Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tuesday Events

“Jo had learned that hearts, like flowers, cannot be rudely handled, but must open naturally…” 
 
Little Women
 
It's one of those beautiful, sunny winter days that beg for you to come out and explore. While the eastern side is being snowed in (cuddle up with some cocoa and Scrabble away safely, dear ones!) my beloved and I are enjoying a day off.
 
I stumbled out of bed, hair awry, and together (its funny the things couples can do together) we made a cup of coffee. After omelets and left-over cornbread soaked in milk, we went off for our weekly grocery shopping trip/date. I say date because shopping with Dalton is a lot of fun.
 
At Aldis, I discovered this yellow primrose for $ .39! What a price for such a beauty! I decided to toss the dying and diseased succulents and planted our new friend in the pretty white pot I bought before we were married. I also gave the last two succulents new homes and moved the trio to the windowsill for fellowship and sunshine -- two things none of us can live without! :)
 
 
 
 
 
While the husband watched a documentary and took a midmorning snooze (he's so cute) I've occupied myself by filling out an "intent to graduate" form, checked on favorite blogs, and enjoyed some relaxing, classical music. Later, we may wander out to the library for Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events and explore the river landing we haven't been to yet.
 
It really is a beautiful day. What is keeping you occupied this fine Tuesday? Whatever it is, I pray that you, dear reader, are filled with beautiful peace and the joy of the Lord.
 
Love and blessings!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Linens + Drawers: Small House Organizing

 
Finding a place for everything can be a challenge when you live in a small(ish) home; but, what better chance to give your beautiful, creative self some space and freedom to discover smart, nice-looking, useful ways of hiding all the junk gadgets running a home requires?
 

 


I have found our baker's wrack to be so helpful in organizing the odds and ends which beg to be in the kitchen. I cherish this particular piece of furniture; when we married I asked my momma if I could take it along; for as long as I can remember it graced my mother's kitchen and dining area and I love it.

In one drawer I store doilies, table runners and cloths, napkin rings, and other beautiful towels and coverings. Most of these beauties were gifts (do you see your lovely set, Mrs. Elizabeth?) while others came along with my hope chest.


 
I also keep the more practical items like plastic silverware and paper plates along with aprons in the baker's wrack. I love knowing where everything belongs.

 
Of course, the fabled junk drawer requires a pretty area where it can collect odds and ends like lint rollers, pens, and flashlights.
 
 
Below the wicker drawers I keep some of our cookbooks and also store Dalton's chess pieces and our card game ... Dutch Blitz, anyone?

 
The a few more cookbooks are neatly stacked ... beneath one of our living room couches! :) There just wasn't quite enough room.
 
 
While I'm at it, don't you just love the message board Dalton made me for Christmas? It has a chalkboard, a place to pin notes, and also four adorable clips for hanging things like to-do lists, schedules, and menus. It was one of my favorite gifts this year and I love using it in our kitchen.
 
 
Where do you store the odds and ends your kitchen needs? Or maybe you've found some great organizational ideas ... message me on Pinterest and I'll be sure to check it out!
 
Love + blessings,

Friday, January 23, 2015

Goals, Dreams, + Reality | Blog Changes

 
 
 
Hello, sweet folk.
 
 
It's a bright, gray skied Thursday here on Madeline Place and I am enjoying such deep peace and happiness. Many hugs and cheek kisses are being mentally sent your way; I wasn't sure what sort of outcome Pregnancy Tests and Baby Blues would receive but of course, without fail, you ladies pulled me into your arms and blessed me with your sincere love. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
 
 
You may have noticed the changes occurring in this quiet place. The name changed from Of Mess and Glory back to the original Authentic Virtue. I like it better this way. I think, for some reason, I had gotten distracted from the pure, most sincere reasons I write -- to encourage women to live with the full knowledge that Jesus is beside them and that authentic (real, tangible) virtue (moral power) is the most beautiful thing they can show this world.
 
