Skincare – To Not Wear Makeup

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ZERO Makeup!!!

I don’t do very many posts on skincare, at least… not as many as I wish I could find the time to do.  There’s so many do-it-yourself ideas I’ve seen over the years that would be great to write about… especially for teen girls to start doing.  I think of beauty – a woman’s beauty – as her being a good steward over her countenance (face and the spirit of joy behind her face that shines forth), and her “crowning glory” as the Bible calls it – her hair!

“Doesn’t nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? 

For long hair is given to her as a covering.”

1 Cor. 11:15

I do think beauty is important – whether married or single, beauty is something I believe every woman has a deep deep desire to give or bring to the world. ❤

And with skincare, to me the goal should be making your skin look so healthy, that you don’t hardly need makeup at all.  Obviously I’m totally ok with makeup – I wear it almost everyday.  But lately, after using only 3 new products I’ve tried out this past month I wrote about here, I’ve actually been forgetting to put any makeup on at all!  I almost can’t tell the difference when seeing my face as to whether or not I have my foundation and concealer on, and so I just forget!

This NEVER used to happen to me!  I always felt like I had to wear my makeup, almost as part of the grooming process before being “presentable.”  So this… feeling good enough in my skin to the point where I totally forget to even put it on – I’m either getting early Alzheimer’s or my skin is looking A LOT better.

Hopefully, it’s the latter LOL 😉

The picture above is without makeup.  My skin is nice and even-toned now, it even feels so much smoother than it did just a month earlier before using these products.  My little pores have shrunk down.  My skin is baby soft again.

Side note–this isn’t a product review per say, and I’m not getting compensated to say these things LOL.  I just thought I’d do an update on them though to let y’all know that wow, these 3 simple products really do work.

So go back and read what I’m using here.

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And since it’s almost the end of the week… I thought it’d be fun to do a questionnaire thing! 🙂

  1. What is your favorite color?  Pink, the shade of ballet shoes.
  2. What are your favorite hobbies?  Dancing, playing with my babies, doing anything together with my husband, exercising, cooking, cleaning (yes – I’m OCD so it’s actually “fun” to me), painting, writing, being in nature, and especially gardening!
  3. Extrovert or Introvert?  Extrovert 100% !! And an optimist.  This combination tends to be annoying to some people 😀
  4. Meyer’s Briggs Type?  I always get the “ENFJ-A” (Extroverted Intuitive Feeling Judging Assertive) or the ENTJ-A (Thinking instead of Feeling).  I’m not sure why it changes over the years, but it does.  Most bloggers seem to be introverts, so it’s interesting to me that I’ve blogged for so long and yet am an extrovert.
  5. What is annoying you right now?  Wearing my horrible braces – but I’m almost done in a few more months!!  They hurt!!  It’s been just over a year since I had to get them, but again… almost done!  They even change the way my mouth looks lol!
  6. What’s a daily habit you can’t live without?  Um… lots of things.  Probably my morning quiet time reading the Bible and talking with God is the first thing.  But then also writing in a journal (a planner/journal).  I actually go back and re-read prior years’ journals to see how God’s gotten me through rough patches and things.
  7. What defines you in your life?  I always wanted to grow up to be a woman who had a beautiful family and had a garden.  A couple of years ago I realized that I’m actually living this, so I wrote it down in my journal as something I’m thankful for.
  8. What do you consider yourself?  Texan.  😀
  9. Parents married or divorced? Married 40 years!!
  10. How many kids do you have?  3 right now
  11. Do you want more kids? My husband wants us to stop at 4 🙂  For me… I could literally keep on making babies with him until we had 20 or something.  I hate pregnancy and being pregnant, but I love carrying his babies inside me and knowing we’re growing our family.  I never knew it would feel this joyful.
  12. Length of marriage? 10 1/2 years ❤
  13. Schooling/education or training?  Bachelor’s of Science in Biology with just one year short of a double major in Chemistry
  14. What kind of student were you growing up and in college?  Sometimes straight A’s, sometimes a few B’s.  I ended up graduating Magna Cum Laude and that was after giving birth my senior year, which was hard.  I remember being a little disappointed I missed Cum Laude (the higher honors), but considering I was a married student with a baby lol, I was ok.
  15. Favorite thing you own?  My socks.  lol  Seriously though!!  I find a ton of value in the little things like that!

