Author Archive | Jenny

A Man Among Men

In the end, the sport gave him exactly what I always dreamed that it would: character, integrity, leadership, and a warrior heart…

Dear Kade,

It’s taken me a week to collect my thoughts and put into words how I feel about the end of your football career. While I’m obviously proud of the awards you were recognized for last week…

-First Team All-State Linebacker TAPPS Division 1

-First Team All-State Academic TAPPS Division 1

-First Team All-District Linebacker

-Honorable Mention All-District Running Back

-Liberty Christian Warrior Heart Award

…I’m way more proud of the man you’ve become

There were practices, games, and seasons that were more challenging than others. There were days, and weeks, where you felt your hard work wasn’t paying off. There were moments when you wondered about your future. But ultimately, in the very end, every single bit of effort you put into the game came back and rewarded you. You learned how to persevere amidst adversity, to be a leader when your team counted on you, to listen to the Lord for your identity, to focus in order to achieve your goals, to be trained up by your coaches, to give it your very best effort even when you were dog-tired and sore, to be a part of a team—something bigger than yourself, and to be devoted to prayer and God’s timing.

But I believe one of the greatest lessons you took away from this game of football was this: that the hard work of life is done in the quiet, away from the crowds of cheering fans, and in the silence of everything but your own desire to do what is right and to succeed. You have walked out Colossians 3:23-24: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you now that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

Know that as you move forward in life as a student, friend, brother, disciple, and then later on, in your career, and as a husband and father, that there are going to be thousands of quiet moments of really hard work, and there will be times you will feel unappreciated, unnoticed, and unrewarded but promise me that you will remember this football journey and continue to press on in what you are called to, just as you did in football, knowing that you are serving the Lord and your inheritance is in Him.

I love you, Kade Cooper, and I couldn’t be more proud of you. The Lord has answered my prayer for your life: you are a man among men.

Love always,

Mom

 

 

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5 Great Reasons to Have a Bunk Bed

When our littlest guy was born, we had no other alternative than to get bunk beds.  We were out of space and somebody had to share a room, so bunk beds were the solution.  At first I wasn’t crazy about the idea, but I fell in love with the bunk bed setup for these reasons:

  1. BONDING: My kids love to chat and giggle together after I tuck them in.  It’s an easy way for them to bond!
  2. SECURITY: The two kids that share the room with bunk beds are 10 and 6, but my younger was 4 years old when we implemented the bunk beds and having his older sister in there was a form of security for him.  It made it really easy to tuck him in at night, and he is nearly never scared, or worried about monsters!
  3. SETUP: I love to read to my kids at night, and it’s easier with everyone in one spot, rather than having to do story time in several different locations.  Bonus: tucking in two children at one time (productive)!
  4. GUESTS: It’s great to have for when the kids have friends for a sleepover.  Always our guests want the top bunk, and I stick my child in the bottom bunk, and the other child (who didn’t have a friend over) gets the special privilege of sleeping with me in my room.
  5. LESS IS MORE: When two children share one room, that means they have only one closet and one chest of drawers to fit all of their things in.  The kids got rid of “extras” and tend to live more with “essentials.” Which means that there is less to clean up!

BONUS: Another reason I love bunk beds from a design perspective is that the bunks go up, rather than out, and it makes the room feel spacious.

So even if you have plenty of bedroom space, I encourage you to install bunk beds in at least one bedroom, and enjoy all the benefits these little hard-working sleepers provide!

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Why I Blog

Ryan and I married in 2004 and were both very career-minded, and we allocated little time for friends and family.  We were new to the DFW area when we tied the knot, so with the combination of the new scenery and our career-driven lives, we didn’t made a lot of new relationships outside of work.  We were both grinding it out, putting in the effort at our jobs, and at the end of a day or a week we just really didn’t have a lot left on the table.

I am relationally-minded and craved deeper friendships, and over the new few years I began to take a thorough look at my life and what I really wanted for my future, and for my family’s future.

