Merry Christmas, everyone!

We are so enjoying being finished with the attic remodel and actually being able to enjoy the finished product now! It’s been a very busy autumn, and the feeling of having it completed is wonderful. I’m looking forward to showing some more pictures of the finished attic, but for now, here are a few pictures of the Cottage at Christmastime.

The Christmas Tour of Homes was a little over a week ago, and so I snapped some pictures on Monday when it was all over – not having time before (we were crunching until THE very last minute to finish everything up).

It was interesting, because earlier this fall I wrote an article for this magazine about Christmas décor and about wanting to keep Christ in the center. The very same autumn we were asked to be part of a tour of homes in our community. And the words that I wrote were being tested, because I heard that sometimes interior designers are hired for the homes on the tour and that it can be a rather big deal.

My décor is very simple, and I only pull out a box or two of Christmas décor from the attic while the rest of it is natural live greenery. My first thought was to be intimidated, and scared! My house isn’t interior designer style – it’s full of second-hand treasures, and thrift-store finds, and handmade. It’s what we done because of the budget we live with, but truly, it’s what I LIKE. I like the eclectic mix, the treasure troves from different places, the uniqueness of the things coming from many different places.

And so we made the choice to just offer the simplicity that we have. Not to make it something we are not, not to try to impress a certain group of people, but just to do what we normally do and not to apologize for it.

Like I wrote in the article, people are so different and God made us all like that out of the beauty of creativity. And as people are different, so styles will be different, and there is not a right or a wrong style of décor. Each person will have something that they like, and it expresses who God made them to be, and brings glory to the Creator because of that. The hard thing to remember sometimes is that it’s okay to be different, to like different things, to have a different style, as long as it’s not a try-to-keep-up thing, or a comparison thing that makes us feel better or worse about ourselves. The style doesn’t matter nearly so much as the heart behind it; what is my motive,  the reason behind why I do I do?

All that to say, I had to check my motives during the house tour preparations. Different parts of our homes have been featured various places, but not a house tour before, so this was a new experience for us.

So, let’s just pretend you came for the tour, and are walking through the house.
Welcome, and please feel free to look around!

Please come in at the

front door…


front cottage entrance

plaid blanket for a cozy porch the front porch

  welcome to the cottage

hanging baskets with fresh pine

Step inside to the

Living Room…


quiet aftermath living room

living room

living room   Christmas Cottage l mantel with antlers and garland Christmas Cottage l JOY marquee mantel Christmas at the Cottage l JOY marquee DIY merry and bright living room bookshelf

The Dining Room


dining room centerpieces tiny trees for a centerpiece living room

dining room mantel

The Kitchen


a christmas cottage kitchen

  kitchen vignette

oversized fork and spoon little fir tree in the kitchen kitchen shelves greenery a tiny tree in the kitchen

The Hallway

the nativity

Hudson’s Bedroom


little boy

  little boy room

The Music Room/School Room


music room cozy corner music room desk corner
The Master Bedroom

master bedroom with wreath

master bedrorom vignette master bedroom master bed room vignette master bedroom decor

gold and polka dots

And then let’s go up into

the new attic!


the new stairway   christmas sled christmas sled and gifts

The Attic Bedroom


a white attic bedroom   attic bedroom greenery

silver and white attic bedroom bedside

The Office

  a peek into the attic office office christmas shelves office vignette   wood and brick

And that concludes the little Christmas tour at the Cottage!

I hope you all enjoy your Christmas Day, but even more than that, that you can truly worship and rejoice in the salvation that Christmas signifies. What an incredible gift! May the wonder of it never cease to amaze us!

This read by the Gospel Centered Mom is beautiful and inspiring in teaching our children the true meaning of Christmas.

Thank you for visiting this little corner of blogland and the encouragement you’ve been to me throughout this year!

A very happy Christmas to each and everyone!


