It has been a most precious month for me and my family!

First of all, last fall two of my sisters announced their pregnancies, and they happened to be due within a month of each other. :) And then my sister-in-law announced her pregnancy, right around the same time. I mean, seriously. It doesn’t get more fun than that!

There has been so much joy in anticipation of these little babies. I come from a long line of baby lovers, and there are few things are beautiful and precious and that bring such celebration as new little people entering the world!

Introducing: Canon Christopher, and Harrison Jude
(a.k.a. Most Handsome Little Babies on the Planet)

two baby boys

There was also so much prayer. Because of what happened to my sister’s first baby a year ago, we were reminded that life is such an amazing gift, and that we can take nothing for granted. Often we tend to think if a pregnancy goes past the first trimester then we can breathe a sigh of relief that everything is okay! But each new stage is such a precious gift, and each day is a gift to enjoy and bring life to the little one within.

I’m not even the mother of these new little babies, but I’ll be honest; it was a battle for me with trust vs. fear. We’ve walked through death of a little one with my sister and her husband’s baby, and realize that things do not always go as planned, or as expected. So even for me as a sister walking along with them, it was a constant choice I had to make to not live in fear of what could happen, but rather choose to trust and bring my fears to the Lord through prayer. There were no guarantees that these pregnancies would bring healthy babies full of life. There is never a guarantee in all of life! All we do know is that God is faithful, and that He can be trusted, no matter what we face. Even when what we face is death, and pain, and the deepest sorrow we can imagine.

zoe falls in love two baby boys 002

Zoe and Olivia with the babies

Watching my sisters walk through their pregnancies has been so amazing. I may be the older sister, but my younger sisters amaze me, and challenge me. Of course they had moments of fear and being afraid of the unknown. Absolutely. But they chose to not stay in that paralyzing grip of fear, even though the outcome was not known. There were times an extra checkup happened, just for peace of mind if a baby wasn’t moving as much as usual. There were times when they asked for prayer because of the fear they felt. When a death has happened so close to you, you don’t just assume everything will be fine. But neither do you need to live paralyzed by fear. Fear can actually be a tool used for deeper trust, for a chance for the tears to fall and the hands to open in an “I choose to trust you, Jesus, even though I don’t know what is going to happen.”

I feel like I have learned so much from my sisters, from their walk of faith and trust through this past year. It’s not every big sister that can say this, but I can: my sisters are some of my heroes. Not because they’re perfect - because not a one of us is! – but because of how they choose to live and not give way to emotions and fears that could be so tormenting. So a shout-out to you beautiful ladies. I’m so proud of you!

  such joy claudia is a mommy!

And there is something so amazing about pain. Never in a million years would we ever choose for Little Kenny to have left us so soon. We still miss him, someone we never met or knew in this life.

But pain has a way of teaching us about joy too. Because while a new baby in the family would have been precious and brought joy anytime, after a time of pain, the joy only increases. We are made so much more aware of the gifts we do have, of the gift life truly is. Our heart is stretched to receive joy, to feel the heights of joy, to remember the sacredness of life. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much from happiness as I did when these two little baby boys were born, and all was well! And seeing my sisters as mothers, and their sacred but wild joy and love… It’s amazing. I can’t even describe it, but it feels like I’m walking on holy ground. The way God can work even in the middle of pain, even because of pain, is just amazing. Only God can do that – cause joy to become even deeper. I see it in my sisters eyes, even my sister who is not yet a mother. There is a deeper awe of the gifts we do have. A realization that life is precious, so so SO PRECIOUS.

they are a family! love is multiplied a little family

I’m going to cry in my little corner of Starbucks now, just as I started crying when I was edited these pictures. I cannot even tell you how PRECIOUS these little boys are. If a heart could explode from sheer joy and love, we would all be dead and gone. Because there is so much joy and blessings – two little boys who will be almost like twins (born two weeks apart), their mommies were best friends since forever ago (and they never fought: I’m their sister, and even our mother says they never fought. How is that even possible? I’m trying to get my two daughters to catch that memo). It’s just so much wonderful.

newborn Harrison dimple baby the little family

ervina and her baby

It was so special to see these two little boys within a few weeks after they were born, along with my husband’s little nephew, who was born within days of little Canon. His was a bit of a scare, coming more than a month early, and we are so grateful that everything is okay with little Benson. Yes, there are babies everywhere! It’s the most wonderful thing in the world! I only want ten more of my own now.

we love our nephews

Hudson meeting one of his little boy cousins.

  Hudson meets Harrison

And I never expected to have to fight compete with my own daughters about who gets to hold the babies. For real.

two baby boys 002

 I finally get to get to be Auntie Clarita! It is even more wonderful than I imagined.

my heart is bursting

 So many thanks to those of you who prayed and celebrated with us! What a beautiful thing the body of Christ is!

And now I just want to go kiss these little babies!!

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1-  pink drink picture

Edited to add:
THE GIVEAWAY WINNER IS KRISTINA B!
Congratulations! Please check your email (and possibly spam folder! :) ) for an email with details on how to receive your package!

Also, there was so much interest in the Plexus products, and I would love to talk more with any of you who are interested, if you’ve not already been working with an ambassador! It is just a joy to share products that truly work to bring health, and that are changing people’s lives. Health truly is an amazing gift! So please feel free to message me!

