The Life Giving Table

When my husband and I were preparing for marriage, we talked quite a bit about the things we valued and the vision we had for our family. One of the things we decided to make a priority was sitting down to eat meals together.

We did not want to get caught up in the busyness and distractions of life and lose the connections with our family around meals. This decision was made in 2006, before the invention of the smartphone and the availability of constant distraction. I am so thankful we decided to make meal times together a priority and haven’t allowed the distractions of life to take over our meal times.

From the very beginning of our marriage, we have sat down to dinner each night. The children and I typically sit down and eat breakfast and lunch together also. We sometimes gather around our large bar to eat breakfast or lunch but we’re still gathered together and not planted in front of the television.

Since adding children into our family, we have continued to make our family meal times a priority and they’ve gotten so much more fun. Our kids are now 8, 6, 4 and 11 months and the conversations we have with the big kids are so enjoyable!

While gathering around the table has always been a priority, we haven’t always been intentional about our time together and I must confess that often the responsibility of preparing 3 meals a day for my growing family can feel more like a chore than a joy and I don’t put my best effort into creating delicious meals and delightful conversation. Having to prepare 3 meals a day each and every day (we rarely eat out) makes me somewhat of a utilitarian cook – I don’t always prepare meals focusing on delicious food. I tend to just fix something to minimize my time in the kitchen and the amount of dishes dirtied.

The Life Giving Table by Sally Clarkson has been such a convicting and inspiring book. The time gathered around the table should be viewed as invaluable for deep and meaningful connections with family as well as an opportunity to disciple our children, enjoy a beautiful relaxing environment and delicious food.

Some inspiring words from The Life Giving Table:

“Adults and children are not just bodies to be fed, but also minds to be challenged, hearts that depend on emotional input to survive and to grow as healthy human beings and spirits that long for connection with God and purpose in life.”

“Preparation for a meal indicates thoughtfulness, caring and intentionality. We show others their worth to us by considering how to best meet their needs and by intentionally arranging the environment to provide comfort and pleasure.”

“When we model to our children that pleasure, delight, laughter and food are not God’s after thoughts, but HIs generous gifts to us all, we do them a great favor.”

She writes about the importance of the blessing. We don’t always pray before meals, not because we’re not thankful but because we feel that sometimes it’s just a habit and not always heartfelt.

My thoughts about the importance of the blessing have changed after reading Sally’s words, “A blessings can also be a way for us to tune in to the sacrifice that is necessary for any of us to eat. Growing and living things in creation – plants and animals – must die in order to give us life.” When I came across this, I stopped and just pondered it for awhile. Every time I eat, something else must die.

My life is sustained by the sacrifice of something else. Since we have now begun raising our own food, we are reminded daily that our food doesn’t just come from the grocery store. The meat you eat was once alive and an animal had to die for you to eat it. Even plants give up their life in order to nourish you. I’m definitely more aware of what I’m eating, the true cost of my food and also profoundly thankful for the food I have to eat each and every day.

The Life Giving Table is one of those rare books that has a broad audience. We all eat and desire to connect with the ones we love. Whether you are single, newlywed, married with children or an empty nester, you can create a life giving table.

My hope is that my table becomes more than just a place where people are fed but a place where we enjoy delicious food (most of it grown here on the homestead), connect with each other and enjoy the good gifts God has given us.

*Disclaimer – I received a copy of The Life Giving Table in exchange for a review from the Tyndale Blog Network. This post does contain affiliate links.

You Can Stay Home with Your Kids

Do you have a dream to stay home with your kids?

We knew even before our first baby arrived that I was going to stay home. It was a dream of ours and we spent the first years of our marriage planning our finances to make it work.

Knowing this shaped how we lived in our early years of marriage. When we married, we were still in college and living on a small income. During those first two years of marriage, we lived very frugally and learned how to stretch our dollars as far as they could go. We also learned contentment. We knew we couldn’t have everything we wanted when we wanted it but we were okay with making some sacrifices in regards to material possessions to put ourselves in a better financial position.

Once my husband graduated and had a full time job, we continued to live the same as we did in college. We did not purchase new vehicles, take extravagant vacations or purchase a lot of excessive material goods once our income nearly doubled.

During that time, we lived fully off of his income and anything I earned was either saved or applied towards the principal of our mortgage. Since we were already living on one income, the transition to becoming a stay at home mom after the birth of our son was easy.

I’ve been at home with our children for 8 years now. We feel like we’ve been able to thrive on one income thanks to contentment and frugality.

