giveaway winner + three spring looks you can rock on a budget

And the winner of the Modest Mom and thirty-one giveaway, chosen by is 

J. Greene who said:

My big sunglasses....they are great and make me feel a little more fixed even when I'm not ;)

Please email me with your information at Mandy @ biblical homemaking. com! :D 

And over at I shared three spring trends you can rock on a budget! {being thrifty is fun, isn' it?!!}

Here's one I'm loving right now: denim!

What styles have you found are easy to do on a budget? I'd love to hear!!

monday encouragement {vlog}

I wanted to sit down and chat with you guys and kind of give you an update about where we are going next with what we talked about last week. I totally had to fight myself to keep from re-recording this video for many reasons, one of which is that I can't keep myself from crying like a baby at the end. So, with that, I apologize in advance for bawling in my vlog. ha! I love you guys!!  :)

I'll be posting our giveaway winner later today! I hope you all have a great week!!

weekend review: fresh produce clothing

With the all of the original food diet talk around here, you guys probably already know I'm always excited to talk about fresh produce. :D This time it's a different kind of produce, though- it's the clothing version {which may be more fun than the food kind! ha!}!

When the Fresh Produce clothing company contacted me to see if I'd review a product of my choice, you know I was in! :D

They have a beachy, flowy casual style that is a little different than my usual thrift store choices, so I was excited to try out a new style for me! I shopped around their website and I fell in love with their maxi dresses! They sent me this maxi dress to try out for myself:

and here is the color I chose:  {I'm sneaking in a what i wore picture a few days early! hehee :D}

so did you know we have cat? Um, yeah, I didn't either. ;)
what i loved about it:
The dress was super comfy! I've never owned a maxi dress before, but I loved how comfortable it was! It was so loose and long which made it very cool and breezy. I think it will be very nice for the Texas summer! :)

I was impressed by the weight of the dress too- it was made of a very high quality fabric that was stretchy and soft. My husband loved it too, and I got a compliment on it at the very first place I went in it! So two thumbs up for cuteness! :)

what i didn't love as much:
I really loved the dress itself, but as you guys all know I'm a thrift store shopper. :) I've never bought a casual dress that was $89, so I probably wouldn't be able to buy it unless it were on sale.

Luckily, Fresh Produce does have good sales! They have a 50% off section, and only $8 for shipping in the U.S. {though they do ship to over 200 other countries!}

to sum up:
If you're looking to invest in high quality, comfortable, casual/beach-style clothing you might love Fresh Produce. :)

Oh, and if you liked their really cute maxi dress, they have a sale going on their website right now:

Buy One Get One 50% Off All Dresses! Enter coupon code LOVEMOM

see more fresh produce casual dresses and other casual tops and bottoms

feeling the pull of the Holy Spirit


Tuesday was such an emotional day for me, and the rest of the week has proven to be no different. My heart is heavy still, and even more so for those of you who are struggling right now with these things. I love you all so dearly, and I'm aching and praying with you.

And I can't say how thankful I am for you guys, and for your sweet responses in discussion.

I know that we all come from different backgrounds, and that for some of you, what I said in that post was something entirely new to you, and for some, not something you agree with at all. I appreciate you all for keeping a kind spirit through it all, and I'm thankful that we can examine the Word of God as the source of truth for all. Isn't He so good to us to give us the Word {and it made flesh! amen?}.

I know that many of you long to know God, and that the drifting that you feel right now is not what you want. That seed- that little longing in the back of your mind that wishes you could experience God- that is a very, very good thing, my friends. It is exciting, in fact! :)

He is drawing you to Him! He wants your heart, and the light that you are drawn to is Him! I want to encourage you to not let it go- don't push it aside- don't let yourself forget again. Satan would love nothing more than to distract you from the pull of the Holy Spirit!

Some of you have experienced God- you truly and honestly felt the Holy Spirit working in your life, and so you know what you are missing right now. And you might not even know why you feel so alone, so without Him.

I want to bring up something that has happened in my life. This is just my experience, of course; what's happened in my almost 25 years of life in Christ.

I believe that God saved me at the age of 5. I remember being 4 years old, and I kid you not, I remember putting off salvation. My dad would talk about it with me in the car or at home, and I remember telling him that I wanted to wait until I was 7. What? 7 must have been the magic age. Oh, how that makes me laugh now. :)

But I knew- I understood. I believed in Jesus with all my heart- I knew He was God and I believed He was alive and had risen from the dead for my sins. I knew I was a sinner- I knew I disobeyed my parents, and that I disobeyed God's command to obey your parents {and many commands}, and that I deserved to be separated from God for eternity because of my sin.

