Moms are Royal, too!

Dear Mamas,

I don’t know about you, but ever since I became a mom I developed this slight feeling that I was perceived as, well, a little bit… ishy. I had this notion that, now that I was a sleep-deprived, time-deprived, nursing mother, I was just an exhausted lump of flesh that was not beautiful. I was not attractive. I was messy, and sloppy.

The truth is, part of this presumption is somewhat accurate. I mean, let’s face it: after childbirth and months upon months of nursing, my body just didn’t look the same as it did before I got pregnant. When I was caring for my newborn, it was a miracle if I managed to brush my teeth and change my underwear that day. Hair and makeup? Forget it. Putting in my contacts every morning? I got glasses. Outfits? I just grabbed the crumpled t-shirt laying on my bed. I had so much less time and energy to devote to myself, that every time I went out in public, I felt a little insecure. I felt like I wasn’t worth much.

Have you ever felt this way?

I just read a really beautiful, encouraging blog post the other day, and it happened to talk about being royal. (The royal wedding took place today, by the way). If you’re like me, if you’re a frazzled mom, you probably don’t feel anywhere close to being royal, and certainly not exquisite or beautiful.

So I’d like to share this very timely and encouraging blog post with you. It will remind you where our true value and true beauty comes from. It doesn’t come from our new haircut or outfit style, or even our ability to birth and raise children. No, our value and worth comes from something much, much better.

Click here to read the blogpost “Royal Wedding” by beautybeyondbones.

The author of the post, who once experienced deep unworthiness while in the throes of anorexia, is now a vibrant, confident, Christ-centered woman who is dedicated to reaching out to others. She exudes true beauty, both inside and out. Her posts are encouraging, enlightening, humorous, and relatable. Read on, and enjoy!

 

 

 

The Moving Game: A Testimony to the Grace of God, part 4

Here’s a quick recap from part three. (You can start at the beginning of the testimony here).

My husband and I were serving as missionaries and were blessed with safe housing, good income, new friends, and our first child. God was taking very good care of us. But, this new community was not somewhere we wanted to stay. It was a two-day drive away from our families and wasn’t the safest area to raise our family. But we couldn’t fathom how we could leave. God had called us to serve there. He led us there.

One morning, we received some unexpected news. Our landlord gave us a letter that requested us to leave the house we were renting. Now, this was not a mean or unfair request by any means. Our landlord had an aging parent and wanted the little house to be available for her. Our landlord asked us to try and be out in three months time. We completely understood and respected the request. It just came as a surprise.

But it also ignited a spark of hope. Could this letter possibly be God’s way of telling us that it was time to leave and move back to our home state?

My husband and I had two options: one – find different housing in the community and continuing serving as missionaries, or two – move back home. The problem with option one was that housing was difficult to come by, and we were getting increasingly anxious to relocate to a safer area for our family. The problem, or problems, with option two, were that we had no jobs and no housing to go to. We had no idea what we were supposed to do.

What happened next was a string of events that, we believe, was God’s clear direction showing us which option to chose. Here are some of those events.

  • When we spoke with our supervisor about the landlord’s letter and about our new predicament, our supervisor encouraged us to move back home. He helped us come up with a timeline and offered to continue our pay two months beyond when we would be moving. He was very much rooting for us!
  • The very night following the morning when we received the letter from our landlord, my sister-in-law had a dream that we moved back to our home state. She had no idea any of this was going on. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
  • When we spoke with my parents about our situation, they offered to let us move in with them until we could secure jobs and housing of our own. I did not ask or even imply that we needed help from them – they lovingly offered it to us.

I know there were more things that happened, but I cannot even remember all of them.

After much prayer, discussion, and thought, my husband and I decided that yes, now was the time to move. We needed to follow God’s direction and move home. We did feel convicted about leaving the mission, but we trusted that this decision was God’s plan for us and that he would continue to guide and lead us.

We prepared to move. Again. We were planning to pull a U-Haul trailer behind our truck and have a moving company deliver our other vehicle. But that vehicle carrier plan fell through, two days before we needed to head out.

