{Pursuing Excellence and Why People Hate you for it}

I met up with a friend at the beach a few weeks. We’re very similar, she and I, and it is a shame that we don’t live closer.

We both have the tendency to want to try really hard in certain areas: motherhood, cooking, DIY, etc.  Not in a “working for our salvation” or a “legalistic” sort of way at all.  Merely because it’s just part of who we are.  Multi-tasking doers with a traditional or old-fashioned bent.

However, there is something very very sad about this and it is the way people often hate those who strive for excellence.

“Being real” and having a messy house is glorified.  However, if you keep your home clean or don’t discuss all the little annoyances of life then you are “fake” or a “goody goody” or a “show off”. We talked about this and she mentioned some good articles on the topic.

It’s ridiculous, really, and I am frustrated by it.

As Christians, shouldn’t we spur one another on towards excellence, rather than simply patting each other on the back for being mediocre?  Besides, simply because I find it important to put scripture around my house does not mean I think you are a heathen for not having it on your own walls.  I don’t hate you for not doing it, so don’t hate me for being different and pursuing what I feel the Lord wants me to do.

If I am outside of God’s law, by all means tell me.  However, if you are annoyed because I make bread from scratch, get over it.  I’m not saying anything about you and I’m not judging you.  I am pursuing excellence in my own way and as I feel led by God.

I think that is all I should say on the subject because I don’t want to come across as angry or bitter, but it does sting when people dislike you or mock you because of your earnestness to pursue blessing your family or your earnestness to do what you believe is right.  It especially hurts when it comes from the church.

So, rather than rant on, here are some good links on the topic.  Read these articles. Think about them.  Stop hating people who pursue excellence in their own unique, God-inspired way. Instead, be inspired, or seek after your own unique brand of excellence. It’s there.




XO Jenny

{Thoughts on a Windy Friday Afternoon}

I wasn’t going to post today, but Ellery is napping and Addie is “resting” in her room.  The wind is rustling the Eucalyptus leaves and the clouds are rolling in over the hills.  The sun is glowing through the white puffiness (sunshine seems to glow through almost-rainclouds rather than stream, doesn’t it).  I’m sipping decaf coffee and just resting a moment before I get started on the Pot Roast for tonight’s dinner.

Basically, I just had to write.  Had to. So, here’s a little peek into my life lately along with some random instas from the week:

1. I started reading Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Emily of New Moon over the weekend.  I’m smitten.  Of course.  Hence the extra hyper sensitivity to all things naturey and cozy.


2. I’ve worn the same pants all week.  My mama bought them for me off the clearance rack at Old Navy and they are stretchy and grey and wonderful. However, I might need to change up my outfit.

3. I “punished” myself for not getting up early today by denying myself a shower.  There’s just too much to do in a day and I typically shower during Elle’s morning nap, but now I sense that nap slipping away and I regret not using that time for more productive things.  So today there was no shower, but there was weeding and chicken feeding and yard tidying with the toddler.


4. It might rain this weekend and I am secretly thrilled.  I’m dreaming of cocoa and forts and movies and art projects and snuggling under blankets.

5. We need new windows, but will definitely need to do it ourselves.  I almost had a heart attack when I saw the quote for installation.  But, our girls’ room is an icebox at night and that just hurts my mama heart.


6. I am totally one of those “give a mouse a cookie” sort of people.  I started weeding the yard, so now I want to buy plants.  Then, I started piling up old pieces of brick and wood, so I want to clear it all out and finish our yard.  I started looking into windows, so now I want to pull all the siding off of our house.  When I say I want to do these things, I mean now.  I literally thought about the windows over the weekend and had a guy come give me a quote on Thursday. I don’t mess around.  It’s a blessing and a curse I tell ya.

7. I’m trying to be more brave when it comes to talking to strangers.  I am the sort who casts down her eyes and pretends to be busy when passing someone on the street.  It’s pathetic.  But, I’m shy and scared and don’t know what to say.  Yesterday while weeding I chatted with neighbors walking by.  It was so nice and I need to be more friendly more often.  2


So, I have a question: How do you study the Bible?

There are a bajillion ways to do it, but still I struggle with it.  I am an avid reader and read “study books” all the time on marriage and motherhood or anxiety . . . the list goes on.  All of these books employ scripture in their teachings and some even have study guides or reflections that involve looking up additional passages.

