the happy campers...

I found these woodland scavenger hunt printables on pinterest

Joel took the weekend off and we went camping.
And it was pretty wonderful.
Even better than wonderful.
But if you're picturing me eight months pregnant and sleeping in a tent, that didn't happen.
uh huh.
We rented a camphouse instead and I praised the Lord for a/c and running water.

The kids had the time of their lives.
We were right on the lake and they caught fish around the clock.
They hiked, swam, grilled, made bonfires, picnics and torches.
They even set up their tents, just because the whole idea of it was pretty cool.
But they ended up sleeping inside with us.

It just felt so good to be together.
All of us in a one room camphouse.
And the great outdoors fairly spilling into our doorway.
We needed this.

It just might become an annual getaway for us.

baby Story xo

Astair was so set on catching a fish, and she did....eventually.  It was adorable.

barefoot and adventurous

love it.

we had the best fishing spot and our neighbors thought so, too

my favorite part of the day

and my favorite meal

definitely my favorite "mountain man"

torches Daddy made with the boys

waking up in the camphouse...

swimming and a picnic the next day



Let's Study the Word together

So, I'll be honest with you.

I haven't been studying the Word of God like I've wanted to lately (and lately as in a year or so...)

I read it when I can and most of the time it's with the kids or I'm trying to use old methods that have become more habit than heart-changing.  It's not me studying and listening and digging deep.

And I notice things start drying up in my life without that Living Word of God pouring into my being and keeping me drenched in grace.

Over twelve years ago, I had an intense desire to read the entire Bible straight through in one year and I came across the One Year Bible.  It was amazing!  I loved it!  Each day the reading is arranged in such a way that you read chapters from the old and new testament, as well as psalms and proverbs.  It never took longer than 5-10 minutes a day.  God would speak to me in a fresh Word every day.  It's a great place to start and to develop more familiarity and consistency in the Word.   But a couple years ago I noticed that I was starting to just "go through the motions" of reading and not letting it settle deep inside my soul and meditate on it, memorize it, and let it transform me.  I knew I needed to do more studying and not just ritual reading.  

So when Beautifully Rooted announced that we would be offering an online Bible Study by Beth Moore on the Book of James, I was over the moon excited.  I knew I needed the accountability and the community and I've always loved Beth Moore's style of diving into a book and taking it apart word for word, verse for verse.

We just finished Week Two of the study James:  Mercy Triumphs, but it's not too late to jump in!!  I promise that it is absolutely life changing!  God has spoken such deep truths to my heart already.  I shared a few of them on Beautifully Rooted today.  If you want to join this online community of sisters studying the Word together, you can order the member book online or you can download the app James: Mercy Triumphs and it has everything you need.

Welcome to Week Two of James: Mercy Triumphs by Beth Moore!

 I am amazed by how God works. He arranged for this bible study to come into my life at a time when I needed it most and then he orchestrated it all in such a way that I would have the opportunity to share on the very. verses that are challenging me to the core and have the power to change my life.

I've always loved the book of James, the raw honesty, the no-nonsense approach to life and trials. It's real, it's relevant, but it's rarely easy to digest. In fact, if I'm completely honest, the opening verses of this chapter have always been kind of mind-boggling to me.

"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance" James 1:2-3



tea with Jesus

        Source: eliseenchanted.deviantart.com via Joye on Pinterest

It wasn't pretty, the scene in my house tonight.  
It was nearly nine o'clock and my kitchen still mocked me with it's dirty dishes stacked on every surface, my house was nearly shouting in disarray.  

I was going through the motions of cleaning, but inside my voice matched the frenzied state of my home.  My whole body was moaning with frustration at the unfairness of motherhood and just life in general.  I didn't take joy in putting my kids to sleep, in fact it's been quite a few weeks since I haven't thought of it as a dreaded chore.  By bedtime, I've spent every last piece of myself.  And now here I was, at my dirty sink, complaining.  Quietly crying tears of self-pity.  Angry with myself for not having it all together, for not being a more grateful, more cheerful, serene, and happy mom.  Absolutely despising myself for yelling at my children, for being too emotional, for not being able to control the chaos of child rearing.

Then there's a knock at my door.
I take a deep breath and answer.

My dear neighbor friends are there, on my doorstep, with a hot teapot and gentle smiles.

"We thought you might like some tea on the porch tonight?"

And just like that, He's there.  Jesus showing up at my weakest moment.  

Reminding me that He still cares, still loves me and always will.   That He will go to such great lengths as invite me to tea, if that's what it takes to reach my heart.

"We hope you like chai."

And my eyes are welling up with tears because it's my favorite and He knew.

He knows me and He loves me.

And in the presence of two of His dearest daughters, I feel Him touch those deep heart wounds that have been crippling my faith and stealing my joy.

We talk and their words are healing.

Lynelle shares her story and I hear God confirming some of mine.

Orissa swirls the tea in her cup as she remembers what someone once shared with her:

We are like fine tea.  Crushed down to the finest grade.  Steeped in boiling water.  And just when the pressure gets the most intense, at that exact moment before the tea turns bitter, we're removed from the heat.  Because God knows how much we can take.  He knows how to bring out our most delicate and sweetest flavor.

