Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Making the Living Room a Little Cozier!

I am super excited to share a recent *great* buy! I have *always* wanted a braided rug! I love them! I love the cozy look of them and just always felt that one would look right in my home. I have never figured I could afford one however as they were always way above my price range...but I always liked to keep an eye out for a sale (just in case a great one would come along) through the years.

I don't remember how I found it...but JC Penney was having a sale on things in their store (online). I happened to look at their rugs and found that their braided rugs were significantly on sale (I am talking 60% off type of sale!!). I was ecstatic! It was still higher in price than I like to spend on anything (the smaller the price, the better...right?) but it was definitely within a range we could afford. Plus, I shop through ebates (no, this isn't a sponsored post or anything!) and got 10% money back! Seriously! Isn't that amazing!? Plus, it was free shipping! It was such a great deal and when Chris gave me the *O.K.* I bought it! 

I still need to purchase a rug pad for underneath it and hope to get that soon! It's at a store that is the opposite direction than I usually go so I just need to make an effort to get there! I don't think we have the rug centered just how I want it at the moment...but once we get the rug pad and such we'll get it all situated!

I love the look of it and feel that is makes the room cozier!

Madelyn and Jaxson helped me do some rug-switcheroo-ing (Xavier is with his Pop-Pop ~ working at the garage). We took the rug that used to be in the living room and put it into the dining room...

You may notice the table isn't centered above. It drives me bonkers...however if we center it properly it makes it difficult to walk through there to get to the computer/piano room. We do a lot of homeschooling and meals around that table and just needed room to get around it properly. As long as I don't focus on the uncentered-ness of the table...I can tolerate it! ;)

Below you will see the dining room rug that we moved into what we call the "pantry" room. Does it look amazing? No...but that's okay! It works for now! We have soft wood floors in most of the house. They get scratched and torn up so easily. Until (or *if*) we are ever able to afford different flooring having area rugs saves our feet from getting splinters! :)

Thank you for sharing in my excitement with me! I love to get a great I love to make my house a little cozier! Two wins for us this time!

I gotta run! I'll update on my weight loss and fitness goals/successes soon! My husband also turned 39 recently! I'm still trying to process that since I was with him on his 21st birthday as well!! How can 18 years have passed by so quickly!?

Until next time friends,
Katy :)

Saturday, February 24, 2018

"Everyone carries an atmosphere about him...

...It may be healthful and invigorating, or it may be unwholesome and depressing. It may make a little spot of the world a sweeter, better, safer place to live in; or it may make it harder for those to live worthily and beautifully who dwell within its circle.” 

~J.R. Miller

I realized it has been quite some time since I last blogged! Life has a way of continually happening...moments ticking by and I get caught up in them! Since my aunt's surprise party nothing overly exciting has happened. The days go by and we work on our homeschooling and housework. Meals are made, exercise is done, games are played (the children and I enjoy playing yahtzee lately!) and it is my prayer that God is glorified in it all!

Pictured above is one of the latest books I am reading (as usual, along with many others). And below you will see our supper one evening...homemade vegetable beef soup (a family favorite!).

We've had weather all over the place with lots of snow for a bit...

...and now the snow has melted and it has been raining....a lot! I am *not* a fan of all the mud...but oh how thankful I am for the back porch Chris and our Brother-in-Love built last summer! It helps keep the mud from trailing right into the (appropriately named) mud room! I mean, it may be *called* the mud room....but I still want it to be a *clean* room! :)

A look at my recipe organization...just for fun...

Valentine's Day was sweet and simple. I taught a spin/cycling class that evening at the Y...when I came up to the Lobby Chris and the children had these flowers set there for me! It was so sweet and I love them! They are still living now too...although some are starting to wither a bit! I absolutely *love* flowers of all kinds. I love them in a garden, around a house, and fresh cut! I am so thankful the Lord put flowers on this earth for us to enjoy! How they can really brighten up a room! With the gray rainy days they are a real cheery spot!

I found this basket at Goodwill and thought it looked nice hanging on a wall in the bathroom!

A peek in the mud room...

My beautiful hyacinth is tilting....I keep turning it to try to get it to stand straight...and nothing helps! haha! The flowers are pretty though. In the jars on that window sill are dog treats. Cash needs grain free they are in one jar. Mickey has regular treats in the other jar!

