Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Redeeming Love: Part 3

"Many the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." Proverbs 19:21
We have ideals and plans about how we want our lives to go. God also gives us the free will to decide what to do with our lives. But when we put our trust in Him and include Him in our lives in every aspect, He will always be present. Whenever I submit everything I do to the Lord everything always turns out much better than if I were to tackle it all on my own. Does anyone else notice that?

"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard on another as more important than himself." Philippians 2:3
ME, ME, ME! Some call our generation today the entitled generation where everything is about us. What we want, what we need, and wanting it right now. Sometimes when life gets busy I tend to forget humility and selflessness. It is not my brightest moment but it happens. Lord, forgive me. Help me to be more selfless and look at those around me and their needs. Lead me to where I can serve You and think less of me and more of You! AMEN!

"But now, thus says the LORD , your Creator, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine!" Isaiah 43:1
We are the Lord's! We are His children. He saved us and redeemed us, is there anything sweeter? I feel like I need this as a constant reminder because there are times when my struggles get to me and I forget how good God's mercy and grace is.

"When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child, when I became a man, I gave up childish ways." 1 Corinthians 13:11
Do you ever feel like even though you're an adult, you're not sure if you've actually grown up yet? It sounds silly but sometimes, even though I have a child and am married I think to myself, "I need to grow up!". Sometimes I let petty, little things get to me. Sometimes I get irate at the person who cut me off while I am driving and nag at them like they can hear me. But of course, they can't! Or if my husband makes me upset I will pout and complain, like a child. These are things I see as childish. I know the Lord would not want me to waste my time being pouty or complaining. This is where I wan't God to transform my heart, into a mature one that serves Him. Instead of nagging at the person who cut me off, maybe automatically giving them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they are late to work at a job they desperately need or need to rush and pick up their child from day care. And then, maybe instead of pouting when my husband makes me upset, talking to him straight away. In this I feel that I can grow and mature in Christ and be an example to those who need Him.

We've finally come to our favorite part of the story! All of the pieces are finally coming together for Angel. There's still so much pain and heartache for her to work through, but she's finally realized that she doesn't have to do it alone. She's beginning to trust the people God has placed in her life. They help her to see the woman God intended her to be, who she never thought she could be. In the beginning of her healing process, she began to worship her husband. We've all been there. We've pinned our hopes and dreams on a human and, sometimes through no fault of their own, they can let us down. But God is the one we need to turn to. Angel needed to learn that God was not some "spy in the sky" ready to point and laugh at her when she stumbled. He's a loving, patient Father who gave His life so that she could live her life for Him.

So which character did you find yourself relating to most? Were you Angel, hungry for a love you didn't know you needed & rescued out of despair? How about Miriam, light-hearted and wiser beyond her years? Unfortunately I think a lot of us can be like Paul at times. Anger has just a hard grip on our lives that the good we think we're doing for others is actually hurting them more. Hopefully we all strive to be more like Michael, a faithful servant after God's own heart.

We're taking the next couple of weeks off for some quality family time but we'll be back next year! Have a very Merry CHRISTmas and a Happy New Year! Be safe and cherish every moment you spend with family and friends!
We'll be back in 2015 with so many fun things to share with you so be sure to come back in a couple weeks! THANK YOU for all the support and friendship!

God Bless,

Friday, December 19, 2014

Joyful Week: Prayer Calendar

One of our goals is to be stronger prayer warriors. Having a prayer calendar has really helped us achieve this. We keep a copy visible on the fridge or counter and fill in what we'd like to pray for each day. Some days it's personal and close to home and other days we fill led to pray for matters that don't affect us directly.

Christmas is a great reminder of all that we have to be grateful for. Feel free to use the free calendar printable to help your family become prayer warriors! We encourage you to fill in a praise each day as well.

Below are also some suggestions for prayer. When you're at a loss for something or someone to pray for, these people and situations can always use God's Hand.

