cookieOptions = {...}; Kent Heartstrings: September 2014

5 Ways We Bring Life To Our Marriage

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I am very nervous and excited to share my heart with you today! Super stoked about being invited by Nancy, from Do Small Small Things With Love to be a part of this series. Please check out the other posts, they are encouraging, inspiring and thought provoking!

Before we dive in you need to know one very important thing: Mike and I are not perfect. Very far from it. I hope you read this post with the eyes of a friend, listening to me share the ponderings of my heart in hopes that it may touch yours...and if it doesn't that is perfectly fine. Just know our life is messy, but these are 5 things that work for us and bring us closer together, and make us fall deeper in love with each other and with God.

1. Prayer- it takes 3 to get married...and stay married.

It was a week into Mike and I's dating relationship that he suggested we start praying together every night (wow, I was super impressed!). It was a formal prayer, the Angel of God prayer, which we both knew and had memorized. It was short, sweet, and brought us together everyday with the Lord. It did not matter where we were, what time zone we were in or what company we were keeping, every night we called each other to pray.  We never skipped, ever. We got into a serious routine about it and I am glad, because now being married 6 years, I think this foundation of prayer we have built into our relationship is the saving grace of our marriage and the driving force that keeps us glued together.  If I were to give any advice to any couple it would be to find a time in the day for prayer, be consistent and do it everyday.

Logistically, now that we are married, it's easier to pray before we got to bed. But at the same time now that we are married and have kids life is so much more busy, hectic, and full so there are times in our weekly schedule where Mike and I's only time to connect, see each other, and take it all in is our prayer time! It is just what I need to keep on going.

 It has developed through the years as the needs of our hearts, relationship and family has changed.  We have added several other prayers we love, spontaneous led prayer spoken from the heart, and a litany of people in heaven to pray for us. Whatever prayer looks like to you, do it with the one person in the world you love most and do it everyday!

We are not perfect, sometimes life gets busy and we slip up, forget, or one of us is dog tired and falls asleep before we have a chance to pray. Our overall intentions are there though and that is good.

2. Communication- The art of "checking-in"

It is probably no surprise to anyone married or even dating that a relationship takes a lot of work and a lot of that work lies in communication with each other.  There is a lot to talk about how we talk, but I am going to hone in on one tip that has helped Mike and I....the art of "checking-in".  I am a planner, there is a lot of coordinating that has to happen, especially with kids, to sync up in order to pull off a happy day.  So, Mike, "checking-in" on me throughout the day is really helpful to me and thoughtful.  Texts on how my day is going, how the kids are doing, and if there is anything he needs to grab on the way home....are the texts that get me through some days.

This "art" is especially helpful when either of us is trying to make plans. Whether individual activities or family ones we always say, "ok, let me check with my wife/husband" before making a commitment. We "check in", discuss and go forward with our decision. It is important to me and Mike that we are a "team". This is our mantra, so we always make decisions together, and that can only happen if we are constantly checking-in, letting the other person in and allowing there to be a space for discussion.

We are not perfect, because this was more "my thing" something I like, am used to and so on. Mike had a hard time developing this habit, but understood its importance and value and worked crazy hard at this. Now 6 years of this and I can say I think he is better at it now then I am, its embarrassing. I do not know how things that were habits of mine have slipped through the cracks, but hey, they did. 

3. Being Silly- Do not take life so seriously

Mike and I are just straight up goof balls.  When we were first married we would talk in a weird accent, a cross between British/Russian, it was weird, but we loved it.  Full on normal conversations were expressed in the accent on the regular. It wasn't until we had Gigi we realized maybe we should back off the accent so that our child doesn't start speaking like a crazy person where people might start to doubt she is from this country. So we have slacked off that habit, but we do not slack off being silly, especially with our children. Life is messy and sadly taken way to seriously sometimes. Its moy importante to lighten things up, laugh, make someone else laugh, not take yourself too seriously and speak in strange, made up accents. I find the best response (sometimes) in a tense situation with Mike is to make a joke, make myself look silly, and not take myself or whatever I care about so darn serious. 

