Saturday, January 31, 2015

Surrendering Brings JOY

     I have just now finished reading The Surrendered Wife by Laura Doyle.  Do I have it all figured out?  Nope, but I am trying!  That's got to count for something, right?  Some things I have become increasingly aware of as I experimented on my dear husband:

  • Respect is the key for having a happy husband.  I have always said that Nathan was head of our household but interjected my opinion in over drive.  Am I saying that having an opinion is wrong?  NO!  I am saying that what he is a person too.  He has feelings.  I wouldn't want someone else picking out my clothes, pointing out that I was wasting my time, mentioning that I left my towel in the floor, suggesting what I say on the phone, making lists of things I needed to do, getting on to me about how I fussed at the children, asking if I had brushed my teeth, asking me what I spent my cash on, telling me how to drive, etc.  Those are just a few examples that wives probably all have been guilty of from time to time.  I mean, who would want to deal with that ridiculousness?  That all chalks up to being his mother instead of his loving, supporting wife.  He is who we fell in love with.  Us pointing out his faults does nothing more than crumble his spirit.  Also, trying to control EVERYTHING so it will be done to our perfection just stresses us out.  In turn, men rise to the challenge of being all that we treat him to be.  He will bottle up respect & shower us with his love.
  • Relinquish control of the finances to your capable husband.  Yes, I will be glad to write out checks or deliver them if he asks.  No, I will not keep a check on our balances, make anymore budgets, open that whole crazy stack of mail, nor figure out which bills to pay when.  I am tired of stressing over that.  He makes the money & is a smart adult who is capable of keeping our lights turned on & other bills paid appropriately.  This will give him encouragement to work to bring home what our family needs & provide desires we can afford.  He will no longer feel his income is being chopped up & divided how I see fit.  It also helps him fulfill his need to take care of us.  All I need is X amount of cash $ each week for groceries & miscellaneous expenses if it is available to share.  
  • Self care is critical for being a happy wife.  To neglect ourselves is to fold in defeat.  Our happiness depends on doing something we enjoy & also making time for things that make us a better person.  I enjoy reading, writing, bubble baths, shopping, traveling, scrap booking, crafting, socializing with special friends & family.  Enjoying these activities make me a happier person.  Praying, keeping a gratitude list, eating healthy, exercising, cleaning, & organizing are all things that take effort for me but bring peace & joy into our home.  The old saying rings true ~When mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!!!
  • Ask for what we want.  Husbands are not mind readers.  His heart's desire is to take care of his wife.  I wanted to go out to eat pizza.  I simply said, "I would love to go out for pizza tonight."  He rearranged a few things to meet my request.  I didn't confuse things with asking if he wanted pizza or hint that I wanted some.  I asked.  He blessed.  I thanked him.  Speak up nicely, hoping for the best instead of expecting. 
  • Be thankful.  Appreciate all of his efforts, however small.  Common sense tells us that if what we do for someone is accepted with gratitude, we will want to bless them again.  Begging & expecting get my children no where.  Being appreciative definitely does though!  Another example is how Nathan's Granny reacts with such kind words & appreciation each time we bake her a pecan pie.  She tells those who enter her kitchen how great it tastes.  Naturally, we can't bake pecan pies without thinking of her & usually bake her one too!  No, we are not out for the compliments, but being grateful definitely encourages the giver to give again.  Your husband soaks up your praise.  He can't help but feel loved, appreciated, & encouraged to do more.  I began a secret gratitude list.  There are so many things about him that I cherish!  They far out weigh any stupid little fault.
     Am I perfect now?  Certainly not!  Have I caught myself being disrespectful or overly "helpful"?  Absolutely, & I sincerely apologized.  Our home is now flowing with less drama.  I have noticed how critical one of our oldest has become of a younger sibling.  I realize that how I was acting before has taught them to act this way.  I did table a discussion to nip it in the bud.  I also realize that actions speak louder than words.  My children mimic me.  They are usually in my company all day long.  I desire to make positive changes that will reap a greater JOY in our home!
     Critical updates:  I've been handed more cash to spend than I would've ever given myself, our lights & telephones & cell phones are still working with him paying the bills, I have less stress & more free time, Nathan enjoys taking care of us, & we've had a date night that he planned!  I think that spells EXPERIMENT WORKED, SURRENDERING BRINGS JOY!  :)     

