Thursday, May 25, 2017

More Favorite Things!

To all of you faithful followers, however few you might be, I hope you have not missed my weekly posts and are at least enjoying some other good reading. The weekly commitment is just a bit much for me right now, so monthly posts are going to become the norm!

This summer is jam-packed with speaking, reading, writing, attending, learning, and likely a lot of swimming with my kids :) Even though my schedule feels a bit overwhelming right now, I know it will be a great summer, filled with life-giving, beautiful moments and lessons. Lots of work for sure, but I am confident bunches of wonderful goodness will come from all of it.

For something a bit lighter, I thought I'd jump on and share with you some of the things I am enjoying right now. Coloring, accessories, books, oils, decor... I have so much fun stuff to show you! I hope you enjoy it all as much as I do :) Affiliate links are included.

I found this company last night... how cute are their watch bands! It's hard to pick just one. I'm thinking something colorful and floral, or teal blue. Teal blue matches everything, right? 

I'm in the middle of a lot of books right now (who am I joking, all the time), but in preparation for speaking at a couple Classical Conversations Practicums in June, I am finishing up this book about the way we ought to teach. It is SO good! Hitting the nail on the head. 

While doing spelling with he boys lately, I've been coloring these lovely little pages, just to be doing something a bit mindless but beautiful. It's been fun :) Though, here are a couple other books I like too...

I recently started working out again at StrengthFarm in SE Portland, where I was before we sold our old house. It's about a 20min drive now, but it gives me time to pray, listen to books, or just enjoy some peace & quiet. I love lifting weights, and with an in-house Physical Therapist, it was an easy choice. I couldn't make the drive from our rental in NW, but our new place is much closer and I am SO thankful to be back! 

As many of you know, I have totally jumped onto the Oily train and have been running a business with my sister. I recently bought this water bottle and am LOVING it. I bring it everywhere and add in some Lemon, Peppermint, or Grapefruit oil for a little zing and wellness :)

This month, you get a FREE 15ml Tangerine when you buy your kit, so if you've been pondering that decision, don't wait! 

Last month, I won this sign because my little sister tagged me in an Instagram Giveaway - I think it might be the best thing I've even won! So pretty, right? The woman who runs her shop is fairly local, so check out her Etsy Shop and her Instagram and be inspired (and buy a sign). 

This is me a few weeks ago, after a Physical Therapy session for my knee, enjoying a couple hours without kids (thanks to my AMAZING friend Mary). I've been trying really hard to eat better lunches, and it is easier to do with avocados in the house. How are they so delicious? No one else likes them, so at least I don't have to worry about avocado thieves around here!

I may have linked to these before, but I just adore them. They are perfect if you pick up one of those coloring books. Nice color, super-fine tip, and they fill in with even color so easily! Great for other uses too, though watch out for bleeding through thinner pages. 

We just finished reading this book with the Richardson kiddos this morning, and we also read The Magic Finger earlier today too (super quick, super entertaining). I just love almost everything by Roald Dahl. He just seemed to have such a great sense of what was funny and entertaining for children without diminishing the value in beautiful language. I am slowly collecting his books each visit to Goodwill or Value Village or when they are discounted on Amazon.

Lastly, we are really enjoying the pool. Though, my oldest seems to think we should just swim every day for hours on end. Their fair skin and hay fever require them to take breaks, thankfully for me! I am enjoying the additional exercise, but this mama has things to do too... I can't lounge all day. Not until August anyway ;)

I'm sure there are many more things I could share, but the list is too long and our attention spans, I'm sure, are too short. I hope you look around your life, find the beautiful things you can revel in, and enjoy your summer with your family. Don't despise the small, don't cling so tightly to your agenda that you hate the interruptions, and don't forget to love the people in your life EVERY day! 

If you want to stay a little more "in the loop" as far as my life goes, come follow me on Instagram @jojococamo

Happy Almost Summer!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Alive and Not Brainless.

Yes, I am still alive ;)

Thank goodness for Instagram and Facebook, otherwise you might really think I had dropped off the face of the earth!

This summer is going to be a very busy time for our family. Now that we are mostly settled into our new home, regular life has continued to barge in, interrupt plans, mark up our calendar, and demanded us to make decisions. Yeah, I could cry. We don't do well with busy, and we've mostly been able to keep commitments low in order to accommodate the attempt at sanity, but the kids are getting more social, more needy, and both Mark and I seem to be in more demand. It's all wonderful, enriching, good stuff (well, maybe not his job, but the other stuff), but life definitely feels a bit full.

