Sunday, November 5, 2017

November Blessings: My Kids

It's November 5th and I am already behind on my gratitude challenge. That is about par for the course for me though. However, this time it actually works out in my favor. Because day 3,4, and 5 are all about my kiddos. This way I can put it all down in one post and it works nicely.

November 3: Collin Dartanion

This boy is amazing. He is the one that made me a mommy for the first time. We have enjoyed 7 years of light, laughter, and love from him in ways I could have never imagined would come. He is smart, caring, and gentle. (Although he still doesn't realize his own strength most of the time). The way that Collin cares for and protects his little sisters is wonderful to me and I pray that he never loses that. He has a HUGE heart and longs to see everyone in the world have it as good as he does.

When it comes to learning he is quick and bright. We enjoy (mostly) our time of learning together each day and I look forward to seeing that little light bulb go on each time we sit down to learn something new. His face lights up when he figures it out and he can't wait to share with everyone the things he knows. 

He has plans to be a police officer when he grows up and is already wanting to do his part to protect and serve those he cares the most about. I couldn't be more proud of who this young man is growing into each day.

November 4: RaeLynn Arielle 

Rae-bear as we like to call her in this house. RaeLynn is spunky. She likes to be in charge and for everyone around her to know it. Her favorite thing to do is play "family" and she loves being the mommy to all her beautiful baby dolls. She can usually be found running around outside with her long hair blowing behind her and her shoes lost somewhere on the playground (I'm not even really sure why I make her wear them out the door since they never stay on). They say the definition of boy is "noise with dirt on it" but I can attest that you can use the same defining characteristics to describe RaeLynn, my little girl through and through.
She has started kindergarten this year and we are having a blast learning each day. She BEGS for her school time so she can learn something new. Teaching her to write has been fun and interesting since she is left handed and the only thing I can do with my left hand is hold a water glass (and even then I tend to be less coordinated than if I were doing so with my right). However, she has taken to it like a fish to water!. She is also an amazing gymnast who is quickly progressing through her skill work and has dreams of competing some day. 

Her life long goal is to become a princess and live in a castle. She also tells me she wants to be a mommy and take care of her kids like I do and I couldn't be happier with that decision. If she changes her mind as she gets older that is fantastic but for now, if she wants to be a mom and wife and spend her time devoted to her home I am all for it!

November 5: Madilynn Lane

Our newest bundle of joy. This girl has kept us on our toes since the day she got here. She is bright and alert taking in all around her most of the time. She has her moments of being cranky but that generally only happens when she is hungry or needs to be changed.

Her smile lights up the room and she is already trying to master the art of rolling over. Tummy time isn't her favorite because she can't get up and go just yet. She also isn't really a fan of being down flat on her back. Maddi wants to be upright where she can see the world around her.

I often hear how surprised people are at how well she holds her head up, how alert she is, and how tiny she is. And to that I generally respond that the tiny part is just how she likes it, and as for the other two, well..she has a big brother and a big sister to catch up to and she is ready to get out there to run around with them!

I am so thankful that God has seen fit to allow me to be the mother to these 3 amazing children. I see the goodness, faithfulness, and love God has for us in them each and every day. Many believe that life is in the big magical moments that take our breath away. However, over the last 7 years I have come to see that life is in the day to day. The routine and the normal that we experience is where I get to know and grow with my kids. It is my earnest prayer that when my children are grown I have the opportunity to not only call them kids but to call them friends because I am taking the time now to invest in their lives each and every day.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

November Blessings: Day 2

November 2: My Husband, Dusty

Dusty Ray Marshall

My other half, partner in crime, and rock. 

This man is amazing. He works hard, loves deep, and laughs often. I never now what is going to come out of his mouth next so I have to always stay on my toes when he is around. 

My favorite thing to do is watch Dusty be a father to our kids. It is clear to see that they are his world and he would do absolutely anything for them, but his ultimate desire is to see all 3 of them come to know and love Jesus as much as he does. (we are 1/3 of the way there!)