It was around 2007-ish that I began following several different blogs (most popularly Pioneer Woman) …I read blogs about photography, health, home, design, family, travel, education, and Christianity.  I really enjoyed getting a little peek into other’s lives.

From these blogs I gained much inspiration and leaned into my identity and passions.  I began to make tangible changes in my life like…

–Dedicating time for relationships and building friendships!

–Learning to take more pride in my role as a wife and a mom as I invested in my home life at our little Ranch in the City!

–Changing up my career, and work schedule!

–Trying new recipes!

–Planting a garden!

–Daring to become a homeschooling momma!

–Dreaming and planning for what my legacy will be!

And these are just a few ways my life looks different than it did ten years ago.

Women who shared their hearts, and photos, and tips and tricks, led me to see the world in a way that I wasn’t currently viewing it.  Their words and images were what I needed to challenge and excite me, to create big purposeful dreams!

I am here to continue my journey of being inspired online and connecting with others, and I’m here to share my own life in hopes that maybe I will inspire just one momma out there.

The wise woman builds her house.” Proverbs 14:1

 

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Why We Homeschool

We homeschool because we are crazy, that is why!

We started thinking about homeschooling the summer before my daughter’s second grade year. What initially prompted us to have these crazy thoughts was that our oldest son, Kade, was about to start high school, and we felt like “Whoa, where does the time go?”  His school years had been a blur, a rush, a streak of light, and we suddenly became sentimental about our babies growing up and going away.

I started by reading about homeschooling.  Then I talked to other people who were homeschoolers.  Next I talked to teachers and family.  Finally I prayed, “God, are you sure you really want me to do this? Because I was educated in public school, and I don’t even get homeschoolers.  I’m pretty certain it’s not my thing.”  He responded that I needed to get out of my comfort zone, to do something that I never imagined doing, to not fear what other people think of me, and to trust Him to work all things for good.  I determined the homeschooling notion must be divine intervention because I promise you I would never imagine this for myself.  Ever!

Our life before homeschooling was this: The mornings typically started pretty harried with the kids not wanting to roll out of bed, and me constantly pressing them to “HURRY UP!” Everything from getting dressed to feeding the animals to eating breakfast was a battle and then we rolled out of the driveway on two wheels trying to get to school on time.  The school day ended and I would pick up the kids to rush home to do homework to then go to the sports practice to next rush home and eat dinner and shower and get in bed at a decent hour so that they could get up the next morning for school.  (All of that plus typically a toddler or two dragging along, squealing in protest!)  Yikes.  We just felt there wasn’t a lot of margin and balance, and that we didn’t get to spend any real quality time with our kids.  We were pursuing our own things and they were pursuing their own things and we were all going different directions.  And then we realized that we had done this to ourselves.

So, I will say that our major reason for taking the jump into homeschooling was to spend more quality time with our kids.

We felt like we needed to re-connect, to have conversations, to not feel rushed 24/7.

So, yes that is what we got!  And here are a few more homeschool benefits that we’ve experienced:

  • Learning with the kids (did anyone besides me just memorize a bunch of stuff to pass the test and then never remember it again?)
  • Reading stories together–it makes for great conversation
  • The kids are learning how to do real-life things like cook, clean, do their laundry, take care of our livestock, and grocery shop! (Things they never had time for because they were at school.)
  • Influence–I’m certainly not the best teacher, or the most qualified, but I do like the idea of being the one to influence their thoughts and learning
  • Flexibility–for example, if Kade has a late-night sports game (he still attends high school) then our family can all go to the game and the next morning my little people can sleep in a bit later
  • Lots of outdoor time, which I feel is critical in a learning environment, especially for boys
  • Sick less often! I just find it easier to deal with people who are well!
  • They get to go with us on work projects (not all of the time!)
  • Their imaginations have grown immensely and they have learned how to teach themselves new things

Our thought process moving forward:

  1. Our children’s education is a year-to-year decision for us.  Our daughter did go back to school for third grade, and she will go back to school again at some point.  We just take one year at a time, looking at our life circumstances, and at each child individually to determine what is best.  Nothing is permanent!
  2. Homeschooling is awesome.  Homeschooling is hard.  Just like everything else.
  3. God has moved my heart so far from where it was when I first started this journey.  I am grateful that I’ve changed for the better.  I’m also thankful for forgiveness and grace, because I’ve needed plenty of it along the way!
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Laundry Room Reset: 10 Simple Changes on a Budget

My laundry room is a room I’ve never loved…mainly because it is too narrow and dark, and I don’t particularly enjoy doing laundry!  The design has been neglected because it’s easy to close the door and nobody can see it, and it’s a space that almost no one else goes in but me…certainly not guests…and usually my kids only go in when they are desperate for a specific shirt they think might be tucked away in the dryer.

But because I do actually spend a lot of time doing laundry, and because it’s a relatively small space {think quick and easy to update}, I decided to make some simple, budget-friendly changes that I hope inspire you to RESET a place in your home!

BEFORE PHOTO:

RESET #1: PAINTED THE WALLS & CABINETS. The biggest change I made was to paint the walls and cabinets. {I used “antique white” by Sherwin Williams on both the cabinets and the walls.}  Painting is one of the most dramatic ways to change a room, anybody can do it, and the cost of paint is relatively inexpensive compared to other design updates.  The reason I chose to paint both the walls and the cabinets was because I have a very small laundry room and I knew if I didn’t paint the cabinets it would still feel very cramped due to the darkness of my wood.  If you have a laundry room with a bit more size, you can do a simple wall update and move on.

RESET #2: REMOVED THE WASHER AND DRYER STANDS/PEDESTALS.  These pedestals seemed like a must-have when we bought this washer and dryer set ten years ago, but the reason they didn’t work for me was that they were hard to reach over and get into the cabinets above the washer and dryer.  As a result, it was frustrating to access laundry soap, dryer sheets, etc.!  In order to eliminate that stressor and to create a space that felt bigger, I had Ryan pull those laundry stands off and I sold them on Craigslist!  The result was a little bit of extra cash for the decorating budget plus easy access to the cabinets and a space that feels less crowded.

RESET #3: FRAMED OUT THE SMALL WINDOW.  I wanted some visual interest above the window (to draw the eye upward and again make it feel like the space was bigger) but I did not want to hang a curtain or window treatment.  The resulting conclusion was to have Ryan take some extra wood that we had and frame out the window.  I found something I liked on Pinterest, showed him the picture, and one evening after the kids went to sleep we worked on it together (he did the actual work, I just took pictures and kept him company). It was an easy change, at no cost to us since we already had the lumber, and the craftsmanship is the best.

RESET #4: SWITCHED OUT THE LIGHT FIXTURE.  You can probably tell from the “before” photo that our lighting was very bright!  It was an overhead light that wasn’t very pretty, and it also didn’t create the right lighting ambiance.  So I shopped around my house and decided to pull our closet light out and put it in the laundry room.  I then put the previous laundry light into our closet.  The new light is more evenly spread and looks more interesting!

RESET #5: INSTALLED A NEW FAUCET.  The old faucet had a dated look and I wanted a more rounded modern faucet so I found something inexpensive on Amazon and had Ryan change out the fixture for me.

Here is the photo of the “old” faucet–nothing wrong with it, I just don’t love it!

Here is the newer faucet:

RESET #6: ADDED A LAMP.  I found an industrial looking lamp that was the same metal color as the light fixture and I love it because it creates such a nice ambiance in the evenings.  (Purchased at Hobby Lobby for 50% off.)  It makes this room feel more “homey” and less “task-oriented.” {Side-note–I use clear light bulbs rather than Edison bulbs in order to avoid the yellowish hue that Edison bulbs throw.)

RESET #7: NEW IRONING BOARD COVER.  Ironing is a really, really, really low priority on my “to-do” list.  To be honest, I’d rather wear something wrinkled than to get out the iron and press it out.  I know that sounds horrible, and lazy, but we all have our vices!  Because ironing has never been a thing for me, I have a really old ironing board and a stained up blue ironing cover.  And I’ve never justified buying a new one since I maybe only use it twice a year.  But in an effort to make my laundry room a happier, prettier place to be, I decided to order a new cover from Amazon.  I’m happy with the update, and I’ve even used my ironing board since purchasing it…which means I’ve already met my ironing quota for the year!