I'm not actually going to tell you about all the things we are busy with, or even how to cope with feeling too full of busyness, but I just wanted to chime in about some things I've been learning lately regarding understanding God's Word.

Last weekend I went to a Simeon Trust workshop at a local church and was deeply encouraged in several ways. Not only did I learn more about the gospel of Mark (the book, not my husband), but while I was doing all this learning and beating away self-doubt, God was also confirming some things in my life that I am making progress in, both personally and educationally. I have a really hard time taking criticism, so the fact that I was not completely breaking down while presenting my biblical exegesis to a small group of women I've never met before is amazing. They were encouraging, helpful, and inspiring to say the least.

I also felt God confirming this call to grow in my knowledge of the bible and my endeavors to teach the bible. I have always kind of mixed the bible in with what I am sharing and observing, but I also want to make sure God's Word has it's proper place in all of what I share with you. It's not a side-note, or a helpful little chime-in to what I'm dealing with or wanting to say. It is truly central to our lives. And if we are not giving it that place, we need to change.

Our church is doing a short book study on Habits of Grace by David Mathis. His premise is that we can place ourselves under the spigot of God's ever-flowing grace by dedicating ourselves to being in His Word, hearing His voice through prayer & meditation, and placing ourselves in His community by being committed to a body of believers. This is not a guarantee of gaining blessing, getting healing, or having our problems solved, rather, it's how we spend time knowing God better. His grace changes how we go about our days, which changes how we live our lives. Learning and growing and reading this book are changing me to be more dedicated to simple practices like reading the bible and then just sitting and thinking about it, instead of rushing off to the next thing. Or keeping track of my thoughts as they come, instead of waiting to write a blog-post about them, and being able to see how God is speaking to me over time.

I realized how little I look at God's word with the intention of knowing it well and understanding it fully earlier this week. We read a verse out of a kid's devotional book and I put it up on our little board because I loved it so much. We love to think that Jesus leads us to paths of peace...

After being at the Simeon Trust workshop all weekend, I decided to look in Luke at where this verse came from and what it meant. Hint: it's not the easy, lovely answer you are looking for. 

This part of Luke is where Zechariah is speaking over his baby (John the Baptist) just after his birth. This section of verses is about John and Jesus, so here is what the full ESV actually says this in verses 76-79...

"And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God, 
whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace."

So yes, this is about what Jesus will do: bring light to use and offer us a way out of death, darkness and strife. But isn't there more? John didn't just give a call to be happy because we will have peace of earth, he called the people to repentance, to turn from their sin! While I was so thankful for this chance to read, understand, and think about what these verses are saying to us, I was also a little frustrated that this children's devotional had really pulled this verse out of context and formed a message around it that was incomplete. 

Don't we do this a lot? We think of the one verse that brings us comfort in trials, or a certain chapter that helps us feel better about our circumstances? We take a small bit of what someone said and apply it blindly to our lives. This ought not be! We are capable adults, and it is not just wise, but extremely important for us to be in the word ourselves and sharing more than just a verse or two with our children as it comes up. We need to strive to understand the bible in a way the gives our children and our circle of influence a complete picture of Jesus, life, and redemption, not just a band-aid for the painful aspects of life. 

I have not done a great job this with my kids. We read a little devotional, and we do talk a lot about the bible, what it means, and what it calls us to, but now I really see that my kids need more than this. We all need more of this, right?

My plan is to read larger chunks of the bible to my kids for our devotional time which probably happens only 3-4 days a week. And before you freak out, by larger I simply mean five to ten verses instead of just one or two. Aren't we able to invest that small effort of just five or ten minutes and the actual Word of God into our kids, instead of someone else's version of it? 

This month has certainly been  humbling month, but I am blessed that God is still working in me, shaping me, and blessing me with friendships, service roles, being served, and hopefully seeing the world more clearly. I guarantee that extra bible-reading time will change your life. Don't believe for second that it is not worth the sacrifice! 

If you are local, and interested in chatting more about David Mathis' book, feel free to pop into our study, or ask me if we can get together. You know I absolutely love to chat about what I'm learning. And it would be amazing to see your face in person :)

I hope you are all enjoying the sun. May it be a blessing to your soul and lead you to enjoying God to the fullest!