 
Dalton and I have been talking about what my ministry, in this season of life, should look like. I know that it should involve my being a blessing to and keeper of our home, the encouragement of younger girls to love the Lord and rejoice in the design and person He made them, to lift up women through hospitality, and to utilize my talents and interests for His glory. 


And then there is this blog. This wonderful, fun place I love to meander around in. What should it look like? How much time should I dedicate to it? Who should it reach? I have a lot of big dreams when it comes to writing/designing and feel that, whether the blog reaches thousands or merely fifty-eight, I want it to be a platform where God is glorified through my being authentic, open and encouraging in every word.


So, just like wiping away sticky cobwebs and scrubbing floors clean, I am in the process of preparing Authentic Virtue to really shine. There will be more consistency, more authenticness and praise of virtuous womanhood. Which reminds me, the pretty title, sidebar, and signature graphics which decorate my walls come from Hannah at We Lived Happily Ever After . She makes beautiful things for both blogs and homes ... and she definitely would love a visit from your beautiful self.


Looking forward to a fun, beautiful adventure,

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Benefits of Postponing Your Honeymoon

Hello, lovelies!

Today, I want to talk about a very personal, but exciting aspect of married life -- the honeymoon! Ah, what a splendid time the honeymoon phase is. Traditionally, honeymooners travel across the land, doe-eyed, and in love. They spend hours in splendor; basking in the joys of marriage. Sometimes they get too much sun and come home red as lobsters, others make the most of the expense and explore and some make camp in the hotel room and come out for the fancy buffets. :)

It really is a special time.

We went a different route. After being (unexpectedly) unemployed for several months, my beloved had just begun a new job. He didn't feel like it would be possible to take time off and, in all honesty, neither of us had money to travel.

But, boy, did we have a honeymoon.

At that time Dalton was living in our first rental, alone, while I lived with my family three hours away. He scrubbed, painted, and cleaned the bungalow from top to bottom in preparation for when I would come to live with him. After our wedding, I hopped into his white truck and we drove three hours northwest to our home.

And just like countless couples before us, Dalton carried me over the threshold and our honeymoon at home began.

Now, after eleven months of marriage, we are packing our bags, buying tickets, and preparing for our honeymoon away from home. And boy, are we excited!

Even though we are brimming with excitement, I think there were benefits from waiting for our big trip. Here are three benefits of postponing your honeymoon. Let me know what you think!

1. You enjoy each other without pressure

Traveling naturally creates pressure (and stress). Flying (or driving), checking in, and finding your way around a new environment can cause new couples extra stress that, although they're more than happy to deal with, doesn't have to be.

For Dalton and I, two very happy introverts, there was no place like home. We settled into each other (and our marriage) without the stress and pressure of the outside world. Although Jefferson City was new to me, Dalton knew the places I would want to visit, explore, and eat at so he spent the first few weeks making my time extra special. It was wonderful.

2. You know each other

Last night, as we were snuggling in bed, I told Dalton that my love for him had grown so much during our marriage that I wondered how it was possible that I loved him while we were dating -- my love is just so much greater and deeper than I ever thought possible! But that's what happens when you give love time -- it grows and multiplies.

When a couple first marries, you really don't know each other yet. Oh, you may know what your beliefs are, your plans, and how each of you think. But you haven't seen how your man handles throwing up, or for that matter, handles watching you throw up. You haven't seen him handle the in's and out's of finances. You haven't been humbled by his bravery and courage when he patiently waits for unanswered prayers and walks through broken dreams. You don't know him yet.

But you will.

For us, it was worth putting off an official honeymoon. We know and love each other far better then when we first said "I do."

And I think that knowledge will make our honeymoon even better.

3. You will enjoy your trip better

This last point may cause an incredulous, nervous shock to radiate among my dear conservative, homeschooling friends but I stand by it. Your honeymoon is about intimacy ... having sex with your beloved.

((GASP!)) ;)

But really, it is!

