Jun 30, 2014

Dream Kitchen Wishlist!

While I was cleaning our teeny tiny kitchen the other day I was thinking about what I would want in a kitchen someday when we buy a house. I was thinking about what would be must haves and what would be on my dream list! I was also inspired to write this post because I am entering in the PartSelect giveaway to win a custom painted KitchenAid Mixer! 

Ever since I was a little girl I wanted a KitchenAid Mixer! That is one of those appliances that just makes you feel like a wife and a homemaker! They are just fun to use and they can help make some delicious dishes! 

Here is my dream kitchen wish list! 

A dishwasher.
 Seems so simple but for someone who does not have one it would truly be a gift to own one. It would save me hours upon hours of constantly washing the same dishes by hand over and over again. 

Walk-in Pantry 
This is not an appliance but I put it in the same category. This is something that I would just LOVE but don't know if I will ever get. In our tiny rental house we have hardly an cupboards or storage space. I had to resort to metal shelves with baskets and above the fridge storage. Now don't get me wrong, I love our little house but someday... this would be incredible!

Double Oven
Oh my goodness I am in love. Have you ever wanted to bake dinner and dessert at the same time but you simply don't have the room in your oven or don't want to mix the smells in the same oven? Well I have! Oh my what I would give to have a double oven in my future home. It would be so incredibly useful and a big relief for this lady. 

So there you go! This is my kitchen wish list! I am perfectly happy with my little kitchen for now but is fun to dream right?! 

What items do you have in your dream kitchen? 

Have a beautiful day! 

Jun 26, 2014

Hostess with the Mostest!

Since getting married and becoming a wife, one of the things I desire is for us to us to open up our home to others for meals and get-togethers. It is something that I have felt God calling me to but not something that I am naturally good at. I am a pretty disorganized individual so the thought of having large groups of people over to our house and "hosting" them used to make me really nervous. 

Over the first year of our marriage I have learned so much about being a hostess and inviting people into our home. It has helped to have some wonderful ladies in my life who have given me great examples of what it looks like to be a great hostess. Today I am going to share with you some of the tips that I have learned over the last year about hosting an incredible and welcoming get-together. 

1. Create a plan at least two days before. 
I have found that for me it is important to sit down and think about what I want this event in my home to look like and then come up with a game plan as to how I am going to accomplish this. If you do this at least two days before it gives you enough time to meal plan, go grocery shopping, discuss with your husband and acquire all the dishes/items you will need. This also is a good time frame to let the guests know if they should bring something. 

2. Straighten up your home.
Now I know many people say that you don't have to clean before they come over and they don't care if your home is messy. And to a certain extent I agree with that because I don't want to try and be someone I am not to the people who come to my home. I want to to be real with them and show them my real life. However, I know myself and I know that if my home is a mess and have people over that I will not enjoy my time with them as much as I could have if my house was clean. I want to be able to listen to what my guests are saying instead of sitting there thinking about all the dishes in the sink. I'm not saying I deep clean my carpet or dust every inch of my house before people come over but what I am saying is that I think it is a good idea to tidy things up. Pick up the laundry all over the floor.Wipe up the bathroom sink, and clean the toilet. I think that a tidy home shows your guest that you care about them and want them to be comfortable. 

3. Make as much of the meal as possible before guests arrive. 
This is probably the hardest part for me because I am not that great at timing food perfectly. So what I have done and I would suggest, making meals that I are comfortable with. I try and not make brand new, complicated or fancy meals for the first time when I am having people over. I usually always make meals I know I can do and that I think people will love. Having the meal ready (or almost ready) when guests arrive will help you to enjoy time with your guests instead of busy cooking in the kitchen. That has happened to me a few times and it is not as enjoyable. One time though it was because the couple arrived 2 HOURS EARLY!!! A hostesses worst nightmare!!

4. Have snack food and plenty of drink options. 
I love going to someones house and having to choose between different drinks. They don't have to be super expensive or complicated but simply having a beer, wine, water, lemonade or sweet tea would be appropriate. I also try to have an appetizer or snack food on the table or coffee table while guests are waiting for the food to be done or after the meal is over. I think it makes people feel at ease when they can snack and talk at the same time! 

5. Add a couple of candles and good background music. 
I love walking into someones home and having it smell fresh. I like to have at least one candle burning that has a fresh and clean scent so people automatically feel at ease. Right now my favorite candle is Lilac Blossoms from Bath and Body Works. I also like having quiet background music on while people are eating and talking. Since we are from the Midwest and are by no means "fancy" people we do not have anything like classical music on. We usually choose music like Needtobreathe, Ben Rector, or Phil Wickam to have playing softly in the background. 

