Leaf-ing a Legacy

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This start to the new school year has been so nice and calm, and very welcomed!  Even though I have moments of missing the relaxing summer days – and moments where I can’t believe it went so fast!! – it’s still nice to be able to get back into a stricter routine and learning and everything that comes with Fall ❤  I love all the seasons, but each year I still feel like this one is my favorite.

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Baby in a Cupboard

I love all the school supplies, too 😀  The new pencils, the erasers, the notebooks, the binders – it all actually gets me excited… as nerdy as that sounds!

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She thinks this is her “house!”

I also love this time of year, because it means I organize the early school preparation for our kids, and our second boy is old enough now to really get into practicing letters, numbers, counting, hand-writing, and learning about the world – for 3 years olds 😛  I have no idea why this makes me so happy – I didn’t train to be a teacher or anything, but somehow helping him learn and do his “classwork” is SO fulfilling and fun for me.  It was the same with our oldest, too.

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I like starting early with our kids, at age 3, which I know sounds super early, but I found it really helped our oldest be prepared for the scholastic environment of sitting for certain periods of time, doing work at a desk, and focusing for that long.  Especially for boys, it’s important they’re able to handle the environment to do well in school and beyond.  It was good that he was able to go into kindergarten already knowing how to write, spell some words, read 3-letter words, and do basic addition and subtraction.

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Our second son does his work while listening to classical piano music.  We’re musical eclectics in this house 😉 and depending on the time and mood, we listen to many different kinds of music 😀 .  With the timeless music flowing through the house, it feels so peaceful and just transcendental.  Both my parents played piano ❤ so there’s probably that element that makes me feel at home with it on as well.

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Homeschooling for toddlers is pretty easy.  I usually copy pages from 3-4 different books for kindergartners on writing the alphabet, numbers, shapes, matching exercises, and sometimes easy word “problems.”  I copy them so that our other children will be able to use those same books 🙂 .  Saves money, and allows for each child to have their own personal “notebook” of the work they did from 3-5 years old ❤ .

 

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Hopefully he’ll learn all his numbers and be able to write or recognize them by Christmas, that’s the plan for Fall.  And then in the Spring semester he’ll probably start on sounding out 3-letter words, copying short sentences for his writing class, and adding and subtracting as a primer for mathematics.

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We do art classes sometimes, too, nothing too big, but today we made things out of molding clay that my parents brought this past weekend.  He made a bowl with a textured design inside.  I’m actually really excited to see how it turns out once it dries and he can paint it!!  And our little one made a beautiful hand impression ❤  Love doing things like this!

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He’s using a real bowl lined with plastic to allow his pottery to dry in the bowl-like shape.

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Sometimes it feels like the days are endless streams of Groundhog Day 😀 but I try to trust the process that the little things we’re doing now will hopefully sink into their hearts forever.  They’re my legacy ❤ and I hope they’ll know they’re treasured.

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I’m in a book club this year for moms and we’re going through “The Mission of Motherhood,” by Sally Clarkson.  The book’s focus is on how to make our children feel cherished and loved, with a call to go back to biblical and traditional motherhood.  I haven’t read past the first chapter, but it sounds good so far, and encourages women to stay home to raise their children, at least when they’re young.

Seeing how fast our oldest has grown (**major tears**) makes me treasure the baby stages even more so!  I cannot believe how fast time flies by – it’s almost not fair in way, but of course they have to grow up and grow into adults.  I want them to know that home is ALWAYS here, and that they can always come back and feel loved and cherished and encouraged in their futures.

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It’s harder to find time to read online or write these days, but I love how the days are filled with SO much to do, and maybe the school year makes me feel more productive in that way.

Hope all you readers are having a wonderful start to the fall season!  Eat lots of seasonal foods and drink some delicious fall drinks, please!

Stephanie

 

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Not Quite Ready to Be Back Yet!

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We’ve been back for a little while, getting ready for the new school year.  I’m a little sad to be back in a way!!  Being out at the lake was so relaxing and just a dramatic break away from city life and noise and stress-stuff around us.

The beauty was breathtaking, and it was nice being surrounded by it day and night.

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We were camping in an RV though, so take that as you may 😀  Camping with toddlers and babies is a lot of work, even with the ease of living in an RV!  But it was a great experience and everyone had a lot of fun.  Lots of campout foods and s’mores every single night around a glowing campfire!!  What’s not to love about stuff like that?!?

