Birthday Celebrations and Focus Challenge

Note: At the end of this post I mention something that challenged me BIG TIME this week
with my diligence to memorize and help my children memorize Scripture.
And so I just have to ask, how do YOU help your children memorize and how do you motivate/reward them?
I’d love to hear from those who do it! ~Shelly


~Birthday Date with Daddy~

Our first two children were born two years and two week apart, in the summer.
As a result we often did fun outdoor activities and celebrated
with free food at restaurants, free toys at Toys R Us and more over the past years.
It was always so much fun. Except for child number three,
who felt that it was entirely unfair to have been born in the winter . . .
and with no “birthday buddy” at all.

So when baby #4 was due to be born in January,
we were sure to emphasise to #3 that this was definitely now HER birthday buddy. :)
They are three years and a month apart, but it has been fun
to have a “summer set” and now a “winter set”.

This daughter has been a complete surprise in my life, in every sense of the word!
From first learning I was expecting her and seeing blonde hair at birth,
to smiles & laughter day in and day out, while all in the same breath reminding us
nearly every day to pray for “Iraq” which to her means “the persecuted church” in general . . .
and giving her “circle money” to help the poor and needy.
She is a ray of SUNSHINE in our day to day.

And then there is the Baby.
She’s the most sober of all so far,
often observing life with a furrowed brow.
And so, when she smiles at you, you should feel quite special!! :)
She is challenging all of our well-thought “rules” of parenting
that had worked so well with the others up to this point!
Haha! Miss Independant  has arrived . . .
as well as my most difficult teether . . .
the most squishable, huggable, cuddliest,
latest to walk, completely Daddy’s baby . . .
has all worked out to be an amazing combination of
causing us an amazing amount of noisy & stressful car rides
as well as melting of our hearts into puddles
as she presses her little self into us a little closer for hugs and kisses.


I’m so grateful to have her as my third daughter,
and look forward to the ways her personality
will be used by God in the days and years ahead!

I continue to be challenged as I join with my husband to raise these children,
to be eternity focused. In our learning, growing, and living together . . .
One thing that really grabbed my heart this week is the fact
that many children in Muslim families have memorized the Koran
by the time they are eight years old.
Our houseguest this week said that would be comparable to
memorizing half of our Holy Bible. Wow! What!?!?
If people following after a counterfiet are so dedicated and determined
to have their children know and internalize their beliefs,
how much more should I, with the Truth of a Holy God in my hands,
not give more time and careful attention to the Word myself,
as well as help my children to hide it in their hearts as well.
Like I said, that has been my challenge for this week!

Also, talking about this household wouldn’t be complete without a tribute
to the lovely helpers who assist me in various ways:
(I’ve had a few, as they tend to come and go with travels, Bible School, etc.)

Althea has been my house-cleaning & laundry-folding angel two days a week.
She also helps out with story reading, alphabet games,
and math flashcards as needed.
It’s hard to express just how much we all appreciate her!
Perhaps especially when the baby is teething& grumpy as is evident in the picture below! :)

Blessings to you all this week in your particular walks of life!
May the Lord meet you where you are and draw you closer to Himself.
Life is short. Eternity is real. People are hurting and lost and need a Savior.
Let’s be the candle of hope in our corner of the world.


How Do You Plan Your Days? {day planner links}

I know so many of you readers are women
(probably mostly moms!)
who have a lot on your daily docket!
How do you plan your days?
How do you not, “get it all done”,
because I’m convinced that none of us really do it all,
but how do you get the really important stuff done?

How do you prioritize?
How do you delegate?
How do you keep track of it all?
Basically, what is your system?

And I am speaking specifically of your paper system.
Do you use lists, a blank notebook, a detailed planner?
I’d love to hear just because the topic interests me! :)
I’ve been discussing it with a close friend for several months . . .
and this week with a group of other moms who work from home.

I have absolutey loved journals and dayplanners since,
well, since forever . . . but as my life responsibilities change,
from time to time I have to search for the day planner
that is really going to work for me!
And then, perhaps biggest of all,
I just have to USE it and make it work for me!!

So, just for fun, here’s a list of dayplanners I’ve used in the past,
those recommended to me this year by friends who love and use them . . .
or are trying them out this year for the first time.

They range in price from $12.25 – $75.00,
and come in all colors, shapes, sizes . . .
I have to confess that the graphic design aspect
is what trips me up in some of these.
They function well and get rave reviews,
but I really like something that fits my idea
of “pretty” or “stylish” too,
but then again a few of the most beautiful ones
may not function as well as their counterparts.

Have you used any of these or another one entirely?
Which of these do you think you’d like to try?
And if, in the future, this friend and I who love discussing planners,
should HAPPEN to design what we would consider to be
the perfect marriage between beautiful & functional,
do you think the world would be open to one.more.planner?? :)
Not saying we will . . . but we have talked about it!

Have fun browsing . . . and I’d love to hear your take on a day planner!
Happy New Year {real soon}!

