Ten Important Truths To Remember for Boy Mama’s

Those who know me, know my house is filled with boys, well sort of.  Three boys, all born in a grand total of 34 months.  Now, one-hundred and eighty-three months later, I’ve learned some interesting things.  Some helpful, some funny, some heartwarming…but all interesting! I wish I had known these little gems all along, on this journey of raising boys. But in life, you learn things as you go…So here’s my little take on this life God has called me to.

1. Loud is OK.

2. They are going to fight, but they still love each-other.

3. They are going to embarrass you once in a while, take a chill pill-just laugh!

4. They will always, I mean ALWAYS, need their Mama!

5. You’ve never failed so badly that tomorrow can’t be a fresh start-Tomorrow is always a fresh start!

6. You’re not raising pansies!  Buck up!

7. Clorox will make it like it never. even. happened.

8. AXE bodywash and shampoo can cover up almost anything…

9. Scentsy and Febreeze are gifts from Jesus Himself!

10. You CAN do this!brothers black and white

 

A Commitment to the Community-Excel Youth Gets Their Own Youth Center

IMG_1385Being part of a church that is passionate about reaching the lost in our community is a tremendous blessing to our family.  Typically, I write about my family or my decorating endeavors, but I wanted to share EXCEL youth group’s  building renovation.  I know that many of my readers are looking to make a difference in their church and community, so I thought you would enjoy this.  Word of Life Church (www.wordoflifemarionville.tv) recently expanded to include a youth facility.  A team of hard-working volunteers completely remodeled an empty  building in just fourteen days! Those fourteen days were a complete whirl-wind, but the result is fabulous and is already making a difference in our small town.  Roughly fifteen volunteers spent incredibly long hours laying carpet, painting, wiring the sound system,  decorating, scrubbing, cleaning, constructing, etc.  Can we say, “tons of fast food” and “what is a bed?”.  Joking aside, the entire endeavor has made a difference for the teens in our community. Being a store-front church (we are located in a shopping center with the ONLY grocery store in town), this beautiful new youth center is visible to every person who lives in this town, every time they go to buy groceries.  EXCEL youth group celebrated the grand opening of their new facility with a local band, Seeds of Agape. The grand opening night was a huge success, and the building was full!  IMG_1416We were able to create over-sized art by painting over old church signage and banners.  It was a great way to create relevant art for a fraction of the typical cost.  pic 1The back wall of the stage is actually galvanized metal panels-a very easy find at any home-improvement store.

IMG_1410We used metal repair tape to mimic the X in our new EXCEL youth logo.  It requires precision and measuring, but it is a very easy and inexpensive way to add great detail to a space.

IMG_1411IMG_1387We are fortunate to have a graphic designer and photographer in our church, who made us a new logo and helped with printing promotional materials for the Grand Opening.
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IMG_1414IMG_1385The church was very supportive of EXCEL youth group, and many items were donated to this project.  The donated items include: the carpet, computer, game systems,the cost of the chairs and the sound system (donated by a church).
IMG_1394This is my favorite view-the view from the outside.  Every car that pulls up to the local grocery store, everyone who walks by on their way to the neighboring apartment complex, is able to see this fun and safe place for local youth to gather.  Far more than fun and games will be happening in this building-the truth of God’s Word will penetrate hearts and shape futures!  Thanks Word of Life Church for believing in the youth of our community!
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Speaking Truth & Speaking it With Love

It’s been a busy spring at our home, so my blog has been a bit quiet (reflecting the HUGE truth that my home and family have NOT been quiet).  But I have been so moved by a story in the big bad world of reality, that I’ve come out of my little “mom hibernation” to share an inspirational story with you.

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Have you seen these guys?  If you have turned on the t.v. today, searched the web, snuck in a little facebook time, or even read the news, you probably couldn’t miss them.  Until late last night, I’d never heard of them.  Their public name is “The Benham Brothers”, David and Jason Benham.  They are twin brothers, who were getting ready to debut a new show on HGTV.  I am a huge HGTV watcher.  I’ve been tuning into pretty much everything they produce for 17 years!  I’m sure I would have loved their show… But apparently that won’t be happening.  It turns out that being real-estate/property flippers is pretty far down on the list of who they actually are.  The brothers are Christians, family men, Christian speakers……and somewhere down the line comes the property flipper/well-known guys on tv.   Back in 2012 one of the brothers led a prayer rally during the presidential elections.  He was appealing to Christians to stand for what was right in America.  Some of his remarks are now being spread, out-side of the context of the prayer rally, and it was offensive to some…so now fast-forward to early May 2014.  Their show has been cancelled.