One of the things I appreciated the most was getting to see the sunsets with our kids!  This may sound nuts, but as a mom with little ones who go to bed at a decent bedtime, we rarely ever get to see a sunset!!  LOL  So we were mesmerized by them… each night!

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This picture below has no filter!  The sky actually looked like this as the sun was setting!

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There’s just something about water and being next to it that gets to me.  I loved watching our kids play out there and soaked up every moment of it.

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It always strengthens my faith, too, when seeing beauty like this.  It was like living inside a painting… just surreal at times.

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Love!

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I usually would wake up super early before everyone else so I could get coffee going and try to spend some alone time reading the Bible.  The early mornings felt so fresh and glorious, it’s hard to describe just how “alive” everything all felt out there in the wilderness.

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We also explored the surrounding little country towns, we adventured through their libraries and playgrounds and parks.

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I could almost picture hobbits sitting here!

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The higher up views of the lake from on top of a hill were just incredible!  Our oldest son helped me take these pictures.

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One thing I absolutely loved was getting to indulge in “vacation foods” like lots of bacon and fluffy pancakes for breakfasts. I liked cooking things like that every morning in the RV and eating together before we headed out for the day at the lake.

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We had a couple of adventures that were pre-planned like going to a ranch for rescued or retired horses, and then seeing a history museum in a near-by country town.  Things like that are either really cheap, or even free (like the horse ranch).

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Our kids unfortunately haven’t ever been around horses, this fact actually surprised me since I grew up around cows and horses that our neighbors had.  So it was great getting to see them take in how magnificent and strong these beautiful animals are.  And since many of them were older and retired (some military horses and even one race horse!) they were calmer and seemed easy-going.

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We brought cut up carrots to feed them as treats.

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It was sweet ❤

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I think this picture was cute the way they were all poking their heads out to greet us 😀

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And then we saw dinosaurs!!!

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I wore a light cotton sundress, and thank goodness because it was SUPER hot out there!

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But with the life-sized dinosaurs on the loose in the park, these two decided to stay inside the wagon LOL

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They also got to dig for dinosaur bones.  Just really awesome stuff!

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It was hot, but well worth it!  I mean to be a kid and play like you’re really digging out dinosaur bones 😀 they really enjoyed this place!

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And little sister (kind of) tried to help 😉 LOL

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And the museum was really cool, too!

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I think my favorite part was the campfires at night and making the s’mores!

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And…. we celebrated our 11 YEAR ANNIVERSARY out there!!!!!!  We put lights up around the picnic table and eating area, it was all so very romantic, although probably not in the conventional way of thinking lol, but we had fun!

In the day, this was part of our view…

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But at night, the lights sparkled different colors!

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The fire itself was just so beautiful.  And nothing beats tasty campfire s’mores!

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I am very excited for fall, and to start up the school year, but it IS sad how fast the summer flew by.  I’m ready for the change of the seasons, but I wish time would just slow. down. at least a little!

Thank you for reading & I hope everyone else had a good end to their summer.

Stephanie

Adventure into Beauty

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We went on an adventure yesterday… and found a beautiful place to fall in love with.  The beauty and serenity of this place was breathtaking.

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We’re big nature lovers.  Even when we were just dating 12 years ago, my husband and I loved going for hikes and seeking out new outdoorsey adventures to embark on together.

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And now these little ones get to do that!  I have to add… this wagon is a GREAT investment for little ones who can’t walk yet or just get tired and need to sit awhile.  We’ve been having so much fun taking it everywhere.

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It’s like a little baby bus or something… just too cute!

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More baby bus… 😀

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She knows she’s emptying out that bottle upside down!!! LOL

We got to see lots of wildlife yesterday.

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We even got our ducks in a row.

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1… 2… 3…   ❤

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But again, it was just so breathtakingly beautiful.

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I think I’m going to have some of these photographs blown up and printed out for our oldest’s room.  He really loved taking it all in.

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A family of ducks learning to fish.

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So serene.

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We packed our lunches and snacks so we were actually able to picnic there.

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Well… this one picnic’d right inside her baby bus!  LOL

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Pretty little lady. ❤

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Overall it was a great adventure.

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I’m sure we’ll be back again.

