Twas the Week Before the Wedding

Twas the week before the wedding…….oh what a week! So many feelings these days. So many good times. I want to share with you a few pictures, memories, and thoughts from some of these last days before Chelsy gets married, moves out, and begins her new life in Kansas.

Our family has been blessed to be all together quite a few times lately, and we treasure every one of those memories. Of course, we will all have many more good times together after Chels is married, both without her and when she and John come back to visit, but these days of everyone (four households) living within ten minutes, and getting together without anyone missing, and all that…..well it’s going to be different once Chelsy moves away.

Chels made soft pretzels for us “one last time” before she leaves. They were as yummy as ever. Oh, how we do love that girl’s cooking! John will definitely be eating well.:)

So many people have been asking how I feel about it all…..my sister and best friend moving away, and all that. That is another post for another time (and I do promise to share more later), but for now suffice it to say that I am soaking up these last days living under the same roof with her, having all the married siblings living within 10 minutes of the home place, all going to the same church, etc. Times are changing, but it is good change, prayed for, and really one of the very best things that’s happened in my entire life! I can’t tell you how happy I am for my dear sis to be marrying such a good, good man who she fits so perfectly. God is good.

It’s been said that,

“If you want to know how rich you are, find out how many things you have that money cannot buy.”

The past week- Christmas season + the last days before my dearest older sister gets married and moves out of state- has been a time of realizing how very, very rich I really am. Like the quote says, “in things money cannot buy.” Money can’t buy big happy family dinners, or close family relationships, or a peaceful home, or siblings who are best friends, or a loving church family, or good friendships.

This tribe…….no matter how far any of us move, our hearts will always be close. There is much to hold us together:

The memories we share, and the ones we have still to make.

The way we were together so much growing up– school together, Sundays together, family meals together, play time together, field trips together, music together.

The love we all have for the same Heavenly Father. 

The individual differences we celebrate– extroverts and introverts, classical music lovers and bluegrass music lovers, organizers and mess makers, coffee drinkers and tea drinkers (and the 3rd class of hot chocolate, with our cultured sis in loves bringing new drinks of chai and boba:), gluten eaters and gluten free-ers, spenders and savers, and so on and so forth.

The little idiosyncrasies we all share– throwing dinner rolls + potatoes + ketchup bottles at the table (it’s like eating at Lamberts every day!), speaking our minds (sometimes too freely), the strong love for all things dairy (bring on the butter!!!), our abhorrence of “substitutes” and certain packaged foods, that habit of losing sunglasses, drowning our chocolate cake in milk, a love of good deals, the need to go without a coat (for all males at all times of year), that terrible tendency to be late, and the list goes on and on.

 

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A Healthy Christmas: Why and How to Take Care of Your Body During the Holidays

Friends, have any of you ever struggled with just feeling like healthy eating or exercise of any kind is pretty much null and void during the holidays? It just seems too hard, and you don’t want to miss out on anything? Well, I have been there, too, but something has been going through my mind the past few days……

Health still matters, even when life is full and there is sugar everywhere!

WHY you should take care of your body during Christmas:

“What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (I Cor. 6:19)

WE ARE NOT OUR OWN!  If you have been saved by Jesus Christ, you body belongs to Him, and He asks you to care for the body that is the temple of His Holy Spirit. And guess what? Your body is still this temple during Christmas.

HOW you can take care of your body during Christmas:

-Schedule time to exercise. It might be a couple runs per week, or a few nice long walks, or 5-15 minutes in the morning to do some pushups and situps and stretches. You won’t regret it, and I find that exercising regularly, even during a holiday season, helps motivate me to stay on track with moderate + wise food choices and other areas of health.

-Drink plenty of water! You should drink at least half your weight in ounces every day.

-Take some extra vitamins or herbs. I have been taking one probiotic vitamin (I love this one) and one vitamin C (find it here) before breakfast. I also drink a few tablespoons of warm water with one teaspoon apple cider vinegar and one tablespoon molasses when I wake up. Some evenings I take a teaspoon of this magnesium supplement as well- it is good for digestion, sleep, and overall health. This is my personal little arsenal, but you can make your own!

-Limit sweets/junk food. This is a matter of discipline. You can eat whatever you want, or you can have some discipline and not eat every little sweet in sight! Start your mornings with a good breakfast (read my post on breakfast here), and keep healthy snacks on hand such as veggies, nuts, bologna, and cheese. When you go to parties, be the one to take a platter of veggies or a meat/cheese tray. Concerning desserts- you can offer to take a healthy option, or choose one serving of something you really love, or just skip it altogether. Whatever you decide, one of the worst things you can do for your health over the holidays is to eat sweets on repeat, day in and day out.

-Don’t overeat. Whatever you are eating, exercise moderation. It is never right to overeat, not even at Christmas. If you can’t have a little discipline when it comes to food this Christmas, what makes you think you can reach your goals (health and otherwise) in 2018?!

