Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Home Inspection

Today we finally had the home inspection. Holy overwhelming!


So I follow this guy around the house for an hour and a half. He's looking at everything, has his flashlight out and his camera. He's snapping pictures and looking and snapping pictures and looking. He was nice and answered all kinds of questions but honestly... most of the time I was just a dumb girl. My head feels so heavy right now. Trying to understand things that I don't really want to understand is never fun.

Kind of like when Mike starts talking about cars. It's a trigger that switches my brain to off. No matter how hard I try to pay attention I just can't.

So yes, I left the home inspection feeling a little overwhelmed.

The good news is that there is really nothing major that is an issue. But because their job is to be picky and look at everything I now have a list of things I will eventually want to update.

Here's the weirdest thing of it all...

When we first went to look at the house I was IN LOVE. Immediately. Now... I'm still in love with the house but I'm seeing it through eyes that say "this is MY house" and right now it looks nothing like my house. So I was being a bit more picky this time as well.

All that trim that I thought was white... yeah. It's cream. I have sooooo much painting to do. So much.

Oh... and people always talk about the importance of staging your house for sale? Doooo it! There was definitely some extra things out this time that were NOT out when we went to look the first time. Definitely makes a difference. Things as simple as taking your table cloth off the table can make a huge difference. Or just removing one small piece of furniture. Pretty sure this lady had some good advice for showing her house. And if you aren't good at that kind of thing I know some professionals that would be happy to help you. (That is for the people who live in my area of course!)

Anyways... I feel like this is all jumbled and not making much sense. So here's the short....

Home inspection done.
No big issues.
Just lots of little things that come with buying an old house.

And now I'm going to go read a book that takes me to a place that I don't have to be concerned about because this day has been looooong... started with cleaning a closet out at church. (I feel like I've been cleaning closets for months. Moving is for the birds.) Then I sold some more baby clothes. (Hooray for getting rid of those and making some money!!) Then I cleaned my house. (It needed it.) After that was the home inspection. (Bang my head off the floor.)  Home just in time to get the kids to VBS. (Thank you Jesus for the breaks I get this week!) And while the kids were there I met with my friend Amy to work out some details for Butler Praise and Coffee.

I have a feeling that this will be the pace of my life through September. I can not wait for October! Don't ask me to do anything. The answer is already no.


Monday, July 30, 2012



I always knew that I wanted to give my kids an allowance of some kind simply so I could get money in their hands which would in turn make it possible to teach them about money in a hands on way. However, it took me a long time to figure out how I wanted to do this and I didn't start until I had a plan worked out.

For about two years I thought and thought about how to make it all work because I don't believe in paying my kids to make their beds, help with dishes, clean their rooms and other similar chores. I believe that those are things that should happen simply because they are a part of the family and we all pitch in, do our part and pick up after ourselves. (If you pay your kids for these things that's fine... it's just not my way.)

Toward the end of last year I read a book called Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours by Kevin Leman (best discipline book EVER!) and the author addressed the issue of allowances and offered a great way to use them. I loved it! We started it in our home and we have been using it since January.

What is it that we do???

I'll tell you. :)

If you follow Dave Ramsey and have heard him talk about the budget you know he recommends that you add a blow category. This is money that you get each month to spend however you want. You set the amount and you decide how to spend it. Each month Mike gets his blow money and I get mine. Most of mine gets spent at Panera Bread. Mike likes to save his.

Anyways, it was suggested that the kids get blow money as well. Because they are a part of the family. Write it in the budget. And so we did. Every two weeks our kids get $5.

Now, when we give them this money the first thing they do is set aside 10% to give to God. Then they put a little bit in their savings envelope. And what is left is their spending money. We want them to be able to look back and never remember a time when they didn't tithe or save. We want it to just be natural thinking... get paycheck, tithe, save, then spend.

So we now have money in their hands but we don't stop there.

They still have to do things like make their beds, clean their rooms and help around the house. They may not have had to earn their money (because I just couldn't come up with a way for them to earn it that worked for me still to this day) but they can LOSE their money.

If they are told to clean their room and they decide they don't want to that's fine. I simply say "Well you can clean your room yourself or you can pay someone else to do it." Sometimes the kids will pay the other to clean their room. Cleaning services cost money... that is the lesson. If that is how they want to spend their money that's fine. Their money, their choice. But through it they are learning about how the world works. And the kids have opportunities to earn money off of each other every once in a while.

