Thursday, August 04, 2016

Go The Extra Mile



Maybe you’ve heard about this whole oil craze? I’m with you. I saw a bit of it floating around on social media and it got me wondering if it really worked. To be honest, the whole idea of messing with oils was a bit overwhelming, so it took me a full year of mulling the idea around to sit down and commit to doing some research.


What finally sealed the deal was that we had moved to Virginia and we were being exposed to new germs and allergens – they were wreaking havoc on our respiratory systems! I was desperate for a solution. It was time to see what these Essential Oils were about.


I started by researching the different brands of oils for sale. I’m a military spouse and fortunately for me, many of my friends had experience with various oil brands. I interviewed them and conducted my own research. What brand did I choose? Young Living made the most sense to me and I was convinced by their Seed to Seal promise.


Implementing the steps was much easier than I’d imagined. I began by eliminating store bought cleaning products from my home and swapped them out for completely natural products. Now, I don’t worry about my kids touching or using them. The best part is that I can actually teach them how to help out around the house in ways that I didn’t let them before, because I didn’t want them exposed to the cleaners I had purchased! Surprisingly, switching to oils has also helped cut the cost down for my cleaning supply budget – a huge win/win! 


I am always on the lookout for ways to get rid of chemicals within my home and have learned so many ideas and I could see the amazing changes in my home as well as the positive wellness of my family. I loved it so much that I stepped up to become an official distributor of the product. 


My goals are simply to share the knowledge of the positive changes I’ve experienced using Essential Oils. I’d like to encourage you to join me on Facebook where I share the tips and ideas for how to make living well, simple.

facebook page (www.facebook.com/oilytipsbystephanie)

Instagram account (@oily_tips_by_stephanie)


I love feeling empowered to help my children (and others) when something comes up (whether it’s a health discomfort or a mess in the house) and living free from harsh chemicals that are known to cause cancer. I know many of you can relate to the journey I’ve gone through and would like to offer a safe place to ask questions, learn tips and more without being pushed to buy products. Please join me!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Don't Judge a Movie by It's Ratings :)

So, there has been a lot of talk about God in the news lately, some good, but mostly bad...well at least reflecting God poorly due to people who choose to be loud, harsh and unkind. I am sure most of the "loud" people that call themselves "Christians" mean well, but reality is they come across as arrogant, hypocritical, and judgmental.

Tonight, I watched a movie that I've been meaning to watch for some time now, and just hadn't had the time. Well, tonight I had time and I am so glad that I watched it. The movie is God's Not Dead! It was phenomenal. I know that it received horrible ratings, but over the years, I've learned not to let ratings affect me because I almost always disagree with them anyway. :)

I think part of what I loved about this movie is that the young man who challenged his philosophy professor was humble and loving throughout the whole "trial" of proving that God is not dead. I know that not all of you have watched this movie, so I won't spoil it for you in case you'd like to see it, but man, if we could all walk with the humility and conviction this young man showed, despite the push back he received from everyone around him, I believe the world would be a better place.

I am always so convicted when I see movies like this or hear stories of a similar sort. I hope that it's no secret that I wholeheartedly believe in Jesus. He is my Lord and Savior, however I fail every day at living out the kind of love that I'm called to have, but I think that's the point. I am not capable of this kind of love on my own, if I was...there would be no need for Jesus in my life. Every morning that I wake up I thank the Lord for another day of life and ask that He would guide my steps through each moment.

If I'm being honest, before becoming a mom, I'd have told you that I thought I had things pretty put together. I didn't really see my "whole" self; I only saw what I wanted to see and I ignored the rest because it "wasn't that bad." What I had failed to see is that my biggest sin was my pride. Well, God has definitely used my children to humble me :) I am so thankful that I have children that notice every little detail and oh so innocently point out my flaws. They are my daily reminder of how much I need Jesus, not just daily, but minute by minute.

Parenting is hard! Can I get an AMEN?!? Don't get me wrong, it's amazing being a mom, especially to my two beautiful children that I couldn't imagine life without, but it's also hard. I have been challenged in ways that I never thought possible. I have also learned a new meaning for unconditional love and have received a glimpse into how God feels about us, His beloved children.

Anyway, let me get back to my reason for this post. God's Not Dead stirred in me a desire to be more bold and fearless in my faith. I feel like it's easy to be bold with people I don't know, but for some reason it's harder with those that I hold near and dear to me, when in fact those should be the people I am most open with. So, I decided to write this post while I was feeling inspired and courageous.