We know we can’t have the latest and greatest as far as electronics, clothing and vehicles go. But, our 14 and 16 year old vehicles are paid for. We buy as much as we can used via resale shops, thrift stores, yard sales, Craigslist or eBay. We rarely eat out these days because it’s just not in the budget.

The sacrifices of material things have been worth it and are still worth it. 

Not only has our frugality and careful spending allowed me to stay home, we’ve also been able to achieve our dream of living on a small homestead. While we do have a mortgage on our home and property, without the previous 12 years of saving and building equity, we would not be able to afford living where we do.

Life is full of choices. Knowing what you want and working towards that goal helps make the short term choice to sacrifice worth it for the long term goal.

Do you want to stay home with your children? 

If you’re engaged or newlyweds, talk about what your goals are for your future family. If you desire to have children and think one of you may want to stay home, decide to live off of one income during your early years of marriage. Build up an emergency fund, pay off debt and save the second income. Even if you decide not to stay home, you’ll be in a better position financially which will help your family.

For expectant parents and parents of young children, maybe you’re thinking about one of you staying home for the first time but don’t think you’ll be able to do it financially. Take some time and set some financial goals for your family. Create a budget based on one of your incomes and stick to it! Use the other income to pay off or pay down debt. Live as frugally as you can.

Staying home with your children is a choice. Saying yes to staying home often means saying no to many other things but if it’s your dream, it is possible.

If you do have the dream to stay home with your kids, my friend Erin has written a book just for you! You Can Stay Home with Your Kids!: 100 Tips, Tricks, and Ways to Make It Work on a Budget shows you how your family can thrive on one income.In this book you’ll learn how to curb spending, eat well on a budget, shop secondhand and sales, create more income and more! I’m so excited that she has written this book to help families realize that the dream of staying home can become a reality. A little creativity, frugality and contentment can help you stay home with your kids!

You Can Stay Home with Your Kids releases April 10. If it is your dream to stay home, it will be worth every single penny!

*Disclosure – This post contains affiliate links. I was not compensated in any way to share about You Can Stay Home with Your Kids – I’m just passionate about mamas finding a way to stay home with their kids if that’s their hearts desire!


Our Brick Ranch Home Tour

It’s been very quiet around here due to major life changes. At the end of March, we found a home on a little over 5 acres (after looking for nearly 3 years) and decided it was time to try to sell. We put our home on the market on a Wednesday and had 2 offers by Sunday evening, April 2 (which just so happened to be the 6 year anniversary of moving into this home!) The timing was right and everything has worked out wonderfully. We closed on both houses on May 2 and now are settling into our new home. We’ve been in our new home 5 days and have gotten quite a bit done and are feeling ready for baby (I’m 38 weeks today!)

I wanted to share the way our home looked when we started packing a few weeks ago for my memories and so you can see how everything was laid out and organized.

The view of the front door in the living room.

The living room. One of my favorite parts of this room was the gallery wall. It was one of the first things I laid out when we moved in. Of course, it’s changed over the years and the pictures have been changed out since we added 2 babies in that time!

A close up of our bookshelf tucked into the corner. We love our books!

The view from the living room into the kitchen. About 18 months ago, we started our kitchen renovation, putting down new floors, knocking out some cabinets, putting in a new stove and refrigerator. We worked on it slowly (paying cash as we went) and it was officially finished 3 days before we moved! (We had ordered a section of countertop on December 31 and the order was delayed, then messed up, then reordered and delayed so we never really had the opportunity to enjoy the fully completed kitchen.)

A view of the whole kitchen post renovation (with the new ‘bar’ countertop installed). So many meals and memories were made in this room.

And, here’s a bit of a close up of the new countertop section! I hope the new owners love this kitchen.

The dining room and kitchen are one open room. This was the most used room in our entire home. We ate here, we did school work here (school books and supplies were stored in the white cabinet), it was our main entry (thus the coat rack along the wall) and it was my office area. We spent hours here each day!

Here’s the view from the living room looking down the hall. These floors were put down as part of our renovation. To the left is Cecilia’s room and straight ahead is the door to the boys room. The door at the end of the hall is to the master, the bathroom is on the right and the other doors were storage closets and the pantry.

Our full bathroom.

Another view of the bathroom.

This is Cecilia’s room, her sweet little toddler bed and play kitchen. I painted this room when we first moved into this house for Paxton’s nursery. It has been Paxton’s nursery, a guest room, Weston’s nursery, a play room, Cecilia’s nursery and most recently was set up as a shared room for Cecilia and our new baby.

