Christmas Season Joy!

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A half-done tree 😉  We waited until my husband got home to do the star at the top, which is always down by the youngest in house who is able to walk ❤  Watching my husband pick up our 2nd son and let him put the star on is like winning the lottery.  So. Much. Love.

We got our decorations up last week, it’s been so much fun decorating with the kids and seeing all the ornaments come out again.  I get so much pleasure from just seeing everything again – like seeing old friends… LOL.

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My mom got us this sweet decoration a few years back.  I know Santa is a controversial figure, but I do love the story behind him, the legend if you will.  And I love this decoration because it kind of epitomizes the importance of Jesus’ birth amidst all the craziness of Christmas shopping, Santa visits, or whatnot.  It’s really about this, when it comes down to it.  None of the other stuff matters, and it’s nice to be reminded of that.  We can have all the other joyful stuff, as long as Christ is still the at the center.

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Love lights ❤

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And at night….

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Our famous skyline.

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The top of the building in the center of the above pic, is where my parents bought their chunks of land in the country back in the 80’s.  All the way at the top in the penthouse.

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So cute… 😀

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Our river ❤  There were less lights for some reason this year.  It was still gorgeous and we can’t really complain – but apparently we have new boats that light up the water below them.  LOL

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Our cutie…

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Christmas Candle… I always try to get one every year and light it every night, at least through dinner.  It’s just a simple tradition, and the light is beautiful for the kids (and me) to look at.

LOL our mischievous one!  Wait… they’re both mischievous… oh well!

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Enjoy this season readers!  Please go out and have fun!  Do joyful things… go listen to some carolers, or watch a ballet of the Nutcracker.

Do something to remind yourself of beauty this season!  To recapture how you felt when you were a child.

Go see some glittering, brilliant lights around in your city.  Really look at a well-decorated Christmas tree at a hotel.  Enjoy some wine!  Go out dancing!

Do something this season to bring more joy into your life, please.

Stephanie

 

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Happy Thanksgiving!

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Just wanted to post some pretty pictures and wish my readers a Happy Thanksgiving!  We’ve been pretty busy… lots of baking, decorating, and going to the park nearby to see lights each night!  And just dwelling on the gratitude of all our blessings.

I love this time of year.  I actually enjoy the wildness of it all.

Today we had some of my older son’s friends come over – the house was full of boys running around like crazy 😀 playing loud music in our “music station” of our game room, being silly and dancing around the house ❤

I baked cookies and set the boys all up to decorate some to take home when they got picked up.

It was SO. MUCH. FUN. ❤

I don’t think I’m ever happier than when our house is full of people – or kids – especially crazy boys 🙂  Makes my heart warm seeing them have so much fun.

 

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It’s been so beautiful here lately, and with perfect weather – and just cold enough at night to warrant hot chocolate drinks!  😀

Same scene as above, but this is what we’ve been seeing every night we’ve been able to go:

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The Christmas trees are suspended above a lake to look like they’re floating on top of the water.  Just amazing to see in person!  I tried to get a good pic.

So romantic, and so magical ❤

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Like a winter wonderland. 😀

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I love this time of year… focusing on what we’re thankful for, seeing family and friends and lots and lots of cooking and baking!  It’s hard to imagine a happier time ❤

Hope all you readers have a happy Thanksgiving!

How Do You Deal with a Critical Christian?

This is another idea that is fascinating to me… that a Christian would continually give themselves over to being critical, nit-picky, or sarcastic (which means using humor to try to partially cover up the sting of their criticism).

A critical-spirit Christian, just like a “grouchy Christian,” is a walking oxymoron!

No Christian should allow themselves to be critical, sarcastic, or grouchy toward others, because by definition, those behaviors are behaviors of the flesh, and are no way representing Christ to the world.

But what about the benign Christians who are always critical and try to be humorous about it, and genuinely see nothing wrong with their hidden contempt?

