Friday, December 18, 2015

blind faith.


In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!" Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”

I am the Lord’s servant,” 

Mary answered. 

Let it be to me according to your word.” 

Then the angel left her.

Luke 1:26-38

~~~~~

I’ve read this story countless times as I’m sure many of you have. But what was different for me this time was Mary’s reaction, which put a spotlight right on an area in my life that I’ve struggled with: having a willingness to walk in blind faith.  God and and I have had a few chats and for the most part I like to think I’m willing to do anything He has called me to do, but there are times that that willingness is overtaken by my own mind and all those controlling thoughts that get in the way. “Okay Lord, I’ll do it, but please make sure that this, this, and that all fall into place or it won’t work,” or “If you really want me to do that, please make it easy for me so that I don’t have to walk in faith and that I’ll know for sure that You are leading me.”

I don’t know, maybe you all have a different Bible version than I do, but mine clearly shows that Mary only had one question (which was a pretty valid question if you ask me) and when reminded who was in control, she simply said “let it be.” Good golly, if that had been me (clearly He knew better), I would have had a long list of questions alongside my many “Okay… but” statements.  Not Mary. She recognized that God was not only in control, but that He had a plan and that’s all she needed to know.

What an honorable characteristic to have; that true servant’s heart that is willing to endure hardship, ridicule, and possibly shame all to know that you have lived a life of unwavering faith and loyalty to a plan that is far bigger than you’ll ever understand. It is the epitome of blind faith: possibly never seeing the big picture or even the details, but having faith that that’s the direction you should go and holding your head up high the whole way. It’s relinquishing control, insecurities, pride, and fear and saying, “Let it be to me according to your word.”

Monday, November 9, 2015

{Fashioned with a Purpose} Featuring: KEEP Collective




From the believers who brought you STELLA & DOT comes the next generation of FLEXIBLE ENTREPRENEURSHIP for women. We share a deep belief that living a HAPPY LIFE comes from always keeping in mind what truly matters. Our mission at KEEP is to give every woman the means to create her ONE-OF-A-KIND LIFE.

          

           ~~~~~

Y'all, I am so excited for this week's featured fashion company! It was introduced to me by my amazing friend Pam, who is a fabulous and loving new mom to the cutest little boy.  And as many new moms, she is trying to find that perfect balance between family, passion, and work. What is so great about this company is the opportunity it affords to women, such as Pam, who are looking for ways to not only expand their income, but their entrepreneurial skills as well...

"I personally found Keep through a work interaction.  While helping a customer, I began to admire her keeper when she explained to me the mission and vision behind the company.  Something stuck with me that day from our interaction, but being nine months pregnant I definitely had more pressing thoughts on my mind.  I ended up keeping her designer business card on my nightstand throughout my maternity leave and had recurring thoughts that this may be the route for me to try out my entrepreneurial passion.  Sure enough I signed up with Keep just a little over a month ago and have been blown away! My mentor, coincidentally, is the same woman I encountered in my store four months ago.  Keep is giving me the opportunity to explore design, use my education, remain flexible to the needs of my career and contribute to my household. Especially after returning to work full time and leaving my son at home, Keep allows me to carry my family close each day.  It reminds me of who I am and what's next!"
-Designer Pamela Schell

So what exactly is KEEP? It takes the uniqueness of a simple charm bracelet and other jewelry to a whole new stylish and classy level. The possibilities and designs are endless with the variety of keepers (bands/necklaces) and keys (charms) available-
perfect for my always-changing taste when it comes to jewelry AND for
helping cover up my less-than-beautiful FitBit!

This is my current design. I'm in love! 
Oh, and did I mention the band is reversible? Sweet.

Another important aspect to note is that KEEP brings in outstanding quality to each piece. Ionic plated metal, patented key design, genuine leather and unique gemstones are all incorporated into modern and fashion-forward staples. From time keepers to necklaces, you can showcase your own unique mood and story.





So friends, you should take a moment and take a PEEK at KEEP
and share your own story wherever you go...!


Are you wanting to have a mock up design made before purchasing?

...

Interested in hosting a social online or in person with your close friends and family?