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It’s been a bit since I’ve talked about Plexus on my blog, but I am more excited about it than ever!! My own health continues to be such a blessing, and as we returned home from a busy weekend trip with over 24 hours of traveling, many late nights, and not much sleep, I’m amazed again at how good I feel! Normally this would have left me exhausted for days, but this time the morning after just feels like my new-normal good days. I’m so grateful!

If Plexus is new to you, and you’d like to read more of my own personal story, you can find it here. But in a nutshell, I dealt with adrenal fatigue, low blood sugar, brain fog, and being underweight, and desperately needed something that would work from the inside out, not just mask symptoms.

There are some people who wonder what all the excitement is about, and if you have never experienced health challenges or felt desperate for answers to what is happening in your body, then thank Jesus!! Not everyone is in need of these products and there are those who enjoy great health – and that is wonderful! But there are many who are looking for something to help frustrating and crippling health concerns, and it’s for those people that I am excited to share!

I am not a doctor or nurse, but in my own journey of health I have been learning so many things about how the body works, and it is so fascinating and exciting! These products are  not a magic cure for anything, and they will not turn your twinkies into protein, unfortunately! But they do work to bring health to core and essential levels of the body. So I want to tell you about four of my favorite products, and why they work as they do. Let’s get started!

 *Plexus does not intend to treat, diagnose or cure any disease and individual results will vary. Plexus products are health supplements made of plant-based ingredients that target health on core levels of the body. They are supplements, not drugs.

 

Have you ever wondered why Plexus products may help so many different health concerns? I know I did!

Eva Schmidt gives a great explanation:

It’s because inflammation, blood sugar instability and gut health are the ROOT cause of so many health issues. Instead of addressing the root problem, most of the time we end up treating symptoms with prescriptions, which have their OWN side effects, thus creating MORE issues to deal with.

Here’s a better explanation from Jennifer George Pickett, a Dietitian who believes in Plexus. She has a Master’s degree and almost 17 years of health care experience and below she shares her opinion on what makes Plexus different… I wholeheartedly agree!

She writes… “In my opinion, what makes Plexus different is that these products address the root of the problem. After working with many clients and team members, I have seen the most common root problems are blood sugar instability, poor gut health and inflammation. Until root problems are addressed, it is hard to see health results.
* Plexus Slim addresses blood sugar instability and inflammation
* Fast Relief also addresses inflammation
* ProBio5 and BioCleanse addresses poor gut health”

 

SLIM

3- slim

Curious what Plexus is? It’s not just more pills to take – Wendy Carr Larson explains it this way:

Plexus Slim is a yummy little pink drink that you take first thing in the morning.
It helps stabilize your blood sugars throughout the day which in turn helps you have more energy, Stable blood sugars also mean LESS STRESS on the body!! Less stress means less inflammation, less raised cortisol or adrenal fatigue. Less stress means healthier blood pressure, cholesterol, and lipids. People report having great energy, sleeping better, less cravings for sugar/snacks, and weight loss.

4 plexus slim ingredients

Plexus Slim also helps insulin to function better. Insulin is the master hormone in your body, which means it has a very important job! Insulin tells all the other hormones what to do! Hormones tell your body whether to burn fat and lose weight or to store fat and gain weight or to find balance and weight maintenance in between. When it comes to your body “deciding” what state to be in, there are two key hormones that regulate food intake and energy balance.

Did you know if your blood sugar is off-balance it can affect your mood and hormones? True story. This is one great benefit I’ve noticed!

blood sugar low 7 blood sugar high 5

 

So why is a healthy blood sugar level important, and what can it do?
Here are just a few benefits of just a balance blood sugar level alone:
-prevents pre-diabetes
-helps diabetics with healthier blood sugar balance
-helps to prevent light-headedness, shakiness that is a result of low blood sugar
-helps to balance hormones
-blood sugar balance reduces inflammation


Interesting fact:
Did you know that the only common denominator in people who live to be over a 100 years old that scientist can find is how sensitive they are to insulin?! So if we can keep our blood sugars stable, not swinging up and down, our bodies can release less insulin and become more sensitive to insulin.

5- how plexus works

Features & Benefits of Slim:
* Helps maintain healthy blood sugars
* Helps maintain healthy blood pressure
* Helps maintain healthy cholesterol and lipid levels
* Proven ingredients
including Alpha Lipoic Acid, Chlorogenic Acid, and Garcinia Cambogiathat address all areas of weight loss
* No meal replacements
* No shakes

7 how it started

The body naturally stores fat. The most common areas are the stomach, thighs and buttocks. These excess fat stores contain toxins that can cause havoc with our immune system. Plexus Slim and other products work to reduce fat, thereby gaining better health. This picture shows the difference between dieting and cleansing, and why cleansing makes all the difference.

why diets dont work, but cleansing does

PROBIO5

 

9 probio5

What IS a probiotic, and why is it important?

A probiotic is an organism which contributes to the health and balance of the intestinal tract.

A probiotic is also referred to as the “friendly”, “beneficial”, or “good” bacteria which when ingested acts to maintain a healthy intestinal tract and help fight illness and disease. The Plexus Probio5 is the only probiotic on the market that also contains an antifungal ingredient, which is so essential in the treating of yeast overgrowth in the body!

ProBio5 features five probiotics, added enzymes, Vitamin B6, Grape Seed extract and Vitamin Call in one effective delivery system.

