2020: What’s Been Going On With Us

Today, I’m sharing what has happened with us since Coronavirus and a major announcement. Oh 2020, you’ve been a turbulent year!

Can we all just agree that 2020 sucks? Oh, my Lord, 2020 has been a crazy year. I remember when my naive little self swore up and down that 2020 would be my year. This would be the year I reinvented myself. This would be the year I lost weight, had a successful blog, and made a new circle of friends.

Little did I know that I’d basically not leave my house from March until…what month is it? In March I traveled six hours to see a friend of mine. God, I miss that girl! It was a hard trek with two kids and in tow, but it was all worth it to see her. Unfortunately, that was pretty much my last outing. When I came back the Coronavirus was on an upward swing and my hometown was the haven for many of the newly infected patients that were coming off cruise ships.

Throughout the rest of March and April we really just did like everyone else and stayed home. My hubby was able to work from home and I decided to have a good attitude about being shut-in. We dug in and enjoyed our home. We dined outside, played in the back yard, and had cozy family movie nights. Also, we ate about nine loaves of homemade bread. You can find my simple bread recipe on the blog.

May

In May my oldest turned five. We are so lucky to have a beach just three hours away. Port Aransas is such a fun weekend getaway and my youngest loves the ocean. We were able to socially distance the entire time we were there. The nearest people were a couple hundred yards away and the boys had a blast! It was totally good for the soul. After almost two months of being cooped it, it filled my cup.

We spent lots of time helping my parents prepare their house for sale. There was so much to coordinate and since they are both high risk, we took on a lot of the things that needed to be done.

June

In June, we did more of the same. We stayed home and really only saw my parents. The strange thing is that I had become perfectly content. I was not missing any of my old activities anymore. However, I did make one big change. I got off Facebook. Can I just be honest? I needed a real break. I was really tired of everyone’s opinions. Everyone was suddenly a doctor with Corona opinions. The political discussions were getting nasty and vulgar. My newsfeed was filled with post after post of negative, hateful comments. It was exhausting seeing that every day so I decided it was time for a break.

I’m not purposing that we stick our head in the sand and ignore current events or be uninformed about vital issues. But there is lots of misinformation and biased information around Facebook. Not only that but people are just nasty to each other about differences of opinion and when my newsfeed became flooded with that kind of stuff, well…it felt like I was watching a twenty-four hour news cycle. And who wants to do that? I want to see pictures of your cute kids and what you did this weekend.

It also dawned on me that the reason why it is so soul-sucking is because we aren’t meant to digest that amount of negativity. Years ago, before the media invaded every area of your life, you were largely unaffected and removed from the awful things happening in the world. Sure, you’d hear about big events, but you weren’t bombarded with it 24/7. These days, there is almost no escape. Everything is politicized.

I just needed to step away and regroup. Regain composure. Renew my mind. Seek some peace and balance. I really felt like God was nudging me to step away. I really struggled with it because I get a great deal of my blog traffic is from Facebook. How would my blog survive? I obeyed God and totally trusted him and his leading. It really helped. My joy came back! I spent the majority of the time loving on my kids and husband and dipping in my parent’s pool. We spent nearly every weekend with my mom and dad. It really filled my cup. It’s September now and I don’t miss Facebook at all. And my blog is more successful than ever. In fact, this year, I paid for all my blog expenses and made a profit.

June also found us in the hospital. Instead of celebrating Father’s Day with my dad, my poor pop spent it in the hospital due to pulmonary edema. COVID was starting to escalate in San Antonio and so it was rather scary to have my dad in there. It was also pretty frustrating that they didn’t really resolve his problem, they just did more of what he was already doing. Please keep my dad in prayer for healing as he is still dealing with it.

July

In July, my mom’s condition worsened and she had a heart procedure done. It was really scary but COVID was at an all-time high here in San Antonio. They sent her home from the hospital pretty quickly to reduce the chance of infection. My mom’s procedure didn’t solve my mother’s ailment. Another battery of tests would be needed to get to the root of her condition.

My grandfather also took a turn for the worse. He had stopped eating and was very sick. They hospitalized him in early July and I drove to Houston to be with him. All these hospitalizations during COVID have been so stressful. You can’t be with your loved one in the hospital which really compounds the stress. My grandfather’s health is still waning.

As for us, we continued preparing my parent’s house for selling and we spent a lot of time in our garden. We had a great harvest. My oldest son enjoyed collecting vegetables. It was such a novelty to him.

We also learned that because of COVID, my husband’s company would be doing layoffs. We weren’t worried about my husband’s job because we felt like he and his position are highly valued. Little did we know this situation would take a turn (keep reading).

We also started homeschooling earlier than expected. My oldest son was begging to start homeschooling already. You can read all about our Kindergarten curriculum. This is also the first year that I am teaching both kids.

August

My mother’s health continues to decline. This month she’ll have a biopsy and multiple tests done. They are looking to rule out cancer so we are asking for prayers.

We also finally found our grove with homeschooling. I am managing well with teaching tot school, kindergarten and my household responsibilities.

Oh, August. You were the month that changed everything. This month we were informed that my husband’s company is closing their local office. They will be laying off 20% of their staff and relocating those who remain to Houston. Y’all, this was a gut punch to us. If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know we just went through this a year ago! It was so stressful to job hunt for six months and here we are again!

With the combining of offices, we may not be as secure as we originally thought because of the potential duplication of roles. Also, with my parent’s health declining, parting from them is the very last thing I want to do. The week we found out I was really upset. Like had-a-complete-meltdown-with-God kind of upset. There were lots of ugly tears and complaining. I couldn’t sleep worrying about all the possible undesirable scenarios. I think my breakdown was also a build-up of the stressors we have been dealing with for months. The stresses of all my loved ones who are ill, the stress of selling my parent’s house (and knowing we may have to go through it again for us), the fact that life is so different post-Corona.