God designed marriage to be a beautiful, creative, sexual adventure for you and your spouse and, if you have followed His ways, your honeymoon will be the beginning to that amazing adventure. Of course, each couple is different, but for us it was important to give ourselves time. I can't imagine how stressful it would have been for me if we would have been honeymooning in the tropics and I would have known that at every moment there was some planned activity, some recreation, to partake in.

Of course, I know that it is totally possible to plan a beautiful honeymoon and not be roped into all the activities and adventures offered. But for me, it would have been stressful. I loved knowing that at anytime we could go explore our new town and then safely retire back to our cozy, little home and into my man's strong arms. Physical intimacy (and getting used to it) requires time and I am thankful for the time and freedom not being on a honeymoon offered.

Plus, now that we have been married for eleven months (and we're both fully used to and enjoying the intimate side of marriage ;) I know that we will be able to really enjoy our upcoming trip. :)

Dearhearts, what do you think? Did any of my points resonate with you? Or maybe you had the time of your life at your get-away honeymoon? Let me hear your thoughts -- I'd love to know!

With so much love and blueberry tea,


 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Pregnancy Tests and Baby Blues

It can be a very personal subject and one I haven't known how to discuss. Pregnancy troubles. Or, more specifically, struggling to get pregnant. 

It's been a hard journey to be on and one I hesitate to share with others; I've only been married for ten months, have not dedicated myself to certain timing methods, and am very healthy and well. I've been afraid to share because we haven't visited a doctor or even bought prenatal vitamins -- but when you're as newly married, healthy and young as we are sometimes doctor visits don't seem appropriate yet.

But, regardless of the circumstances, it has been hard.

And I want to talk about it because I think it will help.

This past week I had been hope-filled and dreamy-eyed. I thought I was pregnant. Nearly every classic symptom of pregnancy appeared to be taking its course so, with a hop and a skip and a merry heart, I bought two pregnancy tests.

The boxes tell you not to read the test after ten minutes but my sister, who has a beautiful 5 month bouncing, baby boy, read a positive only after the set time limit. So I assumed it was okay. Ten minutes after the timeline, a faint positive became visible in the tiny, plastic circle and with the visibility my heart leapt. I had thought I was pregnant at 3 different times within our short marriage so I was used to disappointment. But this time was different. I had a teeny-tiny-faint positive.

And my heart secretly soared.

I waited till the end of the week to try the second test. Like the first, it came out negative; in an effort to move on from my sadness I busied myself with prayer and tidying our house. Twenty minutes later I returned to find that a huge, big blue positive line had appeared. I began to plan how I was going to tell my husband the special news and began to put baby names together.

And then the bleeding began. I told myself it was simply the implantation phase; the natural process of the fertilized egg nestling into its new home. Natural. Good. Expected.

After waking up to the beginning of a normal period, I spoiled the surprise, nervously dressed, held hands with my steady man while picking out three tests and headed home.

The reading?

Negative.

I felt so stupid. How could I convince myself that I was pregnant after two originally negative tests and traditional pms symptoms? How could I be crying over my naivety? How could God have let me believe that I was pregnant? With the sweetness and goodness of a true man, Dalton held me, encouraged me, blessed me, and reminded me that birth is in God's capable, good hands. Of course, I knew that; I had faith in God and His timing.

But then I realized something very important.

Faith isn't faith unless it can withstand the valleys, mountains, and struggles.

Remember the Israelites and their journey through the desert? Very few of their company could be called men of faith; men of faith journeyed knowing that they would get to the Promised Land even when the food bags were sagging with emptiness and the last watering holes were three days backwards. Men of faith knew that the God Who had parted the sea would also keep His word. Men of faith didn't lose heart. And today, this very faith in God is demanded of us.

"Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; " Hebrews 3

Doubt is a very natural response to life's struggles and I am thankful to know that even our Lord Jesus was tempted with it and understands us. There is no condemnation in struggling with unbelief; but, for me, I wasn't doubting God's ability or timing in giving us a baby. I was doubting His goodness and His love. My inner man cried out saying, "Why, when I am living a life following Him would He deny me my heart's desire?" And that is where I want to encourage you, sweet one, if you are in the same boat.

