Thursday, August 29, 2013

Do You Believe in Miracles??

My amazing and beautiful Mom ~ apparently God isn't finished with her just yet!!  :)

Excerpts from Psalm 71 ~
In You, O Lord, I put my trust;
Let me never be put to shame.
Deliver me in Your righteousness, and cause me to escape;
Incline Your ear to me, and save me.
Be my strong refuge,
To which I may resort continually;
You have given the commandment to save me,
For You are my rock and my fortress.

For You are my hope, O Lord GOD;

You are my trust from my youth.
By You I have been upheld from birth;
You are He who took me out of my mother’s womb.
My praise shall be continually of You.

I have become as a wonder to many,
But You are my strong refuge.
Let my mouth be filled with Your praise
And with Your glory all the day.

Do not cast me off in the time of old age;
Do not forsake me when my strength fails.
14 But I will hope continually,
And will praise You yet more and more.
15 My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness
And Your salvation all the day,
For I do not know their limits.
16 I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD;
I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only.
17 O God, You have taught me from my youth;
And to this day I declare Your wondrous works.
18 Now also when I am old and grayheaded,
O God, do not forsake me,
Until I declare Your strength to this generation,
Your power to everyone who is to come.
19 Also Your righteousness, O God, is very high,
You who have done great things;
O God, who is like You?
20 You, who have shown me great and severe troubles,
Shall revive me again,
And bring me up again from the depths of the earth.
21 You shall increase my greatness,
And comfort me on every side.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Aunt Mae's Earrings {A Giveaway!}

I don't know about you, but I love long, dangly (but delicate) earrings.  The perfect earring can be difficult to find.  However, I'm thrilled to announce that my search for the perfect earring is over ~ I have found the earrings of my dreams right here.


The delightful Aunt Mae designs and makes her own earrings specifically to match the beautiful Lilla Rose flexi-clips.  The earring wires are made of stainless steel (which means they are nickel free) and are very light-weight and comfortable to wear. 

Currently, Aunt Mae has 23 stunning styles to choose from, but she is designing new styles all the time, and even takes special requests if you have a flexi you would like her to match!

Starting at only $8, these earrings are incredibly affordable, well-made, and make a wonderful addition to any girl's jewelry collection, but especially if that girl happens to be a flexi-lover!  ;)

Not only is Mae a creative genius, she is very generous!  She has offered to give away not one, but three sets of her handmade earrings to one of my very blessed readers!  To win this fabulous giveaway, you must live in the USA and be 18 years of age or older.  If you don't meet those qualifications, please forward this post to someone who does!  :)

*Note:  In February, Mae unexpectedly lost her beloved husband, leaving her and her young son nearly destitute.  Mae is trying desperately to build up several home businesses so she can earn enough to continue to stay home and homeschool her son. Please consider helping Mae by purchasing some of her beautiful, handmade earrings or her handcrafted, all-natural soaps, and by sharing this giveaway with your friends!

**Disclaimer: The following pair of earrings were given to me for free in exchange for this review. No compensation was given and all opinions are my own.**

To enter the giveaway:

1.  Subscribe to Aunt Mae's newsletter.  This will be a mandatory entry in the Rafflecopter Thingie below, so go ahead and subscribe now, then just click on the +10 and enter your email address, and click Enter, and you will be ready to submit more entries!

2.  Leave a comment here on my blog or over on my Facebook page sharing which earrings are your favorites!  Then you'll be all set when you get to that Rafflecopter entry!

3.  Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter Giveaway below.  

Giveaway ends Monday, September 2nd at 11:59 pm, and I plan to announce the winner of the earrings on my blog on Tuesday, September 3rd.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Marriage Monday: How to Build Up Your Marriage During a Crisis {Link Up!}

Welcome back to Marriage Monday! I am still writing from my parent's house in South Carolina, where I have been helping care for my Mom and support my Dad during my Mom's "final weeks of life."  Amazingly, my Mom woke up a "new person" on Thursday, and is now the strongest that she has been the entire four weeks that I've been here!  She is even back to trying a little food, after eating nothing for four weeks!!!  Truly miraculous!  

My sister went home for a bit so she could check on her family, get her kids started in school, and celebrate her 25th wedding anniversary with her man!  :)  So, I am here by myself for at least another week, at which point we plan to switch off.

Today I want to explore the topic -- How can you build up your marriage even during a crisis.  There are many types of crises that a couple might encounter, as they navigate the storms of life together.  Many times these trials tear a marriage apart, as couples lash out at each other instead of clinging to one another and to the Lord during troubled times.