I hope you are well and I appreciate you stopping by to visit! I know life is busy! I'm sorry this post isn't very exciting...just a little of what's been going on around here lately. Another quick little tidbit of news...I have lost almost 15 pounds since the beginning of the year! I have been striving to eat right and exercise daily. I have added a Body Pump class twice a week to my routine. It's lifting weights (not heavy weights....but lighter weights with a lot of reps and sets). It is challenging but great! :) 

I gotta keep going with my day! Have a lovely week ahead!


HERE is a short Youtube video by Tim Challies about 5 of the worst books labeled "Christian"'s worth a watch! :o) 

Monday, February 12, 2018

A Surprise Party!

Setting Up

Last Friday and Saturday for us was really busy! My aunt (my mom's sister) turns 60 in a couple weeks. My mom planned a surprise party for her...a few weeks early so she wouldn't suspect anything! She lived in south PA for a long time so my mom invited a lot of her friends and one of her favorite jazz singers from there! They all made the 4+ hour trip up to celebrate with us! 

We all worked hard to make my mom's vision come alive! X helped her cut large branches (that happened to be thorn branches ~ ouch!). After letting them dry, they hung them from the ceiling (which took hours)! I worked on cleaning the girls bathroom (it took a while!)...Madelyn and well as other family members helped too. There was a *lot* to do (It took two whole days!)! I even counted the square tiles on the floor to make sure all the tables were perfectly spaced! Madelyn teased me but I couldn't help myself!

Mom made (and a couple of my cousins served) lasagna. We had appetizers, bread and salads too! 

My aunt likes wine (as do her friends) and so my mom had all different kinds of cakes and wine (normally she would have hand-made the cakes because she is detailed and fantastic like that ~ but there was just too much to do and so she had them made for Madelyn and I to go pick up!)....

People began arriving...even family that lives across the state! It was great to see them as well as meet some of my aunt's lovely friends! There was much anticipation waiting for my aunt to arrive (who had *no* idea). We enjoyed welcoming people, talking and meeting new people...

Finally she arrived! She thought my mom was using the fire hall to throw a dinner for her church (as her church's basement was undergoing renovations it was a perfect cover!) and my mom acted like she "forgot" the Valentine's games that she had printed out. My aunt lives in a house right next to my parents so she went over and got the "forgotten" games and brought them to the fire hall....thinking my mom needed them. She was completely blown away when she walked in and we all yelled, "Surprise!"...she was so shocked she walked back outside! Haha! She came back in though soon after and was crying. I think she truly felt loved! She got lots of hugs and was so thrilled to see all the people she loved here for her!! Below is my aunt in the jean jacket (with purple hair ;) She's eclectic, unique and fun...

Finally, everyone sat down to eat while we listened to beautiful, live jazz music being sung!

Jaxson...handsome as always!

My cousin works in a flower shop. My mom ordered tulips....aren't they beautiful? They were put at every table!

After the busyness of the was nice to be able to sit and relax with my honey...while listening to the music! We aren't very talented at taking's the first one we tried ((fail!))...

The second one worked out a bit better! :)

Sunday we missed church (although Madelyn still went) so we could go out to breakfast with everyone (before our extended family all returned home across the state). It was so nice to be around everyone! :o) After that some of us headed back to the fire hall to finish cleaning up! That took quite a while too! I was *so* thankful to get home later in the afternoon and take a little nap!

Mom even asked if I wanted to take some tulips home! I accepted eagerly! I have some in my living room...

...and in the kitchen! I love fresh flowers!

This morning I woke early and was ready to start my day. I got laundry going, packed lunches, started the kids on schooling (after our prayer, scripture reading and catechism), did some organizing and got things ready to take to Goodwill. I was so happy to be getting things done. It's such a great feeling when you have some extra energy! And then...

While unloading the stuff at the local Goodwill donation center I fell. On ice. Hard. I hurt my left leg pretty badly. It's painful to walk. I had to have someone fill in for me at spin class (cycling) tonight at the Y...there was just no way I could teach. I am praying it is just bruised (although one isn't showing yet). The muscle in the front and back of my leg hurt terribly. I am hoping it feels a bit better in the morning. The idea of missing another day of exercising distresses me! I take Sunday as a rest day...but taking today off was rough. 

