Fitting In Quiet Time + Favorite Devotionals

I love my quiet time. In every form it comes in- alone time, time with Jesus, writing time, nighttime drives, headphones in while I workout- I just love being alone and tuning out the world for a bit. As an introvert, I really need that time, and I need it often.

I have so much on my plate, and so much to do with four kids. If I keep on hacking at my to do list, getting all the snacks, changing all the diapers, cleaning all the spills, folding all the clothes, I will exhaust myself. Exhaustion is not always physical; it can be more dangerous than that. I have had an exhausted spirit and it is awful, draining, and depressing. When I am empty, I have nothing to give my family.

Sally Clarkson said it perfectly when she compared it to breastfeeding a baby. The milk develops from what the mother is eating, so if she's not eating anything, her body will not produce milk, and the baby will starve. The same goes for our spirits as mothers. If we don't put any quality time in for ourselves, our well will dry up, and we won't have anything to give our family.

I have been getting lots of questions recently about what I do for quiet time and what devotionals I like for Jesus time. Sharing all of that with you today because this is one of my favorite topics to talk about!

Devotionals & Morning Quiet Time

Every morning I get the kids breakfast, pour myself a cup of coffee, and sit myself on the couch for at least ten minutes. I do my best to avoid interruptions for just those ten precious minutes. I ask Bella to help the baby if he needs anything in his highchair, I put quiet worship music on and headphones in, and I make it happen- sweet time with Jesus.

I take a breath and give the day to the Lord, asking Him to use me and energize me and help me. I read the short daily excerpt from my all-time favorite devotional Springs in the Desert by L.B. Cowman. Then I read the daily word from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. These two little books pack a punch and get my heart prepared for the day without making me feel like I have to set aside a ton of time in this chaotic season of my life.

I also love that each book offers Scripture for the day. Honestly, as much as I would love to dig deep into the Word every morning, my life at this point just doesn't allow that. Soaking in a few verses is just what I need to start my days. I can read those passages and meditate on one of them as I get going, letting God's Word reach my heart. Even if it's only one verse, it's enough and He honors my time spent seeking His face.

Podcasts & Midday Breaks

One of my favorite things in life right now is so simple- taking a midday break. Normally the baby is napping and the older kids are busy with something (coloring, homeschool busy work, a movie, playing with toys, doing a chore), and I will get out my trusty headphones and turn on a podcast. I can't even express the joy this simple practice has brought to my stay-at-home motherhood. I only wish I had thought of doing this for myself sooner! I get a dose of inspiration right in the middle of the day and it refocuses me and reignites my purpose every time. It is absolutely my biggest piece of advice for other moms!

My favorite podcasts right now are:

Life-Giving Words with Sally Clarkson 
God Centered Mom Podcast
The Influence Podcast
InspiredToAction Podcast 

All you have to do to find these gems is search for them in iTunes! If you don't have an iPhone, I have no idea how you'd find them, but I would just Google them!

Another little tip...

Some days the kids have too much energy and I can't even get into the kitchen to wash dishes and listen to a podcast. Those are the days I need a midday break more than ever! If the weather allows, I take the kids to the park even if it means naps aren't on schedule, and let them run around. I pull out my headphones and listen to something refreshing while I push Emmett on the swings or follow him around the play equipment.

Whatever it takes, I really try to make a midday break happen at least a few times a week. I cannot say that I have ever had a bad day when I made time for that.

Prayer & Listening for God

I am sure when my kids are little older and my life isn't so completely chaotic, I will have time set aside for silence and prayer, but right now I don't. I know that's not what you usually hear from articles about being a Christian mom, but I'm just being honest. Right now I pray in the shower, when I'm driving, in the middle of the night, when I'm washing dishes, when I'm walking back and forth through the house putting laundry away, when I'm locked in the closet and I just need Jesus now.

In this season of motherhood, I pray as I go throughout my day, but I do not have a set block of time for it. I have tried forcing that and it only led to a lot of frustration, so instead I asked God to meet me where I'm at and help me walk with Him in this time of my life, and this is where I'm at now.

When I do need quiet and I need to hear the voice of the Lord on a particular issue, I wait until I can get silence, and usually I take a long shower and just sit in His presence until I get some clarity. Maybe that seems awkward to you, I know it's nothing fancy, but it's what I do and it has simplified my life and brought me a great deal of peace, and it works for me.

That about sums up this part of how I do this mom life thing. As always, if I skipped something or you have a question, just leave a comment. I will always see it and I love responding to you :)

One last thing for the mama who never takes time for herself...