But really... it doesn't happen that often that one actually wants to spend their money to have someone clean their room. They have learned it's much more fun to buy a bag of marshmallows or water guns or bells for their bikes.

The chores get done. The kids get to learn about money in a realistic way. And everyone is happy in the end.

How do you teach your kids about money?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Charlotte: 6 Months

I got to do a photoshoot with the lovely little Charlotte last week! She is such a doll and was a superstar during the shoot!

We planned to set up inside because it had rained the night before and things were wet but then I realized that my friend's driveway would be an excellent spot! We were lucky enough to have a perfectly overcast day which gave us nice light. So we set up and got going...

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I liked the pictures in color but I am absolutely LOVING them in black and white so I am mostly going to show you black and white. :)

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Charlotte smiled like this for about the last five minutes of our shoot. It was adorable!

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Charlotte is lovely! So glad her mama called me to do the pics.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

"That" School

When I started looking for a house I was surprised that the first question most people asked was "what school are you looking at?" Hmmm... hadn't thought of that because I thought I was looking for a house, not a school?

It got me thinking though and I realized that the school wasn't an issue for us. We were being called by God to a certain place and we were willing to follow wherever that was. I have also had great peace about sending my kids to whatever school area we end up in. But time and time again I would hear things along the lines of "just don't go to that school."

Then we found the house! And when people started learning where it was at I would get asked things like "Oh... so are you going to homeschool the kids?" And I thought why on earth would I do that? We'll be living right across the road from the school. The school playground is practically our front yard and it's only 100 yards to the school's front door."

Truth... I have not been called to homeschool. I have nothing against homeschooling and I think it's awesome but it is not for me.

Because I would not be homeschooling I ended up with a lot of well meaning people telling me all the reasons that I shouldn't want to send my kids to that school.

Those kids go there.
Those kids are just wild and out of control.
The education just isn't as good.
There isn't a lot of parental or community support.
Kids from that school just don't shine when they get to the intermediate school.

And really... it just went on and on and on. But let me share what's up...

God has put such a love for that area in my heart without even knowing anyone there yet. He has called us to that neighborhood, that school, that community to make a difference! God's grace, favor and protection is where He calls us. His grace for my kids is in that school with those kids. We could choose to be disobedient to God and go to one of the schools that everyone suggests we go to but the truth is that we would be out of God's will and we would not be where His grace for us is. The truth is that we could go to those super amazing schools and have the worst experiences ever.

I will choose to go where God calls. He is looking for His people that are willing to go where no one else wants to go.

Our family will be a part of that school.

Please don't feel sorry for Liza and Jason. I can look to the past 5 1/2 years of parenting and see how God has prepared us for this. All the wisdom He has given me in raising my kids. All the ideas that we instill in them daily... God had those things on my mind for a reason... for a purpose... so that Liza and Jason would be prepared to shine in the darkness.

Because those kids need Jesus too and my kids are going to spread His truth and His love wherever they go.

Don't waste your time worrying about us. If you start to worry then please turn it into a prayer. We have not made this decision without loads of thought and prayer. But honestly, I simply can not ignore what is in my heart. If you still think that I am crazy then just consider us missionaries. I mean, missionaries go to CRAZY places and we all sit here excited for them as they set off on their journey. We cover them in prayer, anxiously await updates of all that God is doing through their ministry and we would never in a million years try to talk them out of doing what God has called them to... no matter how risky the situation.

Treat my family the same. We are called to be missionaries in our new neighborhood and school. We are called to shine like stars in the darkness. We are called to spread the love and truth of Jesus Christ. Be excited for us! Pray for us! Partner with us!

But please don't try to tell me why I should not follow God.
I appreciate your concern but I am not concerned.

2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Psalm 55:22
Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.

1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

 Matthew 28:19-20
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Jeremiah 1:9
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.