...

Are you instantly hooked and wanting to become a designer yourself?

...

Email: pamschelldesigner@gmail.com

She will be more than happy to hook you up!



Happy Designing Friends... and have a Blessed Day!!!

Do you own a business or are a part of an organization that you would like to be featured on my blog? 
Send me an email to theJARettedal@gmail.com

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Cleaning Diary of an Oklahoma Housewife


Having a home full of kiddos and dogs, one of the most common questions I'm asked is:

How do you keep your house clean? 

While I appreciate that the question implies my house is always clean, I have to laugh inside every time I'm asked because truth be told, I hardly EVER deep clean. I'm sure if you tested my cleaning practices against others, I would look like the ultimate slacker! Either way, I'm happy to appease the curiosity of those who have been wondering how I do it. But, before I get into how I clean it, I think its best to explain why I clean it.

Now, before you decide that the "why" isn't important and skip to the bottom where I tell you about the "how," keep in mind that no matter how many tips you read or routines you try, if you don't find or know the purpose behind what you're doing, it will be really hard for you to take ownership of it. Let's be honest, its hard to be motivated to do something that looks like a complete waste of time.

So, take a moment and ask yourself...

Why do (or don't) I keep my house clean?


I asked myself that same question several years ago.  My original thought attributed most of my cleanliness to how I was raised.  I figured since my mom always kept our house in order, that must be why I do the same. While there is truth in that, it doesn't fully get to the heart of it... and I have a problem stopping at the surface... So I began to really search my heart and decide why something so simple, that EVERYONE does, was worth my time.



Here is the Sparknotes version:

1. Thankful Heart


"Every good and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights..."
(James 1:17).  

Respecting our stuff is a big thing in the Rettedal house. It doesn't matter how much it costs or how big it is; the kids are responsible for taking care of their stuff so it not only lasts, but that they feel appreciative for what they have.  What we are trying to instill in them is the principle that everything is a gift, not deserved. The love, grace and blessings we receive from the Lord are GIFTS... including tangible things such as our home. If we begin to obtain the mindset that we earned things or become possessive over items, we are more prone to be ungrateful, greedy and/or even justify our behavior in not taking care of our things by thinking that they are ours to neglect. With a constant reminder that God is our provider, it keeps in focus that our home is something to be respected and grateful for; resulting in taking care of it.

2. Hospitality


"... and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work..." (1 Timothy 5:10). 

Our family loves people and truly thrives on being around others. There is something so fulfilling about opening up our home to serve people. With that being said, I feel it only appropriate to make sure the environment is comfortable, tidy and inviting, in hopes that every time someone leaves our house after an extended visit, dinner party or an impromptu playdate, he/she understands that they are important, loved and worth the "work."

3. Taking Delight in Serving My Family


"... She works with willing hands...  She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness." (Proverbs 31: 13, 27)

Piggybacking off of "hospitality," is this idea of serving my own family. My husband works well over forty hours a week, plus puts in additional fifteen to twenty hours for school. The last thing I would want him to do is come home and have to go grocery shopping or fold laundry; after all, I am the one who has been blessed with the opportunity to stay home so I am able to do those things. I feel as though one of my responsibilities as a wife and help mate is to maintain a clean and orderly house which allows my husband the opportunity to come home and just relax (well... as much as he can with four children who can't get enough of him).  I personally take delight in knowing that I am able to support and serve him just by taking care of things such as the home and the kids so he is able to focus on his job and God's calling on his life.


So there you have it...
Now that you've persevered and endured the excruciating "why," I'll tell you the "how!" 

Here are some of my tips:
  • Tidy as you go. I cannot emphasize enough how important this is. I promise you, if you sort your mail as you get it or implement a rule for toys to be put away after they are done being played with, you will instantly notice how much cleaner your house feels. As the clutter adds up, the more tidying becomes a big project rather than a simple task. Don't let those piles become overwhelming! 