On the positive side though...if you read my last post you will know my children were under-the-weather for a bit! I finally decided that maybe it wasn't a cold virus and maybe we needed to go to the doctor. Turns out they each had a sinus infection. They are all all meds...and feeling *much* better! It's back-to-normal around here in that sense! The children are back to their energetic, jovial selves! :o) Thank you for your kind suggestions and prayers. 

I am pretty tired! I'm headed upstairs to tuck down snug under the covers and spend some time reading and in prayer. I am praying my leg is better tomorrow so I can get back to doing what needs done! :)  (Our other lap top is giving us trouble now far 2018 hasn't been good to me! Thankfully, I trust in a God Who knows all and is in control of *every*thing! So, I know whatever happens is ordained by Him and I need to just keep my focus on Him!)

Sorry for such a long post (that goes off in lots of different directions!). Thanks for coming by and reading (especially if you got this far!). I hope your week is lovely! 


Saturday, February 3, 2018

"I've never met Orcs or Ents or Elves --

...but the feel of it, the sense of a huge past, of lowering danger, of heroic tasks achieved by the most apparently unheroic people, of distance, vastness, strangeness, homeliness (all blended together) is so exactly what living feels like to me."
~C.S. Lewis

One of the books I am currently reading is "The Romantic Rationalist ~ God, Life, and Imagination in the Work of C.S. Lewis" (Edited by John Piper & David Mathis). I'm not too far into it but love learning about other men/women of faith! :) Just thought I would share it in case you are interested in it as well! Here's a quote in the book by John Piper...

"One of the things that makes him [Lewis]  admirable to me, in spite of all our doctrinal differences, is his crystal clear, unashamed belief that people are lost without Christ and that every Christian should try to win them, including world-class scholars of medieval and Renaissance literature. And so, unlike many tentative, hidden, vague, approval-craving intellectual Christians, Lewis says outright, 'The salvation of a single soul is more important than the production or preservation of all the epics and tragedies in the world.' And again: 'The glory of God, and, as our only means to glorifying Him, the salvation of human souls, is the real business of life.'"

My children are under-the-weather unfortunately. As you can see in the picture above, I have essential oils diffusing into the air in the living room (where they have been camping out the most). It started with Jaxson last week. He got a cold and it just hasn't gone away! He feels lousy and his nose is running so bad (more than I have ever seen a nose run before!) that it is chapping his nose and face! We have tried vaseline and even chap stick on his skin but despite all the nose blowing and wiping we just can't keep up with it! 

A couple days later Madelyn and Xavier woke up with sore throats. I have had strep throat before and I don't think that is what it is. I have been looking and checking. If it is viral there is nothing the doctor can do so we have just been trying to make them more comfortable...however if things don't start to improve by the beginning of the week I may call and get them all in...just to make sure. It's awful seeing them all just feel "blah". 

Although our wood shed still has wood, Chris went out to the woods and got more just as back-up since the temps have been so cold here lately. The children were quite glad that they didn't need to come out and help us unload and stack all that wood! ;) 

I've been busy at home....keeping chores done as well as trying to keep things sanitary. We can't afford for Chris and me to get sick too right now. Too much to do and kidlets to care for! Thankfully, the Lord has been merciful to us and we are healthy. We've been really particular about spraying anti-bacterial stuff on door handles and phones etc. We are diligent about praying for the children as well. I've tried to buy some different medicines to help them be more comfortable (as well as natural remedies) but things haven't really helped a lot. I've also bought boxes and boxes (and boxes) of tissues (the plus lotion ones) for Jax. His poor little nose! 

I've been continuing with my healthy eating and going to the gym daily (I have added a strength training class to my cardio to help build muscle as well). I am excited to share that I have lost 10 pounds this past month (I hadn't gained back all the weight I lost previously....just a little of it...but I still saw my need to be in control of what I put in my mouth)! I am hoping to continue on that way and although I must admit that I desire to *look* thinner and neater ~ over all my main focus is that when I overeat I realize I am sinning against the Lord. I don't want to be gluttonous. I want to be wise with my food intake and use my body the way the Lord designed it to be used....not abused! :) 

This is *not* an easy thing (at least for me) because some food tastes really good. But the Lord tells us to be self-controlled numerous places in His Word (it is one of the fruits of the Spirit)! I think THIS link about the sin of gluttony is quite helpful! And a quote from Charles Spurgeon: 

"I believe that gluttony is as much a sin in the sight of God as drunkenness." 

