"By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it's established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." Proverbs 24:3-4

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

An Invitation (The Plan of Salvation)

We have been saying goodbye to summer over the last few days...

For it has turned chilly here lately.

I whisper a quiet farewell to my flowers....

because I know it will be many months before they visit me again.

It is bittersweet...

It is like saying goodbye to a dear friend...

Maybe as winter settles in I'll be able to blog more!

Because all of you have become my dear friends, as well!

I have noticed in my blog stats that this blog is spreading. It is receiving hits from various other countries. And it makes me curious... 

Who in Turkey... or France... or China... is reading my blog?

And the thought that is always fore-front in my mind is, Am I pointing people to the Lord?

So, today I want to extend An Invitation...

I want to invite you to give your life to Jesus Christ.

Did you know that you are not reading this by accident? Christians who are reading this: Pray for those reading who are unsaved! Those of you reading who have never repented: God is inviting you to accept His gift of salvation!

"He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9

Have you ever wondered how you can obtain a personal relationship with Jesus and know for sure that you will go to Heaven when you die?

God's plan of salvation is simple. 

~ Repent and Believe! ~

"The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" Mark 1:15

Repentance is the first step to salvation because, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23

It isn't enough to just believe in God. 

"You believe that there is one God? Good! Even the demons believe that - and shudder." James 2:19

Scripture has some sobering warnings about this:

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me you evildoers!" Matthew 7:21-23

You may be thinking, Yeah, but I'm a good person... I've spent my life in church... I don't do bad things... But the bible says, "There is no one righteous, not even one... There is no one who does good, not even one." Romans 3:10/12b

The bible also tells us what we really deserve for our sins:

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23

So, the first step is to repent! But don't let the word "repent" scare you. It just means to turn away from your sin, and is absolutely essential for the assurance of salvation!

Pastor and author J.D. Greear puts it this way:

"The idea of 'asking Jesus into your heart' often gives false assurance to those who are not saved."

So friends, I urge you! Confess your sins to the Lord through genuine repentance!

"Unless you repent, you too will perish." Luke 13:3

"Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation..." 2 Corinthians 7:10

God knew we would be lost in our sin, separated from Him forever. He knew we would have no hope for reconciling with Him on our own. So, He sent His son, Jesus, to die on the cross to take the penalty of our sins for US!

"But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

All we have to do is accept this priceless gift!

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Do not be fooled by other religions. Jesus is the only way to God, and the only way to Heaven. 

"Jesus answered, 'I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6

He does not say, I am A way, or, I am ONE way... No. He says, "I am THE way."

He also says, 

"I am the gate, whoever enters through me will be saved." John 10:9

So, it's very clear. We must repent of our sins and believe on Jesus Christ for our salvation. No other name under heaven can save us. No religion can save us. Good works can not save us. 

~ Only Jesus! ~

"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me." Revelation 3:20

 Do you hear Him knocking on your hearts door? 

If you've never opened your heart and surrendered your life to Jesus, and are still reading this, God is pursuing you. He wants a personal relationship with you.

"I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, today is the day of salvation." 2 Corinthians 6:2b

Will you respond...?


~ Courtney ~

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Staircase

Hello friends!

I'm back with another before and after.

Once again, I was blown away by yet another private message from a reader, telling me how much she enjoys my blog. You guys! This means so much to me when you do this! Your words make my day! I can't believe how many of you have reached out to me, and I really can't believe how many of you are interested in the improvements we've made to our old farmhouse!

I love that you want to see our renovations, because I love showing it off!!!

So, today I want to show you my staircase.

This is what it currently looks like:

But when we bought our house this space looked like this:

The walls were painted a light yellow, with mysterious patches on the ceiling. The light fixtures, as you can see here, were plastic ceiling fans, which really cheapened the space. The staircase wall was wallpapered in a small scale floral, which really dated the space.

Here's a better picture of the wallpaper:
(and Micah hanging Christmas garland for me... haha.)

We lived with it like this for the first few years. I just decorated anyway, haha. 

