Study Series | Bible Mapping

As a strong Christian woman, one of the things I love to do is study my Bible.

But I’m not into boring.

I can read a lot in a short period of time. I love speed reading.

However, I don’t like the idea of things going in one ear and out the other.

So.

Creativity is key.

Especially if I’m going to remember things that I’m learning.

One of the ways I add creativity to my studies is Bible Mapping.

If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a creative visual of what you are learning. It can be hand-drawn or mastered digitally.

Bible Map Hebrews 1214

Here is the process I use when I do Bible Mapping.

Title

The title I use is almost always the Scripture reference I’m picking apart. There’s nothing overly complicated with this, but I like to doodle it in a creative way.

Write It

If you’re going to study a certain passage of Scripture, you might want to know what it says. I usually write my favourite version big in the middle (ish) of the page. I like to leave enough space around each word for further study.

Re-write Multiple Versions

I’m a KJV girl, through and through. However, there are sometimes that it’s understood just a little easier with multiple versions of the Bible. I like to write a good 3 or 4 versions along the side of my page.

Concordance

This is where the fun begins. I look up all the words in the concordance and I start writing down my findings. I like to include the concordance reference, plus the meaning. That way, if I have any questions when I’m re-reading it in the future, I can easily pull up the word in the Greek/Hebrew.

Dictionary

Sometimes it’s a good idea to look up what those words mean in the dictionary. My favourite dictionary is Websters 1828 Dictionary. Noah Webster was a Christian and the definitions often have Scripture references contained within them.

Summary

At this point, I like to jot down what I feel the general overall key points are within the passage I’m studying. There are usually themes that pop out when we begin to dive a bit deeper than the surface level of the Scriptures.

Personal Application

Once I’ve finished all of that, I like to re-write the Scripture with a personal touch. I like to include tidbits from the concordance and dictionary that stood out to me. This really makes the Scriptures step out off the page and hit me on a personal level where it’s all about me and God.

Bible Map Romans 157

That’s a wrap. When I do these, it usually takes me a good chunk of time because I tear every part of the Scripture apart.

Extreme Dieting | Does It Work?

I tried dieting.

I’ll stop right here and take a moment of silence for anyone who has dieted at any point in their life.

I’m sorry.

Dieting stinks.

All of my life I have been thin. I mean, to the point where I had people pull Brian aside and express their concern for my health. Lots of people thought I had anorexia, and some even offered to take me to the hospital.

Except!

I wasn’t anorexic.

I just had a fast metabolism and I never over ate because I didn’t love food.

Then, when I got pregnant with Violet, I actually tasted variations in food – and I loved it (and sometimes craved it)!

After that point, I enjoyed food, but never to the point of over-indulging.

Let’s fast-forward a bit…

2016 began my intense workout journey and continued until February 2018. In February, I was finding it hard to do any extra anythings because we had been through some pretty tough events over the last few years. I feel like I kind of came to my breaking point and the end of it wasn’t even in sight. The gym almost became too exhausting for me to endure mentally, yet I kept eating like I was working out 2 hours/day, 6 days/week.

That brings me to my heaviest weight in life.

I decided to get back to the gym because let’s face it, I can’t control when life is going to throw curveballs my way.

I forgot how much I love the exhaustion that comes from working out and the burn from pushing your limits. It’s exhilarating!

…but then we booked a last-minute vacation.

This summer I lived in my winter stretchy clothes because I keep the temp in my house around 68 degrees. So, when I went to try on my summer clothes, they didn’t fit.

Now, you probably know by now how much I hate wasting money, so I figured the next best thing would be to extreme diet for 2 weeks.

UGH!

GROSS!

I hate dieting.

I cut out all sugars, dairy, bread, sweeteners, and junk food. Then I limited my caffeine to 1 cup per day. Plus, I restricted my calories and set time frames to eat (9am-5pm) – although I was a bit lax on the time restrictions.

Anyway, I have never wanted food so bad! I mean, I want food that I don’t actually like! My body is revolting and I feel like I’m dying.

It shouldn’t have to be this way.

So here it is. My revelation of the day.