Monday, January 26, 2015

I Asked BIG

     So, that didn't really go as I had planned it!!!  I had it all planned out, how I would mention, "I want a regular date night" as we were cuddled in bed together.  I figured he would smile & immediately get to work planning one for every week.  I imagined how romantic they would be.  Next, I planned to mention, "I want to get our back deck moved" & imagined how this was all just going to fall in place.  I was so caught up in my dreamland of how this would all play out so easily for all of our benefit.  Then, I went ahead & read the next chapter of the book...
     Chapter 6 of The Surrendered Wife suggests that you "Relinquish the Chore of Managing the Finances."  WHAT was the deal with that?!  I immediately thought about how his mother has always controlled the finances.  She handled his accounts before we were married.  I handled them afterwards.  He never even seemed to want to.  We opened a joint account, & he has never offered to help.  I have asked him from time to time when money was tight what to pay or how we could pay this or that.  He does check our accounts regularly online.  Often we discuss how much we have, what has been paid, what is due, etc.  I set up a budget.  We have tried that, made changes, tried it again.  All in all, it has never worked out.  He never understands where it all goes so fast.  It is hard to get all of the bills paid up before others roll in.  I thought about what a stressful load & struggle it has been for me to manage our money for these 13+ years.  This makes me feel like a failure.  So, what did I do?
     Instead of the romantic statement I had originally planned, it came out something like, "I want a regular date night, and I want you to take over our finances.  I just can't do it anymore."  For the 1st time ever, he was like a deer in headlights.  I might as well left the 1st part out because it was drowned out by the second.  Further more, I might as well asked him to cut off his toe for me.  He probably would have considered that better.  I can't even remember what he said, but it was pure shock.  He was like what?  I think I repeated it again.  I tried to explain how it stressed me out, how I had failed for over 13 years at it, & how I thought he could do it.  It took him a while to process what I was saying.  I tried explaining how he was the one that worked so hard for the money & how I trusted him to pay what needing paying.  I also threw in that all I would need was cash for groceries & miscellaneous items each week.  He asked too many questions.  I tried to think through an answer for each one, but then he would fire off another.  I could tell his head was spinning, but he didn't look unhappy though.  He ended the conversation by saying he sure didn't expect that but would try.  He also thanked me for the way I handled asking.  I smiled nervously.
Maybe this could be a good thing or maybe our lights would get cut off...only time will tell!   

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Know What You Want & Say It Out Loud

     Let me get this straight, 1st I learn to shut up & now I learn to speak my mind directly...this should be interesting!  Reading Chapter 5 of The Surrendered Wife confirms the common thinking that it's not always about what you say but the big kicker is how you say it!  As women we need to give up the idea that asking for what we want is selfish.  It's not.  We are humans with dreams too.  To our advantage, a husband with a respectable wife will work double duty to see that those dreams are fulfilled to the best of his ability.  That's just in his nature, to be our hero or knight in shining armor.  Finally, just when I was getting all geared for a pity party about how this surrendering & being respectful was not only more difficult than I imagined but also that he doesn't even notice, now this is finally starting to sound rewarding!
     First, I get to decide what I want.  Wow!  Me?  In this chaotic family of 7, I get to dream big?  So much of our dreams have come true this past year.  Nathan was able to sell his part of the family farm, purchase our dream property, build his dream shop, & move our home.  Only God, but each of these didn't just happen.  It all began with dreams over 10 years ago.  Now is a perfect opportunity for new dreams!  What do I want?  I know one to start on!  It would be great to finally move our back deck here!  I would love to string those big ball Christmas strand lights over it & add a rustic table with mismatched chairs.  I can picture Nathan grilling while I prepare the sides & the kiddos playing happily outside.  What wonderful memories we could share there, especially in the coming spring & summer when the days are longer & his Taxidermy work isn't nearly as busy!  I can just picture all of the beautiful plants we could pot & art work we could create right there too.
     Armed with my dream, what will be the best way to convey this?  The book suggests going about this very plain & simple, stating what you want without telling your dear husband when, why, or how to do it.  In other words, DON'T try to control this situation either.  Just ask.  Begin with, "I want..."  Be loving & direct.  The book sites the example of ordering in a restaurant.  No one would answer the waiter/waitress with, "What do you think I want?" nor ever expect him/her to just figure that out on their own.  After placing our order, we also wouldn't rudely tell them where to buy the food, what to pay for it, how to prepare it, follow them to the kitchen to make sure our every demand was met, nor make them clean it up exactly as we desire.  No, we would simply order & trust them & the cooks to do their jobs in making us happy.  Being that controlling would be completely ludicrous.  That same principle of having ridiculous amounts of control & expectations apply in our marriage also.  Just state what you want & HOPE for the best.  Hopefully things may begin to happen immediately.  There's a good possibility of change taking time to accomplish.  Financially things may have to take shape over a period of time or may not be possible at all.  Things in life can change so fast!  Be grateful for your blessings today, but don't quit dreaming!
Stay tuned but with caution because this could take years!  In the meantime, I'll suggest something smaller such as a date night & let you know how that goes.  I have before grown weary planning the date, arranging for the sitter, considering our cash flow, & wishing he would take the initiative to plan them.  Maybe I'll start with saying, "I want a regular date night."  After all, how more loving & direct could I get than that?  I think I'll speak up tonight, so pray saints pray!  & promise not to laugh if I end up on trekking through the woods shooting squirrels on our "date" or worse!  ;)                

