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Photo Credit
Eleven years ago today, I married the man God had for me, my gift, my love. I am so blessed to be called his wife.

Over the years, there has been so much God has taught us and shown us through our relationship with each other as husband and wife:

His love, His grace, His mercy, respect, honor, prayer, leading, submission, family life, holding steady, firmly planting, growth, responsibility, getting back up, dreaming, trying again, smiles, laughter, belief, lifting up, letting go, charity, protection, time spent, sharing, togetherness, unity, raising children, love, listening, whispers at night, sacrificing willingly, forgiveness, thanksgiving, new life, comfort. . .

I am so unbelievably grateful to God for His many blessings by way of marriage, so thankful for a husband who is honest and true.

Yesterday, my husband and I were talking about Biblical marriage, the relationships between Christ and the church, husband and wife--the ways in which marriage should be reflective, mirroring Christ's example--no confusion, but the understanding of each one's part in the complete equation. He grabbed a pencil and drew an image for me, one he'd seen circling the Internet. I found it online:

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Photo credit and great article on marriage
He went on to explain, from a husband's point of view, the topics of leadership and submission. He told me: "Stacie, although you submit to me, I'm supposed to cover you. Because if I don't, the next in line is Jesus and I have to answer to Him. If I'm not protecting you and the kids, if I let people "throw rocks" and attack you guys, then I'm not doing what I'm supposed to. If you don't follow my leadership, I'm still responsible for you. So, it isn't so much, "Oh, she gets to submit to me because I'm the leader!" but rather, if my house is not in order, I have to answer to Jesus, because He holds me accountable. I'm your covering, under Jesus."

Talk about a wife's heart melting in admiration, in love, and in appreciation because I am loved by him. . . and I am loved by Him.

Happy #11, Husband!

Linked with:
Growing Home

11 Years: His and Hers Umbrellas

by on Saturday, June 23, 2012
Photo Credit Eleven years ago today, I married the man God had for me, my gift, my love. I am so blessed to be called his wife. Over t...

Okay, let's get something straight right off the bat, my husband is WAAAAYYYYY better at handling the finances than I am. Budgeting was an unknown word until I met him. I was just glad to be able to meet monthly bills--life seemed great!! He, on the other hand, had more vision, more forward thinking. "Stacie," sweet Husband says to me, "we should work on paying our bills off, not just meeting the monthly payments. We also want to save up and budget what we will spend." Say what?!?!?!

I must say that 11 years ago, at the beginning of our marriage, that did NOT sit well with me at all, considering the financial hardships I encountered as a young girl. After all my childhood experiences, life was good in my book if you could pay your bills on time and then go and buy whatever you wanted with the money left over. At any rate, I did not fully submit to the vision, the purpose, the cause, my husband's wishes. . .whatever you want to call it. I didn't "get it" and I fought. . .HARD.

Now, I didn't make any "crazy" purchases, I didn't go get into any debt, I didn't go and buy something without my husband's approval. But in my heart--I was so not on board!! I didn't spend my money wisely all the time and I learned many, many tough lessons.

Fast forward through many tears, through the Lord growing me up, through the Lord opening my eyes to understand my husband's vision, through my husband's words, his example, his teaching me. . .fast forward and I'm beginning to see God's hand in it all.

If I had not learned to live modestly when we were a 2-income household, how much harder it would be when I stopped working to stay at home. If I had not learned to live modestly when it was just my husband and me, how much harder it would have been to raise 4 children on one income. Why did I fight so much? Sometimes I wish I could rewind and do it again.

But God is so good and kind and gracious. He's shown me what obedience to Him, by submitting to my husband, can do. The Lord has shown me how to trust in Him when He gives my husband a vision that I don't understand. The Lord is showing me the legacy that will be left to our children: one that says spending lavishly does NOT denote love or one's worth; one that says from the heart is better than any pricey gift there ever is; one that says earthly treasures can never measure up to the eternal treasure that awaits us.

God has given me strength and resolve to resist temptation to spend outside of our means and I am so pleased to be able to honor my husband in this way. {I don't think I could have uttered even half of this sentence years ago!!}

I apologize for the rambling of thoughts. This was just on my heart!

Linked with:
I Live in An Antbed

Frugal: Foundations and Future

by on Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Okay, let's get something straight right off the bat, my husband is WAAAAYYYYY better at handling the finances than I am. Budgeting was...

In my life this week…
We've enjoyed our last week of "no school" before starting our summer schedule. I've continued straightening and cleaning around the house. I created chore charts for the children--one for the boy and one for the girls because of the age differences. This will begin on Monday. I think only my oldest daughter is excited about that!