Now what?

Again, God had everything under control. During a “just-to-catch-up” type of conversation with a buddy, my husband explained to his friend that we were about to move but that we were in a pickle with out other vehicle. The friend, without being prompted, offered to fly to our home and then drive our other vehicle for us.

Just like that. What a friend!

He arrived, helped us pack, and got ready to spend a night sleeping on the floor only to wake up and begin our two-day journey in the morning. Everything was ready to go. We were exhausted, but excited.

And to top it all off, two days before we made the big trip, we found out we were pregnant again. And that was the absolute final and necessary component that led my husband and I to decide that yes, we were supposed to move home. It was as if God was telling us, “just go already!”

So we did. We made the move and lived with my parents for three months while my husband tried a new job. It wasn’t a good fit. We traveled to visit his parents. We ended up staying with them for eight months! My husband found a job that he liked. We gave birth to our second child. We even found a house for sale very nearby and were able to buy it! All of these events were completely given to us by the grace of God; of that we are very certain.

We love to remember all of these events and share this testimony. It is a true reflection of the way that God leads his children and takes very good care of them.

And, the testimony will continue. Now, we are enjoying our new home and our two children. But my husband’s job will not be a lifelong career (it doesn’t pay well) and we are searching for what to do next. Will he find a different job? Will I return to work? Will we need to move again? Right now, there are new questions. But we trust, and know, that in his time, God will show us the plan. His plan.

The Moving Game: A Testimony to the Grace of God, part 3

My husband and I have moved seven times in four years. It’s been exciting, stressful, difficult, and exhausting. But God provided for us through the whole thing. I cannot help but share our testimony. (To start at the beginning of the story, read part 1 here).

God’s grace was so evident at this point in our lives. We were poor. We were seeking new employment. Our housing situation was uncertain. We weren’t sure what we were supposed to be doing with our lives.

In a miraculous instant, all of our questions seemed to be answered. My former supervisor from a previous job had just offered BOTH my husband and I jobs serving as missionaries. We would have income, steady work, housing, and purpose.

So, we packed up a U-Haul trailer and embarked on a the two-day drive to our new community. Our bank account was so meager that we had to borrow money from a family member just to rent the trailer and make the move. (I had been employed full-time but wasn’t earning much). We were extremely grateful for the help.

Once we arrived in our new place, our income situation changed immediately. We paid back the family member, started saving, and started being able to pay off some car loans and student loans. Praise be to God! He truly provided this for us.

We were also blessed with our first child during this time. And although I did struggle with some postpartum depression, we were so thankful for a healthy child and to become a little family.

The very first apartment we moved into was…. not nice. I mean, run down, dirty, gaps in the window seals type of an apartment. But it was pretty much the only place available in the town we moved to, where the local industry was growing like crazy and housing was so hard to come by. The rent was also ridiculously expensive.

Again, God provided. After just a few short months of living there, we met a local lady who owned a little “guest house” adjacent her own home. She offered to rent it to us at a much, much more affordable price. The home was clean and safe. We were so thankful! This little home was a much better place for our soon-to-be family of three.

We served as missionaries for two and a half years. We were extremely blessed to meet amazing people and be witnesses for the Lord. We paid off a lot of debt and saved. We started our family. There were countless blessings that God sent us during those two and a half years.

But we knew that this community was not somewhere that we wanted to stay. We felt it wasn’t the safest area for raising a family, and I was quite homesick (and dealing with the postpartum depression). I wanted so badly to return to my home state, but couldn’t see how that could possibly happen.

Guess what? It happened. And it all started with a letter from our landlady asking us to leave.

I’ll talk about that letter, and a series of other events, in part 4.

Dates: The Edible Kind

date fruit

Have you ever eaten a date?

I always thought they were some kind of raisin-y, olden time, snacking only type of dried fruit (read, I’d never try them). But recently, I did some research about the health benefits of dates and decided that I needed to give them a fair shot.

