11.09.2015

Expecting The Miracle!


We spent the weekend in the hospital with Milly (our 3, almost 4 year-old), our little warrior had a ruptured appendix and a large abscess in front of it preventing the appendectomy. They told us we could be in the hospital 4-6 days or possibly up to 2 weeks based on her circumstance. Then we will go back (hopefully) in December for the surgery after the infection has healed up. We had hundreds of people praying for her and from the moment we checked in we started expecting and praising God for the miracle to come! Here is the thing that occurred to me; as followers of Jesus Christ, I believe that is the most natural reaction to adversity or tragedy. As we grow in relationship with Him and walk with Him through life, we learn that He does turn all things for good, He has a plan and purpose for us, He is faithful and His desire is for us to walk in power. He placed his Spirit in us to access that power and live as co-heirs with Jesus Christ himself (Romans 8:17). I love the reminder that "the same power that conquered the grave, lives in me." Here is a little something I jotted down during my quiet time at the hospital and thought it might serve as encouragement if you are walking through a hard time... 

Why is it easier for us to accept and agree with human diagnosis as opposed to expecting and asking God for a miracle? As children of the King we have the opportunity to walk through life expecting miracles and huge things from the Father, because that is His nature, that is who He is. He gets the glory and if we allow Him, we get to partake in that glory! We have His spirit of power in us, when we learn of adversity or walk through a life circumstance we should not approach it from a place of defeat, fear or pessimism, that is not living in the nature of the royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9-10) that we are members of. That approach stands in agreement with this earth, which we are not defined by (John 17:15-17). We get to approach every situation from a place of victory, not agreeing with the world's outlook, but standing firm in what God says about us: we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:31-39), we can do ALL things through Christ (Phil 4:13), He commands His angels regarding us (Ps 91), no temptation will overtake us (1 Cor 10:13), the Angels of the Lord encamps around us (Ps 34:7-9), He will uphold us with his righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10), He has given us the victory through Jesus (1 Cor 15:57), He works ALL things for good (Romans 8:28), He strengthens us (Ps 89:21), He is our helper (Ps 118:7), He comforts (Isaiah 49:13), He keeps us in PERFECT peace (Isaiah 26:3-4)... We have access to the power of God and should be walking through life expecting great things to happen in advance simply because we know the nature and promises of the God we serve. We can speak the victory over our circumstance with confidence because the victory has already been won on our behalf through Jesus Christ. Expect excellence, He has earned that expectation! Following Christ does not mean we will not have hard times, in fact, He tells us we will absolutely have hard times on earth (John 16:33). We, as His Children get to approach adversity with a different posture, a posture of victory, hope and expectancy. It is thrilling to expect and praise God for the miracle before hand!! Do not let doubt, fear, insecurity, mistrust or guilt steal the wonder and expectation out of our relationship with God, His will for us is victory every.single.time. 



Psalm 91
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he[b] loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.

9.01.2015

Delightful Warm Chicken Salad

I wanted to share one of my favorite recipes with you. I originally learned about this recipe from my precious Suzy and it has been a favorite since! I make it for play dates, at baby showers, for dinner- it is one of those recipes that is good for any occasion!

Warm Chicken Salad:
Preheat Oven to 375 degrees
>2 Cups (or more) of Chopped Chicken 
(You could use Rotisserie chicken or I just sauté 10 or so Chicken Breast Tenders in Avacado Oil and it is so yummy and tender) 
>1 can Quartered Artichoke Hearts- Drained and Chopped
>1.5 cups of Italian 4 Cheese Belnd
>Mayo and Dijon to taste- just enough to be wet
>3/4 cup Slivered Almonds (toasted)
Stir together and place in a greased 9x13 pan
>Sprinkle with fresh Parmesan Cheese
Cook for 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees 
Serve alone, with crackers, apples, on toast....however you like! 

ENJOY!!!!!