I'm off to register Liza for kindergarten at that school. :)

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Liza's Prayer

I actually wrote this post a while ago and I have no idea why I didn't get it posted... but it's too good to just delete and I figure better late than never. :)


The other day Jason wasn't feeling well. He had a cold. He told me his nose hurt so I asked Liza to pray for him before bedtime. She was kind of uncomfortable because she didn't want us to listen. Mike and I stepped out of the room and Liza and Jason started negotiating. They decided that Liza would pray for Jason along with some other things and Jason would plug his ears so he couldn't hear her. And that's when I heard her say her sweet little prayer...

"God, help me find a good man with a good heart that loves you a whole whole lot. And keep him safe until I'm all grown up. Amen."

And then she prayed for Jason to get better.

And Mike and I stood outside her door, our hearts bursting with love.

I posted Liza's prayer on facebook and got a lot of response to it. Good response. And that's when I decided I needed to share about how we got to the place that my 5 1/2 year old is praying for her future husband.

You see... Liza looooves the idea of falling in love and growing up and getting married and having a family. She talks about these things. She doodles "Liza and Ashton in love" all over her notebooks. Liza loves LOVE.

It eats Mike up to think about his baby girl growing up and getting married. I can see it on his face when she talks about it. :) He's getting better though.

When Liza talks about these things I figure we have a few options.
1. We can do what many many people do (and understandably so) and say something along the lines of "you are never getting married" or "You aren't even allowed to date until you are 30!"
2. We can completely ignore it.
3. We can talk to her about it and help her to learn what's right and what's not.

I didn't want to go the "you are never getting married" route because this is a such a big dream in Liza's heart already. I don't want to crush her spirit and disappoint her with something that isn't true. The reality is that she will most likely grow up and get married.

So we talk about it.

Not too long ago Liza actually watched all six hours of Pride and Prejudice with me (over two days) and she just loved it a lot. When I asked her why she said "because they get in love!" And then we talked more about love and she was talking about getting married. That's when I said "That's right Liza! You are going to grow up and meet a great guy and fall in love and marry him! That's a long time away though so what you can start doing now is praying for that guy. You pray that God lets you know when you meet the right guy. Pray for that guy that he will be a good man with a good heart. And pray that he will love God a whooooole lot! Those are really important things. And you can pray that God keeps him safe for you too."

Ever since, Liza has been praying for her future husband.

My hope is that these ideas will sink in. That she will wait for God to let her know who the right one is so that she doesn't have to waste her heart on several wrong guys first. I hope that she will just grow up knowing that a guy who doesn't love the Lord isn't the guy for her. I hope that she will be able to recognize a good heart.

I want nothing less for my little princess.

Don't ignore important topics because your heart aches at the thought of them growing up. We are to train up our children and if we wait until they are fifteen and thinking they are in love to start talking about dating and love and all that stuff... well it's probably too late. They will have formed thoughts without you by that time.

Talk to your children!

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Paint Tips

Wow! You guys are GREAT! Thank you so much for all the tips on painting! I knew I could count on you. Seriously! Mike had all kinds of questions and was trying to figure things out and I said "give me a day. I'll ask my blog peeps! They won't let me down."

Here is the list of all the advice:

  • Painting the walls all the same neutral color actually makes it look bigger and more open than it is. (Sounds good to me!!)
  • My friend Kim has dark walls and is bummed because they don't photograph well. I will learn from her!
  • Paneling drinks up paint like crazy. (Still need to figure out what to do about that but i'm really leaning toward just getting rid of the paneling.)
  • Semi-gloss is good... especially if you have kids with messy little fingers because the semi-gloss is easy to wipe off. Flat, not so much. (Best advice! Thank you so much to those of you who mentioned this. I would have never thought of that!)
  • Cut in on the wall and then paint the middle. Use and angled brush for the cutting.
  • Always make your strokes go up and down.
  • Cover the floor!
  • Primer first, especially if changing color. (And not the paints with primer mixed in.)
  • Taping off is a pain and often doesn't work well so it will probably be best for me to just get used to cutting in without the tape.
  • Lots of you suggested Behr paint which makes me happy because that is what I was looking at.

I feel so much better now. :) I feel educated... at a least a little bit. I just want to be completely prepared because I won't have a lot of time to paint the entire house. I just need to go in and get it done. (Hopefully I'll have a team of people to help!) There is a lot of wall/ceiling to cover! And I want to do it well and be happy with the work in the end. 

