The Last Place You'll Need to Look to Achieve Your Dream Home Environment

The Last Place You'll Need to Look to Achieve Your Dream Home Environment
What does your ideal home look like? Not the landscaping or the shutters. Not the perfect wall color or the perfect decor. But the environment in your home, what does that look like? 

For me it's peace + joy. Mamas, when we are at peace, when we feel like we accomplished whatever is on our hearts, when things "flow well', when we make time for ourselves, when we give ourselves grace... we are more peaceful. Which makes our family more peaceful. Which makes us all more JOYFUL!!!!

How Grace turned into Empowerment, Empowerment to Freedom

How Grace turned into Empowerment, Empowerment to Freedom
We were literally desperate. Gasping for air. Clinging to whatever vine of hope we could find that we were promised would pull us out of the hamster wheel of symptoms to "fixes" to new or worse symptoms to new "fix-alls"... and we were completely beaten down and defeated.

Three years ago, this was our life. I was just reminded by my Facebook memories. I felt like a failure as a mother. Like I couldn't even care for my kids without being told by a doctor what to do.

Luckily, God, in all his infinite grace and mercy, brought a sweet friend back into my life, into my living room. She sat on my floor and listened to my heart breaking and told me how much I was loved. How God had created me specifically to be these boys' mama. How He had empowered me to make choices and take control of our home and our health.

How I Knew My Easter Was a Sham

How I Knew My Easter Was a Sham
Anyone else feel like Easter isn't Easter this year?

I know I'm not the only heathen in the room ;)

I LOVE Easter! The story of Jesus laying down His life for me is one I've been told since I was little and it STILL gives me chills. And the services on Easter get me so jacked and emotional. And my mama makes the best meal (aside from every other holiday meal she makes HA!). And the family is all together. And we laugh and hide Easter eggs for the littles. And my kids get a simple, fun, outdoorsy Easter basket. And I finish the day just feeling really blessed and grateful.

So this year, when church is live streamed and I sit and try to pay attention as my kids demand all of mine and my family dinner and Easter egg hunt is cancelled and I haven't even gotten the Easter decorations out... I'm just not feeling it.

And that's when I knew that my love of Easter had less to do with the sacrifice Jesus made for me than I would have liked to admit. Sobering honestly. I felt like a fake. I read my Bible almost daily, I lead a Sunday school group, I try to truly pray for others not just say I will. Yet here I sit, after having the commercial-ness of a spiritual holiday taken away, and feeling like it's all been stripped away. Like the holiday isn't even a holiday anymore. 

WHY?! Jesus STILL willingly died on the cross for my sins. He still rose three days later! I still get to spend eternity with Him! The facts and the basis are still the same. So if I truly love Easter, then the lack of physical meetings shouldn't change my feelings.

Now don't get me wrong. The things I love about Easter are GOOD things and I think God gave them to me as blessing (mainly being with the church and the family time). I think we're allowed to grieve the loss of those things this year. But the fact that, for me, those things being taken from me potentially ruined my Easter, shows that they had taken a higher level of sanctity than Jesus being sent to Earth to die on a cross so I could spend forever in Heaven even though I'm a stinking sinner who can't get most things right!

Those things had become an idol to me, without me even realizing it. 

I think it's easy to think of idols as physical statues we worship, but idols are anything we place above God. Anything we think about or obsess over or push God behind can be an idol. AND I ALREADY KNEW THAT! (I fought through a serious spiritual battle of making Carson an idol when I was a single mom - that's another story for another time). Yet here I sit again, sweetly, gently convicted. 

And you know what?! Jesus is HERE FOR IT! He's not mad at me or disappointed in me, He's happy that I finally came to Him and laid it all down, on the very day we pause to thank Him for what He did for sinners just like me.

So as we enter into this time of celebration, I pray you all feel MORE inclined to redirect your Easter celebrations this year, not give up on them. I hope your family creates new traditions that point you closer to Jesus.

For us? I'm heading to the store to buy the Easter dinner I was convince we weren't having (along with all our other groceries, calm down, I'm not making a special trip during "quarantine" lol). I'm sending the oldest out to the barn to get out the Easter decorations, even if they'll only be up for a few more days. I'm going to log off social media until Monday so I can savor this sweet sacrifice with my family. We're going to make some Easter crafts and talk about what Jesus has done for us. We're going to dress up on Easter morning, even though I didn't buy Easter outfits this year. I'm going to set up an Easter egg hunt for my boys at our new house and it's going to be epic with all the land we have now.

