Find Joy in the Ordinary

A friend asked me this week if God told me to start a blog. I didn’t know how to answer that – it was one of those things that felt right at the time, but when I look back on it, I see His hand in it. We were living at Red Rock Bible Camp, I had time on my hands, and I’ve always loved writing and photography, so it was a combination of my favorite things.

What I didn’t know was that it would become my accountability – I wanted my blog to be a place that was positive and beautiful, and there would be no complaining online, so if something negative was happening in my life, it made me search for the good. It made me look for the moments that taught me stuff, it was my place to record the smallest things bringing me joy. It taught me to write until I found the positive, and take pictures until I discovered the beautiful.

find joysource

As our kids have gotten older, it’s also become a place for them enjoy the ordinary, everyday stuff – Anika will spend hours reading old posts, and all three kids enjoy looking at the pictures.

Our “Year in Review” videos have always been a favorite for our family. We’ve done one every year since 2011, and on the roughest, grumpiest days of teething, the girls have shown Everett every one, because they make everybody happy around here.

This year, Anika made the video instead of me.:) Once again, I’m overwhelmed by how much can change in a year, and by how beautiful our simple, ordinary little life really is to me. If you ever need reminding of that, put pictures of all your little moments to music, and suddenly life is transformed!

Here’s our latest collection of happiness:

family pictures: Morgan Braun
song: “Better Place”, by Rachel Platten

And for the next time Everett’s teething, here are all the links our other videos: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

3 Goals for the New Year

I have a love/hate relationship with New Year’s Resolutions.

The idea of resolutions is completely fantastic, and something my goal-loving self can easily get carried away with, but I really don’t need another reason to beat myself up over unrealistic expectations. I gave myself a break for many years, and left New Year’s Resolutions behind, but for this year, I’ve come across a few things I can comfortably get behind. Nothing too demanding, and I really don’t even like to call them something as official as “resolutions” – they’re more like little practices I want to add to my life to hopefully bring about growth and greater intention.

1) Five Year Prayer Journal

I don’t journal regularly – more just as the need arises and I have an urge to get things off my chest. I jot notes down when I’m doing my devotions, if there’s something specific I want to remember. But I heard about this idea while listening to a sermon, and I loved it – using a five year journal to keep track of what I’m praying for.

journal

I like it because it’s simple and quick, and a really easy, organized way to look back on how God has been working in my life, sometimes so gradually I don’t even notice. This seems like something which will encourage me to wait on God in a more long-term kind of way, and as I’ve started to fill in the first lines for 2017, I feel a lot of joy and anticipation for how God will answer prayers and surprise me over the next five years. There’s no way to know what will fill those lines, and I’m so thankful He’s brought me to a place where I can eagerly anticipate it, and not be filled with worry or fear about the future. He’s proven His goodness again and again, even during the darkest times, and I know He will do it again.

It’s not too late to start this little habit for the new year, if it grabs your interest! You can order this journal from Amazon by heading over here. (affiliate link)

2) Declutter 2017 Things in 2017

This goal is a little more intimidating, but I’m okay with it because I’ve done it before (in 2015), and am pretty sure I can do it again. Last time, I just made tally marks on a paper, but this time I’ve printed out the chart that keeps popping up on Facebook, and already, I have to say – colouring in those boxes on an official chart is WAY more fun, and very motivating. I let myself get a little head start in December, and I’ve already hit 100 things, so we’re off to a good start!

You can find the chart here.

3) Budget Consistently

We’ve budgeted off and on over the years, but every time we have a baby and go into survival mode, budgeting falls by the wayside. This fall, Ben and I decided to get back on track, and since there should be no more babies, we’re hoping to stay consistent! I’m excited to start this year off fresh. The first few months were for getting a feel for where we’re at and how we’re spending, but now we’ve built up a record of how we spend, and we can work at setting goals.

Three little goals for the new year! Do you have any goals you’re hoping to accomplish? Do share!

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Sharing the Love

Anika has always been this blog’s biggest fan. She could spend hours and hours going back over all the pictures, and reading the funny things Kaylia used to say when she was learning how to talk. She skips the “boring” posts (anything written while I’m feeling deep and spiritual), and usually sticks to the pictures. But the other day, she told me it had been too long since I’d written a post about what we’re loving around here right now.