Planner Pads

Day Designer

Time Keeper
2015 cover cropped

Erin Condren



Simplified Planner


All of the Good Things

good things{Creamy Pumpkin Pie Tea from Bulk Herb Store, pretty catalogs, cozy blanket}

Do you ever feel so blessed that you feel you cannot contain it?
That you cannot adequately describe or detail or express
the emotions that well up in your soul when you stop to look~
really look~ at all the.good.things. in your life?

And I don’t mean that your life is trouble, stress, or pain free?
I mean, how, that even in the dark times, you see the beauty.
Even in the pain, you experience joy.
Even in loss you know the fullness of Christ.

What a mercy that God allows these parallels to exist.
What a gift of grace that we live in a sin-cursed world
and yet . . . because of HIM we still have soul peace.
And not only soul peace and joy, but the ability
to enjoy relationships and countless comforts.

~~~~ Gratitude Dissolves Disappointment ~~~~
This quote has been challenging me in the past month!
It’s hard to stay grumpy or made or wallowing in self pity
when you give thanks as Scripture tells us to do.

The part that attitude plays in our outlook on life,
and eventually even in our reality, is too great to measure!
Did you know that scientists and psychologists are discovering that
our body doesn’t know the difference between our thoughts and our reality?

good things{The Living Word of God . . . not just paper & ink}

I’m sure this is why God tells us to “keep our heart with all diligence” …
to “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”…
to rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, give thanks,
sing to the Lord. sing praise . . . and countless more commands
that teach us to guard our thoughts and to think about GOOD things.

So yes, I sit there this morning giving thanks for all of the good things
and looking ahead to a month of joyous celebrations of Jesus and His people . . .
and those who are yet needing to hear the Gospel so that they can be His too.

good things{Our annual “wish book” for giving tangible hope and the Gospel to Asia ~
choosing the gifts to give has become a favorite December tradition}

Of course, the best things in life aren’t “things” . . . they are people,
and I hope you feel as I do that you’ve got THE BEST.

My wild-haired baby at 10.5 months
good things
She thought she was tough on this riding toy. :)
good things

Twenty-Two Cousins . . .
good thingsplaying for hours on end for 3 days straight Thanksgiving week.

good things

This Man Who Has My Heart More Than ever. . .
It’s a funny thing how we are still the same people we were when married,
and yet we never stay the same . . . as human beings we are constantly learning,
growing, adapting, developing . . . and am loving the journey alongside Phil.
good things
good things{compliments of our child photographer}

Rewinding the Camera to Mid October to that one time when
{for the first time, but hopefully not the last time} I earned a trip for two with our amazing company,
Plexus Worldwide, to the most gorgeous resort/hotel I have ever laid eyes upon!
Well, ok, I haven’t laid eyes on many resorts. Or possibly none at all?
But even those who have, said that this one was pretty special!
Due to circumstances which hindered my husband or my sister Heidi from attending with me . . .
I was so very honored and overjoyed to have a bestie, Clarita, enjoy the beautiful Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando
with me, where we were treated to massages, fabulous food, educational and inspirational training,
and times by the beautiful pools catching up with each other and our wonderful team members!
It was truly a gift in every way. And I am so grateful!

orlando 2 orlando orlando 3

Of course, baby was my traveling companion . . .
and I treasured this gift of time with her as well, because she’s a fourth born,
well, one can imagine that life is busy . . . and so when I get to have any of my children
one on one, getting to spend time with them individually, it’s something I really enjoy!

orlando{photo credits to Clarita!}

Thanks to my friend Kristen and the company who paid for my flight to Orlando
so that I could be a “help” to Kristen with her shopping list at Bloomingdale’s~things for the missionary families,
I was able to use my own travel voucher to have my Mom fly to our house for 8 days!!
What a treat!! She was able to help out with the children for the few days that I was gone,
and then we still had 4+ days to spend together when I returned!
I love my Mom. So do my husband and children!

gramma and baby
gramma & baby
gramma and baby
{The eldest daughter giving me “that look” because, being the mean, impractical mother that I am,
I had just informed her that she should go change into her *nice* boots . . . not snow boots. What a bummer! :)}

gramma and baby

A Family Week at the Cabin in Mid November . . .

good thingspuzzles . . .

good thingsFamily Devotions . . .

good thingsReading . . .

good things
good thingsSuper fun chores . . . ;)

good thingsChildren playing in the snow one day, and warm autumn air the next,
while their wary mother kept an eye out for bears.

good things
good things

good thingsgirlies . . . and lots of personality to go around!

good things
good things
good things

And That One Beautiful Snow Day in November . . .
good things
I’m so grateful for all of these good things . . .
and I’m looking forward to the celebrations and opportunities
that await us all in this new month!

May your December be blessed.
With so many good things.
But if nothing else, may you know Jesus.
He is the Wonderful One and the Giver of all that is Good.


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