Jamberry Nails 129


Back in the beginning of November, I was asked if I’d like to try Jamberry Nails and then do a review on my blog!

I had heard of Jamberry Nails, vaguely, but really didn’t know much about them or what they were or how it all worked, and was excited about the chance to try them out!

Lynda is a Jamberry consultant, and so kindly offered to let me choose a set for me and a set for my girls, so I chose the French Tips for myself, and Sprinkles & Frosting for my girls. It was hard to decide! There are so many adorable styles! Over 100 different patterns, it makes a girl happy.

Because of our autumn I didn’t have a chance to try them out right away, but just recently the girls and I spent part of an afternoon applying our Jamberry Nails!

// getting started //

jamberry nails

The girls were all smiles (Zoe) and dimples (Olivia), and I was pretty excited myself. I mean, I LOVE having my nails done, but 1), I can’t get to the nail salon on a regular basis (once or twice a year is a treat for me). And 2), even the nails that are supposed to last for 2 weeks at the salon only last 1-2 days for me. I don’t think they take into consideration the DIY person, or the mom who makes food three times a day and washes dishes afterward. After reading rave reviews about Jamberry I was looking forward to seeing if they would be different!

applying Jamberry nails

Official Jamberry Nails Application Video

One set of the Jamberry Juniors was enough to do a full set of nails for both girls on their toes AND fingers, plus with enough left over to do another full set of fingernails and toes later on! That alone is less than half the price of a salon.

Jamberry Juniors Jamberry Junior  toes fun with Jamberry Juniors jamberry toes

It took just a bit to learn how to apply the nails, and it’s important to not touch the nails with your fingers or they won’t stick as well. But even with the first time and my imperfect application, the girls’ nails lasted around a week.

My beautiful French Tips (and they really are beautiful, I loved them!!) lasted a week as well, and I know they would have lasted longer if I had not been in the middle of a house remodel that included sanding and priming and painting and heavy usage of those nails. Normal nails wouldn’t have lasted a day under those circumstances! I was able to get two full sets of nails on my fingers and toes from one sheet of Jamberry, which is far cheaper than a salon, almost as cheap as nail polish, and lasts way longer!

So, our final Jamberry Review:
Zoe says, “I thought they were fun! They were pretty too.”
Olivia says, “I liked them. Are we going to do them today?”
I say, “I love how they look, I love how they feel, I’ll definitely be doing them again!”

A few of the Jamberry Juniors that are available…

 And just a few of the adult sizes and styles that you can purchase.
There are some adorable Christmas and winter styles right now…


If you’d like to get your very own Jamberry nails, Lynda is very helpful and gives great service! Her website is There is a special of BUY THREE GET ONE FREE which sounds really great to me. :)

Thank you so much for the lovely nails, Lynda!




white attic bedroom

The attic renovation is literally just minutes away from being completely finished!! It is so exciting, and both Husband and I are nearly in shock that everything is actually coming together. :) It has been a huge project, but now is the fun part – the “painting of the canvas” that we’ve created, making it into a home.

I don’t have time for a detailed post, but I’m just so excited I want to show a quick picture. ;)
Everything has come together so well; it has been so busy, but not really stressful. It’s been peaceful, even with the incredible work days, works night that have varied from 12pm-3am the past week to try to get things finished up, and final details. The little things I’ve been collecting fit exactly as I thought they would; only better. I’m so grateful for the hand of God even in things like an attic remodel!

So just for fun, here is a before picture of the bedroom:

bedroom #2

And an after picture.

  white attic bedroom

It is a magical room. I want to move in there.

More details will come later! Today is a fun one;  finishing up last minute things for the Christmas Tour of Homes that is happening tomorrow!

Have a lovely weekend!


It’s not a secret that I am excited about a certain nutritional supplement because of the way my health has been so wonderfully changed during this year! I didn’t talk about my health much, but my husband and I knew something was physically wrong because of how emotionally overwhelmed I’d become over small things, and because of how exhausted I was all the time.