I found this website on Pinterest that has tips from a professional painter. I also found the article to be extremely informative and helpful.

Sad note... we have to put the inspection off till next week so I won't get to go into the house this Thursday like we had planned. I've been so looking forward to that and I don't like waiting. I guess we are waiting on the water test results. The person who gives the report is on vacation and our realtor suggested we wait on that because she would hate for us to spend money on inspection if there is a problem with the water that needs fixed before anything else can happen. It makes sense... but could people just stop taking vacations!!?? Don't they know I'm trying to buy a house!?

Pray for us please! There are some other things that need to get ironed out... like my credit report showing that I'm delinquent or something. Apparently the university says I still owe it $1300 even though I never missed a payment, payed it off extremely early, have a letter saying it's paid in full and have never received any word from them since the letter of paid in full. I'm confused. Mike has a list of phone calls to make on his lunch break today.

We know without a doubt that this is our house and God has a plan for us. The house is a tool and ministry will flow out of it for the next several years. Please pray with us that every obstacle would be demolished and removed and that we would get in our house soon!

In the meantime I figure I should start exercising again because just thinking of all the painting that needs done makes my muscles ache. I figure it will less painful if I start using them a little now? Any creative exercises that mimic the painting motions???

Monday, July 23, 2012

House: Paint?

We have a closing date of August 29th... that is also the firs day of school. Should be an interesting time. We are getting things done on "the checklist" and Thursday I'll get to go back inside my house when we have the inspection. I haven't seen it for about a month. That would be the first time we checked it out. I loved it. Mike thought about it for two weeks and went to see it again. I stayed home. I already knew that I loved it and didn't need to look at it again to decide the same thing. Probably a week later we put the offer in and it took us a week to come to an agreement with that.

And that leaves me here dreaming of paint colors and carpet and how I am going to make it all mine... because in 9 1/2 years of being married and renting I have never painted a wall. I have never decorated a house much beyond the basics. I don't hang pictures and I make my own curtains. I've always said I was saving it all up for when I buy a house... and now I'm ready to go!

Saturday night we had a babysitter so we went out for dinner and then headed to home depot to look at paint colors. Here is how the living room currently looks...


While that green is a nice color it is also the first thing that will be changed once I get my keys to the house. I have lived in a dark house for the past 5 years... brown paneling plus living in the woods... Dark. I don't want dark anymore. Plus... that green on the ceiling will mean that I can't use my external flash for indoor pics. It would pick up that color and cast it into every photo I took.

Yes, I consider photography when looking at paint colors.

I actually want the walls to be a really light tan. And the ceiling white. The living room, dining room and stairs are all currently green.


We will leave all the trim white. I need to find the exact color that the current owner used so that we can match it for any touchups. I hope she knows the white she used!

The color of the bathroom wall is kind of close to what I have in mind.


The colors in the master bedroom and kitchen are the same. They aren't bad but I will probably end up just doing them the same color as the downstairs. I'm plain like that. I'll add my color with curtains and decorations.


This next room will be Liza's. She REALLY wants to keep it purple but I just am having a hard time with the color that is in there. I'm thinking maybe we can reach a compromise and come up with a really really light purple. I'm working on finding that perfect color... but it's so hard when you only get to see a little square of it!


 Jason's room is white and will probably stay that way for a while. It's the only room with paneling and I'm guessing that will be different to paint... even though it's already painted? Who knows. We'll get to it someday... and maybe we'll even be able to take down the paneling and put up drywall. That would make me happy!

Anyways... I guess the whole point of this is to ask you all what your painting tips are? Do you have a horror story? What brand of paint is awesome? What sheen do you love or hate? Did you do something that I should absolutely avoid?? Have you painted paneling?

Remember... I've never painted walls before and I'm about to conquer an entire house in a little over a month! Educate me!!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Take Your Own Pinterest Style Pictures

Lots of people want the pictures but can't afford them. I've had several people say something along the lines of "I want to take my own pinterest style pictures." Mine might not look quite like the pros or be 100% technically correct but I've learned some things along the way. 

I wanted to share with you some of things that I do during a photo shoot. Keep in mind that I am not a professional. I do not have a studio. I simply started taking pictures of my kids as they grew and before I knew it I was being asked by others to take pictures of their kids. I started collecting a few things here and there but I have such little space for storage (that's soon to change when I move into my new house!!!) that I haven't been able to buy much as far as props go. But I'm still able to do plenty and get some nice pictures for people.