 

Back to skincare… what do y’all use that you feel has really helped your face brighten up or become softer or smoother?  I’m actually amazed that retinol is working this well for me.

Stephanie

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Don’t Ruin Your Husband’s Love Toward You

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Painting by Tate 1863 – Part of a 3 piece composition dedicated to a “Woman’s Mission.”  This painting was to depict a loving wife being her husband’s companion, titled, “Companion of Man.”  It was said that the woman in the paintings strongly resembled the artist’s own wife.  He honored her so much, and was so grateful for her companionship, that she became his artistic inspiration.

You may think I sound dramatic in the title of this post.  I wish it weren’t true.  I wish that humans really could love each other easily, endure each other’s faults effortlessly, but I’ve found the reality of how we treat others is reflected back in how they end up treating us.  Grace or not, Christian or not, I believe God often allows us to reap what we have sown into the hearts of others – our friends, our family members, our children, but especially our husbands.

It’s not usually talked about in our culture, especially in regard to how women treat their husbands.  But the fact and spiritual principle of reaping and sowing, affects everything we do and everyone around us – whether we want to admit to it or not.

Think about this first painting.  How the artist was said to have used his own wife as the model and inspiration for his creations, because she fulfilled his deepest needs emotionally, and therefore inspired his love to greater depths than we normally see in average marriages.

Our society pretends that women won’t reap what they sow (even people in general to a larger extent).  This overwhelming problem is why I believe we’re having so much trouble with people not taking responsibility for their actions.  Acting (really manipulating others) through pretending to be victims, has become almost like the modern-day Westerner’s hobby!

Here is an excerpt (below) from one of my favorite books on a woman’s role in a godly marriage.  It reflects on how a wife can harm her husband’s ability to love her so terribly, that it almost becomes impossible for him to feel the same feelings toward her as he once did.  Keep in mind this doesn’t usually happen within the first 10 years or so of marriage. I think it happens after a couple or more decades… it’s a slow husband-love killer.

And I think we’d be wise to have a healthy fear of this.  If we love our husbands, we must take into effect that this could be possible if we continue in sin against him, always believing that tomorrow is another chance, and yet never taking the measures to truly change for good.

Here is the story of Leo Tolstoy and his wife….

When a wife constantly pushes or nettles her husband, it is like the bite of a poisonous snake and can cause the destruction of a could-be holy marriage.  One of the most tragic cases in history is that of the Russian novelist, Count Leo Tolstoi and his wife.

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In the beginning of their marriage, Tolstoi and his wife were so blissfully happy that, kneeling together they prayed to God to continue the ecstasy that was theirs.

Tolstoi is one of the most famous novelists of all time.  Two of his masterpieces, War and Peace and Anna Karenina, are considered literary treasures.  He was so admired by his people that they followed him around day and night and took down in shorthand every word he uttered.

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Although he was a man of wealth and fame, after studying the teachings of Jesus, he gave away his property, worked in the fields chopping wood, and pitching hay, made his own shoes, ate out of a wooden bowl, and tried to love his enemies.  He gave away the publishing rights to his books and had the courage of his convictions to live a life he believed in.

But his wife never accepted him or his simple philosophy of life.  She loved luxury and he despised it.  She craved fame and the esteem of society, but these things meant nothing to him.  She longed for money and riches, but he thought these things a sin.  For years she made every effort to change him and his views.  She screamed at him because he insisted on giving away the publishing right to his books.  When he opposed her she threw herself into fits of hysteria, threatening to kill herself or jump down the well.

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After 48 years, this man who had adored his wife when he married her could hardly bear the sight of her.  And one of the most tragic scenes as when Countess Tolstoi, heartbroken and old and starving for affection would kneel at her husband’s feet and beg him to read aloud the exquisite love passages that he had written about her in his diary fifty years previously.  And as he read of those beautiful happy days that were now gone forever, both of them wept.

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His dying request was that she should not be permitted to come into his presence.

Wow!  I mean wow, right?!  His dying request was that she should not be allowed to be in his presence?!  They had such a perfect, blissfully happy prospect of marriage in their early days, and yet her decision to buck his convictions (which I think are beautiful and so touching he wanted to follow Jesus in that manner – how noble!), and had utterly no reverence for his deepest longings and convictions!   I think after decades of mistreatment, it makes sense logically that a wife will eventually reap what she’s sowing into the heart of her husband (or her children, friends, even enemies… it goes on and on with human behavior).  At the end of her life, she tried to make herself out to be a victim of his gruff behavior he had toward her in his old age.  But only people who were aware of how she secretly behaved toward him, truly understood she had caused his gruff behavior and grouchiness.