Remember that God is good. O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him -- words the psalmist wrote long ago still ring true today. God is good even when life has disappointments and the way is long and the road full of pot-holes and steep ditches. He is good even when your pregnancy tests say positive but the science says negative and He is good even though your week-long dream becomes another example of your vivid imagination.

So yes, it has been a long journey.

A long, marvelous, God-filled journey.

And I am okay ... at least I will be.

I don't mean for this to be a sad tale or turn into a pity party; there are so many sisters in Christ who are struggling with this issue (and in much more painful ways). I also don't want to be accused of being foolish for not visiting a doctor. Like I said before, I am healthy and well and at this time I am more than okay with letting time take its course. I may change my mind but for now I am happy and content with that.

I just want to be able to talk about it and not feel silly. Because this pain I feel? It's real. And it affects both Dalton and I.

More than anything, I want it to be a growing experience. I want to walk away from these difficulties and be able to say that my faith grew, my heart expanded, and my love multiplied.

With love, blessings, and coffee,




p.s.

Sometimes learning to talk out your feelings can be embarrassing and really, really hard. Thankfully, I have an amazing husband ready to encourage my heart and dry my eyes, family who love no matter what, and friends like you ... who bring authentic sunshine into my life. :) Blessings to you!

Chalkboard d.i.y.

I love the chalkboard craze and plan to keep enjoying these easy and fun diy's long after the fad has passed.
 
It took a long time before I finally took a leap of faith and bought my own chalk paint but, oh, am I ever glad I did! I have two chalkboards hanging in my living room and change the word with the season.
 
Here are a few pictures of the process. If you are timid and afraid of being creative making chalkboard prints will definitely aid you and "give you wings!" :)
 
 
After you have wiped your board clean, sharpened your chalk and drawn to your heart's content be sure to wipe away any extra smudges or smears.
 
Then hang your beautiful creation and drink a cup of coffee to it -- you're an artist! ;)
 
 

 
 



Saturday, January 17, 2015

Nickleby, Cornstarch and Cookies || Or How I Spent My Weekend

Hello, sweet friends!

The sun is out, children are playing across the street, windows have been letting breezy, fresh air in, and things are happening here on Madeline Street.

Lately, I have been engaged in the Battle of the Blow-Nose, Head-Cold ... I tell ya ... it's been a rough two to three weeks mainly because I am typically in good health. Nevertheless, I press on (not really ... there were two days when nothing happened unless it involved napping, pjs all day or more napping). :) But I digress.

Yesterday, I caught craft-fever and after I dropped my beloved off at work I stopped by the library and picked out the week's entertainment.

 

I had never seen Nicholas Nickleby ... it is, by now, one of my most favorite of movies. I'm in the process of begging D to watch it with me. :)

I also managed to make my to-do list and cross off a few items.

 
 
A few weeks ago, my sweetest friends and family threw me a 25th bowling birthday-party. It was so much fun and I felt like I needed to get some cards off in the mail to say thank you.
 
 

 
 
I had also seen this easy, healthy cookie recipe floating around Facebook and decided to give it a try.
 
 
 
 
They turned out amazing! As a die-hard cookie-lover, I was afraid these would taste like hippies from a commune had made them. ;) The recipe made a small batch -- just perfect for two -- and my health-conscious husband loved them just as much as I.
 
Today, I spent some time listening to worship music and trying to decide what our house should look like come Valentine's Day. I know it's too early to decorate for February 14th but since my beloved and I are will be away during the earliest days of February (for a nice, surprise, honey-moon!) I thought it would be a good idea to start now so that when we return everything will be ready for the holiday.
 


 
I had thought this tutorial for cornstarch ornaments too adorable to not try ... the recipe was easy to follow and fun to do. I'm still not sure if I'm as crazy about them as I originally was but they are cute and I'll take the next few days to see if the hearts grow on me. :) 
 
What thinkest thou?
 