But it’s not the cancellation of their show that’s on my heart this morning, it’s what they have done and said AFTER their show was cancelled.  I watched footage of their CNN interview, and let me tell you -I’M A FAN!  Talk about love-these guys exemplify it!  It would be hard to have the attitude they had-complete kindness for HGTV.  They said they have NO hard feelings for HGTV, no hard feelings toward anyone.  Kindness. Forgiveness. Love for their fellow man-it was ALL there!  Yes, they took their stands.  Yes, they preached the truth in the proper confines of a prayer meeting in 2012. Yes, they still stand for truth, but it is kindness and love that is spilling from them.  Wow!  This quote really hit me, “If our faith costs us a television show, then so be it”.  And that’s not all…they are going to keep their commitment to the 6 families that they had committed to help through their show.  Now remember, the show is cancelled, so it’s now their own money & time that they will be using to keep that commitment.

I’m so encouraged this morning by the honor, integrity, and strength to stand in love that has been exemplified by this story.  I hope to hear more from these two.  In fact, I’d love to be able to watch their show, but if not-I’ve been encouraged to stand in the love of Christ.  Christ laid down his life for the lost.  He could tell us, first hand, that the lost don’t always respond kindly, and that there is sometimes a high price to pay for standing.

I would encourage you to support the Benham Brothers by contacting HGTV.  You can do so on this link: http://www.hgtv.com/contact-us/package/index.html  But please, please, please do it in love, and with a kind heart & kind words.  Truth must always be accompanied by LOVE & love is patient, love is kind…it does not dishonor others…it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs…it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres… (ICor.13)

Here’s to hoping that your day is filled with Truth and Love!

Want to see more of these guys & their great message?  Go to this link & watch…

Smile! You are “God’s Girl”!

God's GirlSomewhere around age five, most little girls are full of giddy smiles, immense confidence, and big dreams…but by the time we reach twenty-five, the smiles have faded, our confidence has dropped and dreams have been replaced with a huge dose of reality.    It’s sad but true.  Is it that our expectations were just too big?  Is it that our society is full of lies about what’s real?  Or are we being unfair in our criticism of ourselves? Well, it’s probably a combination of all of the above.  Here’s what I’ve been finding, as I talk with my godly girl-friends…

Life has thrown us a few curve balls.  We thought we would grow up to be “better”, look “cuter”, be “happier”, have more “perfect” husbands, have more “well behaved” children… and the list goes on..and on…

Guess what?!?!  God’s plan for you was never about YOU being Perfect!  God’s plan for you has always been about CHRIST shining THROUGH you.  I can never be a good enough wife or mom on my own.  You can never do it on your own either…we have to look to the LORD for strength.  It’s time to let up on our harsh self-judgments…the incessant self-doubt and criticism.  YOU & I are God’s Girls!  He sees you as a work of art (in progress).  Be encouraged today & know that you are HIS, and you are enough…pretty enough…strong enough…good enough-through HIM who made you!

Be strong today…Be a God Girl!

My Sweet Valentines…

Well, it rolled around quickly, the last year our youngest son will distribute Valentines or make a Valentine box..sniff, sniff. So bring on the crazy Mommy! Payton picked out the Army theme, and we found great printables off of Pinterest. Then I rounded up a small green army, found camo fabric for the box, raided the mostly quiet-these-days toy chest & this Mama went to work. The result is a super happy  boy! Next year he will be one of those grown up middle school boys-but today he is still my little boy. And then there is the sweet little sister-no worries-many more Valentine parties ahead for sweet little Delaney! “Wild About You” is the theme we went with, and we found the cutest little printable Valentines on Pinterest. We completed those little babies with “wild” animals & a lovely, sparkly, pink, wild Valentine box. It really helps to have all of those hair-bow supplies at a time like this!