13 probio5 helps with

Features & Benefits

Yeast organism and fungal cleanse

Proper probiotic balance in the intestinal tract

Proper intestinal balance which increases nutrient absorption

Relief from typical yeast symptoms (anxiety, recurring irritability, lethargy, allergies, acne, dry/flaky skin, migraines, and so forth)

Doctors say that 80% of our health lies in our gastrointestinal tract, which is our gut/colon/digestive tract. It is a huge area of our body, and studies show that even things like depression, autoimmune diseases, skin issues, and a myriad of other health issues have their root in an unhealthy gut.

10 fact

 

Poor eating habits, chlorinated drinking water, stress and disease and the use of antibiotics in food production as well as in medical treatments can wreak havoc in the gastrointestinal tract by destroying good bacteria and allowing undesirable bacteria to multiply.

When the ratio of good bacteria to bad is lowered, problems begin to arise such as excessive gas, bloating, constipation, intestinal toxicity and poor absorption of nutrients.

So…..have you ever considered that your gut is sick?

And that your gut being sick is making YOU sick? Making your joints hurt? Having headaches? Being grumpy, to lacking concentration? Causing bad allergies, and being tired all the time? I don’t know a lot about lots of things. BUT, I do know how to help you gut! And your gut is the hub—the grand central station–of how you feel every day!

11 leaky gut

Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS) is a major cause of disease and dysfunction in modern society, accounts for at least 50% of chronic complaints, as confirmed by laboratory tests. It is often the primary cause of the following common (auto-immune) conditions :
asthma,
food allergies,
chronic sinusitis,
eczema
urticaria,
migraine,
irritable bowel,
fungal disorders,
lupus,
fibromyalgia,
and inflammatory joint disorders including rheumatoid arthritis are just a few of the diseases that can originate with leaky gut. It can contribute to PMS, uterine fibroid,
breast fibroid.

In Leaky Gut Syndrome, the small intestine becomes inflamed and irritated, which allows metabolic and microbial toxins of the small intestines to flood into the blood stream. This event compromises the liver, the lymphatic system, and the immune response including the endocrine system.

Some of the most incurable diseases are caused by this exact mechanism, where the body attacks its own tissues.

This is commonly called auto-immune disease.

HealthBeginsInTheGut_FINAL-e1413591194238

So how do you get a HEALTHY gut?

By providing it with healthy bacteria that nourishes, with enzymes, with life-giving nutrients that not only feed the healthy bacteria but kill the unhealthy bacteria, which is the yeast or candida overgrowth that is the “mystery illness” of America. Literally, hundreds of surface issues spring from this one iceburg issue.

 

BIOCLEANSE

14 biocleanse

 

As a result of the modern lifestyle, most of our bodies are burdened with toxic waste and sluggish metabolisms. Having an excess of toxic waste can leave the body tired, achy, and bloated, with a low energy level and weakened immune system. Detoxification is a process that expels excess waste and accumulated toxins from our body. Fortunately, Plexus has developed products to help the body detoxify and cleanse the gastro-intestinal tract and arteries.

Many people are in a low oxygen/toxic state. This is caused by poor diet, stress, low activity levels, polluted air and shallow breathing. The body cannot keep up its metabolism in this state, and begins to gather waste products more rapidly than it can eliminate them. Viruses, bacteria, fungi and other things thrive in this condition, and can lead to diseases such as flu, yeast overgrowth, chronic fatigue, etc. Plexus Bio-Cleanse oxygenates and energizes your body while detoxifying and cleansing wastes, pathogens and plaque in the gastrointestinal tract, colon, arteries, blood, etc.

So while cleansing the body of waste is very important and what most people think of with a cleanse, there are so many MORE health benefits than that alone.

Interesting fact:

“In 1931 Dr. Warlburg won his first Nobel Prize for proving that cancer is caused by a lack of oxygen respiration in cells.

He stated in an article entitled “The Cause and Prevention of Cancer” that ‘the cause of cancer is no longer a mystery, we know it is caused when any cell is denied 60% of its oxygen requirements.’

This is what Plexus says about the BioCleanse: BioCleanse oxygenates and energizes the body while helping cleanse wastes, pathogens and plaque in the gastrointestinal tract, colon, arteries, blood, etc.’

This is really very exciting, you all!!

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Those three (Slim, Probio5, and BioCleanse) can be purchased individually or as a combo package (much cheaper) called the Triplex. YOU WILL FEEL FABULOUS on this combo!!

16 triplex

 

X-FACTOR MULTI-VITAMINS.

 

18a what in the xfactor

People were asking for a multi-vitamin and Plexus Worldwide delivered – X-Factor! Talk about amazing results – it’s turbo-charged with daily vitamins and antioxidants. Nowhere else will you find this mixture of New Zealand Black Currant and Aloe! Consuming multi vitamin supplements is a good thing. With our poor diets and all the other threats to our health, it’s critical to have a high-quality food source of vital nutrients. In fact, studies suggest that the majority of multivitamin products are of poor quality and difficult for the body’s digestive tract to break down, digest and absorb.

This unique patented Aloe formula that blends filtered whole leaf aloe and aloe leaf gel, smartly delivers polysaccharide nutrients. Many studies show that the aloe helps you to absorb the Vitamin E and C ingredients by up to 3 times more! It also helps you absorb any of the Plexus products you take with more affectively!