But seriously, this has been a game-changer for me. I went from being an exhausted mother of three, dealing with extreme fatigue and sugar issues, having terrible “brain fog” and thinking this must just be normal, to feeling wonderful and better than I have in 5-6 years. It has been incredible for me, and for my family! Because when the mom feels better, the whole family benefits. In huge ways! :) I talked more about why I tried it in this post. 

I’ve had a lot of people contact me and ask about it, and a question I’m often asked is,
“What actually IS Plexus?”

what is plexus

So I want to talk about what Plexus is, what these products are made of, and the science behind why it works. Today I’ll talk about the Slim (a.k.a. Pink Drink – and no, it’s not just for girls!). What got me excited about Plexus is not just that it is helping so many people, but WHY. I like to know the why behind something, not just blindly believing and having no idea what is happening in my body.

In a nutshell

The Pink Drink is becoming wonderfully famous. I mean, what other supplement out there comes in a powdered drink form that tastes wonderful (my kids BEG for it), contains stevia for sweetener, is jam-packed with nutrition, increases energy, decreases the “munchies”? There is nothing else like it!

It is not a magic potion, an overnight-cure-all, or an instant-fix; it is a loaded supplement that enables your body to come to health, and that is not an overnight process. There is a reason for the 60-day money-back guarantee the company offers on all their products: because they believe in the products, and because health isn’t fixed overnight. In a culture of instant-everything, of medications that offer instant results (even if it’s just masking the real issues), Plexus is a totally different mindset; it is that of healing the body from the inside out, of healing root issues, not putting a band-aid on surface problem.

The Slim was originally created by two doctors who were wanting to help diabetics regulate their blood sugar naturally. Through keeping blood sugar at healthy levels, they found it also helps with healthy weight loss, and many other things. Blood sugar levels are connected to many other areas of health in the body.

The body naturally stores fat. The most common areas are the stomach, thighs and buttocks. These excess fat stores contain toxins that cause havoc with our immune system. Ultimately this can lead to heart disease, diabetes, loss of energy, depression and many other debilitating conditions.

Plexus Slim:

-There is no sugar, sucralose (just google how sucralose is made – scary), artificial sweeteners or substitutes.
– It is a powerhouse of nutrition and works for the cellular health of your body (healthy cells = healthy you)
– It includes trace minerals from plant-based ingredients as well as vitamins and amino acids.
– It contains no stimulants; all energy you feel is real and produced from your body.
– It contains no MSG, no gluten, and  is vegetarian and vegan safe.

The extended version…

[for those who want the details]

Well, let’s talk about what Plexus IS NOT first….
Plexus IS NOT a meal replacement or shake.
Plexus IS NOT a magic potion or miracle that will make you lose 50 pounds overnight with no effort.
Plexus IS NOT meant to replace a healthy diet or exercise.
Plexus IS a natural health supplement that is gluten free, with no artificial flavors or colors, sweetened with stevia for a zero glycemic index.
Plexus helps regulate blood sugars.

So, what are the ingredients, what are they made of, and what do they do for the body?
Let’s talk about that.
The ingredients are plant-based, and have some big names. These are scientific names(scary!) so we’ll break it down and talk about what they do and the science behind it (which I LOVE and find so fascinating!).



Chromium GTF is known as an essential trace element. It is used for blood sugar control for people diabetes, pre-diabetes, and high blood sugar due to steroids. It is also used for depression, lowering bad cholesterol, and raising good cholesterol; aids in weight loss, fat loss, and muscle gain; improves athletic performance and increases energy, and potentially helping to curb cravings for sweets and carbohydrates. Balancing blood sugar also leads to hormones reaching healthy levels as well.