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Sophiya Tolstoi (his wife & children)

When I was in a marriage group some time ago, I would see women like Tolstoi’s wife come in fairly often – already usually a couple of decades into their marriage – and be desperately pleading with us on how they can turn everything around, all the while admitting that they’ve been treating their husbands horribly for the past few decades.  What motivated them to come to someone who could help them have a happier marriage?  Usually he had finally had enough, or reached some kind of “breaking point,” and he wanted out.  Or he had found another woman who treated him kind again – who admired him and loved him more than his wife seemed capable of.

It was usually apparent that it was already too late, but it was very interesting to watch these women go through psychological changes of first being extremely repentant and humbling themselves, eager to learn and read and practice trying to honor and respect him.  I often had such great hopes for them that they were truly changing in their hearts.  But when it didn’t work (and often times the husband wouldn’t believe their change was real or genuine), they would turn angry, they would get bitter, and then become very resentful even toward us as they believed our advice for happy marriages wasn’t true.

They would become indignant that their husbands’ didn’t accept their changes.  I would see these women start suddenly claiming that their husbands had really “emotionally abused them,” all this time, and that their (the wife’s) sin was in submitting to them too much.  Then they’d often blame sites like mine in creating women who submitted too much!  It was… like I said… very interesting to watch psychologically.  I talked about that here in this post a little.

Again, though, like in the Tolstoi example, this sort of behavior is actually tantamount to abusive in my opinion, toward the husband.  It falls under the “Borderline” or “Cluster B” disorders, which are extremely hard to fix, never-mind how hard it would be to live with someone with those psychological disorders.  A wife like this will usually never be able to admit she was verbally or emotionally abusive for years, until it’s almost too late, but it’s interesting how quick they are to act like they were the victim of emotional abuse, when just a few months before, they were admitting (finally) that they treated their husbands so terribly that they couldn’t believe he put up with it for so long!

If you’re a young wife reading this, I do think it’s good to have a healthy fear of ruining your marriage or your husband’s ability to love you in this way. 

I don’t think it’s healthy to have this idea that no matter how bad you mess up, no matter how many fights you start, or the terrible words you say to him, that it’s going to not have a devastating affect on him as a person longterm.  Men feel so deeply – especially when it comes to their wives’ opinions and treatment of them.  It would be like a husband abusing his wife for decades, and then expecting it not to have a diminishing effect on her ability to love him.

Can God redeem marriages like this?  I believe He can do anything.  But it’s not the norm that these marriages are ever fully repaired, so it’s best if you don’t ever fall into this pattern, as it all could have been so easily avoidable from the beginning.

And if anything, please remember Leo Tolstoi’s bitter marriage, and be on guard against women like his wife who suddenly tried to twist the truth in the end, in an effort to destroy her husband’s legacy and reputation.

Stephanie

 

Excerpt from Fascinating Womanhood

Things I Want My Daughter to Know: You Were Prophesied Over As an Infant

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Back almost 8 years ago, when we had our first child, we knew immediately we wanted to do a special Baby Blessing that our church offers.  It was so wonderful and so touching to bring our 2 week old baby to be blessed and prayed over in front of the church and with all the members praying for us as a couple and over him!  Very very touching ❤

We did the same with our second baby boy, and it was also so sweet.

But nothing like what I’m about to write to you, sweet girl, has ever happened to us before.

About the time that you were 4 weeks old, I had to return to my doctor to make sure everything was healing well, as is normal for after-birth, c-sections especially.  Your daddy wasn’t able to come due to work, and I had your Grandma watch the boys for me.  It had been a somewhat difficult recovery… I got mastitis within the first week because of how much you were feeding (every hour of the night!), and I had somewhat scary problems with swelling in my lower body.  But by this time, we were set in our little routine and everything was going pretty well.

There was a new, young nurse there helping me, and toward the end of my time with her (and after the doctor had left), she asked me if she could pray over you!  She said she could just tell that we were a Christian family, and I was amazed at how bold her faith was to ask something like that in our secular (harsh-toward-Christians) culture, as well as to be so bold as to actually ask to pray over another person’s baby!  I was so glad for her and accepted her offer of prayer.