What do you do with a woman who is intent on enjoying pointing out the flaws of her Christian brothers and sisters?  All the intricate ways they are “getting it wrong?”  What do you do with a Christian woman who loves to nit-pick, harp on her many pet peeves that annoy her, and allow these things to bother her so much that they get in the way of her enjoying Christian songs – things that should be enjoyed with a kind spirit?

I recently used an example to teach other women, of what a Critical Spirit looks like, where a woman was so annoyed by the lyrics of Christian worship song, she let it occupy her thoughts so much, that she felt she just had to share her annoyance publicly with others from her blog.  Not only was this woman a perfect example of tearing down another Christian’s work for the pleasure of humor, but also of letting her annoyances and “pet peeves” dictate a pretty big part of her mind and work for God (her writing).  It’s consistently become part of her blogging career bread-and-butter, this delighting (with humor!) in the ways other Christians are “getting it wrong.”  She saw nothing wrong about her actions, literally felt no prick in her conscience when confronted.

People like this perplex me, because while they’re SO critical of their Christian brothers and sisters, they often fail to see the giant plank in their own eye.  They literally have zero concept of their own sin in their behavior that makes them so critical or annoyed or “worried.”  LOL… they will forever be “worried” over all the Christians “doing it wrong,” only so that they never really focus on what God wants them to be learning or discovering about themselves!  To them, seeing other’s flaws is much more interesting!  And a very convenient distraction from growth.

No Christian should be dwelling so much on the ways other people annoy them.  Not only is it sinful thinking that will eventually find it’s ways into our words and actions, but because it will actually cause them to be that much more critical of someone or something basically good (not worth being so critical over), the next time they’re tempted to.  Giving in to constant criticism (that springs from an untamed Critical Spirit) is allowing themselves to continually sin in their hearts toward others.  It’s a pattern of behavior that if they see nothing wrong with it, they will continue to engage in without feeling guilty.  Obviously, sinning continually and never feeling guilty for it, is extremely dangerous.  No Christian should be focusing so much on their brothers and sisters failings that they make their blog or writing career based on pointing those things out, even if it is for humor’s sake.

For a woman who consistently behaves this way, always finding something new to be annoyed or “worried” about, always focusing on outward annoyances around her instead of inward where she can actually change something, is she truly living the Christian life the way she’s meant to be?  Is she really allowing her words and actions to impact the world for greater, or for worse?  I personally believe it’s for worse.  I think a Critical Spirit Christian tempts other men and women to become equally sinfully critical as well, and what’s worse, they learn to hide their sin underneath a facade of humor so that it’s more socially acceptable.  I also think it’s catching, and the fact that many of the people who have this sin tend to act more perfect or righteous (of course!  Because if they didn’t feel this way, they wouldn’t be so critical of other people!), and deny that they are sinning at all, makes it even harder for their community to be at peace with them.

How can you deal with someone so obviously living in sin against you and others, when they are adamant that they’re “right” and doing nothing wrong in harming the unity of the Body of Christ?  How do you make someone take their sin seriously, when they’ve so carefully hidden it in humor, that it almost looks socially acceptable?

Basically?  You can’t 😦 .

I believe, and am teaching other women, that for Christians like this, the best “tools” in your spiritual tool box is simply prayer and avoidance.

A hardened, yet saved heart that enjoys the sin of focusing on their annoyances about other Christians, can only find healing and help when they begin to see themselves in actual sin.

You can’t help them with this unless you’re an older, trusted adviser – an outsider will be brushed off quickly and without any prick to their conscience.

Since they already believe they are so much better, and “doing these things (that they are so annoyed or critical of others about) right,” it would be extremely hard to get through to them.  It would take a lot of humility on their part, which usually isn’t the case.

It’s just one of those situations where it’s explained perfectly in the Bible:

 

Philippians 4:8-9? “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, [for good] will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”

From here: The Bible doesn’t promise peace to those who dwell on the faults of others! It says, “[The Lord] will keep them in perfect peace, whose minds are stayed on [Him]! (Isa. 26:3).