I’ve been trying to cut back, even eliminate, sugar from my diet. Dates are naturally very sweet. So, I tried one.

And then I ate two more.

And then I made some little cookie-balls using dates, coconuts, and a dab of all natural peanut butter.

Dates are wonderful! If you have a sweet tooth, give them a try. They are deliciously sweet and rich, just like a good dessert should be. You can eat them in place of a cookie (I do have a good chocolate cookie recipe if dates aren’t your thing) and not feel guilty about it!

Here are some health benefits of dates:

  • while very sweet, the sugars are natural
  • they are high in fiber
  • they are rich in potassium

Dates also have some protein and will help you stay fuller, longer. You can find all kinds of recipes and ideas online about how to cook with them and prepare them. They are not expensive, either. That’s a win!

If you have been searching for a healthy alternative to your favorite sweet treat, set up a date with a date! 😉

 

How to Make Money from Home without the Internet

Making side income from home doesn’t have to be limited to clicking and typing. Taking surveys, serving as a freelancer, and even blogging have all become popular ways to make money online. But what if spending your precious daytime hours in front of the screen offers little appeal to you?

As a stay-at-home mom, my primary job is taking care of the children and the home. But I also appreciate the value of bringing in a little extra income for my family. In Proverbs 31, the Wife of Noble Character “works with eager hands… out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously… she sees that her trading is profitable… she makes linen garments and sells them” (NIV). In addition to managing her household, she also works to provide some profit, too. She shows us that it is honorable for a woman to raise a family as well as provide for them.

Unfortunately, I still have yet to discover how to make any money from building block towers and washing the dishes. I have, however, found a few ways to make a little extra income without opening up a web browser.

make money from home

Here are three ways to make money from home without using the internet.

Make Money from Home without the Internet

1). Offer Childcare

Remember when you used to babysit? Or perhaps you were the girl who marveled at your other classmates when they talked about how much money they made watching kids over the summer (that was me… I still wonder how those girls did it). Offering childcare is still a perfectly profitable option, even for moms. If you stay at home, you already have a safe, child-friendly environment available. Would you consider watching someone else’s child or children, in addition to your own?

Providing at-home child care lets you determine what hours you are available, the age of the children you would be willing to care for, and the number of children you’d feel comfortable tending to throughout the day. You can set your own boundaries as well as your charges.

Offering at-home child care allows you to make money while continuing to care for your own children. Plus, many parents seek out alternative childcare situations other than daycare. You might find that your services are in high demand!

2). Provide a Service

What kinds of services can be offered directly from your home? A few ideas are: music lessons, tutoring, sewing and altering, or language classes. A service is something that you can provide to benefit others. The options are pretty endless; you can be creative.

Here is a real life example. I provided beginner piano lessons at my home. I started with one young student and charged $10 per half hour lesson. Now, ten dollars a week might seem pretty minimal. But if you teach, let’s say, five students, than ten dollars turns into $50 dollars a week, or about $200 a month. That’s a wonderful monthly contribution toward your family’s income!

Providing piano lessons is just one example. Do you play an instrument or sing? Do you have a skill that could aid others? You might have to do some thinking. But if you get creative and determine what kind of a need you could fill, providing a service from home might be a great fit for you.

3). Sell a Product

This is perhaps my favorite option, simply because the options are so vast and varied. If you’re crafty, creative, artistic, or agricultural, this option is probably a good one for you. What kind of a good or product could you make and sell directly from your home?

Some ideas are (but definitely not limited to): artwork, paintings, knitted items, handmade clothing, chocolates and candies, handmade greeting cards, baked goods, natural soaps and beauty products, maple syrup, honey, fresh garden produce, floral bouquets, hand crafted home décor, jewelry, stories and poetry, handmade puzzles and games, and… a plethora of other options.

It’s likely you have purchased a homemade good from someone you know. It’s a great idea to learn from them about how much time they spend on their product, how they market it, and what the overall commitment is like. I’ll bet they would be happy to share their knowledge with you.