I decided to be obedient to the Lord and accept whatever His will is. I’ve made up my mind not to worry about this and laid it at the cross for God to sort out. Y’all, I don’t know how all of this will turn out. I don’t know what will happen or how we’ll get through this. Instead of obsessing over what I don’t know, I will dwell on what I do know. What I do know is the Lord is insanely good. His plan and His will are perfect and flawless. He radically loves us and is always working for my ultimate good (salvation and sanctification). And He never ever leaves us!

I’ll be posting more about this situation as we know more. In the meantime, please drop your prayer requests in the comments. I’d love to pray for you if you are struggling.

Why Turning 40 Isn’t That Bad

This week I turned forty. So that got me thinking about why turning 40 isn’t that bad. If you are worried about aging, there are lots of perks.

why turning 40 isn't that bad

This week, I turn forty. Can I be honest? I was having a hard time with it. Seriously, what happened? I was just in my twenties. My thirties went by so quickly. As I approached my birthday, I started to feel old. So that got me thinking. What does being forty feel like? Or maybe more to the point, “how am I different at forty?” I began to realize, there are actually a lot of perks at this age. Here are my reasons why turning 40 isn’t that bad.

You Don’t Care About Being Cool

I finally made it! I don’t care about being popular in social groups. I no longer feel the need to be hip or cool. I’m just me. My husband will poke fun at the fact that he has tamed me into a lame mom. At first, I cared, but now…I’m totally comfortable in this stage. Once you hit forty, you’ll realize that there is a lot more important things in life than popularity and fitting in. You find you don’t need the constant validation of the world. After all, that’s exhausting.

You Become Aware of Your Own Mortality

Now that I’m forty I am burying more people, particularly in my parent’s generation. Recently, I’ve become aware of my own fleeting life. Now, this isn’t all gloom and doom. Don’t worry, I’m not writing my own eulogy or making internment plans for myself. Rather, I’m aware that I am in the second half of my life and when that happens, things become more meaningful. Forgiveness becomes easier once you realize that time is short and that most arguments and misunderstandings don’t matter in eternity. Realizing your own mortality helps you make wiser decisions for the future and for your kids. I’m suddenly very aware of how time is precious.

You’re Quick to Kick Toxic Relationships to the Curb

I think by the time you hit forty, you generally lose patience for things that are toxic. That includes people and situations that just aren’t good for you. At this point in life, you’ve become more discerning about who you let into your inner circle. You have standards about how you expect to be treated and you aren’t afraid to tell someone to “take a hike” if they are poisonous or soul-sucking. You also become more aware of when someone is taking advantage of you. Getting older simply means you have no time for jerks in your life.

Being 40 Doesn’t Feel That Old

Being forty is such a weird feeling. I don’t feel particularly old, but I also don’t relate to twenty-year-olds. I find myself asking if I was that dumb and naive at that age! People in their twenties suddenly look and act like teenagers. When did that happen? I don’t feel as young as I did when I was in my twenties. I’m less energetic and not nearly as spry as I was and yet, I don’t feel old yet. I have a ton of grey hair sprouting all over my head that reminds me that I’m experienced.

You Wish You Would Have Saved More

When you are young, you think you have all the time in the world. Money? You have plenty of time to earn that! Wrong. You only have so many years you can work and as far as companies are concerned you have a shelf life. People in their late fifties and early sixties are pushed out of companies because of their big salaries and their productivity level. You want to leave your kids something and you realize that you may have to live off your retirement savings for decades. You suddenly realize how important it is to save money.

There is No More Condescension Because You’re Young

I can only think of one person who still treats me like I’m a child and that’s my mother, but I think its common for moms to always be moms. Everyone else treats me like the forty-year-old that I am. Experienced. Wise. Worthy of respect. At this age, you finally know a thing or two. You feel like you have more equality with peers and you feel well-rounded.

Your Peace Becomes a Priority

One thing that has changed as I’ve grown older is how much I value peace. I find I have no time for drama, nosy people, or things that stress me out. I detest busyness and value “me time.” I appreciate quiet time, a full prayer life, and personal relationships before anything else. I’m choosy about how I spend my time. You become more comfortable saying “no” to people and situations.

You Become More Practical

I’m not saying that you suddenly give up on dreams or goals when you become middle-aged. But what I will say is that you become more practical about goals. These days my goals are more realistic. Your priorities shift too. You become satisfied with the smaller things in life. The things that really matter. Designer labels and status symbols don’t matter to me anymore. I roll my eyes at fashionistas and I don’t care what shoes I have as long as they are comfortable. I’m happier at this age because I have found contentment in simple living.

You Become Kinder to Yourself

This may or may not be true for everyone, but it has certainly become true for me. At this age, I’m way kinder to myself. I’ve become better at taming my inner critic. It’s become easier to accept myself the way I am. I’ve learned to slow down and give myself time to rest and recharge. I give myself grace and room for mistakes, something I never did when I was young. I was harsh with myself. Some of the insecurities take a back seat and you discover a whole new kind of confidence. These days, I’m gentle with how I treat myself.

Good Health Becomes A Blessing

It’s true. I think around this age you stop taking your health for granted. People around you are having health issues and you begin to realize that good health is a blessing and something that requires conscientiousness. You start to realize if you want to see your children grow and have children of their own, you need to take care of yourself.

You Realize Most Problems Aren’t The End of the World

When I was younger, I fretted a lot more. I will always worry more than my husband, but I still worry a lot less than I used to. Experience tells you that most of our problems work out and often for the better. Many things we worry about never even happen. You gain perspective and learn to let problems play out. You realize that everything will be okay. Finally, you figure out that tough seasons don’t last. It becomes clear that disappointment isn’t the end of the world and that success is never a straight line.

Tell Me What You Think

As it turns out, turning 40 isn’t that bad. If you are over forty, I would love to hear about how you feel about your age. How have you changed as you’ve grown older? What is different about you in middle age?

10 Life Lessons From My Grandmother

As I missed my grandmother, I began to think of all the wisdom and examples she set for me. Today, I’m sharing 10 life lessons from my grandmother.