Chlorogenic Acid

This is known to aid in lowering blood pressure; and it contains a very important antioxidant for our bodies. Chlorogenic Acid will help to slow the release of sugars (glucose) into the blood stream after you eat. This is very important in helping people lose weight. Typically when you eat a meal, all the glucose that is found in the meal goes into your blood stream and get carried to different organs. Once your body gets all the necessary blood sugars, it will store the rest as fat cells to be burned off later. The problem arises when most people eat a high sugar diet, which means you never truly burn off these fat cells that are being stored for “later.”

Citrin K

Citrin is aa standardized herbal extract from the rind of the fruit of the Garcinia cambogia plant. This reduces the conversion of carbohydrates into stored fat by inhibiting certain enzyme processes. You experience a curbed appetite, have fewer tendencies to “nibble,” and an increase in energy. It also helps your body by increasing serotonin levels. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in your brain that makes you feel good. Having low levels of serotonin may make you feel depressed or anxious.  By increasing serotonin levels, it improves mood and suppresses the drive to react to stressful situations with food.

Alpha Lipolic Acid

Alpha-lipoic acid (also known as lipoic acid, thioctic acid, or ALA) seems to help prevent certain kinds of cell damage in the body, and also restores vitamin levels such as vitamin E and vitamin C. There is also evidence that alpha-lipoic acid can improve the function and conduction of neurons in diabetes. Alpha-lipoic acid is used in the body to break down carbohydrates and to make energy for the other organs in the body.The antioxidant effects might also be helpful in certain liver diseases. Alpha Lipoic Acid is one of the good fatty acids produced in every one of our cells. One of its main functions is to help convert glucose (blood sugar) into energy. Besides taking ALA for its general benefits as an antioxidant, studies have shown that alpha lipoic acid can help with the following conditions:

High Blood Pressure 
Coronary Heart Disease 
High blood pressure and elevated cholesterol
Peripheral Neuropathy (caused by diabetes and other conditions, such as Lyme Disease, alcoholism, shingles, thyroid disease and kidney failure) 
-Diabetes (improving glucose metabolism and helping diabetics utilize insulin better)
Liver Disease
Metastatic Pancreatic Cancer (increasing long-term survival)
Impaired Brain Function (as a treatment for stroke and other brain disorders involving free radical damage, including Alzheimer’s disease)
Effects of Aging!!!!!! (improving blood flow and enhancing immune function, restoring levels of glutathione, a protective antioxidant and detoxification compound)
Degenerative Diseases (ALA is a strong anti-inflammatory agent)
Glaucoma and Cataracts


A form of soluble fiber that can take the place of sugar in beverages.It is frequently used as an ingredient in low-carb, sugar-free, and diabetic cooking recipes. It is also used as a thickening agent. Polydextrose has shown healthful prebiotic benefits when tested in animals. It contains only 1 kcal per gram and, therefore, is able to help reduce calories.

Citric Acid

Citric acid is a weak organic acid. It is a natural preservative/conservative and is also used to add an acidic, or sour, taste to foods and soft drinks.

Beet Root Extract

Beet Root is used for coloring and is a potent and nutritious source of natural energy and vitality. It is a great way to purify and build healthy blood and normalize the pH balance in our bodies (which helps reduce the risk of cancer).

Stevia Extract

Stevia is derived from natural substances, unlike other sugar substitutes, such as Equal or Nutrisweet. Stevia extract is approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration as a dietary supplement and for use in food.

Lo Han Extract

Lo Han Kuo is the fruit of a plant cultivated in the mountains of southern China. Mogrosides, which are water extracted from the Lo Han fruit, offer a pleasant, sweet taste without elevating blood sugar.

And that is a detailed explanation of the Slim!
If you’d like more information, I’d love to tell you more. You can find me on Facebook, send me an email here, or ask a question in the comments.

If you’d like to try the Slim, you can order here: The 60-day money-back guarantee is awesome: you’ll either feel better, or get all your money back. It’s such a win!

drink it

Okay, so the giveaway! I am giving away a 7-day trial pack of the Slim!
To enter the giveaway, please
1. watch this short video from a southern belle, or this one, or if you want some humor, this one.
2. Leave a comment telling one thing you learned from the video

The winner will be announced next Monday, the 15th!