Thursday, January 22, 2015

My Experiment Results Thus Far: Giving=Receiving

     "...treating a man respectfully brings out his natural tendency to treasure his wife.  When he realizes he has your full faith & trust, he will not let you down, & will feel fierce responsibility to meet your expectations...The more you relinquish control, the more masculine he will feel.  Your faith gives him added strength and reminds him who he is & that he wants to take care of you & ensure your delight...When a wife respects her husband, he naturally responds with more confidence in himself & gratitude for his wife.  This makes him cherish her more & spend more time & effort memorizing the things that make her happy."  The Surrendered Wife
     What I am learning is that by giving up control (that word makes me squirm to think I did/do that), I am receiving much more.  It is so unnecessary to control or correct such stupid things such as where the eggs go in the refrigerator (yes that tempted me today)!  Giving up that "power" brings less stress & exhaustion.  Now I don't have to be on top of everything.  I can relax more in knowing there is indeed another competent adult living here.  Being less critical brings more peace & JOY into our home too! 
     "You must be the change you wish to see in the world."  -Gandhi
     What a wise statement!  Changing doesn't mean trumpets will sound nor gold metals will be given either.  I found that to be true real quick!  That's just how this life is.  Seriously, I am after far greater~the key to my husband's heart!  & he still hasn't noticed?  Nope, not a clue!  Why?  Maybe because he is just waiting for another ball to drop or maybe because I'm returning to the real me, the one he feel in love with, the one he married.  While we were dating, not much he did got on my nerves to even need correction.  I loved him in every circumstance & sure never bossed him around like his mother would.  Acting like that wouldn't have lasted a minute!  I was both good-natured & easy to please.  Chances are with dating, I didn't always speak up abruptly either.  If I had a restaurant in mind but he spoke up another suggestion 1st, I surely didn't fuss!  No, I enjoyed his company right on!  I laughed & listened.  So did he!  We bore our hearts to one another & dreamed the same dreams without putting forth effort.  The magic was there.  It still is!  All we must do as wives is dust off our best selves!  Do I really expect him to brag on me for being who he married?  I think not.
     In this process of finding myself all over again, I've realized that self care is a large part of the bigger picture.  For some reason, it seems selfish at first but is actually a gift from you to your family.  Enjoying things in life is a huge part of being an enjoyable person to be around.  Makes sense, right?  Carving out time for something that brings you pleasure makes life seem a whole lot less stressful.  When you are having fun, life will look up again & not feel like you are using every drop of energy just to exist for everyone else's sake!  If you have nothing to give, you are starving your marriage with no opportunity to survive.  If you think highly enough of yourself to treat yourself well, chances are that others will too!  This seems easy enough!  I think I better go enjoy a nice long bath before I find out what on earth will be next!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Serenity Prayer

God, grant me the wisdom to accept the things I cannot change (like my husband),
The courage to change the things I can (like me),
& the wisdom to know the difference (between us)!
     Several of the books I have on marriage suggest the #1 issue for men is lack of respect & that most of the time wives don't even realize they act disrespectfully because they do this out of fear.  Fear can control us humans.  Fear is real.  This type of fear is fear of the unknown.  Fear of letting go of control because if we don't boast our opinion our kids will suffer, our finances will suffer, he will not be his best, he will make us look bad as his responsible wife, etc.  I've seen all of those happen in our stepping in & speaking up because I wanted to "help" guide him as if he were not adult.  This is controlling & demeaning.  It speaks volumes to men that they are being disrespected.  Am I suggesting just being walked all over?  No.  Am I suggesting to never give an opinion?  No.  I am, however, suggesting letting go of so much of the small stuff.  I am suggesting to pray more about these & speak less.  God can do far more than you or I can!  I am guessing that on going, unresolved issues would have to find a time & place to respectfully be resolved after much time of thought & prayer.
     "Whatever you think" has become new words for me prescribed through my new "surrendering" book.  So far, he hasn't even seemed to notice.  That really makes me want to point it out.  I think I'm doing so good that it's worth celebrating.  For example, last night we had to drive almost 2 hours to a funeral home for visitation.  Afterwards, he asked where we would like to go eat.  We only had our 2 oldest with us.  He immediately suggested Logan's Roadhouse.  I figure he was wanting to treat us since it was just us 4, but I know we didn't really need to spend $100 on supper.  Instead of bringing that up, I went with my recited answer, "Whatever you think."  He pulled into Logan's.  He ordered an appetizer and encouraged everyone to get whatever they'd like.  We did & spent $102.  I would love for fireworks to have went off for all the world to celebrate that he made this decision without my input, but no one ever noticed.  Sadly, I didn't reap any earthly rewards.  I only know we are over $100 poorer but praying that his respect remained intact rather it went unnoticed by my dear husband or not. 
     To sum it up, yesterday went well.  No catastrophes to report.  I've kept my mouth shut a lot more with should be earth shattering within itself.  ;)  No, I wasn't a horrible wife before, but most every time he says something loud & bossy to the kids, I do find myself wanting to correct his "Padgett" behavior with my own "Walker" opinion.  He is their parent too though, & no one stands around to correct me each time I handle something less than perfect.  Maybe my new softness will rub off on him eventually...we shall see! 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Post 100-Experimenting On My Husband

