2009 Dodge Journey

Since we got married, Matt has been driving a 1996 BMW I bought in college, and I have been driving a 2002 Honda Accord we bought with wedding cash. Those two cars have been golden these past six years.

We had plans to buy a Toyota Tacoma next spring for Matt's (future) window cleaning business, as well as eventual plans to buy a Honda Odyssey when we have enough babies for me to need the extra room. In the mean time, though, we were hoping our 1996 and 2002 had a few more years in them.

When Matt's clutch went out on the BMW a couple of weeks ago, we began an early search for a Toyota Tacoma, but we have specific requirements and a finite amount of cash to spend, so truck after truck have fallen short of what Matt is looking for in his business truck. In the mean time, my Honda Accord broke down, and we spent a couple of days as a zero car family (which was a little crazy, even with all of the love from family and friends). As God blesses our family, we've set some money aside, so we paid for my Honda repairs and were back to the search for a truck.

One of our friends was selling their 2009 Dodge Journey for $1,000.00, and (even with the transmission work we're doing on it) it comes in way under resale value. We're not sure if we're only keeping this car until we find the perfect truck, or if we're going to fall in love with it in the meantime and make it a family forever car, but we're thankful to bring this beautiful car into our family for however long it stays around. Sometime later this week we should get it back from the shop, and I, for one, am excited at the thought of being back to a two car family.

Even through all of our car drama, and it has been a little dramatic, God has made Himself big and clear. When Cameron and I were stranded on the side of the road the other day, in the heat with Charlotte, the song "Still, my soul, be still" was on repeat in my heart. It's a tangible peace He gives.


Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

Guys, we're on a diet. 

Can you imagine a diet where you get to eat peanut butter cheesecake with almond flour crust, covered in chocolate bits and peanuts? I can, because that's the life we're living. Normally, we're living on a super tight budget, but I splurged for Father's Day and made Matt this cheesecake, and we do not regret it. We ate this for breakfast, ya'll. Man, it was fabulous.

 This man is everything I need him to be. He's kind and patient, hard-working and honest, and he takes the time to tug giggles out of our baby every chance he gets. We're blessed to be loved hard and well. I married him on purpose, and I'll never regret it.

Follow along with us on Facebook for more Trim Healthy Mama recipes we love and snapshots of our life. A Helpmeet for Him 


Teacher of Good Things

Titus 2:3-5 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good thingsThat they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

I'm not an old woman yet, so sometimes I'm prone to think that passages like this one are for someone else. Someone else is supposed to be teaching me! Lately, though, God has been speaking to me in a still, small voice, asking me to be the older woman for some younger woman. This week I started a one-on-one study with a young lady in our church. We're using "Preparing to be his Helpmeet" as our study guide. The first chapter told the author's love story. I'm such a sucker for hearing how people fall in love. The chapter encourages you to be in your God-given place: serving Him and praying for lost souls.

 We read Daniel 10 together. Daniel prays to God for strength, and God sends an angel to answer his prayer, but the angel is held up by another powerful being for twenty-one days. For three whole weeks they battle, and Michael, an arch-angel, comes and helps this angel win his fight so he can go to Daniel. Daniel, in the mean time, has gone three weeks without an answer to his prayer, but the angel comes to him then, touches him, explains the situation to him, and gives him strength. We don't normally see that side of prayer: the physical spiritual warfare that takes place beyond our eyes. After leaving Daniel, the angel says he headed back into that same battle. Our prayers aren't just a yes or no exchange between us and an Almighty God. There are actual battles being fought for the souls of men.

On our way to the first Bible study, my axle literally broke, and my tire flipped sideways without warning. Matt's car is already out of commission, so here was our only car, grinding metal into asphalt. It was hot out, inconvenient, and expensive, but we continued on (delayed). The devil wants to stop good things.

Pray for my relationship with Cameron, that I'd be able to be used by God in her life. Pray that God would give me a life that shines like the woman in Titus 2: Holy, A Teacher of Good Things, Discreet, Chaste, a Keeper at Home. I hope you'll step into the role God has given you and let Him use you to reach down and up and around to others.


Free Printables

Matt and I are budgeting hardcore these days, always trying to cut back our spending to chunk more money toward paying off the principal balance on our mortgage ($73,733.00 to go!). Part of that is getting our income up: Matt working odd jobs after work, and me selling multiple things a day (@forsalebyhelpmeet on Instagram and Facebook Marketplace mostly, but also Offer Up and Let Go). The other part of budgeting is not spending money in areas where we used to spend it.