Friend, God wants abundant life for you. He made you to desperately need time with Him and time for yourself. Your well is empty and you are unable to give your family what they need. That's not your fault, it's the way we work as mothers. You can let go of the guilt that comes with doing something for yourself, even if there's someone in your life making you feel guilty, let it go. It is your job to raise your babies and love on your husband, and it is simply impossible to do your best when you're running on empty. Press pause, take a breath, and do something small for your tired spirit. I'm saying a prayer over you right now.

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Minimalism + Christmas // How We Are Giving Our Kids A Wisemen Holiday

I remember three years ago at this time of year, I felt like I was standing still while the world and my loved ones spun around me. The buying, the driving in crazy traffic, the overspending, the baking of every cookie, the hosting of all the parties, the yelling and the cleaning, the gotta get that one perfect present, the credit card maxing, the feeling of obligation- that was Christmas all around me. My once favorite time of year was turning into a very stressful, very heavy burden. I had kids old enough to get it, I had to be an adult now- one of the stressed out ones who yelled and drove and spent all the money to make sure my kids had a wonderful Christmas morning.

But did I? Did I really?

The toys our kids had were taking over the entire house. I was spending hours once a week reorganizing all the dolls and trucks and train tracks, only for all of it to get dumped out again. The kids weren't even benefiting from it. They'd just get overwhelmed looking for that one favorite toy, or better yet they'd get bored and wander out to whine at my feet. The last thing my children needed was more toys, more stuff. 

I realized we didn't have to do this. We could do something different. We could live the Christmas season with true joy instead of putting up pretty signs that read the word while over-spending, over-obligating, and over-stressing ourselves to the point of begging for January. We decided we weren't going to be like everybody else, and that's when we discovered minimalism.

To me, minimalism is about asking why before bringing a new item into my home. It's about saying no to the American way of all the things, all the money, the most expensive, the best, the newest, the biggest. It's about quieting our flesh and living in gratitude with what we need, what brings us joy, adds to our life, and teaching our children to live the same way. We've brought minimalism into our toys, clothes, belongings, and daily life, and I've talked about it quite a bit here on my blog, but today I'm sharing how we do our minimalist Christmas. 

A woman at church once told me about the idea of following the example of the wise men in giving our children gifts for Christmas. I looked into it and something clicked. This is what we should be doing, this is how we can create true joy at Christmas time and say no to stressing out. 

The idea is, Jesus got three gifts at Christmas, one from each wise man. We take that and copy it- three gifts for each child. 

Maybe you think this is insane, or unfair to my kids, or sad, too extreme, or nontraditional. To that I say, we've been doing this for three years now, and my children have had some beautiful Christmas mornings. The joy on their faces proves they aren't missing a thing. And honestly, the holiday traditions in our country are extremely materialistic and self-centered, so I hope to God that our Christmas is nontraditional.

Why would I teach my kids to be grateful, to give, that Jesus is the reason, and then overload them with a ridiculous amount of things they don't need?

I feel compelled to practice what I preach, and if Jesus is truly the reason for the season, our Christmas and how we spend these precious weeks should reflect that.

Here's why we love the wisemen practice...

1. It cultivates gratitude, and discourages a sense of entitlement and greed in a materialistic time of year. We don't feel like we're missing anything, because who would miss stress? We get all the benefits of Christmas morning- presents, a beautiful tree, love, excitement, anticipation- there's just no stress attached to it.

2. Three gifts per kid allows us to give quality presents. We are able to afford some pretty awesome gifts for our kids because we know we are only buying them three each. Bella wants a bike? Sure! Because we don't also have to get her twelve other things.

3. The bar is set at realistic. Our kids don't expect a tree spewing wrapped boxes on Christmas morning. There is no previous precedent of an elaborate morning spent opening loads of presents. My dad told me that one of his biggest regrets as a parent is overdoing it on Christmas morning. He said if he could tell me to do one thing, it would be to keep Christmas about Jesus and go easy on the gifts, because the bar is set high for him, and my siblings (who are twelve and fourteen years younger than me) are greedy. It's pretty heavy that, of all the things he could have said he'd change as a parent, it was that. It matters.

4. No stress for the parents. Brian and I love Christmas time. We don't have to save a bunch of money or max out a credit card or go shopping every weekend in the crazy mall traffic. We feel like we get a new version of the Christmas joy we experienced as kids. We get to give to our kids and see their faces light up and not carry a financial burden. Christmas should be joyous, and if it isn't, maybe it's time to try something different.

5. More money and time for fun holiday activities. Since we aren't spending every available penny and minute on shopping for our kids, we have money to do all the fun things and events that come with this season. Weekend trips are a possibility because we aren't broke from shopping. Brian and I like to spend our money on getting out and experiencing things rather than buying material items. You make more memories that way!