However, when it comes to studying the Bible, I have never used one consistent method.  I have picked books at random to read, I have used reading plans.  Sometimes I underline or take notes.

I feel like not having a specific method or purpose to my Bible reading is what has made it more difficult for me to stick with it.  I try to stay consistent with my quiet times, whether that means Bible reading, reading a biblical book, praying, or journaling. However, studying the Bible in depth is much harder for me to do consistently.

I have recently come across some websites that offer great tips on methods for study as well as great resources.

Women Living Well is a great blog and resource and is connected with Love God Greatly.  They do online studies and offer all sorts of groups and monthly study plans or book studies.  They also use a method called the SOAK method for studying scripture and also offer a highlighting key for marking up your Bible.

The SOAK Bible Study Method

S – The S stands for Scripture

O – The O stands for Observation

A – The A stands for Application

K – The K stands for Kneeling in Prayer


I recently also discovered Little Bit Funky.  She uses a journaling Bible, which I love and want, to keep her focused on her studies and to help her dig deeper into the word. She has some great tips on pens and highlighters to use when Bible journaling and sells some great Bible study bags designed to carry your Bible and all your study materials.  They are seriously so cute.


(SOURCE: Little Bit Funky)



(SOURCE: Little Bit Funky)


I hope to internalize some of these methods and to be more consistent with my in-depth Bible studies while also continuing to read the books I love. Hopefully, these links will be a help to you as well!

In addition, here are some of my favorite books and authors to supplement your Bible study times:


Sacred Influence and Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas

The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson

A Woman after God’s Own Heart (and anything else by Elisabeth George)

The Shaping of a Christian Family (and anything else by Elizabeth Elliott)

Calm my Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow

Women Living Well by Courtney Joseph




I made a promise to myself to have more adventures this year.

Of course adventures look a little different on a budget and with little ones in tow.

However, adventures we shall have. It may not be traveling to Kauai or Banff or even out of California, but it will be adventurous.

I want to seek out new places, immerse my girls in nature, and find the beauty in this place I now call home.




There’s this small pull out in the town where hubby works.  I’ve looked at it for the past few years as i drive out for weekly lunch with my man. I’ve wanted to go, but didn’t.  Silly me.

It is a web of oaks and moss and vines and sandy trails.



Addie had a blast running through it all and climbing over fallen branches. Even Ellery enjoyed running down the hills and digging into the soft earth with her chubby little fingers.

It was a beautiful place and we will return to explore more of the trails. The green and the quiet and the twisted tree trunks were just what I needed.


Adventures can teach our little ones so much.  They learn to entertain themselves outdoors.  They learn to love sunshine, or “blue sky” as Addie calls sunny days.  “It’s blue sky today!” They can learn about trees and rolly pollys and why it is important to stay within sight of your parents.  They can learn left from right as they navigate trails and they can learn the wonderful feeling of cool, soft dirt on their palms.


Can I pause for a moment to tell you that my hubby is a stud.  This picture.  That face.   Man, I love that man._MG_4922  _MG_4924

Addie started climbing a tree.  Tentatively at first and then with more excitement.  Even refusing to come down in order to leave.  New passions and interests can be born when one adventures.  Also, memories can be made and memories are sort of awesome.

_MG_4927 _MG_4928 _MG_4929

Where have you been seeking adventure lately?


I love Friday and I love it even more this week because it means I will see my family this weekend!  Hooray!


So, here’s a little recap for ya of our week in insta pics.  I’m jenanninga.  I really love instagram because it is a simple way to share special moments.


I’m linking up with Life.Rearranged today.


This little blondie kills me and dressing her is pretty fun!


We jokingly call Addie our “boy” sometimes as she is NOT afraid to get dirty and loves planes, garbage trucks, fire trucks, buses, and the like.  So a free kids building workshop at Home Depot was right up her alley.




My reminder this year: Rest in Jesus!


These two.  I so hope they become bff”s.  Some days I wonder and other days they play and hug and kiss. So, I’ll just pray and pray.


We showed a little birthday love to my mother-in-law.  Some homemade signs and cards. A Strawberry Sparkle Cake.  Notes and three handmade matching aprons (one for Grandma and one for each grandchild to keep at Grandma’s house).





Local adventures are fun.  This spot is right by hubby’s work and is complete with a view of the bay, the monolith, Eucalyptus trees, ducks, a turtle, and butterflies.  Sort of magical.