8.29.2015

Prayer for School-Aged Kids

It is no secret that I am PASSIONATE about praying for my girls. When I was pregnant I was compelled to pray over spiritual and physical health for my babies, thus writing PrayerWithPurpose: 90 Days of Prayer for Your Unborn Child and then when they were born to continue praying over them with PrayerWithPurpose: Passionate Prayers for Children. However, as I have entered and been entrenched in this new season of "Public Elementary School" for the past four years, I have struggled with "control" and how to pray for my girls. I want to pray for total protection, but I want to pray for the Lord to sharpen them and refine them- allow them to experience things that will turn them to Him. I want them to be confident and independent, but I want to shelter them from the craziness of the world. As the years pass, the amount of control we have over our children (who they are friends with, their influences, what they eat, their interests, their hobbies.....) drastically declines. I will admit, I do have "control issues", I am an event planner for crying out loud, so this decline in control sometimes has me FREAKING OUT (by the grace of God he continues to free me from my "issues" and gives me freedom in faith and trust- He is a MUCH better planner than I am!). I'll give you an example, we met one of my oldest daughter's (3rd Grade) new friends and her mother for ice cream last week. This child proceeded to pull out her personal cell phone, pull up Kim Kardashian's show and encouraged my precious/sheltered/non-TV watching daughter to check it out with her. When I approached them, I asked what they are watching and she looks at me like I am NUTS and says "don't you watch Kim Kardashian?" If I am honest, my first internal response to this sort of thing is always- "well, we are never playing with THAT child! I cannot trust what happens when I am not there!" There is obviously some level of parental intervention that needed to happen, but the reality is this, my child is with that child for 6.5 hours in a day Monday-Friday and she is with me 5-6 hours in a day- most of which is spent doing homework, going to an activity, eating or getting ready for school. I have to give the Lord opportunities to refine her and to teach her to depend more on Him than she does on me. I also have to give her the opportunity to be light in a dark world. So, I have struggled with what this looks like, to slowly release my "control" and yet protect them from dangerous or unhealthy situations. It boils down to daily discernment from the Holy Spirit. There are times when I just know a sleepover is a bad idea, and times when I give in to a safe situation and let the girls experience childhood. I must not let fear drive my decisions, I have to let the Lord LEAD! 
This brings me to my quiet time today! My absolute favorite thing after I drop my girls off at school is to take the first hour (or 2 in today's case) to go somewhere (not home- there are too many distractions there) and drink coffee, read my Bible and listen to worship music. It is literally LIFE to me! Anyway, I am reading/journaling through the book of John right now and I came to John 17:15-17 and it rocked my world! [Side note, it absolutely thrills me that I can study the same book (The Bible) for nearly 30 years and it still rocks my world every.single.day! That is "alive and active" friends!] Here is what the verse says  (background, Jesus is praying for his disciples before he is handed over to be crucified) 
"My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth."

I always have my BibleGateway App with me when I am reading my Bible, I love to look at different translations and commentaries and I love The Message version of verse 16- it says "They are no more defined by the world, Than I am defined by the world". As I prayed this over my girls today, I was in tears because it said what I have been longing to articulate- they are His kids, He ALONE can protect them from the evil one. No amount of sheltering on my part is going to protect them in this world, God alone is their protection, their truth, their light. 
My prayer is that this world is so shocking to them that they long for purity. I pray that their spirits would be so unsettled around evil that God alone is their peace. I pray that they are so secure in who God made them to be that they turn to God alone for identity and strength. I pray that the screams and pressures of this world would be silenced by the name of Jesus on their lips. I pray that when hard times come (and they will according to John 16:33 "“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." ) they will know that God is their shelter, He is their go-to, He is who they run to, He is their light, He is their shield, He is their strength- and that they are not defined by this world- they are daughters of the King. .
As I continue to walk through this journey of motherhood, this is my war cry...because sisters, we are at war with this world and it's desire to have a hold on our children. We need to raise a generation of warriors for the Lord, because they will not have the luxury of being "casual Christians", I believe that our Children will have to be absolutely unwavering to survive in this world. God ALONE can protect them from the evil one, while they are still in this world and not locked in our box. As I was reading John 14:30b Jesus says "for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me." Praise God we are one with Christ Jesus and we can also say, He has NO HOLD ON ME or my family. I pray that you will join me in this prayer. Ephesians 6:12 NLT says, "for we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places." This is not a "mommy war" it is a battle for our kids against this world! Let's do this! 

6.17.2015

GIVEAWAY: The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson & PrayerWithPurpose




I have read a lot of books on prayer through the years. I am passionate about prayer- I see the POWER of prayer every day. It blows my mind that the Creator of the Universe would allow us to change the course of HIStory through our prayers. He allows us to be a part of the action! I am finishing up the Beth Moore study on "Breath" right now and she discussed "The Valley of Dry Bones" from Ezekiel 37 (you must read it if you haven't) and it just thrills me that God Almighty would allow man (Ezekiel in this case) to be a part of the action. He could have resurrected those bones himself- with a snap...but He allowed Ezekiel to witness and have access to the power and wonder of God. I love that He lets us in on the action....I want more insight, more access, more of the Spirit, more wisdom...more time with Him! 