I'm off to peck-out a chalkboard tutorial for Monday, finish my new design and bake bread. I am *so* thankful for the opportunity to stay home ... it is such a joy to spend time crafting!
 
With lots and lots of love, banana-cookies, and smiles,
 
Frannie

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Bringing in the New Year | Resolutions and Pjs

I'm feeling especially festive tonight ... which is a good thing because the coffee's too burnt to drink, it's only seven in the evening, and I'm dressed to impress in my new Christmas pjs.

I am also feeling ambitious ... in one week I will turn twenty-five.

Twenty-five.

I am almost fifty.

I am at least half way there.

Growing older has never scared me -- I've embraced that I will gray early and I'm okay with wrinkles as long as they tell of my smiling lips and happy eyes.

But I am afraid of not getting enough done.

By the time I turn fifty I could have grandchildren ... by that time I want have had a life brimming full of experiences and character; a life that tells the story of a woman who labored for eternity, for love, and for the right to tell her grandchildren what one person can do when they put their mind to it.

I don't want to conquer the world, mind you. I don't want a full bank account, worn out suitcases from seeing the world, or even copies of my own published works.

I want small things. Like the knowledge of herbs and how to deliver a baby; how to teach a child math while keeping sane; how to love a man for five years, ten years, fifty years and make it look like we were still fifteen. I want to know what it feels like to see a need and meet it as well as minister to the Body of Christ through the talents God has given me. I want to be like the steward who was given a little and turned it into a lot.

Here are ten little goals for this year. They are simple and straightforward but they are a start. I know how overwhelming not meeting specific goals can be and I want to avoid that trap.

 
I told you they were very simple ... but they are very important to me. I want to read more of my Bible, play more violin, and make other people's lives a bigger deal. I want to be able to hold a baby without getting arm aches and know whether or not teaching English is for me. I want to stop having pimple scars and use this blog to point to Christ in a better way.
 
Simple but they might take me somewhere. 
 
What hopes and goals do you have for this new year? Do you have any suggestions for mine? I would love to hear your thoughts. :) As always, have a blessed, peaceful night. Love to you!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Coming to a Mailbox Near You | Giveaway Announced

 
 
Hello, darling, happy souls,
 
I am so excited at the thought of mailing one of you a special gift -- I only wish I could mail a whole bag full of goodies to each of you. Your memories were quite special; they were like big, paper wrapped, bow-tied boxes full of you -- thank you for letting me get to know you better!
 
 Alright, dearies, I wish you a good, blessed weekend. Click on the video below (my first vlog ... eeee!) to see whose name is drawn from the bowl. And dearest winner, please be sure to email me your mailing address at: authentic_virtue@yahoo.com. Love to you!

video

Coffee with my Lord | Promises from God's Word

 
Good morning, sweet friends! It is a beautifully chilled and gray day today -- my beloved is out gathering the last of his Christmas list and so I am sitting in an unusually quiet home with tea in one hand and a few encouraging verses next to the other.
 
God is so good, isn't He? Faithfully, He meets our needs and with a gracious hand our wants are often met too. Beyond our imagination is His love and mercy and wisdom. A simple lesson I have been learning is to look to our Heavenly Father for His promises and to cling to them; a simple practice I used when I was a newborn Christian but for some reason allowed to fall to the side in the latter years.
 
The good news is that His promises are never ending! We barely have to part the pages of His Word before words of promise pour out. Promises of life, freedom, victory, mercy, love, security, and justice have been preserved for our generation; there are also other promises: judgment, His second coming, and discipline. Thankfully, what seems like negative promises actually bring comfort to the believing soul. There will be a day of judgment, but it will be tempered by the blood of Jesus who I plead. There will be a day when Christ appears, but praise God!, I will be prepared to meet Him with a heart washed in the blood and a life transformed by His power. There will be discipline in this life, but it is only the gentle, correcting staff of a shepherd Who watches yearns for His sheep to walk in the path of life.  Yes, the Bible is full of promises I need to cling too!
 