For example, this is a picture from before we renovated the staircase and front room:
(Here come Roman and Nola on their new Christmas bike! They look so little!)

Living in our home before and during renovations has been a good lesson in contentment for me. I learned how to make things as beautiful as possible for the moment, while planning and looking forward to the future renovation.

When it came time to tackle this space, we had our work cut out for us, but we dove in anyway.

Here are some "during" shots:

Micah removed the banister completely, and even numbered each spindle so that we knew the order in which to put them back on. Everything got sanded and re-varnished.

It's really noticeable here, the difference a fresh coat of white paint makes! I didn't realize how dingy the walls were before:

I considered several different options for the staircase wall. I thought about re-papering it in a more up-to-date wallpaper... I thought about painting it an accent color... I even considered creating a gallery wall of various pictures...

But in the end I chose the tone-on-tone trim design that it is today, and I couldn't be happier! To me it is timeless and classic, and I can't imagine ever growing tired of it!

Here I am with it right after it was completed: 
(I can't remember which kid I am pregnant with here, haha! Those years are a blur of babies and home renovations that all blend together in my memory!)

In my head, I had designed what I wanted for this wall, but was having trouble describing it to Micah. So I drew a sketch for him to go off of. I regret not saving the sketch because I think it'd be fun to show you! It was an imperfect little scribbling of lines that I drew quickly just to get my point across. But it did the trick, because from that sketch Micah created the staircase wall that I still madly love today!

I am thankful that this wall turned out far better than my faulty little hand-drawn sketch! To my eyes, it is perfection:

I chose to paint the trim and moulding in a shade lighter, and in a finish shinier than the walls, so that the trim would pop!

And it does!

(Side note: You do NOT want to be around me when the day comes for us to move! Our finger prints and heart prints are all over this house! Moving from here will be a sad day, indeed!)

But, getting back to the before and after... I love showing back-to-back before and after photos. It's rewarding to see! So here we go!

The stairs themselves...


And After:

The view from the top of the staircase looking down...


And After:

The wall underneath the banister...


And After:

The light fixtures...


And After:

I'm so in love with antique lights! These are both antiques, not reproductions, and they make my heart go pitter-pat! The one in the fore-front was found on Ebay, and the one closest to the stairs was found at an antique shop about an hour north of where I live. 
(I will drive for antique lights!!!)

Since I'm talking about antiques, I'll show you how I've decorated around the staircase.

My favorite "look" in the whole wide world is an antique picture hung on a bright, white wall. Like this:

Here's a close-up of this arrangement:
(The antlers are Micah's, the larger picture is from my mother, and the smaller one I found at an antique fair.)

The picture that hangs beneath the banister was an exciting find at a junky thrift store:

Finding a treasure at a thrift shop is such a thrill because its like finding a needle in a haystack. This picture was buried in a box of 95% junk, not visible upon first glance. If you're willing to dig through a little junk, it will sometimes pay off! I was the lucky one to un-earth this:

I paid $10.00 for it. I didn't re-frame it or re-matte it. I found it just like this!

~ Lucky ~ Lucky ~ Lucky ~

"By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." Proverbs 24:3-4

Thank You, for letting me show you my staircase! I know that my style isn't trendy and maybe isn't what you prefer, but you all have only ever sent me positive, encouraging feedback about the photos I have shared. I am so thankful for that, and for you!

Until next time...


~ Courtney ~

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Our Fall Homeschool Schedule

I love finding out how other moms "do life," don't you?

One of my favorite things to do is to have coffee with a girlfriend and just pick her brain, to see if there's something I can learn from her.

It's good to get ideas and encouragement from our girlfriends!

So, today's post is our current daily schedule, because perhaps there's a homeschool mom out there who would benefit from seeing how our life is ordered.

If you're a new-to-homeschooling mom, or considering homeschooling, the best advice that I can give you is to protect your time in the home! There are a million activities, co-ops and classes that will try to yank you around, but almost all of it is unnecessary.  Small children need to be home for their best mental and emotional development.

My children are in a few activities outside of the home, but when I schedule those I schedule them carefully and purposefully and with a vision in mind. 

