, don't you judge television shows to see if your kids can watch them?  As a wife, don't you judge what actions you should and shouldn't do?  Don't we make daily calls on what is wise to spend our money on?  And hello, have you ever sat on a jury?  Yep, that was all you judging someone.  So can we really actually say we should all just stop judging?

Did Jesus judge others?  I mean, surely He came into contact with tons of sinners.  How did He handle it?  When Jesus encountered people who were caught in sin, first He showed them love, (the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery), then He told them to go and sin no more. He never insisted they stop sinning first.

Wow.  So before He judged them, He loved on them.  He didn't scoff at them, roll His eyes and treat them poorly.  HE LOVED THEM! Is it easier to hear criticism from someone if they loved on you first? If they said it with kindness and you knew their heart was in the right place? You betcha! It's all about love people. Gods greatest commandment was love one another {John 13:34}.

If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.
Matthew 18:15

Now let's get to the hard part, the actual judging.  The Bible tells us that we are our brothers keeper and we are to care about each other.  If we see someone in the church that is struggling, it's our place to go to them in love and talk to them.  In essence, judge.  Honestly, what our "judging" should look like is being filled to the top and over flowing with love, caring and helpfulness.  We all stumble and fall and we all need someone to help pick us up.

Is there a pregnant teen in your church?  Take her to lunch, see what she needs, throw her a shower...SHOW her God's love.  Is there someone in your church having an affair?  Go meet privately with them, tell them you know what's going on and ask how you can help, direct them to a marriage counselor...SHOW them God's love.  Is there a new member of your church that is homosexual?  Take them to lunch, get to know them, reach out to them...SHOW them God's love.  That, my sweet friends, is what our judging should look like.

Let me end this by saying I'm far from perfect myself and sure need lots of reminding from the Lord as to how my walk should be going. But thankfully His grace is new every morning. I just hope to maybe give a little honesty and hopefully open your heart to God's direction.

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