Psalm 62 had a few promises which encouraged my heart -- I hope they encourage yours as well!
 
What promises do you find yourself clinging too? Maybe there is a special promise you have been reminding yourself of lately? I'd love to hear it!
 
Also, don't forget about the giveaway tonight! I can't wait to make you and your mailbox happy!
 
Love and blessings to you!
 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

8 Surefire Ways to Love Your Mate this Holiday Season



Christmas is such a special time but often the joy and simplicity of rejoicing over the Lord Jesus' birth can be frantically forgotten when busy schedules and overwhelmed spirits clog our minds. Being newly wed, I am learning how important it is to purposefully connect with my husband amongst the busyness that accompanies the wintry, festive days of Christmas. Here are eight ways I've discovered to love your mate during the holiday season -- I hope these ideas can inspire all, fire-up busy, holiday-happy wives, and encourage my single sisters as well!

1. Do something special

    I have found that loving my husband can be as easy (and sweet!) as remembering to keep our lives special. Does he take a lunch to work? Maybe tuck a holiday-themed love note next to his bologna and pickle. Perhaps your beloved is working late hours into the cold evening? He may enjoy coming home to a warm, favorite meal of his. There are so many ways you can purposefully remind your love that he is special and that you appreciate him!

2. Communicate

    We all know that communication is key for a happy, peaceful marriage; but, how much more when the holiday season has you both running in all directions? Lately, we have had to communicate (and re-communicate) our expectations, hopes, and plans for visiting family over the next few weeks, how to manage our budget, my starting a college class/finishing my associates degree, ending a part-time job (and how to go about it), a friend's out of town wedding, and how to make the most of my sister's flying from Arizona without being away from home for two weeks straight (that is a hard one!). Communicating with your spouse your hopes and desires and listening to theirs is a surefire way of making them feel loved and wanted -- even in the midst of a busy schedule!

    Also, it is really important to communicate with family and friends too! There is nothing like bringing a can of cranberry sauce to the New Year's Eve party when you were supposed to bring two casseroles and pie. Be honest and open about expectations and you'll be sure to avoid silly misunderstandings!
    
3. Date him

    Dating you're hubby is an incredibly fun and easy way to stay connected this holiday. If the holidays are making your budget tight opt out of over-spending and purpose to be with each other in other ways. My husband and I love to go grocery shopping together ... we normally make a day of it by hanging out at his favorite video store and then browsing the beautiful aisles of Hobby Lobby, making my crafting-heart rejoice! I know one couple who have made it their habit to go for coffee and dessert. Button up and go for a walk, listening to each other's hopes and dreams for the future. Finally, don't forget how fun a Star Wars marathon and freshly popped popcorn can be.

4. Be kind

    It seems elementary but being kind is important and easily forgotten (at least by this goal-driven, sometimes moody, first born ;). Complement him. Refuse to nag over unfinished projects. Don't run him over just because your mom is coming over and you want everything perfect. Practice unconditional respect and forgiveness. Most of all, bless him with you're kind, loving, consistent smile and mood ... he will appreciate and notice it!

5. Do not assume the worst

    Remembering that love thinks no evil is an incredible way of loving your mate this season. It can be so easy to assume the worst of your spouse and let negative thoughts gain ground ... especially when the holiday festivities tend to add stress to all-ready crowded days. I really struggle with this. Thoughts like:

What did he mean when he said that?

What does he think of me?

He doesn't seem to be in love with my idea so he must hate it and I hate that he gets to be the boss and why can't I make my own decisions!

(see how quickly assuming the worst can develop into a hard, unloving, untrusting attitude?)

Yikes! Instead of ripping the poor, unsuspecting man's head off, learn to put a stop to the negative, assuming thoughts.  I've noticed that men (particularly my man) say what they mean and mean what they say. They don't play word games.