Because of the number of comments, I decided to give away TWO trial packs of Plexus Slim instead of one. The two winners are Sonya and Natalie! Congratulations, you two! I’ve contacted you personally, so look for an email in your inbox. :)

This giveaway is now closed.

Have a great beginning to your week!


  Christmas at the Cottage l JOY marquee DIY

It’s the 2nd of December!
Is anyone else in disbelief that this is the last month of the year?! I still feel stuck back in October, and it seems impossible that it’s nearly Christmas!

However, next week is the Christmas Tour of Homes that we were asked to be part of, and the fluffy of activity around here shows the reality that this is actually NOT September at all. Things are moving right along with the attic remodel, but we are still finishing up the painting and needing to install floors. Don’t make me panic by being shocked, it’s just a little nuts. But there are some amazing things happening upstairs, and I can’t wait to show you! My husband is just a master at his trade, that’s all I’ll say. Oh, except I’ll add that he made sliding wooden barn doors out of reclaimed lumber for the closets and bedroom doors, and they are unreal awesome. UNREAL.

But, back to the marquee sign! As I pulled out the little bit of Christmas décor that I store, and brought in huge armloads of fresh greens, this JOY marquee sign came out again. And I fell in love all over!

I made this as a reminder to me that joy is not a feeling, or a circumstance. Joy is a deep reality that is true, even in the middle of sorrow and pain. I was mourning the loss of my friend Ruth, and Christmas just didn’t have the same happy, warm-fuzzy feeling. I made this to remind me that JOY is because of Jesus, and the deep reality of Heaven and eternity. And that this life is not the end of the story. Joy means more to me now than it ever has!

So last year when I showed the cottage at Christmas time, quite a few people asked how my husband and I made this marquee sign that we hung in our living room. So, a whole year later, here’s a little tutorial for those of you who would like to know how!

There are probably as many different ways to make a marquee as there are different DIY marquees. This is only one, and we went this route because it was the least expensive. Ha! And you could use the little Christmas tree lights, or different words, or anything you like! I combined several ideas I found online for this specific marquee.


– plywood cut to 2 X 3 feet size, plus extra to make 2-inch sides
– white paint
– Mod Podge Glue
– Gold Glitter
– Paint brush
– Stencil and pencil
– Patio lights (1 set of 24)

supplies needed

Okay, so I will say that I needed my husband for the beginning of this project. Because of how the lights and cords are in the back of this marquee, you need sides on the board or you will see all the hardware and jungle of cords from the side. You don’t want to see that, trust me! So he added the sides for me to form a small box-type of board, to hide all the things behind it.

So, here are the steps:

1. Cut board to size (we made it 2 X 3) and add sides.

2. Prime and paint white.

3. Sketch or stencil ‘JOY’ with light pencil marks, centering in the space. I made them very large, filling most of the board.

sketching the outline

4. Drill holes.
This is just a small hole (we made ours far too big; we learned as we went and didn’t make a perfect second marquee! :), enough to allow the base of the light bulb to go through. You want it to fit tightly so it holds the bulb snug. We bought a package of 25 patio lights, and marked 8 holes per letter. There was one bulb and socket left over that we didn’t use, and then had an extra light bulb if we needed it.

(We actually did step #5 before #4 and that was a bad idea. We had to touch-up paint, and it would have saved time and been better to do #4 first.)


holes for the bulbs

#5. Paint with gold paint, let dry, then paint with clear Mod Podge and sprinkle with gold glitter. Heavily sprinkle. And then behold the glitter bomb that goes off in your house! Be sure to shake off the excess OUTSIDE the house.