I knew- I believed- but I was waiting to be older for such a big commitment. But one night a few months later {at 5}, I knew I couldn't wait- I knew I was being stubborn because I already believed it, I just didn't want to give my heart to Jesus.

Weird, I know, to think that a 5-year-old had these thoughts, but I did.  I told my parents that night after church that I wanted to ask Jesus to live in my heart, and I believed in Him.

We prayed, and ever since that night Jesus has been with me. He has had my heart- even when I went on my own way for a time, He was gracious enough to draw me back to Him.

I was so close to him in junior high- I loved Him with all my heart, and I wanted to follow Him with all of my life.

But as I entered my late teens, I started to catch a whiff of culture- I wanted it all. I dreamed of graduating from college and driving a bright red Jeep Liberty, and having nice stuff, and an awesome job.

I totally started leaving Jesus behind as just part of my life- but I convinced myself that I was supposed to be where I was supposed to be, and I let sin start to reign in my heart and life. I wanted what I wanted.

I knew in my heart that I wasn't where I needed to be, but I can tell you it was an easy thought to push aside when you are working part-time, engaged, and trying to graduate from college in three years. I even stopped going to church, because I had to wait tables on the weekends.

The worst part of doing what I wanted was that I couldn't talk to God anymore. I tried, but my prayers felt empty. My heart felt cold in worship, and I sang the songs but they didn't mean what they used to. I felt lost without Him, and I absolutely knew why {it was my own sin}, but I kept moving- there was plenty to distract me.

My last year of college, at age 19, I married my husband, and God was so gracious and so merciful to pull me back in- to deliver me from my sinfulness. In five months, he broke my heart completely and brought me back to Him.

I studied the Bible again- I poured over it. I could talk to Him again, I could worship again.

There's even more to the story, but I will have to save that for next time.

My heart goes out to those of you who have experienced God before, and are walking through this dry time right now. You know you met Jesus, but right now you're in a lonely and weary land. I've been right there with you.

I want to encourage you- seek out His goodness. Whether you knew Jesus before, whether you've never known Him at all- when you feel that pull of desire for Him, that is the Holy Spirit calling you, my friend!

He is drawing you to Him- I want to encourage you not to worry what to say to Him. It doesn't matter when you were saved at five or never saved, or once saved, always saved, or any of that. It really doesn't matter right now, does it? 

We can so easily get caught up in terminology, and get bogged down in defining ourselves in the right language or finding the right theology that describes us. Don't worry about that- now is the time He is pulling you to Him. Now is the time.

Go to Him! Find a quiet place if you can- get away from the noise, the phone, the kids, the tv- get away and fall on your knees, fall on your face, and beg the Lord to answer you- to show you what is keeping your heart from His right now. He wants to bring you back into obedience to Him, and if you seek Him with all your heart, He will answer you.

He doesn't wish for any to perish but that all should come to repentance.

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 1 Peter 3:9

He wants you to confess your sins to Him- to stop holding on to what you are seeking that is outside of Him. He wants every single part of your heart. Are you keeping something that you don't want Him to have? Anger? Bitterness? An idol? A sin you know that you love too much to give up? I was there, too, and He was kind enough to bring me back to Him.

I don't know what your situation is, but He does, sweet friend! Don't stop seeking Him. Don't let go- keep knocking, begging for Him to change your heart- to shape it to become like His. Open His Word and let Him speak to your heart.

Like it says in Hebrews 4:6: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”

He loves you more than you will ever know, and He is drawing you to Him. If you feel the pull- don't resist. Please don't resist Him. He wants to comfort you, He wants your heart. He wants to hold you and take your burdens. They are so heavy, but when you give them to Him, your heart becomes light again.

Oh, please listen to Him. Nothing this world can offer is more important than Him.

If you need prayer or want to talk, please email me at mandy @ - I would love, love, love to pray with you and walk with you through this. Sweet friend, you are not alone. He is there waiting. :)

Oh, how He loves you. Thank you Lord for your goodness to us- for your salvation- for your heart of mercy that is so gracious to wait for us. Thank you, sweet Jesus.

Hebrews 4:

1Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. 2For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.a 3For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said,
“As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter my rest,’”
although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” 5And again in this passage he said,
“They shall not enter my rest.”
6Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience,7again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”
8For if Joshua had given them rest, Godb would not have spoken of another day later on. 9So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
11Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 12For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Jesus the Great High Priest
14Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

the unlost generation

pinned from
I've honestly never been so scared to write a post. My fingers are shaking, and I'm praying like a crazy person.