I used to just throw a blanket over a chair or the couch... or I would have some lucky person hold it up for me.

Then I got smart and made myself a portable, adjustable backdrop holder out of pvc pipe. (Actually I had my hunky husband make it for me.) It cost me about $10 and has come in sooo handy! I cut 1 foot, 2 foot and 3 foot pieces. I then put it together for whatever size I need for the shoot and pin a blanket over the top. (Someday I'll have real backdrops... until then I'll keep buying blankets to use at home that will also work well for photography. :))

Here is my backdrop holder...

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This is how I set up for my most recent shoot...

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We happened to have a good, overcast morning so we stayed outside. Normally I set up inside.

(Don't want to bother with the whole pvc pipe thing?? Just turn a chair or your couch around and drape your blanket. Gives you lots of space to work with a little one.)

Get some fun props and go for it! (Natural light is best so if you are inside try to get by a window.)

For this picture I put a boppy pillow under the blanket. Charlotte wasn't fully sitting on her own and needed the support. I put it UNDER the blanket so it wouldn't show up in any pictures.

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Tutu. Pearls. Flower.

For this one we actually have a boppy seat under the blanket...

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This is what it was looking like...


So it might not all be as seamless as the pros... but these are things that most mamas have and can use and you can still get some really nice shots.

Hats and soft blankets always look amazing with newborns!

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For the last two pictures I used a beanbag under the blanket. It's nice and cozy for baby.

Just start grabbing whatever you have around the house. (But always remember baby's safety first!)

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If you are looking for fun hats you can check some out in my shop!
Wix-Works <--click it

I love helping others so let me know if you have any questions!

What have you used to get fun pictures of your kids?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Praise and Coffee Night

Last Thursday we had our first Butler Praise and Coffee Night!! We've had two meetings before this and they were both in the mornings. I love our morning meetings but Amy and I decided that we needed to have meetings monthly instead of every other month. So we tried out a night and it was wonderful!!

This is me and Amy... co-founders of Butler Praise and Coffee!!

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Ladies started arriving around 7:00 and we mixed, mingled and made new friends for a little while. We transitioned into our sharing time with my new favorite song... Only a God Like You by Tommy Walker. It gets me pumped up and I've been listening to it on repeat all week.

Then 15 women sat around a table sharing how God has redeemed hopeless situations, restored broken hearts, rebuilt marriages and families, and rewarded his daughters for faithfully following Him! My heart was just overflowing with love for these women! They are amazing and beautiful!

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I loved this meeting because it was really different from our morning meetings... which is what we were going for... variety. To be able to sit in a safe environment with so many great people and share the deepest things in our hearts and encourage each other... hard to beat!

We ended the night with a time of praying for each other and some more fellowship.

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I left encouraged and excited. After hearing about His grace and love and power in the lives of others there is absolutely no doubt at all in my mind or heart that God. Is. Good!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Buying a House

Ok... so...

I'm buying a house! THE house. The one I've wanted since I first walked in to it. The one that instantly felt like home. Although it may have felt like home so quickly because it was quite similar to the home I grew up in. Either way... I've been dreaming of it ever since! Dreams in my sleep and dreams in my heart. I love this house!

So here's what happened...

Two Wednesdays ago we decided we were buying the house. We went to our realtor's office and signed and initialed and signed and initialed. We made our offer.

Seller countered.

We said no thanks and came back with another offer.

Seller was going to accept and then realized that she actually couldn't sell it for any less than the asking price because the asking price is what she owed. Selling it for less would make it a short sale meaning lots more time, lots more paper work and she wouldn't be able to buy a house for the next five years and she didn't want to do that.

I was upset. Actually I was quite angry. I cried. We had spent 24 hours negotiating price just to find out that the price was not negotiable. The price was also just slightly above what we felt was comfortable for us. Not much... but just enough to make me say "Whoa! Not so sure about that."

We prayed and we prayed and we prayed. My attitude began to change and I was no longer angry as I realized that the seller was probably just as disappointed as we were. She's been trying to sell the house for a year. We continued to pray. We talked to the mortgage guy who helped us make sense of all the numbers. We prayed some more.