- Spouse
- Pastor
- Your children
- President
- Someone you know who doesn't know Christ
- Courage to speak to an unbeliever about God
- Strength to be a light in the darkness
- Families going through a miscarriage/loss of a child
- Families of deployed service members
- Deployed service members
- Local first responders
- Homeless
- Incarcerated men & women
- Orphans and foster children
- To have a positive attitude at work
- Families struggling with infertility
- Divorced families
- Those searching for a job
- To have a cheerful spirit
- To have an ongoing conversation with God

We'd love to add to this list so please let us know what you'd like us to be praying about!

We hope you've enjoyed Joyful Week. Christmas is one of our favorite times of year and we're so glad we get to share it with you! Merry Christmas!

God Bless,

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Joyful Week: Decorate Your Fridge

Hopefully by now all of your winter decorations are up at your house. But if you're like us, you're still finding things to cover in Christmas cheer! Well here are some simple ideas for an area of your kitchen that may be without decor: the refrigerator!

I like to keep family photos and announcements on the fridge year-round and didn't feel like taking everything down to decorate. So I spent a few dollars and got some construction paper and poster board. It only took a few minutes to whip up a cute snowman fridge!

With a little one all over the place, all the things we put on our fridge is up high so the bottom is just a black void. I am also constantly thinking of things to keep my little dude occupied while I make a meal. Some scrapbook paper and poster board are all you need for this. I made a little Christmas tree with decorations to pull off and put back on and used fridge magnets we already have to place ornaments. So now my son can have fun in the kitchen while I cook!

Do you decorate your kitchen? What are some creative ways your like to spruce up your home for Christmas?

God Bless, 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Joyful Week: Traditions

Here are some of our favorite Christmas traditions, old and new:

Growing up, Christmas Eve was always spent with my dad's side of the family. But after they all decided to go party in heaven with Jesus, we needed a new tradition. We decided to go see a movie on Christmas Eve one year and after loving it so much, we made it our new tradition! We like to see lighthearted, family movies. Its so much fun to laugh together! 
One year my parents got me a Christmas ornament that was a lamb holding a cake that said "Happy Birthday, Jesus!" on it. What better way to celebrate than to sing to the most miraculous birthday boy ever! It's a fun reminder of what Christmas is all about.
Who doesn't love looking at Christmas lights? I prefer the simple white outlined houses while pretty much everyone else in my family is more impressed by the multicolored light shows set to music. What's your style?
Now that we have a little one, I'd like to start a new tradition with our little family! Every Christmas Eve, our children will get one gift to open. It'll have new Christmas pajamas, a new movie, and some yummy winter treats like hot chocolate and popcorn. Then we can all sit down as a family in our new PJs and watch a funny movie. Movie theaters can be a little crazy with kiddos so this will be a nice relaxing evening at home. 

Operation Christmas child has been something my husband and I started doing together since before we were married.  I love being being able to make a special box for a child, and to add to that hear the message of Christ. Now that we have our son, we definitely want to have him join in on this tradition. Even though he is still a baby, I want to instill in him a heart of giving from the very beginning. I also enjoy making spritz cookies. They are so simple and easy and just get me in the Christmas spirit. Since the recipe I have makes so many, it is nice to give as gifts too. We also love to drive around our neighborhood and look at everyone's Christmas lights. I love how a decorated house gives off a such a warm feeling in the middle of winter. Lastly, we like to open one present each on Christmas Eve. It is something I always did with my family growing up and it kind of just stuck around when we got married.

What kind of Christmas traditions do you an your family have?
Any new traditions you plan on starting?

God Bless,

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Redeeming Love: Part 2


"Even if you persuade me, you won't persuade me." - Aristophanes
How many of you like being told what to do? I know I don't. I can be very stubborn. I need to come to a decision on my own. That's what I feel like Aristophanes is trying to say. While it can be good to have a "question everything", "independent" attitude at times, we need to learn to adopt a submissive and humble perspective.