 Zoe LOVED being part of this process.

adding the glitter

JOY prep glitter!

  holes are drilled

#6. After the paint is dry, insert the patio lights! Take them apart first, then screw them together with the bulbs on the outside of the marquee, the sockets on the backside.

patio lights separate the bulbs

  bulbs in

The backside will look like this when you’re finished. Be sure to have the cord on the side closest to your receptacle. I still needed to use an extension cord because my outlet isn’t very close.

backside of the marquee

#7. Hang your beautiful masterpiece and enJOY!

Christmas Cottage l JOY marquee mantel

  Christmas Cottage l mantel with antlers and garland

  Christmas at the Cottage l JOY marquee DIY

 Have a wonderful first week of December


Jamberry Nails 129

Today is my birthday.
I turn 32.

Somehow, it seems like I was 25 last year and I’m 32 this year and I have no idea how that happened. I’m suddenly an age that I always looked at as rather old and not really much fun anymore and yikes it’s getting close to 40!!!

But now that I’m here, I. LOVE. IT.

Today, I am filled with so much gratitude. G. K. Chesterton says,

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

I love that, and it describes my heart today.

It is a beautiful day of pouring-down rain. My little cottage is warm and cozy and the only thing to make this day better would be to have a fire in the hearth (but the wood is soaked! ha! :) ). I have a candle burning, Sarah McLachlan holiday playing on Pandora, coffee in the mug beside me.

A huge part of what makes this day extra-special is one of the sweetest friends on the planet, who offered to take care of all three of my kids today so that I can have a day off. A DAY OFF. What exactly even is a day off?? I am feeling so spoiled rotten by her and hardly know what to do with myself, it’s just so wonderful!

while pumpkins centerpeices table centerpiece nourish wreath inside the house

Turning 32. And gratitude.

Somehow it seems to be an unspoken thing among women that after you turn (shhhhhh!! 30!) a number in the tens digit that begins with 3, you don’t speak about your age anymore. It’s like, oh goodness, it’s embarrassing to be over 29!! At least act and pretend to be in your 20’s, and hopefully you’ll convince everyone that you’re younger than you are.

WHY, may I ask? Why is age looked at as a thing to blush about, wish it were different?

I have begun to think differently. Today, I celebrate being given 32 years of life.
And specifically, I celebrate life and health.

My eyes have been filled with tears several times already this morning by the blessings of the Lord, and the kindness of people who love me far more than I ever could deserve.
*insert a moment of tears overflowing*

The older I become, the more I realize how much I owe to the people around me, the people that God has put in my life. So much of who we are we owe to the people around us; they have helped shape us, mold us, influence us. Some of the people who have shaped me in powerful ways are not even present today. Their legacy lives on, but their physical lives do not.

In the past two years I’ve said goodbye to two people that have impacted my life in huge ways; my friend by her years of beloved friendship, and my nephew whom I never had the chance to know in this life.

[bangles I’m wearing today that belonged to Ruth]

remembering Ruth

Loss impacts a life deeper than almost anything else we will ever experience.
It shakes our beliefs, it makes us reevaluate what is really important, it can bring us an eternal perspective like nothing else will. I am not the same person I was before the deep losses, and I will always feel the ache of them not being a part of my life on earth any longer.

And yet, it is these very people that gives me new perspective on aging, on turning another year older.

My friend Ruth was not given her 32nd birthday. The day that she would have turned 32 was filled with tears, the ache of missing her deep and painful.

Today, it was that memory of her that choked me up, and as my little children woke up one by one, I hugged and kissed their sweet sleepy faces, laughed at their stinky breath, filled with gratitude that today I get to be their mommy. I get to wake up and care for them and be in their lives, and have them in mine. We get to do life together.

My beloved friend Ruth, my little nephew that left this world before he ever experienced life here, my cousin who wasn’t given his 21st birthday, my dear aunt that was full of beauty and peace – it’s a day to honor their dear memory and chose to live well and live fully today. To celebrate this day that I’ve been given, this gift of turning 32, and celebrate the gift of life. THE GIFT OF LIFE. It is an inexpressible gift, and one day we all will hand it back to the One who first gave it to us, and exchange it for eternal life. It is a gift so rich, and each birthday can speak of fresh mercy and deeper growth.