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Stephanie

Look Who Just Turned 1 Year Old!!!

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This past weekend was definitely a crazy one.  With Father’s Day and celebrating our little one’s first birthday, there was just A LOT to be happy and joyful about!!!  ❤

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I went to our local grocery bakery and found her the perfect little cake.  It was white cake with fresh strawberry creamed icing (soooo delicious since it was naturally flavored!).

My mom did the honor of creating this little spread for photographing it.

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She really upped the elegance with her table settings ❤

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Le sigh… will they let me eat it? ❤

And in other news… Baby Girl is pulling up and starting to walk a little when assisted!

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That concentrating face though 😀 ❤  Aww sweet little one!!!

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We also had the incredible opportunity to dedicate our daughter to God on Father’s Day (how cool is that?!?!)!

Ugh just so much love here!

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My husband took these pics before church started Sunday… it was a sweet, tender moment

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There were more than a few tears shed this past Sunday when I heard our pastor praying over my husband and blessing him as the good, godly father he is.

I know I’ve posted before how we’ve dedicated each of our children to the Lord, but this one happening to fall on Father’s Day was just extra sweet and special.  Again… I had tears!

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Can’t resist ONE more picture of this delicious cake!!

Hope your weekend was just as beautiful and splendid!

We’re over the moon with love ❤

Stephanie

Make a Weapons Wall for Your Boys!

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For at least a year (maybe two… it honestly runs together with the babies and pregnancies), I’ve wanted to create a Weapons Wall for our boys and all their weapons.  We just have so many, and storing them in a “Weapons Box” is great and all, but we’d rather actually see them and get to admire them everyday 😀 .

Can you tell we live in Texas? LOL ❤

Anyway… this was a very easy project.  Just gather all your weapon toys, lay them out so you can see them, categorize them, plan where they should go on a wall (or several walls if you have enough), and the put them up!

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It’s a little dark because I had to do this at night when they were sleeping.

First, I planned out where the suit of armor would go…

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This is actually the pieces from the Armor of God.  The Helmet of Salvation, the Breastplate of Righteousness, the Belt of Truth, the Gospel of Peace leg armor, the Shield of Faith, and the Sword of the Spirit – which is the Word of God.

Also… there’s Thor’s hammer, for our Little Viking 😉

And we have a bigger size (and more realistic) ancient looking helmet for our oldest.

Everything is hanging, that way it’s easy to pull off and put back on.  If anyone has any ideas to use something other than tacks, I’d love to know!

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Something I really love is all the knives they have… especially the Bowie knife, from James Bowie, one of the wild and crazy heroes of the Alamo battle and Texas Revolution.  What an amazing man he was!  He’s remembered as one of the fiercest fighting men of Texas history.

Doing this also helped us realize they need more guns.  And I haven’t figured out how to hang the nerf guns the oldest has 🙂 so they’re still in his room.  He also has really awesome laser guns that help him better his aim (to near perfection)!  But those would need more heavy duty stuff to figure out how to hang.

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What’s missing also is their swords and light sabers… we may move the alphabet and start more on that side going down.

The bow, arrows, and quiver toys are so much fun!  They really work!  And my oldest told me he and my mom made that quiver together ❤ .  How cool is that?!

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Apparently recently in the UK, time has stopped over the young Prince George playing like a normal boy would… with a weapon.  LOL

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“Completely tone deaf of Kate… to give Prince George a toy gun. Doesn’t she read the papers in her own country with all the gun deaths? If the Duchess of Sussex had done this, she would be excoriated in the media! Lucky George isn’t black or police would have shot him,” one user wrote.

Another chimed in, “#PrinceGeorge playing with a toy gun! Unelievable! #KensingtonPalace shame!

“This isn’t okay anymore…  My American side here, biased maybe b/c of everyday #gunviolence in USA, but my British side agrees.  No child in this day and age should look at any gun as a fun toy. This looks far too real,” someone else wrote.

And that… is why they’re losing their country to Muslims.

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Anyway, I’m sure there are much better weapons walls out there, but this is just our version and it was definitely a fun project!

If anyone has ideas for how to hang nerf guns… that may just be our next thing!

Stephanie

Related Reading –

Lake Break!

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Yesterday we spent some time out at the lake.  The water and the drive through the hill country was just breathtakingly beautiful!  Such a nice change of scenery!