There are many types of crucibles that couples face -- debilitating illness, death of a parent, death of a child, depression, infidelity, rebellious teens, loss of a job, loss of a house, financial reversals, infertility, etc.  If you have a story to share of how you and your husband navigated such a major life upheaval or catastrophe, and would be interested in writing a guest post for this series, please email me!  I'd love to bring in some different perspectives. 

Today, I want to share briefly what we are doing to keep our marriage strong during this time of separation and emotional stress.  Last week, I shared about my husband Going the Extra Mile by coming to visit me for the weekend, and taking me to downtown Greenville for the afternoon, treating me to some soothing gelato, and buying me a colorful new scarf. All of those things made me feel loved, treasured, and refreshed.

Another thing my husband has done over the course of the last year, and even before that, is to encourage me over and over again to come visit my Mom and Dad.  He reminds me often that I have his support to stay here as long as I am needed, and to go back and forth as often as necessary in the months ahead.  

He backs up those words with action!  He has picked up the slack at home from me not being there and has added many of my responsibilities to his overflowing schedule.  He is doing all of the grocery shopping, washing and ironing his work shirts and the boys' church clothes, helping the kids get to their church and homeschool activities, and a whole lot more. Even though I know these extra responsibilities make his days more stressful, he never complains.

He also stays in touch and encourages me through phone calls, emails, and texts.  

His faithful love, his unwavering support, his practical help at home, and his words of comfort and encouragement all help us stay connected and close during this time of separation.  Also, there's one more little thing -- when he came to vist, he brought me one of his soft, comfy shirts to sleep in, which makes me think of him each night when I go to bed!  ;)

Your Turn to Share:

How have you and your husband demonstrated your commitment to each other during the rough times?  How have you stood up to the pressures and challenges of whatever crisis you faced and allowed it to make you better not bitter?  I'd love to hear your story!  Please share by leaving a comment here or over on my Facebook page, so we might all be encouraged and built up as wives!

If you were blessed or encouraged by this post, please consider sharing it with your friends on Facebook or other social media sites.  Thank you!

Link up:

I'd love to have you link up your blog to mine!  Please link up any past or present posts related to Christian marriage.  Don't forget to link back to my blog!  Thanks!

marriage mondays

Blogs I link up with from week to week:

What Joy Is Mine

Happy Wives Club


The Alabaster Jar

Courtship Connection

I Choose Joy!


Messy Marriage

Wifey Wednesday button

Missional Women

Please link up your blog post on marriage below by entering the url of your specific post. Where it says "Your Name" enter the title of your blog post, not your personal name! Thanks! :)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Back to School Sale! {Lilla Rose}

Lilla Rose is having a big Back to School Sale, so if you've been waiting on a sale to stock up, now's the time!!

Two popular flexis-of-the-month from 2012 are being re-introduced to the regular line up and you can grab one of these now through Saturday at 10% off the retail price!

Over a hundred other styles are also on sale for 20% off, while supplies last. Many of these styles will not be restocked, so if you've been wanting one of these styles, make sure to get one while they are still available!

In addition to the flexi-clips, check out the headbands, bobbies, and hair sticks.  (Note: sale items are interspersed among the regular-priced items.)


Remember, even if you have short hair and don't wear the flexi-clip, it makes a fabulous scarf holder!  Many of my customers buy flexis only to wear on their scarves!

Plus, Lilla Rose products make great gifts! 

Please shop my website HERE.

A Frog, a Fly, and a Curious Little Boy!

When my husband came to visit last weekend, he told me the cutest story about my little Matthew.  Matt, who turned 11 in July, is a very curious and determined guy!

One day last week Matt and his friend next door caught a frog and put it in his butterfly cage.  Then they caught a horsefly and put it in with the frog.  Later, they noticed that the frog was dead and the horsefly was missing, so Matt decided to dissect the frog and see if it had eaten the fly!  :)

Matt took out his $5 pocketknife and dissected that frog!!  Then he proceeded to point out all the inward parts of that frog to his friend (and later to his amazed father)!!

Are you wondering if he found that horsefly??  Yes, apparentlly he did!!!  :)  

I just love this story! However, I must admit that I'm sort of glad that he dissected that frog when I was out of town!  ;)

Disclaimer:  Please don't think I'm one of those Moms who pulls off all kinds of neat Science experiments and perfect dissections on top of everything else!  Actually, I can't remember any of my cool Science experiments ever working!  :(  I eventually gave up trying!  I don't have the stomach for dissections and my older kids either did their own with no help from me, or went to a Christian school at just the right time!  ;)  Are you wondering how Matt learned about dissection?  From a wonderful Science Mom who did several dissections last year with all the kids in our little homeschool co-op!   She's probably amazed to discover that he was actually paying attention.  After all, he is an 11-year-old boy!!  :)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Year My Kids Started School Without Me

In 23 years of homeschooling, I've tackled the first day of each new school year in various ways, from keeping a clear path to the bathroom for the first three months, to holding a newborn in my arms, to hobbling along with a broken ankle.  But one thing I never imagined doing was kicking off a new school year without myself in the picture!  This is the year that my kids started school without me!