Here’s the baby’s area of the room. Even though the baby never lived here, we were ready for baby and didn’t think our 1,300 square feet was too small for our 4 children! (The bunting and the C would have been replaced at some point but it was still Cecilia’s room so I just kept it up!)

A view of the closet in this room. It stored Cecilia’s toys, her nice clothes, extra bedding and blankets, her memory box and some diapers for baby.

The master bedroom.

Another angle of our master bedroom.

Here’s a peek into our closet. By most standards, it is a small closet but was perfect for us. We added some shelving for shoe storage and since we both have minimal wardrobes, we had more than enough space.

Our boys room. This was a very large room/playroom that served our kiddos quite well over the years.

Another view of the boys room. That dresser was purchased for Paxton’s first nursery before he was born and I made those curtains a few years ago.

John David custom built this closet shelving and it has been great for toy, game and clothing storage. A little bit of smart design can transform a small closet into a very useful space!

This little gallery wall was one of my favorites of the boys room. All of the artwork was painted by me or the boys which makes everything special!

That’s the tour of our sweet little brick ranch. We lived in 4 different homes in less than 5 years but lived here for 6 years. We made so many memories while living in this home. Paxton turned one here, we found out we were expecting our second baby a month after we moved in, Cecilia was born in our bedroom, all 3 of our kiddos learned to walk here, we started homeschooling here and we found out we were having our 4th baby here.

Now, we’re looking forward to making new memories in our new home and adding a new baby to our family. The house is a 3 bedroom, 2 bath home. At just under 1,800 square feet, it gives us room to grow but it’s not too large of a home (we really wanted to stay under 2,000 square feet.) It feels absolutely massive to us right now! We have a little over 5 acres of land so we can have livestock here! We’re all pretty excited about living on our small farm. We already have honeybees and are looking forward to adding chickens very soon.


A New Year

Hello, dear blog friends. It’s been a while since I last wrote. Here’s a quick update on what’s been going on in the past few months:

We started our second year of homeschooling back in August with Paxton in 1st Grade, Weston in Pre-K and Cecilia as a tag along! This second year of homeschooling has gone so much better than our first. I’ve learned so much about my little student and have learned a lot about myself. Our first half of first grade has been great and I’m really enjoying teaching and learning alongside my children.

Paxton played tackle football this fall which kept us busy for 2 months. He had practice 2-3 times a week with games on Saturdays and a few games on weeknights. It was a lot of going but Paxton had a blast and Weston and Cecilia loved playing with Paxton’s teammates siblings during practices and games. (I may be an introvert and need to be home a lot but my children are quite outgoing and enjoy going places.)

Then the holiday season arrived. We traveled to visit my family for Thanksgiving and we also visited John David’s family in mid-December. We enjoyed the month of December and all the festivities. Our Weston turned 5 on the 22nd, we had a lovely Christmas as a family and John David took the last two weeks of the year off which was wonderful.

During his time off, he started tackling our kitchen renovation more and we’re finally getting close to being finished! And, I am so excited and looking forward to sharing when it’s finished!

He went back to work yesterday and we’re settling back into our school routine.

Of course, the beginning of a new year is a time for thinking about goals and living intentionally and I’ve set a few goals/objectives for 2017.

  • One of those goals is to write here more regularly. I really enjoy blogging/writing but I do not do a great job of making time to blog.
  • Limiting my time on social media is also a goal for this year. I find myself mindlessly browsing Facebook or Instagram when I could be reading, writing, cooking, cleaning or so many other things. I no longer have my phone plugged up beside my bed so it’s not touched first thing in the morning or right before I go to bed. This is really helping!
  • A short term goal we’re working on is a pantry challenge. Our pantry, kitchen freezer and extra freezer were packed full so for the first two weeks of January we’re eating from the pantry/freezer.  The ‘rule’ is that we can buy eggs, milk and produce. All we’ve spent so far this month is $12.09 at Aldi for eggs, 6 avocados (can’t beat $.49 for an avocado!!) and a pineapple for the kids (we have a lot of oranges/apples still) so this will give them a yummy treat! I easily made out a 2 week meal plan and the goal is to make it these 2 weeks but I’m really hoping we can make it all month.
  • We’re also focused on our mortgage payoff goal. The goal is to pay it off by May 2020 and we’re currently a little bit ahead. We’ve been talking about ways to reach this goal faster and are working on implementing some of them. It’s fun having financial goals to work towards!

I’ve got a small list of blog post ideas for the coming weeks so you should be hearing from me more often in 2017!