Monday, December 1, 2014

Hippie Hair Photo Op



My rainy, cold December landscape


What I'm Wearing:
Headband - had since Junior high, if not before
Crochet Shirt - Plato's Closet
Black Skinny Jeans - Old Navy last year
Boots - Walmart last year (and although you can't see them, they are seriously cute heeled cowgirl boots with braided leather around the ankle!)
Rings - Flower ring from Italy, other 2 rings are not-valuable but still cool rings that belonged to my maternal grandma



What's a good hair day without a mirror selfie?
I curled my hair around the barrel of a 1 inch iron without a clamp (like a wand) and then pulled the top half into a ponytail and pinned it above the elastic to add volume and texture in the back. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

DIY Thieves Essential Oil Foaming Soap

Winter will soon be upon us here in Arkansas! We already had our first snow a few weeks ago, but go figure, the temperatures rose to the 70's again today. All of these up and down temperatures combined with the inevitable illnesses that winter brings have left many of our friends sick lately. I'm the perpetual planner and worrier so of course I need to combat sickness before it has a chance to sink its teeth into my family! Last year we were plagued with many illnesses - the stomach virus hit me 3 times and I landed in Urgent Care on an IV each time - so I need to stay on top of our health.

Therefore, I decided to prevent sickness the natural way with Young Living. Each month I get an order of my choice as a part of my wholesale membership. Ask me how you can sign up as a wholesale member under me! In December, I will be getting this Thieves essential rewards package!

Thieves is an essential oil blend created after grave robbers from the 14th century concocted a blend of clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary to keep them well while robbing the graves of recently deceased victims of the black plague. The mixture works well today in promoting health and wellness, and boosting your immune system.

I swear by this little stuff and always diffuse it and/or rub it on us when I hear about someone on Facebook who is sick I've been exposed to an illness!

In the package: 2 Bottles of multi-purpose cleaner, 1 mouthwash, 2 hand sanitizers, 1 bottle of Thieves oil, 1 toothpaste, 2 foaming hand soaps, and 2 surface sprays

That Thieves foaming hand soap looks pretty great, right? I knew I could make my own version of the soap (as well as the hand sanitizer and spray) to refill the bottles that come in this kit, but until I get this in the mail (mid December) I wanted to make some to last me a few weeks!

After all, some of our best friends are down for the count with my least favorite illness - stomach bug - right now, so I can't take any chances!

I made my own Thieves foaming soap, with help from a few people on Pinterest, and I'm really pleased with the turnout.

Ingredients:
-1 foaming soap bottle (recycled works!) You must use a foaming bottle, as a regular soap bottle will just produce liquid.
-10 DROPS Thieves essential oil blend
- 2 TBSP Dr. Bronner's castile soap
-water
-1 TBSP Vitamin E (optional)


I used Peppermint castile soap (purchased from Kroger - also available at Target or online) which mixed really well with the Christmassy fragrance of Thieves.

  • First take your rinsed foaming soap container and pour in 2 Tablespoons of Dr. Bronner's castile soap. 

  • Add 1 Tablespoon of Vitamin E oil for moisture. I always get dry hands after washing, so I added this organic Vitamin E oil I had on hand from the days postpartum when I actually thought I could reduce stretch marks. ...Am I laughing or crying? 

  • Next put 10 DROPS of Thieves essential oil blend in.

  • Fill up with warm water, leaving room for the pump top to go in or it will overflow and waste your materials. 

  • Shake the bottle really well and give it a few pumps into your hand!

I tossed my old anti-bacterial soap (which contained microbeads anyway!) and a put this guy in its place


I used it last night for hand washing and then today decided to try it for a body and face wash in the shower! It was a bit tingly on my face, but was diluted enough not to burn or hurt at all. This soap is a BIG hit with me and I will be using it indefinitely!

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, November 3, 2014

A Desperate Attempt To Get Organized

Lately I've really been purposing to get more organized and in sharing some ideas on my personal Facebook, I've had friends comment about how interested they are in my suggestions  as well.

(link to this Holiday Organizer in the article below)

To be honest with you, I'm not very organized at all! In my heart of hearts, organization makes me giddy. After a good long day of cleaning, I love to sit down and bask in my spotless home. This is a rarity, however because of a few simple set backs.

I'm a pack rat. Not like, you will find me on Hoarders or anything. I'm really pretty clean. I just can't stand to get rid of anything potentially useful. Empty milk jugs for my homemade laundry detergent line the upper shelves of my laundry closet. Empty glass salsa jars clog up the back of my cabinets to be used to collect who-knows-what. I've never thrown away a glass soda bottle in my entire life. Ask my mom; there is still evidence of this at her house. A really sturdy box came in the mail? Of course I must keep it to repack Christmas gifts in...even if the package comes in February.

This is the type of decorating I do with glass soda bottles. Also check out the major clutter!

I recently listened to a podcast in which Dana from A Slob Comes Clean detailed how prepared and organized her mother was. She went on to say that having grown up around such preparedness (Think - cleaning supplies for months and never having to make an emergency trip to the grocery store in the middle of cooking dinner) that she also purposed to store up supplies like her mother had. However, she found out that she just couldn't manage that much stuff. Try as she might, it ended up cluttered, lost, unused, unorganized. She had to admit this and pare down.

Maybe it's time for me to pare down.

We live in a 2 bedroom, 1 bath apartment which is great for a 3 person family. Only...this 3 person family has an abundance of decorations and furniture hanging out in my parents attic and can't keep the kitchen counters or our bedroom floors clean to save our lives! Next year we will be moving into a larger rental house and we are ridiculously excited.

However, I don't want more space to equal more clutter. I'm purposing to use my space more efficiently and be more prepared for my everyday life instead of my 'what-if' list.

Without further adieu, this was my first step. I created a planning station next to my side of the bed and have been keeping up with our family's events for the last few months.

(I know you love that college dorm style lamp)

I bought this dry-erase calendar at Target because I never could manage to keep up with a paper calendar, and while the pictures may be pretty, its just one more thing I will have to throw away at the end of the year. Actually I'll have to force myself to throw it away. A few months ago I went through a bunch of left-behind junk at my parents house and found a calendar from 2007 that I had kept 'for all the memories' or some nostalgic BS. Don't worry...I threw it away this time.


