Archives for August 2013

bora bora life lessons

If you happen to follow me on Instagram, then you might already be aware of my recent “surprise” getaway to Bora Bora with my man for our ten year wedding anniversary (11 years together!).

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Here’s the pretty amazing and romantic (short!) story of how he pulled that off (click link!):

The Making of Bora Bora

I have to say, I was truly ecstatic to actually be going to the place I had only ever dreamed of visiting one day. I never thought we’d be the couple jetting off to a place like this.

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{And after experiencing the prices of this beautiful island, it’s safe to say the likelihood of us ever being able to go back are slim to none, as I still can’t recover from $5-7 for one can of soda!!!}

With that said, and that known, I tried my best to truly take every single moment in.

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I slept in, ate nutella and french bread for breakfast, napped, and sunbathed on my deck in a bikini that makes me feel all kinds of awkward and yucky because I am nowhere near bikini body ready.

Not that I wear bikinis anyway, as I’m truly trying to bring modesty back with the ever so chic skirted swimsuit.
No, but really.

Yet there I was, alone with my husband…and since nobody else could see this bikini but him and God, I busted it out like it was nobodys business. {because honestly, me in a bathing suit, would not be exciting business….}

But, here’s the truth:
The first day…. I cried.

I cried because….
I forgot my contact solution and case ($14 for a travel size in Tahiti, expensive mistake!), my face was breaking out from traveling (not cute!), my flat iron blew up when the convertor rebelled against it (do you know how expensive flat irons are???), the food and water and ferry prices were shocking my D.R. missions obssesed brain (do you know how many kids can go to school with that money???), and I was nowhere near ready to bust out the bikini I had so desperately wanted to wear.

I cried.
No seriously.
I really really cried.
{Remember, I’m a middle child.}

There I was, in paradise, and I was crying.

And then, here’s the dumb but hopefully totally relatable part…
I started crying even more because I was completely annoyed that I had been crying over such silly little things.

And to answer your next obvious question, no, I was NOT about to have my monthly.
{actually…ooops. ok, maybe I was….}
{hormones are NOT our fault!!!}

Moving on.

But, then I realized this:
Even in the midst of “perfection,” I was still totally imperfect.
Well, duh.
{and Jimmy got a good dose of this reality…poor guy.}

I couldn’t go there and expect Jimmy, or me, or any of our circumstances to suddenly change and become as perfect as the scenery seemed to be around us.

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As messed up people, we all come with baggage, and despite WHERE we are, there our issues will remain.


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We don’t change simply because of our surroundings or circumstances.
We change when we stop, for the LOVE OF GOD (seriously, you gotta LOVE GOD), looking at ourselves or to the people around us and instead LOOK ONLY AT HIM.

 

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I did this a few months ago, and it changed my life
.
I did it again there, and it changed my perspective.

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Instead of looking to all the events that were seemingly being sent to humble me, I make the decision to look up.
And in doing that, my petty little issues faded and I was better able to see His beauty and perfection.

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I saw a majestically beautiful lush green mountain, where there were dark and heavy rain clouds surrounding the top.

The mountain was amazing.
The clouds imperfect.
But the vision was art.
A genuine masterpiece.

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We will never be enough for ourselves.
Others will at some point let us down.
But when we focus on the Lord, and look up and away… we will finally be able to capture the true beauty He intended us to see.

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It isn’t about us.
It isn’t about others.
It isn’t about changing our circumstances or locations…

It is and always will be, about choosing Him.

The lesson remains the same, both here and in Bora Bora.

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Well, that and…

*Eat a whole lot at the included breakfast buffet, because it’s a long time till dinner, which may the only meal you’re afford for the day…

 

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kids doing chores: a bandwagon to jump on & why!

I realize I haven’t posted a whole lot on parenting, outside the whole homeschooling thing, and I’m not quite sure what changed there as it used to be a lot of my material back in the day!

One thing though that I love to read about, is how parents parent their kids!
I want to know the family rules.
The family traditions.
What are their schedules?
What chores do the kids have to do, and do they get paid?
What do they get paid?
Do they take vitamins and what kind?
What are they going to do about dating, and what kind of a gun will they use to keep it under control?
{kidding. ish.}

I suppose I’m a bit of a nosey nelly.

It’s just that every family is SO different, and I feel there is so much, SO MUCH to be learned and I just can’t get enough!

This is why I was so excited to team up with Karen on this Vintage Homemaking Week Series!!!  An entire week dedicated to these kind of issues (plus giveaways, score!), just to see how they do things both at home and with their kids.

