turning one

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[I still think it's absolutely crazy that I have three kids...but I cannot imagine a world without this one! He has the sweetest sense of humor, an irresistibly cuddly little body and we've had the best year together. I love you precious Ezra Neal!]

<3 jc

Ezra’s Birth Story

Ezra Neal @ 1 month

Ezra Neal @ 3 months

Ezra Neal @ 4.5 months

 

fave things for littles.

I’m always thankful for other moms passing on tidbits of info on things that their family is enjoying or finding helpful, so today I thought I’d pass on a few things that I love right now for our young family (ages 4, 2 1/2 and almost 1!)…

1. Little Green Pouches. I love healthy, minimal-mess (& allergen-free!) snacks for kids…even better if they’re easy to pass out on a road trip! So we love fruit pouches, but am even more excited about these reusable “little green pouches” so I can fill and refill them with puree of whatever fresh produce we have (or organic unsweetened applesauce). I think they’ve paid for themselves in just a week. Even the baby can manage his own little pouch – hallelujah! Healthy, frugal, green, convenient & kiddo-approved do not always line up but I’m pretty happy when it does! They can also be frozen and are dishwasher safe.

2. Fall Style. If you’ve gotta keep ‘em clothed, they might as well look cute, right?! :) I started a littles style board on Pinterest for some wardrobe inspiration as we chip away at building a fall/winter wardrobe for our precious three.

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I mean come.on. (via)

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Adorbs. (via) Check out the Etsy shop Delicately Woven for cute kiddie head wraps like this!

3. Seeds Family Worship. My kids love this music from Seeds Family Worship, and we are all benefitting from easily committing Scripture to memory through song. I recommend ordering the actual CD in the mail rather than just downloading tracks, because they send you 2 discs – one for you, one to give away to a friend. My favorite so far is Seeds of Courage.

4. Essential Oils. I have really been enjoying and benefitting from our venture into the world of essential oils, and I recently became a distributor with doTerra (check out my website here) because the discount is great. It’s a satisfying thing to be learning to make more of our household cleaners and laundry products safe, effective and natural through using essential oils. I love having On Guard on hand for an immune boost (for my kids we rub it on their feet) when the sickies abound! As our family has grown, it has become fairly complicated and unpleasant (not to mention expensive!) to zip off to the doctor over every illness and I am eager to continue to discover natural ways to strengthen the health of my little people and my love.

5. Books.  What list of kids things is complete without some books? These are a few popular ones with my 4-and 2-year olds (& me!) right now:

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Home For A Bunny – Margaret Wise Brown

 the little island

The Little Island – Margaret Wise Brown

 (Okay I just really like Margaret Wise Brown! The illustrations in this book are superb.)

 the story of ferdinand

The Story of Ferdinand – Munro Leaf

now we are six

Now We Are Six – A.A. Milne

We are also in love with Frog & Toad and the My First Little House Series! For my littlest little one (almost 1 year!) – and the rest of us too – I love Sandra Boynton’s board books. And Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing is a useful devotional with beautiful illustrations that always leads to meaningful conversations with our little ones. <3

What are some of your new or old favorite, most helpful kiddo things right now? I appreciate your prayers as we are tip-toeing into homeschooling this week! WOWZA!! ;-p

<3 jc

Self-love and Esteem of Christ.

you make me new

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As believers in Christ, our highest aim, goal, value and joy is: Christ, and Him glorified.

Our culture esteems beauty and sex appeal as one of the highest values. We may say that all people are valuable, or that being smart or kind is more important (and maybe we actually kind of believe that), but most of our actions point to physical appearance as one of our very highest values. (What do we spend our money on? What really bothers us? Who do we idolize? All these things point to our obsession with worldly beauty.)

And, even as a Christian, my flesh + the devil + the pull of our culture is on display in my life when I spend precious minutes and even hours in despair over my own insecurities and failures. My heart proves to me that I have a competing value: my self. 

My heart is heavy when I see and hear my sisters in Christ struggling with heavy hearts and thoughts of despair because of 5 extra pounds around their middle that, in their mind, defines them. I know how it can feel like life isn’t worth living if you don’t feel beautiful. I know how debilitating that can be – and how guilt for caring about such a ‘surface’ issue heaps up on top of already heavy and bitter emotions and threatens to steal all joy away.

I also know the joy that comes with self-forgetfulness. 

Mostly, we all want to live happy, fulfilled lives. We tend to believe, deep down, that to be happy we have to feel beautiful, and we really want to be worshipped by a lover who finds us attractive, and celebrated by others too. Don’t we sometimes believe that if we could have our ideal face, body, personality – then we would have true, rich happiness?

We have an adversary who seeks to destroy us. If he can divert your attention off the Son of God and onto yourself – either to glory OR despair in yourself – he is delighted to be rendering you ineffective as a soldier for the Lord, and he is delighted to be stealing away your joy in Christ. If we want to live a joyful, fulfilled life we must exalt Jesus in our hearts.

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Jesus said that where our treasure is, there is our heart. If our treasure is our bodies, a sweet haircut, a sassy pout or a thigh-gap, our treasure is in great danger of “moth and rust destroying, thieves breaking in to steal,” (Matthew 6) – or it’s all prone to fickle changing fashions, slowing metabolism, an acne breakout, etc. Basically, it’s downhill from here.