So here’s the result…so much cuteness!
Delaney with box 1

Notice that Delaney dressed in her “wild” theme as well..Mommy & daughter really get into their themes!delaneys box 2

Delaneys box 3

delaneys box 4

delaneys box 5

Here’s a link to the blog that is offering this super cute FREE printable:

http://www.sarahmstyle.ca/2014/01/freebies-i-am-wild-about-you-valentine.html

Delaneys box 6

payton with box

My littlest man!
paytons box 3

Here’s a link to the blog that is offering this adorable FREE printable:

http://eventstocelebrate.net/2014/01/free-printable-valentine-army/

paytons box 4

paytons box1

paytons box2

Making A (quick & easy) Delicious Cup of Chai Tea

closeup chai teaA chilly fall evening…the perfect occasion for a delicious cup of Chai Tea…but I’ve found that chai tea mixes are quite pricey!  So I recently went on a hunt (Pinterest style…) for a recipe for chai tea mixes, and I found that most of the mixes required an extensive list of ingredients…most of which most of us don’t keep on hand.  I deducted that it would likely be just as cost-effective to buy the expensive mix!  So I set off on a mission to use what I had on hand (only 6 ingredients!!) and make a cup for myself.  The results…Delicious!

Here’s my recipe:

one tea bag, one cup of water, 3/4 cup of milk, 1tsp. cinnamon, 1 Tbs. sugar, and 1&1/2 Tbs liquid flavored coffee creamer (vanilla, caramel,cinnamon flavored etc.  It’s really up to you…most good flavored coffee creamers would work perfectly!)

Directions: Place tea bag in one cup hot water & brew a “strong” cup of tea.  Add the cinnamon and sugar to the hot water and stir vigorously!  This step is important, because you want to fully dissolve the cinnamon in the hot water. Add the milk and creamer.  Stir once again, and heat to desired temperature.  Stir vigorously once again…

Enjoy your perfect cup of inexpensive Chai Tea!

A Little Girl’s Fairy-Tale & Dress Up Photo Session

color bride shotWith three big brothers, little Delaney is pretty good at waiting her turn.  Finally I had some spare moments to spend on my precious daughter (who will out-grow dressing up sooner than I can blink my eyes) and my amateur hobby of photography.  The results were just precious, and I had to share them!

snazzysassycolor mirror closeupwider color brideblack and whitecute picmore brideblack and wadorable color mirrorfavorite shot from above

black and white close upfancy dressupblack and white mirror close upmore fancy dress upDelaney bridelovely color in woodsThis was such a special and memorable photography session…little girls don’t stay little forever!

It’s a Calling…Bringing Up Boys

brothers black and whiteI didn’t realize what was happening when they handed me my first precious little baby boy.  And I still didn’t realize it when they handed me my second little son, but wen the third little boy was lying in my arms, I knew I was well on  my way to a unique place.  Mothering multiple sons is a special calling, and without even realizing it, it was a calling that God had placed on my life.  In just a span of thirty-four months, I went from being just a young wife to wife and a mother of three sons…surrounded by “male-ness”.  Not a word, you say…Oh believe me, “male-ness” IS a word-it’s very well understood by the other ladies in this special club I belong to.  What a shift from the days of growing up an only child.  One little girl…and homeschooled at that!  I grew up loving quiet things, pretty things, and cats…so why on earth would I be chosen to raise a pack of loud, testosterone filled, crazy BOYS?  Well, I actually believe my whole life was a preparation for this journey.  I longed for siblings, but not just any siblings-I longed for brothers-brothers that I would never have. When we began to have little boys, fourteen years ago, I was thrilled as each little boy was born! But it was still shocking.  Here are some of the tid-bits I have learned on this journey-much of it is from wise, experienced women who have paved the way for grown up girly-girls like me, as well as experts along the way like Dr. Dobson.

1. It’s natural for boys to be competitive. 

Everything is a race, a competition, a game.  In mothering these men-in-training, we will be ahead of this game, if we work with this natural bend and not against it.  This is where fighting comes in, which must, of course, be managed.  Some boy competitions need adult intervention, and some just need adult supervision.  It’s never alright for a brother to be insulted or bullied, and of-course, those are the moments for intervention.  Good competition is SO healthy for these boys, and can really be used as a great motivational tool!  Many times I have been able to use their competitive side to motivate my sons to strive for greatness.