We are not perfect, because this is definitely more Mike's strong suit, and I don't mean, he is sillier then me...I think on a ranking scale I would definitely be higher on the silly scale then Mike, or maybe that is just because I make a fool of myself more often, not sure. Mike has a better tact to using humor and silliness in tense or stressful situations that lighten the mood and make me laugh, and I am oh so grateful. I am more of a work in progress, many, many times my attempt at the humor thing did not go over well, and sometimes has resulted in argument over an argument, sey la vie. So my radar of appropriate humor at the appropriate time is still not sharp, but again, a work in progress

4. Thoughtfulness- Going to bed at the same time

Being thoughtful takes on many different shapes and forms.  One way our thoughtfulness brings life to our marriage is going to bed at the same time....ok hehehehe, get your giggle out of the way.  I mean sleep, people, sheesh ;). When one of us is tired, we both go to bed- together.  I do not know what it is, but it's like a necessary connection that happens when we share this experience. We both are brushing our teeth, we both are changing into our Pjs, we both go through the litany of things that need to be done before going to bed (I have a little more then Mike, big surprise there, right ladies?!), we both hop into bed, we both say our prayers as mentioned above in #1 and we both chat about whatever is on our minds before shutting our eyes.

Now this falls under thoughtfulness because we both love going to bed at the same time, but it can be hard sometimes if one of us is either into a show we are watching, or need to get something done, or just is not tired at all. So it can be a sign of selflessness and sacrifice to choose the spouse over your own wants.  An act of love. You are being chosen over whatever else could be done. It's a good feeling.

We are not perfect, because we do this about 85% of the time because our schedules sync up pretty nicely. But there has been many a time where I need to get shizzle done at night, because the demands of the kids, especially since starting to homeschool Gigi, during the day is just too great (and important!). Mike understands and is supportive, and when he needs to stay up to watch a late football game and decompress I am too. This could easily be an opportunity where bitterness and resentment could fester and well, can't say it has not, but we all just do our best. 

(Photo Credit: Katie Beverley Photography

5. NFP- Being open to life is life-giving.

It is important to Mike and I that we live out all aspects of our faith, in truth and love. One of those aspects is choosing to be open to life (a.k.a. not using birth control or any other way of stopping life from forming). We use a method called Natural Family Planning (NFP). It gives you the tools needed to follow a woman's natural cycle of fertility, so as a couple you can choose to start your family, grow your family or if needed wait to have children.  It is such a gift, and by that I mean it is really hard. 

You have to really become good and honest communicators as a couple, hashing out expectations, needs, wants, desires on an intimate level almost on a regular if not daily basis. For us, the biggest thing is that we are free.

Free to let God lead, free to still exercise our free will, just free. This freedom has lead to a deeper relationship with God, with each other and with our children (there are no oops babies, they are always welcome!). It is a radical mentality shift of approaching your marriage, intimacy and family. To always be open to accepting life ultimately makes our marriage more more then just the literal sense.

We are not perfect because damn it- its hard. It is not as convenient as popping a pill. We have to be honest. We have to communicate all the time (please note extreme emphasis). But the benefits we have gained greatly outweigh the negatives. I would  even venture to say this practice has been one of the most life-giving things in our marriage.

Oh and if you choose to be a NFP instructor and NFP chart for Halloween, be prepared to give a lot of lessons on how to chart, and not be embarrassed your husband is wearing your fertility....its not my exact chart I swear ;)

And if you happen to not remember a single thing - here are the necessities:

Marriage is hard. We need God. PRAY. Hold hands as much as possible.

(Photo Credit for wedding photos: TIM WILL Photography  aka best wedding photographer EVER!)

Currently {Volume 17} :: Influence Conference Edition

Monday, September 29, 2014

So Remember when this happened? I was the Influence Conference giveaway winner, I won airfare, ticket for the conference, hotel stay you know the whole shabang.  Crazy, right?! 
Post about my shock is here
That leads me into "Currently" for this week- Influence Conference Edition

Thinking about.... Since I was the big giveaway winner, I knew that was all God's work, so I went in with an open heart to learn and listen to what the Lord wanted for me at this conference. He has a plan for me and I want to know what it is!! So much to process from the weekend. There were amazing speakers sharing how to love Jesus and build his kingdom, speakers giving helpful tips on how to be better bloggers and small business owners, and a strategy panel and workshops that gave a strategic approach to all that we do. All were so helpful! The Lord did a lot in my heart, revealed to me what my heart truly desires and gave me some hints on the path he wants me to go on. So scary, but so exciting!
Listening to...... All about that Bass. Because of my traveling arrangements, I arrived at the Influence Conference as soon as the party started at 8 on Thursday, I rushed and ran down with my friends. It was 20 minutes in that there was a lip-sync off and my brave rommate, Kristen signed us up....I mean I knew she was going to do it, but was hoping she was just kidding....well no. It wasn't more then 2 seconds later I was hearing all four of our names being called to show off our never rehearsed before lip sync.....and we nailed it! Pretty gosh darn proud! Talk about letting things go and not caring what people think, sheesh, thrown right into that and I am happy to associated with these very talented women!  

go here for the video ------> Post by Cassie Kent.