I thought it would just be a normal kind of prayer… I guess I didn’t really know what to expect, but this young nurse prayed a powerful prayer of prophesy over you.  I found myself crying during the prayer it was so intense and powerful.  Very very strange.  Again, I’ve never had something like this happen before – to me or any of our children – and I’ve grown up in the church and around very religious, wonderful teachers and mentors throughout my life.  I’ve never experienced anything this strange, and this powerful spiritually.  I knew it was important to remember, and write down for you so that you will know your purpose and stay forever strong and rooted in God.

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The boldness of that young nurses’ faith touched me so deeply in praying over you in that way.  I went in thinking it would just be a normal, run-of-the-mill appointment, and left with my face glowing and wiping away tears from that super-natural experience!  I came away feeling in awe of what God had in store for you, as well as terrified even more so that God expects me to be a mom to such wonderful, wise little children.  You and your brothers are just so different, both your dad and I have noticed this often.

Regardless, we will commit to teaching all of you all of the Word of God continuously.  You will have deep roots.  You will be like the good soil Jesus talked about, that accepts the seed (His Word) and grows and flourishes.

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Your heart is good soil, Little One, never forget that.

Never falter in your faith.  Never lose heart in doing good.  Never be afraid of anything other than having the fear of God, who supports you in your integrity and honesty.  You will watch as He shames and destroys your enemies and false people who come up against you.  You will watch your prayers be answered after you hand certain people over to Satan; them having nightmares and anxiety and great fear because of their terrible deeds.  You will see His Hand over your life in a way most people don’t get to.

Many women will lose heart in doing good, or give way to sins or even idolatry because they care more about pleasing other people, than living for an audience of One.  But you will stand like a lily among thorns.  You will still be standing even when all the others have lost heart and given away to fear, because their faith in God was weak.  Yours will remain strong, because of your deep roots and the faith God will grow in your heart.

We will continue teaching you and your brothers the decree we received from our father Moses:

“Listen Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is One.  Love the LORD with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.  These words I am giving to you today are to be in your heart.  Repeat them to your children.  Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead.  Write them on the door-posts of your house and on your gates.”  Deuteronomy 6:4-9

 

Timothy, my child, I entrust you with this command in keeping with the previous prophecies about youso that by them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and thereby shipwrecked their faith.  Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.” 

1 Timothy 1:18-20

A Canopy of Green

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We had the most beautiful Easter weekend!  The garden area around my grandparents’ house (and where my GREAT-grandparents lived as well!), was lush with green and incredibly vibrant!  It’s hard to describe such a scene without using pictures… so I’ll use pictures 😉

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We at a BBQ sandwich-style lunch with all the trimmings of coleslaw, potato salad, creamed corn ❤ , Bush’s baked beans… then hunted for eggs, and then played until nighttime.

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It was simple and perfect.

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The little stone statue (above) was given to my grandma by my mom probably over 20 years ago.  It was supposed to represent my brother and I.

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The boys played with my mom with marshmallow shooters (like pea-shooters) 😀  It was fun!

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It’s hard to get the full effect though, even from pictures, because in the front, the air was filled with the scent of Jasmine!  It was literally like breathing in heavenly scented, perfumed air!!!

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Jasmine… jasmine everywhere!  In-between the roses, even!

I hope all you readers had an equally beautiful Easter Sunday!

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Blessings from Texas 😉

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Stephanie

 

Raising Masculine Sons

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We just had possibly the best first day of Spring Break we’ve ever had as a family yesterday!  😀

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The beauty of spring is in full swing now here in Texas, and having our oldest home this week is exciting to me as I think of all the things we’ll be able to go and do!  But… staying in our own backyard is truly such a wonderful feeling of peaceful satisfaction.

And yesterday, that’s just what we did 😀

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In the early morning, I was able to do some gardening before it got to 90 degrees (yes!  In MARCH!!! :D).  And while I was digging and planting, my husband was teaching the boys some woodwork skills.

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Yes, that’s a 3 year old using a handsaw!!!!  My husband loves using opportunities like that to teach them, and I’m so grateful… because you know I’d NEVER use a handsaw unless my life depended on it LOL!  Much less be able to actually teach our sons those skills 🙂

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The reason why I don’t do any posts on “Things I Want My Sons to Know” is because although I have a lot of influence over them in understanding femininity, I can’t teach them how to be men.  I could never “raise masculine boys” without the constant help and wisdom of my husband.