I am thankful that God saw fit to put us together in this life. He allows me to dream a little and I force him to keep at least one foot firmly planted on the ground. Together we take this wild ride together. 

I couldn't have asked for a better person to go through marriage, parenting, or any other challenge we come up against with. My heart is forever his and I am thankful that I can call him mine.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

November Blessings: Day One

Here we are. November 2017

It's that time of year again when everyone takes some time to focus on the things they are thankful for. Generally I don't get involved with all the gratitude posts and writings because I want to think that I strive to be thankful for what I have all year long. However, the past few months have been both a huge blessing and incredibly hard and I feel like it would be best for me to spend this month really focusing on my blessings and what God has given me to remember that even through the hard times.

November 1st: My Salvation

I would be remiss if I made the decision to start this off by showing my gratitude for anything other than the blessing of my salvation in Christ first. This has to be the one thing that I am the most grateful for in my life. It it weren't for the saving grace that I received 23 years ago I would not be the person that I am today and I would not be living the life that I have today.

I don't think that at 8 years old when I made the commitment to Christ that I really and truly understood what it was that I was doing. And even at the age of 16 when I made the decision to rededicate my life after having made some less than stellar life decisions, did I really understand what I had made a decision to do. 

Even now, at 31 I don't think that I fully grasp the fullness of the sacrifice that Christ's death on the cross is. But the thing I do know is that I can wake up every morning knowing that I have a fresh start and I can go to bed every night knowing that no matter how good or bad the day may have been, no matter what mistakes might have been made I have hope and peace that all is going to be as it should be. 

Christ's death meant that I can life and life abundantly and for that I am grateful and thankful each and every day. Now my only prayer is that I do my very best to guide my children to the same hope I have.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

This Week In Review


My whole week was paved with good intentions. Unfortunately, none of those good intentions were actually accomplished. It truly felt like every time I took one step forward life pushed me backward at least two steps.

This week's topic in the Rest and Release Bible Study was focusing on God bringing beauty, friendship, fatherhood, and love into our lives. Each day focused on another aspect of God's love and beauty in the world.

I found that this week in particular that I needed the constant reminder that God is always around, always with me, always protecting and guiding me.

With that in mind I realized I needed to take a moment to see the good things that took place over the week instead of thinking about all the things that went wrong. So here we go:

Monday Collin was able to attend his art class and come home COVERED in black paint. He had the biggest smile on his face and said that class was awesome. I am super excited that he is enjoying the class. We also had a wonderful home group Bible study that evening. We even had a new attendee. It was good to see him again since he had been working out of state.

Tuesday we drove Dusty to work. First we stopped as a family and did some grocery shopping and then enjoyed an early lunch together. Once we got home from that little trip we got a bit of school work done. The rest of the afternoon went less than smoothly but we all had full bellies and warm bodies by the time we went to bed.

Wednesday I had the opportunity to enjoy lunch with some other seminary wives. The kids had a great time getting to play with friends and I had conversation with other adults. Then I went on to teach my weekly sewing class. The girls I get to work with are wonderful and I truly enjoy spending time with them each week.

Thursday was the rough day for me. This was the day that it felt like everything was going wrong. I am sure that much of it has to do with exhaustion but that isn't an excuse for the way that I found myself reacting to my children. The bright side is that they forgave me and we were able to move on with our lives. Another high note was that I had the opportunity to play with my new phone.

This day was exciting. I attended a hand lettering workshop where I learned the techniques that I have been puzzling over on Pinterest for a while now. I also spent a bit more time with some ladies here at the Seminary during the monthly "Porch Days" meeting at the Horner Homemaking House. The afternoon and evening were also fun while I played around with the new things I had learned and finished up a new sign for the house. I also received a beautiful gift from a friend right when I needed it.

Today I cleaned the church while also supporting the fundraiser trip to Rio. I picked up 7 photo frames and I have used them to redecorate the kitchen wall. The kids got to spend time relaxing and playing at home and I Madilynn spent a bit more time playing and being awake than she has so far. And now here I am sharing this all with you.