6. More money and time for the whole point- giving back. Everybody says that Christmas is a time for giving and blessing others and spreading joy, but I haven't seen many people actually doing that except within their own families. Do our children really need to be given all we've got at Christmas? There are so many strangers who are hurting and needing some love, some Jesus, and there are so many ways to give! Just Google it and you'll see how easy it is to get involved. If you don't know where to start, start by contacting your local food bank. Seeing your kids smile and feel the joy of giving to strangers is one of the greatest gifts in the world. It's a gift you're giving to them too- character.

I know some of you have asked me about how grandparents factor into the minimalism lifestyle and I want to address that here, because we all know Christmas is a prime example of our kids receiving extra from family.

Honestly, I'm still learning, but what has worked for me so far is saying what would actually be great for Christmas if I'm asked. Books are always welcome, so are arts and craft supplies, outdoor toys, audio-stories, etc. But our kids always end up getting lots of toys from relatives, and I just have a grateful heart that they are loved so much. Sure there's some extra stuff in my house after Christmas, but it takes even more pressure off of Brian and I when relatives give to our kids. Also, toys break and kids get sick of them quickly, so we donate what isn't being used as soon as it's hit its peak in our house. ;)

I always try to cover all the bases in my posts, but if you still have a question I will always see it and I am happy to respond! Just leave a comment. Thank you for reading, friend! Have a very merry Christmas, and take true joy this year. Leave the stress in the dirt.

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Self-Improvements and A Rambling Life Lately Post

Helloooo [sang like Adele. And it was spot on.]

I'm writing from my couch, my legs are throbbing, and my arms ache so badly I can barely type. I might be being a little dramatic, let me check...nope.

I've been setting some lofty goals for myself lately, mostly out of needing a focus to help with the adjustment of not having any family out here in our new state, and one of those goals is to work out five days a week. My Les Mills Combat DVD's are kiiiiiilling me.

The other goal been making time for worship every day at nap time. Turning on Rend Collective and reading the day's Jesus Calling devotion and surrendering my day to Jesus every time the boys go to their rooms. It has helped so much! I know myself pretty well, and normally I would be struggling hard to fight back depression, fatigue, and doubt. Everyone knows exercise is healthy not only physically but mentally, and I have been experiencing that with gratitude.

I'm coming to the end of a two week sorta-cleanse (no alcohol, green tea every day, five workouts a week, and 100% clean eating) and I'm feeling so great I've decided to extend it to a full thirty days. I gotta say I never expected this from myself. I was a bloated chocoholic, nightly wine sipper, and bread lover who only ran when over-stressed and had all the best excuses to sleep in. Now I wake up at 5:45 with my husband and do my favorite combat-style DVD, down a giant glass of lemon water, and chase it with a plant-based protein smoothie [chocolate! yummmm].

I really feel myself changing outside and inside, and I have a sense of pride and accomplishment I've never felt before. I'm one of those people who starts things but always gives up when it gets too hard, making excuses and justifying my lack of dedication, but God's been showing me lately that this is a season for growth in my life, and I have decided to embrace it.

If you're one of those mamas with chaos everywhere and kids always needing something from you, so much so that you just can't seem to ever be consistent in taking care of your body, I so get it. I may not have the most kids in the world, but I've got four and they're all age six and under, and we live in a tiny two-bedroom townhouse, and I don't have a gym membership or anyone to take my kids for me, so I feel like if I can do it anyone can do it. And I mean that as an encouragement, not a gloat. Because it's only been three weeks so I can't gloat just yet ;)

Here are a couple of things that have made this time different, and what's been working for me:

Sucking it up and waking up early. I am a night owl and so is Brian. I used to feel like I had to choose between working out in the morning and enjoying my precious, quiet nighttime. What I have realized these past few weeks is that I can have both. I put my kids down by eight o'clock, after they've helped with the nightly clean up, and then I have over three hours with just my hubby. I can do whatever I want until 11:30, and then it's lights out. I wake up just before six, so I'm getting a solid six hours of sleep, and that's been plenty for me because I'm exercising and have lots of energy during the day from that. I'm also getting a crap ton of vitamins and nutrients from my morning smoothie, and I have noticed this helps a lot with energy.

My other excuse used to be that I can't wake up before my kids to workout because they wake up before the sun. Now I lay out a small snack, like bananas and water, on the stairs and they know they are allowed to get their snack and then they need to stay in their room until Mommy or Daddy calls them downstairs. Our oldest knows to get the baby out of his crib and help him eat his snack upstairs.

