a trip to the zoo + numbering the days

In the midst of another busy week/weekend we had the chance to go to the zoo! :) My mom came for a visit and took us there. It was a fun treat, and I so love that my kids get to visit the same zoo that I visited with my grandmother: :)

My, how life goes by. They're growing up so fast!

I blogged this picture six years ago:

Something crazy happens to your kids from the ages of 8 to 14 that makes you start to wonder where the time went:

And it was Naomi's first trip to the zoo. She didn't seem to care much quite yet. ;)

But Ivy loved it. :) We came a bit underdressed for the chilly day, and her Granna went to buy her a pretty pink sweatshirt, but Ivy chose this striped scarf instead (which fits her personality to a T):

It was actually chilly enough that my mom treated us all to hot chocolate- our first of the season! 

It was a fantastic day! 

For the rest of the week it was back to usual. I am still nursing this little lady every couple of hours through the day (and most of the night, ha). She is growing like crazy and weighed 15+ lbs. the last time we checked. 

These littles keep me hopping. Most days I feel like I have been transported back to 2007 when I three 3 and under... and even 10 years later with more experience it's still challenging. :)

Only this time, these three littles are now our big preteen and teenage helpers:

2007 (blog post)
It's almost hard to believe it happened so quickly.

What I said about having so many littles 10 years ago means even more to me now than it did then:
I would be lying if I said that having three small children is easy- but when I look at each one of their precious faces, I remember that raising them is a daunting task because it so very important. Every single day I am helping to shape them into the adults they will become. It's such a great responsibility that it's scary- and yet at the same time I am so honored that God has allowed me to have these great little children.
I'm over halfway there with the first three, and our time together is growing shorter and shorter. I pray the Lord teaches me and gives me a heart of wisdom to number the days I have left with them.

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. 
Psalm 90:12

The Sweet Gospel online study (introduction)

Welcome to the introduction of our study of The Sweet Gospel! What a blessing it is that we get to study the Bible openly and freely together! :)

This week marks the beginning of our study. You won't need to have read anything, so don't worry if you haven't received your book yet! (You also can find most of the information from the book online here and print it out for each week, or if you would like it all in one place but can't afford a copy right now, email me at mandy@biblicalhomemaking.com!)

why should we study the gospel?

We study about the good news of Jesus because it is the "power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes!" (Romans 1:16). It is the most crucial information we can ever communicate!

Because we sinned and violated God's law, we have no way to give God back the glory and obedience that is owed to Him. From the beginning of the world with Adam and Eve, we have chosen to follow our own desires and disregard what God told us to do, and because He is a just judge, we are destined to be cast out of His kingdom forever. Because we refused to obey the one true God and believe in His Son, we justly deserve to be condemned for our refusal to believe and obey Him.

If you do not believe in the name of the only Son of God, the Bible tells you that you are already condemned! (John 3:18).

This is serious. You will be condemned and sent away from the presence of God forever in Hell.

But God made a way for you to be right with Him- by sending Jesus, His one and only Son, to live as a person like you except without sin, to take your death and punishment in your place, and conquer death by rising from the dead!

All you have to do is put your faith in His Son, Jesus. The Bible says, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household!!" (Acts 16:31).

This IS the best news you'll ever hear!!

God's free gift to you is pardon from your sin and eternal life with Jesus Christ!!

You can't earn God's forgiveness. You could never be good enough, you could never be sorry enough, and you could never come close to the perfection that is required by God and fulfilled by Jesus alone. 

All you have to do to receive salvation from the wrath of God is to put your faith in the Son of God! And when you do, the Lord saves you and makes you a new person- His child!

"The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel," Jesus calls to you from His Word in Mark 1:15! 

And that wonderful, life-altering call is what we will be talking about for the next several weeks! :)

the purpose of this study

I pray that this Bible study will help you understand the gospel Jesus is calling you to believe. And if you understand it and know it already, I pray that you would examine your heart to see if you truly believe and are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). And if you are in the faith already, I pray this Bible study will be a tool for you to proclaim the most wonderful news to those who do not yet know! 