OLD COVER:

NEW COVER:

RESET #8: I ADDED A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS.  A bottle of Mrs. Meyers peppermint hand soap near the sink, a glass bottle of window cleaner, a stripeside dishtowel from Anthropologie, a pot of basil, and a candle from Target {lavender vanilla, which smells like a spa}. Some of these I already had on hand, a few of these small items were purchased.

Basic Formula = nice hand soap + plant + candle + towel

 

RESET #9: REMOVED CLUTTER.  I only have one item hanging on the wall {a birthday gift from a super thoughtful friend that makes me smile as I fold towels}, the colors in this room are very cool and neutral, I took down hooks, and I’m committed to not letting this be the room where everything extra is thrown or hung.  Less clutter feels like more room to work plus less brain damage.  All of us mommas want less brain damage. Can I get an Amen?

RESET #10: ADDED RUG. For my laundry room, it just helped to break up the dark tile and to lighten up the space. It also feels like it elongated the space, and I love the modern pattern and cozy vibe it adds. {Nate Berkus for Target.}

Thanks for taking a look around! I hope that my ideas have given you some brainstorming for your own “room reset.”

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When I need to reassure myself of Christ’s love for me: Romans 8

 

One of things I’ve set on my heart to do this year is to read through the Bible.  I got set up with the Navigators Bible Reading Plan through the 2:7 class that Ryan and I are taking.  I love how it breaks it out each day in four different sections.

I read through Romans 8 this morning, and there were several truths that were like a sweet balm to my soul.

And while I already knew these truths, that’s what God’s Holy Spirit does: presents the Word as fresh; a message just for today, personalized just for what my heart needs.

In verse 1, Paul starts out with the most comforting of words: “There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” NO CONDEMNATION–Yes, please.  The notes in my McArthur Study Bible say that we are introduced to the “staggering results of Paul’s teaching…that justification is by faith alone on the basis of God’s overwhelming grace.  No sin a believer can commit–past, present, or future–can be held against him, since the penalty was paid by Christ and righteousness was imputed to the believer.”  How comforting it is to know that nothing I’ve done, ever, or in the future, will result in condemnation because I’ve trusted Jesus as my Savior.  Thank you, Jesus!

(For further description and elaboration of above, see verses 2-8.)

I’ve got highlights all over the chapter, let me share some more balm: In verse 9, Paul states that we have the Spirit in us, and later in verse 16 he comes back around and shows us that we can confirm God’s Spirit in us because our own spirit will bear witness that we are children of God. McArthur explains it another way: “God’s Holy Spirit confirms the validity of our adoption, not by some inner, mystical voice, but by the fruit he produces in us and the power he provides for spiritual service.” We can confirm in our own hearts that we have the Spirit because of the fruit and power that can only have been given to us by God.  What a miracle!  I know that on my own without Christ, I am not fruitful nor powerful.

Skipping ahead to verse 24, Paul talks about hope and says, “Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?” He encourages us to rest secure in our hope, our faith, even when what we see is not what we want or understand.

In verse 28 (one of my most favorites of all), he furthers my hope stating “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” ALL.THINGS.WORK.TOGETHER.FOR.GOOD.  Even those things we don’t want, or those things that we brought upon ourselves.  Yes, those things God will work together for GOOD. Maybe not what we initially think is good, but trusting Him for what he knows is good for us, and for His kingdom. As John MacArthur says, “In his providence, God orchestrates every event in life–even suffering, temptation, and sin–to accomplish both our temporal and eternal benefit.

A few more treasures in Romans:

v.31: If God is for us, who can be against us?

v.32: He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

v.37: In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

v.38: For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor thins present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This book, this chapter, is where I return again and again when my heart needs to be surrounded in His love, His assurance, His truth.

Jesus loves me, this I know…

(All Scripture references are from ESV version, The MacArthur Study Bible)

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