     During Christmas I always end up at the Christian book store splurging on books for the next year.  It's the time to splurge right?  I was in there buying for my blog giveaway & ended up buying for myself too.  ;)  I didn't have any idea what I wanted to read this year, so I scaned the sale & clearance books.  I picked up one called Happy Wives Club by Fawn Weaver.  It seems interesting enough.  Her website at is nearing its 1,000,000 member mark.  Finally I get the chance to begin reading it...
     Disclaimer:  Yes, I have a fine marriage & children.  I do, however, LOVE to read books on those subjects.  Maybe that's because I love to learn about things I have a valid interest in.  I don't know altogether, but I love them!  I always read something new to try that I probably never would have thought of on my own accord.  Anyways...
    I began reading Happy Wives Club, checked out their website, & joined in the great mission!  Basically, I am one of those strange people that believe in enjoying a lasting marriage & having a close, loving relationship with my spouse & also with our children.  Those dreams of mine began long before I met Nathan & continue today, & I plan to hang onto them forever!!!
     In the book, Fawn quotes about one of her favorite books, "I can't completely explain the phenomenon, nor will I attempt to try, but something magical happens when women read the The Surrendered Wife.  For starters, the author prescribes that a woman not tell her husband she's reading the book.  And yet somehow, each woman to whom I've given the book testifies that after she read it she found her husband had changed for the better."  I was immediately intrigued!  How fun it would be to try something new on the sly!  I ordered the ebook through my kindle app on our computer.  That way, he wouldn't know I was reading it!
     Thus, my experiment begins!  Both books suggest respect right off the bat as being the #1 thing a husband desires & the lack of it most wives offer.  I looked up some statistics on the subject in the famous book For Women Only that I keep on my desk.  Men would rather feel alone & unloved than inadequate & disrespected.  He'd rather be alone than!  Want to know the percent of men that feel disrespected?  81%!  Ouch!  That's terrible!  No wonder most marriages end in divorce.  The #1 thing they want, they are rarely getting.  I'm sure we can all think of some of these marriages where this rings out loud & clear!  Several definitely come to my mind as I often hear them talk so down to their husbands & treat them as if they are the children in need of scolding.  I most certainly don't want to be included in that!
      Now, if you asked me, I'd be glad to say that according to the authority of God, Nathan is the head of our household.  However, all of this reading has me wondering is this the answer we are suppose to give or the actual truth?  Am I trying to be "the neck that turns the head?" under the cover of the name "helper?"  No, I don't run over him, but after reading the book's examples, I could definitely improve!  I buy his clothes (even pick them out most of the time when we go somewhere), want things done a certain way (load the dishwasher, wash/fold/put away clothes, point out that he needs to clean HIS shop, just lots of small things), & make "helpful suggestions" about what he needs to do way too often.  After all, he is a respectable adult & not an irresponsible child.  I may teach my children the way I want something done because of their lack of knowledge on the subject.  I should not treat him with the same attitude.  I should be thankful for who is & what he does for us & appreciate that he is volunteering to help out enough that I respect his way of doing it (especially since he is the one who works to pay for all of these appliances, etc).  It is NOT my job to teach, improve, or correct my husband.  After all, I chose him as he was.  I am not his mother, nor do I want him to view me as such!
     Today is the day!  I put my experiment into action.  My plan was simple~listen a lot & keep my mouth shut more.  At first the day seemed normal.  He was quickly getting ready to make his way to his shop to work early as he always does.  Only I was puzzled by this since last night we realized we had no hot water.  I mean, can't a dead animal wait to be stuffed until you fix our hot water heater?  I didn't say anything though, but I wanted to.  I even tried to think of a nice way of suggesting that we see about fixing the hot water heater 1st but didn't.  I could picture him finishing work in time to turn off our water, tear the thing apart, & need parts or even a new water heater just as the stores were closing when all of that seemed so avoidable.  It was even a church night too.  I still didn't say anything.  Keeping my mouth shut was going to be harder than I thought.  To me this seems like only sharing my opinion, but I didn't want to blow it 1st thing.  The fact was that he knew we didn't have hot water.  He prioritized working 1st.  I am over here thinking you are your own boss, hello?  I want to have running water tonight in time to get all of us ready!  The day progressed right along without it having to be my way.  He came in before lunch which was way earlier than expected.  Maybe he really is going to be responsible about this.  Next, you know what happened probably.  A huge mess was made trying to drain the water heater.  I didn't suggest anything.  I just helped.  He made a trip to town to buy a new element.  I didn't even remind him it was almost lunch & I couldn't do much of anything in the kitchen with the water off.  I kept my mouth shut right on.  He is old enough to tell time.  I even reasoned in my mind that we've never gone hungry.  I will admit that while he was gone, I watched some youtube videos on the subject.  I figure that wouldn't hurt since he wouldn't know.  I did cave & call him about a suggestion I saw.  In hind sight, I could have left that alone.  We did, however, vacuum out the sediment in the bottom of our ancient tank.  This should help our tank to last longer was what I justified my "helpful suggestion" with.  In reality though, it probably came across like I was controlling the whole repair as if I had a clue.  Soon Nathan became really irritated as things weren't going back together as easily as they came apart.  I felt helpless.  I was trying not to say anything as he snapped for the kids to get back.  They were getting hungry and naturally curious as to what was going on.  Soon they began acting wild.  I tried to remain calm.  I could feel things unraveling.  He barked rather harshly for them to go outside.  I spoke faster than my brain could stop me.  I pointed out that this wasn't their fault & that they were getting hungry.  I realized I shouldn't have said that, but it was too late. Quickly I saw how it would have been better on all of us had I bundled them up & let them go play.  I had to constantly keep getting on to them as if they were a classroom of little kiddos whose teacher had stepped out of the room.  They were playing way too loudly & rough.  I had to call a time out for all of them!  Maybe he saw that coming.  I apologized.  He kept working.  I wondered how many times I have done that before.  It seems so easy to just blurt out an opinion that I thought was best.  
     After 1:00, he had it all put back together & ready to turn on the water again.  This was disastrous!  Water was squirting everywhere.  He was yelling for me to turn off the water to the house.  I ran outside.  I turned it off.  I came inside to a frustrated husband.  I turned on some uplifting music.  He worked with it for a while longer.  He found some pieces he didn't back put on.  I got concerned.  He tightened everything down again.  The next time, he sent me outside with my cell phone on my ear to let me know if I needed to turn off the water again ASAP.  I turned it on slowly.  Honestly, I prayed silently that it would all just work.  It did!  Maybe God was rewarding my efforts, however bleak.
     Since it was around 2, he suggested we hit the drive thru to McDonalds.  No, I don't like feeding my household fast food, but we were all famished!  He was also wanting to go set steel traps.  We all enjoy trapping this time of year together.  I really would have preferred to start this another day since there was a mess waiting for us to clean up, it was getting late, & it was still, in fact, a church night.  I didn't say that.  Instead I just grabbed the new book I bought to read aloud to our family. McDonalds here we come!  Of course the kiddos would be thrilled with their happy meals at least!
     You won't believe what happened next!  Around 18 traps were set out, 2 long chapters of the new book read, & we were headed home with plenty of time to clean up the mess, fix supper, & get ready for church on time too. We had such a fun afternoon together. We even laughed so hard at the book that sometimes I would have to stop reading.  What an enjoyable day this turned out to be when I let go of control & went with the flow.
     Today just happens to be the national holiday where we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr's birthday.  It was a blessing not to do our regular school lessons today although the children's book we began won lots of awards for celebrating black history.  I began to do more thinking about how he had a dream that indeed came true. My dream is also attainable! I desire to be the best wife & mother that God will bless me to be.  If that means keeping my mouth shut more often, so be it!  We all had a great day!
Stay tuned for experiment updates!