Something started shifting in my heart. I still felt like this was to be our house and the longer I prayed the more I was certain that we were to just go ahead and pay asking price and get the house. Mike felt the same.

Sunday we called our realtor and said "we want to buy it."

Late Sunday night we heard back from our realtor... we wouldn't have an answer till sometime the next day because the seller works 18 hour shifts on the weekends. And so I waited and waited and waited on Monday for the phone to ring. Finally we got the call. Everything was good.

We had to sign some new papers and were able to do that through emails. We were then waiting for the seller to sign so that the sales agreement would be official. We should have known about that yesterday but after waiting and waiting for information from our realtor I told Mike to give her a call. Turns out a huge storm went through her area the day before and her office had no power. So we waited some more.

Mike called her today and she said everything is good!! Water tests are being done today and we are scheduling the home inspection!

If everything is good we should be home owners by the end of August!!

Wooo hoooooooooooooo!

I'm soooo ridiculously pumped!

I'll share more about the house and all that's involved in home buying as we go. If you get tired of reading about it all then just skip those posts. :)

Woo hooooooooooo!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bladen Turns One

I've been photographing Bladen all year and he is ridiculously adorable! And such a good kid! I just love him. 

Unfortunately he only gave me about 15 minutes and then decided he was ready for a nap ridiculously early. So we didn't get a ton of pics but he's still cute!

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Seriously! He is SO cute!

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And then we started getting lots of this...

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I've so enjoyed getting to photograph Bladen throughout his first year!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Be Strong and Courageous!

I give regularly to a ministry that I love and believe in and this past month they sent my statement and on it there was a small note thanking me and it said that the person sending the note was praying Joshua 1:9 over my life and heart this month.  That got me opening up to the book of Joshua which I have been reading since but I have some favorite verses...

Joshua 1:5-9
No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law that my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

I just LOVE these verses sooo much! There is a lot in those five verses and I just get a bit excited about it all. The promises. The encouragement. The wisdom. I'm gonna break it down...

1. God will never leave me nor forsake me.
Now that right there is good stuff! Solid. God says it therefore it is true and that's that! I like definitions and years ago I decided to define some of those words so it could really sink in. This is what I found...

God will never (not ever, at no time, absolutely not even for a moment)
leave me (go away or depart from, abandon, disregard, neglect or exclude me, leave me behind or stop using me)
nor forsake me (quit or leave entirely, desert, withdraw from or renounce [put aside or disown] me.)

Yeah people! I am NEVER alone!

2. God will accomplish what He started.
He says you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. That made me ask "What has God said He will do with my life? Who I am to lead and where am I to lead them?" God has started something in my life and as long as I lay down my life for the life He has for me those things will be accomplished.

3. God wants obedience.
Some things that God said in those verses... Be careful to obey all the law that my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.

God wants us to obey ALL that He has asked of us. Everything. Not 99% of it... but ALL. God wants unconditional, habitual obedience that comes out of our love for him. (Not legalism.) Let His ways be what is spoken about and lived out. Do EVERYTHING.

4. Obedience brings blessings.
This is one of those "If... then..." things. It may not say it exactly like that but it is there. If you want blessings then be sure to obey and follow God.

Be careful to obey all the law that my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

5. We are to be strong and courageous.
This is actually a command! "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous."

Some definitions of strong are:
*of great moral power, firmness, or courage: strong under temptation.
*solid or stable; healthy; thriving 
*having powerful means to resist attack, assault, or aggression
*able to resist strain, force, wear, etc.
*decisively unyielding; firm or uncompromising
Definition of courage (because courageous just took you to that...)
*The power or quality of dealing with or facing danger, fear, pain, etc.
*The courage of one's convictions, the confidence to act in accordance with one's beliefs
We don't have to be afraid because God is with us wherever we go!!
That's good stuff!! 
Do you struggle with believing that God is with you or is that an easy thing for you to believe?
What have you been afraid of? And how can you be strong and courageous in that area today?
Is God asking obedience in a certain area of your life?

Live for HIM! Be strong and courageous. Have the confidence to live what you believe! The obedience to God will bring blessings and success into your life. Surrender to God so that He can accomplish what He has started in you!