Well, there was a quick summary of what's been happening around here. I just wanted to leave you with a snippet from in another book I am reading "Beautiful Living by J.R. Miller" that you may find encouraging as I did!!

"Christ wants daily to pour His grace through us to other lives, and we are ready for this most sacred of all ministries only when we are content to be nothing so that Christ may be all in all; vessels emptied that He may fill them; channels through which His grace may flow." (emphasis mine)


Friday, January 26, 2018

The Restoration of Femininity

"...we women could instead use our position as homemakers to create homes that are utterly compelling. Where the love and the delight and the joy and the gratitude for all of God's blessings are translated into how a table is set, how the walls are painted, how the rooms invite you to come in and enjoy them. Where everything about it preaches a sermon on the goodness of God and the joy He takes in the smallest details." 
~ Rebekah Merkle, Eve in Exile p.164

My sister gave me the book Eve in Exile and the Restoration of Femininity by Rebekah Merkle for this past Christmas. I hadn't heard of this book before and was anxious to read it! Merkle is the daughter of Doug & Nancy Wilson. She's also a wife and mama of five! I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found it easy to read!

First, I want to share a couple problems I had with the book....just small things though that shouldn't stop you from reading this book! It is definitely worth the read. At the same time...I want to be totally honest!

One thing I found a bit confusing when reading her little biography on the back of the book was that after promoting the home and homemaking ~ while rightly demolishing liberal feminism all through her book ~ it goes on to seemingly proudly declare her dabblings in different occupations (and how they have been featured in this magazine or that) ~ which seemingly goes against everything she wrote in the book. It sounds like a bit of pride in the workforce with, tagged onto the end " far her proudest accomplishment is her crew of five.....teenage children, and her favorite role is that of wife to her.....husband Ben Merkle." I guess I feel like it sounds a bit hypocritical to tout our roles at home and then seem to brag about her "outside the home" accomplishments....? I don't know...maybe I am just being too sensitive on that front...? (If you happen to have read ~ or do read ~ this book...I would love for you to share your thoughts in the comments!!)

The only other issue I had with this book was her section called "Pretendyville" which focuses on how many women like to keep femininity alive by basically just picking an era of the past that we like and trying to live how we *think* it was then (a glorified version of the real thing she says). Here is a quote from her book about it:

"This particular approach can take many forms. It could show itself in organizing balls where the girls wear gloves and handmade dresses inspired by Pride and Prejudice. It could take the form of grocery shopping while wearing seamed stockings and hair in victory rolls. It might involve moving out into the country and learning to milk cows. It could become an obsession with colonial penmanship or an attempt to bring "thee" and "thou" back into vogue..." 

She also talks about teenage girls who only wore ankle length skirts and grew their hair to their she has actually seen it! (well of course she has! And to me...there is nothing wrong with it!) Although I see what she is trying to explain here is the escapist mentality of it all....I also don't begrudge women (as long as their husbands are ok with it) striving to be more feminine by wearing dresses and skirts...whether they be from Regency England era, the "plucky pioneer look" or like Scarlet O'Hara (although I have never actually watched that movie! haha!). Those are some of the ways Merkle says women can have an escapist way of dressing...and she *is* right that the ways women choose to do this is about the surrounding aesthetics and not based on biblical principals in culture. However, truly, there is nothing wrong with dressing in a way you see as lovely and feminine and long as it doesn't cause you to look down on others nor for you to think legalistically that it has anything whatsoever to do with your salvation. A Christian woman who dresses in ankle length skirts is not "more saved" than one who wears jeans and a sweater. 

So basically....I don't see anything wrong with "pretendyville" today. I think if women want to pretend it is (in their version) the 1800's or the 1950's and they are caring for their home and husband and children biblically...then by golly...stick with it! Even though Merkle says, "I think they know its escapist. It's just more comfortable to create a pretend world, cozily tucked away from the scariness of the real world - the one that contains an awful lot of sin and ugliness...." I don't see anything wrong with striving to live simply, cozily, separated from the world. No, we shouldn't run away from the world but we definitely shouldn't act like it. Granted, those who wear long skirts and long hair can have a greater sin-filled heart than one who wears pants and shoulder length hair. Dressing (and acting) from a different era doesn't make us any more holy....but it also isn't necessarily *bad* either. 