As you probably know, I'm still in South Carolina with my Mom as she lives out her final days on this earth.  The rest of my family is home in Georgia.  The summer disappeared as quickly as back-to-school supplies fly off store shelves, and all around us, kids are packing book bags, boarding school buses, and writing about what they did on their summer vacation.  So, last Monday my youngest five kids at home bravely launched their new school year with the teacher absent!

I was so proud of them for demonstrating diligence, maturity and responsibility in starting the school year without me there, and from all reports, they had a great first day and week!

What did they do on their first day of school??

  • They weighed and measured and compared the results to their stats from last year.  (Luke grew the most at nearly three inches!  Chris wins the award for holding steady at the same height and weight as last year!)

  • They took the traditional first-day-of-school pictures.  (Thank you Hannah!)

  • They read the Proverb of the day together at the breakfast table after eating and included me via Skype!  (Gotta love modern technology!) 

  • They organized their school supplies and books and got situated for a new year.

  • They followed their daily schedules/checklists and did their work. 

No, my kids aren't perfect and the situation isn't ideal.  I'm sure they got sidetracked, wasted time, and didn't do everything the way I would have done it. There are some subjects and projects that are awaiting my return.  But, they are rising to the occasion!  They are progressing with their education without me there, and I'm so proud of them!

How My Kids are Able to Homeschool (Temporarily) Without Me:

1.  God's Grace

I don't want to discount the grace of God in helping all of us navigate a difficult situation. They miss me; I miss them.  We are walking through the valley of the shadow of death, and they are like sheep without a shepherd.  But God is enabling us to keep going!

2.  Character

No, my kids don't have perfect character and neither do I!  But, I have made the development of godly character a top priority in our home for the past twenty years, and it pays off!  They are demonstrating initiative, diligence, responsibility, determination, and more!

3.  Routine

We have gone through seasons when our days were ultra-scheduled in 30-minute increments and seasons when I was flying by the hem of my skirt. However, the fact is that kids do best with some type of structure and routine, so they know what is expected of them and when. Having a schedule or routine in place helps them know what to do and do it even when you can't be there.

4.  Maturity

This obviously wouldn't have worked at all a number of years ago when I had a lot of very young children. Fortunately, I'm at the point where my children are pretty self-sufficient.  My "baby" just turned 9 and my oldest in school is 17.  So, they are better able to govern themselves. It also helps that my oldest daughter, Tiffany, is home most of the time this year, as she teaches piano students, practices, and prepares for her grad school auditions.

5.  Teamwork

One of my primary goals for our family has been to encourage unity and teamwork. Of course, there were many days when sibling squabbles sent me in search of a bottle of Advil and the phone number for the local school, but I persevered in training and encouraging my children to get along with one another and it has paid off.  Naturally, there are still times when they argue or drive each other crazy!  That's just life!  But, overall, they have learned to not only get along with one another, but to love and value one another, to invest in the lives of younger siblings, and to help one another out.  Therefore, the older kids are all willing to help the younger ones stay on track, find a missing book or DVD, correct a math page, answer a question, listen to a reading assignment, etc.  Encouraging a spirit of cooperation is essential for any home, but especially a home educating family!

6.  Independent Learning

Teaching your children to learn independently will pay huge dividends. The curriculum you use will also make a difference.  I must admit that I love many teaching styles.  I am naturally drawn to literature based programs where I read aloud to my family for hours and then follow up with related projects.  I also love unit studies, where we all study the same subject together and I design interesting projects and assignments for each child appropriate to their specific level.  All of these teaching styles are fun and promote learning and family togetherness -- but they rely heavily on the teacher/mom being available.  When the education is all dependent on Mom, and Mom is sick or has a new baby or is called away to help a family member, the homeschooling family can be in trouble. That is why BJU Press Distance Learning Online has really been a life saver for me with so many demands on my time!  I'm not suggesting that every family needs to use a traditional curriculum or video program, but I do believe that children should be taught to do at least some of their work independently and have a plan for carrying on if Mom is unavailable due to a family crisis or emergency.