Think of it as a week of free life coaching/mentoring!

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So, all that said, I thought that maybe, perhaps there may be a a few of you out there curious as to how we do things around here as well.

It’s changed a bit, okay a lot, since we started homeschooling and I’m realizing ever so slowly (on my good days) that I kind of love the change.

And it all begins with chores!

Now that we aren’t rushing out the door every morning to school, we are able to take our time getting ourselves, our tasks, and our moods (okay, my mood) together for the day.
One of those tasks includes chores for the kids.
And by kids, I mostly mean Taylor since Chloe isn’t quite 5. (her chore list will officially begin at 5!)

With Taylor being 8 and a half, we feel he’s more than ready to take on a good amount of chores, and we honestly expect him to do them well. In fact, we tell him that if we have to go behind and finish what isn’t completed, he won’t get paid for that particular job.

This is a child definitely driven by money and praise, so this keeps him working at his best!
{you gotta discover what motivates!}

Our Chore List:

The following is what’s expected of Taylor Monday through Saturday, with Sunday being our day of rest.

~ Make bed & brush teeth
~ Clean his bathroom paying special attention to the toilet and floor around the toilet.
(what is the deal with boys and their bathrooms smelling like a homeless man lives in there???)
~ Feed Stella (our dog)
~ Pick up doggie poo
~ Empty dishwasher (this is my personal favorite!)
~ Before bed, pick up room & toys
~ And on laundry days, he has to put away all his clean clothes and hang shirts. Neatly.

Handling the money/allowance:

We don’t give an allowance, but we do pay for chores.  For all the work listed above,  we pay Taylor $40 a month.
(another option to figure out how much to pay is to double the childs age.)
We’re also discussing that by age 13, we’d cap the amount between $75-100, which will also go towards clothes, phone, gifts, etc.  We have some time before then though, so it’s still up in the air…

Also, starting this year Taylor will be taking 10% and putting it towards an offering or tithe. We are allowing him, at this point, to choose whether it goes towards church or to help others in need. This is because we believe God honors the heart and motives behind the giving more than the actual giving, so we hope to teach him to do this with a good attitude.

In addition to tithing out of his allowance, we will also be setting aside 10% for savings.  This is such a good habit to learn early that it’s best not to spend it all, and to always set some aside for emergencies or big purchases.

After talking with one my incredible friends and mentors, we have also decided that starting in September (3rd grade) he will begin being responsible to pay for half of his friends birthday gifts. I love this idea, as it teaches him to really think through purchases and actually put thought and heart into what he wants to give.

I have to say, that in this last year, Taylor has truly surprised us with his attitude and responsibility, with chores and handling money, at such a young age.

Every morning when I get up, he is already dressed and every single chore has been checked off before ever turning on the TV. (We only allow TV in the morning, as it’s my morning babysitter, due to the fact that they wake up usually before 6 am.  I, on the other hand, am not a morning person. It’s truly all about priorities!)

In fact, when he was away at camp for a week this summer, it hit me just how much he really does help out and what a blessing it is to our family and home.

So, if you’ve been thinking about having your kids take on some chores, or maybe adding in some new ones, let me be the first to tell you, YES, DO IT! 

And if you are already on this bandwagon, I would absolutely LOVE to hear what chores you give your kids at what ages, and even what you consider to be appropriate for their allowances. I know every family is different, and I’m always up to hear your advice and wisdom!

GIVEAWAY TIME!!!

One of my subscribers will be winning Financial Peace Junior to help set you up on on your way to the happy land of kids doing chores! (therefore allowing you to sleep in!)

See below for all the ways to enter!

Winners will be chosen and announced on Tuesday, September 3.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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homeschooling 101: 4 tips every family should know

{You subscribed, right?!?}

While you will hear MANY tips on Homeschooling, these are my TOP 4 TIPS that I truly feel every homeschooler, new and old, should absolutely know! And please be sure to share your own wisdom & tips in the comments below!

As always, let me know what videos you want to see next!

Music by Helen Austin (with permission!)

 

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anxiety… an update

As most of you know, for years I have battled anxiety.
And it’s been exactly that.
A complete and utter battle.

I’ve been struggling to understand it, accept it, face it, and especially to fight it.
I’ve taken medicine, tried natural approaches, sought therapy, and pleaded day and night on my knees that God would simply take it all away.
Yet still it remained.

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About 2 years ago, I resigned that this was just how I was, and I had to accept that I would forever need a “little helper” to keep the terror of anxiety away.
And honestly, I truly was okay with that.
I needed to be present for my husband.
For my children.
For my life.
And if medicine granted me all of that, I would gladly accept the blessing.

