By: Jennifer Murray

Parenting In the Sweet Spot

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I think I’ve been pretty forward in this space about the struggles and heaviness of parenting. I like to be real and authentic, and I’m thankful for an outlet where I think many of us find solidarity in the hard days. However, it seems at times that we are over-bombarded with this message. Yes, motherhood is the hardest job on the planet – it’s an under-appreciated and a sacrificial role. Absolutely, it is trying and tasking to a degree than one can simply not understand until you are ALL IN.

It’s a battle field of messes, conflicts, missing sneakers, dirty toilets, sleepless nights, and scars to show for it.

But Friends, are we sometimes so focused on the hard that we’re missing the small joys of what we longed for in the first place?  I know I’ve missed it at times. I’ve been caught up in the hurry of homework, cleaning up the messes, trying to FEED THEM ALL (oh gracious!), and everything that comes with full-on motherhood survival mode.

It seems like mom Conferences, blogs, books, etc focus so much on the struggle and the battle that it’s beginning to wear on me. I’m not saying there’s not a place for this and us to come along side each other on this beaten path, but THERE ARE GOOD DAYS TOO, RIGHT?

RIGHT?

The puke buckets get put away, the knees stop bleeding, the chores wait, the emergencies get averted, and we have something so precious right in front of our noses: OFFSPRING.

Most of us wanted children before we could barely speak. As a mama who has struggled on the road of infertility and faced the unknown days of the NICU, my perspective could be a little tainted with  a greater appreciation I suppose.

I just see so many mamas discouraged, battling, wounded, defeated and worn…perhaps we’re kicking ourselves when we are already down?

There are good days ahead if you’re in this valley, Friends. There are probably some traces of good even in the hard right now.

Sometimes it takes me stepping back and seeing these faces from a distance that I see the blessing they truly are…maybe you need to do that too. Maybe you need a 1/2 of a day to do something outside of laundry or carpooling. Maybe you need to get lost in a book or find a way to put some fun back in your life. Maybe you need to date your husband again. Maybe you need to open your Bible that’s been neglected with your busy schedule.

Don’t give into the doom of motherhood. 

Find those sweet spots in parenting too and celebrate those…they keep you going on the ugliest of days.

There will be fruit in your labor. Your blood, sweat, and tears will bring JOY.

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Can I just share a couple of grace moments with you from this week? Not to brag or pat my back, because it’s all God’s grace shining through…

> We received one of the most encouraging emails from the boys’ teacher this week. It was such a joy to my heart and confirmation that they are in the right place.

> Henry got to pray for the Easter dinner at their school that I was able to join them for. In his prayer he prayed for others to “repent and come to Christ”. That’s grace, Friends.

> Brooks started soccer practice last night. The other 3 are playing baseball. He would have never chosen a sport to play independently this time last year, and he’s so excited. Love seeing his enthusiasm and individual spirit.

> When our beloved Honda Odyssey broke down this week, we had concerns about the financial sting and the practical challenge of not having a vehicle to transport our family of 6. Isaac quickly reminded us that God would take care of us.

> Last night when I was battling a headache, Clark was so tender to check on me and love on me.

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I’m so thankful for this calling of motherhood. It certainly is a battle of my strength and selfishness, but it sharpens me too.

And even when I can’t wait to get through a stage or a challenging phase, I have to remember that these are the days that matter. These are the days I will probably long for in my 50′s and beyond. These are the days I can’t get back.

Something tells me we’ll remember the sweet spots over the tantrums and tears, but we don’t have to wait until they are out of the house to enjoy them.

Love them while they are little. Love them as they grow. Love them when their arm pits start to stink. And love them when they don’t always show you love back.

And sneak some joy in there along the journey.

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By: Jennifer Murray

7 Reasons NOT to Buy Essential Oils From a Grocery or Health Foods Store

When I first started exploring a more natural approach to living, one of my first steps was getting rid of my toxic cleaners.  I started using vinegar and water for most cleaning tasks, but I didn’t love the smell and had read that essential oils can help with cleaning tasks.  I thought that might be a good way to mask the smell (especially for my husband who was pretty much repulsed by it, which led to him cleaning fewer toilets) and asked around where I could buy them.

I had heard of Tea Tree and Lavender, so when I saw them at my local grocery store I was thrilled. They cost under $10 and I knew a little bit would go along way.  I had no idea what I was purchasing or any of the science behind the product. {I’ve replaced ALL of the cleaners under my sink with just this one since.}

Thankfully, I never used them topically or internally, because I could have potentially harmed myself or my family.  I felt like I was making a good investment for a few dollars saved from other companies that my “super crunchy” friends had mentioned, but what I didn’t know is that I was paying for mostly water and chemicals.

Now that I know better, I think it’s important to share it with those of you who are getting curious about the essential oil craze that is blowing up your world. I know what it’s like to need to save that buck, and look for the cheapest route. I know that other options may seem like an investment or something you might have to save for…Trust me we’ve been there, and it’s paid off in SO MANY WAYS.

So let me spare you some of the consequences of buying those off brand oils, and caution you against them.