So those were the two "problems" I had when reading this book. The seeming bragging of her accomplishments as a teacher, clothing designer etc....and then the way (I felt) she cut at people who strive to express their femininity from their interpretation of the past. I'm sorry I spent so much time explaining....I just wanted to get my point across (and wasn't sure how to do it). I was talking with my sister on the phone the other day...telling her how I wanted to review this book on my blog but didn't quite know how to accurately put into words the few problems I had with it. She encouraged me to try my I did! :o) 

The true *meat* of this book is fantastic though! is quite the encouragement to us women! (All quotes below are from Merkle's book I linked to at the beginning of this post!)

"Those who try to save their lives will lose it. Those who grab at "fulfillment" will never realize it. But those who are willing to lay that down, to put other ahead of themselves, to sacrifice themselves - those are the women who will truly find fulfillment." (p.33)

Merkle explains the roots of liberal feminism and exposes what it all really it has adversely affected women and the terrible abortion industry that followed. I just want to share some different quotes from her book that you may find admonishing and encouraging! 

"Christ was equal with God, but willingly humbled Himself. He offered Himself up in submission to God the Father, but not because He was inferior....Women need to stop being so offended about being asked to submit to an equal. Christ did not consider it robbery to humble himself and submit to an equal, and neither should we, because when we picture that submission we are picturing the most potent form of glory there is...When a woman submits, when she lays herself down, when she, like Christ, offers herself up to the death of humility, in submission to someone who is an equal, that is the field in which glory grows." (p. 120 & 121 & 123)

"...if we have a family, the work we do for that household is the most important work we could possibly be doing - and everything else needs to take a back seat."(p. 137)

Aren't those quotes so good!? They are so full of biblical truth that I could hear myself agreeing with her words as I read them! She encourages women to *truly* fulfill their role....which is *not* a demeaning one! We were put on this earth for a reason...ultimately to glorify the Lord! And to do that...we must live out the role He made for us! He made us as helpers for our husbands! He made us to care for our bear and train up children. We glorify Him as we live out our roles as homemaker, wife and mother to the BEST of our ability. Don't just slide through life getting things done just because they must be. Do them to the glory of God! Work hard! It's good to be tired at the end of the day....and at the end of the week! That is why the Lord blessed us with the Sabbath! A day of rest from all our toil! Work done well to the glory of God is good work indeed! :o) 

"No Christian should ever really be asking, 'How can I fulfill myself?' - the question should always be pointed outward. Who can I bless? How can I use my gifts to build up those around me? How can I embrace my femininity in such a way that I shine the light of the gospel into a lost and sinful world? How can I be truly excellent in the opportunities that God has placed in front of me?" (p. 144-145)

My answers to the quote above are that I need to build up my husband and children. I need to live out my role as a wife, mother and homemaker in a way of excellency where I shine the light of Christ to others....fulfilling my role to the best of my ability and letting the world see my joy in that (not that I am "superwife" or "supermom" but that I am a simple woman who honors the Lord by doing my absolute best to care for my husband, children and home in a way that truly glorifies Him)! 

Finally...this quote to end this post and review. Despite the couple things I mentioned at the beginning of this post...I highly recommend this book and would love to hear your thoughts on it! :) 

"As soon as women start demanding "equality" at the top of their lungs they kill the glory, because the essence of glory is dependent on difference...We have to be willing to embrace the fact that women are different from men. We are called to different things than the men, we've been created to do different tasks than the men, we've been gifted differently than the men - and if we embrace that truth we will find ourselves able to sing in harmony, able to glorify." (p. 192-193)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A Peek in my Room!

