Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Truth: Two Roads Diverged....

I recently accepted a job with the local medical pregnancy clinic, Life Choices.  I am teaching sexual integrity to the local schools (8th, 10th, and 11th grade).  It is a daunting task, but this first week has been amazing!  However, any prayers would greatly be appreciated - this is a spiritual battleground if I have ever seen one!

A part of our curriculum covers integrity.  We talk about what that means: doing the right thing even when no one is watching.  We should all want to be people of integrity.  After all, no one wants to be the villain right?  

Then why are there so many people in this world that seem to lack integrity and morals?  I'm sure you can all think of someone or multiple people that you know who have gone their own way without regard to other people.  They follow the lusts and sinful desires of their hearts, hurting those around them as well as themselves.

I truly believe those people are the ones who have chosen to self-engineer their paths instead of following the path the Lord has laid before us.  Some of those people may not even realize this is what they are doing...but in the end, there are only two paths: your own or the Lord's.

Psalm 81:11-16
11 But My people did not listen to My voice,
And Israel did not obey Me.
12 So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart,
To walk in their own devices.
13 Oh that My people would listen to Me,
That Israel would walk in My ways!
14 I would quickly subdue their enemies
And turn My hand against their adversaries.
15 Those who hate the Lord would pretend obedience to Him,
And their time of punishment would be forever.
16 But I would feed you with the finest of the wheat,
And with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.

We have all heard the poem by Robert Frost:

...Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - / I took the one less traveled by, / and that has made all the difference.

We are all standing before those two roads in the woods.  And we have to make a choice.  Do we go the way of the world and follow our selfish desires or do we take God's road, the one less traveled?

Let's take a look at the two different roads, shall we?

To take God's path means we 'hearken' to His word.  In other words, we listen and obey.  Much like Israel, we hear God's voice as no other people (Henry).  His word is at our fingertips and we are allowed to read it, study it, and talk about it without any repercussion.  Isn't that amazing!?!  His word is His will and "The highest blessedness of man is to have a will submissive to God's will, and to carry out that submission in all details of life" (Expositor's).  Let's focus on what listening to those words and choosing God's path and will means for us.  As verse 14 states, He would quickly subdue our enemies and adversaries.  Verse 16 goes on to say that He would feed us with the finest of the wheat and with honey from the rock He would satisfy us.  

The finest of wheat? Translate that to mean the best of the best.  When we listen to Him and obey what He commands, we will have access to the best of the best.  But what about the honey from the rock?  That isn't even possible.  You're right.  It isn't!  But God doesn't work in the realm of the possible.  He works in the realm of the impossible!  When we read the words 'and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you'  what we are to hear is something closer to this: you will no longer be "on the ground of the actual, but of the ideal...the expression is [one] for incomparable abundance" (Expositor's).  Did you catch that?  If we listen and obey we will be living the ideal, a world of incomparable abundance!!

But that isn't where it ends!  God is so incredibly amazing!  God is the definition of patience.  When we are striving to listen & obey, we sometimes fall off the wagon.  In those times, He has the most amazing "restraining grace" (Wesley).  He has every right to destroy us, but He restrains and give us grace - "His grace is His own...and He never gave His grace to any that could say they deserved it" (Henry).  Do you think you deserve His restraining grace?  I know I don't!  But He gives it anyways!!  

Why does God want us to serve Him? God "delights in our serving Him, not because He is the better for it, but because we shall be" (Henry).  God has so many promises for us inside of His will, along His path... His word clearly expresses those.  And His word never fails!

So if His word doesn't fail, what does?  We do.  We fail by choosing to go our own path instead of the Lord's.  When Scripture says that the Lord "gave them over" (vs. 12), it simply means that He let them go.  He let them go their own way instead of forcing them into His will.  And "when they were delivered up to their own lusts; that is worse than being give up to Satan, which may be [for] reformation (1 Tim. 1:20)...but to be delivered up to their own hearts' lusts is to be sealed under condemnation" (Henry). 