I recently started reading The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson- it has revolutionized my prayer life. This book sort of sums up all of my favorite things in all of the other books on prayer that I have read. When I was pregnant with my girls I wrote PrayerWithPurpose: 90 Days of Prayer for your Unborn Child for this very reason (I just didn't know that I was praying "circles"). I wanted to cover every spiritual and physical desire for my babies in prayer. When they were born, I did not want to stop "circling" them, so I wrote PrayerWithPurpose: Passionate Prayers for Children. When I read The Circle Maker, it gave me such confirmation that The Lord has already answered so many of those prayers for our family and gave me renewed endurance to continue praying and praising Him for what He will do in the future. I love when Mark Batterson says, "Bold prayers honor God, and God honors bold prayers. God isn't offended by your biggest dreams or boldest prayers. He is offended by anything less. If your prayers aren't impossible to you, they are insulting to God. Why? Because they don't require divine intervention. But ask God to part the Red Sea or make the sun stand still or float an iron axhead, and God is moved to omnipotent action. There is nothing God loves more than keeping promises, answering prayers, performing miracles, and fulfilling dreams. That is who He is. That is what He does." (The Circle Maker p.15). Hebrews 4:16 tells us to "come boldly to the throne of our gracious God", this book really encouraged me to be bold with the Lord and The Spirit convicted me that what I though was humility before the Lord, was really a lack of faith. I was just sort of going about my prayer time with the attitude of "Lord just do whatever you want and I am in" and throughout the Bible it shows that He wants us to ask him, He wants to engage us, He wants to give us access, He wants to hear from us! 
SO, I am going to give away SEVEN copies (because 7 IS the perfect number) of The Circle Maker AND SEVEN copies of PrayerWithPurpose: Passionate Prayers for Children for your summer reading/journaling (so 14 winners total). I want you all to be ignited to pray bold prayers with me! So share the giveaway and I can't wait to send them out to you! If you don't win- please get the book- you will love it! 



6.08.2015

Week Two: The Simple Series

WEEK TWO: Simplify Time
by Jenica McMaster of www.delightfulmomstuff.com 

How many times have we heard “you have to be selfish with your time?” What I am suggesting today, in this world of “too busy,” is that we DON’T need to be selfish with our time. We need to be intentional with our time. There are way too many opportunities to be busy and I believe it is a daily struggle to fight the “busy” and be intentional with how we spend EACH day! But selfish? I do not see anything in scripture to tell me I need to live a life where “time” belongs to me. The thing about being a mom is that we don’t only have to fight “the busy” for ourselves, we have to fight it for our kids and spouses as well. In my family of 5, it doesn’t take very many individual commitments to make our family feel like chaos. I constantly need to evaluate our schedule and choose where we will invest our time and what needs to be cut from the schedule. The definition of invest is to “devote (one’s time, effort, or energy) to a particular undertaking with the expectation of a worthwhile result.” In our home that “worthwhile result” should bear fruit (Galatians 5:22-25) and if it doesn’t, it needs to be declined. 

Here are eight questions to ask yourself before making a commitment with your time: 
  1. Does it line up with the will of God according to the scriptures? 
  2. Am I striving to please God or man? 
  3. Am I saying “yes” out of fear that the person who asked would be angry?  
  4. Will it bear fruit? 
  5. Does it utilize my gifts and talents? 
  6. Is the motivation love and service or guilt and fear? (DO NOT say “yes” out of a place of guilt- that would be a sign that #1 is not in line- guilt is not from God)
  7. What sacrifice will my family and I have to make in order to keep this commitment? 
  8. Is this a commitment I am able to keep? (We need to make sure we practice and teach our children that when we make commitments, we keep them.)

For this week in The Simple Series we are not asking you to eliminate anything from your schedule. Instead, we will evaluate how we are investing our time, so that we might simplify and focus on the things that matter most! 

SUNDAY: Service- Take this day and focus on where you are serving. Scrub your list with the questions above. Is there something you need to step away from? Is there somewhere you need to engage? If you are not currently serving, identify one place where you can use your gifts and talents for the glory of God and His people (Ephesians 6:7). We are meant to serve others. Churches are literally desperate for people to serve in all areas. It is great for your kids to see you serve and serve along side you. 

