By: Jennifer Murray

Freezing Summer


Can we just stop the calender right here? July 23rd.

Freeze, Summer, right there. We have you surrounded.

We can all save a small fortune on school supplies and clothes, skip the back to school aisles, and just let this summer simmer a little longer. What do you say? My teacher friends are back in their classrooms preparing for students in just over a week, and I’m in total denial. Thankfully, we have a little longer on our homeschool schedule, but STILL. I ran into Michael’s the other day to grab some jars for my Lavender Bath Salts, and it was painted in Halloween and I could have cried.


We have been living it up with lazy summer mornings, outdoor adventures, cookouts, late nights, fresh veggies from our little garden, and hitting every swimming hole we can find.

I just know we’ll never have this 7 year-old-summer back again, and it’s been grand.

Today we’re taking a day trip up to Lake Michigan with our neighbors. I can’t wait to have my toes in the sand, the sunshine on my back, and kids laughing as they run down the sandy dunes as my soundtrack. I’m savoring every little bit of juice this summer’s got left in it. Anyone else?

If you’re with me, please pass the sweet corn and ice cream.


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By: Jennifer Murray

Trips Are Not Always As They Appear on Facebook…


So if I shared you the following pictures on my Facebook page, you might think, “Wow. What a fun camping trip. Look at those boys always getting along. That’s just lovely.”

what-to-do-camping-family camping-with-boys-camper  lake-hueston-woods-state-park-ohio hueston-woods-state-park-fishing

And that’s how it was {MOST} of the time.  There were hotdogs around the fire, fun games of ladder ball, fishing, and playing in the sand. But what didn’t I take pictures of?

My meltdown after not sleeping, feeling dirty, tired of peeing with scary bugs and used feminine products, and just wanting my own bed. 

The boys having a rough night staying in the camper for bedtime and not being able to comply. 

A most likely rash decision to pack up when we were frustrated with camping at 10:30 at night in the dark. 

Boys both crying and cheering that we were going home.

A broken wheel well that we didn’t realize until we went to move the camper.

Brad pulling off the tire in the middle of the camp sight driveway at 11:30, and all of us praying in the van that he would be able to fix it.

Rolling in at 1:30 in the morning and crawling into our beds exhausted and wondering if we’re really cut out for camping. 


Oh Friends, vacations, trips, and lives are not always as it appears on your Facebook feed for any of us. Trust me, you didn’t want to see pictures of the bathhouse on your screens. We often don’t see the mess and the meltdowns, only the highlights. Let’s not forget that there’s a behind the scenes that we arenotl intimately involved in day in and day out. We all struggle, we forget, we clean up messes, we fall down, we get hurt, we mess up – and then we get up and do it all over again. Hopefully at the end of the day the good outweighs the bad and we wake up with amnesia of yesterday’s imperfections.

The problem lies when we start comparing our low-light reels to everyone else’s highlight reels. 

Let’s embrace the goodness of this life we’ve been given and how 4tunate we truly are today.  Let’s be good with our highlights and be able to chuckle at some of unphotoshopped moments. There are gifts to be found even in the not so picturesque moments – don’t let comparison steal the joys of what you’ve been entrusted. 

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By: Jennifer Murray

When Words Are Harsh

Always thankful when Brad shares his words here…


Since the day the Lord blessed us with four baby boys, I feel like I have been on a parenting crash course.  There is no class each year to prepare you for the next phase of parenting, you know?  Have you ever woke up one morning and said, “Wait a minute, this parenting thing isn’t going so well right now, what happened?”

A while back, Jen and I were noticing that our children were not speaking kindly to one another.  Sometimes, they were being flat out hateful in their speech and actions.  Angry words, kicks, slaps, and screaming ARE NOT fruits of the spirit last time I checked.  We would sit down with them and have long talks about how the Lord expected them to treat one another.

No matter how many times we shared this Bible verse with them, it didn’t seem to carry any lasting impact.

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

So, I asked myself a few questions:
Am I demonstrating the things I am teaching?  Are the commands I am giving my children reasonable?  Am I treating them how I would want to be treated?  When you fly by the seat of your pants in parenting, you tend to react harshly rather than reasonably.

I suddenly realized that my own actions were probably at fault.  When I had asked them for the 5th time to do something, I was becoming irritated and spoke harshly to them.  Our God, in his infinite wisdom, was trying to give me the answer to our problem in the very verse I had been teaching my children.  Was it possible that my harsh words were stirring up the anger in our home?

The answer was yes.

I committed to keep a kind tone {“a soft answer“} when I rebuked my kids, and to actually lower my tone a bit to remind myself to maintain self-control.  I still disciplined and reproved them for their failure to obey, but I did so firmly in a kind and calm voice.  It’s amazing, they have been so much more sorry for their disobedience, and they reacted more often in sadness than anger to my rebukes. (Important: These results were not immediate, but after several days of practicing a softer tone.)

Sometimes doing this took great patience, and at times I have failed to maintain control.  The first few times, they continued to get angry at my rebukes. However, as I consistently remained calm, I saw a miraculous change in them.  They are calmer, kinder, and more willing to take a rebuke than ever.

We want to remember that our kids are human too, and while they MUST obey us as parents because the Lord says so, they are still primarily Gods children who are made in God’s likeness.  He has given them to us as a gift, but they are his children.  They deserve to be treated with respect and kindness.  Too often in the past I have treated them with such disdain in my speech.

Today is a new day, let us give our children every opportunity to please their Lord.

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Colossians 3:20

Have you ever, like me, suddenly realized it was your own problem manifesting itself in your kids?  Tell us about it in the comments. ~Brad


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