10 life lessons from my grandmother

10 Life Lessons From My Grandmother

It’s been wonderful to watch my own mother with my children. The grandparent-grandchild relationship is so special and the loving bond between them is almost magical to watch. The burden of having to teach and discipline a child is set aside and the fullness of enjoyment between adult and child truly blossoms. As I watch them together, I wonder what my boys will remember about my mom, their grandmother. That got me thinking. What legacy did my grandmother leave to me? Here are 10 life lessons from my grandmother.

Start Every Morning With Prayer

Every morning my grandmother woke up while the rest of the house was still sleeping and began her morning prayers. Then once done, just about the time everyone else was waking, the smell of frying bacon and eggs would start filling the rooms. Except for Fridays which was pancake day!

Now that I am a mother myself, I finally understand why she rose so early to pray. Life gets incredibly busy and if you don’t make God a priority, you may miss the opportunity to pray at all. So these days, I follow her example. As much as I value my sleep, I wake early before the kids and pray before I do anything else. It sets the tone for my day and provides the strength and encouragement I need to get through the day. It’s an example my grandmother always set for me and one I hope to continue.

Be Your Own Teacher

My grandmother was one of seventeen children. Yes, you read that right. Growing up during the Great Depression, she left school in 2nd grade to go work picking cotton in the Texas heat. She left before she learned how to fully read and write.

My grandma was determined to learn how to read and write even if it meant learning it on her own. She taught herself arithmetic. The proverbial, “pull yourself up by your bootstraps,” that was my grandmother. She didn’t find excuses. Instead, she set out for what she wanted and she made it happen herself. She was a fighter. She was scrappy and I loved that about her. My grandmother was an amazing cook and was completely self-taught. She clipped recipes from the newspaper and wasn’t afraid to experiment in the kitchen. She didn’t wait for someone to teach her. Instead, she taught herself. I’m like her in that way. I teach myself how to do things just like her. Don’t wait for someone to teach you. Learn it on your own.

Marriage Is For Life

When my first marriage was ending, I was visiting my grandparents. She asked me how things were going with my husband (it was already known my marriage was on the rocks). My eyes welled up as I began to explain he had been cheating. Without missing a beat, she motioned me to follow her to her room.

Now, let me explain something. My grandmother’s room was very private. In her tiny house, her small bedroom was her private sanctuary. It was pretty well known that her bedroom was off-limits. So when she invited me inside, I was intrigued. She sat me down and shared with me how my grandfather (a man whom I idolized) had been unfaithful to her early in their marriage.

10 life lessons from my grandmother
Me and My Grandmother

Then she explained that this was still not a reason to cut and run. I know that will incense many people reading this, because today’s modern world says, “if someone fails you, get out because you deserve better.” But in her world, in her time, in her faith – it was not a matter of “if your spouse fails you” it was a matter of “when.” In other words, you can count on your spouse failing you because we are flawed people.

She explained that when you vow to be married to someone for life, you and your marriage will be tested in every conceivable way. Sickness. Infidelity. Financial trouble. Death. Miscarriages. Your marriage will be threatened by all of it – and marriage can survive it all. It’s a matter of choice. The hard times, she explained, they pass. You press on.

My ex-husband ultimately left me for someone else. There was nothing I could do to keep him from leaving and even after he moved out, I tried reconciling for nearly 24 months. In my second marriage, the difference is we both refuse to entertain divorce. We continue to be tested by those things and my grandmother was right. The hard times, they pass. You just keep holding on refusing to give up on each other. You choose your spouse every time, every day. Marriage is for life.

Stop And Dance

When I was a preteen, we were visiting my grandmother. We stayed in a room that had been converted from a screened porch. In the room, I found some old swing records of hers. At the time, the movie Swing Kids had come out and had ignited in me a love for big band swing music. My uncle Abel helped me play them on his stereo record player and my grandmother, who was working in the kitchen came over when she heard Benny Goodman echoing down the hall.

It was one of my fondest memories. My grandmother dancing with me in that little room. I still remember the sound her slippers made on the floor as she wiggled back and forth with the vigor of a twenty-year-old. Music made her feel young again and music was always there at her happiest.

From Mexican ballads to swing music, my grandmother loved music and dancing. She didn’t have the best singing voice, but that didn’t stop her from singing along. She was one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met, but she always had time to stop and dance.

My grandmother fixing dinner at our house

A Budget Is About Giving Every Dollar a Purpose

Dave Ramsey has got nothing on my grandmother! My grandmother was using the cash envelope system before Ramsey was even born! My grandmother managed the daily household finances and she ran a tight ship. On one occasion when I was very young, I was going to accompany one of my uncles to the grocery store. She motioned me to her room and I stood there as she opened her dresser. In her drawer, she kept envelopes filled with cash. Her scratchy handwriting labeled the envelopes’ purpose. She kept tallies of the deposits and withdraws on the back of the envelopes. Every dollar had a purpose and a place.

She clipped coupons and she planned meals. She never shopped out of boredom and she never ate out at restaurants. I even recall she wore the same purple dress to church for years and had one pair of dress shoes. She was willfully disciplined in finance. “Save your money, Mare Mare,” she said as she pulled money out of the grocery envelope. “Only buy what you need.”

I still remember her advice. Now financial gurus, like Dave Ramsey, make millions showing people how to utilize the cash envelope system to stay within a budget. But my grandmother with her 2nd-grade education figured this out with her own common sense. Her rules:

  1. Save before spending.
  2. See what you spend.
  3. Only spend only what you need.

Frugality has been lost in recent generations. I find it sad that generations today can’t even tell the difference between a need and a want. You don’t need a cell phone. Really you don’t! Eating out? That’s a luxury. That’s why young people today haven’t figured out how to buy a house in their twenties as my grandparents and parents did. Save your money and give every dollar a purpose.

Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

My grandmother was clean. Actually, I don’t think there is a word clean enough to describe her. I’d trust eating from her floor before eating off my counters. I mean, who washes their windows every week and scrubs the driveway and patio with Tide? My grandmother, that’s who! One thing I will always remember about her house it was immaculate. There was order and a place for everything.