2. Most boys are born with a healthy amount of natural aggression.

Oh boy, this is where the moms of girls are gasping, and perhaps even moms of just one little boy…but this is actually true & healthy…so let me explain…

All boys will eventually grow into men.  Men will have responsibilities and duties that are “Provider and Protector” based.  I am so thankful for my godly husband.  He would lay down his life for this family.  He rises before the sun is up, and works, most days until it has set again.  That does not just develope one day- it is a life-time in the making. Little boys are born with a very un-fettered sense of adventure.  The pushing, the shouting, the fighting, the building, the competing, the hunting…it’s all part of the strong male nature that will someday be necessary for the strength and leadership that is required of an adult male.  I often say, “Mothering boys is not for wimps!”, and this is SO true!  There is a fine-line to walk here.  One must realize that this is in their nature, but it must be TRAINED! Oh the humiliation I felt when my three year old son intentionally pee-peed on the bathroom wall of a local mega-church! He may have been only three, but we took him home and punished him.  In-fact, we took it so seriously, that we did not move forward, until we knew that he understood how unacceptable this was.  He did not respond well, and most of the next day he spent in various methods of punishment, but by 5:00pm on that Monday night, we had reached a break-through.  He got it, and we moved forward. Harsh?  No. Appropriate.  Boys are born with a natural aggression, but they have no idea how to use this appropriately.  They must not be shamed in their maleness, but disciplined and lovingly shaped, so that they will use this strength as a positive and not run over those around them and use it as a negative.

3.Boys aren’t pretty..This is not for wimps, folks!

This statement may not be true if you have only one boy, but mothers of multiple boys understand this in a unique way.  Because, let’s be honest, it’s like the sleepover that never ends!  The intense male energy of several boys…together…all of the time, is something that not everyone could endure.  If you have been chosen for this journey, there is a reason!  God thinks you can do it!  And there will be some crazy moments that you just need to chill out and laugh…

cup in a cup holder

I know someone just gasped..well, then this post just isn’t for you.  But it absolutely cracked me up!  I was all dressed up for church yesterday, and I was backing the car out of the garage, when I spotted this.  A cup…in a cup holder!  I know you “boy mammas” just laughed your heads off.

But seriously, you just can’t sweat the small stuff.  Discipline when discipline is needed. Comfort when comfort is needed.  Train when training is needed.  And LOVE all of the time!

jill and her boys

Please don’t leave without leaving me a note!

My Quick and Easy Eggplant Parmesan (healthier too!)

eggplant parmisian pic 2I just love Eggplant Parmesan, but it can be pricey!  Once in a while I can find it on sale for only $.99, as was the case this week.  I bought one, and then remembered-they don’t last long.  So yesterday I sliced it up & prepared six meal-portions, which are now waiting for me in the freezer. ( a great work-day meal!)  I thought I’d share my easy method of preparing this tasty dish!

Eggplant Parmesan (Jilly B’s Version)

INGREDIENTS:

-one eggplant

-2 to 3 TB oil for frying

-grated Italian cheese (Italian blend/ pizza blend/ Parmesan/ YOUR choice)

-one small red onion, diced

-one can diced tomatoes with roasted garlic adn onions

-garlic  &  salt

DIRECTIONS:

-Slice the eggplant into 1/3-1/2” slices

-heat oil in large frying pan

-place eggplant in hot oil & season with garlic and salt

-let brown on each side, until tender and nicely golden brown

-While still in pan, generously top with cheese

-Remove eggplant from pan & place in oven on 350degrees

-Place tomatoes and diced onion in frying pan and saute until tender.  Season with salt and more garlic

-Remove eggplant from oven (5min. in oven is plenty-you simply want cheese to fully melt)

-Plate the eggplant & top with tomatoe & onion mixture.

-Top it off with a small additional sprinkling of cheese-sooo yummy!

Free Family Resource

I wanted to share this great freebie from Focus on the Family.

This month they are giving away a FREE DOWNLOADABLE activity to help you share your faith with your children!  You can’t beat that!  Free Family Resource.  I hope you will check this out.  It’s so important to share our faith with our kiddos, and it’s also important to answer their tough questions.  This month Focus on the Family featured some excellent discussion reguarding this important topic.  Hope you enjoy!