18 Xfactor for kids

Also, they came out with family chewable, which my kids love! People report reduced cases of sicknesses and better energy and all around health with both of these incredible products. This whole winter we have had ONE bout of a flu bug the entire winter; the only thing we’ve done differently than other years (of repeated sickness) is taking Plexus products.

-The Blackcurrant in our XFactor is also rich in Iron which increases the production of red blood cells. Due to its rich Vitamin C, Black currant increases the body’s capacity to absorb iron. The XFactor also is Rich in the fat soluble Vitamins A and C. It also has high amounts of calcium which strengthens bone and teeth and may be effective in helping to prevent osteoporosis. It also helps improves oral health.

Features & Benefits

Delivers several B vitamins, vitamins D, C and E, the antioxidant protection of New Zealand Blackcurrants, and the impressive nutrient profile of Aloe
* Oxygenates the body, safeguarding against damaged/dysfunctional cells
* Provides super-potent antioxidant protection
* Delivers support for whole-body wellness
* Supports the body’s functions, processes and systems
* Super-charges the body’s various immune activities

While Plexus cannot claim to cure or diagnose anything, researching done on the products have been amazing to see:

A colleague of the developer of the X Factor was given permission to treat 31 cancer patients in England, all who had been given a diagnosis of 3-6 months to live. He gave the subjects OUR ALOE BLEND 3 times a day.
4 ½ years later:
2 were in complete remission
7 showed reduced amounts of cancer
22 had the cancer growth stabilized………
and none had died.

And that is the basic product overview, the nutshell version. :)

ALL the products come with a 60-day money back guarantee, which speak of the company’s belief in their products, and also of their belief that health takes time. Plexus doesn’t expect health issues to clear up overnight, and neither should anyone else.

21 guarantee

 

 

If you’d like to try the products, here are some ordering options!

 

 

22 - ways to buy

Retail Customer is a one-time purchase, 60-day money-back guarantee. It’s the most expensive, and gives you no benefits.

Preferred Customer, automatic monthly shipment, 60-day guarantee = best customer option

Wholesale  Ambassador, best pricing, comes with your own website so you and your friends can order = best all-around option if someone is ordering over $100 a month!

If you’ve considered it for the purposes of earning enough to pay for your own order, I don’t push you to do more than that, unless that is something you want to do. I’m passionate. I pray over my customers. And my team. I cry when I get emails about how my customers and team are experiencing results and help for their health. I want to help people in their health journey that is my passion! If you message me, I answer questions but no pressure.

I’m passionate about helping families on their journey of health. My passion is because I get my “highs” from seeing people get well!

This is also a great business opportunity, if anyone is looking for something like that. It has been such a fulfilling business for me to offer hope and wellness to other people through these products and building relationships!

24 why join plexu

And now for the GIVEAWAY!

I am giving away a 30-day supply of the Plexus Slim to one lucky person!

Here is how you enter:
1. You may not be a current customer to an ambassador, or an ambassador, or working with another ambassador. If you already are, then you do not qualify to enter this giveaway. You are still welcome to share it, but not to enter the giveaway.

2. If you qualify after #1, then please enter! :)

Do so by leaving a comment on this blog post about why you’d like to try it (1 point),
then gain additional points by sharing on Facebook or a social media site (5 extra points!!)

A winner will be chosen and notified in one week, May 15!

And, if you’d like to try the products and see for yourself why I’m so excited about them, you can visit this website and order from there! Or, you can message me here with any questions about the products or about the ambassador opportunity! I always love to hear from you.

Also, now through June 15, if you order the X-Factor family chewables, use the code FAMILY5 for a $5 discount off your purchase! This is a great way to try out this product for your kids!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Let the entries begin! :)

 

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So. This is where I get all house-wifey on you. :) Because when you have your own home, it becomes actual fun to take care of things and keep it tidy!

This post was borne out of one of those moments when my oven needed to be cleaned. And so I did. Because, anyone who cooks and bakes on a daily basis knows that your oven gets so dirty. And so I cleaned it. And the inside looked great! Oven cleaner is amazing stuff, ya’ll.

But it was AFTER I cleaned it all up, closed the door, and stood back, that I realized that, “What in the world. My door looks terrible! Inside. How does stuff get INSIDE my oven door anyway? Between the glass?”

And so. I googled (Google is my best friend) and searched and figured out how to get between the glass.

And what do you know, but it’s not even rocket science. It’s super easy, and all it takes is a screwdriver. I wondered why I haven’t been doing this for years! (Those who have been doing this all your life, don’t judge. Or at least please tell me why you didn’t let the world know how to do it! We’ve been waiting! :) )

So, just in case anyone else is wanting to not only have a clean oven interior but also an oven door, here you go!

how to clean inside the oven door

Be glad you can do this in your own home without a blog watching. I am blushing beet red as I show you the interior state of my oven. Before. It wasn’t pretty, you guys.

Entitled: The Embarrassing Oven

the embarrassing oven door

A serious cleaning happened and the oven interior was shiny and lovely. Whew. At this point we will by-pass the oven-cleaning instructions, and go directly to the door.

See those big screws on the side?

where to find the screws

 Yes, those. There were three per side on my oven, so six total. Each pair was slightly different in size, so you’ll want to separate them and remember which goes where. Unscrew and remove, and it will come apart like so:

how to open it up

The door will hinge into two pieces, and the handle will probably come off (mine did). Now get busy and start cleaning both of the inside pieces of glass! This is the fun part. :) I just used Windex and a soft cleaning cloth, but you can use any cleaner of your preference. Get that baby sparkly and make sure there are no streaks or smudges!