So there you go! Those are just a few of the tips that I have learned over the past year about hosting! I would love to hear more if you have any that you would add! 

Something that I am probably going to add to my book collection in the next couple of months is the book Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist. I first heard about the book from my bloggy friend Rachel. She has absolutely RAVED about it and I am excited to read it and learn even more about hosting!

Hope you enjoyed these tips! 

Have a beautiful day! 

Jun 24, 2014

Marriage Is: Marriage Isn’t.

Today I am going to share with you one of my first posts about some of the things that I think marriage is and some of the things I think that marriage isn’t. I will be doing a post about this once a week for the next month so stay tuned for that 
Every Tuesday! 

This last weekend I was thinking a lot about what marriage is and how it can be such a beautiful picture of Christ and the church. I was listening to a song that really touched my heart and I felt overwhelmed by how much Jesus loves us.

*The following statements are based off of my personal opinion and what I believe to be true. I am in no way claiming to be a marriage expert.

Marriage Is…
A commitment

Marriage is something that should not be taken lightly. It is a covenant between a man and a woman that should be kept forever. God has given us our spouse as a gift and even though it is not always easy or we go through seasons of struggle we need to keep that commitment.

Marriage isn’t…
A business deal.
So many marriages end because people believe that when things get hard or go wrong they can end the “contract” and try again with someone else.

But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate."
                                                                                                            Mark 10:6-9

Marriage is…
The most sacred earthly relationship

Our relationship with our spouse should be the most important relationship here on earth. It should be first priority before your family, friends and even your children. That is how God designed it.  

Marriage isn’t…
Your identity

Marriage should not be what we place our identity in. Our relationship with Christ is what we should be placing our identity in. I really struggle with this one. I often get so caught up in my marriage and being a wife that I forget about my relationship with Jesus and how that should be the most important thing to me. As husband and wife we will fail each other and if our identity is based on our marriage we will become discouraged pretty easily.

Marriage is…
Two sinners sharing life together

Both my husband and I sin against each other and others every day. We are not perfect and we will never be. It is good to recognize that both people in a relationship will make mistakes and hurt one another. I think it makes giving grace and forgiving a little easier when I realize that I also mess up.

Marriage isn’t…
An excuse to stop dating

I actually think it is more fun to date Jordan now that we are married than when we were dating. Since we chose to not live together before we were married it was always hard to say goodbye at the end of the night. Now… we don’t have to say goodbye. I do think you have to be more intentional with dating when you are married because life’s busyness can get in the way. It is SO important to nurture your marriage and one of the ways to do that is to date! Spend time alone together enjoying each other’s company and conversation.

There are many other things that marriage is and marriage isn’t but for today these are the ones that I am focusing on. Stay tuned for more next week! 

I am so blessed to be married to such an incredible man that loves me so well and encourages me daily. The last couple of weeks have been rough for us and we have really had to work at our marriage a lot harder than usual. Through these hard times it is good for me to remember that God is sovereign and that as long as we keep drawing close to the Lord as well as each other we can work through our difficulties.

Thanks so much for following along today! Marriage is such an important topic to me and I feel blessed to be able to share my heart with you all today! 

Have a beautiful day! 

Jun 20, 2014

Five on Friday!

I am just going to get right to it today! Five on Friday time baby! 

I had my first experience with Chick-fil-A last weekend! I posted it on Instagram and got more responses than I ever have before! Apparently people feel pretty strongly about Chick-fil-A! Now after trying, I see why! It is delicious! 

Had a great time at the wedding last weekend! The bride and groom were so happy to be married and you can tell they are very much in love! I love weddings! Here are a few pictures from the weekend!

Got to spend time with one of my most favorite families this week! Goodness it was good to catch up and enjoy each others company! Love these three! Missed seeing Holden, not pictured, but so glad he is having a great trip on his youth group trip! 

Got to have a night at home with my hubs this week... oh and our little fur baby... if you knew how busy our summer has been with baseball you would know how amazing that was! Thankful for the time that we had to eat and talk, go on a drive, make each other laugh really hard, and watch a movie! 

This is not from this week but since I didn't post last Friday I am going to add it. Went to a Need to Breathe concert last Tuesday! SOOO Amazing! I have seen them a few times in concert and each time it is better and better! The great part was it was outside by the river and the weather was GORGEOUS! My favorite part about the entire trip... got to see two of my roommates from college that I hadn't seen in a while! Love those two so much and am so thankful for the opportunity to catch up! 