And very peaceful ❤

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What is it about toddlers and throwing rocks into water? It’s so cute and adorable how they love to see them plunk and splash!  He had a blast!

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It was hot… not over 100’F, but close though (97’F)!  Which is a big deal for us here that it didn’t go over, LOL!  It was nice and windy, especially with that lake breeze near the water.

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The little viking child!! ❤

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Just the colors of the water and the greenery were amazing to me.  When we were driving up on a hill, you could see the entire lake and how blue it was from that far away.

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Hope you readers are enjoying your summer to the fullest extent possible.  It is gorgeous out there, even if it is hot.  Enjoy the season and take it for what it is!  I know we are!

Stephanie

It’s the Burden of Father’s to Teach Their Children Morality

This was so sweet and beautiful.  I may not agree with *everything* this man says about “different” moralities (my husband and I believe in absolute truth and that there’s a clear right and wrong), but the general video is gold.

His main point?

It’s father’s who are burdened with the glorious duty and responsibility to teach their children what is right and what is wrong.  

It’s not your church’s job… it’s not the teachers’ job or even the school system.

No.  It all falls down to fathers (and I’d also say married mothers to a lesser extent).

Single moms statistically just can’t do it… that’s been proven over and over again.  In fact, we now know that single moms only make society worse by producing children who are far more likely to be promiscuous, drug-addicted, jail-birds, violent offenders, gang members, and so on.  It’s not fair, but it’s the way God created the family model to be.

Fathers are so important to our society, because they hold this power over the lives of their children.

And yes, it looks like an incredibly heavy burden, one I’m familiar with when watching my husband take on this role day in and day out when teaching our two oldest (but especially our oldest as he’s at the perfect age for this stuff).

I know I don’t have that burden on my shoulders.  Is there some burden there to raise them in a godly household and talk through questions or problems, teach them about male-female dynamics etc?  Yes, but it’s not the same as what I see my husband bear.

We work together in raising our children, yes, but it’s not the same.  I know for a fact I couldn’t do this without him.

He, as the head of our family and Patriarch, has to bear all the weight of leading our family in truth and knowledge.  It is an incredible burden to take all of that on… especially when you think about the impact you as a father will have on these children as they grow up and have children, and then carry on what you taught them to their children and so on.

All the weight of teaching our kids the proper biblical life model, even though I assist with that, too, is on him.  In fact, most of what I teach them on my own, are things he’s told me he wants them to go over or learn about.

What a beautiful thing to reflect on though, and something our society so needs to hear at the moment.  That it’s up to the fathers to teach their children morality.

Because they truly are the only ones who really can.

Stephanie

Teach Your Kids to Have a Spirit of Excellence

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The Spirit of Excellence Work Ethic

When studying the passage about what the virtuous wife does, it was clear that everything she has control over, she’s intentionally trying to achieve excellence in.  Obviously that is extremely hard to achieve, and I don’t think it happens overnight or even necessarily when one is just starting out in a marriage.  It takes work.  It takes brutal honesty about where we are in that struggle for achieving more discipline or excellence in the work we’re doing.  I don’t think we should feel intimidated by it, but instead inspired to do better in things we’re honestly failing in.

And if you’re a mom, your most important work right now is being an excellent wife to your husband and mother to your kids.  We have so much power over the lives of our children!  I was recently listening to a 6-sermon series by Doug Fields on that very topic of how important it is to make sure we’re being *good* mothers to our kids.  I’ll probably write more on that in other posts.

It’s just important to note that developing an attitude toward your life that inspires you to try to achieve excellence in all you do, is biblical and not to be dismissed as simply being some kind of Super Mom.

And it’s not about a suffocating existence of constantly striving.

It truly is a fine balance.  Striving, I believe, comes from the desire for perfection and perfectionism, even prideWhereas having a spirit of excellence is a totally different attitude!  When you intimately understand that you are NOT your own, that your body is God’s Temple, that you are only a STEWARD over the body and talents and gifts and money God has given you, then your work ethic is correctly lined up with wanting to please God – who is your Boss, since EVERYTHING you own or have control over, belongs to Him and you’re just the steward.  It comes from humility, but that doesn’t mean fighting off pride isn’t sometimes still a battle.