I pray this is your sweetest Easter yet. 

What are you doing to make Easter special this year, during these odd, restrictive times? Let me know in the comments! I'm always up for new ideas, especially fun traditions.

Meal Planning for Overwhelmed Moms

Meal Planning for Overwhelmed Moms
As mamas, we all want to feel like we’re taking the best care of our families as possible. And we try really hard to do it. Especially when it comes to the dreaded dinner time battle.
Kids are picky or the budget is tight or you’re overwhelmed with all the information out there about which is the best way to feed your family… or ALL of the above.
Been there, sis. So, I’m here to encourage you and give you some tips that have really helped with my meal planning, budgeting, and honestly, the way my kids eat!
Ok, first things first. Pull out your oils and diffuse Frankincense + Stress Away while you work. Frankincense is great for focus and Stress Away is amazing for… Stress (no shocker). 5 drops of each.
Now stop, take a deep breath in, and ask God to give you wisdom as you tackle this new challenge. Ask Him to show you a better or different way to move forward in this area of feeding your family and being a good steward with your grocery budget. HE WILL!
It is important as you begin this process to be realistic about your family dynamic and schedule. Acknowledge if you have picky eaters, there are ways to work that into your new eating plan. Or if you have a crazy schedule with lots of games or outings you’ll need to be realistic that a five-course meal might not work on those nights.
Next, you need to think about HOW you want to feed your family. Does anyone have any food allergies that would require you to do gluten or dairy free? I’ve found it to be easier if we all eat the same dinner. I refuse to cook different meals for different people, food allergies or not, I just do not have the time or patience for that. So, when our middle son required a strict diet change, we all did it. I found ways to incorporate his meal needs into meals we could all eat.
I also really like to include my family in my meal planning. I try to let each member of my family pick one dinner meal each week. (For littles I would advise giving them two or three choices so they are staying within the realm of the new way you’re wanting to feed your family) This way, even if there is a meal they aren’t crazy about, you can remind them that THEIR meal of choice is coming. Starve tonight, eat like a king tomorrow. KIDDING… kind of ;)
Ok, now it’s time to plan your meals for the week. Get a calendar of some sort. Write out any activities you have on it so you can make sure your meals fit your schedule, then write out what you’re having each night.
My Geometry teacher had this saying… K.I.S.S. Keep it simple, stupid. Derogatory? Yes. But it stuck with me. The only thing I use or remember from Geometry. HA! But this is so important for you as you meal plan.
Every week we have breakfast for dinner one night and leftovers for dinner one night. What meals can you consistently and easily have on your menu that are quick and take little planning each week? Simplicity is key to sticking with this and not getting overwhelmed.
My next tip is to use an app to help you plan and keep track of your menu. We LOVE Google Keep. I have set up a grocery list and a meal list. I added my husband to these lists and he downloaded the app so either of us can add to the grocery list from wherever we are and it automatically updates the other list.
I also love this app because it stores anything you have previously added to each specific list. So, I can get onto the app, click into the meal list, and see every single meal I’ve ever added to that list. Once you’ve established the way you want to feed your family, this takes SO MUCH guess work out of your meal planning. It’s all right there in a list for you! You just select the meal and it adds it to your list for the week. So flipping easy.
While planning my meals, I like to head to my pantry and fridge and see what I already have in there that I can base a meal around. Say last week we had stew with potatoes and I have some potatoes leftover. This week I could make Kielbasa with peppers and potatoes to use up the rest of my potatoes before they go bad and save me some money at the store. Part of being a good steward of our grocery budget is not wasting any food. It also helps take a bit of the wonder of what we’ll have out of the picture.
As I add a meal to my list, I switch to my grocery list (also in Google Keep), and add every item I will need for that meal, before thinking about and adding the next meal to the list. This helps ensure I get everything I need in one trip. (The store is a long way from our house and I value my time, amen? Amen!)
The last thing I do, is go back through my list and arrange it in order of the store. This is another reason I love Google Keep. It lets you grab, drag, and drop items into whatever order you desire. Putting your list in order of the store helps you stick to what is on your list, saving you time AND money. You’re welcome.
You can do this mama. The fact that you’re here, desiring a better way to feed your family, shows just how amazing you are! Your family is lucky to have you. So am I <3

Love this info? You'll LOVE my guide to being a more peaceful and present mama! Check it out right here!