And that’s it, friends. Be encouraged to be disciplined this Christmas; it’s all about choices. I would love to hear from you…please join the conversation in the comment section.

Merry Christmas!

Allison

ps. This post contains affiliate links- read my full policy here. I only link to products that I use + love.

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Last Minute Gift Guide

Good morning sweet readers!

Christmas is one of my very favorite things! I love the joy, the celebration, the traditions, the nostalgia, the family.

I am so grateful for Jesus Christ coming as a baby- the whole reason we celebrate.

Today I have a little list of some fun gift ideas if you are still doing last minute shopping. These items are all from Amazon, so you can still get them in time for Christmas!

I have a pretty wide variety in this list, including a few “guy gifts”, some fun stuff for the fitness gurus on your list, good reads for bookworms, etc. In fact, if your Christmas shopping is all done, you just may want to go buy a few of these things for yourself!

Without further ado, Allison’s Last Minute Gift Guide…..a compilation of items I use and LOVE (just click on the items to shop!):

Whey Protein Powder– This is the whey protein powder I use and I LOVE. It has no added fillers, doesn’t taste weird (just a nice little vanilla taste in your shake), and is pure protein!!

Creotine Powder– Guys or gals looking to build muscles will love this!

Larabars– These little gems are DELICIOUS!!! There are a variety of flavors, but my personal favorite is the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip (the one I linked). These would make great stocking stuffers- you could buy the box and use them for a bunch of people!

Tim Hortons Coffee– This is a really delicious, inexpensive coffee that I have fallen in love with since I was introduced to it in Canada.

Stash Tea– If you are buying gifts for tea lovers, this tea is high quality and just plain delicious. I am linking a very fun assortment….again, this will give you multiple gifts for a great price.

Caribou Coffee K Cups– Just. So. Good.

Tranquility skirt– This fantastic skirt is available right now for less than $8!!! Ladies, just trust me when I say that this is my ALL TIME FAVORITE skirt and any gal on your list who loves simple + feminine + versatile clothing will love this one! I have an entire post on it coming soon, but let me tell you- I (and my sis and sis in loves) wear these skirts every week for everything from cleaning to running errands to church, and not only do we love them, but they are incredible quality. They run true to size, by the way.  Ok, that’s the end…..if you don’t get one, it’s your loss! (If you want to know how serious I am about these skirts, I am going to order another today because I literally don’t want to be without it when mine is in the laundry!)

Trendy United Skirt (long)– Again, this is a beautiful skirt, and on this one I especially love the details of pockets and shirring. The fabric is incredibly soft, too. I have the dusty blue, and absolutely love it. These also run true to size.

Trendy United Skirt (shorter lengths)– I have the “below knee” length in burgandy and it’s amazing! It is perfect tucked or untucked, casual or dressy, sandals or boots,etc.

Burts Bees Lipstick– I am very picky about my lipstick, because I don’t want to pay an arm and a leg, or slather a million toxins on my lips, or feel completely dried out after wearing it. This stuff fits the bill! I love the Brimming Berry color so much! And it’s on sale right now for $6.43, which I think is an amazing deal!!!

My Favorite Mascara– It’s a fantastic mascara, enough said.:)

My Favorite Face Mask– Read all about it here.

Pens– Again, personal favorite, and just an incredible pen!!

Violin Books– I did a whole post here about the our favorites.

20 Top Books for Singles– Check out this post for some great book ideas.

The Family– This books is INCREDIBLE.

Reading People– A fun read for the personality guru!

Alrighty, friends, that’s all for today! I hope this is helpful to you in your last minute shopping! 

Allison

(This post contains affiliate links- read my full disclosure policy here)

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Life in Black and White

“That’s when I realized what a true friend was. Someone who would always love you- the imperfect you, the confused you, the wrong you- because that is what people are supposed to do.” 

My dear Chels has been the truest if the true, the best of the best. The sweetest friend + sister a girl could have. We are squeezing in lots of memories before she heads off in just three weeks. Random chats, drinking coffee together, a fantastic + super later movie night, and every other little thing possible. Ahh, these are sweet days yet we are both so excited for the new chapter starting.

“The more you celebrate your life, the more there is to celebrate.” -Oprah Winfrey

Especially celebrating the beautiful gifts of love + marriage these days! This beautiful attic bridal shower was stunningly unforgettable- an elegant sit down dinner, an eclectic devotional, praying around the circle, lots of beautiful gifts, and homemade cheesecake and brownies over sweet fellowship. It was perfectly elegant, relaxed, and joyful.

“The most precious jewels you’ll ever have around your neck are the arms of your children.”

Holding this precious gem and watching her fall asleep- it was my favorite church service in a long time!

“For with God nothing shall be impossible.”