I've got a great burden- one that was laid on my heart this Saturday night and Sunday morning. I'm crying, because it's so heavy, and so new.

I couldn't sleep Saturday night and after a few hours of tossing and turning, I finally started praying {I know, why am I so daft? Praying works every time!}. That's when God laid it on my heart to pray for a specific group of people.

I'll have to admit, I was strangely apathetic to this kind of person before. I have no idea why {other than sinfulness}, but I've never felt much mercy for the "unlost."

The unlost are those who are lost but think they are safe. People who said the prayer when they were young, and think once saved, always saved. People who don't follow Jesus in any manner of their lives, but truly think they are going to Heaven.

Oh, it hurts to write this. I know so many people like this.

Satan has greatly deceived this generation, and it chills me to even think of how many people might be unlost.

The unlost are in a far worse condition than just the lost- they think they know Jesus, but they don't have a clue that they don't. And if you were to try to tell them, they would immediately dismiss you and cling to their false hope. The preacher told them that if they said the prayer and walked down the aisle, they were saved. Forever. End of story.

But they don't realize that there are no magic words that get you into Heaven. There is no special prayer that opens the door. Eternal life comes from belief in Jesus- and true belief is shown by actions.

When you believe something, you act on it.

If you believe in Jesus- He radically changes your life. The middle ground doesn't exist. You can't have both worlds- the one where you chase money and success and recognition and entertainment and pleasure while you chase Jesus. You can't serve two {or three, or four} masters.

Lukewarm Christianity is not Christianity. And if you feel like you might be lukewarm, you probably are.

God isn't a God of confusion. If you feel alone- like your prayers are hitting a wall; like your prayer life is nonexistent; if you feel like you wish you could know God more but something is stopping you; if you wish you could want to read your Bible or pray; if you think you might be lukewarm- truly and honestly, with all your heart, seek His face. You will know if you are. He won't leave you in the dark.

You might be thinking, how do you know if you're saved? How does anyone actually know?

Oh, sweet friend, God is more real than you'd ever imagine. His Holy Spirit is alive, and I can tell you, you can feel Him. His Spirit is full of power, and truth, and love, and there is no question about it when He enters your heart.

But you have to give it to Him before He will show you that.

The God of Acts is the God of today. His Spirit will change your life like it did those in the book of Acts. Radical, crazy heart change that is so obviously not of yourself.

Living for Jesus- being truly saved- means that you live a life that is growing and changing and bearing fruit.

Bearing fruit is not about how many services you go to, or how many times you teach Sunday school or volunteer at church, or how often you read your Bible. It's easy to measure those things- but they are not where salvation is.

Bearing fruit is about heart change- allowing, begging the Spirit to work in your heart- to bring change, to bring holiness in the form of gentleness, goodness, meekness, self-control, love, joy, peace.

That's why it says in Galatians 5:22-23:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
This is hard to say, because there is a Bible-belt delusion that runs rampant in the South. Salvation is not found in a prayer- it's in a life of change that reflects Christ and brings Him glory.

If your life and heart isn't changing, please, please, please, seek Him out. Don't fall for the lie that you are safe- you are not safe unless you know the true and living God. 

If you aren't sure if you know Him, find out. Seek Him with everything you have. Pour out your heart to Him.

His love will radically change your heart- it will break you into a million little pieces.

When you seek Him, you will see yourself for who you truly are- a dreadful sinner.

If you want to know Him, you must repent of your sin. I think the thing that holds so many back from knowing the real and living God is the refusal to repent from their sins.

Repentance is absolutely necessary to experience salvation.

You can't live a life that loves sin or even just self-pleasure. So many of the "good" unlost can't even name a sin they've committed recently. They live a life that is morally good, and they probably even go to church every week. But they live for themselves from Sunday afternoon until the next Sunday morning.

Good morals are not enough. Doing the "right" thing isn't enough. Going to church is not enough.

Whom do you serve? Deep down, in the recesses of your heart, you know the truth. You know if you haven't felt the Holy Spirit. 

Oh, this is so hard to write. I wrestled with it on Saturday night as God made my heart so heavy for the lukewarm in this country. There are so, so many lost souls who don't even know they are lost.

I've never felt such heaviness for people like this. My heart aches for the unlost. 