It was about a year after getting back on my “happy pills,” that I went to see an Integrative Doctor for some health issues I was having with my gallbladder and liver. Before my first appointment they sent me to have my blood work done, which consisted of (at least) EIGHT vials of blood. This was so they could see, in every way, exactly what was happening within my body.

When I later sat in my doctors office (which felt more like a room at a spa) for my first visit, she sweetly explained that I was desperately unbalanced in the hormone department.
(pretty sure my husband could have confirmed that!)
Basically, my hormone levels were that of a POST menopausal woman!!!
It was no surprise to her that I was battling unexplained anxiety and depression.

Long story short, we first tried to change my levels with diet and supplements.
I went every month for blood work and after a few months with no change, she suggested I try BioIdentical Hormones.
She seemed sure that in just a matter of days of taking the hormones I needed (made perfectly for me in a compounding pharmacy) that I would feel better than I had in years.
It worked that quickly.
She even suggested that when I felt comfortable, I could probably go off my medicine and be completely free of anxiety.

I was all about taking the hormones.
I was NOT all about discontinuing my happy pills.

It’s now a year later.
And let me just tell you, the hormones are seriously a GIFT FROM GOD!!!
My doctor was right, in just days I felt more like the me I used to be.
But even with the positive changes, I still clung to the security of my medicine.

….Until God decided it was time to take me out of my comfort zone.
On a 7 day missions trip with Taylor to the Dominican Republic, in blazing hot weather and humidity…I found that I had completely forgotten to pack my medicine.

It was on that trip, that I realized I had nothing to depend on for comfort and healing except God.
And you have no idea the death grip I had for Him that week.
But you know what?
I got through it.
No anxiety.
No panic.
No depression.

And when I got home, I decided to take only half of my prescribed medicine just to see if I would still be okay.
Again, I was totally fine.

My eyes were off of me.
I was clinging to Him.
Daily I listed my blessings.
Daily I looked to how I could serve Him.

Then it came time for my second trip to the D.R.
On only half my prescription, once again I survived being even more out of my comfort zone than ever.

I experienced sadness and heartbreak and poverty beyond what I thought I could ever handle.
And yet, I survived.

In the moments where I would have thought I would need medicine more than ever, I realized that I instead needed HIM more than ever.

For whatever reason, in the midst of a dirty sticky heartbreaking world, I felt healed.
And when I got home, I once again decided to go to half of my half, a mere quarter of what I had been initially prescribed.
I had always been on the lowest dose of the medicine, but now I was on a quarter.

And I was good.
Happier even.

Over the next month, I went to a quarter every other day to eventually not at all.
And God continues to sustain me.

I don’t know what exactly is different.
Maybe it’s the bioidentical hormones.
Maybe it’s this new place of surrender to the Lord and what He has for me.

Whatever it is, I accept the gift for as long as I have it.

And I suppose that’s why I’ve hesitated in writing this post…
for some odd “knock on wood” reason.
There’s the fear that the moment I share that I’m doing better, will be the moment the anxiety returns.

But, I know that isn’t the Lord.
That’s not how He works.
And that’s not how I write.

I write my heart.
I write my life.
I write what is true of the moment, so that I can learn and heal, and in the process prayerfully help someone else out there do the same.

And, at THIS moment… I am free.

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natural skin care products to love!

(products sent to me are ONLY mentioned IF I fall in love. This is my promise to you!)

You subscribed, right?!?

For product links (and to find the best prices) check out my Luvocracy page!
And as always, let me know what videos you want to see next!

{Music by Helen Austin (with permission!)}

What Natural Skin Care Products are you using and loving???

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you will know them by their fruit

Matthew 7:15-20
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”

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♥♥♥

For as long I can remember I’ve believed in God.
In His son, Jesus.
In Christianity.

It was all in my head, and somewhat in my heart…
But if you looked at my life, you wouldn’t have seen His light shining or His works performing.
You wouldn’t have known Him by my fruit.

But lately, He’s been nudging me.
And I’ve suddenly become very uncomfortable in being comfortable.
I look around at my life, at my tasks and my concerns, and I see an awful lot of me.
And not nearly enough of Him.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is in the Gospel of John, when John the Baptist says:
“He must become greater, I must become less.” John 3:30

When I read that again in my quiet time the other morning, it suddenly struck me in a whole new way, and I recalled the verses above from Matthew.

“You will know them by their fruits…”

All these stirrings in my heart over the last few months have so much to do with these verses.
I am suddenly looking at things, events, relationships, and my life so differently.
As though it’s now somewhat through His eyes, and no longer mine …as much.