But. If our treasure is Jesus. 

If our treasure is Jesus! If He is our highest value, our greatest joy, our life’s true passion, then our treasure is Him. Our hope is secure. If our heart truly desires Christ, it is protected from being devastated by our own physical imperfections or personal failures, and it is set on the only truly satisfying, fitting treasure: Christ alone.

In light of JESUS as highest value, how then do we consider our physical bodies, or our personal accomplishments be it in the realm of home, school, weight loss or any other thing?

We should never allow our perception of our beauty or lack thereof to control us. There is no room for despair if Jesus is our highest value, and there is no room for pride, because “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Corinthians 4). Anything good in us has been given to us for the glory of God.

Sisters, let us day by day knock physical beauty off the throne. 

Only Jesus has the right to reign in our lives.

TK

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May Jesus be your treasure today and always.

And here’s the beautiful thing – as we fix our eyes on Him, glorifying Him and celebrating Him, we are becoming more and more like Him.

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But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Gal. 5:16)

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another…” (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)

* Check out this great article on Self-love from Desiring God.

here’s to August…

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August is fast becoming one of my favorite months.

I almost feel like I am betraying my younger self when I say this, but – I think the fall is absolutely my favorite season.

It used to be summer, what with being a student and those being the blissful free-from-school months, the camp and pool and afternoon-drive months.

But, now that summer no longer has that advantage over me (though it does bring garden season — woop woop!), I whole-heartedly prefer the autumn.

Summer isn’t gone yet and I’m in no rush for it to make an exit – but August brings schedule and structure and anticipation of autumn – which is almost better than the thing itself. It’s birthday month for several beloved people…and one little guy that I am partial to is celebrating his very first birthday!

So here’s to August! And wringing every last and best ounce of joy out of summer…<3

a few interesting links & other fun things for your enjoyment:

Shepherding Like Jesus – sermon from the Village Church!

Who isn’t a sucker for adorable bows & headbands on little girls? I am eyeing a few from this shop for Kaya. Adorable, right?!

Ever made kombucha? Local friends, hit me up for a scoby to get you started! Free to a good home. ;-) My most recent batch (Jasmine Green tea with MO plums!) is in its 2nd ferment and I can’t wait to try it!

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“Mothers should cultivate their souls, that in turn they may cultivate the souls of their children.” – Billy Graham

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“Passion makes every detail important; there is no realism like the insatiable realism of love.” – GK Chesterton

What is your favorite season (or month)? Why?

Happy August, friends.

 

<3 jc

P.S. I updated the “Best of…” the blog page – check it out! :)

Musings on Playdates & Titus 2

One evening when my husband had to work late, I tucked the kids in for bed, cleaned up the house, and decided to crawl into bed early to do some reading. My heart was heavy and I knew I needed some Scripture to meditate on, and I was also looking forward to reading “Heaven at Home” by Ginger Plowman.

Our day had been sort of long and hard. A play date that I had hoped would be an encouragement to the kids and myself left an unpleasant, wafting discouragement in my spirit. The women and children there were hospitable and friendly enough, but I left feeling very flat. From the tone of conversation, I gathered that to these women, children were too incredibly burdensome and ah! What a hassle (with said “hassle” in earshot, playing innocently). Husbands? They really just don’t understand. Pregnancy? Ugh, never doing that again. Then there’s the “advice” – you know, the “you’ll never sleep again” or “you think thats bad?” comments from experienced, embittered women. Such cynical tips are a far cry from the glimmer of hope and encouragement that young women need.

Usually after spending time with other women I am so happy. But this time I came home deflated. Wondering.. was I just tired? Had I been boring company? Why did I feel this way? And then I realized…

When we act and speak as if loving our husbands and children is anything less than beautiful and honorable and worthy of respect, we fail our sisters in the Lord, and we risk dishonoring the word of God. I was failed that day, and I probably failed others since I did not recognize what was happening and turn the tide of conversation. (Lord help me next time!)…

It was refreshing that evening to read again from Titus 2: “Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”

Sisters, let’s encourage other women to love their imperfect husbands and their sometimes-unruly-children! To work at home! Not grumbling over household chores, but preparing their home to be a wonderful haven of rest and joy for their family. Our culture is enslaved to luxury, even if we would never “stoop” to drunkenness, but as believing women, we ought to esteem and embrace, rather than despise, work in the home. And let’s speak life to that new mom in the dregs of post-partum hardship; she may need kind words from you so that in her exhaustion she can share kind words with her husband.

We all have hard days. Expressing our struggles is one thing. But let us not be malicious, or teach through our words and attitudes that “what is good” in life is independence, freedom from family responsibility, or interesting and stimulating career opportunities. Instead let’s encourage one another to be sensible (in finances, goals, attire, and every aspect of homemaking), pure, kind, loving. This calling is clear and from the Lord. Even our attitudes are teaching the women around us.

<3 jc

bracing myself

My lil darlin, Ezra Neal is 11 months now, which means…

his first birthday’s a-comin’. 

Oh heavens!!! Bracing myself for that first birthday and alltheemotions…:)

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It’s been an amazing almost-one-year, my third-born love!!

<3 jc

(just for fun: Hudson at 1, Kaya at 1! AND – here’s Ezra’s birth story!)