Here are the topics we will be discussing over the next few months:

Week 1 - The Bible: Who, What, When, Where, How 
Week 2 - God: Loving and Eternal Creator 
Week 3 - Man, Sin, and the Fall 
Week 4 - Jesus: God in the Flesh 
Week 5 - The Perfect Sacrifice: Why We Needed It 
Week 6 - The Gift of Salvation and Repentance 
Week 7 - Leaving Behind the Darkness 
Week 8 - Believing and Following Jesus Now
Week 9 - The Holy Spirit: Our Gift 
Week 10 - Grace Upon Grace: When We Stumble 
Week 11 - The Transforming Power of the Gospel 
Week 12 - Seeking God's Will in Our Lives 
Week 13 - Walking in Joy with an Eternity Mindset

this week's video

Here's this week's introduction video (running time: 18:27). You can join me live next week at noon CST over here if you wish!

what's next

If you have the book, read the introduction in pages 1-10 over the next week. No homework but praying that God will give us eyes to see and ears to hear what He says in His Word! :)

Next Wednesday, November 22, I'll introduce "Week 1: The Bible" before we move on to reading that chapter. (Just like in school, you don't have to read the chapter until I explain it first.)

I'm praying that you will have a fruitful week soaking in the good news of Jesus and thinking about what it means for you!

Thank you for joining me for the introduction to The Sweet Gospel! :)

find it at:
all profit to go to the HeartCry Missionary Society,
"that His name be made great among the nations"

tomorrow is the big day!! :)

Our study starts tomorrow!! YAY! 

Lord-willing, I will be posting here and will be doing a live video on Facebook at 12 CST tomorrow that you can catch if you're over there (technology is SO incredible these days!), and if all goes as planned, I will be posting a recorded video here as well for our introduction to The Sweet Gospel!! :)

Just as if we were meeting at my house in real life tomorrow, you need nothing to start, and then we will start reading after our first session together! Just come and we'll chat about the plan for our next few weeks together and introduce why we are studying the Gospel! :)

I can't wait!! 

and the weekend giveaway winners are...

And the randomly selected weekend giveaway winners of The Sweet Gospel are:

Sharon Rollet
Monica Elizabeth Hartman
Kristin McKelvey Shockley
Karen Reep
Stephanie Lanier

Congratulations!!! I'll be notifying you by email or FB message!! :)

Thank you to all who entered!! :)

weekend giveaway: 5 copies of The Sweet Gospel

I'm celebrating the launch of The Sweet Gospel by giving away five copies!! :)

We're still scheduled to begin the introduction to the study next week! :) And if you win but already have a copy, you can always give it to a friend who might like to join in! :) The winners will be chosen late Monday night, 11/13/17! :) 

To enter, just leave any comment below!
(either with your email address, or signed in through Facebook so I can get back to you! :) 

getting it checked out + a fresh start

We've spent lots of time this week at doctor's appointments all over town. I have had a lump growing on my thyroid that we got checked out, so I had to get an ultrasound which wasn't nearly as fun as the baby kind. ;) But thankfully so far I've had to have nothing painful done other than getting blood drawn. :) 

Technology has come so far- now they have pagers that track you from admission to the nurse calling you back!! They don't even have to yell your name anymore. :)

We also had one other appointment that didn't involve me- Ava had her first eye checkup!

She just barely needed glasses, thankfully, so we're taking the doctor's advice and holding off as long as we can on getting her prescription filled. 

I had never been to an eye appointment before- I can't believe anyone can hold still while someone shoots something into their eye (even just air!)! I also didn't realize that the doctor asks you if you can see the eye chart over and over as they figure out your prescription. It was so interesting!

After Ava's visit and two of mine, we spent so long out that we called school off for the afternoon and deep cleaned and rearranged instead. Here's what it looked like at the midpoint of rearranging:

I like to tear everything up and clean underneath it every once in a while.  It gets really dirty under the desks and in the corners, even though the kids clean up at the end of the day:

We're still working on finishing, but we changed our set up to computer lab style: :)

It feels so much better to rearrange and wipe everything down. :) It's like getting a fresh start!

wordless weds: what Isabella bought (& made her mama's heart melt)

"what if tomorrow is harder than today?" + precious promises

"In The Fellowship of the Ring, Bilbo Baggins has a line that gives voice to this feeling. He says to Gandalf, “I feel all thin, sort of stretched . . . like butter that has been scraped over too much bread." 
"When we fear tomorrow may be more difficult than today — when we feel like butter scraped over too much bread — God wants us to feed upon his promises." 
Read more of "What if Tomorrow is Harder than Today?" by Benjamin Vrbicek at Desiring God...