 

Pearls & Lace

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So… I have a ton of jewelry, mostly gifts from childhood, that I just never ever ever wear!  LOL… I am having so much fun giving our daughter all of my jewelry.  Even if she doesn’t want to wear it when she’s older, she can always keep it and pass it down if she wants.

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Her birthstone is pearl.  And I happen to have a few strands of real, precious pearls.  Yes, I know you have to be sensitive with them!  Baby drool is not something they’d take well to I’m sure, but it was fun anyway 😀

She also will have earrings passed down to her in every shade of pearl, thanks to my Momma ❤

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And for adorable Bloopers …. 😀

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What’s this?

Baby belly button!!!

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French Makeup & Hair

This and more of the woman’s videos remind me so much of my mom’s beauty habits, especially regarding perfume – which for me, is hard to live without!

Beauty, in my opinion, should look low maintenance and mostly be able clear skin and bright eyes, and long, nourished hair.

Enjoy the video!  This woman is so cute ❤

Fall Routine Simplicity

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I love the beginning of the school year!  The getting supplies (the smell of books & pencils!), getting the classroom ready and organized, and just plain getting back into the routine is somehow really peaceful.

Monday was the first day of school for us in our household, and it’s been going pretty smoothly for now.  With my husband’s schedule, the only time he gets to see our older son during most of the days he’s here, is in the morning, and only for about an hour and a half each day.  Not very much!  And since it’s becoming more and more important for him to have those deep talks with his dad, our morning routine revolves around making this easier.

So to optimize their time together, I try to get up around 5am.  This is often after having fed the new baby at 3am or 4am.  It is hard, but it is SO worth it to watch them eating breakfast together, sitting by themselves, almost as though they’re having breakfast in a cafe.  I feel like I work in a cafe!! LOL  But I love it, being a natural morning person, it’s not too too bad.  I also love cooking… and breakfast foods are my all-time favorite to cook and eat ❤  So cooking them up a nice breakfast, having it all laid out with their drinks etc. and then retreating to the living room to eat my own food and write so they can have more privacy… it’s really nice!

Anyway, I’m going to miss the Summer days of going to parks and walking more and seeing museums etc.  Maybe we can sneak in a few trips here and there, but it’s getting a little harder with each child we add unfortunately, to be able to get out and handle all my work at home.  We’ll see.

Pictures of our adventures semi-recently!!

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Hunting for crabs at night!!!  The boys (wtth a lot of help from their dad) caught 4 I think!  It was so much fun to watch them doing this n the pitch black on the beach with their nets, buckeets and flashlights!

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My Amazing Husband & His Boys

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Snapped this photo when we went downtown to see my husband working our annual city party called, “FIESTA!!”

My husband is an incredible hero.

It’s not just because he wears the badge, although the courage and bravery there are not to be discounted.

It’s his strength, heart, and mind that make him go above and beyond in teaching our sons how to actually be men.

Real men.

The kind that fight for goodness and against evil in our society.

The kind that are God’s warriors and ministers – both at the same exact time.

Words can hardly even describe the intensity with which I love this man so much.

patrickboys

 

Inspiration

This past Wednesday was my 6 month anniversary of blogging daily during the week… it has been a great creative outlet, and what started as a way to get my thoughts in order myself on topics like these, has turned into something very different.  I started it as purely just a way to get thoughts out – not as a way to give advice on anything – but as a resource to myself, to remind myself of these truths & realities in life.

The mass majority of people who blog seem to say that it’s near impossible to blog daily – how do you keep up with inspiration?  Wouldn’t it feel forced or inauthentic?  For me, inspiration comes all the time, anywhere I am… so I literally have to carry a journal with me at all times in order to capture the thought for later use in a post.

If I didn’t create posts about these ideas in my head, it’d be a waste of creativity,

a waste of this inspiration that comes to me.

It came to me for a reason, and creativity never used

is a sad existence.

I wanted to let you Readers into my dashboard so to speak, for a blog that started out as my own journal, it’s definitely come a very long way.