We sip quietly in the night air, bruised tea bags not unaccustomed to heat, and Jesus reminds me of the aroma of such a life.  How pleasing the fragrance is to Him.  And I'm humbled and convicted and I remember that "He who promised is faithful".

We pray and I feel a burden lifted.  

I feel my joy being restored.

I feel so very loved.

And sometimes that makes all the difference in the world.

Jesus, thank you for your body, your family loving as you do.   Thank you for the obedience of the daughters you brought to my doorstep.  Thank you for blessing me with this gift of motherhood, this awesome ministry of discipling my children, the love of a good man, and the incredible and unmerited, extravagant love of a Saviour.  I am overwhelmed by the lengths you will go to just to show me how much you care for me.  
Completely yours.


the beginning of story's quilt...

I think I needed this. 

Something new and creative and beautiful to think about and occupy my (itsy bitsy teeny weeny hardly squeeze a penny in) time.

I thrive on creating.  It de-stresses me and that is sure to get a loud and hearty AMEN from my family (anything to de-stress this emotional mamma in her third trimester).  

I've cried more in these past three or four weeks than in the months of this pregnancy combined.
Partly due to the stress of my husbands work schedule:  seven days a week, twelve hours a day.
Partly due to beginning a new homeschool year.
Partly due to raising four kids and carrying a fifth.
Partly due to the fact that I'm coming down with a real crummy cold.
And I suspect some of it is lovely pregnancy hormones as well.

I don't like the weepies.

But I do like fabric.

Lots of pretty vintage fabric that can't talk back and isn't in the least bit demanding.

So, I raided my fabric stash and I pulled out all the colors I love the best (which is all of them, pretty much) and threw in a lot of old with a little new and I started cutting happy little four inch squares (this is therapy, remember), and sorted them into happy color coded piles.

And may I say I have NO. CLUE. WHAT. I'M. DOING.

But it's been fun so far...

I'm kind of going for that eclectic, "endless story", kind of quilt.

I guess the next step is arranging them in the order I want and then sewing them together.

Can't be too hard, right?

Just nod.  Indulge me here.

I'm a happy quilter wanna-be.


Come away with me and let me love you...

This sits on my credenza.

An invitation.

Simply written.

Delivered by a King Eternal.

An imploring whisper.

No demands are made.

It is a "come as you are".

But I rush past it everyday.

Stack papers and lists and things to do on it.

When I do remember, I feel guilty

for time spent apart,

for the rags I'm wearing,

the stains I made already

on white linen He purchased for me.

From trying and striving and 

working so hard

and still seeing the clay

that smears these hands.

And I wonder if I missed it.

Something important He wanted to tell me.

Something He wanted to give me.

Love that looks past all my faults.

Love that heals and binds up.

Washes over me.

Gives me clean hands

and a full heart.

Love that bends down to where I am

and doesn't call it failure.

Never says its too late.

Love that still dreams for me.

He hasn't given up.

The invitation is always there.

I'm dusting it off and sitting with Him.

And I don't have to say a word.

Just listen

and let Him love me.

p.s.  Jesus brought my sweet neighbor Orissa to my doorstep tonight and she left me with this song (Come Away by Jesus Culture) that she and her sister sang and it was everything God was speaking to my heart.  Everything I needed to keep on believing.


bring on the nesting

As miserable as the last trimester of pregnancy can get, there is one thing I always look forward to:  the nesting stage.

My creative juices start flowing and combine those with that insane mothering drive that God was so genius to bless us waddling womb-heavy womenfolk with, it's amazing what gets accomplished.

Well, it usually is amazing, that is.  The last time I was able to completely redecorate two rooms (here and here).  This time I have four little ones all at intense stages with homeschooling thrown in the mix and I'm praying for that extra drive to kick in full throttle.

We have already leapt over one hurdle I was cringing over:  Legend's transition into a big boy bed.  A couple weeks ago, Joel and I (mainly Joel) set up the boy's bunk bed and moved Boston into Thad's room.  The bunk beds were a huge hit with the boys.  Joel found a headboard and painted it white for Astair and we moved Legend into a big bed in Astair's room.  He took to it right away and absolutely loves the fact that he's a big boy now.  I shouldn't have been surprised--all of my kids have transitioned really well at two years old out of their cribs.  They love the new freedom.  It's been more work for us sometimes at bedtime, getting Legend to stay in his bed and nap time is a monster I'm still struggling to figure out with all the changes, but for the most part it's been a smooth transition.

I was nervous about how Astair would react to Boston (her twin) moving out, but she seemed really happy about sharing a room with her baby brother.  I shouldn't have worried, she's such an easygoing girl.  When her daddy put her bed together, she was so excited all she could do was giggle and glow from ear to ear.  She had asked her daddy to paint her bed white and you would have thought it was Christmas to see her reaction.  So precious.  I wanted to make her half of the room feel special, so I hung vintage chinese lanterns and bunting.  Simple but fun.