MONDAY: Priorities- Make a list of your top 3-5 priorities. Have your spouse and children (if they are old enough) make a list as well. This list could be focused on short-term, long term or seasonal priorities. How can we arrange our time to invest more in these priorities? What can be eliminated from the schedule to focus on these priorities?

TUESDAY: People- Who am I investing my time with? We must be filled up in order to pour out! Am I encouraging others? If not, call or send a note to someone to encourage them today. Be intentional about investing in others. Is there someone who I need to set healthy boundaries with? Is there a relationship I need to make a greater investment in? Am I making a greater investment in people online than the people who are flesh that God has placed around me in this season? This might also mean reconciliation, who do I need to free my mind and spirit from? Has someone hurt me and that is preventing me from making an investment in other people? Live in the freedom of forgiveness, do not let the bondage of unforgiveness steal your energy, joy and time. 

WEDNESDAY: Passion- Identify 1-2 things that you are passionate about (a hobby, career, studying the word, etc..) and be intentional about setting apart time to pursue that passion. What is on your schedule that is robbing you from your passion? (could time on technology be robbing you from something?) This applies to our kids as well. maybe their 15 activities need to be simplified to just two that they are really passionate about. Maybe they need to turn the technology off and discover what it is they are truly passionate about! Let’s not force the passion on our kids, let God instill that in their bones! Finally, if our husbands have a passion for something outside of work, lets give them guilt-free opportunities to schedule those things. 

THURSDAY: Peace- Schedule a quiet time today. Maybe this requires a babysitter, maybe this requires a child swap with another mom, maybe this means heading to a coffee shop or a quiet place when your husband gets home from work. I have to force myself out of the house sometimes in order to have some peace with the Lord. When I am home I look around and see tasks (or a “task” is barking at me!). I am always filled up when I take the time to get quiet and listen to what the Lord desires for me. It is NOT selfish to carve out peaceful time, it is necessary! 

FRIDAY: Family Life- Evaluate your household- is there healthy balance? Is it a kid-focused home? If so, how is your marriage? Is it an activity-focused home? If so, how is your peace and energy level? Is it a social-focused home? If so, how is the quality time pouring into your kids and spouse? Is it a task-driven home? If so, how is the fun, the relaxation, the creativity going? Take this time and evaluate what you can add or remove from your schedule to find more time to invest in your family! 

SATURDAY: Maintenance- take this time to focus on the investment we are making on personal maintenance! Am I living a healthy lifestyle? (eating healthy foods, exercising, going to the doctor, dental appointments, checking out the moles and lumps that come with age!) Do I feel good about my whole self? Not according to the world’s standards, but to God’s standards? Am I self-absorbed or have I completely let myself go? God “fearfully and wonderfully” made YOU. His desire is for you to be confident in who you are and to take care of the temporary temple he gave you. 1 Corinthians 6:19 says “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” Evaluate how you are maintaining your temple on the inside and outside. You do not need to look like the Hollywood stars to be beautiful. You need to maintain yourself in a way that you feel confident and beautiful and someone who is proud to say “I am the daughter of the King of the Universe and He does not make mistakes.” 


I pray that this week will allow you to reevaluate and adjust how you spend your time. It is a battle to fight the “busy” and not to just fill the time- but to take each day and invest our time with the “expectation of a worthwhile result”!!! 

6.05.2015

15 DELIGHTFUL Summer Essentials

Now that we live in Scottsdale, AZ I feel like I am an expert on summer products...because it is never NOT summer here! If you follow me on Instagram you might already know about a few of these- because I am passionate about them! Here you go...