As you can see, it's magnetic and I have my dentist reminder card (for an April cleaning) stuck up there right now. Next to it, I have a thumb tack on which I am holding my precious Holiday Organizer (up close picture at the top of this article), which gives you a week-by-week list of what to Shop, Make, Do, and Celebrate from October 5 to December 25 in order to feel more prepared and relaxed for end of the year holidays. 

I also have a paper calendar page to start collecting December dates. I might not do the paper version of an upcoming month all year long, but when I know I have a lot to plan for, I like to have it on hand. I've added a few more events on this calendar since the photo was taken.

This works so much better for me than an Agenda, pocket planner, and especially better than anything digital. I'm pretty old school in that I like to have a paper To-Do list where I can physically cross items off. Sticking my calendar up on the wall next to my bed stops me from misplacing it or forgetting about it. 

Please comment with a link to your favorite organizational ideas. Let's help each other out. My To-Do list for getting this house organized by the end of the year is astronomical and I'm whittling away at it day-by-day.

Thanks for stopping by the blog!

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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Halloween 2014: Follow Up!

Previously, I shared my thoughts on whether Christians should celebrate Halloween and now I'd love to share with you just how we celebrated on Halloween 2014!


Click to enlarge
The weekend before Halloween, I carved this jack-o-lantern for my son Roman who absolutely loves Scooby Doo! Our whole costume theme was Scooby Doo as well so it was really fitting. In order to achieve this masterpiece, I printed this Scooby Doo stencil, taped it to the pumpkin, and carefully poked holes (with a thumb tack) around the edges of each piece that needed to be cut out. Yes, this was tedious and the paper kept slipping! A stencil that stuck to the pumpkin and could be peeled off easily would have been much better! I then covered the pumpkin with flour to make the poked holes more visible and began slicing the pieces out with a small serrated knife. I find that a serrated knife is much safer and easier for pumpkin carving. Roman was thrilled when he saw the finished product.

On Halloween night, we made plans to meet friends at a large neighborhood in town and trick-or-treat. We live in an apartment, which is really not suitable for ToT (apologies for that really lame abbreviation) so we were glad to meet up with a big group in a nice part of town. For the first time all season, it was freezing! The low was in the 30's with a bitter wind. I'm in Arkansas, remember...and just a few days prior it was 80. All of us were frozen after a few streets.

Before I unveil our amazing costumes, I want to give a huge thanks to some of our best friends Derek and Rachel Johnson who dressed up with us to complete the Mystery Incorporated Gang! They were really helpful with the kids and we promise we will return the favor when their time to have kids comes along! 


Our little family before the festivities. Roman just wanted to play with his neighbor friend, Woody from Toy Story! I'm obsessed with how good these costumes turned out. After we got dressed up, Dillon and I sat down to eat a snack and I couldn't stop laughing at how weird it was for us to be sitting there eating, looking like cartoons. 


Derek - Shaggy, Rachel - Velma, Me (Bethany) - Daphne, Dillon - Fred, Roman - Scooby

Daphne Costume:
-Dress: local consignment store (will wear again)
-Tights: Target ($1.99)
-Necklace: Walmart ($5.00) (will wear again)
-Shoes: local consignment store (have worn many times)
-Wig: Walmart (super cheap and poor quality!)
-Headband: Target (stretchy head wrap that kept my ears warm)

Fred Costume:
-Shirt, Pants, Shoes: All Dillon's from before
-Ascot:  Walmart - Made from a strip cut off of a neon hunting t-shirt
-Hair Spray: Walmart ($2.00)

Scooby Costume:
-Scored it at a Rhea Lana's consignment sale for dirt cheap!

Velma Costume:
-Sweater: Old Navy
-Skirt, Tights, Shoes: Rachel had them
-Wig: Walmart (again, cheap!)
-Glasses: They were borrowed from my personal costume stash

Shaggy Costume:
All Derek's clothes. We teased him all night that he looked "normal" but the colors were perfect


We all went to IHOP afterwards with some of our other best friends and although we weren't the only ones in costume, we were definitely the most ridiculous looking people in the room. It was so much fun, though, and I would do it all over in a heartbeat.
I can't finish this post without showing you Roman's best friends who we ToT'd with: Cinderella and Gus Gus

There were a few creepy masked teenagers out ToT-ing with us, but overall, the night was really great and we can't wait to do it again next year with the same people. Love all of you so much and thanks for making Roman's 2nd Halloween the best one yet!

Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?

After reading too many blog posts about why Christians shouldn't celebrate Halloween, I decided to let my almost 2 year old son try on his Scooby Doo costume.

Check out the havoc R wreaked on my blinds!

We are all dressing up as members of the Mystery Incorporated gang this year. I'm Daphne and my husband Dillon is Fred. I'll link up a post with pictures of our costumes after the 31st!

To be honest with y'all - we do Halloween in a pretty wholesome manner! I grew up trick or treating for a few years in my neighborhood where my parents had lived for years and felt pretty comfortable with the people I would be encountering. We also spent a number of years celebrating at our church's trunk or treat (Where members park their cars around the church and decorate their trunks. Kids go trunk to trunk getting candy in a safe atmosphere.). It's no surprise that I wasn't allowed to dress as anything creepy, evil, undead, seductive, or otherwise inappropriate.

If you want to know something great - my parents met at a Halloween costume party in 1986. (with permission, I give you... the cowboy and the clown!)


I had a great time on Halloween in this well-cultivated environment, so naturally I want to replicate that for my son.

When I became a Christian, I really started to examine my life and hold it up to what Jesus would want for me. Movies or TV shows that help me to entertain scary thoughts were obviously out! As someone who lives with sometimes-crippling anxiety, I knew I had to eliminate any temptation to doubt, fear, or cringe that I possibly could. Just remember any time you've watched a horror movie or criminal case show where someone broke in, took a life, etc and then you lay awake at night wishing you could unsee those scenes or wishing you could turn your over-imaginative brain off! To me, this type of entertainment isn't something that I can figuratively 'eat the meat and spit out the bones.' I might do this when watching a movie which has an overall great theme but uses a few curse words. While I can listen to the curse words and then safely go on with my life, untempted to start swearing wildly, I have a lot more trouble using self-control to reign in scary thoughts when I'm home alone or in bed at night.