Plus there is nothing wrong with asking "What exactly did you mean by _____?" nor is it bad to sweetly say, "Babe, I don't think you meant to hurt my feelings but when you said _____ I felt really hurt." :) Communication is key, remember?

6. Pray together

   The couple that prays together stays together -- especially during the holiday season. Praying with your husband is a surefire way of reconnecting your two busy souls into one likeminded blend. It is a precious time when you set aside the stresses of life and look to your Heavenly Father as one. It is a time for rejoicing and practicing thankfulness. A time to lift worries and needs before the throne. Most of all, it is a time of unifying your hearts and reminding yourselves that together you are heirs of the grace of life.

7. Laugh

    Remembering to step back from the busyness of life and laugh can be a strong way of loving your mate! In the midst of tight budgets, traveling to see family, deciding on which (multiple) church/school functions to attend, and the normal day-to-day activities that battle for your attention it is easy to forget to laugh together. But taking a moment to laugh together is a fun, cheap, easy way to remember the important things in life. So go ahead -- have that pillow fight, reminisce over your first Christmas and the cute, albeit, bare Charlie Brown tree you shared in the crowded apartment, and smash the sugar cookie into his adorable face. Because, let's face it. If you aren't having fun together then all the busyness and stress isn't worth it. :)

8. Step back

    Finally, one last, surefire way of loving your mate this holiday season is to simply step back from it all. Depending on your season of life you might not be able to make it to every get-together, every musical, and every gift-wrapping fananza. And that's okay. There is no medal given out for having the busiest schedule. There is, however, many golden moments which result from simply stepping back from some of the busyness and focusing on you, your spouse, your family and, most importantly, remembering the Reason for the season.

There you have it! Eight surefire ways of purposefully loving your mate this Christmas season! What are some ways you purposefully connect with your spouse? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Love always!




   
 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Christmas Time | Giveaway, Goals, and Gleanings

Hello, dearest friends!

Oh, what a terrible blogger I have been -- the last few weeks have been full and bright and busy. We've been blessed with holiday feasts and family, guests camping out on our couches, shopping sprees, and work. I have projects, dreams, and goals bubbling out of my ears! Shall I press on and finish my teaching degree or simply rearrange my credits and get an associates degree and TESOL certification? What about my plans for designing and printing invitations as a small business? My children's book? This multi-tasking, list-making, dreaming girl doesn't quite know what to do. Of course, my disciplined, project-finishing stud of a husband is right: just start on one thing and finish it. Oh, if only it were as simple as that, am I right? ;)

In the mean time I'm busy wrapping presents, babysitting, and sending you a Christmas gift!

Well, at least one of you. :]

 

It would make me so happy to send one of you this lovely, Thai, handmade bracelet as a special holiday treat! To let me know you'd like to enter this bit of Christmas fun please comment below and share one of your favorite Christmas memories. On the eve of Friday, December 19th, my hubby and I will draw a name and announce that night. Oh, I am so excited ... there is nothing more joyous than giving a specially wrapped gift to a friend.  This is not a promoting giveaway -- simply a way to give to one of my readers; do feel free to share with your friends ... it is always fun to share joy.

So, my darling peoples, please share your happiest, best memories of Christmas ... I'll be counting down the days!

Merry Christmas, lovelies!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Evening Cozies

 
 
Winter time evenings are wonderful blessings, aren't they?
 
Sometimes they are full of mountains of laundry, mopping floors, and wiping down dirty sinks.
 
And sometimes they are full of hot coffee, good reading, painting, and quiet moments with the Lord.
 
I really do enjoy both.
 
Especially when they end with evening snuggles and kettle corn.
 
What are you doing this evening? What keeps you in these snowy, lovely nights?
 
 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

November | Or How I Survived the Feeling Tsunami in October



Hello, dearest readers,

Yes, I am alive.