 My old dresser was *old*. It was an antique but not in great shape. The drawers were very large and hard to pull out and push in. The bottoms of the drawers sagged. I liked the *look* of the dresser (as I love old things!) but it was just such a pain to use that I dreaded putting clothes in it and taking them out. My parents had bought that old dresser at an auction when I was young. I have had that same dresser since then (and I am now in my 30's!). I decided I wanted to look for something else. That day I looked online and found a lovely dresser at IKEA at a very inexpensive price (it was almost half off!). The unfortunate thing was that our nearest IKEA is almost two hours away....and the sale was ending the next day! So...very (and I mean *very*) out of character for me...I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to drive to the city (that very day) to get this dresser (with Chris's blessing of course!). My mom agreed to go with me since she had been there before and knew the way. Madelyn and Jaxson went too...and X was working with his dad.

I dreaded the drive and wanted to back out...but didn't. We went....I got the dresser for a bargain and we even ate at Chick-fil-a! It was my first time! I love that they have the calories of their foods up so you can determine what you want to eat! I got the grilled chicken bites and the grilled chicken wrap! They were delicious and I stayed in my calorie limit! Can't beat that!! :o)

Chris was wonderful and built the dresser for me the next evening! It came in three heavy boxes and even with directions, I don't think I could have put it together as quickly (or as well) as he did! So here it is....perfectly organized inside and the drawers are so easy to pull and close! It is *fantastic*!

You may notice our floors are still not done. We have a couple rugs in our bedroom but never officially got the flooring done. It's a project we need to get to...but we always have more important things to finish first!

A little more in my bedroom...

Where I keep my exercise *stuff* (I workout at the Y most of the time...but I like to have options to do at home too when I want!)...

I love baskets...

...and books...

Winnie all curled up and sleeping on my bed! She and Stella-the-Cat take turns in this spot and the dog bed laying on the floor of Chris's side of the room. The cats really took it over...and so it has become the cat bed instead! ;)

I thought it would be fun to just share some of these pictures! :o) It isn't really anything overly exciting...but I love to see nooks and crannies, cozy spots and treasures in other peoples' homes so I like to include some of my own too!

Today will consist of homeschooling (for the children) while I continue to work on chores around our home. This afternoon we have a homeschool "Gym and Swim" at the Y (which is good....while the kids play I can get in a workout!) and then I must get groceries at some point!

We have lots of snow here in Western PA. I'm not a huge fan of snow....but I must admit it looks quite beautiful outside! Freshly fallen snow is my favorite ~ I just don't like it when it sticks around forever and gets muddy and icky! Looking out my windows right now though I see a beautiful scene! Snow laying on every branch of the trees...untouched and lovely! Snow is falling softly all around as well. It is an idyllic sight...truly!

Thank you for stopping by! I hope your week is really lovely!


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Decreasing of Self

 "No grace shines more brightly in a Christian than humility. Wherever self comes in, it mars the beauty of the work we are doing. Seek to do your work quietly. Do not try to draw attention to yourself, to make people know that you did this beautiful thing. Be content to pour your rich life into other wasted, weary lives, and see them blessed and made more beautiful, and then withdraw and let Christ have the honor. Work for God's approval, and even then do not think much about reward. Seek to be a blessing, and never think of self-advancement. Do not worry about credit for your work or about monuments to yourself; be content to do good in Christ's name."

~ J.R. Miller, Discovering the Hidden Essence of...Beautiful Living (emphasis mine)

Oh my...has it been a long and busy time since my last post. So much has happened along with the normal functions of a family and household! On New Year's Eve we attended a gathering at my Aunt and Uncle's house. This was a time with my dad's side of the family (my mom was sick unfortunately and couldn't make it....neither could my sister and her family). A few days later they had a house fire!! My aunt and uncle were both at home. Thankfully, they and their two cats were able to escape the house in time. You can see a little picture/video HERE.

My uncle built that house a long time has many levels. The bedrooms and bathroom were in the basement. The next level had a game room, walk in closet and sitting room. The next level was the living room and then at the top was the kitchen. Apparently their fire started from an outdoor wood burner near the house. I am not 100% sure on the details but it was so sad to get the call. I had been out and about running errands and getting groceries. I could hardly believe it! We had just been there a few days ago and's burned.

Many fire departments responded to the fire. It was bitterly cold and they had a tough time getting the fire out due to the ceiling having a metal roof and being well insulated. It took hours!!! Many supermarkets and such in the area were so kind to donate coffee, hot dogs, and warm chicken for the firefighters! I didn't go out (as I didn't want to be in the way) but my mom and other aunts did to help them save things from the garage (and just be there for love and moral support).