Re-attach the door, holding the sides and pieces together, then place the screws back in place. It worked best when I held the door against my knees, and held it tightly together. This takes a bit of concentration but it’s not very difficult.

And it’s back together.

the finished product - it's like a mirror!

 It looked brand new. BRAND NEW. If I’d be emotional over household things I might have cried with happiness at this point. But instead, I stood back and just BEAMED. And felt like the Queen of Kitchen Duties.

Time frame: 1/2 hour, at the most.

I just want to sit in a chair, prop up my feet, drink a coke – er, I mean a pink drink - and gaze at my oven. I MEAN, FOR REAL.  Except I better sweep up the crumbs from the floor first. Oops.

the clean oven and door

I’ve done this twice now, because it is super easy, and because when you know it can be clean, why let it be dirty?!

Happy oven-cleaning!

(And if you’ve already doing this forever, just rejoice with those who rejoice :))

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We’re hearing a lot about essential oils these days, right? If you’re not using them, you probably have a friend or family member who is! :) Or, if you’re like me, maybe you are fascinated by them, but just didn’t even know where to begin learning about them! I love to learn about natural ways of health and how I can better my family’s health and home through natural products. But quite frankly, sometimes I’ve been a little overwhelmed about where to start!

A sweet friend, Nicole Neesby, contacted me some time ago as she began her own journey with essential oils, and Young Living brand especially, and I’ve loved to follow along with her precious family (two of the cutest little boys ever) and learn with her! She has a way of making learning fun, and has some great YouTube videos as well about the different oils that are super helpful. And, she’s been so generous and is giving away a bottle of oil to my readers, so stay tuned at the end of this post! :)

Nicole is guest posting for me today, and I know you’ll love her and her excitement too!

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Hey sweetest girls!  So have you heard about the essential oil hype that is spreading like wildfire in the mama blogging and Instagram world?!  Ahhh! It’s a little overwhelming, right?

If you are like my husband and I in the beginning, are you asking yourself how one drop of any oil can make any difference?!  To be honest, the more I learn about essential oils and the way they can support our body’s health and wellness, the more I am in awe of such a wonderful Creator.

So let me shoot you with a few bullet points on Young Living’s essential oils before I share why we love them so much.

 

// Essential oils are the ‘life blood’ of plants.  This is what they use to ward off infection and disease and stay healthy.

 

// When oils are 100% pure, as Young Living’s are, they have the ability to work with your body to bring about change in your health.

 

// Young Living has been a pioneer in essential oils for 20 years and they own farms around the world to insure the highest quality control on what goes into each bottle.

 

// Young Livings oils are ‘beyond organic’ because no pesticides have been used to treat the plants or soil.  You can read more about their Seed To Seal process here.

^^ an amazing seasonal allergy trio that everyone raves about!! ^^

Essential oils can be an intimidating world to step into, but it doesn’t have to be!!  Here are just a few simple ways we incorporate essential oils into our daily life. . .

 

We love Peace & Calming and Cedarwood for deep, restful sleep at night

 

Thieves for boosting our immune systems

 

Stress Away and Joy for helping to balance my postpartum hormones and 

 

Digize for our little guy’s upset tummy.  

I love that I am able to build a natural medicine cabinet and step away, little by little, from the artificial, chemical-infused culture we live in.  This makes my mama-heart so happy and grateful.

So today, I am really really excited to be here sharing about one of my all time favorite oils, Purification.  This is an essential oil blend of citronella, lemongrass, lavandin, rosemary, tea tree and myrtle essential oils.  It is wonderful for cleansing everything from cuts to facial pores to stinky shoes.  I am going to share 10 simple ways you can use this oil and then you have a chance to win your own bottle over on Clarita’s Instagram feed.

- – -

10 Simple Uses For Purification Essential Oil 

1// Acne: 1 drop rubbed directly onto pimples to help reduce inflammation and pain.

2// Odor Neutralizer: 1-2 drops on a cotton ball to reduce odors in your garbage can, car, or other stinky places.

3// Cuts and Scrapes: 1-2 drops directly onto cuts and scrapes to help sanitize and clean the area.

4// Laundry Freshener: Several drops into your washing machine water or onto a damp cloth thrown in the dryer.

 

5// Air Freshener: Diffused with lemon essential oil to purify the air in your home.

6// Stinky Feet: 1-2 drops on a cotton ball and wiped onto stinky feet to reduce bad odors.

7// Smelly Shoes: 1-2 drops on a cotton ball and put into smelly shoes.

8// Reduce Itchy Bug Bites: 1 drop applied directly to bug bites to reduce itch.

9// Carpet Freshener: Add 5-10 drops on a cotton ball and place in the canister of your vacuum for a pleasing, clean scent every time you vacuum.

10// Germ Protection While Traveling: Inhale a drop from your hands while traveling to keep you healthy from all the recycled air on airplanes

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Ahh!!  I wish I could give you each a bottle because I literally use this on a daily basis.  But since I can’t, you can always purchase your own here.   Also, if you have been intrigued by essential oils but feel too overwhelmed to know where to begin, I would love to walk alongside you and share what I am learning.  You can visit this page to learn more about essential oils or you can email me directly at nicole.neesby@gmail.com

Either way, I’d love to get to know you better because any friend of Clarita’s is a friend of mine!! xoxo

Nicole Neesby

www.nicoleneesby.com

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Isn’t she great?! If you have any questions about any of the oils, Nicole is super helpful and would love to answer!