Friday, January 16, 2015

My 99th Post~The Liebster Award

  • The Liebster Award is given to bloggers by other bloggers.

  • It is intended for bloggers with less than 200 followers (basically as a way to introduce that blog to others and make new blogging friends).

  • Liebster is a German word that means dearest...

1.  What has been your greatest blogging challenge?  Taking time to post is definitely challenging here.  I always have more than plenty of pictures & moments of ideas & thoughts to share.  However, it takes precious time to load & edit the pictures & type up a post. 

2.  What's your favorite guilty pleasure? This would most definitely be my mad skills of eating Ghirardelli double chocolate brownie batter with added chopped pecans, especially when I'm stressed!  It's amazing how rich desserts accompanied with a coke bring pleasure for an instant!  All of my troubles seem to vanish if only for a moment!

 3.  Which blog post are you most proud of and why?  For the 1st time ever, I just read through all of my old blog posts.  I enjoyed the birthday & trips as I was able to relive each on memory lane.  The modesty video from February 2014 is still awesome to me!  I didn't come up with it though, I just shared it with all of you.  Several more serious posts still reflect my heart.  One of my favorites is "What Else Would I Do?" from April 2012.  It centers around a quote copied from Simply 
Farmhouse & sums up the way I feel about my life perfectly:   
                                                                                "The woman who makes
a sweet, beautiful home,
filling it with love
and prayer and purity,
is doing something better
 than anything else
 her hands could find to do
                                                                            beneath the skies."                                                  
 4.  Who has inspired you most in your life?  Overall, my parents are my greatest inspiration!  Mama is the most unselfish person ever!!!  Her priority is our family being together, holidays & any day!  1st thing every morning she usually calls.  She finds out our plans & asks how she can help.  She lives to spend time with her grandbabies, who argue over who's turn it is to spend the night with them by themselves.  Both of my parents have always been hard workers.  Mama taught 1st grade for 30  years.  This way she kept our same school schedules.  She retired just in time for her 1st grandchild to be born.  When my sister & her husband delivered their twins, she literally lived with them Monday-Fridays for 6 months & kept them every day until they started to school since both of them worked.  Daddy works overtime all the time!  He foots the bill for all the family vacations & even built us all a cypress cabin on the river to enjoy.  Every weekend though his work is put aside as he is found grilling a variety of delicious meats on his way too many grills.  He makes sure we all love the outdoors.  We can fish right off the dock or hop in one of the boats.  We also enjoy all the different kinds of hunting in our area literally right out the back door of the cabin.  Lots of time we just ride the golf cart around watching the deer & hogs mow down the food plots.  They both made preparations long ago for this future.  They have worked so hard & saved to spend on us.  They make sure we all have plenty of everything.  For them I am truly inspired!  My greatest earthly desire is for my family of 7 to be just that close!   