Oh, God, please bring light to dark places. Let those who have never experienced you see you for who you really ARE. You are unquestionably God, and your mercy has been so great, and your patience has been so unfailing. Thank you for allowing us the chance to repent.

If you think you might be lukewarm- one of the unlost, please email me {mandy  @}. I would love to talk to you, to pray with you and for you, to tell you of ways that the Holy Spirit has been real and alive in my life. I promise He will not leave you if you seek Him with all of your heart. 

Find out for sure- search His Word, ask Him to convict you of your sin that you might see the truth. He will do it. He is an amazing and powerful God. 

Please, please don't wait to know Him. Later might be too late.

If you're searching for more, read John 15:
I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
And all of 1 John
5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.  If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

monday giveaway: $15 Lilla Rose gift certicate + a thirty-one tote

I'm so excited to start Monday off with a bang! :D Free stuff makes Mondays rock a little more, doesn't it?
I think so!
I want to introduce you to one of my newest sponsors:
sweet Caroline Allen, from Lilla Rose and the Modest Mom!
Here’s a little more about her {I stole this from her blog because I love it and it sounds so familiar!}: “I am my sweetheart's wife and mama to five children age 8 and under. When I'm not homeschooling, cooking meals, changing diapers, or doing yet another load of laundry, you will find me here as I share my heart concerning modesty, femininity, and mothering.”
I think she’s so sweet! She’s super-talented too- she runs two shops and a blog, while keeping her full house running! :D
one of her shops is Simply Beautiful, a Lilla Rose business!

She sells these lovely hair clips that hold your hair without causing a hair headache- and even better, they look beautiful while they do it! :D They are known best for their flexi-clips that come in all sizes, but they also have hair bands, pins, and more to go with them. I just love these two flexi-clips:
So I was so excited when she wanted to send me one to try for myself:
It’s the large flexi-clip for thick hair. And the pin doesn’t come off, so I don’t have to worry about losing it. Yay!
It even came with visual directions:
I did the ponytail:

and the half- back:

This was my favorite way to wear it, because I do this with bobby pins all the time:
So much easier!
I loved it!! I have very thick hair, so regular spring clips don’t work very well for me. They won’t stay closed. But this flexi-clip went right over my hair, and it stayed in place. And my favorite part- when I go to take it off, my hair doesn’t get stuck like it does in a ponytail! I was thrilled with it!!
Caroline also runs the Modest Mom! She’s such a talented lady!
If you’re looking for anything from skirts and blouses to beautiful nursing covers and lovely belts.
My favorite item is the sailor skirt:
I could so see it with a cute mustard tank, layered with lots of fun beaded necklaces and a funky vintage hair scarf or this lilla rose hairband:
so much fun! :D
I’m so excited- Caroline has graciously offered a fun giveaway for you guys!
She’s giving away $15 worth of products from Lilla Rose! :D
you can win one:

$15 Lilla Rose gift certificate

and I couldn’t resist adding this beauty to go with that {because what girl doesn’t love some sweet accessories!}… so you’ll get the shopping money

and this lovely thirty-one tote!

Yay for Mondays, right? :D

Simply enter by answering this question in the comments:

what’s your favorite {can’t-live-without-it} accessory?

The giveaway closes on Sunday night, April 29, at 11:59 p.m. CST and a winner will be chosen Monday morning! Giveaway is for U.S. and Canadian residents only. :D
Good luck! :D

the original food diet | the cost of groceries + learning where to shop

the whole foods store: convenient but pricey

I couldn't be more excited to report that the original food diet has rocked my world. The first 10 days were incredibly difficult, but the last week has been nothing short of amazing.

I'm in love with it. Call it the honeymoon stage; whatever it is, I've never been this excited about the food that I eat.

Last week I couldn't find a single food that I enjoyed. This week brought a complete turnabout- I've tried a new food almost every day and I love them all!

This week I tried red lentils, tempeh, polenta, leeks, kabocha, napa cabbage, corn grits, tamari {soy sauce without wheat}, red miso, bok choy, carob powder, tahini, chai tea, and medjool dates, and I still have new foods waiting in my pantry and fridge that I haven't tried yet: black quinoa, millet, fennel, ginger root, daikon, and more.

The craziest thing happened- everything tastes amazing now! Seriously. I loved food before, but it seems that my taste buds have come back to life {and I didn't even know they were dead!}.

That list of strange new foods did come at a price, though. This week, we spent close to $200 on groceries {including everything for the kids}.