And to enter the giveaway, here over to my Instagram and look for the picture of the oils for details on how to enter! Thanks so much, Nicole! XOXO

If you already use Young Living oils, I’d love to hear what your favorite oil is in the comments, and how you use it!

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We have been so enjoying the renovated attic for almost four months now, and I’m excited to share this last part of it!

textures of whites

As I’ve talked about before, all three kids shared a bedroom until this attic renovation, which worked (you do what you have to, right?), but it has been SO wonderful to have a bit more space and be more organized now! The two girls have moved upstairs to the new bedroom.

I did tell them that I would be so happy to trade with them; they can have the master suite and Ben & I will take the new attic bedroom, but they were happy to stay in their new room. :)

[Before]

A brick chimney from the kitchen and dining room came up through the middle of this room. Thankfully, the fireplaces were already not functioning, so we were able to take down the bricks to the floor level without disturbing the looks of the kitchen and dining room fireplaces.

We also put in a beautiful big window where there was only a wooden vent before.

bedroom #2 bedroom #1

[ After ]

a white attic bedroom

a cottage bedroom

This room turned out almost as I had pictured in my mind; only, better.  As with the office, I was inspired by whites, clean empty space, and Norwegian-style simplicity. I don’t know that I nailed the beauty of the Norwegian style , but I have loved this darling space!

There is something about the white that is so refreshing, and makes my whole brain feel clean. I love to come up in the office to do my emails and business. I love to snuggle with the girls in their bed at night or in the morning. I think I could live upstairs if someone would only bring me food. Personal chef, anyone?

For the bed and bedding, I chose just a bedrail underneath with no headboard or footboard. The window serves as the headboard, and the shams and bedspread are the perfect accent piece to bring a bit of elegance to the room.

  white ruffled bedspread

The end tables were found at a local antique store, and I spray-painted them white. I wanted a touch of modern in the room, and after looking everywhere online and in stores, I finally found lamps like I was wanting at Lowe’s, of all places, and they were the most reasonably priced I’d seen too. The baskets are the perfect catch-all for the dozens of papers and pens and Little Tiny Objects that little girls just seem to collect like magnets.

  a cottage christmas 128 a cottage christmas 107

Ben made this piece for me, inspired by a similar design from IKEA. IKEA sells them inexpensively but we live far from one, and shipping would have brought the price to a ridiculous amount. There are amazing perks to have a husband who can create anything with wood. :) This is one of them! It houses books in the little boxes, and toys, stuffed animals, and games in the baskets underneath.

  book shelf and baskets

[obviously these pictures were taken at Christmastime :) ]

a little girls' attic bedroom

This little corner was Ben’s idea. Rather than having a long closet with difficult access to the end of it, the closet was cut a bit shorter and this nook created. The girls love it. It’s become like a little dollhouse with beds and rooms and furniture set up.

(artwork from Aimee Weaver Designs ♥)

  happy girls are the prettiest

There is no door on the closet. This was intentional, giving more space to the actual room because of not having a swinging door. I love the touch of texture that the curtain panel gives to the room.

looking into the office

Aren’t these beams beautiful?! I swoon.
They are not original beams, although they are original wood used from the attic.

elements of wood and sparkle

doorways of the attic

Another sliding barn door is in this room, used for the bedroom door. I swoon again.

  wooden barn door

The bedroom has a cathedral dormer window as well, which was my brother-in-law Chris’ idea. I love it! The cathedral style adds such character, rather than a flat-topped dormer. We kept the knee-walls fairly low outside of the dormer for the illusion of more space. It’s just a head-banger if we’re not careful. :)

  cathedral dormers

Ben humored me again with having white floors, and white walls, and white ceiling…. white everything.  He is so kind to me, going along with my ideas so much of the time, and then coming up with so many great ones of his own. He is the brain behind the structural design of the remodeling we’ve done. This attic was just one giant room, that he created three rooms from (office, bedroom, and foyer). I can hardly believe this is the same space; it is just SO beautiful!

The room is very simple and understated, but here are a few of my favorite little touches…

cozy little spot

  bedroom vignette

a bit of whimsy
Funny story about the ‘simple and understated’: Zoe was so excited when she learned that she and Olivia would be sharing a room, and having a GIRLS’ room. She immediately began dreaming of all the COLORS (!!!) she wanted in there.

“Red on the ceiling! No, actually, red and white STRIPES! And I want aqua and lots of color!

I felt a little guilty, because well, a little girl does like color, and here I was going with not only limited color but NO color except white, so I told her that, “Sweetie, you know what? It’s actually going to be a white bedroom, because it’s in an attic, and red and white stripes just won’t really look good up there.”

“WHAT?! A white bedroom? I don’t want to be a little girl that looks back on my childhood and has a WHITE bedroom. I mean, white doesn’t even mean anything. I want something with color, and especially RED. It would be soooo boring to have a white bedroom!”

I don’t know what she was picturing, but clearly she and I were envisioning completely different things. I was beginning to feel like a terrible mother in forcing my child to have a terrible childhood and have a white bedroom, or all things!!