As a homemaker myself I strive to be like her but admit I fall horribly short. I comfort myself with the fact that she didn’t have a 4,000 square foot house to clean like me. She did, however, have six children. Yet, she fixed three full meals a day for a family of eight and not just any meals, comfort food and hearty dishes.

She is my example of what a homemaker should be. I honestly don’t know how she did it. She may have been poor, but her home was so pristine and orderly, that her simple things looked incredibly tasteful. Her house always seemed peaceful and it was due to her organization and cleanliness.

Play In the Dirt

As busy as my grandmother was in the home, I remember her equally busy on the outside of the home. In fact, I was remembering that for years her washroom was outside in a small room on her back patio.

In my garden, I have her Irises. Over the years, the bulbs have yielded new bulbs and I even have an offspring of her redbud tree. Every time I see them bloom I think of her.

She was an avid gardener herself and loved to grow flowers and vegetables. Even though she’s been gone for around thirteen years, her flowers still bloom in my grandfather’s garden. She taught me to get outside and play in the dirt. It’s so therapeutic.

10 life lessons from my grandmother
My grandmother’s Irises blooming in my yard

The Heart of the Home is the Kitchen

Kitchens are for bringing families together. I underestimated that idea in my youth, but it’s true. Stories are relived around the kitchen table. Wisdom is imparted over dessert. Laughter so hard you feel like you might choke. The feeling of being so satisfyingly full that the most comfortable position is reclining in the dining chair. Memories are made at dinnertime.

My grandmother was an amazing cook, but an even more impressive baker. I miss her washing dishes at her sink. I recall the sound of her slippers clapping on the linoleum floor. The pies cooling on the window sill. The smell of coffee emanating from the tin percolator on her stove. Her 7up cake standing proudly on her kitchen table. The fragrance of freshly baked oatmeal cookies as you entered the front door. The fluffy boiled icing in the stand mixer. The scents and tastes immediately take me back and also one of the things I miss the most.

Share your recipes. Don’t hoard them. When someone passes away, a little piece of them is left behind when you recreate their recipe. Sure, it’s never exactly like the way they made it, but when you’re missing them, it’s a little slice of heaven on earth. Cook a homecooked meal. Pass down recipes. Don’t underestimate the memories that are created in the kitchen.

The Best Diet is Moderation

I’m not sure my grandmother ever topped 110 lbs her whole life, even while pregnant. My grandmother was a tiny little thing. She was only about 4’9″ and she never dieted. Instead, she enjoyed everything in moderation. A small spoonful of everything is how I remember her plate. I never saw her deny herself a dessert. In fact, she had quite a sweet tooth. But I do remember her small portions. She was never indulgent.

Her dinner plates were small and as my Aunt recalled, one loaf of bread would last their family of eight an entire week. The secret to her being thin wasn’t a fad or crash diet. It wasn’t Keto, Whole 30 or Paleo. It was moderation.

And exercise? She never went to a gym. She never worked out to get rid of the postpartum mom bod. Housework was her exercise. She earned her flat tummy by scrubbing windows and floors, making beds. Going all the way outside to load her washing machine and hanging clothes on a line. Gardening and vacuuming. I never recall her sitting until it was time to eat or sleep. Sewing was probably the exception. I don’t even recall her sitting down to fold clothes. She was pretty clear she didn’t think it was work if you were sitting.

10 life lessons from my grandmother

Hard Work Builds Character

My grandmother was the hardest working person I’ve known. I have a lot of them in my family. My father and brother are extremely hard workers. I myself, am a work horse. But my grandmother worked herself to the bone for her family.

I never asked her why she worked so hard. I’d be curious to know what motivated her every day to such perfectionism. She worked from sun up to sun down and I rarely saw her sit down to rest.

What I’ve learned from modeling her work ethic is that hard work builds character. When things don’t come easy, we appreciate them more. It molds an attitude of sacrifice and perseverance.

Until We Meet Again

I miss my grandmother more than I expected to. There are so many things I wish I could ask her now that I’m married and have children of my own. There are some days when I miss her dearly. It’s easy to cry at certain times when I consider how long she’s been gone and how much longer it will be until I see her again in heaven. But I’m so grateful for the memories and the life lessons my grandmother taught me.

Herbaceous Green Wifi Sign

Friends don’t let friends be without wifi. Save time for you and your guests by placing this Herbaceous Green Wifi Sign so your guests don’t don’t have to ask you.

Herbaceous Green Wifi Sign

Hey there, friend. Today, I’m introducing something I think will really help you. Let’s be honest, everyone looks for wifi when we are in a new spot and guests are no exception when they enter into your house.

I host a lot! You are trying to set food out and keep up with the ever ringing door bell and in the midst of it all people are asking you for your wifi password! It happens all the time. Our wifi password isn’t the easiest to remember either.

That’s why over the last few years, I’ve become a little smarter. A few years ago I created a sign that had our network name and wifi password. I put it in a cute frame and have it prominently displayed at parties near the food station. No more asking!

Get Your Herbaceous Green Wifi Sign

Click Here To Visit My Etsy Shop

Herbaceous Green Wifi Sign

So today, I’m introducing you to that same sign I made now FOR SALE on my Etsy shop. The best part about it is I’ve made completely editable. That’s right. If you buy it now, you’ll be able to edit it yourself FOREVER! Buy it once and never again. If you move or if your network name or password changes, you’ll have forever access to edit it again and reprint it at home. How awesome is that?

If you purchase it, it you’ll get access to two sizes:

  • 8×10″
  • 5×7″

You can print it off at a home computer or you can email it a local print shop or photo center to print for you. You’ll also be able to choose from additional fonts.

Also, take a look at how you can use this sign in a guest room in my post How To Create A Guest Room They Won’t Want to Leave. Thanks for reading. Until next time friends! Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog before you leave.