These promises of God are precious to me:

And it is helpful to remember that difficulty is for my welfare: (Isaiah 38)

But in love He has saved me from destruction: (!!) 

But one day soon we will play music all the day in the house of the Lord!!

One day all sorrow and sighing will flee away! (Is. 51:11) Oh, how we thank Him!! :D

Come, Lord Jesus! (Rev. 22:20)

a bright spot in a tough week + hiding under His wings

Thank you for all your excitement and kind words on Wednesday's post!! Your kind words were such a bright spot in a tough week! :)

After I finally got everything done and posted, I was going to make quesadillas and Robert was going to work on a project but at the last minute we decided to take the night off, get dressed, and celebrate launching The Sweet Gospel book at La Madeleine. I think it was a great decision!

Neither of us felt well most of the week, and then on top of that we've had some seriously challenging things happen to us, but it was nice to get to celebrate a little while with ice cream: :)

After the cool weekend before, the weather warmed right up and before I knew it I was enjoying a nice hot and sunny run again (which felt great after 5 days of not exercising!):

It's been a crazy week but I am learning (learning, but so not there yet!) to be grateful for difficulty as it makes me so weak that all I want to do is pray to the Lord and sit under His gracious shadow. :)

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
Psalm 90:1

announcing: the sweet gospel (the book)

Ahhhhh, I've been waiting so long to share this news with you!! :)

Only because the Lord miraculously orchestrated the help of the incredible Prescott Publishing and my wonderful editor Jennifer Flanders can I show this to you today: (!!!)

It's a Bible study intended for believers as well those who are new or searching to walk through the Gospel and what it means together! It's a 13-week study that explains the theological concepts of the Gospel in everyday English.

The Sweet Gospel covers topics like what the Bible is, who God is, who Jesus is, who the Holy Spirit is, why we need a sacrifice, what it looks like to follow Jesus, what repentance looks like in the life of those who believe and follow Christ, and more.

Each chapter is filled with Scripture so that the Good News and why we believe it is clearly and easily found from the Word of God, and each week's homework will take you through more of the Bible on your own and ask you questions that make you dig deep into your heart.

I am thrilled about this study because not only can you use it to savor the Gospel yourself, but I pray the Lord also will allow it to be a tool in your hand for both preaching the Gospel and making new disciples of Jesus in the circle of influence He has given you!! :) 

find it at:
all profit to go to the HeartCry Missionary Society,
"that His name be made great among the nations"

Lord-willing, I plan to go through it with you week by week and give you even more resources to teach it starting November 15! Mark your calendars, if you want to go through it along with us here. :) And since The Sweet Gospel is based off of the "Walking Through the Gospel" series, you can also find most of the content here if you can't afford a copy right now! :)

Now you know one of the things that's been happening behind the scenes at our house! :) I am so happy to get to share this exciting news with you!! Stay tuned for a few fun giveaways and more information over the next couple of weeks (if the Lord allows)! :D

find it at:

*Amazon affiliate links were added in this post, with all profit going to missions through HeartCry.

shockingly cold, still in love, + trying new foods

I only thought 45 was cold- this was the temperature on Saturday morning: (in October!!!)

Early Saturday morning I stayed home with the babies while Robert ran to town with the older kids and picked up our groceries and a chicken coop. I am still in love Walmart pickup. I timed it and it took me only 23 minutes to shop for all our groceries!

A reader friend Marie suggested the boys build the chicken coop, which was a fantastic idea! :D We put them to work! ;)

While all the kids were outside, I enjoyed a cup of coffee all alone:

Then I got to work on dinner a little early- making hamburger buns that sadly turned out to be rolls:

And chopping vegetables for lentil burgers:

This recipe for lentil burgers was delicious!! I sautéed the veggies in butter and salt:

And later I roasted corn right on the oven rack (about 30 minutes at 350). I had no clue you could do this until I googled it on Saturday, and it worked perfectly until I dropped one ear of corn on the heating element and it caught on fire and I had to yell at Noah to get back as I threw the huge fireball into the sink.. ;)

And though it was 35 in the morning, later it was a perfect day for a run:

It was a great Saturday! And then today was a Monday around here for sure, so I hope to be back with a to-do list later! :)