After the room was completed, however, she came to me with a sheepish grin and said, “Mommy, it’s okay if my room is all white. I actually REALLY like it.” :)

And a few weeks later when we bought her a red winter coat, she said that makes up for the red stripes in the bedroom. Whew. At least we got that covered.

Seriously though, I love to be a steward of that which Jesus has entrusted to me. My home is my little spot on earth’s surface, and I love how Edith Schaeffer says it:

“A Christian, who realizes he has been made in the image of the Creator God and is therefore meant to be creative on a finite level, should certainly have more understanding of his responsibility to treat God’s creation with sensitivity, and should develop his talents to do something to beautify his little spot on the earth’s surface.”
Edith Schaeffer, The Hidden Art of Homemaking    

Sometimes, in a world of ISIS terrorism and starving children and four blood moons, I stop and wonder why I even care about pretty things or home renovations, or why a beautiful new arrangement makes me so excited, or why I’m so passionate about helping people to better health. I DO care about the first mentioned things, but I also care about seemingly small things.

And then I remember… just because I love the sight of a freshly made bed, or cry happy tears at an email with good health news, or get giddy at before & afters, it doesn’t make one less spiritual. It is learning to see the beauty of God in the middle of a broken world, and taking notice of these things is actually worshipping Him and thanking Him for the ways we see Him. Edith Schaeffer says it beautifully again:

“If you have been afraid that your love of beautiful flowers and the flickering flame of the candle is somehow less spiritual than living in starkness and ugliness, remember that He who created you to be creative gave you the things with which to make beauty and the sensitivity to appreciate and respond to His creation.”  

 Responding to and appreciating His creation… with the goal of bringing Him glory: that’s what I want to do.

  a simple attic bedroom

 Happy Hump-day, Lovelies!

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 Sources:
Desk Lamps: Lowe’s, Allen + Roth
White Waterfall Bedspread and shams: Ebay, similar here (they must have been running a special the day I purchased, because I paid less than half the price for the one I found)
Wall and ceiling color: Dove White, by Sherwin Williams, eggshell finish
Floor color: White Exterior-grade paint
Chandelier: IKEA, purchased from Ebay

It’s no small secret that moms with young children don’t have a lot of down-time. It’s just part of life these days, and you know, it’s really okay. It’s a pouring out into these precious little lives, a giving back of all that I’ve been given by so many people and especially the Lord throughout the years.

One thing that has been a big change is in my reading. I’ve always been an avid reader, from the time I first learned to spell. My mom instilled in us kids a love of learning, and a love of education, something I want to pass on. Back in the day (i.e. before children) I would read scores of books a year, dozens upon dozens. And well, that has changed. :)

My love of reading has not, however. I still love to “travel the world” through written word, imagining the story in my mind. But because my time is a lot more limited in “free time” segments, what I do read has to be worth the time spent there. My goal is to read 2 books a month, which for me is a lot at this stage. :) And it doesn’t always happen, but when it does I feel very accomplished! Ha!

winter book list

This winter I’ve read some exceptional books, and I’ll share a few of them. Some were recommended by my sister, one was given by a friend, and some I just discovered along the way.

My favorites from the past few months are:

-Heaven is Here (by Stephanie Neilson)
-The Insanity of God (by Nik Ripkin)
-The Clouds We So Much Dread (by Sharon Stoltzfus)
-Lessons from Madame Chic (by Jennifer L. Scott)

Not pictured but read via Kindle:
-Choosing to See (Mary Beth Chapman)
-The Secret Garden (Zoe and I read together, by Frances Burnett)

I didn’t even realize it until now, but all of these books, with the exception of The Secret Garden, are real-life stories. I’m not sure why I’m gravitating toward that type of genre right now, except that I am incredibly moved by great men and women, people who rise above their circumstances and choose to learn and grow even from the most devastating situations (The Clouds We So Much Dread, Choosing to See, Heaven is Here). Or people who enter another country (Madame Chic), and view its culture and people with curiousity and delight. Or people who engage with those who have nothing, even at their own risk (The Insanity of God).

My soul has been stirred and deepened, and I am amazed at the strength of the human spirit, fueled by the Creator.

Sharon Stoltzfus, author of ‘The Clouds We So Much Dread,’ has offered a book to giveaway on my blog.

In reading through her story earlier this year, I was so deeply moved at the strength and courage of she and her husband and their four precious children as they walked through one of the most difficult things anyone could possibly face: a terminal illness,

The heartbeat of God that comes through made me cry on nearly every page. The response of raw honesty and gripping pain combined with open-hands surrender to the sovereignty of God is unlike anything I’ve ever read. The writing of Spurgeon and other great men of God were often quoted, and brought strength and perspective. The book follows their journey through the discovery of the illness and the walking through some of the darkest days anyone could face.

 I was so challenged in my own walk with God and my view of God through reading this book, and I highly highly recommend it to anyone who is facing or has gone through terminal illness or loss of any kind.

Shortly before the time that Sharon’s husband passed into eternity, my dear aunt Freida also reached Eternity. But before Freida passed, she had a passion for widows especially, and her heart and passion birthed a beautiful thing called “Handyman Ministries.” This is a businessmen-funded operation that employs men to care for widows and do household maintenance and repairs (and now other people in need) free of charge. The idea was so beautiful, and the carrying out of the idea into reality has touched so many lives and been an incredible blessing to hundreds of people through the past years.