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Scripture Reading: Courage

Courage is faith in action. We are called to step out in faith, regardless of opposition. Please join me for August Scripture Reading: Courage.

scripture reading courage
Photo Courtesy of Unsplash by Guillaume Briard

I need courage. I’m terrified at failing at this blog. Deep down, I wonder if I’m tough enough to handle all the crazy curveballs parenthood throws. Did I ever mention that my marriage to Dan is actually my second marriage? Yup, my first marriage failed after he left me for another woman. I get sick to my stomach if I entertain the possibility of this one ever failing. Here is another big secret – I’m in the market for new mom tribe, but too scared to actually go out and make friends. Right now, my husband is unemployed and I don’t work. God has promised us a job and we are trusting in him to provide. I need courage.

Don’t we all need a little courage? We all have things that we either too scared to set out and do or situations that leave us cowered in a corner. We need courage. Well, we’re blessed because Christ provides it. The bible is full of examples of courage.

Joshua & Caleb

One of my favorite stories about courage in the bible is about Joshua and Caleb, two of the twelve spies sent to scout the promise land. Here we find the people of Israel, they’ve been led out of Egypt and finally they found themselves at the threshold of their new home. The spies came back with a report and proof of plentifulness of the land. “We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is the fruit.” There was just one catch. The current inhabitants were formidable and giant. “We were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so were in their sight.”

That was all the people of Israel needed to hear. They immediately became despondent and began to whine and complain. After all they had suffered they were overwhelmed by the thought of having another obstacle in front of them. Even though God had promised to give them the land and victory, the Israelites began to rebel. Only Joshua and Caleb remained faithful – and God was watching.

No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you.; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors.

God ordered that all the non-believers over the age of twenty to remain in the wilderness. Those over twenty, along with Joshua and Caleb were permitted to enter. The disobedience of the Israelites cost them their promised land.

Choose Courage

I like to think of courage as the physical manifestation of faith. In other words, courage is faith in action. Throughout scripture God encourages us to “fear not” and ” be courageous.” He tells us “do not be discouraged.” Courage is how we obey those commands. Courage is not the absence of fear. It is feeling fear and doing it anyway.

Faith is a choice. We choose to either take God at his word or disbelieve him. God never lies. So when he says he will not leave or forsake us, we can count on that. If he promises a victory, he will ensure a win. When he promises to provide, we won’t go hungry.

Peter and John

After the death of Christ, the apostles continued performing miracles in the name of Jesus. John and Peter are subsequently arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin, the very council of holy men responsible for crucifying Christ. First they are interrogated. Then the Sanhedrin forbade them from healing in the name of Jesus Christ. In holy courage, Peter and John stand up against the council and stand in faith refusing to stop. The Sanhedrin, faced with the healed man and a growing crowd of support for Peter and John, agree to release the apostles. As a Christian, you can expect to be told to stay silent or reject the teachings of Christ.

Of all heroes in scripture, I find Paul the most inspiring. Paul faced numerous threats of imprisonment (Acts 20:23, 21:11) and death (Acts 20:3, 23:12-14) and refused to yield. In fact, Paul wrote about half the New Testament imprisoned, surrounded by a sewer. During his imprisonment he even dared to evangelize to his captors (Acts 23:1-10, 24:21-26, 26:32, 28:30-31). Regardless of circumstances, he reminds us we are “more than conquerors.” This kind of steadfast courage is not generated by the flesh, but rather manifested by the Holy Spirit.

Pray everyday for God to bless you with holy courage.

Courage & Conviction

Don’t think that persecution was only in the time of Christ. Christians today are facing immense opposition. The world (society at large) will always try to promote and normalize sin. Christians should not only remain obedient to God’s word, but to continue to speak light into the world. However, this is both unwelcome and unpopular. Christians can expect to ridiculed, humiliated, ostracized, and mocked for our beliefs. In these moments, we will have to find holy courage to remain convicted. Jesus told us that most of the world is fleshly and on a path to destruction. Doing the right thing is a lonely road. Most of the world, won’t agree with you.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

When we endure humiliation or persecution for His sake, we should remember that we have the great reward of heaven. Earthly persecution is temporary.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:10

Scripture Reading: Courage

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Printable Back to School Signs

School time is upon us! Memorialize you child’s first day of school with these cute printable back to school signs.

Back to School Signs

Wow! Can you believe we are in August? It’s hard to believe that summer vacation is coming to an end and our little ones are going to heading back to school. I’ll be honest. We didn’t do much this summer. It was just so hot here in Texas. Also, with all the uncertainty we had with our job loss and moving life just kind of got put on hold.

We are homeschooling this year and I can’t wait to start preschool with my little guy. I know most kids are heading back to school in August and what better way to start than to memorialize their first day of school.

Printable Back to School Signs

That’s why I created some printable back to school signs. I’ve made one from tot school (2-3 years), preschool, kindergarten, and from first to eighth grade. I’ve also included a “Back to School” signs that don’t include grade years. These are great if you don’t want to disclose which grade your child is in or if you want your non school age children to participate with their siblings in the photos.

You can get all 12 signs for just $5.

You can purchase it through my Etsy shop or through my shop here on the blog. All you have to do is print them out one your home computer or at a print shop and have your child hold the sign while you snap some photos. The signs are sized for 8.5 x 11.”

Purchase Your Printable Back to School Signs Here

Follow the link to my Etsy Shop

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How To Make a 72 Hour Bug Out Bag

Be prepared for natural disasters and emergencies. Learn how to make a 72 hour bug out bag.

A 72 hour bug out bag

Growing up in Texas, we live with tropical storms, hurricanes and tornadoes every year. In fact, when hurricane Harvey came through, lots of friends mine were nervous about it. Growing up around them, I was quite used to it – plus, I’m well prepared. That got me thinking, maybe I could help others have peace of mind, by showing you how to make a 72 hour bug out bag.

A 72 Hour Bug Out Bag

A bug out bag is a backpack or some other portable bag that you take with you in the event you need to leave your house in an emergency. Conversely, you may be isolated into one safe area of your house. During hurricane Harvey, for instance, many people sought refuge on their second floor when the entire downstairs was flooded. The reality is it might be days before help comes or waters recede. In many cases, windstorms produce flooding which in turn can contaminate local water supplies.