 5.  What's your favorite book?  Besides the Bible, my favorite of all time book is Why Am I So Busy by Valorie Burton.  It was an eye opener for me!

 6.  Would you rather spend the day at the beach or junking at a flea market?  O my!  Can't a girl do BOTH???  Too hard to choose!  I LOVE any kind of shopping especially for antiques & traveling, but my favorite author would lead me to choose the latter.  Simply put, shopping really just accumulates more stuff whereas traveling with your family creates those moments in which memories are made to last forever!   

 7.  What's your favorite flower?  Daylilies must be my favorite since I have many planted.  They are beautiful bloomers & multiply with little care!  Gerber daisys would run a close 2nd for all the same reasons!

 8.  Assuming it was nice weather, would you rather go for a hike or stay indoors  
with a good book?  I would definitely choose to read!  Although I love the outdoors, we live in flat country and I am by no means the biggest fan of exercise.  I enjoy eating healthy & even walking, but hiking is out of my league.

 9.  What is your biggest priority for 2015?  As always, my heart's desire is to draw closer to the Lord.  All of these earthly things shall pass away.  I also want to make my best effort to share that love with my children.  In the end that is all that really matters!

10.  What 5 things would top your gratitude list?  When counting my blessings, our healthy family of 7, our relationship with God, the blessing of homeschooling my children, the love we share for traveling & spending time together whether it be near or far, & our beautiful property where my hardworking husband walks right over to his dream shop every day to earn our living & where our kiddos run & play definitely TOP the list!  

11.  Are you more likely to spend on a vacation or home improvements?  Lol what an easy question!  Any of you that know me know I'd definitely choose vacation!  Don't get me wrong, I love antiques and am blessed with a talented decorator for a mother.  Thanks to her, we live in a home decorated like Southern Living!  You can take the tour in an older post from September 2012.  Yet, it is a mobile home that is as old as me.  We take care of it, but it is still a trailer.  We have moved and moved it too!  We spent every bit of our savings in the last year buying our dream property & building Nathan's new taxidermy shop.  Thus, we have put off building a new home.  We are extremely happy with that decision.  The kiddos don't even want to part with it.  It's home to all of us!  I wouldn't mind building someday or buying a historic home to move here, but that is not what life is all about to me & our family.   

11 random facts about me.

I can sew.  I do not necessarily enjoy it, but I can & will do it.

I love pictures...having tons of pictures taken of my kiddos is a necessity for me.  I love looking back at the precious memories.  I love framing them all around our home & also scrapbooking (if I ever have the time that is).

I have this crazy obsession with touching up our paint in our house every year.  Originally, I painted each room myself with help from few family members.  I still like all of the colors but can't stand it to look marked up.  Thankfully Benjamin Moore paints touch up very well!  I don't even enjoy doing this, but can't make myself stop!

Of all the places I've traveled, I've only flown once & cruised once in my life time thus far.  My mama flew my sister & I to NYC several years ago.  That was absolutely the BEST!  My parents also kept our kiddos for us to cruise to the Bahamas on our 5th anniversary.  Soon will be our 14th & we haven't been anywhere big since.  Instead, we have welcomed 3 more kiddos!  :)  Maybe on our 15th we will plan something exciting again...

I am not shy.  My favorite class in school was speech & drama.  I'm pretty sure everyone else in those classes got stuck with them.

I never planned my family to be this big, but wouldn't change that for the world!  I did want several children, and we thought we were done with our 3 girls neatly spaced 3 1/2 years apart.  God planned otherwise.  I thought I would never adjust to having 3 under 3 but somehow I have learned to thrive through the craziness!  What a blessing these surprise boys have been!
I am not a vehicle person.  I wouldn't care a bit if I drove a pink punch bug or a big yellow bus.  To me it is just a mode of transportation & nothing more.  If it runs great, has plenty of room for all of us, doesn't break us, & isn't so dirty that it stinks terribly, I am happy with it even with a little trash in the floor board!

I don't really like animals.  I don't mind them, but I don't just love them.  What I do love is for them to be tended to by someone else.  I will buy them & it's food, pen, etc but I really don't want to take care of them.period.

As a child, I hated to read books.  I graduated salutatorian of my class with only having read 1 book for a book report on Corrie Ten Boom.  I really enjoyed it & glad I read it but honestly I picked it because it was the shortest on the list.  That all has changed in the last several years.  So for moms that their kids hate to read, there is hope!

I love to buy containers & organize.  Crazy right?  Those bins & labels just seem to call my name though.  Thankfully the Dollar Tree sells them.  You could come into our home right now to find a load of clothes that need folding on the couch, several loads in the laundry room that need washing, a few toys scattered in the floor, a dishwasher needing unloading, a few dishes that could be put into it, furniture that hasn't been dusted in several days, but you can open any drawer, cabinet, or closet and everything will be lined up & sorted very neat & orderly.  I don't where I get that from.  I just like everything to a have place.  It may not always be in it's place, but it certainly has a labeled one none the less.