Number of Followers:  263 Followers

Number of Posts:  171 Posts

Number of Comments:  423 Comments

Number of Site Views:  4,585 Views

Awards awarded from other WordPress Bloggers/Readers: 4,  The Sunshine Award, The Liebster Award for up-and-coming bloggers, The Shauny Award for Blogging Excellence, and The Howler Award

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I love this one

 

A few comments I’ve loved from readers:

“I really appreciate this article! Although I am only 20, I got out of a 4 year relationship 1 year ago. But, the growth I have experienced being single is TREMENDOUS. It was like becoming single was the catalyst I needed to ignite my pursuit of my dreams and passions and development as a woman. I completely agree the single life is not the time to wait around. It’s the perfect time to be selfish and seize every opportunity.”  Posted on Single Women… Be Radiant & Happy

 

“Thanks for your marvelous posting! I quite enjoyed reading it, you are a great author.  I will be sure to bookmark your blog and may come back someday. I want to encourage you continue your great work, have a nice evening!”  Posted on an Inspiration post

 

“I’ve seen many ‘nice’ men. And too many con-men. Actually, I’ve seen the whole range (and their women). I remember Errol Flynn’s advice to young men—

“Treat a duchess like a whore … and a whore like a duchess”

—and sometimes he was right. Some of the con-men types followed the ‘four-F’ formula to the very letter (don’t ask) and left trails of broken hearts. I never could … was I too ‘nice’? I’d rather go without than make (or imply) false promises, I even now wear my heart on my sleeve and as best I can keep my word.
I think I can let ol’ Willie Shakespeare sum it up—

This above all: to thine ownself be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

—and for any feminists out there: that final ‘man’ embraces all women too …”  Posted on Single: Women Don’t Want Nice Men

 

“I would like to say I love your blog and the wonderful and beautiful things you share as well as the inspiration and smiles you bring in doing so! Thank you for being you and I hope even if you do not accept awards you will accept the sentiment expressed as I honor you with one. There is no prize that comes with the award other than my appreciation and being grateful you are part of our world and making a difference by sharing in such a positive way…
I have posted the award and link to it here I hope you will accept it or at least the sentiment behind it!

With love,
Joe”  Posted on Spiritual Growth

 

““”Taking care of your appearance, exercising and making sure you look your best as a woman is not selfish, in fact, if you’re married, it’s selfish not to.””

This is so important. How many women complain that their husband swivels his head 360 to check out the hottie? How many of those women have let themselves get fat? Sure, everyone ages. But getting older does not automatically come with extra pounds.

I wonder how many of the wives that say “he should love me for who I am” would tolerate a husband who decided that going to work was just too hard. She should love me for who I am. Why do I have to earn a living and pay the bills?

I would add men’s porn use to this discussion. How many wives have decided that they just can’t be bothered to have sex w/ their hubs, but will complain that he uses porn?

You have a very solid understanding of what men care about. I predict a long mariage for you.”  Posted on Men Need an Attractive Wife

 

“And your focus was well timed for me. This is what I’m cultivating in my life, knowing and expressing my true feminine qualities. I’d miss-learned and misapplied and arrived at a moment in my life with a fine mess, but I’m learning and realizing it was never something I didn’t know, it was just buried.

Your words give my faith something tangible which gives me greater faith.”  Posted on The Incredible Power Women Have Over Men

 

“Well timed post. Had a frustrating conversation with a friend yesterday. I knew I was being a bit of an ass, as was he, and though I endeavor not to be, it’s clear I’m still a work in progress.

I was tired and frustrated with myself, but woke with my good intentions.

And then you posted this and I got to read it, served it up with my morning coffee, and I can now have it as clear intentions for the day. This makes my work of being a better person is easier.”  Posted on How Do You Speak in Truth w/o Provoking People?

 

So if you’re thinking about blogging just for fun, be prepared… you might get in to something that sort of takes it’s own flight. 

Creativity expressed has a way of touching people… you never know who will be reading your words or how they will affect them in their own personal journey.

Happy Reading & remember to use your creativity!!!