Judge not, that ye be judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get." Jesus, Matthew 7:1
"You get what you give" and "what goes around comes around" come to mind when I read this verse. While I don't think revenge is what God had in mind, I do believe hat when we put good out into the world, we are better able to recognize and receive good back

"You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Jesus, Matthew 19:19
This verse can be dissected, analyzed, then applied to so many areas of life. What would the world look like if everyone followed this simple rule? It's hard to even imagine. Think about all of your relationships (friends, co-workers, spouses, siblings, parents) and imagine how much better that connection would be if you treated them like you'd like to be treated.

"Because a thing seems difficult for you, do not think it impossible." Marcus Aurelius
Our view of our own lives and the lives of those around us is so limited. We see such a small glimpse of what God sees. That's why we tend to be discouraged by difficult situations. Thankfully we love a God who knows the intricacies of all of our lives so well that all we need to do is trust Him and anything is possible!

Let's focus on Chapters 12-23. What a roller coaster, huh? We've seen Angel's emotions and attitude rise and fall. She's questioning everything around her. New characters have come into play now. People are having an influence on her life in both good and bad ways. We see hope when a new family comes into Angel's life, and despair when a new man begins to eat away at Angel's soul.

Angel is trying to figure out what she wants out of life. She thinks she understands what Michael is offering her and it frightens her. Her past has made her distrusting of anyone but herself so she finds superficial comfort in her past plans for her life. God and Satan are calling out to her, but right now Satan's voice seems louder. She's struggling inside her head and not letting her heart lead the way.

Do you ever feel that way? Are you stuck inside your own head? Life is so much easier when we let go of what is troubling us and give it all to God. Trust can be a scary thing because it takes us out of the driver's seat where we think we're in control. The funny thing is, we're never in control. But it takes faith and courage to recognize this.

We encourage you to give your troubles over to God now! Let Him be your Leader. Get out of your head and into your heart!

Is there anything we can be praying for you? We'd love to hear your praises as well!

Be sure to come back next week as we finish up this amazing book. Get ready for more ups and downs and a very blessed ending!

God Bless, 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Joyful Week: Giving Of Yourself

It is the season of giving. What comes to mind is making lists on what to give to family and friends, making lists and shopping to find the perfect gift. Don't get me wrong, I love giving to the special people in my life. Although there is so much more we can give whether it  be our time, a monetary gift, or with gifts and talents. If you have kiddos, it is always great to get them involved in giving and instilling what a servant's heart is.

 If you feel led to give of yourself this holiday season, here are some ways to do so. This is in no way to make you feel pressured to give, just give what you can and what you feel led to give. Anything will be a blessing to someone!

(All mentioned organizations are linked for more information.)

Giving Locally
Every community has it's needs. During this season, it is common to find a lot of food drives and giving trees. Seek out local giving trees in the area. Churches have them, grocery stores, and small businesses. These same stores sometimes have a collection for food banks or toys for local children. Some common charities you might find are Toys for Tots or Forgotten Children's Fund. Both of these organizations could always use volunteers if you would like to give of your time as well.

Giving Nationally
Christmas is a time to spend time with family and most of the time eat yummy food. Although, hunger is an issue in our nation with 1 in 6 people struggling with hunger. Feeding America is a network of national food banks. They have multiple ways to give and find food banks near you. No Kid Hungry is also and organization that fights hunger and makes sure kids get enough to eat.

Giving Globally
On of my favorite ways to give is through Operation Christmas Child. Through this, a child across the world has the opportunity to learn about Christ while getting a shoe box full of fun items and necessities. You can build a shoe box on their website or check out the guidelines and build your own by buying items at a store. This is a fun one to get kiddos involved in. Priority One invests in leadership organizations around the world. They do this by helping build facilities, financing clean water wells, providing transportation for ministers, and providing e-readers for curriculum. There is always individuals who can benefit from these things as they have an eagerness to follow the Lord.

How will you be giving of yourself this Christmas season? Please share!


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Let's Talk Snot

It's that time of year where runny, snot filled noses make their debut. Fortunately for us, we have two little ones who don't know how to wipe or blow their noses so we get the pleasure of doing it for them. Today we have two tried and true solutions to help your stuffed up little one.