God does the same with us.  If we abuse His grace, if we think His grace will be there even though we choose to ignore His commands and His will, if we take His voice for granted and it  becomes just noise in the background that we don't even listen to, then we have chosen to follow our own path.  God will let us go our own way.  Unfortunately for us, "There is no worse fate for a man than to be allowed to do as he chooses" for "it is sin that makes our troubles long and our salvation slow" (Expositor'sHenry).

So you see, just as God never gives His grace to anyone that deserves it, "He never took it away from any but [those who had] first forfeited it" (Henry).  It is a tight rope we walk when we choose to follow our own path.  Eventually God's grace won't be ours for the taking any more.

I will leave you with this quote for the Expositor's Commentary that wraps it up pretty neatly:
"Self-engineered paths are always hard, and, if pursued to the end, lead into the dark.  The listening heart will not lack guidance, and obedient feet will find God's way the way of peace which steadily climbs to unfading light."
Are you heading into the dark or are you climbing towards the light?

Two Paths Diverged,Two Roads Diverged, Psalm 81, Devotion, Gave Them Over, Israelites, Choices Affect Eternity
God's Path or Your Own?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Aelah Grace: 5 Months

She was too focused on the basket to pay full attention to me...
I'm a little late with this one, as usual...Aelah turned 5 months last Thursday!!  It is all just flying by so very fast.  She is absolutely amazing.  It is so fun to watch her explore and learn!

How am I Growing?

She is something else isn't she?
Unreal isn't it?!?!  I can't believe she was ever that little....
I don't know how much she weighs at this point....but I'll say we're somewhere between 17 and 18 pounds....and probably close to 28 inches long...but those are guesses.  She grows so stinkin' fast!!

What's New?

Again, the better question might be what isn't new?  It is amazing how much can change in one single month.  Here's a review in pictures:

She decided the best place to play is in her exersaucer....I think because she can see everything this way...

Couldn't get her to take a bottle so we tried the sippy cup and that did the trick!  She loves to hold it herself and chew or sip.  A perfect solution for when Mommy has to be away...so a HUGE answer to prayer.

Story time with Daddy has become one of our favorite activities before bed.  Good Night, Good Night Construction Site seems to be Daddy's favorite.  ;) 

Mirrors are absolutely amazing!!  And so is sitting up...though we haven't quite mastered that one, she does pretty good for short periods of time!

How am I Sleeping?
She LOVES sleeping on her belly...but HATES waking up this way....

Sleeping really depends on the night.  Some nights she will go 7-8 hour stretches and some nights it's only 3 or 4 hours stretches.  But thankfully, when she wakes up she eats and goes right back to sleep.

How am I eating?

You know how I say in a month things change like crazy....well, since her developmental cues are right on target and since she stares, chews, and grabs at our food while we eat, we thought it might be time to start foods soon.  We had originally wanted to wait until 6 months to introduce her to anything but breast-milk, however, she shows all the signs of being ready and I think it will be a good change.  It will be slow at first.  And I'm still back and forth about Baby Led Weaning (otherwise known as baby led solids) or purees or a mixture of both.  Leaning toward a mixture.  But it looks like you all will find out what we decide in our 6 month post!!


**If you have tried baby led weaning, what were some of the first foods you introduced?

Monday, March 23, 2015

How to Start Seeds (and More!)

Hi all! When I saw this post about gardening, I knew I had to share it with you!  Since I had recently shared some of my own gardening tips, I thought this was a great follow up.  It touches base on deciphering the different meanings when looking for seeds (i.e. hybrid, heirloom, organic...), seed storage and expiration, and how to start seeds!  

If you haven't ordered seeds yet, SeedsNow has a great variety of GMO-Free Heirloom seeds for just .99 cents!!  Get yours here.

Take a look at  the graphics below and then let me know what you learned in the comment section.  I love to hear from my readers!

Happy Gardening!!!



Source: Fix.com

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Make Nursing Easier with Momzelle (+ a Discount Code!)

During a church service this past weekend, I had to nurse our Little Miss.  So I grabbed my Medahm Nursing Scarf, tucked her under and started feeding.