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you've seen that I've been posting scripture that has been speaking to me during my morning quiet times. I am still stuck on on one of the most common passages of scripture that most people know and could probably quote from memory: 1 Corinthians 13....the Love passage. It's so easy to just rattle off these verses, but to live them out is another story:

1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 
2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 
3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. 
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 
5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 
7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 
10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 
11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 
12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
 
Living a life of love is truly a choice and it's one I have to make on a daily basis...well if I'm being honest, even more often than that...second by second. It's so easy for me to be selfish and self righteous and think that everything has to be my way. It takes effort and self control to  choose to be patient. It is a choice to keep no record of wrongs. I could keep going, but I think you get where I'm going with this. Every day we are given the ability to prove that God is not dead through our actions and our choices. How do I treat the waitress when I'm at lunch? How do I talk do the clerk checking me out at the super market? When I'm on the phone with a customer service representative for any of the numerous companies out there, how do I speak to the person on the other end? When I am talking to my child (no matter the situation) am I building them up in love or tearing them down with anger? When I am talking to my husband am I respectful and humble or am I proud and stubborn? Do I live like Jesus is alive inside of me? Do I live a life changed by the love and sacrifice so freely given or do I simply talk the talk, but not walk the walk? These are all questions that I have been pondering lately, maybe you have too?

While I could keep going on this topic since it's one that has been on my heart a lot, I will leave you with this scripture that keeps popping up in my quiet times and has been shared by friends with me: "Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us." (Romans 12:3 NLT) This challenges me every time I read it!

And remember: God's NOT Dead!!!!!!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

I Added a New Skill to My Resume



Well, we are officially back in California. We said farewell to the beautiful city of Charlottesville, VA mid June and made the drive back across the country with about four days of actual driving. Along the way, we were able to stop and see dear friends in Tennessee


and Arizona
and then finished up at my parents new house in La Quinta. We arrived just before Madison's 8th birthday, which we were able to celebrate with my parents, my aunt and uncle (who also have a place near my parents' new house), my mother-in-law and brother-in-law by going out to dinner.



Quick aside: So before we even had any hint that we might be back in the 29 Palms desert, my parents had decided earlier in the year that this was the year they were going to retire...it was originally planned to take place next year. Also, they had already bough their retirement house in La Quinta, CA. Why is this important you ask? Well, now that we have been stationed back in 29 Palms we are the closest we've lived to my parents since having Madison. It's great. We have had more meals together, game nights, and pool parties in the last three weeks than we have in the last year....maybe even two! Okay, end of aside. :)



We were at my parents house for about a week, maybe a tad longer, before officially receiving the keys to our new ONE STORY house. Am I excited about a one story house? Why, yes I am! These are few and far between in 29 Palms and they just make EVERYTHING so much easier and they make keeping the house cool much less expensive $$$ as well. We are on a cute little cul-de-sac and have an end unit....winning! God is so good! The kids are in heaven! The freedom that comes from them being able to just ride their bikes in the street and run around without the fear of being run over by a car is glorious....you see we've always lived on a main road and for the first time we don't! Again....glorious!



The kids are signed up and officially set to go to their new school, which we are super excited about. They will be at the same school this year. Hudson will be in Pre-Kindergarten three days a week and Madison will be in 3rd grade. She took her entrance exam and did really well. We were super impressed with the principal and the other staff we met the day we were there and look forward to our orientation and Back to School Night in a few weeks. The only bummer about this amazing school is that it's about 40 minutes from our house, but have no fear...did you hear? I have a new skill on my resume. I am officially a taxi driver. So, this will come in handy for driving the kids to and from school. :)



Madison has already jumped feet first into her new gym. She was placed on the Level 3 Girls Competitive Team. This will officially be her first year of competition as a gymnast. To say she's excited is an understatement. She misses her old team dearly and talks about them often, as well as her beloved coaches, but thankfully several of them have already been writing to her so an official pen pal system has started and it's so fun to watch her excitement as she gets mail. Madison's competition season (to my knowledge) will start at the beginning of September (possibly the end of August). We will have her official schedule at the end of the month. We really love Madison's gym and it seems to be a perfect fit, and once again...it will allow me to put my new skill to good use. Madison has practice 12 hours a week and her gym is an hour and 6 minutes from our door to the gym door. However, during the school year her school is the half way point, so we'll only have about a 35 minute drive to her practice, but the drive home will be long. I know it sounds crazy, but when you have a daughter who LOVES gymnastics and you are stationed in the middle of nowhere, you do have you have to in order to make it work.