1. S'Well Bottle- This gorgeous bottle comes in all different sizes, colors and textures. It keeps liquid cold for 24 hours and hot for 12! The stainless steel bottle also makes my water taste better- AND my girls love drinking out of them! I was at the zoo in 102 degree heat with my bottle, then I put it in the car and it was in there for the next 6 hours...and I still had ice cubes when I got it out! It is totally worth the cost!
2. Chloe & Isabel Bracelet - I wear this this bracelet all of the time! It is a lovely pop of color and goes with everything- dressy or casual!
3. Fresh: Sugar lip SPF 15: This is great for your summer lips, it has SPF 15, it plumps, it nourishes, it smells yummy, it is free from all of the "yucky stuff" and it lasts forever (unless your 3 year old gets ahold of it- mine is obsessed). Clear Lip Treatment or Tinted Lip Treatment
4. Coconut Oil I use Coconut Oil for everything- but I am loving it for eye makeup removal. My eye makeup is always hard to remove- and it gets it off and I think it has made my lashes stronger/longer. I rub it over my eyes (and usually my whole face) then put my face soap all over- without water (you know, the whole oil and water situation doesn't work) then I use a wash cloth and wash off my whole face. It is delightful!
5. Jo Malone Orange Blossom I know I have mentioned this before- it smells so fresh and light for summer! (TIP: If you go to the Jo Malone counter ask for a sample- or many samples, their sample bottles are little spray bottles and you can travel with them or keep them in your purse- they are fabulous!)
6. Stella & Dot Necklace I find myself wearing these long necklaces all of the time, I ADORE this one!
7. Cold Brew Coffee : I have been making my own Cold Brew coffee. The difference between "iced coffee" and "cold brew" is that iced coffee is hot coffee poured over ice and leaves you with watery/weak cold coffee. Cold brew just includes using cold water and ground coffee- you let it sit overnight or longer to "brew" and you have a yummy, smooth, strong cup of cold coffee. This recipe makes a concentrate so it lasts longer and takes up less space in the fridge. My non-iced coffee-drinking-husband is obsessed with the cold brew- it is seriously amazing! Here are a few products needed to make your own cold brew: Large Mason JarsFine Mesh Strainer, Cheesecloth, Ground Coffee (dark roast is best)
8. Summer Nails: Don't Bossa Nova Me Around this is my new favorite neutral- it sort of looks like silly putty!
9. Laura Mercier Baked Bronzer and Bronzing Gel - I have listed these before- seriously the perfect bronze. I don't love self tanner- it never looks right on me and I hate the smell- but these two products help even out a tan or give a glow when I need one. They last forever- the price per use is nothing! :)
10.  Trina Turk Cover-up: We go to the pool so much that I finally invested in a cover-up that I LOVE. These Trina Turk cover-ups are so great because they are flattering and they dry quickly.
11. Pants: I am OBSESSED with my new Baldwin Malibu Pants- they are such a great fit and can be worn casual or dressy. The material is not too thick but thick enough to hold up and not get saggy.
12. Mint/Lime Water: My new favorite thing to have around is fresh mint- I have a little mint plant and I love using it! I have been putting fresh mint and lime in a jar of water and serving it- it is so refreshing and so yummy!
13. Eyes: Caviar Stick in Copper by Laura Mercier- you know I love the caviar sticks, they are a no-brainer- you swipe them on and you are done. Copper is my favorite color of all of them! (my go-to Christina gets the credit for discovering these!!)
14. Striped Placemats: I entertain so much at my house and these are so great to have- they wipe clean and look good with any color theme I am going for- and they are CHEAP!
15. EOS Shave Cream- this is the best stuff for shaving- my legs are not dry or nicked when I am done shaving- I see a huge difference between this and the other brands. And...the bottle is pretty and it smells yummy...bonus!

6.01.2015

The Simple Series: Simplify Technology

I am excited to share Week One of The Simple Series with you! This week, Brooke from http://apffeladay.com is challenging us to simplify Technology! Good luck!



The first thing I look at when I wake up and the last thing I check before bed, my phone. I have the tv on if I am home simply because I like the noise of it. Being a blogger, the computer screen is in front of me at least six hours in a day. If I am doing something unique or new, I spend more time figuring out the right picture to post than I do just simply enjoying it.

Not only has technology permeated almost every area in my life, I feel dependent on it. Like a drug. Do you ever feel naked or incomplete if you leave your phone at home? I do. And lets be honest, it is kind of pathetic.



I am not living in the dark believing we could live how we do without technology. Technology is not just incredible, it is necessary. But, too much of a good thing is never a good thing...in fact, it can be entirely detrimental. What does it effect? Our marriages, our children, our relationships, our experiences, ourselves.

It has been said over and over, the most important part of a relationship is communication. Well, when we rely on emojis to convey a message or spend a date night at the movie theatre, how can we expect our relationships to thrive...or even survive for that matter?

We eye those kids with iPads at a restaurant, looking at our sweet innocent baby thinking that would never be the case for us, and then we proceed to pull out our phones to document the whole night...newsflash, Instagram does not care how colorful your sushi rolls are. We want the world to see what we are experiencing, yet we aren't really experiencing it. We are staring at a screen.

So how about instead of depending on technology, we become intentional about simplifying. Allowing technology to be a tool, not a crutch. The amount of space we allow for technology to take up in our life has to change.