Monday, July 16, 2012

Surrender, Obedience and Discipline

I've mentioned that I am doing a Bible study with some friends this summer. I've lead one for the past few years because I like doing Bible studies and they all quit during the summer... So I pick a study I want to do and invite all my friends to join me.

We are doing Becoming a Woman of Excellence by Cynthia Heald.

The last three chapters we did have certainly challenged me to live more for Christ and less for me. I have some work to do and I need to continuously remind myself to work on those things... because what's the point of doing a Bible study if you aren't going to be different at the end of it?

So what were those three chapters about?

1. Surrender
  • Renouncing self as the center of our life and actions. Not always an easy thing to do! But necessary to follow God and love him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.
  • To surrender is to die to self... give up, relinquish, yield, let go, abandon, submit, give up my rights.
  • God wants unconditional surrender.
  • When we surrender we move from being self-centered to Christ-centered.
  • Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ, and I myself no longer live, but Christ is living in me; the life I now live as a mortal man I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.

(See why I have things I need to work on!?!?! Unconditional surrender... YIKES! Not quite there yet.)

2. Obedience
  • Obedience is submission, habitually yielding to authority. God longs for voluntary submission.
  • I know a lot of people freak out at the word "submission" but I love how Lisa Bevere broke it down... "sub" means under so basically to submit is to come under the same mission. That doesn't sound so scary.
  • Obedience is not always easy but I am learning to say yes to God no matter what. Whether or not I understand. Whether or not I want to. I choose to obey and in doing that I am changing and becoming more like Christ.
  • John 15:14 Jesus has said: "And you are my friends if you obey me."
  • "The very best proof of your love for your Lord is obedience... nothing more, nothing less, nothing else." ~Charles R. Swindoll

3. Discipline
  • I'm still working through this chapter but what I am mainly taking from it so far is that we need to have self-discipline in every area of our lives. We need to have discipline over our emotions, will and mind. We need to be able to remember what the truth is in every situation. God won't give us good habits... we have to work for them. If I want to have self-discipline in any area of my life then I am going to have to train myself and practice discipline.

Again, this is such a great study! Cynthia Heald has a whole series of "Becoming a Woman of..." studies. This is the third one I have done and I find that they are great to do with a group of women of any age!

What are you learning lately?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sunday Thoughts

God was provider yesterday and he will continue to be provider tomorrow.

It's interesting how quickly I can forget who God is! The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8) and I'm going to choose to believe that!!


I don't like real estate agents. Ok ok... don't hate me if you are one or love one. :) Let me explain... I just don't like having two middle people in this thing. It goes like this...

We make a decision and contact our buyers agent.
Buyers agent contacts sellers agent.
Seller makes a decision and lets the sellers agent know.
Sellers agent calls buyers agent.
Buyers agent calls us.

That's an awful lot of phone tag going on in between while I WAIT!! And I don't like waiting.

I'm currently waiting.


This song has me pumped up today and challenges me to always keep my focus and motives in the right place.


My garage sale was quite successful! I mean... sure it was some work but who doesn't like and extra $400!?? Fills some of the gap that is missing with Mike not having much work these past two weeks. They do have one job for this week that will probably take him to Wednesday. Who knows after that. But like I said above... God was provider before and he will continue to be and I will trust him. :)


This is the conversation that Liza and Jason had on the short ride home from church today...

JASON: *shoots pretend gun at Liza* You're fired!
LIZA: You don't fire people by shooting fire on them.
JASON: *thinking* Maybe you put them IN the fire?
LIZA: That's not how you fire someone either. At least I don't think that's how you fire someone.
JASON: Maybe someone puts fire on them?
LIZA: I don't know.

I've been fired by my kids several times. I'm quite thankful that it doesn't actually involve real fire!! :)


I'm currently sitting at Panera. I need to just chill out and hang with God for a while and then knock off a whole mess of photo editing. I didn't get as much done last week with getting ready for the garage sale and trying to keep up with hat orders. But seriously... from now on when I meet someone and they ask what I do I will never again answer "Oh, I'm a stay at home mom." Instead I will answer the question "what do you do?" with "I make money!" Woo hoo! But making money usually takes some work and I guess I should get to it.