Anyway, that about sums us up right now. We are just about done making our house a home. The walls have been painted  (I've included a sneak peak at one of the walls in Madison's room), most of the pictures have been hung, we've had our first home cooked meal, and we've had our first family movie night. The main thing we have left to do is to have a garage sale to try to get rid of some of the stuff that either didn't fit or that we just don't use anymore. Oh and we're already back in the swing of things. Since being in our new home, Alex has already had two business trips. Last year spoiled us with Alex's flexible schedule that had very little travel, but 29 Palms doesn't mess around. Thankfully, Alex is not on a deployment, but this is the longest chunk of time he'll have been gone since returning from deployment.



PS...if you'd like our new address please email me or message me on fb. I had a hard time this time around when I was trying to add my contacts to the email I made b/c I was having to do it from my phone and it was acting funny while trying to scroll through. All that being said, please don't hesitate to reach out if somehow you did not receive the email...I had a lot bounced back to me as well, so I have a lot of old emails still floating around in my contacts that I'd love to update. :)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

We Have an Announcement....

Yesterday was a day filled with a roller coaster of emotions. Alex received "the call" about where we will be stationed next.

Let me just start off by saying that we were and still are in complete and utter shock. We had to list 6 choices this year and we didn't a single place on our list (well in fairness, it was really only 5 choices because we listed one that we knew wasn't a possibility, but we tried anyway). We had been told we wouldn't be able to go back to San Diego so here is our list that we submitted: 1. Pendleton (even though we knew it wasn't a possibility we wanted them to know we'd still like to be out there) 2. Hawaii 3. North Carolina 4. South Carolina 5. Quantico, Virginia 6. Pentagon

Well, from what I've heard so far, there were no Pendleton spots for Alex's rank and job. I haven't heard of anyone getting Hawaii yet. A friend of ours got North Carolina (but it wasn't on his list either). I haven't heard of anyone getting South Carolina. 5. I think 1 or 2 people were given the Quantico/DC area and a few people were given Okinawa (which we almost were given as well).

So, those of you who are familiar with Marine Bases might realize that I haven't mentioned Yuma or 29 Palms. We can't go to Yuma because the JAG position that takes care of Yuma is taken care of through Miramar. So, by process of elimination, we are going back to 29 Palms, California.

I have such mixed feelings about this. I LOVED our time out there. I had amazing friends, a great community and I learned how to be a mommy there. However, we did not have school aged children or an avid gymnast when we were there and those things are now proving to make things rather difficult. We don't want to miss out on having an amazing community (you'd have to have lived there before to understand), but we also have big decisions to make as the closest gym is in Palm Springs (over an hour and a half away) and the public schools out there aren't an option.

So we'd love prayer for wisdom as to whether we should send Madison to the private school out there (which is about 45 minutes from base) or if I need to really revisit the idea of homeschooling (which I've never felt called to do, despite my background in education). We did find out that there is a van that picks up and drops off from the base for the private school which is amazing and would be a huge blessing. Then, there is the whole gymnastics challenge. We think we may have found a workable option last night when we called the gym, but we are still working on those details. Please pray they pan out, as the lady we spoke to seemed to believe that Madison's level would have practice only on Thursdays and Saturdays. We could make that work.

On a huge plus, it will be great to be near our parents again and friends that we haven't been able to see since we left San Diego. We will be pretty much 2 hours from anything and everything.

So, anyway....that's our announcement. There were A LOT of tears and heartache yesterday, but we are trusting that God is sending us there with a purpose and that He will work out the details down to the smallest one just perfectly!


Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Front Hip Circle Success



So, after I posted last week, that same Friday, Madison successfully completed her front hip circle unassisted :) However, I missed the first one on video and the second time she did it, my phone switched back to photo mode (which is how I took the picture posted), so I only captured the end of the front hip circle on video, but I think you'll get the idea. Seeing her coach's reaction is priceless too! I am hoping to capture another video the next time they work on this skill, but here is this one in the meantime.

Friday, January 30, 2015

A Pretty Quiet Week




Well, it's been a pretty quiet week around here. Alex has been working on finishing his big paper (think mini-thesis) that is due today at 5...well it's the rough draft, but it has to be complete and then will be revised once more before the final draft is due at the beginning of March. So, because Alex has been working nonstop on this paper, we've tried to keep the week pretty low key. With him gone most nights at school working, we had simple dinners, simple bed time routines, and tried to keep our after school activities minimal.



Alex, in the midst of working on his paper had a quick school field trip to D.C. to the Supreme Court to get sworn in to the court...pretty cool. They are mailing all of the certificates here, so we are eagerly awaiting that package to arrive.