Stop dieting.

Instead, just eat a healthy diet.

Exercise.

But not the kind that makes you want to die.

Do something that brings you joy.

For me, that’s lifting weights.

So, even though this was my first time ever dieting, it will most certainly be the last.

Don’t give up.

Even slow progress is momentum in the right direction.

To all those who have ever struggled with dieting or body image, you are worth so much more than the labels that you’ve picked up over the years. Don’t let other people’s highlight reels discourage you from being the best you that you can be. God created you special and beautiful and uniquely different from everybody else.

For a reason.

How To Host A Holiday Dinner

Thanksgiving is right around the corner for us Canadians and although I’ll be in the Caribbean, I’m dreaming about all the fixings.

I love everything about fall. Cool weather. Sweaters. Cute boots. Windows open. Fresh air. Thanksgiving.

When I was young, my mom always hosted family holiday dinners at our house for any family that was in town. I had so much fun helping her bake and prepare for our honoured guests.

For the last few years, I’ve had the honour of hosting dinners at our house. My daughter Violet now loves helping me plan and prep for everyone.

Now, one thing I haven’t mentioned is that our family has grown over the years…which is to be expected. So our prep is usually for 25-30 people.

I need to be super organized for my dinners, otherwise it would be extremely stressful and overwhelming. If it wasn’t for my stellar prepping skills, I would never have survived the time when we had church in the morning, lunch at Brian’s parents and then I was hosting dinner for my side of the family – all in the same day! I walked in the door only about 20 minutes before guests started arriving.

So, with that, I figured I’d share my plan & timeline on how to survive hosting a holiday dinner.

First things first, I usually have a note on my phone that I can copy and paste (then edit). However, since Easter (the last dinner I planned), I have stumbled upon Trello. I now use Trello to organize every aspect of my life – and it’s AHHH-mazing!!

Ok, let’s dive right in!

1 Month Before

Set the Date & Time – Simple, but without it, you have nothing.
Guest ListSeparate your list into kids & adults, then add up the total.
Notify/Invite GuestsSeriously. Don’t forget to let them know.
Menu PlanList everything you want on the menu.
Seating PlanMostly just make sure you will have enough seating.
DishesStocking 30 place settings might be overkill; decide if you have enough dishes or if you need to use disposable dishes.

If you’re as particular as I am, you may want to do the following:

Diffuser/CandlesAtmosphere is a big deal to me. What scent do you want people to enjoy? I usually throw on something fall related.
Music PlaylistIf I don’t pre-pick my music, Brian will most certainly turn on 80’s classics or Amy Grant. Spotify to the rescue!
Playroom/ActivitiesI don’t like leaving things to chance, which means that I like to give the kids something organized to do (like a scavenger hunt or a video filming challenge). This is how we minimize arguments, broken items and disasters in the basement.
Coat RackMy foyer is tiny and closet space is limited in our house, which means I need to have a dedicated area for all the shoes, coats & purses. It is usually one of the bedrooms.

2 Weeks Before

Finalize Meal PlanThis is the point where I decide if I’m going to be superwoman and cook/bake everything myself. I love doing this, but it’s not always feasible. If needed, I will accept offers from my guests to bring certain dishes. Just make sure to write down who is bringing what, otherwise you may end up with 5 salads and no buns.
Finalize Guest ListI guess this changes from day-to-day, but I like to get a general idea if everyone is coming or not. I like leftovers, but if I don’t need a 25 lb turkey, I won’t buy one.
Grocery ListGo through your pantry and cupboards to see what you have and what you need. I usually add to my grocery list for a few days before I start shopping.

1 Week Before

Clean HousePlease don’t judge me, but I use this time to not only clean my living spaces, but also all the bedrooms, closets, drawers, etc. I feel like I need a completely clean slate to start with.
Grocery ShoppingMy list is usually separated into a few different sections according to the best deals – Costco, Superstore, Wal-Mart, etc. Once I know what I’m getting where, I go get ’em.