Believe me. I worked as an insurance adjuster for 12 years. Everyday I helped people recover from cataclysmic disasters. Some families go a week or more without electricity. It isn’t just homes that are affected, it’s business too. When I worked hurricane Katrina, even gas stations and grocery stores were destroyed. Credit card machines and everything electronic didn’t work. So whether it be to retreat somewhere in your house or if you have to leave, a bug out bag will help you survive. You should have an emergency bug out bag for every person in your home.

What to Put In Your Bag

Medical Supplies

  • First aid kit
  • Mini Bottles of Alcohol (high proof)
  • Anti-bac
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent

Food & Hydration

  • Collapsible Camp stove
  • Fuel Tablets
  • Dehydrated / non-perishable food for 72 hours (per person)
  • Water
  • Collapsible cup
  • Water purification tablets
  • Fishing line and hook

Shelter

  • Tarp
  • Zip ties
  • Emergency Mylar blankets
  • Paracord
  • Twine or rope
  • Emergency rain poncho
  • Bungee cords

Heat Sources / Other

  • Flashlight
  • Latex gloves
  • Clothes pins
  • Laundry soap (Fels Naptha)
  • Compass
  • Hand/foot warmers
  • Dust mask (N95)
  • Tissue or toilet paper
  • Playing cards (to pass the time)
  • Candles
  • Knife
  • Scissors
  • Signal mirror
  • Flint fire starter
  • Glow sticks
  • Duct tape
  • Work gloves
  • Mini sewing kit
  • Travel size toothpaste
  • Whistle
  • Waterproof matches

Here is a look inside a few things that are in my bag.

72 hour bug out back
72 hour bug out bag

Usage of Supplies

Basic survival consists of shelter from the elements, food, water, and medicine.

Many supplies serve several purposes. Liquor, for example can be a disinfectant for supplies, even for wounds. It can be used as a mouth wash (it kills bacteria), to destroy mold, even as a fire starter. If you blend it with an oil it can even be used as a bug and insect repellent. Of course, it can also be used a pain reliever. You want to aim for the highest proof possible, like vodka. Mini liquor bottles are ideal.

A bandana can be used to wash yourself or your dishes. Cut into ribbons, you can mark your trail. Additionally, you can use it as a makeshift tourniquet, napkin, pot holder, a pouch, sunblock, sling, filter, firearm cleaner, makeshift toilet paper, dust mask, etc. You can really get creative with your supplies in an emergency situation.

Storage

I recommend storing some of your supplies in waterproof and ziplock bags. Not only do they protect your equipment, but the bag itself is a tool. You want to store your bag at room temperature.

Water Storage

When it comes to water and food, it has to be stored properly. For instance, food that you buy at the grocery store is designed for short life shelf storage. Normally with in a few months, even many dry goods will expire. Even drinking water needs to be safely stored for long term storage. Examples:

For your bug out bag (portable) things like the Lifestraw or long term water pouches.

food storage

Food Storage

I recommend buying your emergency food from places like Auguson Farms, My Patriot Supply, Legacy Food Storage, Wise Food Storage. Most of the foods are designed for 20-30 year storage, light in weight and only require water to hydrate and cook.

Even Wal-mart online has emergency food storage. For instance, you can buy this 30 Day Food Storage Supply and divide it among the bug out bags for your family.

I hope you never encounter an emergency situation, but I can assure you that being prepared gives you a lot of peace of mind. If you enjoyed this blog post, please subscribe to my blog for future updates and freebies. Thanks for reading!

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12 Tips For Happy Planner Newbies

So you bought your first decorative planner! If you are new to the decorative planning world, I’m proving 12 tips for Happy planner newbies.

12 Tips for Happy Planner Newbies

12 Tips for happy planner newbies

Make It Your Own

There are no “rules” when it comes to using your planner. These days there are literally hundreds of Facebook groups and thousands of Instagram feeds with beautifully curated spreads. Ultimately, your planner should reflect you and your personality. It should be functional and actually help you get organized. It’s okay if your handwriting is terrible or if things are crossed out or highlighted. Your planner is yours and no one else’s! Don’t copy or compare yourself. Find your own planner “voice.”

Start Slowly

Confession time: I own every sticker book made by The Happy Planner ®. In fact, I even have duplicates. But then, I’ve been a Happy Planner since 2015. I’ve had a long time to acquire them. When you first get your planner it’s tempting to go a little overboard and buy every sticker book and accessory on the market. But I can tell you, it gets overwhelming for a lot of newbies. Most sticker books have around 1,000 stickers in them. Some people are overwhelmed by spending time flipping around sticker books looking for that one sticker they want. Start slowly. Buy two or three sticker books to start with. You can build your collection slowly (if you choose) over time.

Find Planner Peace

With the October release last year, I was so excited to get the Super Mom planner. After all, I’m a stay-at-home-mom, right? I should rock this thing! Until then, I had always used a vertical planner. This planner was a dashboard layout, meaning it grouped tasks into categories for you like errands, shopping lists, phone calls, etc. Four months into it and I couldn’t make it work. I struggled to decorate it. Then I suddenly realized I needed things by the day, not by the task. I went back to my vertical planner. The one that was tried and true. My point is, don’t be afraid to change what’s not working for you. Don’t hold onto it because you spent money or invested time into it. If something is stopping you from enjoying your planner or staying organized, switch things up. Find what works for you.

Decorating on a Budget

No one says you have to fill up your page with stickers. Some people use washi tape, highlighters, and markers to decorate. Washi tape is a Japanese masking tape. It’s colorful, but it’s also very inexpensive for how much you get on a roll. It comes in all different thicknesses and some even come with foiled metallic designs or glitter. This makes it a very inexpensive decorating option. When first buying washi tape, I recommend starting with basic colors. The Happy Planner has their own washi tape which coordinates well with a lot of their stickers. But Michaels, Joann, and Hobby Lobby all sell tubes and single rolls of washi tape.