All proceeds from the book, ‘The Clouds We So Much Dread’, go toward Handyman Ministries, at Sharon’s request.

the clouds we so much dread

The ways of God are so mysterious… Sharon is now married, to my uncle who was widowed upon the death of my dear aunt. She is a beautiful person and my life is richer for knowing her. Although she and we would never have wished the circumstances that brought us together, we are grateful for the fresh mercies of God and the way He can bring beauty from ashes. Only He is capable of doing that.

To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment about one of your favorite recent reads!
This giveaway will go from now until next week Wednesday, with the winner contacted on Thursday, April 2.

This giveaway is now closed, and the winner is KRISTA! Congratulations!!

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One of my sisters and her husband spent a week with us in January! They were escaping the cold of the north, and happened upon a beautiful warm week in the south!

It was a wonderful time with them. Of course, with living far away from my family, it is always so special to be able to spend some time with them! We dream of the day of living near each other!

lovely ervina

One of those days was exceptionally warm, even for us in the south, and so we could not pass up a chance to go to the ocean together, in January of all times! It was a lovely day, and while not exactly toasty, it was very comfortable and the kiddos didn’t even seem to mind the frigidly cold water. Why do children never seem to mind icy water, I wonder?

My children are so blessed with their aunties and uncles. The are so involved in our children’s lives, and intentional about relationships even with these little people. It’s no wonder my children adore them!

best auntie ever

As my daughters grow, it is so special to see a sister-bond develop between them too.
Having a sister is such a precious gift!

little sisters

sisterhood

And my very own sister, one of three treasured gifts.

sisters

 

The day at the ocean was also to celebrate 100 days of school for the girls – Kindergarten and 2nd grade. That day always feels like a milestone, and very throwing a party about! :)

This is a beach we have gone to very often, but never before have we seen sand dollars like we did this day. There were literally hundreds of them, buried just below the surface of the sand. The little guys had so much fun finding them from the tell-tale little air holes in the sand, and collected quite a pile! They were all living, so we did make sure we returned them to the ocean before we left. :)

finding sand dollars
“Wook, mommy! It’s a BABY one!” Hudson was so delighted.

baby sand dollars

100 days of school

Hudson took along his little stick horse – why,  I don’t know. But a lot of energy was burned galloping along the seashore.

Ocean day in January 003

And Zoe, little bookworm, brought along a book. Long-gone are the days when I am able to read a book at the beach (3 kids?!), but I remember how I used to love it, and I love to watch her.

book worm beach girl

 

As you can see, Ervina is expecting a precious little baby! Two of my sisters (Claudia and Ervina) are expecting new babies this spring, and we are just over the moon excited for them! We come from a long line of baby lovers, and we absolutely cannot wait for these precious children to join our family!!
And of course, we had to take a few pictures… The evening was a glowing, golden sunset, and it was so fun to be able to capture this precious time of pregnancy!

beautiful pregnancy

ocean maternity pictures ocean pregnancy pictures maternity picture at the ocean ocean maternity picture

maternity ocean pictures

beautiful pregnancy 20 weeks maternity 20 weeks 20 weeks maternity at the ocean

beautiful maternity

Isn’t she beautiful, and radiant? I love to just watch her, her peace and joy.

Those qualities are fascinating to observe. It’s something intriguing, curious;
making you wonder what is going on within to produce the outward character.

If you have followed my blog for some time, you will remember that a little over a year ago I did a maternity shoot for her, and then that her sweet little boy awoke to see the face of Jesus, rather than the faces of his mommy and daddy.

This past year has been one of incredible sadness and sorrow, of walking depths of pain no parents should ever walk. No parent should ever lose their child, not as a baby, not as a young man.

And more recently, there have been some months of such joy as a new baby is being formed with her, and she feels his/or her kicks and hiccups.  There is no way possible that this baby can ever replace little Kenneth, or take away the loss of their firstborn baby. This is a baby all his own, with his own place to fill, his own joy to give, his own life to live. This little baby is so loved already!

It is truly remarkable what the heart can endure. How it can feel such depth of grief and yet new joy, at the very same moment. I have been in awe of the spirit of Jesus that’s been in my sister and her husband, in the darkest hours of their lives. I cannot even pretend to know what it’s like to lose a child, except I can imagine it must be one of the most agonizing experiences ever to walk through. To see two people I love go through such pain was one of the hardest things I’ve ever faced.

I think of the quote by Corrie ten Boom, and it reminds me of what I’ve seen in them this past year:

“There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.”

It is true. The depth of God’s mercy and grace can never be exhausted.  That doesn’t mean life doesn’t hurt, that the pain isn’t real, that the loss isn’t felt. But it means that God’s grace is there, and HE is there. He has proved His faithfulness to us over and over again, in spite of our own lack of faith, and our times of weakness and despair. We have no boasting of our own to talk about this past year; we’ve been a mess of tears and pain sometimes. But we can tell you about Jesus, and about how He has gently carried us. About His goodness, and how He is a kind Father. We have an amazing God!

This month of March, on the 22nd,  will be one year since Kenny & Ervina’s little son was born, and went on before them. Would you be so kind as to remember them in prayer especially this month? Dates are difficult, and the one year anniversary especially so. I would be so grateful if you did…

Happy weekend, friends!

 

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