In our homeschool this week…
In preparation of summer school, I transferred most schooling items back into our school room. Since the baby was born, we've been schooling at our kitchen table. It's been 6 whole months. The calendar is still says December, December 5th to be exact. . .one day before my son was born. I miss it! My kids miss it, too! My husband worked really hard to get that little place all set up for us. Being in there today brought back many memories of the hot summer days full of drywall and paint and flooring. . .all in anticipation of our first year of homeschooling. So, the plan is to transition back into the school room next week.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…
Another homeschooling mom and I were talking about co-ops, and how we both misunderstood the term. Neither of us was looking for an academically structured group to be a part of. In our area, so many homeschoolers are part of something like that, and I'm not against it. However, what this mom and I were looking for was something where homeschooling families got together once a month or so to let the children play, eat lunch, and moms could hang out and chat. . . just fun and fellowship with like-minded families. My tip: Don't forsake relaxed, "unstructured" fellowship with other families because it can be so encouraging and validating on a number of levels.

I am inspired by…
Routines and schedules. They generally work for me. Now, am I the best at it? No. Do I always stick to them? No. But it is extremely helpful to have something in place to judge my time against. I'm still working on getting into bed earlier!!!

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
This week, we spent a day at a nature park with some new friends: another homeschooling mom and her children. It was a great day. The kids played on the playground, we saw the farm animals, had lunch, and went to the indoor nature center there, as well. It was good to talk with her and exchange ideas. Our children had a lot in common, namely horses, cats (well, any type of animals, really) and books. Neither of us remembered to bring a camera; I think we were too excited to share some time together!

My favorite thing this week was…
What I loved doing this week was working on Father's Day gifts! I created photo greeting cards with CVS online. They have great photo greeting cards for just $1.99 each, and you can pick them up same day. (So, there's still time for a last minute gift that's sure to please.) I made one for my husband, my dad, and my father-in-law. The kids' pictures were on the cards. Here are the pictures I used:
Our official "Homeschool Picture Day" photo.
You can't imagine the number of retakes there were!!!

The photographer snapped the shot just before
his hands went into his mouth!

JD's official "baby picture"--5 months
is better than not at all, right?!?
The kids and I also made this cool paper weight for their father:
Before baking
After baking
This is super easy. You make a salt dough, press pebbles (from the back yard!) in to spell out  your message. Then, bake it for a couple of hours and you've made a paper-weight! (Another last minute idea that costs $0.00!!) We added some food coloring to ours in daddy's favorite color. Go HERE for complete instructions.
We also made this:

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Click HERE for the tutorial
Click HERE for photo credit/tutorial tips
And we filled out this printable--the kids' answers were so hilariously sweet:
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I found this on Pinterest and unfortunately, the link I have for the source doesn't work.
I changed the year at the bottom to 2012. 
We had lots of fun making these gifts!!! There's nothing like heartfelt and homemade!

Questions/thoughts I have…
Kindergarten curriculum? U.S. history/facts for multiple ages?

I’m cooking…
I made a sour cream pound cake loaf for my husband, for father's day. I'm thinking of doing a cream cheese icing/drizzle or lemon drizzle or maybe lemon cream cheese. I'm undecided! Right now, the cake is wrapped up in a secret hiding place in the fridge. Since it's my first time making this particular cake, I'll have to try it first before I share the recipe. If it's a winner, I'll let you know!

I’m grateful for…
My husband's vision for our family.

I’m praying for…
My extended family.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…
In honor of Father's Day:
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This is SO true!!
I found this on Pinterest, too!

In my life this week…
I've been cleaning!!! I have been so glad to tackle my housework head on. I know that sounds strange--who wants to scrub toilets?! But, seriously, I'm glad to get my house in order again. No matter how many children you already have, having a baby changes everything!

In our homeschool this week…
We've completed week 1 of our 2 week break! No school work, but everyone does have to read each day. And, the girls still practice piano! The kids are really enjoying the break. They've been watching a few of their favorite shows and movies, playing lots of board games, pretending the laundry room is a clubhouse, eating popsicles at bedtime, and they even got to play outside again!

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…
Don't be afraid to take a break! I was, for fear that we wouldn't finish everything. When the baby was born, we took about 5 weeks off and I've felt like we've been behind ever since. But, we've worked hard and are due a bit of rest.

I am inspired by…
Christian wives and mothers who are willing to honestly share their journeys. . . there is so much to learn when we open up to each other.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
Pediatrician and ENT for baby JD. . .praise the Lord, he is well!