Loving.....All my swag from the Sashes Market at the Conference! I was given some spending money with my giveaway package (uh, hello?! Yea!) and I think I spent it wisely...what do you think?!

Prints:: Lindsay Letters Bows:: Oh Tiny Gifts  Purse:: Ivey Expressions

Thankful For..... Blogging friends turned into Real Life friends and I am positive will be lasting ones! My roommates were We had long conversations on family, life, dreams, blogging, passions, faith. We were real with each other and were able to just dive right in!  We especially loved that we were a mixed bag a faiths- Pentecostal, Baptist, and 2 Catholics. We had many a conversation on our beliefs and how much we love our faith and Jesus- building bridges. Love ecumenical friendships- follow our hashtag #ecumenicalfriendships and join in on this really important work of celebrating Jesus and sharing in our love for Him!

If you do not know my roomates already you need to! Run don't walk to their blogs!
Jenna // A Mama Collective
Christie // Letters from the Nest
Kristen // When at Home

Thank you to all the lovely ladies at the Influence Network for pouring your hearts into this conference and for giving me the opportunity to be there! I was beyond blessed!

   A Mama Collective

Motivational Monday Party Link-up

This week I have been up to making this fun Rustic Wood Banner Sign and decorating for fall! Sorry I am late getting this up, I was at the Influence Conference this weekend in Indianapolis, Indiana- it was AMAZING! But traveling back home was not and I was delayed, boo. Made it home late, but safe and I am grateful to be back with my family!

Ready to share what motivates you? Link up a recent post of yours something that motivates you to create or just be awesome! Our goal is for this link up to focus on craft, DIY, & home posts so please try to remember that when linking up. Please limit it to three links per week and remember to link directly to your post. Do not link stores, giveaways, or other link parties. Also, hop around some of the other posts that have been linked up to share the love and get motivated by what others have been up to...because of course, this is Motivational Monday after all.

Each week, each hostess will feature their favorite post from the previous week. By linking up, you agree to let each host share your photo and link back to your site. Link party goes live Monday and ends at 5:00pm PST on Friday.

This week I chose Andre from, Tabler Party of Two, and her Glitter Pumpkin table centerpiece. I think you will agree polka dots, gold and glitter are a perfect combination! Love it Andrea, great work!

Make sure to grab this button and boast away!
Kent Heartstrings

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

Friday, September 26, 2014

I am not a cook. I am not a baker. I am a consumer. I eat and love to eat. My friend Sarah, from Vegetarian Cooking Parties, makes killer chocolate chip pumpkin muffins! They are so delish and I am happy to be able to bring you the recipe today as a part of "Fall Welcome Week". Do not worry folks, I was just the spectator, measurer, picture taker and official taste tester on this adventure, I let Sarah do what she does best and watched in awe of it all! I hope you enjoy these muffins as much as I do, and my husband, and Gigi and well everybody!

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

*  Heat oven to 350.  Grease muffin tins.  Mix in large bowl:

-          1 2/3 c wheat flour

-          1 c sugar

-          1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice

-          1 tsp baking soda

-          ¼ tsp baking powder

-          ¼ tsp salt

-          2 large eggs

-          1 can plain canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)

-          1 stick melted butter

*  Mix with electric beater until well-blended.  Stir in 1 c (or more) chocolate chips by hand. Bake

20-25 minutes or until puffed and springy to touch in the center.  If you have a mini muf pan, the boys love those too, depending on the size it's 8-12 min.  Cool on rack. 

A few embellishments:

I have a half and half mixture of wheat germ/ground flax seed in a jar in my frig at all times.  I add it to pancakes, waffles, muffins, granola, oatmeal, yogurt, etc.  They are both high in fiber.  Wheat germ is high in folic acid and flax seed is a great source of Omega 3s... they both help keep you sharp-minded.  :)  Anyway, I always replace a portion of my flour, usually 1/2 c-ish, with this mixture to make my muffins a little heartier and nutrient dense.  For this recipe, I'd probably do 2/3 c to make measuring easy. 

I always add walnuts to anything I can.  They're a great protein for vegetarians and also high in Omega 3s (great for your brain).  So, when you stir in chocolate chips, I also stir in 1 c crushed walnuts.