I'd like to write a post about our outside activities, but for today I am sharing our stay-at-home schedule. 

I love this quote from AVIRTUOUSWOMAN.ORG: 

"Striving for an ideal, perfect life is unrealistic this side of heaven. Instead, determining to live each day with purpose and doing the best you can makes much more sense!"

To me, the best way to "live each day with purpose" is to start with a vision for the bigger picture.(Where there is no vision, the people perish. -Prov. 29:18) Prayerfully create a God-honoring, doable schedule. (Teach us to number our days... -Ps. 90:12a) Then trust God to do His part. (May the favor of the Lord rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us- yes, establish the work of our hands. -Ps. 29:17) While being faithful to do my part! (She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. -Prov. 31:17) And in order to do my part well I must be home!  (She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. -Prov. 31:27)

SO! The following is the schedule that I came up with. This is what our life looks like most days of the school week.

Here we go...

Our Fall 2016 Homeschool Schedule:

7:00-7:30am ~ Mama wakes up/ Coffee/ Quiet time...

(Sometimes I set my alarm for 6:00 or 6:30 to work on my blog. But on days that I'm not blogging, I wake up at 7:00.)

The children are always awake during this time, *sigh.... I do my best to shoo them away I mean, ahem, encourage them to watch PBS kids, so that I can have a sufficient quiet time. 

~ "The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul." -Ps. 19:7 ~

7:30-8:00 ~ I wash my face/ Get dressed/ Start a load of laundry/ Make my bed...

8:00-9:00 ~ Get the baby up and changed/ Breakfast/ Kitchen clean up... 

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll know that breakfast is an event in our house! That's why you'll notice that a full hour is scheduled for this.

I open windows, turn lights on, play nice music, and get out real plates and glasses. 

This is my time to engage them in conversation, read a chapter out of Proverbs to them, sing with them, and deepen our bond.

~ "When I was a child I always wanted to be in the kitchen. It was warm, and that's where my mama was." -Dolly Parton ~ 

~ ~ ~ Childhood memories are made of this ~ ~ ~

9:00-10:00 ~ "Morning Routine"/ Baby naps/ Big kids practice piano/ Mama gets ready...

Our "Morning Routine" is when we all go upstairs so that I can do hair/ make-up, and re-boot the laundry while the children tidy their rooms, make their beds, brush their teeth, etc... 

10:00-12:00noon ~ School (Part One)

By 10:00, my washer, dryer, and dishwasher have all been put to work and are humming along... The kitchen table and counters have been wiped clean... Our tummies are full...The children are dressed and their rooms are tidy-ish... I am dressed with hair and make-up done... The baby is in her crib, and we can...

Get to work!

I have divided our school work into two parts. A morning part, and an afternoon part. 

The morning part consists of lessons and seat work, Pledge of allegiance, Bible memory, and reading.

We have a view of the flag from our living room where we say the Pledge:

Then we get comfortable in the living room for memory work and reading. 

By reading I mean, I read aloud to all of them. I gather ahead of time the books that I want to use, as well as a bowl of some sort of treat... (you know, for bribery, haha.) 

I happened to snap this picture once the treats were eaten, so the bowl is empty here, but through the years I have used candy such as mini-marshmallows, fruit snacks, and candy corn. I've managed to get them to memorize huge chunks of scripture this way, so please don't judge me, haha!

~ "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." -Ps. 119:11 ~

All of this takes the full two hours. By noon we're ready for a break!

12:00-1:00 ~ Lunch/ Re-boot the laundry/ Play time for the kids

I want to say a few things here before I continue. First, there are moments within these two hours when I can break away for a little bit to do some housework such as clean one of the bathrooms, or do some dusting. I try to encourage independent seat work, so I will set the big kids up with their books and give them their instructions and tell them, "I'm going to slip away for a quick chore, but call for me if you need help."