After service there was a small reception and I had a family friend ask how I was able to nurse her so easily.  She said she was impressed with how smooth and quickly I was able to feed her.  "I was always a mess, pulling this up and that down...it took forever to get situated and I can't imagine what I looked like" she is very exaggerated and also talks with her hands, so this was pretty amusing.  ;)

I told her that, usually, it looks a lot more like that...but thanks to my wonderfully convenient t-shirt from Momzelle, nursing in public is a breeze!  I slipped my hand under the "easy access" part of the shirt to show her how convenient it really was and she was amazed - they didn't make stuff like that in her day!  

I am absolutely in love with the shirt Vanessa from Momzelle sent me in exchange for this review. 

Summer, Spring, Review, Discount Code, Promo Code, Coupon Code, Momzelle, Nursing Top, Breastfeeding, T-Shirt, Navy, Nautical, Easy Breastfeeding, Christine, Baby, Crunchy, Breastfeeding Tips, Summer Nursing, Easy Nursing, Discreet Nursing
Super cute (definitely my style)...

Summer, Spring, Review, Discount Code, Promo Code, Coupon Code, Momzelle, Nursing Top, Breastfeeding, T-Shirt, Navy, Nautical, Easy Breastfeeding, Christine, Baby, Crunchy, Breastfeeding Tips, Summer Nursing, Easy Nursing, Discreet Nursing
And super functional!  This was the "ease of access" I was talking about.  I added a bit of red shading to show the cut of the shirt beneath the top material...

Here it is in action....well...here's what it looks like on ;)

Summer, Spring, Review, Discount Code, Promo Code, Coupon Code, Momzelle, Nursing Top, Breastfeeding, T-Shirt, Navy, Nautical, Easy Breastfeeding, Christine, Baby, Crunchy, Breastfeeding Tips, Summer Nursing, Easy Nursing, Discreet Nursing
Love that I can dress it up or down....

Summer, Spring, Review, Discount Code, Promo Code, Coupon Code, Momzelle, Nursing Top, Breastfeeding, T-Shirt, Navy, Nautical, Easy Breastfeeding, Christine, Baby, Crunchy, Breastfeeding Tips, Summer Nursing, Easy Nursing, Discreet Nursing
It was fun trying to get a pic with Little Miss.  I imagine she will appreciate the ease of this shirt as she grows older.  I know I already do!!

It is 10 times easier to nurse with this shirt than with a nursing tank top or regular clothes.  Just lift up, pull my bra aside...and we're ready to go!  This is especially nice if you don't use a cover - minimal skin exposure!!  Another really nice feature is that the stripes tend to hide the fact that there is a layer to lift for nursing.  When I show people in person they usually go, "Oh wow, I didn't even notice that..."  You can purchase this top (Christine) can be purchased here.

Summer, Spring, Review, Discount Code, Promo Code, Coupon Code, Momzelle, Nursing Top, Breastfeeding, T-Shirt, Navy, Nautical, Easy Breastfeeding, Christine, Baby, Crunchy, Breastfeeding Tips, Summer Nursing, Easy Nursing, Discreet Nursing
Momzelle has quite a few different options for nursing moms in the spring & summer!

These are some of my other favorites (clicking the picture will take you directly to that item on the Momzelle web page):

Summer, Spring, Review, Discount Code, Promo Code, Coupon Code, Momzelle, Nursing Top, Breastfeeding, T-Shirt, Navy, Nautical, Easy Breastfeeding, Christine, Baby, Crunchy, Breastfeeding Tips, Summer Nursing, Easy Nursing, Discreet Nursing
Josiane (Photo courtesy of Momzelle)

Summer, Spring, Review, Discount Code, Promo Code, Coupon Code, Momzelle, Nursing Top, Breastfeeding, T-Shirt, Navy, Nautical, Easy Breastfeeding, Christine, Baby, Crunchy, Breastfeeding Tips, Summer Nursing, Easy Nursing, Discreet Nursing
Lily (Photo courtesy of Momzelle)

Summer, Spring, Review, Discount Code, Promo Code, Coupon Code, Momzelle, Nursing Top, Breastfeeding, T-Shirt, Navy, Nautical, Easy Breastfeeding, Christine, Baby, Crunchy, Breastfeeding Tips, Summer Nursing, Easy Nursing, Discreet Nursing
Zoe (Photo Courtesy of Momzelle)