My favorite thing this week was…
I've been able to sleep in a few days this week, and getting back to more routine exercise.

What’s working for us…
A Scripture memory system, found HERE. We needed a better way to memorize Scripture and this works so well for us. This system, at first glance may seem complicated, but it really isn't. If you're looking to memorize Scripture, please check the site out; there's even a video explaining it all!

Things I’m working on…
Piecing together new curriculum materials for the next level. It's exciting this time around because I have a better idea of what works for us and what does not, and what I need to do differently. Year 2 of homeschooling, here we come!!!

I’m grateful for…
The love my Saviour has for me.

I’m praying for…
Husband, children, parents, brother.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…
"Hiding God’s Word in your heart is not a race; it’s a lifelong habit."

Break: Week 1

by on Friday, June 08, 2012
In my life this week… I've been cleaning!!! I have been so glad to tackle my housework head on. I know that sounds strange--who ...

There seems to be HUNDREDS of blogs and websites that tell you how to make your own laundry soap. After a few tries, I was excited to find this recipe for homemade laundry soap through Pinterest. So, if you're like me when I first heard of homemade laundry soap, you're probably asking, "What in the world do you use to make your own laundry soap?"

You'll need 3 products, all found in the laundry section of the grocery store:
  • Fels Naptha Laundry Soap (1 bar grated)
  • Borax (1 1/2 Cup)
  • Washing Soda (NOT to be confused with Baking Soda) (1 1/2 Cup)
Purchasing all 3 items cost me under $8! If it doesn't work for you, don't worry! You haven't wasted your money because you can use Borax and Washing Soda for many other household cleaning tasks!

You'll also need 2 empty gallon sized containers to store your laundry soap in. I used 2 left over, "family sized" plastic ice cream pails, which are just a little over 1 gallon each.

Ice cream pails. . .of laundry soap!

Don't worry about exact container sizes or precise amounts of water. What I've learned is that the process isn't an "exact science," which is something that frustrated me when I first tried to make it.  I am so glad I found this recipe because for some reason, it all made sense! So, the only thing I changed was the container size. The original recipe makes 5 gallons and I don't have a 5 gallon bucket, so I used what I had. That simply means mine is more concentrated.

  • Grate a bar of Fels Naptha, just like you would a block of cheese (or use your food processor if you'd like).
  • Fill a dutch oven type of pot half way with WARM water (about 2-3 quarts) and put on medium heat; add grated soap.
This is the pot I used. . . nothing fancy.

  • Stir until the soap is melted. Then add the Borax and the Washing soda. Stir just enough to combine the ingredients evenly. *Keep a watchful eye to prevent the overflow of suds all over the place. If it starts to bubble up, lower the heat setting.
  • Once the soap has melted, turn the heat down to medium-low and let the pot of soap sit on the stove for 20-30 minutes so that it thickens.
  • Meanwhile, BOIL a tea kettle full of water. Again, no exact measurement, but I filled mine up to just under the spout. (Turns out it's about 6 cups, or 1.5 quarts.)
  • Place your empty containers in the sink for safe pouring and mixing. Pour the boiled water evenly into the 2 containers, then add the soap in equal amounts to each pail. Stir well.
  • Next, fill each pail up gradually with COLD water from the faucet, continuing to mix well as you fill. It will make a few suds, but just stir the suds right back into the soap mixture.
  • You should end up with a thick, almost gel or custard-like consistency. Let the soap sit uncovered overnight (24 hrs.) to set.

Custard look of the finished product.

Again my "recipe" is more concentrated but so far, so good. It works well, even on my husband's stinky exercise clothes! (Sorry, honey--LOL!) I use 1/8 to 1/4 cup per load, depending on size and how soiled the laundry is. I still use my other laundry additives as I always do (such as bleach, ammonia, dryer sheets, etc.). I'm working on homemade alternatives for those! :o)

I was intrigued by making my own laundry soap simply because I found the whole process interesting! Who knew? I'd been walking past these items for years in the store and never knew what they could be when mixed together. Also, making your own soap is cost effective. Laundry detergent can be extremely expensive, especially when you have kiddos and loads that seem to never end! If you go to the original recipe, you'll find a general break down of how much it costs per load--I'm talking cents per load!!

My daughters decorated the lids. :o)

I'm not an expert at this, but I'll be glad to answer as many questions as I can.
Happy Laundering!