To keep track of day to day events, I've always used a paper planner (some people are entirely digital, but I don't trust my android that much). Instead of picking up a cute one (for cheap at TJ Maxx normally), this summer I'm printing each month off from shiningmom.com . Shining Mom has a bunch of free printables (you don't have to subscribe to a newsletter or anything) for different areas of organizing your life, and they're beautiful! So many free printables I see floating around aren't my style, but this mama mixes watercolor peonies with lovely fonts, so it's a win-win. Hop over to her blog for help organizing your life on a budget!


Family Relationships

My mother and I have had a complex relationship for years. We love each other, absolutely, but our personalities seem to strongly contradict each other. She has many qualities that I lack, and I have strengths in ways that she is weak. Our relationship got rocky in my teen years when both of us were unlovely. 

Recently, mom mentioned wanting to have a "meeting" with me: to go out to lunch without my baby or my younger sister. I'll admit to eye rolls and also nervousness. Mom and I get along cordially, but a sit down meeting? She said she needed to talk to me, and I felt that we were going to try to overcome some of the past. I've been very honest with my mother (not all along, but still we're caught up), so I don't have anything to hide from her, but I felt like we'd be prone to ignore the big picture issues that have kept us from being close. So, I started to pray.

I prayed that neither of us would be proud, because only by pride cometh contention (Proverbs 13:10). I prayed that specific things would be addressed; Things that, I'll admit, I didn't think my mom would say.

We small talked on the ride to the restaurant. Matt's car broke down recently so we're in the process of looking for another one (with a specific and long list of requirements) and the time passed easily catching up about that. At the restaurant mom prayed with me before we started talking and then her first sentence, which I had asked God would be addressed, but honestly didn't think she would say, was exactly what I needed to hear. It was an apology, that wasn't general, it was specific. THIS THING. I'm sorry for this thing.

Sometimes I have so little faith that God will answer my prayer, and in those cases it amazes me that He cares so deeply about me. He cares about my relationship with my mother. It was a huge step. Her apology gave me all the freedom I needed to honestly apologize for my disobedience and dishonor towards her (them).

There's still some healing to be had. We've both gotten used to addressing each other in a certain way, but I can feel the excitement between us when we see each other and remember, "We're friends. We love each other." More importantly, we both love the same God and want the same good things for each other.


Gardening: 2017

For three years now we've tilled the backyard, adding a year's worth of compost to the soil, planted the seeds, prayed for a harvest, and reaped the rewards. This year we have our largest plot so far: tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, beans, lettuce, zucchini, blueberries, carrots, onions, marigolds, and herbs in the ground, following the Square Foot Gardening Method. So far the radishes have made it to the table, but the blueberries never leave the garden.

Our compost always grows a couple of plants of its own (which we saved several square feet for), so this year we have pumpkins and spaghetti squash that reseeded themselves from last year. Our stepping stones are recycled goods from various places: Neighbors getting rid of stepping stones, the terra-cotta inside of the chimney Matt took off our home, and lids that Matt's job throws away. Charlotte has gotten good at closing the garden gate behind her and most of the time remembers to stay on the path and off the growing produce.

Eating purposefully healthy and following Trim Healthy Mama's eating plan  has made these veggies staples in our diet (radishes cook just like potatoes and taste great with butter, rosemary, salt and pepper), and we're excited to shop our backyard whenever possible.

Are you growing anything this year? What do you have in the ground??


One year's difference

In May of 2016, Matthew, Charlotte, and I had our first outdoor family photoshoot. I had started Trim Healthy Mama five months before and had already lost forty pounds! I was feeling skinny and vibrant and well on my way! Choosing our outfits carefully, I thought, "These will be the photos that sit in frames for the rest of our lives!!"

One year later, following the Trim Healthy Mama diet faithfully has transformed our family. Matt saw the changes in my body and energy and jumped on plan with me, filling in the gaps where I'm weakest, making on plan chocolate syrup for our unsweetened vanilla almond milk and keeping our freezer stocked with payoff day candies. Together we've lost over a hundred pounds. I'm so thankful for this way of eating and the life it has breathed back into our marriage. Not only have there been weight loss and energy benefits, but I've also learned about food and what our bodies need it for in this process. This plan has taught me how to fuel our babykid in healthy ways that help her to gain weight while we lose.

If you're on the fence about starting, grab the book. The sooner you start, the sooner you can look at yourself in family pictures and choose the ones with the best smiles instead of searching through them for the ones where your arms look skinniest or you have the least double chin. Am I right, mamas?