It's easy to see how when we get caught up in the moment we can forget the good things that are going on in our lives. However, when we step back and evaluate everything we can notice that life really isn't all that hard or bad.

Have you ever had a week that just seemed like nothing every goes right? How did you over come that struggle?

Monday, October 9, 2017

My Current Reading List

I LOVE today's writing prompt. It simply says: What are you reading.

I love to read. I always have. When I was a teenager living at home with my parents my mom knew one of the best ways to get my attention when I had gotten into trouble was to take away my books. Then I love all things fiction. I read through Little Women countless times and I read through the Harry Potter series at least twice.

As I have gotten older my taste in books has changed only slightly. Thanks to my grandmother and her love of reading I have become hooked on a handful of different murder mystery type books. My favorite ones are the ones that have recipes scattered throughout the chapters.

One of the other areas that has changed in my reading is that I find I am enjoying more nonfiction books with the purpose of helping me learn and grow. One of the HUGE benefits of going to the type of school I go to and being in the program that I am in, my "textbooks" aren't really textbooks at all. Not in the super huge long and boring book that is a better doorstop than reading material sense of the word anyway.

This semester my "textbook" is Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. This book is all about how we as women are called to live our lives together, learning, teaching, training, and fellowshiping as Paul described in Titus 2. Nancy breaks down the passage in easy to manage sections and really digs deep into what it means to life out life in the Titus 2 model of women helping women to become the individuals God designed us to be.

The second book that I am working my way through is titled Where's Mom? written by Dorothy Kelley Patterson. Mrs. Patterson is the wife of the president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary where I attend school. I have had the pleasure of learning from her in a few different capacities. This book, although short in page number, is jam packed with the biblical importance of having a mother in the home as her primary focus. Mrs. Patterson lays out a case for why God designed women to be keepers of the home and helpers to their husbands, not as inferior beings, but as strong cornerstones of the family structure.

Book # 3 that I am currently reading is titled Eve in Exile: And the Restoration of Femininity by Rebekah Merkle. Rebekah was one of the plenary session speakers at the Biblical Femininity conference that I attended Thursday-Saturday of last week. During her session she laid our a solid case for why we as women in America are in a perfect place to rebuild the importance of what it means to be innately feminine and how we were designed as women by God for a greater purpose than to just wear pretty clothes and have pretty things. This book takes the hour's worth of information that she shared at the conference and goes further.

The fourth book I am reading is Disciplines of a Godly Woman by Barbara Hughes. This book, though biblical teachings, stories, and the opportunity to reflect through question, breaks down fifteen disciplines that are vital to living a Christian life. Barbara helps to guide women to grow into mature Christian women no matter what is going on in the world around us.

The last book I am reading (which isn't in the photo above because it is lost somewhere in my bedroom at the moment) is Jen Hatmakers new book Of Mess and Moxie.  In her new book Jen, through her humorous method of story telling, reminds readers that we are not living life on an island. We are all intertwined together and while we may be a bit of a hot mess, we as women all have a bit of moxie within us. All we have to do is tap into that moxie, band together, and we can take on this world for Christ.

All of these books have one central theme: Women living out the life that God has designed for them following the biblical principles found in Scripture. Each one carries a bit of a different perspective but the message is still there LOUD AND CLEAR. We as women have a responsibility to take back our unique design given to us by God. We can not just wake up one morning and decide we want to be something different that what we were created to be any more than a donkey can wake up and decide it wants to be a quarter horse. It's just not possible. It is my goal and my dream to teach my daughters to embrace fully the women God has created them to be and it is through resources like these I will be able to gain to tools to do so!

Have you read any of these books? What is on your current reading list? Share with me in the comments!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Rest and Release Weekly Wrap Up

Just a few short years ago, no matter where you went you couldn't escape the words "Let It Go"  The chart topping song that went along with the box office hit movie Frozen was everywhere. From hearing it on the radio to humorous memes on the internet people from all over were being encouraged to just "let it go."

We have since moved away from the intense popularity of the movie and the song (although it still ranks pretty high in our house) but the idea that sometimes we just need to let it go hasn't changed.