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It’s been beautiful to watch his relationship with our older son, the way he’s diligently taught him throughout the years and given him a sense of confidence in his little masculine self ❤ !!

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Reflecting on these pictures this morning, I realized how far we’ve come from that first year with our dal.  Back in 2015 when we first got him and our oldest was only 5, he had a very hard time being confident and dominant enough in his personality that the dog refused to submit to him at all!  I wrote in detail back then here, how my husband’s guidance and fatherly instructions is what was raising our son to be far more masculine than I could ever manage on my own.  

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Here’s an excerpt from 3 years ago:

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My husband then came into the kitchen, I explained our walk and situation… he immediately took over control and began explaining to our son frame control, and having firm authority in establishing respect with the dog.

He took over and disciplined our son for acting fearful by making him stay with puppy, even forcing him to go outside with it. My husband stayed outside with our son, explaining to him what he needed to do in order to control his fear with the dog and show dominance.

It was so incredibly reassuring and relieving to feel the weight of control and discipline shift from my mommy-role shoulders, onto my capable husband’s.  A father’s unique masculinity and fortitude are so desperately needed as parenting is a million times easier with his strength and presence taking over to instruct or demonstrate.  I watched as he stayed outside a little longer with our son and the dog, teaching how to demonstrate dominant assertiveness, so thankful for his aptitude as a father and husband.  He then came inside saying that he wanted him to play with the dog outside alone for awhile.

Our son played for a good 15 minutes with the puppy, and then ran excitedly to the door and told us that he and his dog were having lots of fun together playing.  This was a dramatic difference from when he’d be outside alone with the dog before my husband had time to teach him confidence and authority.  Before, when he’d be outside letting the dog go potty, he would immediately run to the nearest chair or higher surface in order to escape any potential play-biting or jumping of the puppy.  Him being confident with the puppy and playing with him outside for a steady 15 minutes was a breakthrough!

When it was time to eat lunch, he came back inside and my husband had our son watch a few short videos of the Dog Whisperer explaining masculine dominance and calm authority in different scenarios with difficult dogs.  It led into an interesting discussion the two of them had where my husband explained leadership, and asked our son who is in charge of our family.  Our son undoubtedly answered that it was him.  And my husband asked him why he thought that was?  “Because you’re in charge.”  My husband then explained what it meant to “be in charge,” what that looked like in different situations or even environments with different kinds of people.  He explained why our son could sense that his father was in charge of our family….

My husband explained how even without violence or force you can establish yourself as a leader in any given situation.  He described how he is assertive in our family – he simply employs a feeling of authority in his manner, body language, and voice.  He used the example of how he has managed to show our extremely stubborn and at times rebellious cats, who’s in charge.  They obey him simply by his commanding voice – and its no small feat to get a cat to listen to you and obey you.  He doesn’t use violence or brute force, however, his voice alone has the strength and authority that makes them feel like they have to obey.  (From here)

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Now it’s so different!  They can go outside and run and play soccer (our dalmatian is WICKED GOOD at playing soccer, which is funny, because he looks like a soccer ball himself!).  They are becoming admirable little men because of my husband’s leadership in guiding them in that way.

Enjoy your Spring fellow bloggers and readers!  I am SO EXCITED about the sunlight, gardening, and playing in the sand and with our athletic dal!

I hope y’all have a wonderful Spring Break as well 🙂

Stephanie

 

Things I Want My Daughter to Know: You Will Grow into Your Feminine Beauty

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I am a major book worm.  In case you haven’t noticed that I’ve NEVER changed the cover of this blog in nearly 5 years!  Because books are life!  There is so much knowledge and wisdom and beauty to be found in other people’s thoughts, that I can never get enough of reading it seems.  I had a few favorite books growing up – but Jane Eyre is hands-down one of the most memorable ones, and one that I STILL cannot get enough of!  I loved Jane Eyre because I was (what I thought of anyway) an ugly-duckingly, and she gave me hope LOL!  Growing into my femininity and beauty has been a long journey for me, and one that I hope I’ll be able to help my daughter navigate well in the future.