Washi tape
Photo by Mary Lentz

Decorating Ahead

I love to decorate 3-4 weeks ahead. I basically plan for the current month. This is easy to do since my life is very routine-oriented. But for some people, they’re a little fearful about planning in advance. Others like to stay within the current week because their decorating corresponds with their current mood. That’s fine. As I said earlier, your planner is yours. However, your planner is also supposed to be functional. One thing that helped me, is using sticky notes as placeholders for future events. If you are worried about plans changing between now and a future event, sticky notes are a great solution. If something changes, you can easily remove or adjust without losing any real estate on your planner.

Scheduling Planner Time

Using a planner is about creating a habit. For people who have never used a planner before, it might be hard to remember to open it up. I recommend scheduling a time to plan. For me, I make time on the weekend, typically on a Sunday. I sit down to decorate and go over all my goals, appointments and tasks I need to get done. I found I have to prioritize planner time. That sounds silly, doesn’t it, but it’s true. Making time to plan has to be just as important as an appointment or anything else I have to remember. I’ve also found that it helps to keep it open on my workspace. For me as a stay-at-home mom, it’s my kitchen. I keep it open on the counter and refer back to it all day long to make sure I accomplish things.

I Bought A New Planner But I Can’t Use It Yet

So perhaps you purchased a planner, but it doesn’t begin until July or January. Fear not, if this is a classic planner, you can buy a monthly extension pack to start right away. The extension pack is available in the classic vertical and in the hourly formats. The pack comes with six months of undated sheets (date stickers included).

Do I Need More Than One Planner

Technically, no you don’t. The beauty of the Happy Planner is that you can do everything from one planner. Wellness, fitness, budgeting, faith (bible study) can all be done from your planner by using stickers as your guide. However, there are definitely people, myself included that prefer more in-depth planner help.

For example, I own a Wellness planner. I really needed some self-care after giving birth to my son. I use it to schedule “me time,” things that bring me joy, and even use it as a journal to pen thoughts and work through emotions. If you want a look at how to use it, see my post How to Use the Wellness Happy Planner. Truth be told, I own 5 planners that I use on a regular basis. (One to run this blog, my every day, my teacher planner, my wellness and my faith planner which I use for bible study.) Other people want a large focus on fitness or budgeting. If that’s the case, there are options for you, but it certainly isn’t necessary.

Wellness planner

Dashboards

I’m a little surprised by this one, but I often hear, “what are dashboards and how do I use them? Dashboards are effectively bookmarks. They are placeholders you can use to easily flip to your monthly or weekly spread. One thing, I also like to use it for is sticky notes! I love to place sticky notes on them as little reminders for things that don’t actually need to go in my planner. I know some people use it as a dry erase board. The choice is yours.

Dry Erase Boards

Which leads us to the next topic. Over the last year, the Happy Planner (MAMBI) has come out with dry erase inserts. Lots of people love the idea. I picked up as many as I could find. However, after they first came out with it, people complained that the dry erase smudged from opening and closing the planner. I highly recommend using wet erase markers like Vis-a-Vis.

New Releases

I always get asked, “when does Happy Planner come out with new product?” The Happy Planner actually has a pretty easy schedule to follow. The new year for Happy Planner actually begins in the fall, normally October. This is when the Happy Planners for the upcoming year start hitting store shelves. In the Spring, often around March or April, there is another release of sticker books, accessories and 18-month planners. These planners begin in July and continue from January to December of the next year. Later in the summer, the Teacher and Student planners and accessories are released. In between the seasonal releases, Happy Planner has started to release few other limited edition releases such as the Be Happy Box.

Planner spread

What Is the Happy Planner Squad

The Happy Planner Squad is a group of Happy Planner enthusiasts (fans like you and me). Using their Instagram accounts, they promote Happy Planner products by illustrating their designs and ways they use Happy Planner in their everyday life. These ambassadors are hand selected by the MAMBI (Me and My Big Ideas – makers of the Happy Planner) team. Once a year, they accept submissions and the rules and guidelines will be on the Happy Planner site. All are encouraged to apply, but competition is fierce. Currently, the ambassadorship commitment is one calendar year.

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Easy Cheap Date Nights At Home

Date nights can be hard to come by, especially when you have kids and are on a budget. Here are easy cheap date nights at home!

Hey there, girl! I know how tough it is to get date nights! When I was first married it was so easy to have a date night. But once kids got here, finding time for a date night was super hard. I mean just getting the kids in bed and sleeping at the same time requires all the stars and planets to align. I get it!

My hubby and I don’t have a babysitter or family that babysit regularly. Therefore, we gotta get pretty creative when it comes to date nights. Date nights at home are totally doable when you have kids. I’ve found it’s much better than doing nothing at all! We’ve actually had some pretty fun nights at home. I thought I would share some easy cheap date nights at home that have helped us keep the embers burning, stay connected and have fun together!

Puzzle Night

I know what you’re thinking. This is boring, but my husband and I actually end up loving this. Its low-key and is actually a nice way to relax together. We talk and connect while we do it. Maybe it’s because puzzles require to you to work together towards a goal. You can always put on some music and pour a few drinks. During the winter, I make a steaming pot of hot chocolate and we do it fireside. There are lots of ways to make this special. Puzzles are relatively cheap and you can do them again and again.

Dessert Flight

Okay, who doesn’t love desserts? This is a simple date night and you don’t actually have to do any cooking. Go to a bakery or visit the bakery at your local grocery store. Ours has some really nice single cheesecake, cupcake and cake servings. Pick up a few pieces and once the kids are in bed, light some candles, put a pretty tablecloth on the table and set out a dessert tasting. You can make a special pot of amaretto or Irish creme coffee and you can always use decaf coffee if you are worried about it keeping you up at night!