I have a son who is the most important person on planet earth to me, so I definitely can't watch any show or movie that depicts something bad happening to a precious child, lest I end up in a weeping heap by his bedside praying protection over him.

With this said, you might think my natural inclination would be to eliminate the celebration of Halloween all together. I mean, we already nixed Santa, so foregoing Halloween wouldn't be such a far cry. However, we've decided to keep Halloween around under controlled circumstances.


  • You will never see me or my (future) daughters dressed as anything sexy! It's embarrassing how many ladies will basically leave the house in their underwear when it's 40 degrees outside (here in Arkansas). 
  • We avoid any monster/evil costumes such as the devil (obviously), zombies, horror film bad guys, and the like. 
  • I stay out of haunted houses. Anxiety + People jumping out at me = Nope. Not gonna happen! It's basically inviting me to say every cuss word I know as well as drill ugly thoughts in my head for days to come.
  • We don't decorate much for Halloween (aside from jack-o-lanterns) but we especially avoid gross or crude decor - think: dismembered parts, bloody gore. If it would typically make someone think you are a serial killer, it's not suddenly ok on October 31. 
With all of this being said, yes we do still like to dress up. And you might think...um, Bethany...isn't Scooby Doo a show with a lot of creepy monsters in it? Yes. This is a strange world we live in. There are bad guys and evildoers out there. What I hope my family gets from Scooby Doo is that bad guys will go to great lengths to do evil and that the Mystery Inc gang volunteers to put bad guys away wherever they go. >>Draw Spiritual parallels here. <<

Am I attempting to redeem Halloween? Not really. I'm not handing out gospel tracts from my front door or hosting parties in which guests dress up as their favorite Apostle. Am I using it as a chance to evangelize? Not so much. However, I do believe that the first step in discipleship is forging an organic friendship with people, so if I happen to meet someone this Halloween season, it could be the beginning of a genuine friendship in which I get to share my faith.

Just like Christmas trees, Easter baskets, and any number of fun American traditions...I'm just enjoying life with my family and friends. I know that Halloween has origins in a lot of evil and modern people perpetuate this to a disgusting degree, but for us, it's merely an excuse to dress up our cute kid and fellowship with friends. 

Last year it was an excuse to support a local business with the purchase of this freaking adorable Yoda hat from Simply Crochet and drive around town visiting with friends. 


I make a habit of checking my actions against God's will and pledging to stay within it, so if at any point we decide that Halloween just can't be safely celebrated, we will eliminate it. We haven't gotten into the trick or treat scene in our town yet (with our son being so young) but if it turns out to be too scary, it's out. Believe me when I say that I am not just blindly staying set in my ways without concern for my family's spiritual well-being. I put great thought into the implications and ramifications of everything we do.


**Note: I'm terribly sorry to post this in November, but I genuinely thought I had hit "Publish" and actually never shared my thoughts! For the sake of not posting something too long, I'll post our family photos in the next Update

Saturday, September 27, 2014

My Beautiful Grandma - A Tribute

Today, at 92 years old, my great grandma Georgia Carson passed away.
She is pictured below holding her great, great grandson (my baby). 

Grandma, my Dad, and Roman

 She was an amazing person with tons of quirks that made her so special. 

Every time she wrote me a card, she would sign it, "Love your beautiful Grandma!" Hey, there's no shame in bragging on good genes!

Grandma, Aunt Kim, Mom, Meme, Me & Roman in my belly at my baby shower

As she got older, she always acted like she didn't remember how to play cards and would try to take back a mistake she had made and say, "Well I'll be cotton pickin!" 

She was famous for her lemonade and always had a story to tell. 

She sang her own made up tune while doing every activity.

She loved lottery tickets and would always say, "When we win, I'm gonna buy us a new car!" She was still driving until recently! 

She was the Queen of layering and always had on at least 3 shirts or sweaters (year round). 

She loved dolls and collected many of them throughout the years.

She got married at 15 and was married for almost 77 years. She is survived by her husband, J.T. Carson who is a few years her senior. She has 3 children, 4 grandchildren, 2 great grandchildren, and so far has 1 great great grandson. She also has several loving sons and daughter in laws, grandson and granddaughter in laws, nieces and nephews, and other extended family.

She was greatly loved and loved others greatly.

Surrounded by many family members after my High School graduation. She's in the back corner.

In the 2 weeks prior to her heart attack, The Lord gave me many visions of special holidays and times I spent with my Dad's side of the family, using my gift of prophesy to help me appreciate what I have. I knew in my heart that our lives would be changing in some way, although at the time I was unsure how. For quite a few days, I had so much regret in my heart that I hadn't visited her when I was called to, but I know she felt joy in seeing me at her hospital bedside with some silk roses.

Right now, I feel empty. I feel lonely. I feel a little bit less loved in the here-and-now.

I'm calling on Jesus and asking you to pray comfort over my family.

Grandma with Dillon's best friend Daniel at our wedding

Dance with Jesus, my beautiful Grandma! I'll meet you in His presence in no time!

I love you. Always will.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

DIY Fall Centerpiece


It's September, and regardless of the fact that Autumn doesn't officially start until September 23 this year, I consider September 1 the beginning of my Fall season! Therefore, my house needed a little overhaul. 

Prior to creating this centerpiece and table setting, my table was piled high with clean laundry, wrappers, old pamphlets from church, and a bunch of important things we plan to hang on the wall someday. 

It was time to clean up, throw away, and put this table to good use! You see, soon my husband's job situation will change and he will be home with us at night. We will finally be able to sit down to family dinners every night. I'm a full believer in the notion that dinners unify families when they are able to unplug and have old fashioned conversation. 

On to the Fall Centerpiece Tutorial...
I headed to my neighborhood Hobby Lobby and picked up a bunch of Fall decor for 40% off. Christmas is 40% off too and I maaaaay have looked at every single item on display! 


First, I selected some faux flowers for a centerpiece arrangement. The large flowers are separate from the "field brush" and I simply attached the two bouquets with flower tape. 