Now, more than ever, we need simplicity. Life seems to get crazier by the second and without intentional change, chaos will seem normal and our relationships will be exhausted. We need a detox. A little break to inspire new perspective on how technology effects our life. Untitled design
I know simplifying the technology is just one step, but it is a crucial one for sure.

This challenge will be insanely hard for me. As I mentioned before, I rely on either my phone, my computer, or my tv almost every moment of every day. But, I could not be more excited to simplify the technology in our lives.

Each day a new challenge, a new way to better the relationship we have with technology.

5.28.2015

The Simple Series: Guest Post

I am really excited that my new friend Brooke asked me to join her as she is going through a four week challenge to simplify life! Something I am passionate about is simplifying "time"- for our kids, for ourselves, for our spouses, it is a daily challenge to fight "the busy"! So, I am excited to write an article on that for her on Week Two of her series! Hope you will join us on this journey! 


{INTRODUCTION From Brooke at http://apffeladay.com}

THE SIMPLE SERIES
Life can be a little too chaotic. Lately I have been starting my days feeling overwhelmed and ending them totally drained. Thoughts whiz through my brain all day, and I hardly ever just stop. Until now…
I bring to you The Simple Series. A 4-week lifestyle change designed to inspire. I hope as we take more out of our lives, we allow more room for good to flow in.
I am thrilled to be partnering with two of my favorite blogs, Delightful Mom Stuff and Halfway to Hippy, to bring you a a series that is sure to instill a sense of simplicity. Each week will motivate you to change in new ways with focus on a specific area.
All three blogs will host the entire series, but each week will be written by a different author…a unique voice, a new perspective.
The weeks will look like this

CHALLENGE WEEK 1: SIMPLIFY TECHNOLOGY
{Authored by Brooke at Apffel A Day}
CHALLENGE WEEK 2: SIMPLIFY YOUR TIME
{Authored by Jenica at Delightful Mom Stuff}
CHALLENGE WEEK 3: SIMPLIFY YOUR FOOD
{Authored by Sarah at Halfway to Hippy}
CHALLENGE WEEK 4: SIMPLIFY YOUR WARDROBE
{Authored by Brooke at Apffel A Day}

You in? Awesome! We cannot wait to do this with you.  I hope this serves as a breath of fresh air…a way to come up and out of the chaos and be reminded of what life should truly be about.

The Simple Series begins June 1st. Keep a look out as we start week 1 by simplifying the technology in our lives!

Feel free to fill out the form (HERE) to receive The Simple Series weekly newsletter all throughout the challenge. Here you will find words of encouragement and tips regarding how to better implement change.

5.05.2015

"Friends: Making Them & Keeping Them"

This is a great book for Elementary age girls! It covers a lot of the awkward friend issues that the girls deal with- I would definitely recommend it! [[Friends: Making Them and Keeping Them]

Here is the book summary: "FRIENDS gives girls everything they need to know about making new friends and making the most of the friendships they already have. The interactive book is full of quizzes, crafts, and thoughtful advice, including tips and true friendship stories from girls. Five mini posters are bound at the back of the book for girls to tear out and share with friends!"


3.26.2015

Easter: FOCUS!

I was in my quiet time this morning (I am going through the book of Mark right now) and something struck me as we enter Easter weekend. Don't get me wrong, our family will partake in traditions and have a blast celebrating- but I want to check my focus this year! 
[I am in Mark 7]

[Mark 7: 6-23 (NIV) is awesome but specifically vs 6-9]
He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
“‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
 
They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are merely human rules.’
You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”
And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!" JESUS CHRIST
This is what inspired me as we enter into the Easter Weekend- are we more concerned with "Traditions": the Easter Dress that our families wear, what goes in their baskets for Easter morning, photo op with the bunny, what we are having for brunch, who we are having brunch with, indulging on whatever it is we may have given up for lent, hunting for eggs, dying eggs, etc.. (all fun traditions!)
OR is our primary focus on the commands of God: Are we pumped that people who have never heard the word of God might step into church on Easter and hear truth? Are we praying that the Word of God would penetrate their hearts (Mark 6:52)? Are we inviting families to join us and hear the great news? Are we praying for our pastors and church staff, for energy and protection? Are we stepping out of our comfort zone to tell someone the good news? Are we extending grace and love to a family member who we have a strained relationship with? Are we serving at church so that someone else might feel welcomed and cared for as they enter? .... Those are the commands of God. I don't want to just honor God with my "lips" or my pretty Easter Dress if you will...I want to honor God by loving others and celebrating the beautiful reason for Easter- Jesus Christ Died for ME and YOU and on the third day he rose from the dead to rule and reign at the right hand of God the Father Almighty! The traditions are fun, but let's have our primary focus be in the commands of God this year! Happy Easter! 
("Up From the Grave" Print From Dear Lillie)

3.09.2015

Time for Change!