This fall has been good to us – we’ve discovered a whole list of new things to love, so I’m delighted to share them with you today!

Chocolate Hummus

Cheap, fast, easy, and very intensely chocolatey. There, that should be enough to get you pulling out your food processor already. The recipe can be found here, and you’ll have your loved ones happily eating beans. Yes, this is related to black bean brownies, so I understand that it’s a love/hate kind of thing. Fortunately, my family loves it, and the girls are picky when it comes to beans, so this surprises me. There’s also a recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Hummus on the same site, but we haven’t had time to try it yet, because everyone is so obsessed with the chocolate.

Chocolate Hummus

The Martian

I rarely watch movies anymore, because we prefer to watch a quick show instead, but Ben and I did watch “The Martian” a couple of months ago, and I’ve been wanting to see it again ever since! I loved it, and I didn’t think I would. Usually, I don’t like space movies, but Ben was very sure I would like this one, it’s on Netflix, and the trailer looked promising, so I decided to give it a shot.

It was so good!! Matt Damon stars in it, and it’s a story about an astronaut who is left behind on a mission to Mars. He has to find some way to survive until the next space ship lands on Mars – in four years. Here’s the trailer:

Swiffer Cordless Vacuum

A few years ago, a friend told me to go buy myself a small vacuum to use instead of a broom. It sounded like a good idea, but I just never got around to it, because it didn’t feel like a pressing need.

Oh, my word. If you have hardwood floors, this actually IS a pressing need! We bought it a couple of months ago, and have used it often. It is much faster than sweeping, and I love not having any cord to worry about. It’s so much fun to use, the girls like to vacuum now, and chase Everett around the house with it while he squeals with delight-verging-on-terror. He also loves to be the one controlling the vacuum, and I’m happy he has something to entertain him! If he actually happens to pick up any garbage, even better! Win/win.

Everett vacuuming

Francis Chan’s Bible App

This is an app to use if you want to read through the Bible in a year, and you’d like a better understanding of the background of each book of the Bible. There’s a really cool video at the beginning of a new chapter that breaks down the theme and background of the book. The artwork is fantastic, and it helps explain things very well. I started using this a few weeks ago, and I’m really enjoying it. Plus, I’m a check mark girl, so I like being able to mark it off when I’ve finished my reading. The drawback is that I tend to get into a “finish the reading for the day!” mindset, rather than a “meditate on Scripture” focus, so I’m trying to take time for both.

Francis Chan app

Restore

Last spring, one of my trusted alternative health people told me about this new gut health product called “Restore”, and it only took a couple of weeks of trying it to start noticing it’s benefits. We felt like it gave us a lot of energy, Ben said he didn’t get his mid-afternoon sleepiness, and the girls were able to eat gluten again for the first time six years.

But during the summer, I made a mistake with ordering options, and we ran out of Restore. After a few weeks without it, I felt exhausted, I had issues sleeping, we felt like our digestion was sluggish, the girls went back to getting sick from eating gluten, and we just felt all-around a bit yucky.

We were pretty excited when a new bottle arrived! It took a few weeks to get back to our “new normal”, but we seem to be back on track now!

Besides the fact that it makes us feel great, here are the other things I love about it:

  • No multi-level marketing
  • Not a bad price, compared to some of the other popular products out there. A bottle will last one person for three months, but our family of five goes through one bottle in a month, which costs $109.
  • it seals all the gaps in the intestines within 20 minutes of taking it, and lasts for five hours
  • It restores healthy bacteria in the gut, so it’s recommended not to take probiotics while on Restore. The best probiotics have five to seven strains of good bacteria, but we’re supposed to have 30,000 strains. Restore balances the body, and brings back a much higher variety of bacteria than a bottle of probiotics.
  • the science behind it is available on the website, including pictures of what cells look like before and after using Restore

Here’s a quick video if you want to hear more about it, and it can be ordered here, if you feel like giving it a try! No strings attached.;)

 

And finally, my recent favorite book:

Secrets of the Secret Place

This book is changing my devotions. It’s inspiring, practical, and really beautiful – like this gentle invitation to get away with Jesus on a daily basis. I love practical suggestions for how to bring about change, and this book is full of them. I’m about halfway through, so I’m sure I’ll have more to say once I’ve finished it! I’ve copied out many quotes, but here’s one of my recent favorites:

“The longer you’re in God’s presence, soaking in His word and basking in His love, the more power you’re ingesting into the very fiber of your being. The only way we change is when we come close to the Lord. His presence is the place of change.”

secrets

Well, that’s a super random list of favorites! Let me know if you happen to give anything a try! Share the love.