I stocked up on several items, so I think we can stretch those groceries to last two weeks or more. Some of the high price came from things I will have for a while, like brown rice, and large jar of tahini, and two 2lb. containers of medjool dates.

As with any newbie, I'm making mistakes along the way. I really bought too much at the whole foods store; but the good news is that I am learning {and you get to learn from my mistakes too! ha!}.

Here's what $52 gets you at the "whole foods" store:

Not so impressive, really. But I found carob powder at 9 p.m. on a Friday night. That's why I paid a little more than I should have for it.

I love the convenience of the huge whole foods store, but I balked at buying a little container of red miso for $10.49. That's when I did some investigating, and asked an employee if he thought I could get it somewhere else, like the asian food store, and he was kind enough to even give me directions. That's customer service! {oh, and I bought the very same container at Drug Emporium for $3.65!!!} :D

We've even made new friends along the way. I met the sweetest Israeli vegetarian girl working at the whole foods store.  She knows her stuff, and in two weeks we've run into her four times!

We can ask her anything, and she'll know the answer. And it's awesome to talk to someone who understands why you don't want even a little bit of high fructose corn syrup or meat. :) She even knew where to find specific items I couldn't find otherwise. I just love her! :)

The key to saving money, as in regular grocery shopping, is to know where to buy each item. I didn't know that I could save a ton on daikon, ginger, and bok choy by buying it at the asian store, and I didn't know that I could save 50 cents off each pound of squash, and $1 off a pineapple by buying it at the Mexican food store.

Oh, and here's what $16 will buy you at the Mexican grocery store:

The $200 {take a deep breath, sweet frugal shoppers! heehee} we spent this week did feed others as well. We made dinner for my dad's birthday. He converted to the plant-based diet on his 57th birthday! {yay, dad! Happy birthday! :D}.

Who said you can't have an awesome meat-less birthday dinner? :)

We had grilled zucchini and squash, black beans, corn on the cob, guacamole, green apple salsa, pineapple, cantaloupe, roasted garlic new potatoes, and for the birthday dessert:

Okay, so it doesn't look so appetizing {you can tell by dad's face!} but it sure did taste good! It was a raw "cookie" bite made from medjool dates, carob powder, sesame seeds, oats, and coconut. It was amazing!

This week was definitely part of the learning curve of living on the original food diet, for sure. We are finding out all kinds of new things about food {like where to buy each item}, and our minds are changing about what we eat and why, and even better, we are changing what the kids are eating too.

I've never been this excited about healthy eating!

It might cost more than chips, bread, granola bars, and cereal, but I can honestly say the extra cost is worth every penny. It's food that makes you feel good, instead of bloated, or sluggish, or anxious {that's how corn syrup left me feeling}.

I'm excited to hear your story: how did you incorporate healthy foods in your diet? Do you find yourself shopping at five different stores too? :)

follow {bh}

how to sell your stuff {and get out of debt}

{I thought you might enjoy this post from 2008 for today's thrifty thursday!}

we bought our first used van through the internet in 2008
As we are on the get-out-of-debt journey, we are finding all kinds of "stuff" to sell. Somehow we have crammed so many items in our 1500 square feet!

We've found that every penny counts as we try to get out of debt, and selling things we don't need really helps us get there faster!

My kids think I am selling everything. They even pulled out everything in their room into the hallway and told me they were selling their toys because they had enough! :) Dave would be proud...

On our journey, I've definitely learned a few things along the way. Here are a few tips on quickly selling your "stuff."

1. Put the word out.
Before you start listing your things on the internet or newspaper, just casually let your friends and family know you are selling your item. This usually works best for large items, but could work for clothing and toys too.

Your mother-in-law might not want your treadmill, but she probably knows a couple of people who do! You might just get your asking price before you even go to the trouble of listing it somewhere. It's always worth a try in any case!

2. Craigslist.
It's quite surprising to me how few people actually know about Craigslist. This is one of my favorite resources for buying and selling. You can list an item for free, and within a couple of hours have it sold and cash in your hand! I usually don't put a contact number in my ads, I just let the buyer email me, that way I can handle one buyer at a time.

If the first one falls through, I then contact the second one. I've sold everything from vases to scrapbooking materials to curtains and baby slings. I've also found that meeting the person at a location (with my husband) cuts down on no-shows. I've never had anyone no-show when they were supposed to meet me somewhere other than my home.

3. eBay, Half, and Cash4Books
While much more trouble than Craigslist, eBay is best for very good condition, high value items. I can sell name-brand bags for a profit, but smaller items like clothing and baby goods aren't as profitable after fees.