We were out yesterday selling some clothes for extra cash and I found a little historic novel based on a true story about a young nurse, only 16 years old (!), who tended injured men during the Civil War.  She became known and loved among the men she tended to for her gentleness and kindness to them ❤ .  Many other girls who volunteered to help had actually run away once the war came to their area, but this one girl stayed and became remembered for her character.

I had planned to buy some earrings I found for a good deal to build up our daughter’s stock, but I put them back and decided to get them next time in lieu of this awesome book!  I told my husband, “it’s for her future ❤ 😀 !!!”  I want our daughter to understand that character is what makes a woman truly beautiful.  Outward beauty shows self-respect or graciousness to those around you, but who you are as a person is what people will fall in love with and want to be around.

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She is such a little beauty already – almost strikingly so, and her happiness and joyful laughter are SO endearing!  But I want to raise her to love good books!  I want her to enjoy knowledge, and to know and understand that true beauty comes from very deep within – from the soul of a person, and that it takes time to grow and flourish… and that it can be lost if not safe-guarded against bitterness throughout life.

And I want her to know that it’s a process of becoming.

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It doesn’t usually happen all at once – being truly beautiful inside and out – for most women.  In fact, I’m not sure “most” women achieve both inner and outer beauty to their fullest personal extent, at all sadly.

Just like outer beauty takes A LOT of hard work and diligence over time to achieve and then to also maintain.  Inner beauty takes even more work, discipline, diligence, perseverance and even then if you manage to achieve it, it is MUCH harder to keep over the course of different circumstances one will face in life.  It’s a constant process of correcting your own character flaws, and that takes a TON of self-reflection, introspection, and acknowledgement of your own failings.

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Hence why I think a lot of women (and men if you’re thinking about men in that way) don’t even try to maintain inner beauty, or they may try but then give up or give in to their natural states of ugliness… since human beings all have sin natures… and our sin natures make us VERY very ugly.  That and we constantly fail.  Success in this regard requires a lot of perseverance and endurance.

So becoming a beautiful woman over time is very hard.  The inner beauty work is very difficult, and since I’m Christian, I do believe there’s a spiritual aspect to this where knowing God, having his help to get through life’s difficulties, really TRUSTING Him with EVERYTHING in your life (all those ugly emotions feelings and such), is the best or most proven way to maintain a beautiful character throughout life.

Avoiding all the vices that come so naturally to us, and working hard to develop the virtues that come from the Holy Spirit – that takes constant coming back to God to prune and develop you – to grow you and break you.  It’s painful work – which is probably why so many avoid it!  He’s molding you into a reflection of Christ, but again, that all takes a lifetime to achieve, and one has to be really working out their salvation with fear and trembling in order to achieve it at all!

But sweet, sweet, joyful little girl, you will grow into your beauty and femininity, and your daddy and I will be there every step of the way to guide you in the way you should go.

Stephanie

 

 

8 Months – There’s No One Like Dad!

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Someone just turned 8 months recently!  We are so ready for SPRING… it’s been raining for a couple of weeks – gray days, no sunshine, but now the sun is just beginning to peak through the trees.

It’s beautiful!

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Her little pink onesie says,”There’s No One Like Dad!”  And it is SO TRUE!  And so cute!  My husband is seriously the best father I could ever have asked for to our children.  She adores him, as they all do.

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She is just the happiest little baby I’ve ever seen, and so easy!  Her joy affects everyone who knows her – even the girls who take care of her while we’re working out at our gym, just adore her and tell us they love when we come in because she’s such a sweet, happy baby!

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And she laughs so much!  She thinks everything her crazy, wild brothers do is hilarious!  LOL 😀

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I can’t wait for more sunny days, gardening to my heart’s content ❤ and playing in the yard with our kids!  The Spring and Summer are just such a welcome change… yes, even for Texans ;) LOL

Stephanie

Parenting – Teaching Your Children to Use Their Gifts

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Our oldest is just amazing.  I know I’m his mom and so of course I’m biased… but oh my gosh, God has blessed him with many talents and gifts!  He’s kind… he’s gentle… he’s a strong leader and he’s only 7 years old!!!!!  Watching him is so inspiring to me to be a better mom – to be the mom he truly deserves in life (and yes, I feel like I fail constantly)!  We all deal with some amount of “Mom Guilt.”