We do not have cable or any type of satellite television.  We are not freaks about it.  Yes, our children know all of the major famous characters.  We do not forbid our children to never watch anything.  In fact we all probably enjoy watching too much.  We just prefer to have some reasonable amount of control over the large majority of what they view.  Images and language are impossible to erase from impressionable minds.  My older girls are addicted to Little House on the Prairie & all of ours love Veggie Tales.  I encourage my littles to watch Leap Frog & all of them to watch anything educational.  We spend a lot of quality time with one another without having a television set in our home that more than likely would constantly be turned on.    

Top Bloggers I have nominated:

Grace. Mercy. Peace. ~This blog has inspired me for years!  It is a dear friend of mine from our local homeschool group.  She introduced me the blogging world & was who encouraged me to blog!

Love Grows In Little Houses ~One of my best friends just started this blog!  It has already challenged me in mighty ways!

This is the Good Life ~A homeschool mom of many!  She has one in college, one married that is expecting, a small baby of her own, & several in between.  She encourages me that our efforts are not in vain...that it is possible for our children to grow up into sweet, responsible adults that still love their parents. 

All of you may copy & post the questions.  Don't forget the random facts either!

Simply Farmhouse ~Of course I would nominate this one too but she was the one to nominate me after her nomination!  This is my husband's aunt.  She has raised 3 girls of her own & now raising 2 girls adopted from China.  She is such an encouragement & her thoughts always challenge me to be a better wife & mother. 

All of these can be viewed from my blog's right side bar.  I enjoy all of the others in that list too, but if you click on them you will see that they are sadly more neglected than not.  A few famous ones that I enjoy include Ann Voskamp's Holy Experience, Valorie Burton's personal blog that is accessible from her web site, & Mom Mastery.  What are your favorite blogs?  Please share!!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Resolution Motivation?

     As with each new year, resolutions abound as everyone anticipates a fresh start.  Around the holidays I always cherish that year's memories & bottle up the blessings.  Joy fills my heart.  I feel inspired to prioritize, declutter, & organize every area of my life.  My vision for our family seems more clear.  Hope for the future shines bright!
     As I shop for Christmas gifts, I always seem to bring home new books for the coming months of winter cold.  Books inspire me!  My favorite authors & encouraging words are like a balm for my soul.  This year a new Bible reading journal also adds to my collection.  It's neat to check off the scriptures I've read & journal about how they are speaking to my life.  It amazes me how words penned so many years ago are alive & relevant today.  Quiet time with God is absolutely vital!  I always want to keep Him my center & my focus.  If not, everything else will just be a big mess!
     Financially, I have chosen to try this weekly $ saving challenge.  It seems easy enough.  Even if you don't save the larger weeks of Thanksgiving on, you will still have over $1,000 extra headed into the holidays!  I definitely desire to be included in the 8% that actually stick with it!
     Healthy new year?  I think so!  We eat lots of veggies here in the south but are known for our casseroles & rich, delicious, fattening foods too.  This is where I may sink my success a bit.  Last year I joined Weight Watchers online.  I stuck with it 'til goal dropping 20 pounds in 5 months.  Sad to admit, but in the last 7 months I have slowly put nearly half of that back on.  Now I've refocused since the holidays have passed.  We are eating at home more often again as our routine settles back to normal.  Nathan grills a lot.  Salads are always a go to side.  I buy organic when offered-mainly our milk, veggies, kid drinks, & hormone free chicken.  We eat a variety of fruits & I bake with the kids instead of consuming so many unhealthy, processed junk/snacks.  I am thankful that our kiddos love to eat an array of vegetables.  They ask for broccoli, rootabeggas, squash, & even eat tomatoes regularly.  I have feed them these dishes since they began table food & believe that makes all the difference in not raising picky eaters.  I have never purchased frozen fish sticks, frozen chicken nuggets, corn dogs, boxed dinners, or even fed them the box mac & cheese very much.  Hot dogs are never a staple here.  All of those foods seem so grossly unhealthy.  Amen for sure!
     Cleaning out here happens many times a year with 7 living under 1 roof.  Something about getting rid of unnecessary stuff brings freedom.  Where chaos & clutter abound, I cannot function.  No, our home is not perfect.  As I type right now, one of Raegan's dolls, carriage, & accessories are right here in our den floor.  Our little boy's nerf bows & arrows are also scattered about as they peacefully nap.  There have been some clothes dry for a few hours now in the dryer, another load wet in the washing machine, & several more that are sorted in baskets awaiting their turn for me to wash them.  Their are always clothes to be ironed that are patiently hanging & waiting.  It's actually a miracle that there isn't a load or so thrown on my bed to fold & put away.  I did do that earlier.  Everything else is clean & tidy though.  It wouldn't bother me a bit for someone to stop by.  We do actually live here!  I want my children to enjoy our home.  I recall the wise poem...