For me, Buy It Now (no bidding) is the fastest way to sell. It ensures that I am going to sell it for what I want to get from it, and I often have cash in my account before a regular auction would even end. In my experience, eBay is a seller's market, and there are fewer deals to be had there for buyers. charges huge fees for selling books and media, but the site also allows you to ask a premium for your goods. I sold a $120 textbook of mine for $85 in a few days, and I was the lowest price on Half. If you are selling your textbooks, do it as quickly as possible when you no longer need them. Textbooks are a racket, and publishing companies come out with a new edition every 6 months to a year, making your books practically worthless. Sell them, and any other books you don't need as quickly as possible.

Cash4Books is also a great option for selling books quickly. You type in the ISBN numbers and if you like their price, they will even pay for you to ship the books to them! After they receive them, they can write you a check or deposit the money in your paypal account.

4. Garage Sales and Donating Items
Definitely my least favorite option, garage sales are places people shop to get things for almost free. Garage-salers are super-thrifty people and will ask to pay .10 instead of .25. This is pretty much a last option for us. After listing our donated items on our tax return, the credit was far more than any of our garage sale proceeds. The IRS lets you deduct a higher value for your items if you are itemizing your deductions, and programs like TurboTax and Tax Cut give you an easy pricing list based on IRS guidelines.

An example:
Those $35 jeans that don't fit you anymore, but are in great condition.

Garage Sale Value: $2.
Tax deductible value if donated: $12.
If you are in the 15% tax bracket, the tax credit of those pants: $1.80
If you are in the 25% tax bracket: $3.00

You get almost the same amount or more, and you didn't have to wake up at 6 am to move the tables out of the garage! And, you get that for every item donated! Just make sure you have proof that you donated the items (a signed receipt from Goodwill and an inventory of donated items would be best). Here's more on deducting charitable contributions.

So, the good news is, if you need to get rid of something quickly, you can always donate it as a last resort and receive at least some of the money back next year.

These strategies have worked well for me this year.

How do you sell your things quickly? I'm always eager to hear your ideas!

the day after easter | part 2: the battle is not ours

It’s been 10 days since Easter Sunday.    
Do we still feel the ache and the joy that we did last week?
How often do we remember:
    He was despised and rejected by men;
        a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
    and as one from whom men hide their faces
        he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
     Surely he has borne our griefs
        and carried our sorrows;
    yet we esteemed him stricken,
        smitten by God, and afflicted.
    But he was pierced for our transgressions;
        he was crushed for our iniquities;
    upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
        and with his wounds we are healed.
    All we like sheep have gone astray;
        we have turned—every one—to his own way;
    and the LORD has laid on him
        the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53)
We were rescued. He took our grief. He carried our burdens, and removed our sins. Like that.
I fail Him. And He rescues me still. Every single day.
His mercy is new every morning- I pray for it, He delivers, and before I can walk from the sofa to the kitchen I am impatient and fail Him again.
Desperate, like Peter hearing the cock crow, I hear my sin mocking me.
My sofa is my morning retreat- my safe house, and little do I realize that from the second I stand, I’m entering a battle.
This battle is bigger than me. How often do I understand that?
I think it should be simple- I love Jesus, I want to do what is right, so I should be able to. Simple.
But it’s not.
I have an enemy- a surprisingly powerful one who is waging war against me.
He wants me to turn away. He wants me to bite back. He whispers in my ear, “you shouldn’t be treated that way,” and so I react.
He knows how to push my flesh button.
I’m the sinner. I can’t blame him for what I do. But this enemy doesn’t play fair.
Why don’t I see it?
I think it’s just me. I have a bad attitude, or I need to control my tongue. And it’s so true.
But I don’t think of it as a spiritual battle with an enemy that wants me to fail my Master.
If I did, I know I would be in prayer constantly.
Think about it: if you were drafted for the war- a real one- and you had to go into battle, would you not be praying constantly for God’s protection over your life?
But that’s exactly what we are in, my friends. We are in a life and death battle. And our enemy is all over us.
He’s fighting us and we don’t even think about him. That’s some kind of strategy.
In Ephesians 6, we get a little briefing on the battle we face:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
The good news? Jesus already won this battle!
He did it on the cross. He has the victory, and His Holy Spirit dwells within us!
Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 1 John 4:4
He is greater!! He is greater than the one who knows how to play on our weakness. Greater than the one who uses lies to defeat us. He IS!!!
He won!!! HE is our Father who protects us from the evil one.
He will protect us in this battle. It’s fierce, but nothing is too hard for Him.
Let’s ask for His protection on our battle- realize the enemy we face, and turn to Him for safety. He will hold us in His arms. Praise His name!!!

the 10 to 10 challenge: day 1 + a smashing life journal

So yesterday was the first day of the 10 to 10 challenge, and I'm happy to report that it went very well!

saying goodbye to this from 10-10 was a very good thing
I was surprised by five things:

#1- that it was so incredibly hard. It's become such a habit that keeping myself from doing it made me conscious of just how often I would touch a computer. It was painful to realize how much I used it.