When you have this mindset of developing a spirit of excellence, everything about you changes.  You want to please God, your perfect Boss who loves you beyond imagination!  Whereas striving for perfection is about either pleasing other people or wanting to look good in their eyes – neither of which is a virtuous goal.

With developing a spirit of excellence, you WANT to make the best choices that will give Him back the best RETURN of His INVESTMENT in you as a person.  While striving is all about the desire to control, having a spirit of excellence toward what God’s given you is manifested in relinquishing control over your life and offering it up to Him – and making sure it is an excellent offering!

The Bible tells us that in everything we do, to do it as though we were working for God.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:17

A Spirit of Excellence Effects All of You –

We have a white board in our kitchen/dining area (it’s all kind of one space lol) and it’s convenient for teaching lessons or writing Scripture for the week to memorize, or even for him to practice sentence writing and spelling words.  It’s been a GREAT investment… just one little white board 🙂

I wrote the title Spirit of Excellence at the top, with the basic definition and words that were synonymous with it.  We talked about what excellence then meant – in a broad, general kind of way.

Then I drew 3 small circles and wrote over each one:

BODY       –>          MIND         –>        GOD

(Increasing in difficult)

It’s the physical element of yourself, your mental and emotional health, and then also your spiritual standing with God since we’re a Christian family.  In my opinion, it increases in difficulty when you view it in this order.  Your body can be difficult to master, but at least it’s physically right there with you – you can touch it, look at it, and more easily understand what may need to change to make it a pillar of excellence.

Your mind working as it should is a lot harder to see clearly – to understand if you are seeing clearly, since everything you view is filtered through it, for good and bad.  It’s basically your mental health and mental abilities (learning, relating, communicating or processing through problems), which for probably more people than we’d like to think, it’s a little harder to have excellence over something you can’t see, touch, and don’t know if you’re “feeling” through a faulty filter.

And the last principle of excellence was GOD.  This is the hardest for mankind to sort out in general, hence why having a strong relationship with God is becoming a fairly rare thing in the world.  It means you have to be open to rebuke and discipline, that you have to be willing to be convicted when you’ve done something wrong or harmed someone else.  When you’re reporting to God everyday, you are held to the highest standard of conduct and responsibility for your choices, because you are His ambassador, His steward over your talents and gifts.  All that takes humility, in fact having a relationship with God at all, takes immense amounts of humility because you have to allow Him to mold you and change you overtime, and to let go of sinful things that are holding you back (but that you like!).

The amazing thing is that if you “master” this principle in gaining a good relationship with God where He is Lord over all of your life, the other principles of your body and mind tend to fall in place as well.

Flow when mastered:

GOD     –>    MIND    –>     BODY

First your mind, since you are allowing God to direct your steps, your mind is the first place He will go to make the necessary convictions and changes.  Then lastly it’s your body, because if you aren’t taking care of it as you should be, eventually you will start feeling ashamed (in your mind!) of laziness or the lack of discipline in that area of your life (when everything else is becoming more and more disciplined and orderly and beautiful), and your body will follow through with being healthily disciplined with working out and eating healthy.

Developing a spirit of excellence in all these things means you will probably stand out more than people around you, like Daniel and his friends did, or how Joseph or Esther or Ruth did.  Unless you specifically search out the people who are also pursuing excellence in everything as well, which is necessary to continued growth.

You can’t do this alone very well, we all need accountability and fellowship with like-minded believers who will hold you accountable to living with a spirit of excellence.  What better way than to surround yourself with people who are also trying to foster a spirit of excellence in their lives as well?

Our children need to be watching their parents living out having a spirit of excellence, and as their mom, what better way than to study the Scriptures, and in particular, the Proverbs 31 woman?

Stephanie

 

Relaxing in the Shade

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Ahhhhh… this was so relaxing.  I’m amazed how wonderful God’s creation is and how peaceful just being in your own backyard can be!  The only sound we heard this lazy afternoon was all the dozens of birds making their various calls in the trees.

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It’s a great feeling when all of your littles are relaxing at the same time.  It doesn’t happen for very long LOL… but it is nice when it does happen.

I made us all homemade blue coconut icies and it was the perfect drink for being out here!  This picnic blanket is super lightweight, water resistant, and I found it for only $10 at Wal-Mart.  It’s soft and beautifully patterned, too.  That along with our pillows and the icies – well, it doesn’t take much for us to feel like we’re living in luxury 😉

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Have a Happy Mother’s Day weekend readers!!!!  Enjoy it as much as you can!