 

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Rocky Mountain Oils For Kids!

Getting a package in the mail is always pretty exciting around here, but a few days ago, we got an extra special one. My girls have been waiting hard for it – their own little set of kids’ essential oils.

A few weeks ago, Rocky Mountain Oils contacted me and asked if we’d like to try some oils from their new line of kids’ products. I have used and loved their products for a few years already, so I had great expectations, and they did not disappoint! I think it makes the girls feel kind of grown up to have their own bottles of oils. šŸ™‚

I remember feeling very intimidated the first time I bought essential oils. They can’t be used on their own – they need to be diluted with another oil, like coconut, olive, or grapeseed oil. The ratios confused me, and I was nervous about trying them. But these roller bottles are perfect, even for someone who’s never experimented with essential oils, or feels uncertain about using them with kids. The oils are already diluted and ready to go, with directions right on the bottle, including where to apply them.

We received four different roller bottles to try – Counting Sheep, Immunity, Breathe, and Ouchie. Nobody has gotten hurt yet, so we haven’t tried Ouchie, but Counting Sheep gets used every night, and we were battling colds when the package arrived, so Immunity and Breathe have been very popular around here! Kaylia says she can breathe easier when she uses them, and both girls have a much easier time falling asleep when we roll Counting Sheep on their feet.

Check out the new Kids Line of oils at Rocky Mountain. We love them!

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Birthday Favorites Part 5

On Friday, life happened but a blog post didn’t, so I’ll sneak one in today, and finish up my birthday favorites!

Favorite Essential Oils

I’ve dabbled in the wonderful world of essential oils for a couple of years now, but this last year is when I realized it was time to get serious! Last summer, I got an insane infection, and was able to avoid antibiotics by using garlic cloves and essential oils. I was blown away by how effective essential oils were in treating the pain and infection.

It can be a bit overwhelming to learn about essential oils, because there is a ton of information, but a wise lady once told me to start with one, and add on as I felt comfortable. That was the perfect advice, and now I don’t feel overwhelmed anymore – it’s fun to find out how to use all of these oils to treat pretty much everything!

My absolute favorite will always be the Stress Away blend from Young Living, but a new favorite is a blend from Rocky Mountain Oils called Balance. Although I have a membership with Young Living, I still don’t order enough oils to benefit from their rewards program. I prefer to order from Rocky Mountain Oils, because the cost and shipping is much lower, but the quality is still great, some would say even better. I like the simplicity of not having to worry about points and passwords, and there are so many great blends.

Favorite Form of Stress Relief

Over the years, I’ve gotten pretty tired of hearing how moms need to take time for bubble baths, and that will somehow be the perfect escape. I really, really dislike baths. I know that sounds weird, but I just don’t take baths. What does that leave for me to enjoy when I’m stuck at home with my kids, and needing an escape?!

Fortunately, someone told me about adult colouring books last summer, and I am saved from bubble baths. Once I start colouring, it is so hard to stop! I love it.

Favorite Song

This song kept popping up all over the place for me this last year, and every time, I would get that big lump in my throat from trying not to cry. It gets me every time – “To tell you my story is to tell of Him.” Isn’t that amazing?! God is so good, and comes after us with love and mercy – how can we keep quiet about all He’s done for us? It’s why I love writing and speaking, why I love talking with people and hearing their stories, and why I believe every hard and horrible experience can be redeemed. There is so much to learn from each other about God’s goodness to all of us. I’m teaching a class this fall about the power of sharing our stories, and I’m getting so excited!

That’s the last bunch of favorites! I’d love to hear what’s brought joy into your life recently – I need to find some new favorites for this next year!

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Birthday Favorites Part 4

Today is my food post. I love food. I’m not sure how interesting my food favorites are for anyone else, though, because I have a very basic diet (basic” sounds so much more positive than “restricted”!). I have some issues with food intolerance, but my health as improved a lot in the last few years, and I’m hopeful that as things continue to improve, I’ll be able to add a little more variety to my diet – eggs and Greek yogurt are at the top of my wish list!

