15 July 2014

Book Review: The Nesting Place

If we know each other in real life, or if you've read my blog for very long, you may know that I'm a little bit obsessed with this whole concept of "home." There is something so spiritual and sacred about creating a place of rest for my loved ones that has whispers of Greater Things to come. The Nesting Place, Written by long-time blogger Myquillyn Smith, this book fleshes out the decorating philosophy that it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful. Because I'm a busy mom of two little girls, I don't have time for perfection. As much as I wish I did, that is something I've actually worked really hard to let go of. Ain't nobody got time for that right? Myquillyn has a house full of boys and yet the pictures of her home are absolutely stunning. One of the biggest things I loved and appreciated about this book was the idea that you don't have to own your home to make it a refuge for your family. She begins the book with a quick recap of the 13- yes, thirteen!- homes she has lived in. Many of them were rentals and because of that, this book is brimming with fantastic ideas for people who are renting or not able to make major changed to their homes. As a fellow renter, those tips and ideas are worth the read alone! 

While I read the e-book version of this book, I happened to get my hands on a hard copy when I was at my sister-in-law's house. The e-book contains all the pictures and pages of the real book, but I have to tell you it absolutely pales in comparison to the hard copy. I am actually contemplating buying the hard copy just to have in my home because it truly is that beautiful. The pictures take you away to another place, while stirring up all kinds of fresh ideas. It was hard to sit still while reading this book because I just wanted to get up and start rearranging furniture! Thinking about decorating your home- or even worse, redecorating- can be a scary thought. But page after page, my courage was built up through the ideas, encouragement and life stories from Myquillyn. And if you are buying a new house or getting married, you better believe this book will be your housewarming gift!

I feel like Myquillyn is my soul sister in so many ways... If I could have anyone redecorate my home, it would be her. (OK, or maybe Candace Olsen.) Of course changing the look and feel of my home won't happen overnight, but now with The Nesting Place, I have a better idea of how to come into a style all my own, something that is welcoming to my family and friends, deeply satisfying and comfortable. It may take me a while to get there, but at least I know what I'm working towards! What Shauna Niequist's "Bread and Wine" was to me last year,  The Nesting Place, is all of that and more to me this year. It has quickly become my favorite book of 2014. It will be nearly impossible to top!

I was given a copy of this book by BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.

10 July 2014

Happy Fourth 2014!

We had a bunch of friends over for the Fourth of July. It was such a great time. Our house is really close to the high school in town, and they always do a big fireworks display. We can see the whole show directly from our driveway. As you can see from all the cars in the pictures below, other people in town have figured it out too! This is the place to be, man!  

We mixed up sidewalk chalk for the kids to paint the drive with. (Water + corn starch + food coloring) They had a great time with that, except, as usual, Gia decided it needed to be all over her. For a while, the kids ran around back and apparently, that lack of adult supervision gave them the perfect window of time to paint each other! I love that we live so close to friends who have kids Gia & Joey's age. I can't wait to watch them grow up together. They're all within just a few years of each other.

The chalk paint made a cool background for some pics, but this was the best I could get. Homegirl had stuff to do! Too busy to pose!

I love this picture above... the street lights all down way... love it.

The air was so thick with smoke that you could smell the sulphur from the fireworks. It was pretty overwhelming at first, but you got used to it. Joey loved the fireworks-- the noise didn't even flich her!

This pic looks like Gia was touching the fire but she really wasn't. We put a solo cup over the sparkler handle so the kids could hold onto them without getting burned. It worked pretty well except that we used metal sparklers, and even the handles get hot if they held on too long to them!

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Sugar Snap Peas

Our garden has really exploded with green as of late! The first goody we got to harvest was some sugar snap peas. They've kept coming and they are so delicious. I blanched and froze a lot of them this week so that we will have them for stir-frys and pasta dishes this winter. Gia is a great helper at the garden (most of the time). We got this cute Hello Kitty watering can for her and she loves giving the plants a little extra drink. We are really loving our gardening experience, making not of things to do differently next year, and being so grateful to our friends who let us use their land, and of course to God who makes it all!
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Joanna 27 Weeks!

I know I am way behind on writing and posting Joey's weekly pictures, but at least I am still taking them!! This past Friday was the 4th of July. We had a great time- we had several families over (the Tatges & Fergusons), grilled out chickenpost signature and played with fireworks (of course)! Joanna was enthralled with the sparklers and not at all fazed by the SUPER LOUD and smoky fireworks that were going off for hours in our neighborhood. Also this week, Joanna tried sweet potatoes... she wasn't a huge fan of them, but she still loves to eat her cereal. In fact, she gets rather impatient and unhappy with us when we are all eating and she isn't!

20 June 2014

In the Garden Today

In the style of Today's Letters, one of my favorite blogs, and in an effort to document more of our summer shenanigans, here we go: 

Dear Hubby, thank you for spending two evenings and an afternoon putting up posts and twine for our sugar snap peas. Sugar Snap Peas, I can't wait to harvest all three rows of you and eat some right off the vine. I'll drench the rest of you in ranch. :) Randy Travis, you are the best companion for stringing up snap peas and pulling redroot pigweed. Redroot Pigweed, you are as nasty as your name. Stay away from my carrots & okra... Or else! Sean Michael, thanks for adventuring through this thing called life. In the words of my friend Randy, I'm gonna love you forever and ever, forever and ever, amen. 