Friday, July 13, 2012

My Life Lately

Wow! What. A. Week!! Craziness all around this place.

I can't even remember what was going on at the beginning of it. Well it started with Bible study on Monday. I only know that because I have Bible study every Monday evening during the summer. We are doing the book Becoming a Woman of Excellence by Cynthia Heald. It's excellent! :) The past two chapters were challenging... surrender and obedience. The next chapter is discipline. Yeah... I have my "workin' on it list" going. 

Mike has been home a lot the past two weeks (and probably will be next week as well.) Work is really slow this summer for who knows what reason. But he's home. That meant he was able to come with me and the kids on the MOPS field trip to a dairy farm on Wednesday.

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After that we went to our realtors office to sign our life away because we were making an offer on a house. That situation got all kinds of complicated and nothing has been settled yet. I'm not really sure what we are going to do from here. I just feel like God is saying "Just wait and see..." So we are waiting and hopefully soon we will be seeing. :)

I spent most of Friday getting things ready for a garage sale. Jason and Liza spent the day at their grandparents so that Mike and I could get all kinds of work done. Jason came home with a plain band-aid on his head. He got a teensy tiny scratch. Shortly after he got home he disappeared and next time I saw him he looked like this...

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He decided that he needed one of his cool band-aids.

Liza decided she wanted her picture taken too.

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I just love my kids to pieces!

Friday night I had a photo shoot with these two lovely ladies. They have a business where they help organize people's homes or stage them for the selling process. They wanted some pictures for their website.

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This morning I woke up at 6:50 am and was out the door at 7:30 to pick up tables from a friend and get my garage sale set up at my other friend's house. So thankful that she agreed to have a sale together because I can't have one where I live... it would be a disaster with a gazillion accidents and angry, road-raging drivers. Anyways... start time was 9am. I made it that because I knew people would come early. First person dropped by at 8:15. What!?! 

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It was a successful day!! I also set up a table right where they paid with information on Butler Praise and Coffee, my crocheted hats and Mike's book. I have some new "fans" on my facebook page and I sold four of Mike's books. I joked that it was my "impulse buy" shelf like they have at the checkouts in stores. I'm a genius like that.

I have a TON of clothes left to sell and am hoping that the rain holds off for us tomorrow because I wouldn't mind making more money!

In the middle of all that I have been trying to keep up with orders at Wix-Works. Trying to find the time to crochet some days is quite a challenge.

I've also been editing pictures.

Bladen turned one... (for the new readers... I've been taking his pictures since his mama (my friend) was pregnant.)

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And I'm trying to finish up pics from my friend Bettina's wedding. Need to get those done soon!

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I'd like to disappear for a week but I can't. More hats to make. More pictures to edit. And possibly more pictures to take. Whew! Sometime along the way of life I became a working mom!!

And that's my life lately. Will it ever slow down again???

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Can't Wait!

Life of Love

What are you most looking forward to in the next six months?

1. Liza starting kindergarten!! She is beyond excited. We skipped preschool and she just can't wait to go to school. She's been talking about it for months. Of course she is bummed because we will likely be walking to school instead of riding a bus.

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2. A Weekend to Remember. As I mentioned earlier this week this has been the hardest year of marriage for us. Friends told us about A Weekend to Remember and we are going to go. It will just all have to work out because we need to be there. God has already provided our registration fees!! (Jesus loves me!)

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(Have I mentioned that my hunky husband is an author?? Oh. I have? Sorry... I just love that about him. :))

3. I'll turn 33 in September. I'm looking forward to that. I don't mind getting older. In fact, I kind of look forward to it. I learn so much every year and each one also brings with it new experiences. I like who I've become over the years and I'm excited to see how I continue to grow into the person God created me to be.

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(He will turn 33 as well... six days after me.)

4. Meeting lots of great women! I work with two different women's ministries and through them both I've met so many wonderful people. Can't wait to see who else God brings into my life. I just love people!!

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5. This is probably the biggest one... I LOOK FORWARD TO BUYING A HOUSE!!! We put in an offer yesterday. Should know something about that today! I'll share news when I have some. But seriously... they should have called already to let us know. I mean... It's 8:13AM ALREADY! Geez. Can't believe they would make us wait so long for an answer. :)

What are you looking forward to??

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