Once I sucked it up and started making things happen, everything changed. Having my daily exercise done before the kids are even out of their bedrooms feels amazing. Something is checked off my to do list before the day even really begins, and I feel kind of like Supermom.

Having accountability, support, and a competitive attitude. Everybody talks about this, but it's important to admit that I wouldn't be making these changes if I hadn't finally used the friends God gave me. I've got my best friend back in Cali who just ran a half marathon, who texts me how she's doing, what she's eating, and when she's running, then I text her how I'm doing that day. If I had to tell her that I messed up and hit the Sonic drive-thru, I would feel so defeated it wouldn't be worth it. That keeps me going.

I also have my friend Julia, who is a kick ass Beach Body coach. She is the kind of person who tells it to you straight and takes no excuses. She's been a big motivator for me [go do yourself a favor and like her page. her posts will inspire you], and when she told me she's starting a challenge at the end of this month that fit right in with my personal goals, I knew I had to join in.

I am determined not to let the holidays stress me out this year. We are away from obligations, stressful *ahem* family members, and we are on a budget, so I am making this year a time of peace and love and enjoying my family and being simplified and minimal in every way I can. I want to take care of myself this season, and I don't want to throw my new healthy lifestyle out the window just because of the date on the calendar.

If you want to hop on the Shakeology wagon and join her Pray, Sweat, Eat, Repeat Challenge, just message Julia here. She's also who I get my exercise DVD's from! She'll get you pumped up and ready to take on the season. I'd love it if you joined me in this! We can do it together.

Have you ever done a cleanse or cut one of your favorite things from your diet for a bit? I love wine, but really started drinking it every night when we moved at the end of September. Having Brian home for dinner every night meant cooking all the time, and I wasn't a fan. Sipping a glass of rose wine every night while I prepared a meal made it a thousand times better, but not a very healthy habit, and I like to challenge myself to cut things out if I am starting to depend on them too much. Except coffee. I'll never do that to myself. Not ever. Never. Okay, moving on...

The final part of my cleanse is a digital detox. I got to a place where I was completely addicted to my iPhone, again. I'm not okay with being on it pointlessly all day. If I am actually doing something, fine. But I wanted to break my habit of just sitting and checking social media for no reason. I downloaded this cool little app called Checky, that tells me how many times a day I check my phone. Day one was...humbling. I'm doing so much better now after reapplying these practices, and today my app says I've only checked it seven times, and I'm happy with that. Progress!

So, I guess life lately is refocusing, making changes, improving myself, feeling stronger and overcoming weaknesses. I like that. I'm proud of that.

I appreciate all who take the time out of their busy lives to read my words, however rambling and pointless. It means the world to me, and I love communicating with the wonderful group of readers I have and sharing life lately. Where are you at this week, friend?

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Baby Faves

My kids are usually dressed a lot better than I am. I'm usually flashin' my Nike's and active wear, especially since committing to five workout days a week. However, I never really feel put together for the day until my kids are dressed. And I figure if I've got to spend money on clothes and shoes for them, they might as well be stylin'. I get amazing deals using the Kidizen app and finding cute shops with pricing that fits my budget. Today I'm sharing a couple that I have come to love, because like I always say, when I find something that makes my mom life a little easier, I share it with you all :)

First up is Sweet Ellie Sue [cutest name award!]. If you want a one-stop shop, this is it. They have everything! Emmett is my only kid who has taken a pacifier, so I've had fun with different clips from Target, but when I got Sweet Ellie Sue's clip, made by hand with 100% genuine leather, I nearly swooned.

I love the worn leather look and the durability of it. Emmett could army-crawl on concrete all day if he wanted to because this clip is basically indestructible. Cute and durable? Win-win.

You can shop their website, find their shop on Etsy, and follow them on Instagram and Facebook. They post all their new arrivals on social media so you can stay up to date and snag the goods right when they come in.

Aaaaand bonus!! Sweet Ellie Sue is offering a 20% discount for my readers. Lucky you! Just use the code PURPOSE20 at checkout. Go!

Next up is London Jae. I found this Dallas-based and family-run shop on Kidizen, ordered a pair of baby moccs for Emmett, and fell in love when they also sent me a free slouchy beanie. Everything is sooooo cute! You can find them on Kidizen [if you don't have that app, you're really missing out on killer deals and cute stuff!], their website, and Instagram. And....they're baby moccs are only $25 versus $60+ for most other brands, and they are genuine leather!