Next, I bought 2 bags of natural pinecones from the Christmas section (near the cinnamon sticks, if you're a regular shopper). They were selling canisters of pine cones in the Fall decor for double the price, but I'm savvy so you know I can't help but search for the best deal. The outer vase is actually a food canister I had at home. The flowers are in a separate inner vase which is actually meant for 1 or 2 roses and probably wouldn't have supported the heavy arrangement on its own. I nestled the small vase in the canister and dropped the pinecones all around it until there were no gaps and the inner vase was secure. 

This way, I can just remove the flower arrangement after Thanksgiving and change it for a poinsettia bouquet or something else Christmassy! The pinecones will stay in place and with the right bouquet could work for many seasons. 

The faux leaves are from a 95 cent pack at Kroger Marketplace. 


Next I purchased some napkins and plates with this message from Psalm 69:30 printed on them, "I will praise God's Name in song and Glorify Him with Thanksgiving." It's nice to have a visual reminder of the Word laying right there on the table. We pass by it about 100 times per day, so it's a win-win!


Accenting the napkin holder stands 2 bottles of Sparkling Cider in flavors Caramel Apple and Pumpkin Spice. We plan to drink them this weekend after my husband has his last night shift and we are able to start our family dinners! (He's thrilled that I'm making meat loaf - his fave!)

It's still about 98 degrees here in Central Arkansas, but the forecast shows temperatures in the 70's this Friday and Saturday. Then, the temperature shouldn't get past 85 degrees for the rest of the month (and hopefully the rest of the year)! Interestingly, The Weather Channel shows all of the record highs and record lows for Arkansas in the month of September (High: 103, Low: 34!!) Maybe you find that to be as interesting as I do! It's already snowing in Calgary, Canada this week (up to 8 inches in some places!) with freezing temps predicted in the Northern U.S. as well. 

I am so excited! The Fall weather is my favorite and all of my favorite things happen between September and New Years. Therefore, I am super pumped to be heading into the next few months. 

I'm so over summer and am welcoming Fall with open arms! Tell me some of the fun Fall activities you enjoy in the comments!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Transitioning a Toddler from Crib to Bed

This Labor Day weekend, we traveled to Texas for my husband to attend the Americans For Prosperity convention, and for Roman and me to hang out with some of Dillon's cousins. It was an amazing time of family fellowship and I'm convinced that one of our cousins, Lauren, and I were separated at birth. There was never a dull moment!

Within an hour of arriving at her house, my boy had jumped into a wash tub in the back yard (designated for the dogs to drink and cool off) fully clothed and was just having the time of his life. He went bowling for the first time, mastered the stairs, went to the lake and rode on a pontoon, met dozens of family members for the first time, and had several cousin-fights with a couple of Lauren's 5 children (all over toys!). If you notice the little Australian Shepherd puppy in the background, that's 6 week old Cowboy! I may have told my husband 100 times that we needed one just like him! He's basically our dream dog.

My beautiful boy (and the cutest puppy ever in the background!)

He also figured out how to escape from the Pack n Play. We came home on Monday, and on Tuesday morning Roman climbed out of his crib, grabbed a toy dump truck, and ran around the corner saying, "Hey Daddy!" He was perfectly fine, totally unharmed, but I cried! What if he had fallen and broken something? As if saying "what if" ever helped after the fact.  He's such a big boy. He's not my baby anymore! He's 20 1/2 months old and will be 2 in December!

So we converted his crib into a toddler daybed, stuffed a large pool noodle under the fitted sheet to prevent rolling over the edge, and had many fun talks about his big boy bed!

That night, after many hours of playing, we gave him a bath and put on a pair of brand new Scooby Doo pajamas (Thanks $5 clearance at Walmart!). I started diffusing Lavender essential oil in his room 30 minutes prior to bedtime. We tucked him in and by lamplight read Dr. Seuss ABC board book. He loved it. Then we said our prayers, which included a very sincere prayer on my part for this to be a good experience! His cute little voice echoed, "Amen!" and we kissed him goodnight!


These were taken a few days later - Elmo PJ's this time.

I apologize for the back of my hair - yikes!

Ten minutes later, little feet patted into my kitchen and a chubby face peeked around my big arm chair. The most mischievous grin broke out on that chubby face and I chased him back to bed. I tucked him in. I told him he was sleepy. I kissed him goodnight.

Thirteen minutes later, a repeat of the above happened. Daddy's turn to put him back to bed.

And that was it.

I checked on him later to find him laying on top of his quilt in the most infantile position with his little diapered booty sticking up in the air. He's still my baby in those moments.

I snuck back in much later and put my body pillow on the floor at his bedside just in case he fell out of bed and then I closed the door to ensure he wasn't wandering the house at night. His room shares a wall with our bedroom, so we know we can hear every sound he makes even without a monitor.

You know what? He slept all night. Don't hate me. I know so many fantastic parents with great kids who took ages to transition into the toddler bed. The next morning at 7:30 I heard a little voice so I went into his room and found him still in bed! He had pulled the body pillow into bed with him, but otherwise everything looked like it was in its place. He was even back under the quilt!

I give all the glory to God for answered prayers!

  1. We followed a routine, 
  2. Made the experience fun for Roman, 
  3. Utilized the medicinal properties of Lavender essential oils, 
  4. And in the end all I could do was pray for God to make this a positive experience.


The next morning we rewarded Roman with TONS of praise, a big cup of milk, and an episode of Scooby Doo first thing.

**Update: A few days have passed and the transition is still going great! Even naps have been pretty good as well! Saturday morning I woke up at 7:45 to check on him and found him sitting in my bedroom floor, quietly playing with blankets. We decided to do a deep cleaning and put up anything potentially harmful from our room (think: picture frames we never hung) so he could come get us if he was upset. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I'm Not Neutral And Neither Was Jesus



I know it's been forever since I wrote anything. I've been living in my own anxiety world for a few weeks now, but I'll write more on that another time. As a matter of fact, the anxiety I live with is serious, but clearly so many people around the world have it much worse than me, and each of their stories are breaking my heart. I'm being made aware everywhere I turn that there are powerless, hurting people both near and far that are inwardly or outwardly begging for someone to do something.

One major issue that has stayed with me, other than heartache, has been disbelief at the way people will use any speck of a person's character to justify why they deserve the hurt, or even death, they endure. From Miley's homeless VMA date to the shooting of Michael Brown and the subsequent onslaught of protesting and violence in Ferguson, MO; suddenly every guy with a computer is playing judge and jury.