     To sum up my main goals for 2015~drawing closer to the Lord, kick starting our healthy eating once again, & brushing up on our prioritizing & organization skills.  No, these aren't profound goals.  I try to always keep these up to date at all times, but it's at these new beginnings that I can refocus.  I am recharged & refueled.  I'm ready to roll with a few new ideas too: 
1.  I ordered Sunday School material from A Joyful Life to use for our family devotions.  KJV scriptures are used.  There are fun, simple crafts for each lesson.  I ordered the take home papers & activity book for each child.  As a plus, it was really cheap, costing around $5 per child for both books!  I also ordered a few of the extra teaching aid materials but next time I will know that the kid's books were all we really needed.  So far, all of our kiddos have LOVED it!  On nights that we don't have church or an activity to attend, we do one portion of the lesson.  It has been a blessing to watch them rush around picking up and getting ready for bed so we can enjoy our devotional time together!  There is little to no preparation time on our part & it has really held our kid's interests!
2.  FUN FRIDAY has made Friday a whole new day around here!  The kids finish the majority of their school work Monday-Thursday.  Fridays may leave a few papers or tests.  Once that is accomplished, I hide an envelope somewhere in the house.  Inside they find directions or a picture to explain our activity.  So far we have baked & decorated sugar cookies & put together puzzles.  This Friday I have planned for us to cover pine cones with peanut butter and roll them in bird seed to hang in trees as winter bird feeders.  Yes, these are all easy activities.  Planning an actual day & keeping it a surprise just gets everyone excited & together to enjoy them!  Some Fridays we may go somewhere like skating, bowling, or just to the park.  That all depends on our family's schedule.  The important part is being together making memories!
What are your goals?  New?  Old?  Profound?  Exciting?  What are your thoughts on New Year's resolutions?  I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

CHEERS to a New Year!

Happy New Years!
     We have thoroughly enjoyed the Christmas season here in south GA right at home with special family & friends.  What better way to end an unforgettable year?  All 7 of us are as happy & healthy as ever.  We are enjoying our new stretch of land complete with pecan trees & Nathan's new cypress taxidermy shop.  We have put down new roots as we have begun a new journey at a local church.  Since we are no longer pastoring, it feels great to just be a part of something again.  We're enjoying this season of fellowship without all of the pressures & responsibilities that pastoring brings.  We have been embraced by a great group of saints.  The services & activities have been exactly what our souls long for!  I am forever grateful that God knows what's best! 
     BEFORE Thanksgiving, my parents always bless my sister & I with a Christmas shopping trip in Atlanta.  We have so much fun!  I love seeing the all the decorations, huge trees, & enormous light displays!  They spoil us with eating out at top notch restaurants & staying in beautiful hotels.  They also bless us with Christmas $ for lots of great shopping.  We have a great time together laughing & picking out gifts.  I cherish those memories every year.  We arrive home just in time to relax with one another for the holidays ahead without the stresses, worries, & rush of holiday shopping.  We eat way too much for Thanksgiving.  The kiddos all play together so hard!  We decorate our houses, wrap the presents, & enjoy all of the family activities (& even more eating & togetherness) that the Christmas season brings.
     This year they also gifted our families a trip together to Pine Mountain, GA which is home to Callaway Gardens' Fantasy of Lights.  Even in the misty winter weather, the lights were amazing!  The kiddos all enjoyed the long trolley ride light show, crafts, food, shops, & taking pictures with ol' Saint Nick!  The cabin was beyond amazing!  There wasn't a lot of rooming options there, so we just figured it to be a state park kind of primitive cabin...just praying it was clean, but WOW, did it exceed our expectations!  They appeared to be brand new!  It sported 4 porches, 1 of which was screened in.  It also had a fire place with everything we needed.  The bedrooms with private baths were all really big & nice too!  The next morning it was neat to visit the beautiful butterfly gardens.  It looked like spring time!  The birds of prey show was even better.  The different owls & hawks were so close flying around.  It was very educational.  All in all, we definitely hope to go return again.  That was the perfect adventure of extra memories to add to the end of an awesome year!
     Christmas time is so magical!  I love all of the family gatherings & delicious treats.  I cherish how time seems to run together as school is paused 'til the next year begins.  I enjoy all of the extra winter cuddles as we drink hot chocolate under warm covers in our free country, in our cozy home.  I am so blessed to experience the love in our neck of the woods.  I am thankful my children love to create, give, & help others too.  On Christmas Eve, we dress up & head out to my childhood church for candlelight service.  We sing Christmas carols & hear the message of Jesus which seems to only grow sweeter year after year.  My parents fix their famous shrimp creole & invite us all over for too many gifts.  We snap pictures, change the kiddos into their matching Christmas pjs, & head home to tuck them into bed.  I am continually amazed at their they have no reserve nor stress & worries.  O how I love the squeals of the morning as we watch the kiddos rip into "exactly what I wanted!"  Even though here all is not calm, all surely seems right in the world.  Soon cousins show up for Christmas brunch.  We play hard together.  Of course, we eat again & end the day exhausted with Christmas still strung all over the house.  What better place to be with those you love?  
Special note:  The blog's giveaway winner drawn was a special friend of mine that introduced me to blogging several years ago.  She is a wonderful mother of a half dozen!  Check out her blog at!  She shows are true heart for giving!  She certainly was well deserving! Sorry I was "missing" for a while during this time lately.  Geek squad was working to fix my computer.  I am finally back up & running!  Now it's time to catch up on all of my blog reading!