7 Reasons NOT to Buy Essential Oils from Your Grocery Store or Health Food Store

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1. You simply don’t know what you’re getting. Don’t be deceived by a “pure” or “natural” label.  In fact an oil that you may buy from a grocery store of health food store may be labeled “pure”, but only contain 10% of the true essential oil.  So when you go to put lavender on that burn you just got on the hot pan?  You might just make it worse with the synthetics added.  YEOW! {Young Living’s oils are 100% pure essential oils. Tested rigorously both in-house and by 3rd party.}

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2. There’s no support or community that comes from your local grocer.  You’re on your own to try to use them safely and effeciently.  I would have been absolutely LOST without my Oily Families Community and support from my team!  They provided me with education, resources, and were available for questions.  Something I’m passionate about passing down.  In fact, I have new educational resources that I’m passing along to every new sign-up.

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3. The labels and expiration dates are red flags. You’ll notice the bottles on the shelf have the labels “Keep Out of the Reach of Children” “Do Not Ingest”, and expiration dates. Would you feel safe using these with your family?  Again, the support and resources help SO MUCH when you’re learning how to use essential oils: when to dilute, how to use with children, which ones can be ingested (PLEASE PROMISE ME YOU WON’T INGEST NON-PURE OILS – PROMISE?!!!), etc.

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4. You don’t know where they originated or how they were grown.  You have no idea where they came from, if the plants were treated with pesticides, where they harvested at the right time, how many times were they distilled, etc. {Young Living guarantees their oils from Seed to Seal.  They own their own farms, distill once, do weed control by steam and by hand, use essential oils for pest control, harvest at the proper time, etc.} 

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5. They are less effective and less potent. You get what you pay for, and that’s a tiny bit of oil and a whole lot of junk.  You might as well rub some dirt on it instead and save yourself some disappointment. If essential oils haven’t worked for you, I would venture to say you haven’t tried the real thing.

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6. You’re buying from a company that is not concerned about your wellness. There’s no research to back up their oils, 20 year track record of integrity, or open-door into their business. You never have an opportunity like I’ll get this summer of visiting the farms, helping plant, seeing the distillation process, and all that goes into that little bottle.

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7. There’s not much selection.  If you are wanting to explore natural options for supporting a good night’s sleep, digestive system support, immunity support, etc. you’re not going to find many options. {Young Living has over 100 single oils and blends.} 

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Hopefully this helped shed some light on the difference between off-brand essential oils and the good stuff. I’m more than happy to help you dig into it more or help with questions.

If you are interested in joining Young Living this month, I have FREE educational gifts that I’m offering. There’s more details on my sign-up page. I would LOVE to have you along for the ride!

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By: Jennifer Murray

Favorite Devotionals for Kids

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We aren’t doing a lot of things right around here, but one thing I don’t think we’ll ever regret is reading the Bible to our kids.  We’ve made it part of our nightly routine, and I KNOW we have all benefited from it. We’ve read a variety of books to them at night from biographies, to devotionals, to kids Bible’s, to just reading Scripture, and I thought I would share some of our favorites with you.  Sometimes it’s hard to find a good devotional for your family that covers a range of kids, that is solid theologically, and that is on their level. Here’s our favorites so far…

Favorite Devotionals for Kids:

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1. The Bible. Yes, kids can comprehend the Bible straight from the pages. Pick a book like John, Genesis, James, etc and start going through it verse by verse. You might need to stop and camp on some verses and explain things, but you’ll be surprised what their child-like faith can grasp. . It’s never to early to start memorizing Scripture with your kids. Our boys learned ones from the ABC Bible Verse book at a very early age.  (PS It’s FREE on Kindle.)

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2. The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones. I’ve shared this one many times and will continue to do so…outside of the Bible, this is my very favorite kids Bible. I love that every story, both Old Testament and New points to Christ and the “secret rescue plan”. The illustrations are captivating and the stories are engaging for ages 1 through adult. As you can tell, ours is well-worn and loved.

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3. Hero Tales by Dave and Netta Jackson. I recently finished up reading this book to the boys about heroes of the faith. I learned so much and it deepened my own appreciation of the sacrifices and boldness of so many in the history of our faith. I would love to get the next volumes in this series.

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4. God’s Promise by Sally Michaels I recently got introduced to this Children’s Desiring God series by Sally Michaels, and we are already loving the first one we’ve opened. Love the questions at the end and it’s a great one for multiple ages. My assistant pastor’s wife let me borrow several in this series: God’s Names, God’s Providence, and God’s Wisdom - so we’ll all set for a while.

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5. God’s Mighty Act of Salvation by Starr Meade. This was another one recommended by my friend, Erin. She said “this really nailed down the concept of what salvation is and what it is not” for her family. That’s definitely something we want to impress upon my boys’ hearts. It goes through the book of Galatians. Another one that I’d like to read aloud to the boys by this author is God’s Mighty Act of Creation.

I’d LOVE to hear what you have been studying with your kids?  Have you found it hard to find a time to have a family devotional together? What works for your family? 

 

Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a tiny affiliate commission – so THANK YOU. Know that I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to your lives, because I genuinely care about you!

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