Please don't mind the horrible picture of my above... I wasn't quite ready. 

Have a beautiful day! 

Jun 18, 2014

Guest Blogging/Community Brew Link-up

Good morning Ya'll!! 

Today I am guest blogging over at Peach State of Mind while my dear friend Lauren is on her Honeymoon! I am so happy for her that she found the man of her dreams and now they can enjoy marital bliss! I love marriage! 

On my guest post I am excited to share some of my favorite dates that my husband and I have been on! Many of them are simple but they were all SO fun! We love having creative dates and I hope it inspires you to dream up some creative date ideas with you and your hubs. 

I am also linking up with Madison and Rachel today for their Community Brew Link-up! This link-up is designed to create open, honest, and vulnerable friendships and to create community. What an awesome idea! I just love these two ladies and their hearts! It has been an absolute privilege to get to know them over the last year and I am excited to see our friendship grow even more!

This link-up is designed to create open, honest, and vulnerable friendships and to create community. What an awesome idea! 

community brew link up

Today's topic is COMMUNITY. 

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

What does community mean to you? 
To me, community is about doing life with each other. It is about creating authentic and meaningful relationships and friendships with people you can trust and rely on in all seasons of life. At our church our small groups are actually called community groups because of this exact topic. It is SO important to have meaningful relationships in your life. It is so important to have people you can turn to for accountability and wisdom as well as just people you enjoy spending time with. Community is creating an environment where all feel welcome and most importantly feel the love of Christ! How cool is that picture?!! 

Why is it hard to pursue community or open up to others?
I think community can be hard sometimes because you have to be real, open and vulnerable. That is scary sometimes! What if these people betray your trust? It is a risk you take when forming community. One thing that I have learned is that there are different layers to community. For example, we are apart of a community group through our church. In that group we have men and women, we all get together each week to discuss the sermon from the last Sunday and spend time together. (One layer) At the end of our group time we split off in men and women to dig deeper and pray together. This is because men and women are different. Women struggle with different things than men do and it is often easier to be more vulnerable with your same sex, besides your spouse. (Second layer) During the week there are people that I meet with one-on-one that I have deeper friendship with. We know each other really well and discuss certain specific topics regarding marriage, sex, Jesus, work and church. (Third Layer) I think this makes community less scary because I do not discuss personal things about our marriage in [layer one] but I will discuss things about our marriage in [layer three] because it is one-on-one accountability and encouragement. 

What does it look like to "live in community" with other believers and non believers?
I kind of answered this in the question above but I think it means to invite, invite, invite!! Invite others into your life and into community with you! Spend time with them getting to know who they are, what they believe and why they believe that. It is so important to build relationships with people you are in community with! I think this also includes non believers! Get to know them on a deeper level before you start to share Jesus with them. Get to know their back story, about their family, job, and their dreams. Then you can start to share about Jesus with them. Community needs to have roots. It can't just be friendships that are going to last for a brief period of time!

Why is community important to you?
Community is important for me because it is one of the most significant ways that my husband and I grow in our relationship with Jesus. We also feel that God commands us to be in community and want to follow His Word and what He is calling us to. 

What does it look like to love your neighbor?
I think this means being Jesus with skin on. That sounds weird I know but it is so true! It means showing Christs love to those around you even if they are not in your circle. It means inviting others into your community and sharing with them the joys and struggles of life. It means sacrificing, loving, giving and serving everyone around you. 

 I am SO excited about this link-up and the opportunity to build community with other bloggers from all over the world! Thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to chat with you anytime!

I would also like to give a shout-out to the girls from the What You Wish Wednesdays! I am linking up with them as well today! 

Have a beautiful day! 

Jun 11, 2014

Summer Reading List!

Good morning! 

I am excited to share with you today some of the books that I am going to try and read this summer!

Practical Theologry for Women: How Know God makes a Difference in Our Daily Lives

I going to start going through this book with my Pastors wife. I am excited to learn more about Theology and doctrine. It will be a complex read. Wish me luck!

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Redeeming Love

 I have already read this a few times but it is AMAZING! If you haven't read this book you need to! Seriously...you need to. It is such a beautiful picture of unconditional love and marriage. I will be surprised if you don't cry!

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This Momentary Marriage

I am excited to see how I enjoy this book. I love reading marriage books and am always so encouraged when reading John Piper. I am excited and will let you know what I think when I am done!

Feminine Appeal: Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and Mother

This is another book I have already read but want to read again. It is such a great reminder of how God sees women and the role they have in the church and in the home. I am excited to learn something new after reading this book again!

So there is my reading list for the summer! Hope you can enjoy these books as much as I know I will!