Legend's bed usually doesn't stay made for very long, he's always jumping in and out of it.  While I was taking pictures he was playing in his bed.  It's adorable to hear him talk about it.  He has the cutest voice and such a big vocabulary.  I just love this little guy.  He's getting so big and I love to watch his adorable and sweet personality bloom but at the same time I get all mushy inside just thinking about my baby growing up.  We don't have a rocker upstairs and I miss rocking him.  I try to rock him in my arms on the edge of his bed, but it's just not the same.  I'm on the look out for another rocking chair.  I think I need it more than he does.

It was impossible to get a shot of this wiggle worm that wasn't blurry!  (not to mention that I'm using an old camera phone...thou shalt not covet, thou shalt not covet)

And as for the boy's room--I'm happy with how it's coming together, too.  Boston is sooo excited to get to share a bunk bed with his big brother.  I'll have to add some pictures later, there's a few touches here and there that I still want to add.

And then it's on to Story's room!  So many ideas are floating around in my head and it will take some serious nesting to get it accomplished...

Some serious nesting and some serious napping....


so glad you're mine

Today is your birthday.
And I'm so glad you're mine.

I remember the first time I wrote a list of everything I love about you on a t-shirt and sent it across the miles to you.

Then we got married and had kids (by the multitudes) and life got crazy-beautiful-crazy and we needed each other more than ever but we would crack sometimes under all the pressure.   It was easy to take you for granted.

That's when God reminded me of "the list".
He told me to start writing it again those years ago.
I did and it opened my eyes all the more to how blessed I am with you.
And everyday I look at you I'm reminded again.
Our kids are the loves of our lives, but before they came, there was just you.  and me.
And there still is and always will be. 

It's inexhaustible...the things I love about you.

Here are just a few of the ones I'm adding to that list (there's not time or space for all of them.  Oh, and how incredibly hot you are has already been mentioned several times in the first 100...it's a given)

101.  no matter how hard you work or how exhausted you are (and you work HARD) you always have time to tickle your kids, wrestle with them and give them your attention

102.  you make me feel beautiful all the time

103.  you always encourage me

104.  only you can make me smile when I feel like crying

105.  you skip with your daughter

106.  your faithfulness to God, your family, and friends

107.  you give without hesitating

108.  you forget wrongs done to you

109.  and forgive twice as easily

110.  you've taught me so much about grace

111.  truthful to a fault

112.  you still see me through rose colored glasses

113.  you are a 100%, all or nothing kind of guy

114.  you smile with your eyes

115.  and those eyes are the color of the sea

116.  you can cook better than I can

117.  you've learned to be discreet about that fact

118.  you spend every single free moment you have with your family

119.  you are adventure

120.  you can fix anything

121.  including things I forget/lose/lock in the car

122.   you accept everyone

123.  you know who you are

124.  you drop everything to help someone else

125.  you don't believe people can't change and you're always willing to do so

126.  you are unwavering in your parenting and you are a rock for your family

127.  you play on an old no-name guitar b/c you gave all your good ones away

128.  just because God told you to

129.  I never know what to expect with you

130.  but I always get the best

To be continued...for as long as we live
(but at the moment I have to rescue our kids from the pool)

I love you, baby, with all my heart and soul!


Hurricane Isaac: The aftermath

LaPlace, Louisiana, just miles from Joel's parent's house
photo source: facebook  
Boats rescuing people from their flooded homes
photo source:  www.nola.com
LaPlace subdivision
photo source:  www.nola.com

LifeHouse Church in Reserve where Joel and I were married
photo source: facebook
Our friend Darren assessing the damage in LifeHouse Church
photo source: www.nola.com

Hurricane Isaac hit on the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the damage is no less.
New Orleans managed to escape the worst of it this time, but flood waters surged into thousands of homes in surrounding areas.  And the water is still high.  LaPlace, Louisiana and Reserve, where my husband grew up, were hit especially hard.  Joel's parent's home was just barely high enough to escape the flood waters but many of our friends and neighbors were not so fortunate.  

LifeHouse Church in Reserve, where Joel and I were married, is still six inches deep in water.  Please pray for this church family as they face extensive rebuilding of not only their sanctuary but many church member's homes as well. 

Our home is dry and safe and the only real inconvenience we experienced was loss of power for five days.  Considering all that so many others went through, this was so little of an inconvenience.  I did end up taking my kids to our Aunt Peggy's house Friday night to escape the intense heat and humidity. Being pregnant without air conditioning in southern Louisiana was harder on me than I expected.  We're so spoiled!  I've been having contractions at night and someone mentioned that the low pressure of the hurricane might be the cause.  

Please keep the flood victims in your prayers and if you would like to help, you can donate online to the Salvation Army, Red Cross, and Samaritan's Purse.  These organizations are always the first to respond with immediate relief.  So many families are displaced right now, and have nothing but the clothes on their backs.  It breaks my heart.  

>>If you live in this area and know of someone that needs a place to stay, please e-mail me (link to e-mail on the right hand side by clicking "write me")<<


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