My toddler lets me do her hair.  So, I decided to get all Pinteresty and we did some fun hearts on Valentine’s day.  She was so proud of these hearts.


We also went to see Olaf whom she smiled and waved at, but WOULD NOT HUG!


Valentine’s for hubby and I meant gourmet burgers and using a gift certificate for some pottery action. Hubby threw pots in High School, but I was a total beginner.  It was a total blast and hubby now has the itch to start a new hobby.





I have been learning a lot about motherhood and my weaknesses and tendencies to struggle in certain areas.  It is really challenging me and changing a lot of little things around here.  On this particular day, she wanted to wash the dishes.  So, I let her.  a few basic instructions and then I left her alone do do as she wished and to foster that little helpful heart.


One of the moms at my church started a meetup group and she hosts all sorts of fun activities for kids.  On this particular day it was an instrument petting zoo.  Addie was so proud to make sound come out of that trombone!


Lastly, more adventures.  I need trees in my life.  And grass.  And fresh air.  NEED!




So, how was your week?  Any big weekend plans?

{What Makes it Good}

_MG_4634   “How was your day?” Hubby asks.

“Actually, today was a good day!” I say with a hint of surprise laced in my words.

Why the surprise?

Well, let’s be honest.Wiping bottoms, cleaning bathrooms, cooking, chasing around disobedient toddlers, and being unable to shower doesn’t usually top anyone’s To Do List or ideal plan for their day.

But, this is the reality of my days.  Oh, there is good.  SO. MUCH. GOOD. But, often something negative or hard can negate all the goodness and leave me with the aftertaste of a rough day.

So, it made me wonder.  How am I measuring the worth of my day?  The goodness of my day?  Am I measuring it in accomplishments or tasks completed?  Am I measuring it by my daughter’s obedience?


I am such a task oriented person, that if I don’t check things off my list, I feel like I’ve failed as a homemaker.

I also long for my daughter’s heart to be loving and sweet and obedient all the time, so when it isn’t I think I’ve failed as a mom.

This is often how I measure a day and if  I keep this measurement method I will continue to have bad days.

I don’t want bad days anymore.  I’m tired of bad days.

So, what makes a day good?


I need to stop measuring my days by variables.  Accomplishments and my children’s behavior can change and will change, but God is the same. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  He never changes.

So, I need to base the “goodness” of my days on Him.  Am I in His word, meditating on his law, or praying each day?

God commands that I, “be joyful always”(1 Thessalonians 5:16) and “rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4).

I want to practice this more.  So, last week when I was attempting to make THIS cake from scratch  (with a toddler “helping”) and it didn’t rise appropriately, I took a deep breath and piled the kids in the car to pick up more ingredients.  Then, I tried to make it with both kids awake (the baby skipped her long nap) and needing food and the second one didn’t rise appropriately. It was a long day of work, and baking, and fussy children and a day where I would typically have been in tears by the time hubby came home.

But, God.

That cake didn’t matter.  I even ended up being able to use the first cake I made and it was just fine.  My wasted trip to the store, didn’t matter.  God’s truth matters.  My fussy children don’t define my day.  God’s love and mercy defines it.

So, instead of having a meltdown, I clung to Him.  And you know what, it turned out to be a good day.  I didn’t allow myself to start down the road of frustration and anger and disappointment. Because that is a dangerous road and that road only ends in bad days.

Instead I embraced the truth that God is God even if my cake didn’t rise and even if my children were fussy.  Those circumstances?  They were temporary.  God’s love and mercy is forever. Embracing that truth each day can make my days good.  Each and every one of them.

How do you tend to measure your days?  What constitutes a good day for you?  Or a bad one?





Today I am missing the little one we lost.

I have an appointment with the OBGYN to talk about possible testing or what might have caused the two consecutive miscarriages.

I am nervous about what he will say.

I am a bit scared that all my plans for the future will fall apart because something might be wrong.

I am anxious to have another baby.

I am hopeful that all is well.

I am fearful that it is not.

I am sure that God is in control.

I am wondering what His plan is.

Needless to say, there are a lot of emotions coursing through me right about now and I could use your prayers.

Prayers for a calm spirit and a trusting heart.

Prayers for patience and hope.

Prayers for health and answers.

Prayers for peace.

Losing two babies in a row was rough, to put it simply, and I desperately want to avoid experiencing it again. I desperately want to hold our next little one in my arms.

Your will, Lord.