May 27, 2014

Armed with Truth GIVEAWAY!!

Have you seen pictures of these awesome scripture tattoos floating around social media? They are called Armed With Truth tattoos and I love them!




Scripture memory 

These tattoos are great for scripture memory for yourself and for your children. They boys have learned two new verses because of these tattoos. One verse being,  Psalm 56:3 "When I am afraid I will trust in You." Cohen, who is afraid of the dark ,wore this verse proudly on his arm. He memorized the verse and repeats it while getting tucked into bed. 

Conversation starters

Armed With Truth tattoos open the door for conversations about the gospel. Every time we have worn them we get asked about them. What a great opportunity to share Jesus with someone! Your children can wear them to baseball practice, to a friend's house, church, etc. 

Surrounding yourself with scripture

I don't know about you but I love to surround myself with scripture. There are verses written on 4x6 cards all over my house and in my car. These tattoos are perfect for those hard days when you need that constant reminder to "lean not on your own understanding" Proverbs 3:5 or that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today.." Hebrews 13:8. 

These tattoos are perfect for gifts or for anytime. My boys love them! Do you want to snag some for your family?! Today I am giving away $15 credit to the Armed with Truth store! The giveaway will end Friday at 12 pm central. 


How to enter giveaway


  • All you have to do is comment below for 1 entry. 
  • Like Armed With Truth on facebook. Come back, comment to let me know you did and you get a second entry.
  • Share the link to this post on your facebook page. Come back, comment to let me know you did and you get a third entry! 


Trust me friends you want these!!

These tattoos may be temporary but their message and truth isn't. Though they will wash off my boys' arms my hope is that they are forever written on their hearts. 



Disclosure- Although I received Armed With Truth tattoos to review and giveaway all opinions are my own. I would never recommend anything to you that I don't love!

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

The winner was picked randomly via drawing. The name that was drawn was Connie! Congrats Connie! 

May 8, 2014

The Ultimate List of Online Bible Studies for Summer 2014



If you are not apart of a study locally or maybe your local Bible study is taking a break for the summer, here is a list of studies you can do online this summer.

If:Gathering

The IF conference took the world by storm a few months ago. I was going to go with a group of girls from home group but got sick the week of and had to watch it online. Amazing! They have just started going through the book of Acts. This study includes a reading guide, a video of one the IF ladies discussing the passage and discussion questions. (Jennie Allen and Jen Hatmaker are some of the ladies leading this study) 

Click here to learn how to get started. 
Click here to join in on the study. 
Click here to like IF on facebook.

She Reads Truth

She Reads Truth is an online community of woman that daily dive into God's word. At the time of writing this post they are about to wrap up "The Risen Christ" reading plan.  Every day they give you a passage to read along with a blog post discussing that day's passage along with a weekly memory verse. Nehemiah is the next study. SRT is offering a study guide to purchase with the upcoming Nehemiah study. You don't have to purchase it to follow along but they are offering it for those that need a physical book. (I bought the book) SRT is also going to be launching an app soon! 

Click here to get started. 
Click here to follow SRT on facebook.
A lot of the ladies diving into this study are on Instagram. IG handle @shereadstruth #shereadstruth

Good Morning Girls

Sally Clarkson and Angela Perritt have teamed up and wrote a book called "You are Loved". I love Sally Clarkson, this will definitely be a good read. This study and book club includes Bible reading plan, study guide and weekly videos. You will need to purchase the book on your own. Enrollment for this study is May 19-30 and the study dates are June 2- July 25.

To check out this study click here
To like GMG on facebook click here

James 

This study is written by Jen Wilkin who attends the Village Church. She has a book coming out this summer about getting in God's word. I have no doubt it's going to be phenomenal. I went through the James study this spring and it is life changing. (when is God's word not life changing?) This study doesn't have a group or an online study. But you can download the study for free and go through it by yourself or do it with a friend (or with a group of ladies online or locally). If you have ever gone through a Beth Moore study the setup is very similar. You go through your lessons during the week and then listen to audio at the end of each week. She has several studies you can go through... for FREE! 

Click here to download the study guide and audio for the James study. 
To check out her other studies check out the list on the right side bar of her blog
You can like her facebook page here.

Proverbs 31 Ministries 

They offer online devotions and online Bible studies. 

Click here to check them out. 

As moms it is so important that we are in God's word. How can we pour into our children if we are not being poured into? Set up some accountability with a friend, get a group of ladies together or start an online accountability group with a group of ladies. You will never regret making the time to be in His Word but you will regret not doing it. 