After the VMA video went viral, millions (like me) took to Facebook or Twitter hailing her for her positive comeback after last year's twerking performance at the VMA's left her reputation in shambles. Days later, news outlets were buzzing with the scandal of her homeless guest's criminal record (violation of probation after misdemeanor charges). Some of the same individuals who patted Miley on the back are now trying to use his record to discredit her efforts. She's also been disparaged for choosing an attractive, Caucasian, blonde haired, blue eyed, 22-year-old instead of someone more "homeless looking." *eye roll* Just because he has a record doesn't mean that everyone else used in the statistics he quoted are also criminal or can be written off as simply 'deserving' their plight. Check out these statistics on runaway youth to see my point. Also, Heaven forbid someone like Miley use her 'wow-factor' to draw attention to those in need.

Earlier this month, Michael Brown, age 18 from Ferguson, Missouri was fatally shot 6 times by a police officer after an altercation. He was unarmed and people everywhere are in uproar. In the fallout of this tragedy, one of the most popular things for some outsiders to do is point fingers at pieces of Brown's character that may not be relevant to the incident. He had been accused of stealing cigars, liked rap music and enjoyed rapping himself (which is apparently a character flaw?), and was out walking on the street at night -- so he must deserve to be killed. I've seen horrible comments at the bottom of articles where white men and women degrade his character and then decide that he deserved to die because he was he was "a thug" or "a trouble maker." When all of this goes to court and the facts are thoroughly analyzed, hopefully the judge and jury will come to a true and just conclusion. We may find that Brown was hostile towards police and in fact deserved some sort of punishment, but that will never be an excuse to look at someone's character and say he "deserves to be dead" or any other racially inflammatory statement about removing people who stereotypically look or behave like him. He is a person. He has loved ones who are mourning.

What I want to know in all of this is, who are you to say one word against another person's character when you have not spoken to them? How have we, in this internet saturated culture, become so accustomed to letting the empty echo of our opinions ring out that we don't stop to THINK about the impact our words have on the precious human souls we are talking about and talking to?

T - Is it true?
H - Is it helpful?
I -Is it inspiring?
N - Is it necessary?
K - Is it kind?

Before you write something on social media, seriously, check your post against this acronym.

I'm beyond tired of hearing people so far removed from the situation pass cruel judgement where it isn't true, helpful, inspiring, necessary, or kind.

You know why I'm so tired of it? Because both of these situations hit home for me in more ways than just  the obvious: I am human. I am a Christian. I am a follower of Jesus. I love the marginalized and downtrodden. They hit home because I have smeared my reputation in the mud and then had it wiped clean again, as best as possible. Here on earth, my reputation will always have filthy stains that like my son's laundry, won't come clean despite countless attempts to blot, scrub, or bleach the remnants away.

I was the teenager getting high, hanging out with a less-than-reputable crowd, walking on the streets at night. I've stolen. I've lied. I've manipulated. I've ruined. You can say many negative, yet very true, things about me.

However, I'm redeemed. Jesus has this awesome homemade stain remover that transcends this lifetime.

I want to say thank you to the people in my life who didn't give up on me. To the people who fought for me. The people who prayed for me. The people who never said she deserves to be left behind...she doesn't deserve to be helped...she had it coming. Thank you for loving me when I was the downtrodden. Thank you for loving me when I was the orphaned soul - spiritually bankrupt.

To all the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, loving friends, teachers, pastors, and whoever-the-hell-you-ares that have ever loved a teenager who did something stupid, morally wrong, criminal, disappointing, rude, or regrettable -- You have loved the least of these. Thank you for not giving up on us.

According to the articles I've read, Jesse Helt has kept in contact with his mother throughout the years and even returned home on Miley's dime (no shame) to see her again. She's in his corner. Are you in the corner of the millions of homeless youth in America?

Clearly, from the national outcry, Michael Brown has people in his corner. Are you in the corner of the marginalized minorities who know racism and oppression still exist? This issue is so much bigger than Ferguson.

Don't be neutral. Whether you're speaking out against race disparity, speaking out against militarized police tear gassing protesters, speaking for private donations of money or time to the homeless of America, or simply telling some hateful people on Facebook to THINK before they post...don't be neutral.

"Jesus (who was decidedly not white or American, but, it could be argued, held a great deal of power and authority) drew a solid line – like, he literally drew a line - and then He stood on the side of the weak, the burdened, the vulnerable, and the oppressed. 

Jesus rose to his feet in the presence of injustice.

Over and over again, we see Jesus stand on the side of the disadvantaged.

...And, I don't know about you, but I think I want to stand with Jesus."

              ---Jamie the Very Worst Missionary (a damn good read on the Michael Brown issue)



Y'all - we need to be praying for the youth of America. In a time when everything is so convenient, yet the age-old troubles of the heart are just as hard, we need to pray against permanent fixes for temporary problems. In Jesus name. We need to be praying for a generation of helpers, of lovers, of do-ers, of humanitarians with big hearts for people and even bigger hearts for Jesus. I realize that technically I'm still the youth of America, yet also kind of a grown up, so I have the amazing advantage of relate-ability. You can pray for me to be all of these things too. 

I know for an absolute fact that my heart for the broken, oppressed, and hurting will lead me somewhere miraculous one day. I know God is working on something big and that's why He's been breaking my heart for babies, kids, teens, and young moms for so so long. When I made my poor choices, He was there, hurting for me, and when I finally surrendered to Him, He finally got to redeem those low points in order to bring someone else closer to Him. 

Y'all, my heart is broken, but it is full. I'm so far from neutral. 


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Shopping the Clearance Rack...at the Grocery Store?

I like to spend money. Shopping is fun for me. Any kind of shopping - kid stuff, clothes, home decor, even groceries.

If you have money, usually it's fun to spend it and there's minimal guilt involved, but what about if you don't have much money?

We're a one-income household of three people (Me, my husband, and our toddler son). My husband is still in school (he graduates December 2014!!) so that cuts down on the hours he works. We are incredibly fortunate to have loving families who have helped us out in creative ways since our son was unexpectedly born, and we profit from several investments, but we still love to spend frugally.