A common theme in my life has been "change". I am the type of person who naturally likes familiar things and places; I am very cozy in a routine, I LOVE a plan, I adore a small group of trustworthy sisters, my home is my happy place- my nature is not one that loves change! However, God never lets me get cozy for too long... and I am so grateful for that. Some of the hardest times in my life have come because of change, in hindsight, it was because of the change that I experienced GREAT adventure with God. Throughout my life I have learned to be expectant and excited (often through tears) when he brings change to me...because I know great things will come! In my 35 years I have attended 12 schools, lived in 13 cities (I have been the "new girl" many many many awkward times), had 15 jobs- but, Praise God just one husband and three gorgeous (plus 1 in heaven) babies! What I have learned is this- God's plans are ALWAYS better than my plans. His ways are ALWAYS better than my ways. I want to say "yes" to whatever adventure He takes me on. 

[I asked my girl Kelsey Kempin to make this diagram pretty for me- it is something that I just jotted down one day during my quiet time and I am seriously passionate about it. I believe this with all of my heart. It is based on my life experience, studying The Scriptures and witnessing the lives of countless people who both- make bold changes and who remain in the comfort zone- and seeing the fruit on either side]



> Change does not always have to be huge or dramatic- it could be walking across the street to meet someone new outside of your comfort zone. It could be joining a new Bible Study where you do not know one person. It could be walking into a new church when you are scared to tears because it is unfamiliar and intimidating. Or taking your kids to church with an unsupportive husband at home. It could be starting your own business and leaving the comfort of your current job. It could be moving across the country with no job...just faith. Sharing your testimony. Volunteering. Praying out loud. Inviting someone new over. Learning a new skill...
Any step you take outside your comfort zone and in the will of God will lead to your destiny for the Kingdom!

>Sometimes the change is forced- losing a job, graduating from college, etc.. 
   Other times it is an opportunity- stay where I am (comfy cozy) or take a chance on a change. 
     At times, it feels very natural..other times it is scary as HECK! 
...and if you let the FEAR, PRIDE, INSECURITY...keep you from obedience and change- you will not find your God Given destiny- your Jeremiah 29:11. I absolutely believe that. We must take a risk with the Lord. Here is what I know; He is not boring. He is not comfortable. He is not exclusive. He is not predictable. He is not small. HE IS..Mighty, Powerful, Adventurous, Eternal, Provider, King, Creator, Merciful, Healer, Wise. LOVE. His resources are endless and His calling comes with sacrifice..mostly to ourselves and acceptance in this world. We must put on our Eternal Perspective and leave our comfort zone so that we WILL BE mighty for the kingdom of Heaven...Eternity! His will is NOT for us to stay the same...He makes ALL things new..He is in the business of change! 

Take the first step, ONE STEP, outside of your comfort zone. Whatever that is, it starts with one step. He is so sweet how He will baby step us from small obedience to large obedience- ultimately leading us to Destiny. It is in those baby steps that we have the faith built up to take the leaps

How do you know if the change is God's will?
> Does it line up with His Word? i.e. it will not be sinful, it will not be harmful to others, it will not be for your glory- He will get the glory. 
> Wise Counsel: Has anyone who is in the word, filled with His Spirit expressed legitimate concern about the change? If so- don't take that lightly. Likewise, if a wise person endorses the change-don't take that lightly. 
> Prayer: Do you feel at peace about the change or is your spirit a MESS about it? He is the Prince of Peace. Seek him and ask for His peace. If you do not have a peace..wait until you do or ask Him for another plan.
> Is it pleasing to God or to the world? 
> Will you bear fruit? Does it encourage/teach/utilize Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness & Self Control? 

Join me in this girls- lets focus on taking one step out of our comfort zone every day! It will only come with blessings! I fight the urge to nestle in to my little suburban bubble EVERY DAY- it is a battle to step out of that comfort zone- You can do it and so can I! Let's change the world by popping the bubble- shall we?!? 


2.21.2015

Who is Your Life Leader?