NoseFrida the Snotsucker

The NoseFrida does exactly what it says. It sucks snot. Although it doesn't do it by itself, you do it. Now before you think "EW! I will not suck my child's snot!", I promise it is completely hygienic and worth it. Once you try this out, you will never go back to a bulb aspirator again!

What makes it hygienic is a filter so no yucky germs or snot comes your way. All the snot will stay in the end you stick in the baby's nose. The end that sticks in your mouth is a small tube that is pretty lengthy. One thing that helps makes this experience easier for little ones and yourself is saline spray or drops. I like to use Little Remedies Spray. Here is a video from Missy Lanning who explain this awesome must have perfectly.

Boogie Wipes


For those times when your little ones' nose just needs an occasional wipe, Boogie Wipes are amazing! They are super soft and gentle on little noses. When dry tissues irritate and chap, Boogie Wipes get the job done without causing more damage. They come fun scents, too: Great Grape, Fresh Scent, Magic Menthol, Simply Unscented, & Boogieberry.

Boogie Wipes brand also offers a Boogie Mist (saline mist for clogged noses) that we haven't tried yet. But we love Boogie Wipes so much that we will definitely try the mist whenever it's needed.

Be sure to visit boogiewipes.com for some great products when your little one is under the weather! You won't regret it!

What kinds of products helps your little one (and you!) get through runny nose season?
Will you be trying any of these products soon? Let us know!


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Redeeming Love: Part 1


"The prince of darkness is a gentleman." -Shakespeare
  - Sin doesn't take hold in our lives aggressively and all at once. It creeps, seduces, and gradually worms its way in until we can't remember what life was like before. Satan may be a charmer, but he will turn on you faster than you can believe.

For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. - Romans 7:19
  - Ever find yourself doing something you know is wrong, and yet you continue anyway? You may even think you know the consequences and feel no matter what happens, it's worth it. Prayer is a powerful weapon against a circumstance like this. We must pray for awareness of what we shouldn't do and the will-power to not continue down the wrong path.

"I am dying of thirst by the side of the fountain." -Charles D' Orleans
  - No matter where we go or what we do, God's love is constant. I love this quote because it's an excellent reminder that it is a choice to starve yourself of God's love. He never takes it away from us. All we have to do is turn to Him and accept His perfect love.

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest. - Jesus, Matthew 11:29
  - This verse reminds me that while the world wants to pile heavy burdens on our shoulders, God offers a lighter option with love and rest. This doesn't mean we get a free pass with nothing to worry about, but that the weight we do carry will be manageable with God's love.

Redeeming Love is a story that I like to read once a year around Christmas. With all of the hubbub going on around me about decorations and gifts, I like focusing in on the true meaning of Christmas: How God LOVES us so much that He sent us the greatest GIFT of all, His Son. His perfect love is an immense blessing that we sometimes (ok, all the time) take for granted. Michael and Angel's story may be set in a different era than our own and may be the extreme of many of our struggles, but there is so much to be learned from the way God moves in their lives.

This novel is mirrored after the book of Hosea. We encourage you to read the original account as well as Redeeming Love so that you can truly understand how deeply God's love ran to and through the characters. Let's take a look at the Prologue-Chapter 11.

The beginning of the book takes us through Angel's childhood. We see glimpses of her experiences and start to understand why she is in her current situation. The many horrors she faced for the majority of her life begin to define and shape her. Tragically, this is a life that all too many women either have or currently experience. While some of us can never understand being forced into a cruel, demeaning world at a young age, we know what it's like to feel out of control. We've been in a situation where it felt like there was nowhere to turn but to ourselves, no one to trust but us. But just like in Angel's case, God can use people to turn us back to Him.

Michael is a man after God's own heart by every definition. He follows God's will down a path that removes Angel from a desperate place to one where God can use him to restore her soul. We end this week's reading with Angel filled with doubt. Instead of trusting a God she doesn't believe in, she leans on her own understanding. What will she do next? Will Michael be able to convince her to stay or will she always feel the need to leave?