Summer, Spring, Review, Discount Code, Promo Code, Coupon Code, Momzelle, Nursing Top, Breastfeeding, T-Shirt, Navy, Nautical, Easy Breastfeeding, Christine, Baby, Crunchy, Breastfeeding Tips, Summer Nursing, Easy Nursing, Discreet Nursing
Olivia - currently HALF OFF...get yours quick! (Photo courtesy of Momzelle)

They also have nursing bras as well as a line of nursing clothes specifically made for pregnant moms and a few other things you will definitely want to check out!

TO BUY: Head on over to the Momzelle Website and use code LTB315 for $5 off (Expires June 30th, 2015)

Don't forget to follow Momzelle on Facebook for the latest in sales and new products!!

Do you own any clothing specifically made to help make nursing easier?  I wish my whole wardrobe was Momzelle!

Monday, March 16, 2015

WAHM Giveaway & Review: Cloth Diaper Safe Rash Salve

Cloth Diaper Safe, Rash Cream, Diaper Cream, Natural, Green, Dry Skin, Organic, Cloth Diapers, WAHM, Review, Wool, AIO, AI2, Skin Care
I was given free product in exchange for an open & honest review.  No other compensation was exchanged.  All opinions are my own.
I would like to introduce you to a hard-working momma - Nicole from Little Black Cat Organics.  In her own words, she is "a work at home mom to a very energetic young man and a very small little lady."
Cloth Diaper Safe, Rash Cream, Diaper Cream, Natural, Green, Dry Skin, Organic, Cloth Diapers, WAHM, Review, Wool, AIO, AI2, Skin Care
Photo Courtesy of Nicole.

She began her cloth diapering adventure with her little man and started making her own!  After perfecting her diapers she decided it would be a great business venture.  And 2 years ago (this month!) she opened her Etsy Shop.  

Here is a glimpse at some of my favorite items from LBC Organics (but there is SO much more!):


Cloth Diaper Safe, Rash Cream, Diaper Cream, Natural, Green, Dry Skin, Organic, Cloth Diapers, WAHM, Review, Wool, AIO, AI2, Skin Care
Fitteds that look heavenly! (photo courtesy of LBC Organics)

Cloth Diaper Safe, Rash Cream, Diaper Cream, Natural, Green, Dry Skin, Organic, Cloth Diapers, WAHM, Review, Wool, AIO, AI2, Skin Care
There are even prints! (photo courtesy of LBC Organics)

Cloth Diaper Safe, Rash Cream, Diaper Cream, Natural, Green, Dry Skin, Organic, Cloth Diapers, WAHM, Review, Wool, AIO, AI2, Skin Care
Hemp/Bamboo Inserts (photo courtesy of LBC Organics)

Cloth Diaper Safe, Rash Cream, Diaper Cream, Natural, Green, Dry Skin, Organic, Cloth Diapers, WAHM, Review, Wool, AIO, AI2, Skin Care
Wool Covers as well as other covers, AIO's, and AI2's (photo courtesy of LBC Organics)
Cloth Diaper Safe, Rash Cream, Diaper Cream, Natural, Green, Dry Skin, Organic, Cloth Diapers, WAHM, Review, Wool, AIO, AI2, Skin Care
A Variety of Skin Care Products (Picture courtesy of LBC Organics)

Nicole sent me some of their Green Bum Balm Diaper Rash Salve which is CLOTH DIAPER SAFE!!  Woot woot!


Cloth Diaper Safe, Rash Cream, Diaper Cream, Natural, Green, Dry Skin, Organic, Cloth Diapers, WAHM, Review, Wool, AIO, AI2, Skin Care
That REALLY works!

Cloth Diaper Safe, Rash Cream, Diaper Cream, Natural, Green, Dry Skin, Organic, Cloth Diapers, WAHM, Review, Wool, AIO, AI2, Skin Care
The cutest little jar!

Cloth Diaper Safe, Rash Cream, Diaper Cream, Natural, Green, Dry Skin, Organic, Cloth Diapers, WAHM, Review, Wool, AIO, AI2, Skin Care
Perfectly smooth and creamy...