Courtesy of Unsplash

The Not So Newly Wed Game

For this game, come up with 20 or 30 questions that can be posed to both of you. Get creative! The best questions are ones you don’t really know the answer to or have never discussed before. Then take some time and answer the questions as you think your spouse would answer them. Your spouse does the same for you. Then go back through the answers and see how right you were.

Themed Date Night

After my first son was born, I did a themed at home date night once a month. So instead of just plopping in front of the TV, I tried to make it special by having a recurring theme. For one year, we “visited a country around the world. Example: One month was Ireland. I fixed Irish coddle and soda bread for dinner and we watched Michael Collins. Next was Egypt. I found some Egyptian recipes on Pinterest and we watched The Mummy. Another month, I made some homemade pasta and we watched The Godfather. You get the idea. We found that by creating a theme night, it made the run-of-the-mill tv night much more fun.

Board Game Night

I know you’ve heard this one before. But game nights can be so much fun. These days, there are lots of two person board games. Here are some of my favorites:

Or you can go the retro kid night and do a fun game like Operation, Jenga, Chess, Checkers, Guess Who or another games.

Fondue Night

This is one of our favorite things to do, but we love fondue night. We tend to do this more during the wintertime. Fondue is easy to do. It’s just Swiss cheese, white wine, garlic, and lemon juice. Obviously you need a fondue pot, but you can find cheap ones on Amazon. We cut up dippers like shrimp, apples, salami, bread, tomatoes, and veggies. You could also do a raclette if you didn’t want to do a fondue pot. They are just as fun. Then, yes….we do chocolate fondue. In fact, you can always just do that once the kids are in bed. We do Chocolate and peanut butter, s’mores or sea salt caramel. There are lots of fun combinations.

Floor Picnic

This is kind of a spin off of the fondue night. But another fun way to change up dinner is to do a floor picnic. Comfy pillows, warm throw blankets, candles, and lots of yummy goodies. Did I mention wine? Wine is also good. You can do a full dinner or just keep dinner light with cheese, fresh fruit and simple pairings.

Courtesy of Unsplash

Mixology Lab

If you and your partner like cocktails, try trying your hand at mixing a few cocktails at home. Pinterest is full of all kinds of great recipes. If the weather is nice, go sip them on the patio and stargaze. Another take on this would be to create your own wine or beer flights. But this can get pricey. I recommend planning around what you already have in your cupboards to save cash.

Spa Night & Couples Massage

Everybody needs a little TLC. So why not, include your partner? Turn on some candles, put on some relaxing music (yeah, that’s right – slow jams) and give each other a spa treatment. Take a shower together and take turns giving each other a tantalizing massage. Touch is a powerful way to promote intimacy. Use essential oils to add some aromatherapy into the mix.

Well, I hope I’ve given you some ideas for some easy cheap date nights at home. Just because you have kids doesn’t mean you have to wait for a babysitter. Sometimes the best date nights are the ones that are at home and low key. Spending quality time together is all that really matters.

5 Things I Want For Mother’s Day

Sure perfumes and chocolate are great. But that isn’t actually what I want. Here are 5 things I want for Mother’s Day. FREE Printable Mother’s Day cards included.

5 things I want for mother's day

Mother’s Day is upon us. I love celebrating my own mother, my mother-in-law, and all the lovely mamas in my life. Presents are wonderful and there are always some things I’d love to have, but it got me thinking about what I really wanted. So here are 5 things I want on Mother’s Day.

5 Things I Want for Mother’s Day

To Go to the Bathroom By Myself

Every bathroom break is like a scene out of the Walking Dead. Hands are banging on the walls. Little fingers poke through the bottom of the door. I almost don’t remember what it’s like to go to the bathroom by myself anymore.

My one year old is in a stage where he loves to pull magazines out of the basket, remove trashcan contents and shred an entire roll of toilet paper in 30 seconds flat. Watching me referee from the porcelain pedestal is quite the scene.

To Eat While My Food is Still Hot

It dawned on me the other day that hot food still exists. It’s been about 4 years since my meals were hot on a regular basis. Every mom knows that you are constantly jumping up from the table to meet the needs of everyone’s last minute meal requests. “More ketchup. Salt please. Can I get more ice? I’m out of water. Is there anymore corn?” By the time I sit down I’ve lost the will to eat.

And if moms aren’t getting up, we spend the rest of our meal convincing little people to eat their food, take sensible bites, and try their vegetables. I used to enjoy meals, but honestly – it’s exhausting. So on Mother’s Day, I’d like some piping hot food please!

To Have Someone Cook For Me

Yes, I want to be taken out for dinner or brunch on Mother’s Day. Please give me a break from the serfdom that is meal making. Somedays, I feel like a human vending machine. I spend a great deal of my “work day” dispensing drinks and snacks to toddlers – who are never on the same hunger / eating schedule. Then there is the constant cleaning, wiping and picking up of counters. Most days, I feel like I never leave the kitchen. So yes, on Mother’s Day I want someone else to take over for a day…or a meal…whatever.

To Do Nothing

Yes, I want to shirk nearly all responsibilities on Mother’s Day. I don’t care how ridiculous, selfish, or lazy that sounds. I want to do as little as possible. The laundry, the dishes, the vacuuming can all take a back seat for the day. Honestly, I don’t want a bunch of plans on Mother’s Day – just let me chill and do nothing. Unless it’s crafts. I’m totally cool with doing crafts all day.

To Be With My Family

Yes, I still want to be with my family. I don’t want everyone scattering away. Yes, I’d like some alone time, or maybe more to the point – some down time. But I love my family and I want my babies and my husband around me, loving me, and hugging on me. I want a break from the responsibility, not the people.

Free Mother’s Day Cards

As a special gift to all you mama’s out there, I’m providing some FREE Mother’s Day cards for the mothers in your life. I recommend printing this on white card stock. Trim on the horizontal dark grey line. Fold on the light grey vertical line. Use an envelope suitable for a 4×6 card.

5 things I want for Mother's Day

To all the wonderful mamas out there, have a wonderful Mother’s Day! In the comments below, I’d love to hear what you want for Mother’s Day