This Christmas Production we get to be a part of is impossible, with so many elements and moving parts and a motley crew of volunteers. But God is good and our faith is stretched through this mountaineous endeavor.

“Enjoy the little things in your life….for one day you will look back and realize they were the big things.”

These precious little ladies are some of the “little things” that are actually so important in life. My precious little sisters. One morning we slowed down for a ladies breakfast, I took them with me to run errands just cause, and we ended up going out for coffee. These are the days!

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Men’s Work vs. Women’s Work- is there a Difference?

What is the difference between men’s work and women’s work? Is there a difference?

I had a reader ask me about the difference of “men’s work” and “women’s work” awhile back, and after some conversation on the subject, I promised to put a few thoughts into a post.

There is so much confusion surrounding this topic. We want to follow God’s plan for our womanhood, but problems happen when we start taking our cues from pop culture, or conservative culture, or any culture or group.

First, I want to share with you a few resources on this topic:

-The book Girl Defined (find it here) has THE BEST explanation I have ever read on what Biblical Womanhood really is. They do a fantastic job explaining some core truths about womanhood and how that relates to our work and relationships. I highly recommend this book for all women!

-My post “Hard Workin Gals: Should Christian Girls Have Jobs?” explores why hard work and earning income is totally Biblical.

-The initial comments that sparked this post:

“Hi Allison! It was interesting for me to hear that you have done landscaping work! My oldest brother owns and runs a landscaping business and I am able to help him out (and earn a paycheck by doing bookkeeping and making lunches. However, my brother prefers that I not get out and work with him on the job for several reasons: femininity, “gender roles,” and the overall hard and strenuous nature of the labor. He does occasionally ask me to help him with a big planting job, but I’m wondering what sort of landscaping work you did?? Also, how did you get your violin students? I play violin and would like to begin teaching, but I don’t really want to advertise??? Thank you for your advice!” -Clara

And my comment in response:

“Hi Clara! How great that you get to work for your brother! In answer to your question: I worked for a professional landscaping company. Being a farm girl, I have always loved dirt, heavy lifting, and hard work. Some days my landscaping work included lighter jobs such as pruning and planting small annuals, but many days I was digging out or planting larger plants or small trees, or lifting and applying many bags of mulch. I remember one particular day when I lifted out of the truck and transported to the gigantic flower bed several hundred 30 pound bags of mulch. I loved it!
I never felt at the least as if my femininity was at risk with a job that included hard manual labor. I think that in the Proverbs 31 woman we see that physical strength is actually virtuous. I would encourage you to do a study of that chapter. You might be surprised to see the physical strength and business savvy of this woman given to us for an example. I don’t think that hard physical labor is blurring the gender roles or damaging our femininity at all! I encourage girls to workout and embrace physical strength, not in an obsessive way, but in order to be strong, sturdy women who will be up to whatever challenge comes their way!
I hope that answers your question!
blessings,
Allison”

And now, for some additional thoughts since Clara asked. I hope this might be helpful for even one girl who is struggling to know how her work relates to her femininity:

Girls tend to be a little on the fragile side these days.

We need the backbone of the pioneer women, the strong arms of the Proverbs 31 woman, the business savvy of Lydia (seller of purple in the Bible), the courage of Katie Majors (leaving everything she knew to go to a foreign land and adopt many children as a single woman), the boldness of Esther, the tenacity of Gladys Aylward (going against the “safe” and “proper” status quo to be a single missionary in China), and the poise of Abigail Adams (gracious first lady).

Many girls these days aren’t developing the poise to be a first lady, the courage to live the life of Gladys Aylward, or the spiritual + physical + financial strength to imitate the Proverbs 31 woman.

Specifically, in conservative Christian circles, the thought process seems to be that if a girl knows how to keep house and take care of children, she is equipped for life. I disagree. I believe that this mentality leads to a grievous waste of time + talent among young women, as well as lending itself to poor preparation for real life.

It is wrong to assume that a girl need only know how to clean, cook, and care for children in order to be prepared for life.

Young women need to know how to earn, budget, and invest money.

They should learn business skills. They should work hard, study, create, push themselves.

Getting outside of the comfort zone needs to get on our radar! Girls (and their parents) tend to like what is comfortable, safe, and easy far too often. But your greatest potential does not lie in the comfort zone. I am so grateful I have parents who have encouraged me to dream big and live outside my comfort zone- flying many states away by myself as a teenager to live with and help another family for a week, taking a job with a near-stranger in the city (again, as a teenager) and learning the skill of landscaping (as well as the skill of earning and spending/saving a paycheck!), moving to Mexico for a fall (without any family members) to do mission work, taking a job that is high pressure + high responsibility + has included living alone for weeks at a time, and the list goes on. There are more things right now that I am dreaming of that will push me even farther outside my comfort zone. So that was a lonnggg little sermon! Moral of the story: I’m cheerin’ for all you gals to get outside your comfort zone! Start writing down things you would love to do but don’t think you can or would be good at. Things that make you a little nervous. And then start praying over that list and see where God leads! Buckle up, cause you might be in for the adventure of a lifetime!