I know it seems like I have fallen from the face of the universe and I imagine how difficult it must be for you to go for days without hearing from me -- those long days without reading something fran-tastic (fantastic + frannie = fran-tastic. ;) must be as difficult as trying to properly clip your toenails when the clipper's handle keeps slipping off ... you all have experienced that haven't you? It's excruciatingly annoying.

. . .

Yes, I am alive.

I've just been oh-so stumped at what to write. Our home is beginning to feel more and more like home -- so much scope for the diy imagination. Of course there was my melt down over the hot-glue gunned, burlap banners but I think that is a story for a different day.

When I haven't been busy at home diy-ing, baking, enjoying a (wonderful, five day!) visit with family, or substituting for a music teacher (fun!) I have been babysitting a two year-old named Calvin who loves to play cell phone, dance and try to eat paint.

October was a very good month full of answered prayers, memory making, Gilmore Girl watching, and married bliss. There were also days, d a y s, when I struggled with
f e e l i n g s. Feelings were out of control, out of balance, and out of the will of God; ugly feelings like loneliness, fear, and anxiety. I even found myself looking for hormonal excuses and eventually asked my beloved, "What's wrong with me!?" The dear, wonderful man answered in his gentle, good way, "I don't know. Why don't you try to find out. Look deeply." Within minutes I had my answer: I had let some unfounded fears nibble away at my peace and security and I was looking for something, anything, to fill that. So today has been spent in looking at the Christ who loves me so much and in repenting at the lack of faith and trust I have in His goodness.

He is so good.

And I am so blessed.

So, without further ado, I am ready to start my November with a bang. Here are my five goals and five favorites for November:

Goals
 
:: Study the three books of John and keep up with my devotional reading
 
:: Finish our Christmas list
 
:: Practice, every day, the awareness of the presence of Jesus Christ in my heart, home, and marriage
 
:: Pray to know God's will for my attending college, online classes, finishing my teaching degree and, while waiting, to begin the process of contacting schools for the upcoming spring semester
 
:: Practice hospitality at least twice this month (hard for this new, introverted gal!)
 
Favorites
 
:: Pandora's Christmas stations. I am so enjoying holiday selections from the Mannheim Steamroller station and Steven Curtis Chapman station.
 
:: Diana Hagee's Submission and How I Conquered It -- a fun, challenging, encouraging reminder of God's will for us wives and how we can live it out
 
:: Homemade crescent rolls ... yum!
 
:: Pumpkin candles and pumpkin lattes ... 'tis the season for these favorites of mine
 
:: I Will Carry You by Angie Smith ... a must read, faith-building story about a Christian's couple's pregnancy journey and the "sacred dance of grief and joy" God gently leads them through. Such a blessing to me!
 
and
just one more 
:: All your sins have not wounded My Heart as painfully as your present lack of trust does — that after so many efforts of My love and mercy, you should still doubt My goodness.
 -Diary of St. Faustina, 1486 (shared by our friend Miss Emily :)

 
Dearies, I'd love to hear about your November plans and favorites.
 
With love!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Coffee with my Lord | Resting In His Unfailing Love

Hurrah for sticking with a post series!

(No, really ... HURRAH! I hardly ever stay consistent with my endeavors.)

Today, dear friends, I am sipping a cup of black coffee and rejoicing in the God Who makes all things new. Recently, I came to my beloved and asked him to forgive me for a few pre-marriage offences I had committed against him. I was amazed when he asked for my forgiveness for the very same things. My eyes filled with tears as I gave my handsome man a hug and we both praised God for working in our hearts individually before bringing us together over the same issue. What a good God we serve. He is always faithful to chasten His children. Unlike us, He will not overlook sin. He knows that the cost will be far worse in the end. I am so thankful that He means for us to be truly holy, righteous, and pure -- praise God for Jesus' unspeakable gift of being able to live like we should!

Today, I aim to lift my eyes to the hill and rejoice in the God Who fights for me, for us, and rest in His finished work.

What has the Lord been teaching you over your cup of coffee? I would love to hear!

With love,