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Lauren DuPrez

0 In DIY/ Magnolia My Way

Magnolia My Way // DIY Hanging Side Tables

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If you’ve watched Fixer Upper for some time, you may have noticed how Joanna loves to incorporate hanging side tables in bedrooms. I thought the idea was brilliant because it’s fun and unique. Unlike traditional side tables, this type is out of my toddler’s reach so she isn’t able to swipe all my table top contents onto the floor which is a big plus.

The pin below is from Joanna’s Kids Room Pinterest board and shows the hanging side tables she created for the bedroom her daughters share.

 

 

The trays pictured, previously available from Magnolia Market, were listed at $45 for a small one and $75 for a large one – not an amount I could justify spending.

 

To make my side tables from trays, I purchased the following items:

To make the table, I followed these steps:

  1. Paint the tray
  2. Screw the hook into the ceiling
  3. Hang the rope over the hook to determine where the tray should hang
  4. Cut the rope, wrap it around the handles a few times and tie it in a knot
  5. Enjoy your hanging side table!

The whole project was just under $35 for both side tables – much less than the trays Magnolia was advertising.

*NOTE* This concept is more pretty than practical – you may have to add more rope to help balance your table depending on what you will place on it.

 

 

Previously, we used the Lack side table by Ikea because how can you say, “No” to a side table for $7.99?

However, we added a foam mattress topper to our mattress which meant we were reaching down quite a bit to access the table. Our new side tables are much pretty, easier to reach and best of all, we didn’t have to bust our budget to create them!

What are your favorite DIY projects on a budget?

 

 

Check out the rest of the Magnolia My Way series by clicking on the images below:

 

 

 

 

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0 In DIY/ Magnolia My Way

Magnolia My Way // DIY Pendant Lamp

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A few weeks ago, I visited Target Optical because I was in desperate need of contacts. I don’t know what’s more convenient than being able to make an appointment in less than 24 hours and having your actual appointment take under 30 minutes – except for the fact that it just so happens to be at Target.

I scheduled an appointment for my husband too and since his appointment was first, I figured I’d visit the Dollar Spot, because my mama always taught me to use time wisely ;). I wasn’t sure if it would be wise to visit the Dollar Spot because I tend to lack self control in Target but it turned out better than I expected. I found a few cute and affordable items in colors that I love. One such item was a mint green wastebasket for $3. Did I have any need for a mint green wastebasket? Of course not! But for $3 it was too cute to pass up. I knew I could use it as a toy basket or something else. I bought it not quite sure yet what it would become but hopeful that I could put it to work in my home.

I noticed that the wastebasket had a hole in the center of it and got excited as the idea to create a pendant lamp formulated itself in my mind. I knew that it would be an easy endeavor to turn it into a light because pendant lights are popular and many stores now have kits for making them. I used a lightbulb we already had to see if it would fit in the hole and it did! I did a Google search for a light kit and found one from Cost Plus – it happened to be on sale, eBates was offering 4% cash back on in store pick up orders and I signed up for the World Market Explorers program and received a coupon for an additional 15% off my purchase!

 

The total cost of the lamp was about $17

Mint Green Wire Wastebasket $3.00 (I received a 5% discount for using my Target RedCard)

Silver Electrical Cord Swag Kit $6.99 (This kit is available in black and white too and includes a hook)

Edison Filament Light Bulb $6.99

All throughout our home, we have soft lighting but in the living room, for some odd reason, our landlord used fluorescent lightbulbs which I hate. My new pendant lamp provides the perfect warm glow and makes our living room feel cozy rather than cold.

 

The lamp was super easy to assemble and didn’t cost a fortune!

What are your favorite ways to brighten up your home?

Check out the rest of the Magnolia My Way series by clicking on the images below:

 

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2 In DIY/ Magnolia My Way

Magnolia My Way // Intro

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With the boom produced by Fixer Upper present in all things interior design it seems that everyone wants a piece of the pie. What used to be the boring (at least in my opinion) and male dominated territory known as the home improvement store, now receives a steady influx of women who possess a wide array of knowledge when it comes to design and decor, thanks to Chip and Jo. The Gaines duo has tackled Waco’s worst, written a book, opened a highly successful home goods store, produced their own magazine and is even opening a restaurant. To say, “Everything they touch turns to gold,” would be a massive understatement.