  • Keep a clean kitchen. Like many people, there is no denying that I spend most of my time in the kitchen when I'm home. From cooking to doing homework with the kids, it is the most frequently used space in our house. That being said, it is most susceptible to crumbs, marker and dirty dishes. This makes it all the more important to clean as we go. Even as I'm cooking, I'm putting things away when I'm done and putting the dirty dishes in the dishwasher. Again, this eliminates being such a big project when I'm done. I'll be honest with you, after we put the kids down for bed, the last thing I want to do is go back to the kitchen to make lunches for the next day, empty/fill the dishwasher and wipe counters. But finally sitting down to enjoy my hubby is that much more rewarding and relaxing when I know that my work in the kitchen is done for the day. It also starts my day off on a joyful note when I can walk into my kitchen and grab my morning coffee without seeing any clutter or projects to do. 
  • Make your bed every morning. So simple, I know, but it makes a world of difference! There was an article out a few years ago that said those who kept an orderly master bedroom were in better moods in the morning. I have to agree. I can't stand our bedroom being a mess, but when it comes down to it, its the state of the bed that really determines my mood. I can have an extremely clean bedroom, but if the bed is a mess thats all I see. I just feel more "put together" for the day when I can walk out of my room with my pillows all in place. (The "rule" in our marriage is the last one up makes the bed. Granted, thats not always the case, but its a good habit to form that as soon as you get up, make it.)
  • Empty the trash.  I am super guilty of overstuffing the trash- especially the kitchen. It seems like such a hassle for some reason to do it. And just like the messy bed, if we have an overflowing bathroom trash, I might as well have not cleaned the toilet for a week either. The whole space just feels dirty. So get those trash bags out and just empty!!!
  • Invest in a SwifferVac. Y'all, I'm telling you the investment is worth it. Especially if you are trying to keep a tidy kitchen, this will help you. Instead of getting out the big bulky vacuum that you have to plug in, unplug this lightweight guy from the charger, clean up the few crumbs you made cooking and plug right back in. It's also great to do a quick vacuum job on the main floor in your house right before guests arrive.
  • Schedule your cleanings, but with flexibility.  I cannot stand having to clean every day. So to avoid that, I pick one day a week (usually towards the end of the work week) that I will devote to cleaning the house. I try to pick a day with nothing else going on and the least amount of kids in the house, keeping in mind that it changes from week to week. Knowing what day I'm cleaning on helps me relax and not think about it any other day of the week, but also helps me mentally prepare for that day; knowing when I wake up that I should just get started to get it over with. I also have this mindset with monthly or annual cleaning projects. If you plan ahead, it won't creep up on you and possibly overwhelm you. Below is a link to my "Home Maintenance Schedule." Feel free to use it as a guideline, but please adjust it to your lifestyle, personality and house!!!

(Click here to download the full document)


Please keep in mind, I am a simple housewife and do NOT have all the answers. 
All I can do is share my experience with you in hopes that it may help you in some way! Blessings!!!

Monday, October 26, 2015

.:. family photo session .:.



Seven years.
I have waited seven years to get professional family pictures. From adding a person every year to our family to reliving my middle school days via braces, we have had every excuse to not do them. 
Well friends, we finally did it.
We took the plunge, coordinated outfits and spent an hour bribing our children to smile nonstop so we could capture some good moments.
I don't want to overload Facebook or Instagram with our family, so here is a video that captures the best pictures...
Enjoy!

Click here to view!!! 
(Make sure to click on "HD")



Edmond/OKC friends:
If you are looking for a great natural light photographer, I highly recommend Amber Borrell
As you can see, she does some amazing work!!!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Am I Skinny Enough For You?

(Beware: Complete transparency and insecurities addressed below)



Last week at my girls' swim lessons, I was approached by another mom who gave me a sample pack from a company that specializes in weight loss. She didn't say anything or explain why she was giving it to me; she simply told me to call her with any questions. Not realizing what just happened or how to react, I just smiled and said, "Thank you." It wasn't until after the lessons were done that I had a chance to process what just went down and couldn't help but wonder..