 Happy shopping, mamas!
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Life Lately

It's after nine in the morning, and I'm still drinking reheated coffee. The boys are building a giant train track by the fireplace, Bella is cutting hearts out of colored paper, the baby is napping, and the windows are open, letting in the cool fall air. I can hear the dryer running and the cat chasing a bottle cap around the kitchen floor. There are crumbs everywhere, leftover from last night's dinner and this morning's cereal. I don't even feel the need to sweep it up right now, I'm content to sit here and watch and write and sip and just be.

I've been seeking out contentment these past few weeks, and I can feel it filling the crevices of my heart and I'm happy with how hard I've worked to get to this point, even if I've got a long way to go. Living away from all our friends and family, being financially strapped after pouring our savings into the move, and having only my husband for friendship, support, and adult conversation had me in a ball of stress. We've been eating off paper plates with plastic forks for four weeks, saying "not now" to every perfect piece of furniture we pass, and skipping on extra activities left and right. Money isn't something I have a pattern of idolizing, it just isn't my heart issue (I've got plenty of others), but when it is tight I get restless, unsettled, cranky.

I am a creature of habit, and I love the norm. This past week I started to ache for all the usual things that used to fill my days. I miss the impromptu family dinners at my parents' house, my Monday night coffee date with my best friend, the familiar Starbucks drive thru with the familiar baristas who would ask me about my day, the familiar aisle format at the Murrieta Target. I miss Maggie, my parents' dog. I miss knowing where I would get my hair done. I miss not having to use Google Maps every time I pull out of my driveway.

Adventure is a blast, but once the high wears off, you get tired of the reality that comes with it. I knew this; I expected this, but living it brought me down and had my spirit feeling restless. Thankfully, we are not adventurers for the sake of adventuring, we are people of the King following His call on our lives, and we know we are where we are supposed to be right now. This truth may keep me from doubt, but it doesn't make this part of the process any easier.

So I started to pray for contentment, and I started writing down what I'm grateful for, and I stopped complaining, and I stopped allowing my attitude to reflect my fleeting emotions. I started focusing on what grounds me- my faith. And this morning, despite the fact that I didn't get much sleep last night and the fact that my kids keep bickering and the fact that my house needs my attention, I am content. I am content because written in my journal right now are three things.

Brian kissed me extra long before leaving for work.
Bella offered to set the table. 
There are clothes to wash and provide comfort for my family.  

And before this morning's page, there are two weeks worth of pages with simple things scribbled on them, all proof that my life, though sometimes difficult and other times frustrating, is a good and beautiful life.

I've been thinking a lot about how much of how I feel I can take into my own hands. It's all of it, really. With the baby turning one this weekend and me feeling so tired and dragged down lately, I decided it's time to take my health and weight into my hands. Aside from getting back to my paleo eating regime, I committed to two weeks of zero wine (having a small glass each night is my favorite part of cooking), and am replacing it with chamomile tea while Brian and I watch TV before bed. Not only is chamomile a natural appetite suppressant that is helping me fight off my habit of late night snacking, but it's helping me sleep better and wake up feeling rested, even on the nights I'm interrupted by Emmett's breastfeeding. My best friend gave me this idea and I love her for it. I feel accomplished overcoming bad habits.

I also kicked another habit...cream in my coffee. I have always allowed myself a splash of half & half in my coffee, even though it isn't paleo, and dairy seems to cause my breakouts. I finally reached a point the other day where I realized it's not good for me, it's still irritating my skin and my stomach, and I need to just kick it and go 100% paleo. I now drink my coffee black, and feel a lot like a bad ass. That's probably the stupidest thing you've ever heard, but I'm gonna keep on feeling super proud of myself ;)

I'm done playing the victim- complaining, making excuses for laziness and staying stuck in the same problems. I'm done justifying everything from cream in my coffee to disrespecting my husband and skipping on my time with God. I'm burying my ungratefulness and focusing on the gifts, and there are so many! Trips to California will happen, visits from loved ones are already being planned, my family is my focus and they are right here with me. I know we took a huge leap of faith when we answered God's call to move away, and I can rest in the peace He gives me- a gift for being faithful.

From now on if something is taking joy from me, I will do what I can to change it. If it's something God has put in my life, I will find a way to be grateful for it. Life is beautiful all on its own, but if I don't choose to open my eyes and see it, I'll miss it. It is what I make it.

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How Modern Feminism is Ripping Apart God's Design

I would bet a lot on the assumption that this blog post I'm writing will never get picked up by The Huffington or Washington Post. It probably won't even get shared very much. I may even lose some readers over this post. I don't think that's warranted at all, but the thing is I have something to say that goes against modern feminism- a big bully that nearly everybody seems afraid to stand up to- and with the way things go in this feminist culture I need to expect all those things to happen.