Let's go back to my opening statement: I like to spend money. In order to shop like I want, I have to be creative. I have to find deals. It's so easy to find awesome deals where I live because it's a large town with many stores vying for my loyalty. One store has grabbed it (mostly) ... Kroger!


Kroger Marketplace to be exact. It's like Walmart, only with more organic choices and waaaay less sketchy people. A lot of Krogers are basic grocery stores, but the Marketplace has more. 

We love them for the selection as well as their Kroger Rewards Card that saves on almost every item in store, as well as their fuel points that can save you up to $1 off per gallon, and most recently their Kroger App that gives you even more deals and is linked up with your Kroger rewards card. 

After shopping with them for a few months, they started sending us coupons for things they know we frequently buy. I've received coupons for our favorite chips and bread, make up, baby items like wipes, and even $9 of free frozen food , or $3 off your entire purchase. 

Today at KM, I made my usual check-ins at two different clearance racks they have positioned in the places no one ever goes in the store. Funny how stores hide their best deals from us (I totally understand why - my husband is an Entrepreneurship major). 

The first is non-food clearance. Over the last 6 months, I have found a ridiculously cheap Bumbo seat that I bought for a friend and was reimbursed for, as well as a really cute infant travel system (car seat, base, and stroller) for 1/2 price ($79 for the set) that I kept for myself. The infant seat we're saving for future babes but Roman is using the stroller right now. The Bumbo had torn cardboard on the package and the travel system had been used as a model and I guess the box had been thrown away so it was being sold for cheap.

The second section is food clearance. This area is the motherload of scratch-and-dent and overstock deals! It's located in the middle of the ziplock baggie aisle, where naturally very few people shop on-the-regular. 

TODAY'S HAUL

There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of these items. Most of them have damaged packaging or the store purchased more than they could stock and sell at full price. I love being the grateful recipient of a deal at the hand of human error.
  • Clorox wipes: $1.39 (was $2.69 - torn paper label)
  • Pineapples: $0.79 (was $1.50 - dented can)
  • Chef Boyardee: $0.49 (was $1.00 - dented cans)
  • Mixed Veggies: $0.29 (was $0.49 -dented can)
  • Green Giant green beans: $0.49 (was $1.00 - dented can and torn label)
  • Garnier Fructis conditioner: $1.29 (was $2.50 - overstock)
  • Nestle milk chocolate chips: $1.79 (was $3.49 - overstock)
  • Slim Fast protein shakes: $2.49 (was $4.99 - limited edition they are no longer putting on the shelf)
  • Ziplock bags: There was a random coupon just laying on the shelf for BOGO free

I know a lot of shoppers do this anyway, but some of the young adults may not have known it was an option. I don't buy things I don't need. I just stock up on things I didn't know I would be able to get that week. 

So...Go forth. 

Get a Kroger card. It's so easy to keep up with because it hangs on your key chain and most of us need keys to get there and haul home all of our stash. 

Check out the clearance aisle.

 Don't fear the scratch-and-dent. Your food (which you will soon crush up with your teeth) is perfectly intact within that damaged exterior. 

Most importantly - save money! It feels good to spend extra time in the grocery store (by myself) so I can get that shopping fix, while knowing I'm saving tons. 

If all of this hasn't sold you, maybe this last tidbit will:


See that fine print? $441.71 saved in 2014.
How are you saving?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Greener Pastures

After last week's post on DIY plastic bag storage, I started to feel bad about my usage of plastic bags! It just so happened when I went to Kroger on Monday, I found a cute tote that says "Less Plastic. Fantastic!" on sale in the clearance rack, which is so cheesy its cute. Then the Simple Truth grocery bags were $1.99 and positioned very conveniently next to my beloved Luna bars. So, I've officially crossed over into the world of green shopping bags. Literally, and figuratively.


And yes, those are 2 cases of mason jars! Kroger had a bunch of Ball mason jar & canning accessories for sale at a slight discount with the Kroger Card. They had Quart, Pint, 1/2 Pint, and Quilted Jam jars as well as jar 'grabbers' for canning, funnels, herb containers with shaker lids, and tons of canning additives like pectin and dill pickle stuff. Am I the only one who hears "half pint" and thinks "My little half pint of sweet cider half drunk up"? Surely I'm not. 

I bought the jars because I love the vintage look of the glass jars, the versatility they provide, and the fact that I can put drops of my essential oils in them to drink from (which you can't do with plastic - only glass)! You can buy lids with straw holes in them from tons of online sites like this one, and probably even in store. I've also seen that the lids from Parmesan cheese shakers will fit mason jars and you can just slide a straw into the holes. 

Lately, I've really gotten into a kick of learning about homesteading and old fashioned or natural living. Dillon has been telling me for years that he wanted to "own a ranch", which I balked at because I always pictured a huge plot of land with horses and cowboys. (Idk why??) But lately I feel like God has been working on my heart to align me with Dillon a little more and I've turned away from my strong desire to live in suburbia. We are both excited to live on a few acres right outside of town one day when we have the finances to make it happen. (Until then, we are renting in town!) I'd really love to garden and can my own produce, so the display of canning supplies got me itching to buy...but I was good and just got the jars I can use now. 

Until we are financially able to get some land for our forever home, we really want to build up skills to help us be a little more self-reliant and less apt to pay for a product or service that we can save money by doing or making ourselves.  If  you're wondering, we aren't doomsday preppers or survivalists. Those things are often associated with homesteading. We don't think we will live 100% off of our land or live totally like they did 150 years ago. We still love modern stuff like the internet (duh). I just find the "simpler" things like making something from scratch and knowing it came from my garden to be really fun and interesting. I want to learn and pass on skills that most people my age cannot do. We want to steward our bodies well by putting healthy food in. I also love the frugality it will provide after the initial costs are paid off. I've already been saving my family money by making our cleaning supplies. I know for a fact that I am called to homeschooling, homemaking, and providing my child(ren) with practical skills. Growing food will teach them responsibility, as well as many science lessons, history lessons, and team work --  as I'm sure we will have more than one child working together. We are also looking into having chickens to yield fresh eggs daily, which could bring in some money at a farmer's market. In the not so distant future when we have a deep freezer, we plan to buy half of a grass-fed cow in different cuts of meat because I've heard its so much better tasting and of course, has health benefits.  

farm fresh eggs

Literally, when we talk about this stuff, we are both just beyond excited!  After my post about transitioning out of college, its obvious that my life needs to be simplified. I need to submit to God's will and connect with Him. I need to forego the typical 'American Dream' of consumerism-to-a-fault and thrive on the cultivation of my family and our land. And yes, I know that gardening and natural living is hard work, but the fulfillment it will bring makes the difference. 