I would love to hear the books that you recommend! Email me or write a comment below!

Have a beautiful day!

Jun 6, 2014

Five on Friday!

This has been a hard week. I have been having a really hard time being content and satisfied. I am resting in the Word of the Lord this morning. I am hoping and praying next week will be much better. Sometimes life seems overwhelming but I need to remember that the Lord will always be bigger than any of the struggle or mess of this world. My sweet friend Sami gave me some encouraging scripture this morning and I am very thankful for it today! 

"As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn't discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are his illegitimate and are not really his children at all. Since we respected are earthly fathers who discipline us, shouldn't we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live? For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God's discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening- it's painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way."
Hebrews 12:7-11

My garden is finished! I am pretty excited to see how this little guy turns out! Can't wait to make some homemade salsa with the goodies from this garden! 

If you look closely you can see my little peonies blooming! I love peonies so very much!

I am excited to get my baby back today! She has been at the vet almost all week getting de-clawed! Poor little girl! I can't wait for some kitten snuggles tonight! 

I have been making homemade iced coffees all week and let me tell you they are the highlight of my mornings! 

Here's to a new day and a weekend full of sunshine! (hopefully!) 
I am so ready to start the weekend and keep reflecting on His truth. Sometimes, certain days are harder than others. 

Thankful for a night with the girls tonight. 

Have a great weekend friends! 

Jun 4, 2014

Why we use cash envelopes...

Good morning! 
Today I am excited to share with you the reason why we use cash envelopes for our budget. I will not be able to break down our entire budget today but I will be posting that in the next couple of weeks. 
Stay tuned! 

{Image Bliss and Blunders}

Since we are newlyweds and both have pretty regular full time jobs, it is very important that we have a strict budget AND stick to it. (that is the hardest part sometimes.) We want to be able to tell our money where to go and not get to the end of the month and wonder where it went! 

In September last year we took Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University class. I am sure most of you have heard of it and if you haven't then you should DEFINITELY look into it! This is an amazing class and we learned SO much from it! 

One of the major takeaways for us was that it was very hard to stick to a budget using our debit cards. They were so easy to swipe any time we needed to. We had no emotional attachment to our money because we couldn't see it leaving our wallets. Since that time we have started using the envelope system and LOVED it! We have been able to see where our money is going and able to control how we spend it! 

Here are some steps to create your very own envelope system for your budget! 

1. Sit down and talk about what you would like to use cash for and create categories.
Some examples of the categories we use are: 

-Care Repairs
-Spending money: LP
-Spending money: JP
- Entertainment

Your envelopes are not limited to these categories. Some people use the envelopes for gas. That doesn't really work for us but you can definitely add it if it makes sense for your family! 

2. Talk about how much you need each month for each category
Remember, this is to save you money so try to be as frugal as possible when deciding how much to put in your envelopes. BUT also be realistic. If you have a family of four and you think you are going to be able to spend just $100 a month on groceries you are either amazing at couponing or you are not being realistic. 

3. Cash your money and gather envelopes. 
You can either use regular, white mailing envelopes or you can buy a coupon container like this and separate your cash into categories in that. We used to use the white, mailing envelopes but they kept ripping and we were tired of going through so many. Since then we have used the plastic coupon case and it has worked great! You can get these coupon cases pretty much anywhere. I got mine at Walmart but I am sure Target has some pretty cute ones! 

4. Only use what is in your envelope! 
This may the most important advice I give you today. When it comes time to spend money from one of the categories, use only the money from the envelope, and keep your receipts! Every week I go through my envelopes and check to make sure we are using the right amount of money for my categories. If it looks like I spent a lot of money on groceries one week then I will make it my goal to spend less the next week so I have enough. Because the rule of the envelope system is when the money is gone, you are done spending! 

5. Any money leftover in your envelope at the end of the month carry over.
 This is one of the fun parts! If you have leftover grocery money at the end of the month, use it for the next month. That way you wont have to take out as much cash the next month. You will actually be able to see the savings! I love that!

6. Give yourself some grace. 
Now, remember that we are rarely perfect at something the first time we try it. The first couple of months that we used this system we messed up more than once. Just learn from your mistakes and strive to do better the next month! 

It amazing to see how much this help you keep track of your money and stay on budget! Some people use the envelope system without the envelopes and just keep track of what they are spending with their debit cards. If that works better for you then that is great but it does NOT work for us. We need to see the cash leaving our envelope to be able to understand how much we have left to spend. 

Hope this helps you save some money and improve on your budget! It has sure helped ours! 

Have a great day!