We are absolutely in love with this Bum Balm!  Usually when Aelah is a little red or rashy we just use coconut oil.  And most of the time it does a pretty decent job.  But sometimes it just doesn't cut the mustard.  

However, this Bum Balm has been amazing!  She had a tiny little rash on her bum last week.  Put this on before bed and it was gone in the morning!

But my very favorite perk??  Aelah's cheeks are horribly dry.  And the coconut oil doesn't help much.  I started putting the bum balm on her cheeks and they have changed drastically.  They are so wonderfully smooth!  Just like when she was born.  :)

Do you know what this means??  You can use the bum balm for YOU too!  No more dry skin!!  Yeah!

Working with Nicole has been a pleasure.  The process has been simple and smooth and I have zero complaints!  I highly, highly recommend LBC Organics!  This shop is especially great for those who live a "crunchy" lifestyle - from nursing pads, to natural skin care...there is something for everyone!

You can follow Little Black Cat Organics on these social media platforms:



Remember, this month is LBC Organic's second birthday!!  It would be so super sweet of you to swing by and and leave a Happy Birthday on your favorite social media!  

Because of this big birthday, there is currently a 15% discount on everything in the store (discount has already been applied).  Even more awesome is that Nicole has given the readers of Learning to Be 31 a discount code for an additional 5% off!


Cloth Diaper Safe, Rash Cream, Diaper Cream, Natural, Green, Dry Skin, Organic, Cloth Diapers, WAHM, Review, Wool, AIO, AI2, Skin Care
Thanks Nicole!!
  
She has also offered to give away a Green Bum Balm Diaper Rash Salve!!  I am so excited for you guys.  This stuff rocks!



Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Chalkboard Labels: Organizing Our Office / Craft Space

Labels, Chalkboard, Chalk, Organizing, Crafting, Pantry, Craft Room, Office
I was provided free product in exchange for an open & honest review.  All opinions are my own.  No other compensation was exchanged.

When you move into a new house there are about 1 million things on your to-do list.  While we have gotten a few thing on our list checked off, one thing that I haven't gotten to yet and would desperately like to is to organize our office / craft space:


Labels, Chalkboard, Chalk, Organizing, Crafting, Pantry, Craft Room, Office
Pretty crazy isn't it??  To be fair, the plants are my parents...hoping when they move out I can attack this mess!
I thought that these chalk labels would be a great way to organize this space since I have a horrible habit of moving things around.  Chalkboard  labels can easily be changed!  While they don't look as clean...the finished product is still okay:


Labels, Chalkboard, Chalk, Organizing, Crafting, Pantry, Craft Room, Office
I erased the top label.  You can tell...but it isn't really that obvious.


And they are sooooo cute!  Since my office isn't quite ready to label.  I decided to attack a small portion of my pantry!  :)


Labels, Chalkboard, Chalk, Organizing, Crafting, Pantry, Craft Room, Office
Cohesive and super cute!  And now my mom doesn't have to open every container in the cupboard to find what she's looking for!  ;)

I actually wrote these while the labels were still on the sheet:


Labels, Chalkboard, Chalk, Organizing, Crafting, Pantry, Craft Room, Office
I definitely recommend this method...

The alternative is to write on the label after it is placed.  For flat surfaces this would probably work okay.  However, for anything with a curve, it isn't an ideal method...


Labels, Chalkboard, Chalk, Organizing, Crafting, Pantry, Craft Room, Office
I wrote on this label after I put it on the jar....not horrible, but it would have been better if I wrote on the label before I placed it.

I was pleasently surprised that Hubby noticed this label which is saying something to how much they can change the look of something.  He is, like most males, pretty unobservant.  When he got home he asked what I was up to and I told him I was working on a review.  "Oh, is that why there's a label on the pencil jar?"  I was taken aback.  He never notices things like that!

My plan for the office means putting labels on jars like the one above plus on the actual cupboards:


Labels, Chalkboard, Chalk, Organizing, Crafting, Pantry, Craft Room, Office
Three labels on this cupboard.....