Linked with

Growing Home

How to Make Homemade Laundry Soap

by on Monday, June 04, 2012
There seems to be HUNDREDS of blogs and websites that tell you how to make your own laundry soap. After a few tries, I was excited to fin...
Angels Are For Real, Judith MacNutt, 978-0-8007-9515-3

I was intrigued by this book because of the subject matter: angels. In this book, the author seeks to affirm that angels are real and were created and appointed by God to carry out His purpose. She offers further clarification about angels on what they are like, what their duties are, and what types of angels exist.

Often times, people misunderstand angels and their purpose. There's a tendency to attach whimsical ideas to what angels are. . .you know, flying around with little halos or with a bow and arrow or with a magical wand. The author seeks to offer the reader a Biblical approach to understanding the angels and the truth of their existence.

I really appreciate the intent of this book and I think it is appropriate subject matter that Christians must understand. With that being said, I think the author offered too many personal and "eye-witness" accounts. I would have preferred that she give more thorough Biblical accounts and explanations concerning angels, given the already "fantasy-like" ideas many people in our society have of them. I do think that personal experiences are important and many of them valid, but I think greater credibility on this subject should be based on the Bible.

**I received a free copy of this book from Chosen Books in exchange for an honest review. All the opinons expressed were my own.**
Unashamed to Bear His Name, Dr. R. T. Kendall, 978-0-8007-9516-0

Let me just say, I was sold on the title alone, for that is the way I seek to live my life--unashamed of my faith in Jesus Christ.

This author seeks to explain why believers should not mind bearing the stigma of being called a Christian. Often times in our society, Christians are mocked, accused of being "old-fashioned" and ridiculed for living our lives according to our faith in Jesus. This author says embrace the stigma. Welcome it, for suffering for Christ brings glory God. We can rest assured that someone is watching the ways we deal with the stigma, and that "someone" may be led to God through us.

As far as the writing style goes, I felt like the author's point was clearly made early on in the book, and that a good portion of the the book reiterated many of the same ideas. This isn't necessarily bad, but just something that I noticed. For example, the author delves into embracing more specific stigmas such as: being called a Christian, believing that hell is an actual place, the power of the Holy Spirit, and Jesus born of the virgin Mary.

In addition to embracing the stigma of Christianity, the author also branches off to discuss other topics such as the Jewish community accepting or rejecting Jesus as Messiah, the outward expressions of the Holy Spirit, and witnessing to others, including those practicing other faiths (Jews and Muslims).

Overall, this book was an interesting read. I found it refreshing to read a book that encourages us to not be ashamed of our faith in Jesus.

**I received a free copy of this book from Chosen Books in exchange for an honest review. All the opinons expressed were my own.**

  • In my life this week…
  • I was very busy preparing for our homeschool portfolio review meeting. This can be stressful in many ways because I'm compiling materials, filling out forms, and lugging it all to the library for the meeting. Then to top it all off, there was some confusion about the day/time for my appointment and I ended up being double-booked with someone else. So, after about 2 1/2 hours I was finally able to get my portfolio approved and get back home. It went well, though, and I am thankful.

  • In our homeschool this week…
  • We are finishing up our first, official year of homeschooling!! I am so grateful for the way the Lord has brought us through and showed us a different path for educating our children. We will continue with a lighter schedule throughout the summer (continuing to focus on Bible, math, and grammar). But for now, we have declared a 2 week break!

  • Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…
  • Practice piano in the morning!! I found that works best for us, while I'm feeding the baby/cooking breakfast. The kids are fresh and willing to give it full attention. We used to do it at the end of our school day and I saw that by then, the kids were losing focus . . .or we began to neglect it. Also, everyone is wide awake. (Translation: No more interrupting baby's afternoon nap!)

  • I am inspired by…
  • children's developing faith in God.

  • Things I’m working on…
  • Since my sweet baby boy was born right in the middle of our school year, my house is in NEED of a good, thorough, top to bottom, room to room, deep cleaning. We've also been schooling temporarily in the kitchen since the baby was born, so I'm moving things back to the school room. The kids miss it in there. So, guess what I'll be doing during our 2 week break???????

  • I’m cooking…
  • ...cream cheese biscuits. I found them on the beloved Pinterest!
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    Recipe & Photo Credit
     Also, my daughters and I are supposed to make berry smoothies tomorrow from a cookbook they got from the library. They're so excited! :)

  • I’m grateful for…
  • ...every blessing God gives.

  • A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

  • My boys :)
    Photo Credit

    School Year Winds Down

    by on Friday, June 01, 2012
       In my life this week… I was very busy preparing for our homeschool portfolio review meeting. This can be stressful in many w...
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