The funny thing is, I wouldn’t actually change a lot about my diet, even if I could. In my college days, I ate chocolate ice cream and Fudgee-o’s every single day, and I wouldn’t have believed it was actually possible to survive without chocolate. When my health took a big hit in my 20’s, I had to make some dramatic changes. I quit sugar, dairy, and gluten, which gradually led to a major improvement in how I was feeling. In the beginning it was torture, but with time, I stopped craving junk, and now I completely love eating tons of colorful vegetables, and keeping food simple and unprocessed. That doesn’t mean I never have weak moments – popcorn, chips, and pasta are foods I have trouble eating in moderation, and since all that stuff turns to sugar in the body, I try to stay away from it – usually physical pain is an excellent motivator for healthy eating.;) Anyway, the point is, I eat weird, but this doesn’t bother me, and there are delicious, healthy things to enjoy every day!:)

Here are a few new favorites I discovered this last year:

Sweet Potato Breakfast Bowl

Breakfast is hard when trying to avoid eggs and processed carbs. This is my favorite treat, and I’ve been eating it every single morning for a few months now. I mash up a small sweet potato, melt a ton of butter over it (the only dairy I’m okay with eating), and stir in chopped walnuts and a little bit of sea salt.

sweet potato bowl

Roasted Broccoli Chicken Potatoes

I never know what to call this, but it’s my favorite thing to make for meals these days. It is easy, fast, and I love how it tastes. I cut potatoes into chunks, drizzle oil on top, and season with salt, garlic, or oregano. I roast it for 20 minutes at 400, and then add broccoli and cooked chicken (I always keep some in the freezer so recipes like this are much faster to prepare). Roast for about another 20 minutes, and it’s done! Easiest meal we have around here.

potatoes broccoli chicken

Snap Pea Crisps

If I’m going to have a treat, this would be it. I love these things. While it was brilliant for Costco to start selling the snack size bags, I would have to argue with what the portion size should be.;) We broke up during my pregnancy with Everett – it was just one of those foods that made my stomach turn. Happily, I got over that, and this last year, we got back together again!

snap pea crisps

What are your favorites? I am always looking for new recipes!

Birthday Favorites Part 3

Today I’m sharing my favorite entertainment this past year – it’s on my mind because I’ve been lying around feeling sick and needing some entertainment for the last two days! Bless my in-laws, they’ve taken care of my kids, because I’ve been too sick to do so.

Here’s what I’ve been enjoying this last year:

White Collar

I loved this TV show. I was pretty sad when we finished it, because it might be one of my favorites ever. When I was a kid, I remember listening to Frank Abagnale Jr. share his story on Focus on the Family, and it was super interesting. When the movie inspired by his story, “Catch Me if You Can” came out, I wasn’t really a fan, but this TV show, also inspired by Abagnale Jr., was amazing.

white collarsource

I’m trying to figure out what I loved most – the characters are fantastic, and the writers did such an incredible job with development throughout the show. And there’s that constant pull between wanting Neal Caffrey reform and be the good guy you know he has to be deep down somewhere, but…really loving how incredibly amazing he is at being a con artist. Ben and I were very divided about how we wanted the show to end – I wanted him to reform, and Ben wanted him to keep conning, but the ending was crazy unexpected, and we were both satisfied, and then sad, because that show was just so great.

Brene Brown

Rising Strong strongly affected the way I think, so I orderedĀ The Gifts of Imperfection next, and Ben gave meĀ Daring Greatly for my birthday. Anything she writes is fantastic. I wrote aboutĀ Rising Strong here, and The Gifts here. I’m sureĀ Daring Greatly will inspire a blog post or two in the future.

Rising Strong

Instagram

I was curious about Instagram for a long time, but since I’m not the hugest social media fan, I held off. I didn’t think I needed anything else to distract me or keep me busy. But oh my goodness, Instagram is wonderful. It’s exactly what I love – combining pretty pictures with words. I just love following people who know how to take good pictures. I’m still trying to learn how to take good pictures with my phone, but it’s fun to play around with, and I love seeing how other people are sharing their images. If you’re not on Instagram, but you want to check out what I’m sharing, just click on the image to the right.

What have you been doing for fun recently? Any good TV shows on Netflix for us to try, now that White Collar is done?

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