By preparing myself with skills that our great grandmothers were all expected to know, or were at least familiar with, by the time they married (which for mine was 15 years old) I am obviously helping my family, helping the planet, and keeping myself mentally on my toes. It will be a fascinating journey. 

If you are interested in natural living, if you garden, raise chickens, or frequently shop the farmer's market, message me or leave a comment! Point me towards good boards on Pinterest, Blogs, or Facebook pages. I want to hear from you!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Recycled Milk Jug Project

We've all heard it before - reduce, reuse, recycle! I'm here to beg you, for the love of all things sustainable, reuse your milk jugs! 


We go through milk jugs like crazy with a growing toddler. Recently I've been hoarding them for homemade laundry detergent storage, but they're good for so many more projects as well. After pouring through Pins and articles on gardening, homesteading, and sustainability... during the late hours that I sit up with insomnia that even the best essential oils can't cure... I came across this list of really good ideas on how to reuse plastic milk jugs. 

My most favorite, and the one that was easiest for me to achieve, was this plastic sack holder. You see, I also have a ton of plastic sacks. How un-green of me. I know. I really should invest in a bunch of cloth sacks. But in the meantime, I will redeem myself by reusing those plastic sacks too. I line my bathroom trashcans with them (who doesn't?), use them as wetbags when we go swimming at someone else's house, and even give them to my mom to use at her church's food pantry (The Witt House in Paragould, AR). 

Embarrassingly enough, a few months ago I started cleaning out my pantry and found 2 full sized garbage bags full of plastic sacks that I had good intentions for but never followed through with. Some were thrown in the recycle bin at Walmart, some went to The Witt House, and I started my hoarding over when I went to the store later in the week. 

This Milk Jug container will surely help me minimize my hoarding. 

Instructions:
This is really quite simple, but I wanted to make sure you understood how I got so many plastic sacks in the jug. If you just start stuffing them in, all wadded up, you will get about 10 in there before calling it quits. However, if you... 






Flatten each sack out, fold it length-wise (hot dog fold) twice, and stack all of the sacks on top of each other, you can roll them up and fit more than 33 sacks! That's all I attempted to stuff in there today. I would guess you could fit as many as 45-50. 

Then, as the very first picture showed, the sacks will be pulled out of what was formerly the milk jug spout. I started with the outermost sack and fed it through the spout before nestling the rolled bundle into the jug. After you use the one that's protruding, you might have to carefully select the next one in line to pull out. They unfortunately don't come out like baby wipes. If you know how to roll them that way (I've seen tutorials) be my guest, but that takes too long for my desire. 

My next suggestion would be to punch holes in the former bottom of the container (now the open top) and feed a sturdy string through the holes. Loop the string through the wire shelving of your pantry for fantastic, easy, storage. Or, stick a push pin through one of the sides and mount it to the wall or inside of a cabinet. You be the judge of what works best!

XOXO

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Letting Go Of Baggage

I know I'm blowing up the blog-o-sphere lately, but I have so much to share. So much to get off my heart.

When you can't sleep at night, you have a couple of choices. At night, we are more vulnerable. Why this is, I still don't know, but Satan feeds upon this time in order to make us victim to his lies. Tonight, I spent a few fleeting seconds seeing flashes of his lies and made a conscious effort to take my thoughts captive. What happened after that has caused me to still be awake nearly 3 hours later.

Earlier when I was in the Word, I saw a few different passages in the Psalms that hymns have been written about. The hymns directly quote passages of scripture, which is always so comforting to me because once I've read the Word, I can bring those songs to mind and more easily take the Word with me wherever I go. Ever since I was a little girl, the thing that has kept me sane in the dead of night when I wake up from a terrible dream is to sing hymns that I grew up with. I still do it. I still sing those same songs. It might not be out loud, but my heart is singing with all its mite.

Seeing those lyrical verses made me remember the place where I learned those songs - my first church. If you've been with me for a while, you might recall one of my first blog posts where I told you I hold grudges. That's been one of my shortcomings for...ever. In the past 5-7 years, it's been especially bad for me in the area of this church. For many reasons, that I won't get into completely, I developed a total distaste for the church and to be honest, some of the people. I allowed this to eat at me for so long.

Tonight as I was in bed, not sleeping, I suddenly started thinking about that church, and I felt like I really and truly...finally...was going to give up the bitterness and baggage I had been carrying around since about age 13-15. It was such an enormous amount of weight lifted off of my shoulders. I'm surprised I didn't fall into a weeping puddle of tears, like I'm usually accustomed to. Instead, I did what I do best - grabbed my pen and journal and poured it all out to the Lord.

I realized that more recently, I had been blaming that church for the fact that I didn't care about my faith at all by age 18. How trivial of me, because it's clearly Satan's fault. I found myself writing furiously, and admittedly, cursing Satan for the things he had robbed me of. I was so, so angry, but simply wrote, "Lord, take these human emotions from me and give me peace. Satan doesn't deserve grace...but I long for peace." I was robbed of not only my happiness, as I carried around years of baggage, but through the wedge Satan placed in my heart against the only church I had ever known, I fell prey to countless other opportunities for his destruction. I was robbed of my purity and many joys of my youth. I had some terrible friends that I know Satan placed in my path to completely destroy my life. I didn't cherish my single years for what they were worth. Hell, I barely had any 'single years.' Sure, I was taught what was right, but I honestly don't feel like I was prepared at all to handle spiritual warfare. Satan can take someone raised by well-intention-ed, good example, involved parents and make her question her very being. I'm a passionate person, prone to attitude and rage. Over those moments of realization, it was so hard not to literally scream to the Lord in frustration - Why did You let this happen!? Where was Your intercession!? Why did I suffer? My selfish, hurting soul longs for someone to blame. Not God, though. Never God. And still, why are angry tears the hardest ones to wipe away?