It's just a house....but oh how sad it is to know that pictures and family mementos were burned or water damaged. It's heartbreaking. They have been working at salvaging some stuff though so that is a blessing. I know they have been talking with their insurance company and are already planning to build again. We praise God that they are safe and well. That is truly the most important thing to us all!

The other day a beloved friend (and sister in Christ) of ours (who is only in her late forties I think) had a stroke! It was such a surprise! Her children and husband were able to get her to the hospital. At first everyone thought it was her heart...but turns out it was actually a stroke. So, so scary!! But God is faithful and she is doing well! She's still at a hospital in Pittsburgh but I think she'll be back home soon to recover (which they expect fully)! It is quite a shock, though, to know a young, healthy woman can have something happen so suddenly like that! We praise God that He always knows though. There is such comfort in knowing that *nothing* takes Him by surprise!

Along with the busyness of life (and the goodness or suffering it brings) I have been praying to the Lord to make much of Himself in me and LESS of me. I feel like I must pray for this often as the Self Monster tends to want to take over a lot. I am in His Word daily and my mom was so right....last night we were talking and she said how she doesn't understand how anyone can truly live a faithful, obedient life to the Lord if they are not reading His Word! You can't just listen to your pastor or have to be in His Word for yourself! What a gift He has given us in the Bible!

If you happen to be someone who reads "Jesus Calling"....I ask you (in love) to please stop and realize it is a *dangerous* read. If you want to know what Jesus says to HIS book. To read some reasons why "Jesus Calling" has some serious problems you can go HERE or HERE.

If you would like some biblically correct and lovely books (sort of a short daily read in each...not chapter books) to go along with your Bible reading I recommend the following...

The quote at the top of this post is from the book by J.R. Miller. He is also the author of one of my favorite books called "Homemaking" (also known as "The Family"). I posted the links for the books above if you are interested in them. They are not affiliate links or anything. Just wanted to make it easier for you if you would like to get them. They are inexpensive and totally worth it! The devotions by Susannah Spurgeon (who was the wife of pastor Charles Spurgeon) also has a biography of her life in it! :) 

Neither of these authors speaks "for" Christ. They don't claim that they are writing the words of Christ (which is only done in the Bible)....Susannah Spurgeon writes lovely prayers to the Lord in her book. Miller writes little one-page snippets of wisdom....pointing us to Christ! 

In other news...

Madelyn loves to bake (I used to love to bake as well....but the temptation to eat what I bake is too now I keep my baking to a minimum!) and she made cinnamon rolls for our guys! :) And no, I didn't eat even one! I am excited to be able to share that since the new year began I am down four pounds! I have been careful with my food intake and exercising daily (I have exercised almost daily anyway for the past 5.5 years but now I am making sure to really get the exercise in every day...except Sunday. That's my rest day!). 

I don't really eat out much....and definitely not fast food....*however* last evening I got a chance to eat for the *first* time ever at Chick-Fil-A! Everyone raves about it and I had never been near one to ever give it a try! Well...last night my mom, Madelyn, Jaxson and I were near one and stopped for supper! A part of me wanted to get the yummy looking waffle fries (it's like a battle in my mind!)....but I opted instead for grilled chicken bites and a grilled chicken wrap. They were both in my calorie range and were delicious!!! I was full after eating and truly enjoyed my first (and maybe only..haha) chance at eating at Chick-Fil-A! I also got to go to my first ever Home Goods. It was neat and I enjoyed looking around! I didn't get much but I was happy to have gotten to actually go to one (as I have heard others who have found some fun things there!).

Today I have kept busy with housework, filling orders for my etsy shop, getting groceries and soon I'll be heading in to the YMCA to exercise. When I get home it will be time for supper and the children and I will go over some of their schoolwork!

I am so thankful the temperatures are in the 20's and 30's now...oh my, the bitter below-zero temps we had for the past weeks were just terrible! Even though it is still technically *cold* and there's lots of snow on the feels *warm* compared to the other weeks! How is your weather?

Thanks so much for stopping by! I'm sorry for the long, rambling post! I hope your new year is going well. I pray the Lord is glorified in all you do and that you are enjoying your matter your circumstances! I hope you will visit again soon!