Maybe you guessed my stance on the subject of feminism because my blog name has the word housewife in it. Maybe you clicked on this post because you yourself are a feminist and you like being infuriated, or are in the mood for a fight. I know what to expect from this post, and I'm ready to let a lot of hurtful words slide off my back. One thing I know for a fact is that I need to say what I'm about to say. My hope is that each word will be read, not skimmed, and that no one will assume anything further without hearing me out.

The other day I was watching my kids play at a big park that was full of other children. As I sat on the bench enjoying my tea, I noticed an adorable little girl running toward me. As she took a sharp left and chased after a friend, I read the bright pink words on her shirt.

"Anything boys can do girls can do better."

The words seemed to leap off her shirt and they stuck to my mind all day. I wondered if her mother explained the phrase to her as she got her dressed that morning. I wondered if it was just a shirt that didn't have any thought put into its purchase. I wondered how that little girl was being raised, and then I felt annoyed with myself for overthinking a tee shirt.

You know why that shirt bothered me so much? Because the message printed on its front goes against what the Bible teaches, and its misguided message is being blasted from the rooftops and I am watching even some of the admired holy women of our world get swallowed by it. It bothered me because the source of that phrase, modern feminism, is setting fire to the purpose of humanity- a purpose that was laid out by God Himself.

Let me be clear about what I mean by modern feminism. I consider myself an original feminist, a feminist of my great grandmother's era. I believe women should be able to own property, not be treated as such. I believe women should be able to have careers and choose the path they take in life. That battle has been won. I believe women should be paid the same as men in their field, and should not be discriminated against in the workplace or elsewhere.

The feminism of today is, honestly, a disgrace to my gender. Modern feminists are loud, abrupt, foolish, and stupid. They create "art" with their period blood and use their vaginas to launch paint at canvases. Sure, those are the extreme cases, but that's out there and that's what I see getting positive attention and being applauded as "bravery" and "artistic". To these people, I say do what you want, free will, this is America, whatever.

My problem is with what the roots of modern feminism are doing to the men of our nation, and how it is affecting marriages. Anything boys can do girls can do better isn't just a cute tee shirt on the rack at Target, it is a violent and strong and abrasive movement that has dramatically changed the way God set up His creation to work. Men used to rule all but feminism has gotten power and taken it to greed, and it has gone way too far.

Men are now constantly mocked and degraded. They are depicted as dirty, belching, smelly cavemen who can't do anything right, and oh thank goodness I have a woman around to fix all my stupid mistakes!

Manners are considered insulting. My husband once held the door open for a woman walking into Starbucks behind him. She scowled and said she could get it herself, then waited for him to move, and re-opened the door herself. Chivalry is dead, and it was trampled by the back of a feminist's heel. 

Fatherhood is taking an especially hard hit. Commercials air every day blasting the message that moms have it harder than dad because they're the only ones with brains and they have to take care of their children, plus their stupid husband. I don't think I've ever cursed here on my blog, but sometimes no other word fits, and I call bullshit here. This message is total man-hating feminism and it doesn't even hold any truth. My husband is a better cook than I am, he sleeps lighter than me and always hears our baby wake up at night when I'm still passed out, and he gets up and takes care of him without waking me! He comes up with the most awesome, inventive ways to solve problems around the house. I've seen him create a diaper out of pair of leggings in a pinch. I've seen him repair something that I was about to throw out. He actually plays with our kids. I suck at that. My husband is incredibly smart, he is stronger than me, he can do a lot of things that I can't do, and I like it that way. 

Modern feminism is a man-hating movement that no man can stand up to without being labeled as an oppressing, misogynistic pig. Modern feminism is castrating our men.

I know the world is lost, so I can sigh and look the other way when I see modern feminism out there. However, I have seen it in action in the church, and this is where I become infuriated. You cannot be a modern, man-hating feminist and love God. Maybe that sounds harsh but it is true, and it is printed in black and white if you want to see for yourself.

1 John 4:20
If anyone says "I love God", and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he whom does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

There is a lot of injustice in this world. Women are not always treated fairly, and neither are men. Maybe it happens more often to women, and more so in certain places, and in this feminism has a place. It is the hatred that's the problem. 

Proverbs 10:12
Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.

I will raise my daughter to be strong, to be bold and brave and her own kind of beautiful. I will raise her to know that she owes nothing to men who want to take from her, and to fight for what is good and just. I will raise her to know that a godly man is a treasure that should be respected, honored, and loved. 

I will raise her to know that marriage is a team activity, and her husband should have a say and so should she. I will raise her to be a biblical, submissive (whoaaaaa dropping the S word) wife who loves her God and is a helper to the man she marries. I will make sure she knows a fool when she sees one. Lookin' at you vaginal painters... 