Make Money from Home without the Internet

As you can see, there are still plenty of money-making opportunities that don’t require any tech-savvy knowledge. Maybe one of these options would be a good fit for you.

If you are a stay-at-home mom or desire to be a work-at-home mom, consider one of these options. Pray about it, and discuss ideas with your husband and family. If you’re hoping to earn just a little extra cushion income or even a significant amount, there are ways to accomplish your goals.

And if working online is the best fit for you, that’s wonderful! But in case computer work is not your first choice, think outside the box and get creative. There are still plenty of ways to make money from home by offering childcare, providing a service, or selling a good. How has the Lord blessed you in order to help others?

What kinds of ways have you made money from home? What advice would you offer someone who wants to try it?

 

Simple and Sweet Brownie Cookies

When you’re in the mood for something sweet, chocolatey, and easy to make, this recipe is for you. It combines the all-too-famous delicacy of the brownie with the simplicity of a basic cookie recipe. These cookies are slightly crunchy on the outside and soft and chewy in the middle. They’re dark and delectable.

I did some experimenting (with the help of my baker-extraordinaire toddler) and came up with a yummy combination. These cookies can be ready for munching in about 17 minutes (or less) and the recipe only uses six ingredients.

They’re an appropriate choice for the chocolate lover, the cookie lover, the sweets lover, and the baking lover. So… to cut to the chase, here is the recipe!

brownie cookie

Easy Brownie Cookie Recipe

Yield: about 15 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 stick of salted butter
  • 1/3 cup of coconut oil
  • 2/3 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 cup of cocoa powder
  • 7/8 cup of flour

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter and coconut oil. I just put both ingredients in a bowl and microwaved them for a little bit.
  2. Add in the egg and mix. The egg does not need to be well beat.
  3. Add in the remaining ingredients and combine. The batter will be thick and will resemble brownie batter.
  4. Drop spoonful size amounts of batter onto a non-stick cookie sheet. (You can also lay down aluminum foil on your cookie sheet). The size of the drops of batter will be about one and a half inches in diameter.
  5. Slightly flatten each cookie, and sprinkle a little bit of white sugar on top of each one.
  6. Bake the cookies at 370 degrees for 8 minutes 30 seconds.

Enjoy these delectable chocolate creations with your favorite little bakers and a fresh glass of milk.

 

 

Minimal Cleaning Supplies: Keeping Your Home Clean with only 3 Products

I’m a minimalist; I really do like to keep things simple.

Once our children arrived, I knew I wanted the cleaning supplies cupboard to reflect that personality trait. So, I set out every bottle, jug, and cleaning supply I had on my kitchen countertop and weeded down my stash to just three items. I’ve been using only three items for a few years now, and I haven’t needed anything else. Here are the only three cleaning supplies I keep in my home.

Three Handy Cleaning Supplies for a Minimalist Cleaning Cupboard

  1. Bleach. It’s kind of hard to do without bleach, as it comes in handy for laundry and tough stains. It helps to super-sanitize stinky dish rags and towels and helps reverse messes from potty accidents and other mishaps.
  2. All-purpose cleaner. I use my all-purpose cleaner on my floors, in my sinks, and in my toilet bowls. It’s a very useful item whenever something needs to be disinfected or when an appliance could use a thorough, deep cleaning.
  3. Glass-cleaner. This iconic blue spray-bottle cleaner is just… nice. Wiping smudges from windows, refreshing mirrors, or giving the glass oven-top a quick wipe down is so easy when you can apply a few squirts and wipe the grime away.

That’s it! Keeping my cleaning supplies minimal saves me money and saves me space. I store these three items up high where the kids cannot reach them. The only things that live in the cupboard under my kitchen sink are cleaning rags, a sponge or two, and some brown paper bags (you never know when you might need one, I guess).

If you are feeling overwhelmed by how cluttered your cleaning supplies cupboard has gotten, try weeding down. It’s nice to know that you can keep your home clean with only a few things on hand!