3 Days Before

Light HousecleaningThe deep cleaning might be done, but the second you turn your back, a clean spot can turn into the perfect spot to paint nails – if you know what I’m talking about.
BakingThis is absolutely my favourite part! The smell of pumpkin pie, apple pie, cheesecake, cookies, cupcakes, etc. just gets me every time! And yes, some of my baking is just typical, full-of-sugar goodies and some are specially made sugar-free for my enjoyment.

2 Days Before

Meat PrepThawing large cuts of meat such as a whole turkey or ham takes time and patience. Pull it out of the freezer and drop it in a sink filled with cool water (ok, maybe don’t drop it). This keeps bacteria from multiplying on the meat.
Light HousecleaningBut seriously, people need to get ready, eat, function on a daily basis, so keeping on top of tidying up is essential.

1 Day Before

Light HousecleaningOk, I think I’ve made my point on this.
Stuffing – If I’m stuffing the turkey – which I always do – I like to make the stuffing the day before and put it in the fridge so my hands don’t burn when I’m stuffing the turkey.
Table SettingSince we tend to have a lot of guests, I usually rearrange my living room and set up a long table. We can’t all fit around one table, so doing this the day before helps me see how many seats we have.

The Day Of

CookThe alarm goes off early in the morning, I throw on my apron and get to work in the kitchen. I stuff the turkey, season it and put it in the oven. I arrange the ham in the crock pot and set it. Peel the potatoes, cut ’em up and throw them into the pot with water on the stove – ready to be turned on later in the day. Lastly, I will throw on some homemade bread in the bread maker.
RelaxThere’s no need to be stressed when it comes to hosting a dinner. Once everything is prepped and ready, take some time to get yourself together.

There you have it! Take the time to enjoy every moment of the day.

Do you find it stressful planning/hosting a holiday dinner? I’d love to know your secrets to staying stress-free.

How To Become A Morning Person

Ok, I know, I’m behind on my blog.

Hopefully this video makes up for it.

People always talk about how you’re either a morning person or a night owl. I used to be a morning person, but up until recently I haven’t been a morning person or a night owl – I like to go to bed early and sleep in.

In this video I am going to share with you how I’ve switched my routine to become a morning person.

Let’s start with the reason why I wanted to become a morning person.

Since the end of 2016, mornings have become a sore spot in my life. We’ve kind of gone through an extended period of time where we’ve endured waves of trials and tests in our life with little to no rest in between the waves. As time goes on in this manner, it gets more and more difficult to drag your inner Barbie out of bed each morning. So, I thought I would teach the kids how to get up and get ready on their own without needing me to be awake. Although that is good practice for life, it didn’t prepare them for school in a way that I would ultimately like. A beautiful woman recently encouraged me to cultivate a desire for God within my kids. I instantly knew I needed to start by revamping my morning routine.

Step 1 – The Night Before

Prep is key. It’s hard to get out of bed in the morning if you haven’t had a good rest the night before. I put together a night routine that would help me get adequate rest.

  • Make sure my bedroom is clean (fresh sheets/blankets/etc)
  • Make sure the kitchen is clean (waking up to dirty dishes and clutter adds stress)
  • Nightly skin care routine (wash/moisturize/lavender lip balm)
  • Utilize essential oils to set the atmosphere for sleep (Peace blend)
  • Get to bed by 10pm
  • Set my alarm (I actually have 3 alarms – 2 on my phone and the sunrise one on my bedside table)
  • Have a plan for the morning.

Step 2 – In The Morning

It took me a few tries before I figured out what would work for our family. Personalities and tendencies can all affect how mornings roll in your house. One of the key things I realized is that Violet needs food before she can function in the morning, so asking her to pray/read her Bible before breakfast will likely cause a struggle.

I’ll be real with you – it’s still very hard to drag myself out of bed each morning, but it is getting easier and easier each day because I know the atmosphere I want to cultivate and why I want to do it. That makes the struggle all the more worth it.

Mornings might not be a current strongpoint, but I would encourage you to figure out what it would take to cultivate the right atmosphere in your house each day. Then plan it out, tweak it, and when you’ve found a good groove, stick to it. Know your why – it definitely helps.

August Favourites | 2018

I’m kind of excited to write today’s blog post.