Stephanie

Pricing Mother’s Day

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Every year… it never fails 😉 … we on social media are bombarded with new posts or youtube videos, written by mothers (or their strangely apologetic husbands) moaning and groaning about how horrible being a mom is for them and that it “sucks” that they only get ONE day as a “break” and then proceed to complain that even that ONE day isn’t actually a “break.”  They usually use words like “shitty” of course, though, lol.

Apparently, if you’re a Mom/Grandma/Aunt/etc, Mother’s Day has turned into a week-long, self-indulgent, victimhood-mode of “poor me” attitude for you to indulge in without censorship.  In fact, even bringing up the point that all these posts of moms complaining about how much they hate Mother’s Day (and every other day of the year) because they have to spend it with their kids, isn’t good for them or their kids – if you dare bring this up on social media, you’re labeled judgmental and not Christian or loving like Christ did.

Motherhood is hard.

I totally get many of us moms that were raised in this culture, where we grew up given trophies for just being there (and awesome? LOL), that motherhood feels like too much to handle.  There’s no one else there to “save us” from the sick days, or when our husbands are away on business trips, or when they’re deployed, or working late… and my generation (Gen Y) in particular, aren’t very good at showing grit and the desire to push through difficulties like you’re running an excruciating marathon.

Most of us were just never taught how to have grit or persevere through things we’d really rather not be doing.  We live in a fairly easy, maybe too-accessible culture where everything is either fast and quick for us, or already available.  In my opinion, our culture has created a bunch of weak women.  We’re going to be remembered as the women who every year, took to social media to complain and whine about the very blessings (children!) we said we craved.  

It’s incredibly ironic that in this age of feminism where women are supposed to be stronger than ever, they complain and whine (showing extreme weakness) more than I believe they ever did under a patriarchal “oppressive” society.  Is that what it means to be a strong woman now?  Someone who thinks “Mother’s Day” is her enemy?

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I think I’m lucky that my mother frequently reminded us that most of life was just doing the boring, hard things that needed to be done.  It wasn’t supposed to be easy.  Raising kids isn’t supposed to be easy.  But that’s not really the point.

The point is that even if you think motherhood really really stinks, you should realize that your kids don’t deserve a mom who always feels that way, or allows herself to fall into “victim-mode.” 

Because it’s going to affect them negatively, it just will. 

What are we teaching our kids when we show them that just being their mom really really sucks? 

Are we helping them to become better humans who suck it up and build a beautiful, and very necessarily difficult, but so needed, civilized structure for this country? 

Do we want a massive generation of more people who don’t believe in hard work, who love to complain as loudly as they can, and in any opportunity that they can, to claim their status of victimhood? 

If you’ve felt this way before about Mother’s Day, I do understand that it’s hard.  Dealing with toddlers who scream and throw things at you, hit you and are completely unreasonable… day in and day out… is VERY hard, and yes, sometimes it really really stinks!  But you have to push through those feelings, because they only last a moment when that toddler is being hard. 

And then 3 minutes later, they want a hug and are sweet and adorable again.

You don’t have to “give in” to feeling like the victim to your own life or like your children are “oppressive.”

Anything worthwhile in life is supposed to be difficult.

It’s supposed to be painful.  Because anytime you sacrifice anything in your life, it is going to be a bit painful.  Motherhood is full of those unmeasurable sacrifices – but you have to try to find the beauty in them, and throw off the feelings of resentment or that you’re being “oppressed” by your children.

Compare it to running and getting your body in shape.  If you listened to your feelings, you’d tell yourself constantly that you “hate exercising” and that “it sucks” and then you’d never feel properly motivated to do it.  It’s the same with parenting.  It’s supposed to be hard.  It’s supposed to have moments of painful sacrifice.  And no, you’re not supposed to just whine and complain on social media (to complete strangers) about how much you can’t stand God’s blessings in your life – because it’s not good for you.

Please… try… just one year 😀  TRY to enjoy this mother’s Day without making a whining post or reminding your husband that you “should” get paid $100,000+ for all your “sacrifices.”

Honestly… if you really understood what that word sacrifice means, then you’d understand WHY you don’t get paid money to be a mom.

Stephanie

 

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