My husband and I will raise a lady and three gentlemen. And they will change the world. 

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Peaks of the Week

Guys. I can't tell you how happy I am to be getting back into the normal swing of things after our move! Doing a Peaks post at the end of every week, exercising regularly, eating well again and feeling better has me all giddy. I love my routine and change really wears on me, even when it's a very good kind of change.

This week was a good one and my heart was filled to the brim with gratitude at the end of every day. I have been through so much lately- difficult change and sad goodbyes and mourning the loss of my old "normal"- but this week brought me a lot of hope. God is so good to us. Here are my peaks from this week...

1. I am feeling so much healthier! Last week I wrote a post about how the chaos of the move had caused me to eat a lot more junk food and feel like crap. I even got a bacteria that had me sick all week from eating drive thru food...yuck! I'm happy to report that I have followed my new plan and am feeling a thousand times better. I've been eating paleo and moving around a lot more- going outside every day, hiking with the kids, getting back to running, and using my combat DVD's during the baby's afternoon nap.

2. I know this was a peak in last week's post but it is worthy of another mention, and I won't lie... it'll probably be a peak every week until winter. FALL IS HERE! When you grow up in Southern California then suddenly move to Northwest Arkansas, you are hit by the reality of the season of Autumn and all its glory. I've never experienced a real fall, and it is w o n d e r f u l ! I have been able to wear boots and not feel like a total fool, and the locals are telling me it's unseasonably warm right now [whaaaaat?!] so I am looking forward to it getting even more fall-y very soon!

3. My aunt, who lives in Arizona, came out to Arkansas to visit my great grandpa, who lives about an hour from us. They drove up to our house and spent a whole day. We had coffee and watched the boys build train tracks, we took lunch to the park and stayed all afternoon. It was such a sweet comfort spending time with family.

4. Bella has been missing family and at the same time, stuck in a tiny townhouse with a bunch of brothers. She started asking for some "special girl time" last week and I finally made it happen. We put on matching lipstick and took off for Olive Garden, where we shared some very non-paleo dinner and split a big slice of chocolate mousse cake [her choice]. It was refreshing and special, and it's going to happen more often!

This week it was easy to see the positives, and I'm thankful for that. I hope your weekend feels long and is full of family, love, grace, rest, and JOY! Make it what you want it to be, friends. Love to each one of you!

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How Your Words are Creating the Husband You Can't Stand

Today my husband and I took our kids to the park. It's become a part of our daily routine since it tires them out and our new area is so beautiful. I set the baby down and sat on a bench with my water bottle; I thought Brian would join me but I looked up to see him jumping on the swings with the older kids. He looked so funny, being a big burly guy with a full beard, next to our chubby little three-year-old, and he was smiling just as big. I watched him jump off, fly through the air, and chase our daughter across the padded ground onto the play equipment. His laughter was hearty and genuine, and my heart skipped a beat.

My mind flashed to a recent conversation with a friend about the common problem of husband-bashing in Christian women's groups. I remembered a "Bible study" I once joined, excited for a chance to grow and make friends. I went for three weeks, each time hoping I was wrong about the women there, each time being proven right. Every Thursday morning this group of wives and mothers would gather, leave their children with the sitter, pour themselves coffee and put donuts on napkins, then they would sit next to each other and rip their husbands apart, one at a time. It seemed to me that each woman got more pleasure in this than the one before her- they smiled wide and they laughed loud at one another's husbands, as if each story was a MadLib.

I felt a pain in my stomach.

I offered up a solution or alternative perspective when I could get a word in, but I was usually met with an annoyed "yeah....mmhmm" or "oh I've tried everything and nothing works on him". I remember one woman in particular, whose face I'll never forget, laughing and saying, "he's hopeless!".

Today I watched my husband spin on the kid carousel with our strong-willed child, seemingly erasing the difficult battle he had put us through this morning over breakfast. Both of them wore humongous smiles and laughed from their bellies.

This man, the one I married eight years ago by a lake on a hot September day, he is the most humble, admirable, selfless, most beautiful human being I have ever known. His servant heart for me mirrors the heart of Jesus for His church. His crazy love for our babies reflects God's passionate sacrifice for humanity. It's ridiculous, when I think about it, that I get to be his wife every day. It isn't fair to the world that it gets to be me. I adore him. 

None of this, however, is the reason I don't speak poorly about him. Obviously I'd be lying if I said all these things have nothing to do with it, but it's so much more than that. I believe the roots of honor need to run deeper than admiration, because admiration can easily fade.