Just this past Easter when my parents came to our new church, they witnessed me worshipping and they cried. My mom embraced me and tearfully praised God for what she had just seen, saying, "It's so good to worship with you. For the longest time, I thought I'd never get to do that. I thought we had lost you." I told her that my faith was never really real until I found God at age 18 --  I went from a wild, emotionally destroyed, agnostic, apathetic young adult, desperately searching for my meaning...to a struggling tiny baby Christian who realized that all the Sunday school knowledge my parents had padded me with meant little to nothing when it came to a deep, passionate, bare your soul love for our Creator.

The point of saying this is that it took so many intense transitions for me to get to this point. I'm finally here, letting go of my hurt.

I respect what my first church did for me. I appreciate and still desire the standards it placed on my heart. When looking for a current church, I still want one that baptizes by full submersion of consenting believers, I cherish a church which emphasizes Bible teaching in Sunday school, and I will run to any offerings for home church. I really miss Communion every Sunday and 3 services a week.

If I'm being honest, lately I've been called to the traditional in a lot of aspects. Passionate worship still has my heart of hearts, but I've asked God to lead me where my husband is more fulfilled and where my child[ren] are most led to the cross. This doesn't mean I'm leaving Fellowship, but it might mean leaving a little bit of me in order to gain a lot of Jesus.

I'm not the same person now that I was even 6 months ago. I'm sure I'm not done changing, being convicted, or looking back in amazement. I've recently been doing a lot of research on Biblical child rearing. More than a dozen a few times during this research, I've found myself wondering how different life would have been for me if I had adhered to God's plan for us from the start. It can kill you to let these thoughts anchor in your mind. Don't let it happen. Thank Him for His abundant grace and move on knowing that you are a new creation.

If you have baggage that you have been harboring for a while now, please open your heart to God on the issue and ask Him to place you in the center of His will. Feel free to share it with me as well and I will pray over you.

Edit: I'm sharing this extremely raw piece because I feel like some of my more recent posts have been a little distant from the emotion. It was always my intention to let you know that you are not the only one struggling. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

It Works! Ultimate Body Applicator Wrap

Today I am going to be sharing with you a wonderful product that is new to me, called It Works! Ultimate Body Applicator Body Contouring Wrap! A friend of mine, Jennifer Roe, became an It Works! distributor after trying the products herself and getting hooked!

Find her on Facebook or order through her at http://www.jennswraps.com/ !
To watch full video tutorials, check her out on You Tube !

Since I've had a baby, my body, especially the skin around my tummy, hasn't been what it used to be. With my new lifestyle of clean eating, I have lost 10 lbs and feel 100 times better than I used to feel. With all of these changes, Jenn thought, why not share this amazing product with Bethany!?

To start out, make sure you are very hydrated. It Works! recommends you drink "up to half of your body weight (in pounds) in fluid ounces of water." This is a good measure for everyday hydration too. I was drinking tons of water all day in preparation for this wrap, so I feel like I look extra bloated in these photos. I was supposed to take a side picture also, but my baby boy fell and hurt his frenulum (the skin that attaches your upper lip to your gum). His was class IV, separating his teeth, but a few months ago he fell and tore it. His teeth have since grown back together, but occasionally if he falls on his face, he will start bleeding from the site. Anyway! That is why I do not have a side picture. It completely slipped my mind.

9 months big with my baby boy
17 months later - PRE-WRAP
I'm applying the wrap all over my tummy, hips, and even slightly below the waist. My absolute worst stretch mark scars are below my belt line because my belly really stretched in the last few weeks! I was slowly dilating for 4 weeks and baby boy was quite low during this whole time. I don't feel comfortable exposing that one to you, but I will report on the change I've seen in the scar!

Up close of the stretch marks. Just so you know what I'm working with.

After applying the wrap itself, I wrapped my entire torso with plastic wrap, pulling my underwear and shorts over the wrap for added pressure. I did take my belly button ring out before applying the wrap, but you won't be seeing pictures of me without it. I feel like it's part of me and I look crazy without it!
Generic Plastic Wrap
I then put on a very tight fitting tank top to help seal it all in!
Flattering, right? I promise I don't wear this without a shirt over it.
Also, go ahead and admire my selfie skills. ;)

Now, the waiting game! During your first application, only wear it for 45 minutes. During this time, its best to drink lots of water!! As I was waiting, I felt a lot of cool tingling on my abdomen, like wearing a facial mask that was invigorating my skin.

After 45 minutes, I peeled off the plastic and the Ultimate Body Applicator Body Contouring Wrap, and threw them away. I then rubbed the excess lotion into my skin.

Right after - Some of the bloating was gone!
A lot of bloating went away within 45 minutes. For seriously bad scars, like the ones I complained about earlier, below the belt, you will need to apply more than 1 wrap. The wrap doesn't just show instant results - it continues to work for hours after application. Don't forget to snap a few pictures of yourself the next day, like I did.

Wow, look at that!
24 hours after applying the wrap, I snapped these photos of myself. I woke up like this. Ha. Ravishing, right? I see such amazing results in the after photo. This is me 72 hours post-wrap:
It helps me look much better when I wear my pants a little higher on my waist like this.

On a totally different note than the wrap, if you are trying to look your best in clothes, wear pants that fit a little higher on your waist and make sure you are in the right size. I can't tell you how many times I've seen a girl wearing pants that really didn't fit and thought, 'Wow, she would look so much more flattering in a different style and size.'

From all that I have observed, if you buy the 4 pack of Wraps and use all of them over a span of several weeks, you will see optimal results! After just 1 wrap, don't be discouraged if you don't look like a new person. It takes persistence. I would definitely recommend that you contact Jenn at Jenn's Wraps and order the wrap kit and maybe some Defining Gel to really tone up!

I don't wear bikinis, but I do rock a mean 1 piece. Losing weight, toning up, cleansing healthily, and using the wrap gave me a better postpartum swim suit body than I ever could have imagined!

Swimming with my lovebug!
Find this suit at rosegal.com
Don't surrender yourself to a life of being uncomfortable with the skin you're in. 
Reclaim your body, health, and happiness! 
XOXO