 Had this stranger just looked at me and decided that I needed to lose weight?

Something about me is that I am not exactly proud when it comes to my physical appearance- never have been. I like to think that I've gone through life being strong and confident in a lot of things, but truth be told, I still have vulnerabilities and insecurities just like everyone else. I may not think I'm downright repulsive, but I do have this perception of myself and what I should look like, and let me tell you what, it is NOT matching up to the image I see in the mirror.  So when someone I don't even know basically implies I have "room to shrink," its pretty hard to keep my head held high.

I wish at this point I could say that I held my ground...  that I scoffed at the nonsense and let it roll off my shoulder... but I didn't. In fact, I stared at that packet for almost an hour, locked in my room, crying my eyes out. It didn't matter what sweet and encouraging words my husband was telling me on the phone or what I knew in my spirit was truth, I had hit a new low and was basking in the self-pity. The thing is, I had never really dealt with someone else basically reaffirming my own physical insecurities, let alone a stranger!!! Sure, I had people make comments about the size of my bum when I was younger, but back then I must have not realized how mean they were or I didn't care. Either way, for the first time in my life, I felt ashamed of how I looked... and this comes after going through four pregnancies. Yeah, it was pretty bad y'all.

So why am I telling you this sob story? Because chances are, you've been there. Maybe you are there. You know what it feels like to be judged in one way or another. That pain that is so deep and so personal that it begins to cripple you from the inside out. No matter how hard you try to put it in the back of your mind, every once in awhile you are clearly reminded of how you don't measure up to the standard of someone else.  You're not skinny enough... You're not smart enough... You're not rich enough... You're not creative enough... You're not... You're not... You're not...

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of listening to those lies. I'm tired of feeling as though I'm not good enough to walk around with a smile on my face and be proud of who I am. I'm tired of doubting. I'm tired of ME. Because truth be told, no matter what anyone else has said, it is ME who has believed those lies. I gave in.

What is so ridiculous is that there is absolutely no way anyone who could EVER convince me that there is no God. Ain't gonna happen folks; truth is truth. Oh, but if someone tells me that I'm not wonderfully made but instead that I need to lose a few pounds, they are instantly in my "circle of trust?!" What is WRONG with that picture y'all?! Well I'll tell you what's wrong, I let the opinion of a complete stranger matter more than the truth of the founder of perfection... the One who created me in His image... the One who "saw all that he had made, and it was very good" (Genesis 1:31)... the One who says that I am "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14). I put my identity into the wrong hands and the Word is pretty clear:

"Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself"- Proverbs 26:4

I may not have responded with words, but I responded in a way that ultimately made me no less of a fool than the lady who handed me a weight loss pamphlet. I knew truth, yet I chose to ignore it and it only caused me pain.

But you know what the great part is? There is a Redeemer. There is a Comforter when it felt as though I had no joy left inside of me. The Lord "heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds" (Psalm 147:3). He poured out His love and mercy over me and gently reminded me that..

"In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence"- Proverbs 14:26

"For the LORD will be your confidence"- Proverbs 3:26

"Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you."- Deuteronomy 31:6

... my dignity is not for the taking, as long as I willing give it to Him. He formed me. Only He determines my identity. He is my confidence.

Friend, my hope is not to get your sympathy, but rather to encourage you with my story; to remind you that you are beautiful. You are God's creation, I hope you don't take that lightly. I'm not saying that you won't encounter hard days, but there is such hope and joy in knowing that as long as you put your identity in the hands of God rather than in the hands of man, your confidence in and through Him will stand.

Friday, July 10, 2015

{Fashioned with a Purpose} Featuring :Altar'd State

One thing I absolutely love is supporting businesses, groups and/or organizations that have solid values, goals and missions that are focused on improving the lives of others. There is something so rewarding about investing into those who invest in others. That being said, once a week I will try to feature a new business or other venture that has a heart for people and is impacting the world in a positive way. 

