Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Return to Reality

Years ago our family made the decision to save up and go on a family vacation once a year.  When the kids were younger we surprised them each year at Christmas time with the destination.  Now that they are older, it takes a bit more coordinating, so we plan together.  With our second daughter in college now, it takes a even more planning as we have to go when she is on break.  Because she is in school not so close to us, this year we decided to pick her up and just keep heading south, ending up at the beach.  Ironically, it is the same place she was born 19 years ago.

 Yes, we were at the beach for an entire week.  I forgot how much I love the beach.  I forgot about the clear water and the white sand!  You see, Colorado is by far my favorite location we have lived.  There is something about the mountains that just makes my heart sing.  But I grew up spending summers at the beach and spent a lot of my early adulthood at my father's places at the beach.  We have a lot of beautiful memories of the beach, but we haven't been there in a while.

It was nice to see the surf and sand again!  To breathe in the salt air and listen to the waves- it has a way of relaxing your whole body.

We really did NOTHING except on one of our colder days, on which we went to the Gulfarium in Destin to see the animals.

Despite the fact that the first few days were colder that I had hoped, we had a fabulous time.  Some friends came to stay with us a few nights, and we got to reconnect with a few other friends as well.  It was a time of rest, healing, and fun in the sun!

Counting the days until we can go back!


Monday, March 20, 2017

Laura Story CD Review and Giveaway

I tend not to review music too often, as it is such a personal and subjective art form.  And quite honestly, I like a lot of different kinds of music.  I was a dancer for the first 21 years of my life, so I was exposed to a lot of different genres of music and I learned to appreciate most of them at some basic level at least.  You will often hear music playing in our home and in our cars, and usually you will hear a few voices joining in.  It's just what we do around here.

Through the years, we have been convicted to listen to more and more Christian music.  It's just refreshing, encouraging, and a good reminder of God's love for us.  We have also found that with our kids it can be a good conversation starter and even a good way to learn scripture.  While I really love old fashioned hymns, sometimes it is fun to hear a new artist, so the Laura Story CD sparked my interest.  I am glad it did!

So, OK, Laura is NOT really a new artist.  She actually did her first solo album in 2008, Great God Who Saves.  She is probably best known for her single, Blessings, a song written about her struggle after her husband's brain tumor diagnosis.  That song inspired her book, What if Your Blessings Come Through Raindrops, published in 2012.  In addition to singing, this Grammy award winner is also a worship leader at her church, a motivational speaker, and has just recently released a new book and Bible Study.

Impressed yet?

No?  Just listen to her newest album Open Hands and you will be.  Man, this lady is talented.  Her sweet, soft voice speaks of the love and trust she has in God.  It also speaks of some painful journeys she has traveled along the way.  But no matter what kind of song you are looking for, I assure you you will find one that touches your heart on this CD!

It is honestly hard for me to pick a favorite out of the 11 songs on this album, but I do really love the title song, Open Hands, a duet with Mac Powell, from Third Day.  Yes, I do love Third Day but with lyrics such as  "Jesus, I surrender all, every victory and loss, take it all..."  how could you not love this song?  And how could you not be convicted?

I think that is one of the reasons I love Laura's songs.  They are just honest words of faith that I believe God can use to convict and inspire you!  What better a way to fill your mind and heart with Truth!

As she sings in her hymn remake, Awake My Soul, "you're (God) worthy of the songs of a thousand tongues..."  Amen!

You can see the official Open Hands Lyric video on YouTube.

Our friends at FlyBy Productions are providing one of our readers with a free copy of Laura's CD Open Hands!  Just leave me a comment and make sure I have a way to contact you.  A random winner will be chosen on FRIDAY!


Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

34 Weeks of Clean: Rinse and Repeat Week 11- The Entryway

34 Weeks of Clean! Week 11- The Entryway

Welcome back!  We continue to be amazed at how many people are sticking with us and taking back their homes from dirt and clutter.  If you are new with us, welcome!  It is never too late to start.  Feel free to jump in where we are at, or, if you are really motivated, go back to previous weeks.