I'll end this discussion with a few questions (found at the end of the book) for you to think on:
- Which character do you identify with most and why?
- Describe a time when you were rejected or betrayed. To whom did you turn and why?
- When you have faced rejection or betrayal, was God calling you? What good has He worked in your life in relation to those circumstances?

Next week's discussion will be on Chapters 12-23.

God Bless,

Friday, November 28, 2014

Total Body Workout Calendar

We hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We sure did!
Now that all the food has been eaten and all the pants' buttons have been undone...let's get to work! Don't wait until the New Year to start some resolutions!

Still feeling stuffed? Well let's get back to work
with a great workout!

God Bless, 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Be Thankful!

We're taking this week off to celebrate with our loved ones, but we just wanted to stop by and wish you a very Happy and Festive Thanksgiving! We hope you have a safe holiday filled with time spent with family and friends.

God Bless, 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Harvest Week: Recipe Cards

Chances are you've already received or found plenty of recipes to whip up for upcoming dinners and parties. What better way to stay organized than to have recipe cards ready to write them down? Or feel free to write your favorite dish on them and hand it out to friends and family! Print them out and make them your own!

And here's an example card with a bonus recipe on it! You're going to LOVE these crackers. Not too spicy and just addicting enough to snack on while you cook your Thanksgiving feast!

How do you keep your recipes organized?

God Bless,

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Harvest Week: Turkey Craft

We love to get crafty here at James & June and we're hoping to instill this into our kids' hearts early as well. Everyone loves a good hand/footprint craft so why not get festive...and maybe a little messy! We created our own Pinterest inspired turkey craft to do with little ones as well as older kiddos.

We've attached some printables for you to customize your turkey! Below you'll find a printable turkey, turkey outline (in case you're older ones feel like coloring), and several backgrounds to choose from. Get creative! Just "feather out" Little Ones' painted hand or footprints, then cut and paste the turkey cut out over it! So simple and so cute!

Here is everything you'll need:
-Printable Turkey (find below)
-Background (find below)
-Construction Paper for mounting (optional)

Here are some pictures of our playgroup getting in on the fun:

Painting with baby feet is HARD! Our turkeys came out different but equally cute! What a great way to remember how tiny our babies' feet once were. 

How did your's turn out? We want to see!
Do you have any other turkey crafts you like to create with your kids?

God Bless,

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Harvest Week: Decorations

Changing up decor for every season or holiday is a great and easy way to liven up your living space and make things a lot more cozy and warm during as the cold comes. Here are the things we put up in each of owns to capture the fall spirit!

Jillianne's Home

1,2,3: These are all decor on our fireplace mantle. Our mantle is big enough to have all three scenes of decor without clashing. I love filling a space like this since large and can feel very empty. My favorite pieces are the chalkboard and owls. Writing on chalkboards can be easily changed from time to time and the owls just fit into the fall season!
4,5: When I was little, pumpkins came in one form and it is the ones that you typically carve. Although now being older and going to a local pumpkin patch, pumpkins are so diverse. I grabbed some unique, little pumpkins to spice up the dinner table and used pumpkins that Kacie gave me to add a little something to our TV stand.

Kacie's Home

It's been a crazy, hectic, madhouse around here. We moved this past weekend so our fall decorations are slowly but surely making their way out of the storage bins. So here are a few of my favorites!
1) I found these super cute leaf plates at a grocery store in Texas. They're great little platters for treats. Aren't owls cute in every season?! And the scarecrow figurine was a gift that reminds me to give thanks for all the gifts in my life. 
2) Pumpkins everywhere! Starbucks pumpkin bear, pumpkin carving, and a mason jar full of pumpkin potpourri. Have I mentioned I'm addicted to pumpkins? :)
I wish I could show you all of my decorations, but alas we still have some unpacking to do! 

Do you get new decorations each year or do you stick with the classics?
We want to see your Fall homes! Post pictures in the comments. 

God Bless,