Today I am feeling the incredible richness of this gift, and how undeserving I am of it. I feel such gratitude to so many people in my life – those who have made me what I am, helping to shape and mold me, those who push me out of my comfort zone and help me become more, those who love me far more than I deserve to be loved… I feel so rich, so undeservedly rich.

Another thing I feel such gratitude for is my health. One year ago I thought that exhaustion, feelings of being overwhelmed by life, and low blood sugar/thyroid problems were just a part of life as a mother of three, and that I would gradually just become even more run down. I talked about that here. If you’re friends with me on Facebook and see my posts about Plexus, please understand that the only reason I promote it is because I feel like a completely different woman that I did a year ago. I feel like I have my life back. I have energy to get up in the mornings, to not just survive the day but to thrive in it, my mind feels clear and sharp, and I don’t even deal with low blood sugar problems anymore. I’m so excited about these all-natural products that have not just changed my life and gave me the nutrition I was so desperately needing, but thousands of other people are saying the same thing. I am just so grateful, tears-flowing grateful.

[edited to add: bargain hunters alert! November 27-30 use coupon code THANKS2014 to receive 10% off your Plexus purchase, and 15% off automatically to join wholesale!]

On this day that I turn 32, I want to live it big and wide and arms flung open in worship to my Lord. And not only this day, but this year, and any year that I will be given after this. I want to grow deeper, and especially grow in caring less what people think of me, and more of what God does. There are some huge ways I’m being pushed out of my comfort zone in the coming year, things I know about and thing I don’t know, and I don’t want to run from it, but embrace the opportunity to grow.

Live large, and don’t be ashamed of the years you’ve been gifted in this life. Own it, and worship Jesus because of it!

I absolutely love this quote by Elisabeth Elliot; let it be true of me, and all true followers of Christ!

one desire



October Beach Day 137

So, when the weather forecast predicts a day of 90 degrees, at the end of October, and you live within one hour of the ocean, what is the only logical way to spend that day? The obvious answer is, of course, go to the ocean!

Plus, it was time to get out of the house. Our remodel project has been keeping us busy, the house is perpetually dirty even when I try to stay on top of it daily, and we just needed to relax.

That’s what we did on Monday. It was a glorious day – no humidity (which is extremely rare), bright sunshine with not a cloud in the sky, and yes, 90 degrees.

October Beach Day 057

You know, when I see all kinds of bright autumn leaves and cozy scarves and brown boots and mittened hands – all in pictures on places far far away – I think it all looks so wonderful. And I do get a little envious sometimes. I miss the four seasons here.

But! The only good thing to do is to make the best of a situation. And so we did. Swimwear and barefeet instead of boots and sweaters. :)

I had a photoshoot idea in my head since the beginning of the year, inspired by an image from Darling Magazine, and all summer, even with many trips to the ocean, it just didn’t happen. This day I decided we’ll do it. I wanted it very simple – simple outfits, barefeet, not even accessories like headbands or bows. Just the ocean, colorful balloons, and outfits the kids have worn (almost every Sunday) all summer long.

I don’t even pretend to be a pro at the camera, and the bright sunshine in the middle of the day was a big stretch for me. I didn’t know until I got home if they’d work or not. Thankfully, they are okay. A little blown out to my critical eye, I would love to see more ocean in the picture – I’ll work on that next time.