Also, a quick word about the de-cluttering part of each week's assignment.   Several have asked what they should do with it all.  Some stuff is just old and worn and needs to be trashed.  There is no shame in that.   Bless people when you can, but if it isn't fit for you to keep- ie. broken and falling apart, chances are someone else does not need it either.  For things that just need to find a new home, we take things to the local Goodwill.  So I do not have to make weekly runs, there are hangers in our garage just outside our back door that I hang bags on with things to go out.  Once the hangers are all full we load them in the car and off they go.  The advantages to keeping stuff to go out outside of my home are that it doesn't clutter my living space and it doesn't tempt little hands, or big ones, to reclaim the items.  The struggle is real folks! ;)

OK, so here we go-

This week- Entryways.  Now, I know this means a little something different for each person, but let's work together here.  Regardless of what yours "looks like," everyone has an entryway of some sort.  Go out your front door and shut it.  Then walk back in.  There - that is your entryway!

Here is a picture of ours, looking towards the front door.

Somebody remind me to straighten that sign above the door!

Let's face it, for many people this is a problem area in their homes.  Usually not because they have too much decorative stuff there, but because it is the first place they hit when they come home each day, often making it a dumping ground for STUFF.  Because our family does not enter through the front door often, and I do not have a table in the entry to this house, it is a less of problem for us right now, but it IS still the first place people see when they walk in.

So here is your assignment- clear out and clean up!
  • As usual, clear your space first!
  • You know the drill by now. Start at the top - yep, those lights are dirty, I am sure of it.  Ask me how I know!  There was even a small ball up in our light fixture!  Kid you not.
  • Wipe down any surfaces.  If you have scuff marks from shoes on the walls and doors, the best thing I have found to use is a Magic Eraser.  I do not want to know what is in those things, but they are truly magical.  Even my all natural girl will break down and use them in a pinch!   
          -Pay special attention to door handles, any glass in this area, and light switches.
          -Wax any furniture you may have in this area!  See that fake plant?  It gets washed off too!  I am amazed at how much dust collects on surfaces like that.  And lampshades!

  • Vacuum and wash any throw rugs. If you stop and think about how many shoes hit this area in one week alone, you might even decide to put this chore on a monthly rotation!  We actually got rid of the area rug in our entry finally.  It was one I loved, but was getting frayed and tired looking.  For now, I am sticking to a clear space- kind of enjoying the starkness! ;)
  • Wipe down the base boards.  Again, magic erasers are great for scuff marks, just saying.
  • Vacuum and/or mop the floors.
  • If you have windows in this area, clean those as well, remembering blinds and/or curtains!  Now is your chance to really clean!
  • Return do-dads to their spots.  OK, only return HALF of your do-dads.  Remember our goal of less clutter!
Here's a tip for you - see that cute basket hanging there?  In the summer it houses our bug spray and sunscreen.  Instead of running around the house looking for said items, they are right by the door as we head out.  Cleverly concealed in a basket.  It is also a great place to hide dog leashes!  You are welcome!

DONE!  Not too bad, huh?  I hope this was a fairly easy week for you because, well, the next few weeks will be a challenge!  Enjoy your lighter project and be ready to hit it hard next week!

Don't forget to share your progress on our Family, Faith and Fridays facebook page so we can cheer you on!  There are still more than several people in the running for our final giveaway drawing.  Our friends at Redeemed and 621 Gifts (as well as your truly) have some fun treats for one lucky participant who posts a picture of each weeks' progress!


Friday, March 17, 2017


In case you were worried, I didn't want you to think I was MIA!

It's just that I had forgotten how much I loved this place. 

I may not go home.
Just saying!