All the things I wanted for me, for my glory, to bring attention to me, seem so meaningless now.
And I realize, it’s not about us just believing.

It’s not about simply going to Him to find our happiness and comfort.
It’s not about gaining success and popularity…
Believe it or not, it’s actually…
Not even about us!

Instead, it’s about making much to do of Him.
And by allowing Him to become greater in our lives, there will absolutely be fruit to be seen.

We will no longer be content in comfort, and in that discomfort He is be able to do abundantly more through us, than we could ever have done on our own.

We are called to action.
Just as he called his disciples to “Follow Me,” He is also calling us.
To get up and go…

Are you ready to get uncomfortable for Him?

Reflection & Journaling:

There are things we do that seem so defining and so incredibly important to our lives, that we spend more time on them than most anything else.

Perhaps it’s your work.
Or training and competing in a certain sport.
Or maybe it’s even your ministry…
Whatever it may be, let me ask you this:

What if all the work you did, all the benefits and glory that came from your efforts, instead went to someone else and your name was never to be known?

Would you still do it with just as much passion and just as much intensity if you never once got the credit?

Would it even still be important?

Prayer:

I encourage you to be vulnerable and pray honestly to the Lord exactly what you are feeling and all that you are struggling with.
He already knows.
He simply longs to hear you and comfort you.

Ask Him to take from your life all that isn’t of Him, and to instead replace it with only what will bear the most beautiful and life giving fruit.
Fall to your knees, lay it all down before Him, and be still.

He knows.
He comforts.
He answers.

 

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june/july beauty product favorites: part II

All products and links can be found on my Luvocracy page! (click there to find the best deals!)

Don’t forget to leave a comment sharing what you have been loving most this summer!!!

Sharing is caring. xo

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links to love on the www: fashion, health, life, love, beauty

For your weekend reading/viewing pleasure, here are some of my favorite things and links from the www this week:

~ With my constant struggle of what and how my blog should be, I can’t seem to let go of this post by Glennon from Momastery, where she shares her struggle despite her success at finding her “there!”  It’s so true how we think “we’ll just be happy when…” yet when we get to that place the marker of “there” seems to be continually shifted further and further.  I think my takeaway is that I only want what I can remain faithful and true to.  It’s the constant prayer of my heart.  Bigger is definitely not always better.  (that’s what she said.) (sorry, couldn’t resist.)  If you haven’t read it, you really should.  Definitely one of my favorites!  Goodbye Internet   

~ I recently created a profile on Luvocracy since I love sharing my favorite things both here and on my YouTube Channel

When I first heard of Luvocracy, I absolutely knew we would be a match made in heaven!

Basically, with this website you create boards of products/clothing/you name it that you love or want, similar to Pinterest.  The difference is you can actually make a small percentage if people click through and purchase one of your recommendations!  It’s kind of cool, and there’s actually has a whole lot more to it, so I’m going to point you to their About Page as well as my friend Roo’s page to learn the details.  Her tutorial is perfection, and will totally sell you on it!!!  New Internetty Things (Neon Fresh)  And don’t forget to follow my boards!!!

~ Having recently decided (again) that enough is enough when it comes to Aspertame, I found this article to be super interesting.  Are you guys on the bandwagon too?  Popular Drink Can Trigger Carb Cravings and Even Leukemia (Dr. Mercola)

~ A great friend & MFT, Shelby Riley, recently published two books I helped edit a few years ago.  I loved and applied so much of what I learned from her, that I couldn’t NOT pass her wisdom on.  Not to mention, each e-book is only $3.99 which is kind of a steal when you see that her wisdom will truly transform your marriage! Five Secrets to Better Communication & Assignments for Couples: 10 Weeks to Increased Intimacy & Connectedness

~ I’m so excited to be going to BeautyCon this year, and it would be SO fun if some of you guys were there and we could actually meet in real life!!!!  (Or maybe I’d more excited about that than you? lol!)  Anyway, if you guys are in or near or want to go to LA, then you should absolutely check this out!

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~~~~~~~

Hope you guys all have an amazingly fun/restful weekend!!!

I’ll be back next week with an Anxiety Cure update (it’s been awhile & there are some BIG changes, Part II of my Beauty Favorites and more!

P.S.  It’s YOUR turn!  What links and things did you find yourself loving most this week?  Leave a comment so I can check it out! xoxo

 

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It means so much that you are here! I know life gets busy though, so if you don't want to miss a thing, I invite you to subscribe to my blog through email!