7.  Checklists

I have been designing and printing daily checklists for my children for many years.  Teaching your child to work from a checklist is one way you can encourage independent learning and responsibility.  I've included daily disciplines, household chores, school work, silent reading, etc. on my kids' checklists and have at times attached various rewards to each completed item.  (The most popular was when I paid 2 cents for each completed item on their checklist, allowing them to earn a dollar or two a week.)  This really helps to keep them on track and eliminates the popular excuse, "I forgot!"

8.  Life Skill Training

It is a common trap that we all fall into - trying to do it all ourselves; however, children need to do chores (or "character builders" as we like to call them!) and they need to learn basic life skills.  I admit that I haven't been as diligent as I should have been in teaching my kids life skills.  There just aren't enough hours in a day to fit it all in!  They certainly have gaps; but, my kids have proven their abilities to do laundry, cook simple meals, and keep the house clean in my absence!  

Thankfully, all of these elements have kept my family afloat and flourishing during these trying times.  Is your family prepared to start school without you??  

linked up with:

The Character Corner

Far Above Rubies
Growing Home
Raising Arrows
A Wise Woman Builds Her Home
Deep Roots at Home
Raising Mighty Arrows

Monday, August 19, 2013

Marriage Monday: Going the Extra Mile {Link up}

Welcome back to Marriage Monday! I apologize for not getting a post up last week, but I was totally immersed in the situation here at my parent's house, and couldn't put two coherent thoughts together for a blog post. 

We were told that my Mom had two weeks to live four weeks ago.  I have been here with her the last three weeks, trying to comfort her and ease her suffering and supporting my Dad in any way I can, including keeping food on the table (with the help of my sister).  It has been intense at times, and my blog has naturally been pushed to the back burner.  Even though I'm not always able to blog, I do try to post updates from time to time on Facebook, so I encourage you to check in there.

On the Mondays that I'm not able to get a post up here, you can always check out my archives!  If you scroll down, you will find my Marriage Monday blog button on the sidebar.  If you click on that, it will take you to a listing of all of my Marriage Monday blog posts.  Hopefully, there will be something there that will encourage or challenge you in your marriage!

Today is my precious Mom's 71st birthday!  I have blogged about my parents and their marriage before, but I must tell you that watching my Dad with her is seeing Love in action!  He is so tender with her and takes excellent care of her every need!  When I was growing up, I saw my Dad as gruff, impatient and not very compassionate.  I never dreamed he could care for my Mom the way he has!  It is truly amazing to see what God has done in his heart!

Don't ever give up on your man! My Mom prayed for my Dad for years and years before he finally came to know the Lord, and it has taken even more time for the Lord's sanctifying work to really make a difference in his life!  Only God can change a man from the inside out!

I'm so very thankful for the way my Dad has laid down his life for my Mom in these last years!  What an example of unconditional love!  

True love perseveres in good times and bad!  It also goes the extra mile, by doing more than is expected or required.

Speaking of the extra mile, my hubby went the extra mile for me this weekend!  Since I haven't been home in three weeks (and was gone for two week stretches prior to that), he drove five hours to visit me this weekend, bringing Hannah and Bethany with him. It was such a blessing to see them!  :)

Yesterday, he took me out shopping for a birthday present for my Dad (his birthday is later this week!).  Then, he took us to downtown Greenville for some Gelato!  I'm in love with Luna Rosa's Carmel by the Sea!  Oh my, it's so delicious! :)

Then we browsed around in Mast General Store, and he treated me to this beautiful scarf!  Wasn't that nice of him??

It was so refreshing to get out and about and spend time with my hubby and two of my daughters (plus my sister and one of her daughters)! Now, I'm refreshed and ready for another week of ministering to my Mom and Dad!  

Can't help but praying that Mom celebrates her birthday today with a "chariot ride" and a wonderful "Welcome Home, my Good and Faithful Servant!"  She is more than ready!

Your Turn to Share:

How does your husband demonstrate his love for you?  Has he ever gone "the extra mile" for you?  What about you?  How have you gone "the extra mile" for your husband?? Please share by leaving a comment here or over on my Facebook page, so we might all be encouraged and built up as wives!

If you were blessed or encouraged by this post, please consider sharing it with your friends on Facebook or other social media sites.  Thank you!

Link up:

I'd love to have you link up your blog to mine!  Please link up any past or present posts related to Christian marriage.  Don't forget to link back to my blog!  Thanks!

marriage mondays

Blogs I link up with from week to week:

What Joy Is Mine

Happy Wives Club


The Alabaster Jar

Courtship Connection

I Choose Joy!


Messy Marriage

Wifey Wednesday button

Missional Women

Please link up your blog post on marriage below by entering the url of your specific post. Where it says "Your Name" enter the title of your blog post, not your personal name! Thanks! :)
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