Second, remember back to your school days... Were you public schooled? I was! (Most 80's kids were!) We did not spend the entire eight hours with our heads in the books. Remember what a day would consist of? Remember how much time was spent on nonacademic activities such as bus rides, snack time, waiting in lines, recess, lunch, etc... All of these types of things can either be eliminated from the homeschooler's life, or done better at home.

And third, if homeschooling has taught me anything so far, it's that kids don't need to be doing technical, literal "school" in order to learn something. 

~ "Don't let schooling interfere with your education." -Mark Twain ~

1:00-2:00 ~ Nature walk/ Get outside

Time should be scheduled everyday for fresh air and sunshine! Fresh air lifts your mood and clears your head. Sunshine kills germs and provides vitamin D. 

Healthy skin, strong bodies, and good circulation are some of the many benefits of time spent working and playing outside. 

Our farmhouse sits on 20-acres of trails, woods, and fields to explore. We like to use this time to go on nature walks on our land.

We have to pass by the orchard to get to the trails. We enjoy stopping here first to check on our growing fruit. The kids get a kick out of selecting a piece of fruit as their snack for our walk.

Once everyone has their snack...

We walk down to the trails.

~ "O the green things growing, the green things growing, the faint sweet smell of the green things growing! I should like to live, whether I smile or grieve, just to watch the happy life of my green things growing." -Dinah Craik ~

2:00-3:00 ~ School (Part Two)

Once we're back in the house, we finish up school for the day. Roman does arithmetic seat work,

and independent reading.

3:00-4:00 ~ Kids quiet-play hour/ Mama free-time

The children use this hour to play quietly.

~ "It is a happy talent to know how to play." -Ralph Waldo Emerson ~

~ "Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning." -Mr. Rogers ~

And I use this hour as my own personal free-time- I may use the time to do some ironing or maybe some baking...

Sometimes I do an overall house tidy, or just focus on cleaning one area well...

I most certainly do not neglect the house in the name of homeschooling, however. It's all important, and it's all intertwined. A beautiful, well-cared-for home is a reflection of our Creator and His work in our hearts. 

~ "For God is not a God of disorder but of peace." -1 Cor. 14:33 ~ 

4:00-5:00 ~ Mama stops to freshen up for the evening/ Close down school and laundry for the evening

My thinking shifts at 4:00 from daytime to getting ready to move into nighttime. I put away all of our school books, and close down the laundry room for the evening. Let me say a few things about laundry. I do not have an appointed "Laundry day"... Every Day is Laundry day! I complete several loads per day and try to never let it go into the evening. I clear out the machines, place the leftover dirty laundry in baskets for the next day, and put all clean things away at this time. Then I can consider myself "done" for the day.

I also use this hour to freshen myself up. I think about this: My husband will be home soon, and while he's away in the work world it is likely that he encounters beautiful, professional-looking women. I certainly don't want him to come home to a wife who looks sloppy.

So I brush my teeth, comb my hair, and freshen up my make-up before moving on to dinner preparations.

5:00 --> on... Supper/ Family time

I try to have a home-cooked meal at our family table most nights of the week. There are some exceptions, of course, and those are Wednesday nights and sometimes Friday nights. Our kids attend an on-going bible class at our church on Wednesday nights, so we usually just eat hotdogs quickly at the kitchen island before we have to leave. And sometimes it's nice on a Friday to go out to a restaurant. But other than that I want my children to have a childhood full of mama's cooking and eating with family at the table. 

Once the kitchen is cleaned up from dinner, Micah plays with the kids and we work together to get them all ready for bed. He usually is the one to read them a bedtime story. I like for my evenings to be low-key and peaceful. I dim the lights, and maybe read a little from a book or one of my favorite blogs. 

I take a hot shower every night, and watch the time to get to bed early enough for a good night's sleep. I aim for 7-8 hours of sleep. 

And that my friends, is the end of my day.

~ ~ ~ It's a wonderful life ~ ~ ~

I really hope you enjoyed today's post and found it helpful for your own life. Let me encourage you to create a schedule that would make your home life the best that it can be!

"That we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness." -1 Tim. 2:2

Take care my sweet friends!


~ Courtney ~