Ok, maybe I just realized that it’s 7pm on Saturday night and I totally forgot about writing a post.

However!!! I love talking about my favourite products, so it’s all good. I’m fine.

Although August had very limited spending, it didn’t stop me from loving some new things. They weren’t all about beauty, but that doesn’t take away from the awesomeness that they all possess.

Let’s dive into it.

John Frieda
Frizz Ease Miraculous Recovery (deep conditioner)

I may have talked about this before, but this is an amazing dupe for Olaplex. My hair is long and bleached, therefore it has so much potential for damage. I throw this mask on my hair every 2-3 days and it renews my ends like no other. I’m scraping the bottom of the jar, so this will definitely be a repurchase.

Estee Lauder
Double Wear Foundation (shade 2N1)

I had been wanting to try this foundation for a long time, but I had no idea what shade to get. So, when an Estee Lauder rep was in Sephora a few weeks ago, I took her up on getting a sample of the newly stocked foundation. The finish on this is beautiful! At first I wasn’t sure, but it feels great on my skin and isn’t heavy or cakey. My only qualm with it is that it doesn’t last as long as I need it to on my beloved 19-hour Thursdays.

Finish Powerball
Quantum Max Dishwasher Detergent

I feel like this is a strange thing to add to my favourites, but it kind of left me shook. Bahahahahah!!! I did not just say that. Let’s just say, it left me speechless…and my dishes spotless. My dishwasher situation has left me in a state of contention over the years. I thought getting a new dishwasher would solve my problems, but it didn’t. Turns out, I only needed to stop buying generic dishwasher detergent. I bought this because it was on sale at Costco. In the 15 years that I’ve cared about the cleanliness of my dishes, this was the first time I was completely satisfied. They literally sparkled. Just like the commercial. Now let’s hope they go on sale more often.

Slatkin & Co
Dark Chocolate Mint Candle

This candle is not new. As a matter of fact, I don’t think I’ve bought a candle in the last 2-3 years. I just happened to clean out my linen closet one day. Ta-da. First of all, this smells exactly like mint chocolate and I almost feel like I’m eating a chocolate bar without all the calories. We have been lighting the candle in the morning to help us wake up and set the mood to spend time with God. We’ve almost made it to the very end of the candle, so I may check out Bath and Body Works to see if they have any sales on their candles.

Indescribable Devotional
by Louie Giglio

I can not say enough about this book! I pre-ordered it when it was released because my kids love science. We read it every night as a devotion together as a family and the kids always want to keep reading it. The cutest thing ever was when my son comes to me with an overwhelmingly shocked look on his face, asking me if I’ve ever heard of Laminin. Before I even have the chance to tell him I’ve watched How Great is our God more times than I can count, he goes on to tell me that it’s literally God’s imprint inside our bodies and – get this! – it literally holds our bodies together! It was so cute seeing him so excited about our Creator and the miracle of Creation as seen in the human body.

Ok, I probably could go on and on with so many favourites this month, but I’m going to cut it there. August was a beautiful month that made me think outside of the box with things I needed and used. Sometimes it takes moments of simplifying life to truly think about the things that matter the most to us – and for me, they usually point back to the moments that glue our family together, moments that we spend cultivating a desire to know the one true God on a personal level. These moments are priceless.

Budget Wars | August 2018

One of the most common things I heard after we paid off our mortgage was about how rich we now were.

I realized that people didn’t really get it.

Now, maybe it isn’t like this for everyone, but the few people I know that paid off their mortgage were all in the same boat…

Recovery.

Yes, recovering from paying off your mortgage. For us, we put aside things for a long time (like decorating our house) so that we could focus on getting out of debt. So once that mortgage payment was null, it wasn’t like we all of a sudden had $380,000 in the bank. I mean, that would be great if it worked that way! However, it doesn’t – unless we sold the house and became homeless.

Now we are at the place where we still have all of these things that we need to do to the house, so we are saving that mortgage payment until we have enough to get ‘er done.

So, that leads me to August.

Budget life.

August budget life.

No spending August budget life.