Something I struggle with, is having my quiet time with the Lord without a "plan"- I am most successful in carving out time if I am doing a study with homework or going through a set "Bible Study" with accountability. If left to my own motivation, I am usually not as productive, I journal and read something and of course have my prayer time, but it doesn't motivate me like having a planned study. [Just being honest] UNTIL recently! As previously mentioned, we just moved to Arizona and I am in a study and getting settled in, but I did not have the routine of a study with homework. I decided to start at Matthew and just hang with Jesus- read His words and really just spend time in the gospels. (if you do not have a Bible with red letters to highlight Jesus' words, I highly recommend that!) I read out of the NIV Bible- I never want to switch Bibles, I love my Bible, seeing the notes from previous studies and dates when something hit me from The Word, but I love reading from other translations as well. So I pull up BibleGateway.com and love to read from the Message, The Voice, The King James version, the New King James Version, The NET, etc.. I have gone through chapter by chapter and read it in various translations while journaling what impacts me the most and I am telling you, I can't wait to get my quiet time in every day. Jesus was/is THE MAN, I just love reading His words every day! 
SO...This morning something hit me as I was reading and studying and I wanted to share it. I read Matthew 23 in the Message- 

8-10 “Don’t let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that. You all have a single Teacher, and you are all classmates. Don’t set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let him tell you what to do. No one else should carry the title of ‘Father’; you have only one Father, and he’s in heaven. And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them. There is only one Life-Leader for you and them—Christ.
11-12 “Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty."

See, something has just been eating me up lately. I am as plugged in to Social Media as the next person, (I do not have cable, so I am not plugged into the 24/7 Newsfeed there) and as I read some things that people post it just makes my heart hurt. It occurs to me that our generation is just looking to "follow" to be led by humans who seem to be or have what we want to have. I am all for being inspired by some godly people- Beth Moore is at the top of my inspiration list...but I have to regularly check myself with her because I do not want to do the above to her..put her on a pedestal and make HER the expert over my life. That would be my doing not hers. She is being obedient to God's calling and we all make these teachers "celebrities" and place them where honestly, God does not want them. He wants to be the authority, the celebrity, the focus of our attention, the focus of our desire. He is the only one who can live up to that. I read so many comments to these Bible teaching "celebrities" and "false Bible Teaching celebrities" (because holy cow, is there ever a movement of people trying to "inspire" with the label of "Christian" or "god" but leaving out the teaching in the Bible, calling it irrelevant to the culture today) and our generation seems to be looking for someone to have it all figured out and tell us what to do. We want instant gratification. I am ALL ABOUT people using their spiritual gift of teaching to point us toward Him and help us to gain greater insight into the Word of God. My life has been dramatically changed because of faithful teachers sharing their wisdom with me. I just want to make sure to check myself and make sure that I am letting Christ be my only "Life-Leader". 

FIVE WAYS TO FOCUS ON CHRIST AS YOUR LIFE-LEADER:

1. Spend Time with HIM: Just Him, reading His word and talking with Him- I have been SO blessed by putting aside my "planned learning" and just hanging out with Him!

2. Ask Him for Wisdom and Understanding: James 1:5 "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." Let's not solely depend on others to get their wisdom and understanding. 

3. Ask God for Discernment: Make sure those who inspire you are speaking and teaching Truth according to the Word of God. Isaiah 11:3 "and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears;"

4. Ask with Confidence: YOU yes YOU are God's kid! He loves YOU, He wants YOU, He desires YOU. We are all "classmates" with ONE teacher. If you ask Him and seek Him..He will give you knowledge and wisdom! Matthew 7:7-8  “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." I think we can be so insecure that we defer out to other people too much, no one else can claim your inheritance from God. No one else can receive your salvation. No one else can have YOUR relationship with the King. Let's step up in confidence and go after Him on earth, don't wait for Heaven..Live in communion with Him NOW! 


5. Be Content with YOU: "But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty." We live trying to compare ourselves to others, social media has helped with that a LOT: "they are a better mom" "they have better skin" "they get to travel all over the world" "they have perfect children" "they get to have a baby boy and I am stuck with girls" "they are so skinny" "they cook such beautiful meals" "they have a beautiful house" "they have fabulous clothing" "they have the best car" "they never seem stressed out" "they have an amazing job".....you get the idea! God says "if you are content to SIMPLY be yourself, your life will count for plenty" or the NIV says "For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." God made you just as He wanted to, YOU are amazing, YOU are created in His image, He has a plan for YOU..lets try to live up to being the daughter of The KING not living up to the stranger on Pinterest who we think has the life we want. You are Fearfully and Wonderfully made! (Psalm 139:14) 



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