As a fan of the show myself, I have fallen in love with Joanna’s eye for detail which is patent in every area of Magnolia’s marketing. Hospitality is a Biblical command for all believers and I’ve seen Joanna fulfill it countless times over the 4 seasons of the show and through the care she’s invested in Magnolia Market.

 

I’ve really enjoyed “fixing up” or decorating our home with my own unique style to make it both fun and functional for everyday use. The biggest challenge I’ve had that you may also experience is how to do the same when on a budget. I’ve noticed on Fixer Upper how Joanna loves to take ordinary objects and turn them into something unique and beautiful which has inspired me to do the same as I care for and decorate my home.

Unlike the individuals on the show, my husband and I are renters so that is a game changer. Rather than seeing renting as a limit, however, I like to see it as an opportunity for creativity. We also have a one year old so certain ideas that require more time and money simply don’t make sense for us in this season. With this criteria in mind, I’ve worked hard to make our home pretty and practical and I’d like to share with you four of the projects I’ve completed to do so. Be sure to follow along over the next four weeks as I share simple and affordable DIY projects to spruce up your space.

 

What unique design challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?

 

 

Check out the rest of the Magnolia My Way series by clicking on the images below:

 

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2 In Book Review

Book Review // Praying for Girls

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Praying for Girls by Terri Lynne Underwood is a helpful guide for moms who want to pray for their daughters but might not be sure where to start. Terri is the mother of a teenager, so she’s been through a few seasons of raising a daughter and it was delightful to read about her experiences thus far. Terri writes in a style that is transparent and truthful which I found to be quite refreshing. At the end of each chapter, Terri provides a few prayers to pray over your daughter and Scriptures to support them. What I liked most about these prayers is that first of all, they are Biblical and second, Terri left blanks in each one so the reader can input the name of their daughter. For example, here’s one of my favorites:
“Lord, I pray ________ will recognize her need for salvation early in life and call upon Your name, knowing it is only through You any of us can be saved. (Acts 2:21, Joel 2:32),” (pg. 160).

This book is aimed at moms whose daughters have already made a profession of faith in Christ but is still really helpful for moms like me who hope that their daughter will do so in the future.

My daughter is only one, but by reading Praying for Girls, I was really encouraged by the opportunity to pray through so much Scripture for her and it made me hopeful that one day, Lord willing, she will turn from her sin and trust in Christ alone for salvation.

In a time where so many “Christian” books for women are lacking Biblical truth, it was very exciting to see Terri not only use Scripture abundantly, but to do so in context!

I love that Terri reminds moms that they can’t be the ones to save their daughters and that salvation comes through Christ alone. Addressing this in Chapter 18, Terri wrote, “Our daughters can only walk in the fullness of their identity in Christ when they belong to Him. Their hearts and minds can only be rooted in and guided by Him when they have experienced salvation through Him. The way they relate to others can truly reflect the character of Christ only if they are being conformed to Him,” (pg. 159).

I didn’t have any major theological concerns with this book but thought it might be helpful to provide my thoughts on the following content:

  • Terri includes an excerpt from an email she received from a blog reader who was so encouraged by what Terri wrote that she made a prophecy quilt for her daughter, “But, as a quilter, I felt the Lord place on my heart to make a ‘prophecy quilt.’ I didn’t even know it was a thing (and maybe it’s not, really!),” (pg. 26). I encourage readers to be discerning with such statements and test them against Scripture. No where in the Bible does God instruct anyone to make a prophecy quilt. This doesn’t mean making the quilt or the quilt itself is inherently sinful however, it should serve as a caution to consider how much weight we ought to give things that are inspired outside of Scripture.
  • On page 81 there is a sentence that states, “Discuss with her how important it is for us to listen carefully for the Lord’s voice and then do what He says quickly.” We actually don’t need to listen for God’s voice because everything God has to say has been given to us in Scripture (Hebrews 1:1-2, John 1:1). Referring to Jesus, Revelation 19:13 states, “. . .the name by which he is called is The Word of God.” If we want to know Jesus, we can by simply reading His Word. I believe Terri would agree with this and perhaps I am being too sensitive to the syntax but I felt the need to address this with the plethora of “Christian” books available that focus on the unbiblical practice of listening for God’s voice. 