Anyway… his school was having a city-wide art competition, and right away I was like, “You have to do this.”  He doesn’t believe in himself, just like I was growing up and still have issues with at times.  But his raw talent and gifts can’t just be shut up inside him and never used or developed!

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This is something I wish I had learned earlier in life myself – that my gifts, whatever they were, were supposed to be used and practiced and developed and strengthened!  It’s nice to have people loyally on your side, watching you with a gracious intent, gently encouraging you to use your gifts, but usually none of us really have people like that around, so we develop self-consciousnesses or neurotic beliefs that we’re always wrong or not very good.

And I see them reflected in my son.  His self-doubt, his belief that he’s actually NOT a good artist, or that he’s not funny, and not that smart (when he makes All A’s and B’s and excels in things like math!!).  It’s weird to me how we can have such a distorted view of ourselves when in reality, we are given so much more than we see.  This is what I imagine Paul was referring to when he was encouraging Timothy to not let anyone look down on him because he was young, but to set an example for other believers and to USE his gifts, and practice them and develop them.

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Practice.

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Develop

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It took him 3 days doing it a few hours at a time, and I had to keep reminding him that he probably wanted to work on it or it wouldn’t be finished in time for the contest, and he did want to finish it.  The more he painted, the more he enjoyed it, too!  As he and our other children grow older, I’m not going to be harping on them as much so that they can learn that if they don’t hustle and do their work on time – or be consistent in it – they will miss MANY opportunities in life and some that they won’t get a second chance at.

 

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But for now, I’m like the woman Jesus talked about who kept pestering a man to do what she wanted 😀  I will encourage him, remind him, love him, prod him, and “train him up in the way he should go,” according to his gifts I’ve seen God has given to him.

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His art teacher came up to me with excitement yesterday when I picked him up from school, and told me with wide eyes that he had placed in the competition… out of THOUSANDS of other kids who entered all over our city!  He won his school somewhere between $1,000-3,000 in art supplies!!!  Of course we were so proud of him!!!

And I asked him in the car when we were driving back home, if he was glad that I pushed him to enter… because he never would have known if he could win if he hadn’t even tried.

I explained to him again that when God gives us special gifts like that, He expects us to USE them for Him, and that others are BLESSED through our gifts – but only if we have enough confidence in ourselves to decide to step out in faith act.  We are also blessed when we bless others!  As he found out when he won that much money for his art teacher!  It’s a blessing to be able to bless other people!

He’s heard about the parable of the talents, but it will probably be a deeper lesson saved for when he is a little older – that if we don’t use our gifts, that God may decide to take them away.  I know it sounds harsh, but we are stewards of the things God has given us, and that includes our giftings and talents.

May we all learn to be more confident in the gifts God has given us, and to use them, practice them, develop and strengthen them for His glory.

Stephanie

Skin Care After 30!!

Oh I am so excited to write this post… something I’ve been thinking about writing for awhile now!  I just had 2 appointments this week with my beloved and long-term dermatologist, one for a normal yearly checkup (mostly for skin cancer full-body screening since I’m so white), and then another to go over my skin regimen and anti-aging “plan.”  LOL  As if you can really have a plan to not age!

I was pleasantly surprised at how pleased she was this time when viewing my skin under her sun damage lens (special lens that can see UV ray aging and damage underneath the top layer of skin – basically early aging before it appears).  Apparently the two most important things I’ve been doing have been:

  1. Using a high SPF sunscreen fairly regularly (and every day in the Summer)
  2. Using a little bit of brightener in the form of a very very low percentage Retinol cream and Vitamin C

She exclaimed that my skin was looking YOUNGER and “glowing”… as though I was 25 again (and this lady don’t lie).  But, the signs of coming wrinkles underneath the visible skin were “just barely” starting to show, and it was time to go with a little more retinol %, as well as to maybe think about including alpha hydroxy acids into my routine.

This is WORLDS away from what happened when I saw her back when I started this blog in 2013… I was only 27, but she thought Botox was in order for my visible fine lines LOL!  Apparently that’s how bad I was aging (and admittedly, I had neglected seeing her for years at that point)!

So again, let me reiterate how important using even the lightest retinol 2x a day and SPF sunscreen as much as I can:  The constant cell-turnover and brightening the retinol was doing, as well as the protection from further damage the sunscreen was doing, literally rewinded my skin cells back 6 years (and maybe more if I was aged older than 27 back then -which I’m guessing I was due to her horrified reaction lol).