But I love that it captures my kids right now – at ages 2, 5, and 7. It captures their personalities, their stances, their faces and impish grins. Ten minutes was all I could get out of them – because seriously, who wants to go the beach and take pictures? No one but their mother, obviously. I laugh when people say things about my kids being photogenic – because they don’t like to pose for the camera. It was a process as fast as possible, with me following them around for ten minutes, with promises of Chic-Fil-A milkshakes afterwards. :)

October Beach Day 051 October Beach Day 046 October Beach Day 060 October Beach Day 038 October Beach Day 121 October Beach Day 096

October Beach Day 056

Whoever made the statement about “terrible two’s” must have been a sad, lonely person. I absolutely LOVE two year olds. If I could have a favorite age, I think this would be it. Still so much baby, but growing up so fast. Still a toddler, but becoming so aware of the world. He’s trying to say new words and getting them out all wrong but I just want to MUSH him, he’s so adorable. He and I spend a lot of time together these days, with the girls doing their school studies, and I love it. He’s my little buddy.

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 And five year olds? Whoever knew they could be such sweetness? And that at this tender age they could hear the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to them and they respond to it to where the rest of the family notices? This girl is spirit and life and joy and color!

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And seven year olds. Who knew they could think so deeply, care so deeply, and already plan to be a missionary on the other side of the world? This girl is depth and understanding and sensitivity.

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There is such incredible joy at being a parent.
It is one of THE most wonderful things I’ve ever been given in my life.
It’s also one of THE hardest things I’ve ever been given.

As my husband and I look at these three children born to us, we often wonderful how we ever were so blessed. Three healthy beautiful children. Children who teach us so much, maybe even more than we teach them. Children who demonstrate such faith and trust that it puts us to shame. Little tiny people who are living souls, who will live for all eternity, and they’ve been given to us, to love, to teach, to lead to Jesus. The privilege is so beautiful, so great, so incredible. The job is daily too large for us, and I think it’s supposed to be like that – so that we continually realize our desperate need for Jesus in the middle of it. But there is no place I’d rather be, than right here, caring for these precious little children.

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A few weekend links for you to follow…

  • Leslie Ludy has a beautiful new website that launched just this summer,
    called Set Apart Motherhood. Each week new content is delivered to my inbox, and I’m always excited to read. This week was a good read with the focus on Joyful Mothering, over here.

  • An amazing read for me this summer, recommended by my sister Ervina, has been
    Gospel Powered Parenting, by William P. Farley. If you want a heart-challenging, convicting, deeply encouraging book to read about parenting, this is one of the best. It’s not a how-to book, but a book mostly about the Gospel of Christ, and how that must be in us first before we can represent it to our children. I highly highly recommend it. A little excerpt…

“Parents who joyfully pursue God are contagious. Joyful sacrifice for the gospel is contagious. A gospel that makes parents stable, sincere, joyful, affectionate, and humble is contagious. Children will want a God that produces these qualities.

“On the other hand, parents going through the motions of church, enslaved to rules, serving God to gain his acceptance, tolerating their spouses, or worse, engaging in open warfare, chase their children away from God and his church. When Mom and Dad preach one thing but do the opposite, and don’t repent to their children, it makes the world attractive and the gospel irrelevant…..”

I want to re-read the book again, it’s that good!

  •  This amazing looking breakfast – a Baked Pear Pancake, by Shelley. I can’t wait to buy pears and make it! But don’t take my word for it – go look at the picture and you’ll think the same thing.
  • When you don’t see the whole picture, and don’t know the whole story. This blog and recent post is so touching and beautiful: Navy Blue, Elastic Waist Pants.
  • A study on the book of Ruth, by Kelly Minter. My beloved friend, Ruth, passed away two years ago in October. It’s been a difficult month for me, remembering, sorrowing deeply again. Doing a study on the book of Ruth during the month of her passing was comforting to me, and daily reminded me of two beautiful women named Ruth. This was my first study by Kelly Minter, but I look forward to doing more.



Also, I just realized this week that my email has been blocking messages from this blog! I’m so very sorry. If you’ve tried to email me and haven’t gotten a response over the past few months, I was not ignoring you, I just didn’t ever see it! The problem is fixed and all is well now, so message away. ;)

Have a great weekend, lovelies!