Madison still had her gymnastics this week (M,W, F from 3:30-5:30). She is so close to getting her front hip circle. Once she has it, you better believe I'll be posting a video of her doing it unassisted. She's so close she can taste it. She did however perfect a new skill this week. I'll see if I can get a video of her either today at gymnastics or this weekend at home. If I'm being honest, I'm not really sure what it's called, but it's impressive. She goes into a handstand from a straddle position. It takes incredible strength in her arms and core, not to mention balance. I was blown away when I saw her do this on Wednesday because I'd never even seen her practice it and then when she was asked to do it, it seemed so natural for her. What I would give to have that kind of flexibility and strength once again. Madison was sore from her gymnastics on Monday and a tad stuffy, so Tuesday I tried to teach her the art of relaxation by making her a bubble bath with some peppermint and eucalyptus oils. She really enjoyed it, especially because she pretty much only takes showers these days, so it was a nice break in routine for her.



Hudson had a great week at preschool (he goes T, Th from 9:00-12:00). Tuesday was an interesting day though. It snowed Monday night, so Madison's school was on a 2 hour delay and some county's were cancelled all together b/c I guess that had more snow than we did. Anyway, because of the 2 hour delay Madison was able to go with me to drop Hudson off, which he loved. He was so proud that his big sister was walking into school with him. Then, when I picked up Hudson from school I found out there had only been 5 kids in his class that day because some of the families lived where they'd receive a lot more snow and the roads had iced over and they opted to keep their kids home to be safe. It snowed off and on that day until about 2:00, but while I was driving Hudson home from school it was coming down hard, which was fun to see. I actually had to use my windshield wipers. It didn't stick because the ground was too warm, but it was fun nonetheless and really that's how I'd prefer it :) I know. I know...I still have a lot of Californian in me. ;) My kids are still waiting for a good snow so that they can go sledding, build a snowman, make snow angels, and have a snowball fight.



We had community group last night. We are really enjoying our group and loving doing life with all of these wonderful couples. Alex helped lead last night because the husband who normally leads was out of town on a business trip.

Oh and I also had a fun get together with a friend this week to talk about oils :) Here's a little secret about me....I kind of love my Young Living Oils. I never knew that Essential Oils could make such a difference in our lives. I had always heard about them and finally back in October I decided to take the plunge and I'm so thankful that I did. I am still learning and growing in my execution of using these oils, but we've been able to make coughs go away, help headaches, arthritis, bursitis, sleep issues, concentration issues (or lack there of), allergies, dry skin, wrinkles, anxiety issues, cure the common cold (and prevent them all together), prevent ear infections that were starting to take root, clear stuffy noses and so much more. Anyway, I am really enjoying them and love to talk about them, so a friend of mine who had a bunch of questions came over and we enjoyed a fun morning of playing with my oils and discovering what would work best for her and her family. If you are curious too, I'd be happy to share what I've learned with you. I seriously don't know how I waited so long to start using them. We haven't been to the doctor since we started consistently using them and this cold and flu season has been awful!

So, that pretty much sums up our week. Hope you had a great week and that this weekend is filled with rest, relaxation and fun!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Sunshine is Good for My Soul

So, I'm a California wimp and I definitely have been not so pleased with the weather here lately, BUT I think I might be acclimating because today it was 55 and sunny and it was GLORIOUS.

Here is a cute picture of Hudson that I snapped as we were waiting to pick up Madison...isn't he just the cutest?!?



Alex is working on his paper all week so, after we picked up Madison from school, we loaded up in the car and grabbed Madison's little friend next door and we were off to a beautiful park here: Pen Park. When we pulled up, I realized everyone else also had the same idea. It was CRAZY busy with mom's from all walks of life chasing their toddlers and preschoolers around the park. Thankfully, all of the big kids (including Madison and her friend), were very considerate of all of the little people and made them (and their hovering moms) feel at peace.



Hudson had a blast running all over the place. He is such an outdoorsy boy and we've been cooped up on our house far too long. He took full advantage of the freedom that the park offered. I was able to get a little workout in too!



Madison and Rachel had a blast swinging, playing tag, playing hide-n-seek, racing each other to the fence, spinning each other around on some crazy part of the playground equipment, and just talking and being girls.



Hoping the weather decides to stay and just skip all of the snow I keep hearing is coming, but for now I'll take my sunny day!

I love how God always knows just what we need, and a little ray of sunshine was definitely needed today to help me feel refreshed and ready for the rest of the week.