~~~~~~~~~~

First Up... 




One of the many great things about this woman's fashion boutique, aside from its amazing style and selection, is there is one located here in Oklahoma City! I hadn't heard anything about Altar'd State when I saw it for the first time in the local mall, but it didn't take long for me to not only fall in love with its clothes and accessories, but with the heart of the company as well: 

"People often ask us why? The answer is simple, to give back. It is not just what we do, it is who we are. We want to do more than provide fashionable alternatives to young women who want to make a difference. We want to inspire a movement to stand out - for good."


I have tremendous respect for this company and what it is about.  Not only does it donate 1% of all its sales to charity, but it has an entire section for prayer requests on its website. It's clear the heartbeat of Altar'd State is driven by giving back and that is something worth supporting. So go ahead friend... head on over to their website and find your next date night outfit and be fashioned with a purpose!



*All images are property of Altar'd State


For more information or to do some good ol' online shopping, visit their website at
www.altardstate.com

Have a blessed day friends! 

~~~~~~~~~~

Do you own a business or are a part of an organization that you would like to be featured on my blog? Send me an email to theJARettedal@gmail.com

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Being Intentional With Love.


I want to help the world. That is a genuinely honest straight-from-the-heart fact

Every morning when I turn on the news and see terrible story after terrible story, I begin to brainstorm about how I am personally going to change the lives of these hurting people. I'm not one who is content to just sit there and hear about how all these children are being abused and do nothing about it. No, I am going to make it right. I am an Olivia Pope (with a straighter moral compass of course). I am a fixer. My mind starts to devise ways that I can help people across the globe in big ways. And let me just tell you, I've had some pretty spectacular plans if I do say so myself. I don't want to give away all my tactics, but they range from: simply running into the local missing girl at the grocery store to winning the lottery in order to buy thousands of houses for the Nepal earthquake victims (obviously very feasible plans).

That is, until reality hits and my woman of valor bubble is bursted when my three-year-old boy comes in soaking wet after an accident. I am quickly reminded that the only thing I will try to save that day is the mattress from getting stained and maybe a baby bunny that has a death wish trying to survive in our backyard with two great big dogs. And to be honest, that's okay with me. (After all, what heroine has braces? I mean, really?) 

Yes, I'd love to be able to impact the world in a great and astounding way in order to better peoples' lives, but aside from the fact that I may completely lack the skill set or resources to do such things, it may be as simple as, that's not what I'm here for (Besides, I can't quite live up to the standard of the One who literally saved the world already. He kind of set the bar high on that one [John 3:16, Romans 5:8, 1 Timothy 1:15]). 



It may be that the only thing I'm here for and/or capable of is to love and encourage those around me; to share the steadfast love of Jesus with those hurting so that they may then turn and share it with others. The ripple effect of just introducing someone to a God full of grace and mercy is immeasurable. I guess impacting the world can look as simple as loving your neighbor... raising your children to honor and respect... sponsoring a child in need... or praying for those hurting on the news. It doesn't take creating a non-profit organization or winning the lottery or randomly encountering the President to make a difference... it simply takes being intentional with love.


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Dear Mom: You're Great.






With it being Mother’s Day tomorrow and all, I have a question for you…

What do you think makes a great mom?

Does she spend countless hours rocking her sweet baby girl to sleep, spending that precious time together?
Or does she choose to let her baby cry a little in order to spend time with her husband and the rest of the family?

Does she allow her son to fall off the couch in order to learn from his mistakes?
Or does she catch him and save him from the pain?

Does she go to work to help pay for those fun family vacations?
Or does she stay home with kids to be there for their every need?

Does she spend her free time catching up on the laundry?
Or does she play trucks on the floor?

Does she encourage her children to imagine and play together?
Or does she fill their day with fun activities to do?

Does she send her kids to school where they can meet new friends and learn new things?
Or does she spend her day homeschooling and instilling in them what she thinks they need to learn?

Does she tell her daughter to brush it off and have self-control when she falls?
Or does she rush her to the couch with an ice pack and a lollipop?

Does she err on the side of giving too much grace as to not be too strict?
Or does she err on the side of constant correction as to not be too lenient?

Does she change her daughter’s hair five times every morning until she is happy and confident?
Or does she teach her daughter to be grateful and content with what she has?

Does she give her grown daughter space and respect her privacy?
Or does she constantly seek communication to ensure they never drift apart?

Does she view her grown son as her baby boy whom she raised and still would do anything for?
Or does she view him as now a husband and father whom she respects?

Does she focus on her children and grandchildren as they begin their lives?
Or does she focus on her own mother whose life is coming to an end?

Does she look back on her life and wish she had cared or loved more?
Or does she look back and know in her heart that she did the best she could?

Maybe a great mom does all of these things… Maybe she doesn’t do any of them…  

What if the thing that makes a mom great is that she has a purpose and direction in everything she does- regardless of what that is. She tries to make sure her decisions aren’t flippant or based on emotion, but rather contemplated and established ahead of time so she knows how to handle most things that come her way. She tries to not focus on the actions themselves, rather the reason, intention and the outcome of those actions.  She doesn’t necessarily go with the flow of society or just follow in the footsteps of her own mom, but meditates on what is right for her children and what will help grow them into amazing men and women. She is grounded in her faith and in the conviction of her decisions. She strives to have the perfect balance of control and trust, passivity and assertiveness, humility and confidence, grace and strength, mistakes and growth. She isn’t afraid to admit when she is wrong and is quick to forgive others. She is not perfect, nor does she pretend to be.  She is the first one awake and the last to go to sleep. She comes in all ages, shapes and sizes. She is great. She is your neighbor… your friend… your bank teller… she is you.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing moms out there. 
I wish I could hug you all!



"Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all"
-Proverbs 31:29