#2- that the internet has become my second brain. No joke. If I want to look something up, I go look it up. I had a thought about looking up a dress I remembered seeing, and would've normally stopped and looked it up right then. Instead, I had to wait until later, and then I totally forgot about it, and still haven't searched for it as of yet. Score one for the brain!

#3- that my husband would be so pleased I was doing it. When I told him, not only was he really surprised, he even smiled and said, "Good! I like it, baby. I get my wife back!" {insert knife into chest and twist...!! ouch!} He was thrilled though, and that made my soul happy {and convicted to keep it up}.

#4- that I felt so much better. My brain emerged from the fog of distraction in just one day. It's true. Something about staring at the computer screen is hypnotic, and not in the good way.  I could breathe  deeply again.

#5- that I had more time to talk to God. Clearing out some head space made way for little conversations to be lifted up throughout the day. The coolest thing happened. I thought I would make time for the kids by doing this, but God used it to bring me to Him yesterday. Please, Jesus, let it be so again.

So all in all, it was completely challenging and convicting. And I'm excited to see how it changes our life even more.

Oh, and speaking of life changing things... :)

I found this at Target and it's so perfect for me right now as I'm trying to focus on being more intentional. I thought you would love it too! {I'm not being paid by the Smash people or anything, but I love it so much that I would be their spokesperson! ha!}

It's called a Smash journal {and it comes with a glue stick/pen attached!}:

I could explain it, but I thought they did it so well:

Messy and beautiful. It's perfect for us! 

I love how funky and fun it is! It's got the cutest sets of paper! Here's the first page:

I love how it's all laid out and cute and waiting for things to fill it...

because I'm totally not a scrapbooker. I did a short stint in 2004, right before baby #2 came along, and then like that, it was over. :P

Another thing I love: they have tons of list-making pages.

Like lists of things we want to do:

And lists so we can remember all of our special family bike rides:

And some pages are just pretty too. These two belong to my Isabella Rose. This is very similar to her nursery scheme almost five years ago. {tears!}

It was only $12.99 for the book and pen. I thought it was well worth the price for a non-scrapbooker like me! I think it's just precious.

To go with it, they had the cutest sets of writing prompts for $1.99 each.

I bought the "family" one.

Here is one of my favorites inside it:

Dear Smash journal people, we're going to need an entire pad of just this one:

I used one titled "the kind of parent I want to be" for my first entry:

So fitting for this week, yes? I was so excited about it! I think recording our family's special moments and even our struggles will be so good for me.

I love sweet little gifts like this... thank you Lord for knowing just what I needed to be help me to be more intentional in my time with them!

What helps you live an more intentional life? Do you journal? Or set goals? I'd love to hear!

the 10-10 challenge

Lately I've noticed that I'm starting to lose my attention span. I want to focus on my kiddos, but I feel like my brain is pulled in 3 different directions all.the.time.

While I'm writing an email, I'm being asked a phonics question, and while I'm answering the question all I can see is how I missed sweeping by the trash can. Do you ever feel like that too?

Sometimes I can barely even remember what I did all week, even though I was constantly busy. Then I stop and look into the eyes of my sweet children as I kiss them goodnight, and think, "why am I not being more intentional in focusing on them?"

I don't want to miss the forest for the trees. I'm so focused on little tasks all the time that I'm forgetting to enjoy the bigger picture. My oldest boy is 8 1/2 years old. He's half way through his childhood. 

Where has it gone? Seriously?

And why am I not enjoying it as much as I should be? 

Probably because I'm distracted constantly. Cleaning, internet, food prep, choreography, emails, laundry... and it goes on and on. I'm way too busy to enjoy their silliness.

So I'm going to try a little experiment this week to see if I can be more intentional. Less distracted.

The internet is going off from 10-10 this week. That's when my children need me the most. They get ready in the morning on their own, and get their own breakfast for the most part, so that's why I'm starting at 10- that's when we start school. They go to bed around 10 every night, too. 