Yes, that’s right. I’ve decided I’m going to go the whole month of August without spending extra.

Guess what that means.

Bare minimum groceries

When Brian and I were first married and actually had no money, I spent $50 every other week on groceries. We survived. I’m sure we can do it again. Right?

Passing up amazing deals

I am one of those people who has an extremely hard time passing up a deal. I’ve recently run out of a few staple products that I use and they were available to add-on to my FabFitFun order for a fraction of the price – like I mean $7 instead of $30 and $20 instead of $100. Then I thought about it. I can live without these products. AAACCKK!! Yes, it’s true. Luxury is just that, luxury. Not necessity. I’m sure I can deal without these products for a bit.

Putting makeup on the shelf

Ok, I don’t actually mean giving up makeup. I do mean putting it back on the store shelves – not buying it. This one is a bit hard for me because I’m running low on lots of makeup products. For instance, I ran out of my foundation and I’m extremely low on my face cream. However, I have samples kicking around and will use those until September.

Funny story – I used a sample of foundation the other day that was a few shades too dark for me. No biggie. I just blended it well, wore clothes that helped and made it work. A friend saw me in the hall at Church and commented about how tan I was. I chuckled to myself and graciously said my thanks. Little did he know that all that tan would be washed down the drain later that day.

No take-out

This one is a stretch – especially because yesterday I took a nap and while I was sleeping Brian ordered a pizza. I mean, I wasn’t mad at the decision. Cheese Wheelz pizza is only the best pizza around! Plus, I didn’t have to cook. Wow, I’m totally distracted. Let’s move on.

Brian and I have Fridays off together, so we typically go out for breakfast for a cute little morning date/debrief from the night before. It’s one of my most treasured dates with him. However, this summer we have set aside our breakfast place to save that little bit.

We also used to order pizza or Chinese food or something once a week. That’s also something we’ve limited over the summer.

The great thing about this decision is that it’s forcing me to learn some mad cooking skills. I mean, I need my kids to like more than just my grilled cheese and chicken nuggets.

There are a few other things that I’m doing to save money, but all in all, I really just ask myself if it’s a necessity or if there’s a more efficient way to get it done. If it’s a necessity, I will buy it; if it’s not, I will pass it up.

Are you a spender or a saver? Is it hard for you to go a month without extra spending? Do you classify makeup and takeout as necessities? Am I crazy for doing this or do you think any little bit will help? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.

Essential Oils

A few years ago, a friend of mine tried selling me on using essential oils. I wanted nothing to do with it because I figured it was just another money-making gimmick that would be a waste of money (and we know how much I hate wasting money).

Needless to say, I moved on and forgot all about it.

Until one day when we were visiting family out-of-town. We were supposed to go to a theme park when Violet started crying, doubled over in pain in her gut. She ran to the bathroom and….I don’t need to tell you the rest. Except that she was in horrible pain and I didn’t know what to do. Every few minutes she was running back to the bathroom in tears. I didn’t even know if there was such a thing as Immodium or Pepto for kids, but I told Brian just to go find me something at the drugstore. My sister-in-law asked if she could first try something she had in her cupboard.

ZenGest.

Willing to try anything to help Violet, I agreed. She put one drop on her belly and literally within minutes, Violet was back to laughing, playing and ready to go. I was skeptical, though. She told me to put it on her belly every 2 hours for the rest of the day. When we returned, I figured the episode that morning was probably just a fluke and stopped putting the drops on her belly.

Sure enough, after 3 hours, she was back in the bathroom starting the whole thing all over again. I tried the drops and within minutes, she was fine again.

That was when I realized that there may be more to this whole essential oils thing.

I started buying everything I could, but quickly realized that I was spending money on oils that sounded good, but I just didn’t use. So, I evaluated what oils I loved and used constantly and now I just buy those.

Here are my favourite and most used oils/blends.

Easy Air
Respiratory Blend
I use this when we have stuffy noses. I put this in the diffuser at night and also a drop or 2 on the chest. I also use this when I travel. When the air in the plane feels stagnant and stuffy, I usually open the bottle and take a few whiffs (or if it’s really gross air, sometimes I put a tiny drop under my nose).