And that is what this first week of the Rest and Release Bible Study has been all about. The theme for this week was STOP. Stop and truly evaluate all the things that are going on in your daily life. Take the time to determine what needs to stay and what needs to go.

This weeks Scripture passages were:
Luke 10:38-42
Ephesians 6:10-20
Leviticus 25:1-7
Ecclesiastes 10:10
Matthew 14:13-23

Each one of these scripture passages has a central them of slowing down and really resting in the Lord. The more I read through, highlighted passages, and thought about application for these Scriptures in my life, the clearer the picture began to be on what areas of my life I need to step back from and how I need to release things into God's hand.

However, the idea of letting some of these things go, things that are good but not great for me to be doing, is a bit terrifying. And then I attended a break out session at the Building a Culture of Biblical Femininity in the Home, Church and Community Conference on Friday and I heard a remarkable thing.

The speaker, Rachel Jankovic, said that when we find that we are struggling with the busyness of our lives that it may not be the activities that we are doing that's the problem. The real problem may be our attitude toward the things we are doing. We are told in Colossians 3:23 that what ever we do, we are to do it as unto the Lord. This means if I am sitting in a board meeting as a high-powered CEO I am to do it as unto the Lord. This also meas that if I am crawling on the floor picking up the spilled Cheerios again for the 3rd time that day I am to do it as unto the Lord.

As I listened to what she said, I really started to think back on the passages of the study for the week and everything comes back to resting in the Lord. And I realized, that even if I am busy running from one activity to the other or if I am at home with my 3 young children with school text books all around us, if I am doing "as unto the Lord" then that is where my rest is. I can rest easy knowing that God has it all under control. When chaos erupts and it feels like I am going to crater at any moment, God will still have it under control.

So now, over the course of the next few weeks, as I finish going through this study, as well as taking time to seek wise counsel and talk through things with my husband and others I trust in my life, I believe I will be coming at "what needs to stay and what needs to go" from a different perspective. I believe it will be my attitude toward the various activities I am involved in that will need to be evaluated more than the activity itself.

Does that mean I will continue to do everything I am doing, just with a better attitude and spirit? I don't know. It could very well mean that there are areas of my life I need to step away from. But it could also mean that I just need to shift my perspective and make a clear determination of what type of rewards I am seeking.

What areas of your life need to be evaluated? Do you need an attitude check in some area? How can you take steps to make that happen?

Friday, October 6, 2017

Fall in Fort Worth And What I am Watching

Fall. A time marked by the changing colors of the leaves, pumpkin spice everything appearing on store shelves, shorter days, and cooler temperatures. Unless you live anywhere in the Southern part of the United States.

September 22nd was the "official 1st day of fall" but here in North Texas it still looked ad felt like mid summer.

That's the problem with living in Texas---We have 1 maybe 2 seasons. We have hot and the occasional cold day around mid January to early February. But we don't ever really get a "Fall" season.

Sure we get some cooler temps once the sun goes down but even now, it is 9 PM on October 5th and it is still 87 degrees outside. Day time, while we aren't getting to the triple digits, we are still seeing high 80's and low 90's on our temperature gauge.

However, just because it doesn't really feel like fall, that doesn't mean that I can't treat it as such. One of my favorite fall evening activities is sipping on a good cup of hot tea and watching some of my favorite things. 

Currently, I am re-watching through NCIS. I am actually several seasons behind where the show is at currently but I couldn't remember exactly where I had left off so I made the decision to just start back from the beginning. 

When my awesome hubby is home, and we have a spare minute or two, he and I have been watching through Star Trek Enterprise as well. To be honest we were never big Star Trek fans but for some reason that show has caught our attention. It's kinda sad to me that we haven't had the opportunity to sit down and watch anything together since Madilynn was born. Hopefully we will be able to get back at it soon now that she is finally falling into more of a regular sleeping schedule. 


Fall can be a busy time of year with school, holidays, and any other number of activities so it's always nice to be able to slow down a little, enjoy some tea, and just relax!

How does fall feel where you are at? And what are you watching lately? Share with me in the comments.