This is one of those important lessons I want to impart to my daughter about beauty (and how sweet that my doctor is more than likely going to be the one taking care of her skin, too… *tear*).  I hope she learns from me that taking care of your skin throughout your lifetime is SO worth it to feeling healthy.  In other words, if you eat healthy, exercise, and yet you’re not taking care of your skin, there’s something missing 🙂

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So let me give you some tips I just got this week before I forget 😀 these are things that are straight from my dermatologist, who is considered “World Class” and one of the best in our city!

  • You need to be cleansing your face 2x a day with a stronger cleanser (than the grocery store brands I used to use and wrote about) that has some kind of acidic quality to it, especially if you’re fair skinned (glycolic or salicylic acid).  This will be your basic exfoliant, as it literally will make the dead skin cells “slough off.”
  • When skin cells slough off through cleansing with glycolic acid cleansers, it increases cell turnover, which helps prevent early aging.  From Google: Glycolic acid is part of the group of active compounds known as AHA’s (alpha hydroxy acids). Derived from cane sugar: It has the smallest molecules in the group so is able to penetrate skin deeply and easily, making it the most effective for treating fine lines, acne, blackheads, dullness, oiliness etc.
  • Now that you’re over 30, scrubbing with exfoliants, like I was so avid about doing before, is no longer really that beneficial (yea I was shocked :/ ).  In fact, since my skin is getting thinner (she held up a rubber glove and pulled it taut and told me THAT was how thin my skin was getting!), that scrubbing is going to do more damage than good for my skin.  So like the first point states, a stronger acidic cleanser will become your exfoliant.  Go with gentle chemicals to get the dead skin off, instead of rough grainy beads.
  • Get serious about using Retinol a couple (or more) times a week.  Your face has to build up to get used to it.  And if you’re fair skinned, you’re more than likely also sensitive to Retinol (other shades of skin can be really sensitive as well though – always check with your doctor to see what strength they suggest for your specific skin type, sensitivities, and thickness, etc.).
  • Now is the time to start getting acid peels (medical grade facials – not the kind at the spa, but medical grade ones) every now and then – but only during the Winter months since they make your skin EXTREMELY vulnerable to more sun damage.  My dad actually had something like that done recently with their UV machine (that literally caused layers of damaged skin to peel off and left his skin so beautiful and smooth and 10 years younger looking).  His is to prevent skin cancer, but the effects are still nice to see and feel.  Doing something like that just once or twice a year “resets” your skin and helps your regular regimen to keep improving it (and be able to penetrate deeper).
  • You’re now at the stage of “Maintaining.”  They explained to me this week that although my skin looks beautiful and even “glowing,” it is now the time to get serious about maintaining that glow and youthful baby softness.

It’s really fun to get into the science of all this stuff, and feel relaxed in knowing you’re taking care of yourself.  I went ahead and got a glycolic acid/ azelaic acid Brightening Creme to use 2x daily (Glytone from France), along with a 0.5% Pure Retinol Creme (Skinceuticals brand USA) to use only at night and only a couple of times a week (should not use during pregnancy).  The Retinol is a high potency product and using it more than 2x a week would make my skin just peel too much.

Things I’ll be adding as well is a gentle alpha-hydoxy cleanser (Oil of Olay), and then Bio Oil which is INCREDIBLE as a moisturizer for aging-past-30 skin.

That’s it!  And now I’m going to go play with my retinol 😀

Stephanie

How to Stand Strong in Stressful Times

This is a great video.  I urge all you readers to watch it.  It’s SO. GOOD.

I found it about two or three months ago, and it’s just repeated wisdom of what I’ve heard all my life growing up in a strong, Christian school from age 4-15, having strong Christian parents, and then mentors who have poured into my life.

I feel so lucky (not sure “blessed” would be the right word here) – but seriously lucky to have had all those people in my life, to the point where this message is not new to me, but wonderful to have so much wisdom piled into such a short video.  We’re all at the mercy of where God places us – what kind of parents we will have is probably the biggest deciding factor on how our lives will turn out.  And yes, I have some “survivors guilt” I think from having such wise, wonderful people for parents.

Anyway… no matter what you’re going through, and this message seems to speak to many things, I hope you find comfort in this video.

Stephanie