Happy Eating, Happy Fall! Last day to link up your fun fall post!

Rustic Wood Banner Sign // Fall Decor

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Reclaimed Lumber (17in. piece for this project)
Wood Stain or Paint
Sand Paper
6 Wooden Bunting Flags (Michaels)
Alphabet Stickers in font of your choice
White Spray Paint
Color Spray Paint of your choice
Picture hanging mount

1. Choose the 6 wooden bunting flags you want to use
2. Spray paint them with a base coat of a light color (or dark is your main color is light), do 2 coats depending on how the wood absorbs the paint. DO NOT skip this step you need a base coat of paint, if you leave the wood bare the paint will bleed and the letters will not be legible
3. Take your alphabet stickers and put them on your flags, spelling out the word you want
4. Spray paint them the color you want, this one is Rustoleam Paprika and I spelled out FALL
5. After paint has dried, peel away sticker gently, to expose the base coat color and spell out your word. Choose a thin ribbon to string the flags together and hang up on your backboard
6. Start on the backboard itself, by cutting the wood to the size you want to work with, mine was 17inches long, and I sand papered all the jagged edges adn splinters to make a somewhat smooth surface
7. Stain the board in the color you want, I made a variety of colors- white wash, ebony, and a grey mixture of paint and stain to achieve the look I wanted

8. Drill two holes in the right and left hand corners
9. Take your acrylic drawer knobs and put the screw end through the back of the hole and then twist the knob until secure
10. Hammer the picture mount on the back of the board so that you can hang the board on the wall
11. Tie flag bunting ribbon to the knobs on either side of the board
12. Decide where to put this incredible decor piece up in your house!
This is my "Fall" sign up in action on my shelves! I love it so so much!
(Photo Credit: Katie Beverley)

(Photo Credit: Katie Beverley)

What is SO great about this sign is that it is interchangeable.  Just swap out banners as the seasons change, or as your mood changes. You could paint the back of these flags too, for more bang for your buck.  If you stock piled the wooden flags you can just go to town on however many signs and phrases you want displayed! The base will always be the same, but your banners can change! You can even swap out knobs for more of a variety. Here is another banner I have made for our home:

(Photo Credit: Katie Beverley)

Still celebrating fall all week long, link up your fall related post!

Fall Welcome Week // Updated Fall Wreath

Monday, September 22, 2014

Well my people, even though California has been hitting record breaking hot temperatures, its still fall, so lets celebrate, and maybe encourage the season along! I am so excited to be welcoming fall with many other talented ladies. We all hope to give inspiration for all your Fall needs. So check back often, be inspired and welcome fall in! Check out our group Pinterest board for fun ideas.

Left to right by row: Seriously Sarah // Lightly Sprinkled // A Savory Feast // Love the Here and Now // No Small Life // Strong & Sweet // The Walker Fireside Chats // 12 Twenty Seven // Life with the Casterlines // Goose Egg Blue // A Tiny Traveler // The Suzie Lou Blog // With Dignity and Coffee // Life w/ Mrs. G & the Artist // The Wetherills Say I Do // Set Free // The Beauty Section // Butcher's Niche // Kent Heartstrings

To kick off the festive Fall season I did a quick wreath update.  I love my burlap rag wreath and the versatility it gives me for literally every season, so it was fun to transform it into something new! If you would like to know how to make a wreath like this, check out my tutorial HERE,

(My Wreath from Summer to Fall)

If you have a blog and have posted or will be posting anything pertaining to Fall please link up with us, so we can be inspired and excited about this changing of season!

Motivational Monday Party Link up

This is what I have been up to this week... Hope you find these tips helpful!

Ready to share what motivates you? Link up a recent post of yours something that motivates you to create or just be awesome! Our goal is for this link up to focus on craft, DIY, & home posts so please try to remember that when linking up. Please limit it to three links per week and remember to link directly to your post. Do not link stores, giveaways, or other link parties. Also, hop around some of the other posts that have been linked up to share the love and get motivated by what others have been up to...because of course, this is Motivational Monday after all.

Each week, each hostess will feature their favorite post from the previous week. By linking up, you agree to let each host share your photo and link back to your site. Link party goes live Monday and ends at 5:00pm PST on Friday.

This week I chose this incredibly cute and simple fall centerpiece by Megan, from Latte Everyday. Great Job girl! This just makes me happy!

Make sure to grab this button and boast away!
Kent Heartstrings

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