Helpful Tips to Manage Housework

Helpful Tips to Manage Housework
As mamas, the need to have a clean home weighs heavy on us. Whether we feel like the cleanliness of our home is a direct reflection of our ability to run our home or the sight of the mess just drives us batty, it seems to be something that affects most of us mamas. (If you are one of the few who has figured out how to let that ish out, I’d be thrilled to hear your tips!)
If you’re anything like me, you already feel like you’ve tried all the Pinterest recommendations: decluttering challenges, specific cleaning tasks on specific days, one major chore or task per day, minimalism, wrangling your family to help you clean, some combination of all of the above, giving up and wallowing in a pile of toys and unmatched socks, etc.
Today, I’d love to share some tips that have helped me manage the chaos and mess of our home and therefore helped me manage my stress and anxiety over it.
Get Your Family Involved! 
For so many years I carried the burden of housework all on my shoulders (mainly because I'm a perfectionist an no one does it right... but that's not the point! ha!) Sit down together as a family. Explain to them that you’re overwhelmed, and as a family, who all lives in the same house, it’s important for ALL to care for the house. 

Set some goals and chores that are realistic for each member to do, with or without help. For example, don’t try to have your three-year-old clean the bathroom, it will be more work and stress for you! But, can your three-year-old pull their covers flat on their bed each morning? Can they pick up toys before moving onto a new activity? Can they gather up the little trash cans around the house and dump them into the big trash can before taking it out? Yes, they can. It may not be perfect but it can be helpful for you. So, decide together what some age appropriate ways are they can help around the house.

Check out the chart below for a simple guideline of age-appropriate chores.

Laundry always seems to be something there is always an abundance of. We aim to do one load of laundry all the way through per day. Wash, dry, fold, put away. If we don’t do one a day, it somehow seems to multiply. “A load a day keeps the laundry monster away!”
Another way I have found helpful to manage laundry is for each bedroom to have its own laundry hamper and to do our laundry separately, by room. My husband and I have a laundry hamper and our clothes get washed, dried, folded, and put away all in one day (hopefully).
My two little boys share a room and a laundry hamper. They are three and five and seriously love to help with laundry. They help me throw it in the washer, transfer it to the dryer, fold easy pieces, and put it away. They’re not always great at it, it doesn’t always look how I would like, but it’s helpful and gives them a sense of accomplishment. Plus, it’s training them to be able to do it on their own later.
This year, we started having our thirteen-year-old be completely responsible for his own laundry. It was a long time coming, I’m aware, but I just didn’t trust he could do it and do it well. Mamas, we gotta let that idea of perfection go! If my thirteen-year-old goes to school looking homeless that’s a reflection of him, not me… anyone who knows ME knows it would not be my preference, ha!
ONE Cleaner to Rule Them All!
Another way I transformed our home and the burden that cleaning placed on me was eliminating every single cleaning chemical in our home and replacing it with ONE plant-based, safe, effective cleaner. You read that right. I have ONE cleaner in my home that I clean literally every surface with: counters, cabinets, windows, mirrors, toilets (outside AND INSIDE), walls, floors, stains on carpet and clothes, and so much more. TALK ABOUT EASY!!!!
Thieves Household Cleaner is safe and effective and super concentrated. One capful in a 16 ounce spray bottle topped off with water is all it takes. And it costs about $1 per 16 ounce bottle. Safe, Easy, Inexpensive, and Effective. It doesn’t get any better!
My last tip to you is one I struggled with for a long time and one I still have to work hard at. But this practice has revolutionized my cleaning schedule, my parenting, my marriage, and mostly, my relationship with God. I cannot strongly enough advise you to take at least ONE day of rest per week. One day where you don’t clean or run errands. One day where you allow yourself to nap or rest or read or watch tv or adventure with your kids or whatever makes your heart sing with gratitude. This simple idea, yet terribly hard-to-implement idea has changed me so much that I will never divert from it. I promise it will leave you feeling ready to tackle the week ahead.
So, to recap: get your family involved, figure out a system for the never-ending laundry, swap all 8 million cleaners for the ONE Thieves Household Cleaner, and take a day of rest! Praying these tips bless your mess <3

Love this info? You'll LOVE my guide to being a more peaceful and present mama! Check it out right here.
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