Monday, March 13, 2017

34 Weeks of Clean Rinse and Repeat Week 10- Bathrooms

Welcome back!  With the book organizing behind us, this week should be easier for most of you to tackle emotionally! ; ) Yes, last week was about clearing out books and I KNOW that several of you whined through the project.  I will not name names to protect the guilty.  ;)  I am hoping you at least gave it a try.  I know it is hard, I love books too, be we cannot take them with us to heaven.  They are just things,  just like the rest of the "things" in our lives.  And while they can bring much happiness, we must not let them BE our happiness.  If you love them, keep them.  If someone else will love them more, share them!! I know that cleaning and purging are tough, but it can be done.   Mind over matter!  Let's don't let THINGS take over our lives!!  Find a friend to hold you accountable and jump in!

34 Weeks of Clean Rinse and Repeat Week 10- Bathrooms


Get ready ladies, this week is not the most fun, but we can do it!  I am assuming you clean your bathrooms on a regular basis but today we are going to really deep clean and tackle any drawers and cabinets there as well.  This is for ALL the bathrooms in your houseexcept the Master Bedroom bath.  We will get there, I promise!

Clutter on the counter tops can accumulate quickly!

Let's get started-
  • Start by emptying all of your drawers and cabinets.  Yes, all.  This will help you get an idea of what you have, what you need and don't need, and maybe spark an idea of a better way to put it all back.  Hold on to your hats - it is ugly!

  • Now, throw it all away.  Just kidding, though it is tempting, right?  DO take this time to DECLUTTER.  Remember, that is one of our goals in the 34 Weeks of Clean.  Expired medicine - throw it out.  Old makeup - throw it out.  Extra lotions that are not being used - throw it out.  Seeing a trend?  If it is not being used or will not be used in a timely manner - THROW IT OUT!  It is taking up valuable space.

   -A word about kid's tub toys.  Inspect and throw out the old ones.  I am sure you know what a mold holder those plastic ones can be.  GROSS!  If they have holes in them, chances are they are harboring mold.    Feel free to try to bleach them, but in my humble opinion, unless you are committed to keeping that up weekly, it is better to just toss them.  And if you are brave and looking for a science experiment, cut one open and see what you find.  Yuck!

  • Wipe out all of your drawers and cabinets before replacing your things!  Anyone else amazed at how gross these areas can get quickly?

  • Stick any and all rugs in the laundry!

  • Take down your shower curtain and wash it as well.  If you need to replace the liner, now is the time.  Yes, they can be washed up, but for about $4, you can replace them just as easily.  Hey, sometimes we just need to make it easier on ourselves. 

  • Curtains or mini-blinds?  Do those as well!
  • Light fixtures need to be cleaned off.
  • Tub, countertops, and toilet are next.  Are you having fun yet? ;)
  • Walls are up next.  Why?  Because if you use hairspray I am willing to bet that the wall behind where you stand to do your hair has a layer of hairspray on it. ;)  Don't forget the light switches while you are there, as well as any pictures or such you have hanging.
  • Door frames are next.  Again, why does every door have all those cute, but hard to clean decorative grooves? Design fail, I am sure!
  • Off to the baseboards we go and then lastly the floors!
  • More than one "extra" bathroom?  Repeat! ;)
  • You can now replace your rugs and shower curtain and then stand back and admire your hard work!

Are you tired yet?  Just so you know, we did not do all three of our bathrooms in one day.  We are not gluttons for punishment, 'ya know!

Speaking of tired - we are almost three months into cleaning and organizing our homes and I know the tendency is to slack off and let things slide a bit. (Exercise New Years' Resolutions, anyone?) Can I just encourage you to get your second wind and keep plugging away?  We CAN do this!  And trust me, together is much more fun.

Don't forget to post those pictures when you are done to stay in the running for our great prizes from 621 Gifts and Redeemed, plus a box of goodies from yours truly!    Here is just an example of the wonderful gift boxes from 621 Gifts- you will LOVE them!

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Ok friends, time to get cleaning!  Remember, we are taking our homes back, one room at a time.  You CAN do this!