Do you know of any other online studies? 
Are you already apart of any of these groups? Have you enjoyed it? 




Apr 9, 2014

The problem with homeschooling

(this post is written by a homeschooling mom. please read to the very end before commenting)

When I was 14 years old I was going through one of the hardest years of my life thus far. The world as I knew it had completely been turned upside down. My mom had moved out and my sister and I were left with our dad. A man who was emotionally distant and even though we lived with him, we barely knew him.

I was entering high school, my parents were stuck in the clutches of a bitter divorce and I was left questioning the reason for my existence. Leaving this world seemed so much easier than trudging hopelessly through the mire alone. It was such a dark time in my past. 

My dad is a man's man, rough around the edges but more sensitive than he'd care to let on. He grew up in the country and at that time we were living on the very ranch his dad built with own two hands for my grandma. Living on a ranch is a hard life. There is hardly any time for rest. My dad too was going through the hardest time in his life as he had to say goodbye to his marriage of 18 years and now was raising girls. Growing up the youngest of three boys, girls were emotional creatures he knew nothing about and God gave him three. Staying at the Ranch after my mom left was hard. Everywhere we looked there were memories of the family that used to be. 

My dad got up before the sun to make it to his blue-collared job working an assembly line in a town an hour away. He was a hard worker and was doing everything he knew how to do to provide for us.

During that time we had a lot of christian homeschool friends that we spent time with. I was drawn to their homes like a moth to light. There was such peace. I can't tell you how many times I would curl up on their couch and just sleep. The sounds of a home filled with laughter, love, family and most importantly a home where Jesus resided in their hearts was enough to lull my restless aching heart to sleep. Sleep was something I was not getting in my own home. There was too much turmoil, too much pain to feel safe enough to rest. 

I longed for a family like their family. I looked to them to point me towards faith, hope, comfort, friendship and love. 

But what I soon discovered is that this family was a little unsettled to have my sister and I spending so much time with them. We were "foreigners" in their eyes and looked at as people that their children should be protected from. This was made clear to me when one of their daughters made the comment that their parents told them to "Watch out for us. Be careful spending so much time with us." 

Why? Well, she went on to share with me, simply because my sister and I had been public schoolers and went to a different church than them. (it was still an evangelical bible believing church) Because we wore jeans instead of culottes or skirts. I had "too much of the world" because I got my hair cut and highlighted, wore earrings, and makeup. I had a boyfriend at the time, if you could even call it that instead of the courting process they promoted. 

After hearing this, I excused myself to bathroom, where I wept. I knew they didn't believe in boyfriends so I refrained from talking about him. I was a good kid by public school standards. I didn't party, sneak out, have sex or cuss.  But to give their children pause because I was public schooled and had been exposed to "the things of the world" was incredibly crushing and isolating. 

And the ironic thing was I was so insecure about all the things they were fearful of. The clothes I was wearing were hand me downs because my dad couldn't afford much. My hair cut at the time was given to me by a stylist who had no idea what she was doing, the result was humiliating. The earrings I wore at the time were given to me by my aunt and were the only ones I owned. I was trying to teach myself how to wear make-up by reading teen magazines since my mom wasn't there to teach me. As for my faith, I kept questioning why God would allow things to happen the way they did in our family.

I wanted to be loved by these people. I wanted these people to show me Jesus because if anyone could it would be them. But they were being driven by fear not love. Fear of what could happen if their children hung out with a broken, weary girl wearing a hand me down Abercrombie and Fitch shirt. The world you are trying to protect our children from is the very world that contains the people we are called to love. Parents, in trying to teach our children to not love the things of this world do not forget to teach them to love the people of this world. 

Instead of saying "Be careful of those public schoolers" their conversation could have gone like this... 
"Kids our friends are spending a lot of time with us because of a hard situation they are going through. What a great opportunity to point them towards Christ. Ask them how they are doing. How we can be praying for them. God has brought them here for a reason, let's not waste this opportunity to love." 

After hearing a homeschool parent say "my kids are not supposed to be missionaries" my heart broke. If we are not teaching our children to be missionaries to their friends, neighbors, church friends, and other broken people that God brings in our lives then what the HECK are we doing?!