Girls need to cultivate loving hearts and deep character instead of spending their youth reading romance novels and writing lists of “what he must be”. They should start becoming a gracious + wise + sturdy girl who would make a good helper to a good, Godly, man of vision and purpose.

This is the time to be mentoring younger girls and learning from older women.

Young women should be focused on caring for the things of the Lord- seeking meaningful work and ministry in their single years. There is work to be done and people to be served. Life is too short to be spent on Pinterest and Facebook. There is more to our life than home decor and DIY projects.

Girls should make the most of their days, becoming disciplined, industrious, capable women.

They must get a vision for the hurting people in the world, and start loving the things Jesus loves.

They need to learn how to handle money well. Girls do not need to constantly be living from one little project sold or monetary gift given to the next. They should learn to earn money, live frugally, invest wisely, and plan astutely. Read the story of the talents/stewards in the Bible (Matthew 25)……and then seek to live as the wise steward!

I want each one of you girls to flourish, to really prosper! In your soul, in your spirit, and in your work. This doesn’t mean “success” by anyone else’s standard, but simply getting a vision, pursuing growth, and embracing hard work. Loving Jesus above all else and living joyfully with Him, stepping out in faith and not living in fear.

There are literally hundreds of skills to learn, books to read, places to travel, and character qualities to cultivate.

Look at the Proverbs 31 woman. She was quite a lady! Not only is she praised for her virtue, trustworthiness, and care for her household, but consider these descriptions:

-She worked HARD: “She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands…..She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.” (verses 13 + 18)

-She was a savvy business woman:  “She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.” (verse 24)

-She was physically STRONG: “She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.” (verse 17)

-She bought property: “She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.” (verse 16)

Girls, there is not a list of “men’s work” and “women’s work” in the Word of God. There are structures laid out for leadership in the nation, church, + family, but the Bible doesn’t say that a woman shouldn’t do work that includes lifting heavy things, having male employees under her, getting down + dirty, driving big equipment, etc.

Here are some things the Word of God DOES say:

We younger women need older women to mentor us.

Find a Godly, feminine lady who loves Jesus and has a happy marriage and ask her to mentor you! Titus 2 explains what kind of older women should be mentoring younger women, and what they should be teaching them.

We are meant to love our husband + children and doing that WELL should be our first priority.

If not married, we should be actively growing in character qualities such as kindness, gentleness, selflessness, and humility- things that will help make us a loving wife and mother someday. Unmarried women can practice loving home + family by cultivating sweet family relationships, serving family and others joyfully, and making people the priority over their personal desires and plans.

“The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 

That 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.” (Titus 2:3-5)

We should seek to be women of virtue. 

Proverbs 31:10 says, “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.”

The definition of virtue: moral excellence; goodness; righteousness; uprightness: chastity; a good or admirable quality.”

We were created because, “It is not good for man to be alone.”(Gen. 2)

God looked at the man He had made and decided to create a woman and bring them together in a beautiful relationship called marriage. He saw that the man needed a helper, and that his life would be completed when he had a woman by his side.

Girls, our “femininity”- that soft + tender side, the “Mother’s instinct”, the love for children and homemaking- this was created by God. Even in our work, we should be cultivating the nurturing, gracious woman God created us to be.

Please take note: You don’t have to be married to fulfill God’s purpose for you!

Just because you are not a wife and mother does not mean that you can’t be the woman God created you to be.

I know some extremely beautiful, kind, virtuous women who, although unmarried, fully embrace their femininity and nurturing + helping instincts. They can be found in all manner of work environments- working at a hospital, helping homeschool younger siblings, working as a secretary, teaching violin students, running a business, tutoring English students, selling houses, doing landsaping, managing political campaigns, and the list goes on.

The common thread I see in these women is this-they love serving others in all areas of life.

They nurture people. They help and encourage their family members. They bring kindness, joy, and compassion to their work environments. They realize that they were created by God, to showcase His glory to the world.

They want to be conduits of His love and grace in everything they do.

They know that whatever work they do is an opportunity to be good stewards of what has been given to them by their Heavenly Father.

Whether you are changing diapers or selling houses, flying airplanes or baking cakes, writing books or homeschooling children, sewing costumes or hiring employees, administering iv’s or recording cd’s, taking people’s photos or doing people’s taxes, installing tile or mowing lawns…….do it all “heartily, as to the Lord.”

To every woman reading this- may your work, no matter what that is, be done with intention, love, and joy.

And now, I’d love to hear your feedback What struck a chord with you?

-Allison

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here.

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