Marriage is hard no matter who you're doing life with. People change, moods shift hour by hour, scary things take place, stress becomes overwhelming sometimes, life can be a pretty rough ride. Being tied to another person in matrimony in the midst of all that can be such a blessing, but it can also get pretty messy and feel more difficult than helpful. My point is, we all have a "good excuse" to bash our husbands [by the world's standards] at one point or another. Husbands are human, and they are very different humans than we are, and humans make mistakes.

But when we speak words, in them is a power strong enough to change things, either negatively or positively. Think about that for a moment. Our words have the power to make us as well as those who are listening believe what we say, to further cement what we speak, to make it even more so, maybe even to make it fact. If you say something, it comes from your heart, and it becomes what you believe.

But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 
Matthew 15:18

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.
Proverbs 18:21

Our words can make us believe what we say about our husbands; they can make our husbands believe what we say about them, and become more like how we describe them, how we tell them they are. Imagine now, using the power of your words to tear down the man you committed to honor.

When we speak poorly of, put down, or mock our husbands, we are not only dishonoring them, pouring negativity into our marriages, and breaking our vows to honor, we are heaping judgement on ourselves. 

I tell you, on the day of judgement people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. 
Matthew 12:36-37

If the power of life and death is in the tongue, and if you have a husband you feel the need to complain about, maybe using your words to affirm, praise, compliment, and be sweet to him, both when he is present and when he is not, would change things. Maybe it would soften a bitter heart- that could be yours or his. Maybe it would inspire him to love you better. Maybe it would show someone else what true love looks like. Maybe the God you say you serve would be glorified, which is the whole point of marriage in the first place. Maybe you should be the one to change your marriage.

Negativity is the easy way; it comes so naturally to us. 

Even today, running through the playground while my husband chased me, I thought about how easy it is to see flaws over the perfections. I thought about our hard times and all the hurtful things I have thought about him. I thought about all the fleeting emotions that swallowed me up and nearly had me spewing his missteps to a friend. I thought about dark nights spent emotionally far apart, hearts hurting, disagreements that seemed insurmountable, betrayal that burned.

As Brian caught me by the swings, took me in his arms and pressed his mouth against mine, I was swallowed up by gratitude. This man is good to me, despite how I've used my words to hurt him, despite how I've been wrong, he is inspiring. And all I want is to use my words to make this life of ours even better, to make him even stronger, and to let him know just how sweetly he has touched my heart. 

I pray that that is exactly what I do for the whole of our life together, in Jesus' name. 

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Peaks of the Week

Another seven long days turned into a quickly passing week.

I'm slowly getting the hang of our new life. This week was a lot of not feeling well, pressing the restart button, and getting my new home in better order. There's not a box in sight, the bunk beds are built, and we're figuring out how to manage four kids all sharing one bedroom [major props to Jim Gaffigan and his trooper wife who have five in one room. Legit.]

Brian is loving his job out here. It's the same position he had in California, but the way things work day-to-day is different, better in his opinion, and he's now the top tech with the highest seniority, in line for a promotion, and kicking butt on each new issue he faces. I am beaming with pride over that guy.

The kids keep saying how much they love it here. They have such grateful little hearts, and it's been my inspiration lately. They comment on the mountains, the trees, the overall beauty, the kindness of the people we meet on a daily basis. They are taking everything in and loving it, and that really feels good as a parent who just moved her whole family away from their comfort zone. I am so thankful for how much they love Arkansas. My admiration for it matches theirs.

It sort of feels like I can finally breathe, although I hadn't fully realized before that I wasn't taking deep breaths. The settled, quiet peace in my heart since we moved here is so refreshing.

Well there's a little sum-up of where we're at with the big move this week. And here are my peaks from this past week...

1. Homeschooling is going great! Bella has a new-found hunger for knowledge, and every day she cannot wait for us to get to the day's school work. We spend most of our school time on the couch while the youngest boys nap and Leland plays on the floor in front of us, or outside on a blanket taking in the Ozark Mountains. It's just a dream come true and I am so happy with our decision.

2. I am experiencing my first real Autumn! Arkansas knows how to do fall. All the trees have gone from bright green to deep green to yellow, orange and red. It's so beautiful, and such a relief to be able to wear my boots and scarves in October.

3. Pajama days every day this week. I got a stomach bug on Monday and it didn't leave me alone until Friday, so I spent every single day in my pajamas. I lingered over cups of tea and got my house in order since I couldn't really leave. It was a nice break, and I feel really relaxed after this week.

That's it for this week since not much happened with my pajama days, ha! I hope your weekend is full of love and rest and joy, sweet friends. Thanks for reading!

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