"The commissioning of the early church in Acts 1:8 includes taking this good news to every part of the earth outside our little family circle, especially into our neighborhoods. Let's face it: it's impossible to be a witness to unbelieving neighbors if we shun them because we are afraid they will pollute our holy family." - Elyse Fitzpatrick pg. 117 in Give Them Grace

I'm not saying throw them into a situation where they would be pressured to use drugs, send them to a rated R movie or any other situation that may be harmful. Yes, please protect them from those things. What I am saying is that our goal as Christian parents who want to homeschool our children, should be to teach our children how to love people like Christ loved the woman at the well. Teach them to open their eyes to the hurt that someone may be going through regardless if they go to the same church, wear the same clothes, or listen to music other than hymns. Stop letting fear control you. That is not of Christ, he did not give us a spirit of fear BUT of love. (2 Timothy 1:7)

Fear and control is what drives legalism in homeschooling and Christianity in general. What does legalism produce in those little impressionable hearts that God has entrusted to you? Self-righteousness. 

"I'm afraid that we are all too skilled at raising children in christian homes who feel no need for God's help. Who don't feel like they need grace, who actually feel like they're ok. One of the big issues for our kids is not unrighteousness but self-righteousness. " - Paul Tripp

 As a teenager I once had a homeschool mom refuse talk to me for several months because I disagreed with her about an issue. She could have used that scenario to teach, love on and pray for me instead she let her legalism and self-righteous attitude drive her actions. Actions that were not loving or of gospel-centered. 

Self-righteousness and legalism seem to be a big struggle in Christian homeschool circles. I have been hurt by it and I know others have as well. Your legacy to your children shouldn't be we are better than others because we homeschool or don't watch TV, don't listen to music with a beat, don't date, have whole books of the bible memorized, go on mission trips twice a year, wear nothing but skirts or don't cut our hair. Because God does not have a godly meter or love you more or less based on your rituals and legalistic rules. Your legacy needs to be humility and love. Teach them to seize opportunities to love and share the Gospel when they arise. If you have personal convictions on clothing choices, schooling , etc., teach them (when they are old enough to understand) that those things don't make them better or more holy, they are just that..personal convictions.

So what's the problem with homeschooling? Nothing. The problem with homeschooling isn't homeschooling itself. It's our intent and attitude behind why we homeschool. Is homeschooling an idol, creating feelings of superiority to another person that chose a different route of education for their children? Is homeschooling a way to shelter your kids from the world in an extreme way to where they are not taught how to share the gospel or love on the very people Christ called us to love on?

It may seem like I'm picking on home schoolers not all homeschoolers struggle with this issue. And it should be said that we homeschool and will continue to do so in their early years because I have a son that requires one on one attention and I LOVE homeschooling. We are very much a pro-homeschool family. So I am preaching to myself as well. The self-righteous, legalistic attitude is  an easy trap to fall into. We can't forget to teach our children to demonstrate grace to others as well as love others just as Christ did to us. This post applies to all Christians and all education options not just homeschoolers.


What are some ways that we can instill an attitude of grace, compassion and love in our children towards the hearts of others instead a heart that fears or feels superior to people different from them? What are some ways we can avoid self-righteous, legalistic attitudes?

Love y'all!

Monica


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Apr 7, 2014

Are you crunchy?

 There has been a rise in non-crunchy mamas in my area having very crunchy natural births. As I was making that observation the other day I realized, though these women are not crunchy they are doing the best for them and their families.

I had a hospital, medicated birth with all of my babies. Due to complications that were out of my control that was my only option. I also have several very crunchy friends who also had hospital births.

I love to baby wear but I don't fall on the attachment parenting side of the spectrum. Dare I say we are baby wisers? All of our babies slept through the night at 4 weeks or earlier.

I have only breastfed for 4-6 weeks with each baby. Because my milk supply would go down. And I was terrified my babies weren't getting enough to eat. But although I don't breastfeed I make my own baby food. And I do not cloth diaper...sorry but yuck.

We use an alternative vaccination schedule (I will never publicly share what that schedule looks like. I do not want to influence you either way. That is a choice best made between you and your doctor)

I actually don't have a lot of faith in the medical industry and use alternatives to antibiotics whenever possible. (oils, chiro, homeopathic remedies, cod liver anyone? etc) We actually do a lot of preventative measures to prevent illness in the first place.

We treat the patient not the fever. (surprisingly my pediatrician agrees with this one!)

Oh and despite all my crunchy views on medicine our pediatrician is a regular ole doctor who I'm pretty sure thinks I'm crazy. (although he is intrigued with the fact that my kids have never had the flu, haven't had the stomach bug since 2012 and are hardly ever sick since we have changed our eating habits)

We love to eat organic fresh fruits and vegetables, sprouted grains, GMO free foods and meats, processed free foods, raw milk, raw cheese, raw butter when available. (You would fall out of your chair if you saw our grocery bill... just our milk is $7 gallon)

And although we eat like this most of the time I don't mind grabbing a pizza every now and then.