Labels, Chalkboard, Chalk, Organizing, Crafting, Pantry, Craft Room, Office
And three labels on these cupboards (yes, our washer & dryer are currently in the same room...but that will change eventually)

The only complaint that I have is that the labels were sometimes a little bit difficult to remove from their backing.  I kept peeling the paper and couldn't get the label.  Without my nails, I'm sure I would have gotten extremely frustrated.

However, the pros definitely outweigh the cons!  Not happy with the size?  You can actually cut these to whatever shape or size you want!  The really neat thing I like?  There is a 100% Lifetime Promise.  These labels are built to last.  If at any time you are unhappy with these labels (for any reason), let them know and they will replace them or give you a refund, no questions asked!

The possibilities are endless for how you could use these chalkboard labels.  Here are just a few:

  • Craft Rooms
  • Office
  • Closets
  • Laundry Room
  • Entry Space or Coat Closet for kids
  • Toy Area
  • Party Foods
  • Classrooms
The list goes on...

You can purchase these on Amazon here:



And for a pretty decent price!

What would you use these labels for?

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Truth: True Beauty

Psalm 78:35-39
35 And they remembered that God was their rock,
And the Most High God their Redeemer.
36 But they deceived Him with their mouth
And lied to Him with their tongue
37 For their heart was not steadfast toward Him,
Nor were they faithful to His covenant.
38 But He, being compassionate, forgave their iniquity and did not destroy them;
And often restrained His anger
And did not arouse all His wrath.
39 Thus He remembered that they were but flesh,
A wind that passes and does not return.

Why did they remember that God was their rock?  Because tragedy struck.  This is a recurring theme with the Israelites.  They forget about their Redeemer, fall into sin (as a lifestyle), God displays His anger, and they quickly tuck their tails between their legs and follow suit again.  Some afflictions in our lives "are sent to put us in mind of God as our rock and redeemer, for, in prosperity, we are apt to forget Him" (Henry).

Unfortunately, Israel did not have their hearts in the right place and they were not faithful.  They got into the habit of only turning to the Lord in order to escape the evils of life or His wrath.  That isn't truly seeking after the Lord.  That's only seeking to escape from something else!  Because their hearts weren't right in seeking after the Lord, "The pressure being removed, they returned to their habitual position, as all such penitents do" (Expositor's).  

Have you ever been witness to such "seeking" in this day and age?  Someone who lives a not-so-heavenly life is diagnosed with cancer and told they don't have long to live.  In an effort to save their souls, they suddenly begin attending church, serving others, and truly seeking after the Lord.  Then test results come back in and the cancer is gone!  Praise the Lord!  Hallelujah!  They give God the credit for their healing.  For awhile, church attendance and their dedication to the Lord's work continues.  But soon, they aren't coming as often, their heart isn't in the work they are doing.  And pretty soon after that they quit attending church altogether, seeking the Lord has been forgotten.  It is no longer a priority now that the pressures of imminent death have been removed.

It happens.  Some of those people who were driven to the Lord because of their affliction stay there.  And that's awesome.  But some people only want the Lord when things are bad and then they don't have the time to seek him when all is well.  Their hearts were never in the right place to begin with and "when the heart is wrong, the life is wrong" (Clarke).  

But, in "the midst of this sad narrative of faithlessness, springs up, like a fountain in a weary land, or a flower among half-cooled lava blocks, the lovely description of God's" patience and restraint (Expositor's).  If we got what we deserved every time our hearts weren't in the right place...well...we would be doomed to weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Thankfully, "Though [Israel] often grieved His Spirit, and rebelled against Him, yet He seldom punished them, and when He did chastise them, it was as a tender and merciful Father.  He did not stir up all His wrath - the punishment was much less than the iniquity deserved" (Clarke).  And He does the same for us.  

God wants what is best for us.  He wants us to succeed.  He wants our hearts to be right.  And every single day He gives us another chance to get it right!

Every.
Single.
Day.

We are given second chance after second chance.  

Is that not the most beautiful thing you have ever heard?



The choice is yours to make.  Will your heart be in the right place today?  Or will you let it wander in the wilderness as the Israelites did?