10 June 2014

Praying for Your Husband from Head to Toe

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One big part of being a wife is covering my husband in prayer. But I have to be honest, I am not nearly as diligent in this area as I should be. Some times, I feel like I don't quite know what to pray, and because of that I find myself praying the same "canned" prayers over and over. Of course this isn't always the case, but I am so happy to have found this excellent guide from Sharon Jaynes called Praying for Your Husband from Head to Toe. I have read several other books throughout the years about the power of a praying woman and a praying wife, but this book is by far the most practical and scriptural book of them all. 

The introductory chapters lay out a case for both praying for your husband and the essentiality of scripture based prayers. I think we can all agree that our men need prayer... as the God-ordained leaders of our families and head of our marriage relationship, they carry a lot of responsibility that we as women don't always understand. This book gives 30 days of scripture-based prayer that covers our husbands in sixteen different areas. It may sound like a lot, but each scripture and corresponding prayer is relatively short. And each area of prayer is truly of great importance. They are: 
  • His Mind
  • His Eyes
  • His Ears
  • His Mouth 
  • His Neck 
  • His Shoulders
  • His Heart
  • His Back
  • His Arms
  • His Hands
  • His Ring Finger
  • His Side
  • His Sexuality
  • His Legs
  • His Knees
  • His Feet
Some of those points may seem strange to pray through, unless you've read the introduction that explains what the prayers for each part of the body are really about. For instance, the heading is to pray for your husband's neck.  Sounds weird, but what you are really praying for are the decisions that turn his head. In explaining this area of prayer, I love what Jaynes writes: 

"A wife's attempts at manipulation are no laughing matter. Here's another idea. Rather than a wife being the neck that turns her husband's head, slyly manipulating him into making decisions that suit her fancy, what if she stepped aside and let God be the One turning his head?... Today's world is teeming with choices... It was God's gift to mankind in the Garden of Eden. What will your man do with that gift? Will Jesus be the North Star of his moral compass? Or will he be swayed by the every-changing mores of a culture that takes what is wrong today and, with the vote of majority, makes it right tomorrow? Will he choose to make honoring God his highest priority or default to pleasing self?"

I must admit that sometimes it is difficult for me as a wife to Biblically submit to my husband's decision making. However, I can tell you from experience that the times I have completely stepped aside and allowed my husband to fully and rightly step up to his place of decision-maker for our family, they have had the best outcomes. Conversely, there have been times I have weaseled and whined my influence into my husband's decision-making and the outcomes have not been so good. At the very least, I diminished his headship by disrespecting his God-given place as decision-maker. 

A sample of one day's prayer for your husband's neck (or decision making) looks like this: 

(from day 8)
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline." Proverbs 1:7

May my husband make decisions based on his reverent  fear and humble respect of Your sovereignty and holiness. Stir up a desire in him to seek Your wisdom for every decision and Your direction for every choice. I pray he will not depend on worldly knowledge with its human limitations but on Your infinite wisdom, which knows no bounds.

As you can see from that excerpt, each day of prayer will take less than 15 minutes or so (if you simply pray the prayers written). You can easily spend more time elaborating these prayers but it is a great place to start. Each day is full of practical, scripture-based prayers that are sure to have an impact not only on your man, but on your marriage, your family and every other circle of influence. Our husband's should be our single greatest relationship after our relationship with Christ. We should be bathing them in prayer on a daily- hourly, minute, or more!- basis. This book is a great way to start praying in-depth for your husband if you are a beginner at doing so, and it is also a great guide for those seasoned in intimate prayers for their husbands. I will be keeping this book handy to reference time and time again, for many years to come. 

You can purchase this book on Amazon. (not an affiliate link, just a plain 'ol linkie. I get no benefit if you buy this book or not.)

Though I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for the purposes of this review, the opinions are my own. 

19 May 2014

Camzilla's Birth Photography

Last year, I had the awesome opportunity to photograph my friend, Mallory, give birth to her son Cam. Cam was born with a congenital heart defect, but he is a healthy & growing little boy. This weekend some friends and I went to Butler University to support Cam in the Congenital Heart Walk. It was a great time, but I realized I never posted any of his pics!  So here are a few of them. This was my first go at doing birth photography, and I still have A LOT to learn. But it was such an honor to be in the delivery room with her. She had a completely natural birth and I am still in awe of the amazing strength she had during this birth! I am thankful for friends who let me in on precious moments in their lives and let me work on my photog skills too!  I am so blessed to have this family in my life! (Lots of pics ahead!)

Hospital lighting is super tricky. Some of the photos have a brown tint to them that happened when I uploaded them, so I'll have to go back and check the edit settings I used, as they are supposed to be true black and white. It is my dream to be a volunteer photographer for Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a non-profit organization who does photography for families whose babies have passed away or are terminally ill. However, I need lots of practice and don't know of anyone in the area who could mentor me at the moment. (Any experience photographer will tell you the photos above are pretty amateur, but I think some precious memories were still captured.) That's why I'm so thankful for my friends who are letting me practice! If you're an Indy area photographer who would be willing to let me tag along and learn from you, please let me know!