I'm part of a co-op but I don't have my own garden or my own chickens.

I use regular ole make-up and personal care products. You know the kind that are horrible for you. I haven't had much luck with the alternatives.

Our clothes do not get hung to dry.. praise the Lord for dryers!!

We homeschool out kiddos with the intention of putting them in a private school when they are older.

We let our kids watch TV although very limited.

This list could go on and on....

The point of what I'm saying is that why do we try to label people or put people in a box? Aren't we all just trying to do what's best for our kids and our families? We may fall on the crunchy scale but many things I do contradict that lifestyle.

Just do what is best for you and your family!!


















Dec 31, 2013

2013 Wrap up!

Here's my annual end of the year cheesy video! :)

You can watch it here. There's a clip of Mason's birth in it. 2013 was a great year!! I'm looking forward to 2014!

Dec 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

From our family to yours,

Merry Christmas




"For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, and Prince of Peace. "  Isaiah 9:6

Dec 20, 2013

The Dark Side of Christmas


What is your favorite memory of Christmas, growing up? Is it the stockings hung from fireplace mantel? What about the decorating of the Christmas tree? Gathering around Christmas day and hearing the story of Jesus' birth?

When I was young I loved all these things. I loved Christmas.

But then I grew up..

The holidays can be a wonderful time spent with family. It can be a time of thankfulness. A time of worship. But it can also be overshadowed by family turmoil. Throughout the year you can somewhat get away with pushing family sin and junk under the rug but for some reason Thanksgiving and Christmas is when it seems to all rear its ugly head. Maybe it's Satan trying to steal away God's glory or maybe the Lord is using it as a time of sifting. Either way the Lord is in control.

God can use anything... a brother home from prison, a sister that left her husband and family, a selfish cousin that refuses to participate in the big family Christmas because the location of the party wasn't where they wanted it or how they wanted it, an overbearing mom that's wants control in every detail related to Christmas,  an alcoholic dad that spends Christmas passed out on the couch, or an angry spouse that causes everyone to walk on egg shells. The list could go on and on.

But one promise that we should remember is that God uses things that man intended for evil for a greater good. Hold on to that promise if this Christmas is not ideal. If it is filled with family arguing and hurt. God is the great healer of emotional wounds and will ultimately find a way to use it for His greater glory.

According to Isaiah 9:6 He is the Wonderful Counselor, the Prince of Peace and the Mighty God.

The Prince of Peace... this one is my favorite. Don't we all long for peace during the holidays? If you're the one that is causing the turmoil can I ask that you seek forgiveness and reconciliation with those family members? Make this Christmas not about you but Him. What do you think God would have you do? We serve a big God and He can move greatly among families and friends to restore relationships.

Praying that your holidays are filled with peace even in the midst of a storm. Love y'all!

Dec 18, 2013

Pioneer Parenting

Out of the corner of my eye I could see an older woman, who I did not know approaching our table. My first thought was "Oh, no what did we do?"

I was venturing out a few weeks before Christmas to buy a few things that I needed and to meet my dad for lunch celebrating his birthday. It was incredibly stressful getting everyone dressed including myself that morning. And I had just finished holding a screaming baby while pushing a stroller with two other children on it (it's a sit and stand. my older boys were standing)  through a make-up store with tiny aisles, dozens of impatient people, and for some reason it was scorching hot in that store. I'm not a glutton for punishment, I would have never gone to that store if I didn't need make-up for my husband's company Christmas party. I figured he wanted his wife to look some-what human. After leaving the store we met my dad at The Cheesecake Factory.



When were seated I noticed an older couple sitting across from us. My first thought after noticing them was, "Please Lord let them have patience." I had no idea how the boys would behave. Would Mason be screaming? Would the other boys be patient while we waited on our food? We don't get to see my dad very often and children can sometimes stress him out..so I was already on edge about their behavior. 4, 3 year olds and 2 month olds can be very unpredictable, you know?

But we seemed to make it through the meal without too much disruption. Only 555 potty breaks...not kidding. So I was a little confused, nervous, and interested to know why this older woman who I had noticed while we were being seated was approaching our table.

She said something I will never forget.

"Ma'am I have to be honest with you. My husband and I were a little nervous when you and your children were seated next to us, because we didn't know how they would behave. But your children are  so well behaved that I just had to tell you. That is a reflection of who you are as a parent. There needs to be more children raised like this."