I'm giving myself one 15 minute check-in after lunch when the kids are outside to answer emails and check Facebook and Twitter. It's going to be a challenge, since I usually have the computer on in the kitchen and pop in and out all day.

But it's going to be a good one for me {and you know I love a challenge!}: we have a busy week ahead: we're planning on having friends over for dinner, going to the library, and maybe even walking/biking the trails this week.

I want to be intentional with my children. I want to get to Saturday, and think, I've really enjoyed being with them. I've put them before emails, sweeping, and laundry, and Facebook. 

It's sad that I've gotten so far off-track. My attention span needs a good retraining. 

I love them so much. I want them to know they are first, not everything else. 

I'm planning to post as usual, but if I miss my daily deadline, you'll know why. :) 

edit: sweet friends, if you are looking for more resources on time management and self-discipline, you'll love my friend Courtney's 5 Disciplines series: Body, Mind, and Spirit! Go check it out! 

the original food diet | week 2 update + new recipe

Has it been 13 days already? Wow!

Since we’ve been on the original food diet for almost two weeks, I thought it was about time for a personal status update:


The diet is getting easier and harder at the same time. I like how I feel physically, but some days I’ve almost lost my joy in eating, and I’d rather not even eat than eat what I have to. It’s puzzling, because I really had no idea that I loved eating as much as I do. I enjoy food. I thought I loved veggies, but I don’t enjoy eating them all the time. So that’s been a challenge.

We ate regular food on Easter at our family get-together. We decided to eat what was served instead of eating separately. We felt it was more important to eat there and enjoy it than to refuse what was given to us and eat our own food. People and life before food. :) It was actually mentally tough to leave the diet behind on day 8, but we did for one meal.

Eating regular food did not feel the same to my body as what I’d been eating for a week. We had chips and dip, potato salad, and the hubs ate two hot dogs. I felt crazy full almost instantly, and Rob was starving after a couple of plates. :P We didn’t even eat again that day, and when we came home, it was back to the diet. {which I’m starting to feel is our new normal. We were happy to eat plants again!}


I feel great most of the time. I had headaches for a few days, but they’ve gone away. I feel lighter, and I didn’t realize how full my stomach was really staying until I started this diet. I don’t eat as much now, and I don’t have blood sugar crashes anymore. When I need to eat, I just feel extremely tired {and usually not even hungry}. And I have to eat proactively more now than I did before.

Body changes:

Size: I haven’t noticed as much of a change in my body as my hubs, but I do feel slimmer, and lighter. I might have lost 1/2 of an inch around my waist, and maybe 1-1.5 lbs. in 2 weeks but it’s hard to tell really, because it all varies so much through the week/month. Time will tell if the changes were merely a fluctuation.

Muscle: I really want to maintain my strength, so I’m interested to see what will happen as the diet goes on. So far I haven’t lost any muscle that I can tell.

Skin, hair, and nails: My skin looks better! My face looks smoother and shinier and I haven’t had a breakout in a while. I’m attributing it to all of the extra water I’m drinking, and the vitamins from all the veggies can’t hurt either, I’m sure. For the first time in my life, I’m eating nuts and avocados on a regular basis, too, so I think that might help the oil balance in my skin.

The man update:

In 13 days, Rob lost 6 lbs. and 2 inches in his waist. Unbelievable!

He’s also given up diet drinks cold turkey. He was consuming more than 100 oz. per day of them before we started. I’m so proud of him! He says he’s not hungry, and he loves the food I’ve been making him. {He looks amazing, and more cut than ever to me! He’s in better shape than he’s ever been, and the diet is showing that!}

Here’s his favorite recipe:

{I nicknamed it. heehee.}

{east} texas caviar

1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed {fresh- 2 cups}

1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed {fresh- 2 cups}

1 can corn, drained and rinsed {fresh-2 cups}

1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped

3 green onions, chopped

lime juice {3 limes}, dash of cayenne, garlic and salt to taste {be generous here!}

Combine all ingredients, and let marinate in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Serve on lettuce or rice.


And my favorite new recipe I made up is pumpkin sauce {recipe coming soon!}:

And we love kale chips now too!

So far, this diet is difficult but worth it! We eat as much as we want, and our bodies are still changing. It’s a pretty great deal! It might be early to tell, but the original food diet seems like the magic “pill” everyone is searching for! It’s crazy!

How was your second week? Have you noticed any changes? I know some of you lost weight last week!! I’m excited to hear!