Citrus oils
I just put citrus because there’s something about diffusing citrus oils that invigorate your senses and wake up tired minds. My favourite citrus oils are grapefruit, orange, lime and lemon.

Deep Blue
This is a gym favourite! When you’ve worked out and your muscles are recovering, Deep Blue cools and relaxes them better than icy hot or anything like that. I keep a bottle of the rub in my gym bag. This is also great for those times when Aunt Flow comes to visit. A little soupy mix of FCO, geranium, peppermint and clary sage topped with Deep Blue and I quickly forget that there’s an angry contract negotiation business meeting happening inside my abdomen.

Peace
Have you ever just asked for peace and quiet before?

Yes.

All. The. Time.

I am generally a great sleeper. By that, I mean that I can hit my pillow and be deep in solemn slumber within seconds of closing my eyes. However, when I can’t, sleep eludes me like a missing puzzle piece.

It’s gone.

I used to mix Juniper Berry (very easily my favourite oil), Lavender, Grapefruit, Ylang Ylang and Vetiver when that would happen, but then doTERRA came out with an oil blend called Peace. I’m certain it’s the exact combo that I would mix because it smells exactly the same as my concoction. Anyway, this stuff is the bomb! (does that mean I’m old when I say things like that?) I would use this over a sleep aid any day!

ZenGest
If you read my story at the beginning of this post, you know exactly why I keep this around. This is also an oil I love to travel with because you never know when your gut is going to turn on you in a foreign country.

I do use other oils and blends, but these are my most used oils. There is one other blend that I put together, but it is a top-secret bedroom type oil (and one I wouldn’t want to go without)…send me a message if you want the low down on that oil.

How Do You Handle Tough Times?

Life doesn’t always go the way we think it should. Sometimes it even feels like the twilight zone.

Handling the hiccups and the poop that tries to bury you can be downright overwhelming at times.

I am so grateful for my faith in God because I know He is faithful and will see me through any circumstance – no matter how intense it is.

Today I posted a little heart to heart – hopefully it helps even one person who watches.

6 Month Blogiversary

This week marks 6 months that I’ve been blogging. I had no idea what I was doing when I started (maybe I still don’t), but I feel like this has been good for me for a few reasons.

First, all of my life I have done things because either someone told me to, I was obligated to or it was just plain right. None of those are bad things, but I think it’s important to have a hobby or something that you do just because you simply enjoy it. That realization came to me when we had a mediator come into work and he asked me what I did on my spare time for fun. I sat there, unable to state any clear thing that I did simply for enjoyment.

After that wake-up call, I started to think about things that I enjoyed when I was younger – beauty, traveling, writing and laughing. That’s when I decided I would start a blog.

Second, I’m going to throw out the word endurance. I have this vivid childhood memory of my swim instructor telling me that I had great skills, but had to work on my endurance. I never knew that would stick with me until I realized that quitting things used to come easy to me. Now, any time I want to quit doing something, I run that phrase through my head and I evaluate if it’s my emotions talking or true logic. That swim instructor told me that after I failed the class by refusing to swim across the length of the pool. I literally swam to the middle of the pool and decided I couldn’t do it, so I stayed there for like 5 minutes treading water, pleading with him to not make me swim to the other side. Logic fail.

Third, I have become the most comfortable in my own skin since starting this. That kind of sounds strange, but confidence is something that so many people struggle with. When you put yourself out there, you run the risk of judgement from the peanut gallery. If you don’t want to be discouraged by negative comments, knowing why you are doing what you are doing is well worth it. It doesn’t totally take away the disappointment, but it does help you to push through and continue on. One of the things I say all the time, in anything you do – know your why.

Fourth, I feel like I’ve been able to connect to people who I would never have met if I wasn’t doing this. The internet is an amazing tool for connecting with people who you may never meet in everyday life. I’m grateful for these new connections and friends that I’ve made since starting my blog.

There are so many more reasons that I’m grateful for my blog and the blogging community, but these four are more than enough for me to keep going.

Thank you to all of you who enrich my life ❤