While she was speaking I had to swallow the lump in my throat and fight back the tears. Her words were like water on this parched, weary soul.

I'm not sharing this story to toot my own horn because I am far from a perfect parent. I can't tell you how many times I questioned my choice to be a stay at home mom, how many times I have wept over the overwhelming task that is motherhood, or how lonely it can be to do what I call pioneer parenting while trying to some how overcome post-partum depression. Parenting is a lot to handle and when you have zero reference from how you were raised or from your own parents it complicates an already complicated process. Pioneer parenting by my own definition is when you are parenting your children completely different from how your parents parented you. Breaking free from generational sin and habits.  Maybe your parents are/were unbelievers, or in my case they were divorced and there was a lot of turmoil in the home. So you have no reference and sometimes no encouragement. Biblical parenting may be completely uncharted territory in your family lineage.

My point in sharing this story is to hopefully encourage you as mothers. To show you that despite our imperfections God still uses us.

Don't give up.

You were given a God-given task to raise your children not relying on your own strength or knowledge but on our heavenly Father's. What you're doing matters and even when you feel as if all you're doing is disciplining your children. It will one day be worth it.

To be completely transparent with you there have been so many days I want to give up. So many days it feels as if my effort is pointless. It feels as if I'm not getting through to them. Somehow on this day it got through. My children are not well behaved all the time or even most of the time, trust me. But it was visible to this woman and her husband that something had gotten through to my boys. And for the record our desire for our boys is not to have well behaved children but to have children that grow up exhibiting the love of their Savior so that others may come to know Him.

This woman gave this pioneer parent a beautiful gift, one that I will always treasure and remember the next time my kids are not behaving. Because moms your kids behavior will fluctuate throughout their childhood. Your worth as a mom can not be found in their good days and bad days. That does not define you. Your worth must be found in the only constant in your life...God.


In His name, parent on.


Dec 17, 2013

A Tour of Mason's Nursery

With Little Man our house was on the market so I couldn't decorate how I wanted to. And with our second baby he didn't have his own room. He shared with his big brother so I didn't have any nursery to decorate. Mason is he only baby that I have had complete freedom to decorate. It was so much fun! 










The diaper changing table and nightstand were both painted with Annie Sloan Pure White chalk paint and sealed with polyurethane. Before putting the poly on I distressed them using sand paper. Check out the before and after pictures here

You can find the drawers pulls here

 The bedding came from Pottery Barn except the fitted sheet which was found at target. 

The sign was made from brand new wood at home depot. I aged the wood by staining it with a few different stains, sanding with an electric sander, painting it white and sanded it some more to let allow the stain to come through. The letters were painted using stencils and martha stewart paint found at Michaels. 

His name was made from cardboard letters from Hobby Lobby and spray painted with metallic spray paint to make them look like the metal letters found at Anthropologie but without the high price tag. 

Curtains were found at Ikea. 

The basket on the changing table was bought at Home Goods. 

The chair was a baby shower gift when I was pregnant with my firstborn. It was bought at Babies 'R us and is super comfy. 

The paint used for his room is Bedford Grey by Martha Stewart bought at Home Depot. 

There are still a few more frames I need to put up to complete his nursery but I love how everything pulled together!

*You can find more pictures of the nursery project and other life happenings on my instagram. Find me at "pixelperfectblog"

Dec 16, 2013

Girl time!! What are your favorite things this year?!


It's time to have some girl time and share a few of our favorite things. These three things are items that I've incorporated into my routine this year. 





Naturopathica Oat Facial Polish- After years of trying almost everything on the market for exfoliating, this product is hands down the best. It leaves your skin silky smooth without being abrasive. If I could wave a magic wand and get this into the hands of every woman I would, it's that amazing! They do have a smaller size for about $28 on their site but the larger one will easily last you over a year. It doesn't take much of this stuff to get the job done! 



Urban Decay All Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup- After fighting through my skepticism that this product would actually work I bought this and tried it for my husband's Christmas party. IT WORKS!! After 11 hours of wearing make-up it looked like I had just put it on. Amazing!! 



Better Than False Lashes Nylon Extension System- When first applying this it is really strange. Your eye lashes look like you rolled them in cotton balls. But the end result is unbelievable. And for people like me who have no eyelashes and don't want to wear false ones this is a great alternative. 

*some links are affiliate links that help keep this blog going. 

What are your favorite things? Leave a link in the comments. 

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