Overall, I really loved Praying for Girls and my heart was blessed by Terri using so much Scripture throughout its pages. Reading this book made me so hopeful that God will save my daughter and reminded me not only of my need to be in prayer for her but also of my need for God and His Word. This book was a great reminder for my heart to ensure that I am putting my love for Christ and Scripture on display for my daughter.

I highly recommend Praying for Girls for any mama with a daughter who wants to know how she can care for her daughter through prayer. The chapters were short but really impactful and even challenged me to want to grow in my love for Christ, especially by going to Him in prayer.

Praying for Girls is available now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and all major booksellers.

I received Praying for Girls compliments of Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for my honest review.

0 In Grace

Texas, Tears and Timing

This may come as a surprise to many, but I dearly long to return to life in the Lone Star State. While getting married, moving halfway across the country 6 days later and then getting pregnant 3 months later was, to put it frankly, chaos, I deeply cherish the time my husband, daughter and I spent in Texas. I feel like a mad woman because when I was there I longed to be in California but once we got the call that my husband would be able to transfer his job to California, I wasn’t even sure if moving back was what I wanted to do. I had four days to pack our one bedroom apartment by myself  and I sobbed through each one.

My heart aches to return to life in the city and I’ve questioned over and over again why this is. Am I discontent? Possibly. Is my longing sinful? Maybe. . . I don’t know. I do know that ATX is where my husband and I arrived six days into our marriage. It’s where we fought, where we grew, where we had our baby, where we established our roots and had to figure out life just the two of us and the Lord. I’ve wondered if my hormonal hurricane postpartum is what led to us moving to California and I’ve regretted how much control the hormones seemed to have but what I’ve come to realize is that no matter how much “control” any outside (or inside) source may seem to have, they will never have the full, sovereign control of our good and gracious God who works all things together for the good of those who love Him. I learned that sinful or not, my choices can never thwart His will and in this knowledge I have realized His peace that passes all understanding.

I am thankful to be in California for now but am praying that one day, if the Lord sees fit, He would move us back to ATX. The Southern atmosphere is sweet and slow and holds a special place in my heart (apart from the humidity, naturally). I dearly miss the beauty of San Antonio in the midst of a sweltering storm, Cuvee Black and Blue, Lucy’s on the Lake, Harvest Bible Chapel Austin, Lady Bird Lake(/Lake Austin/Town Lake/The Colorado River), Whole Foods, all things Fixer Upper, everyone saying, “Y’all,” the Southern hospitality, wide open spaces, the green, Hook ’em Horns, brisket, breakfast tacos, the healthy culture (okay, just in ATX), and the pride of being a Texan (I’m not sure that I can actually claim the last one, but since I haven’t been in California for a year, I figured it’d be acceptable).

My husband and I talked about what would have happened “if” he had lost his job in Texas and our initial response was we were so grateful that didn’t happen because we don’t know what we would have done. We imagined being in such a situation would be really hard but the truth is, being in California we didn’t really know what to do and God has still shown Himself faithful. His character doesn’t change based on our location – amazing grace, indeed! I do see however, how God has been gracious to us as we found out last month that the location my husband’s company was operating in Austin was shut down due to poor productivity. The timing was interesting and somewhat helpful to my heart to know we didn’t make a mistake in moving.

Yet, how do I move forward? I’ve asked myself this and wrestled internally pouring out my heart to the Lord.

Here’s what I’ve concluded at least for now:

  1. My desire for eternity with Christ should never exceed my desire for any earthly home. May my heart long for the city whose designer and builder is God more than my desire to live in ATX or anywhere on earth.
  2. The bride of Christ has never been more beautiful to me. My husband and I had a wonderful church home in California that we left behind when we moved to Texas. What I didn’t know at the time was how cherished our Texas church family would become. While I long to be with our Texas church family, and I don’t know when we’ll see them next, my heart rejoices knowing that in eternity I will get to worship God forever with all the saints I hold dear. Who am I that God would allow me to partake in such glory?
  3. Fondness for former days can be foolish. Earlier this week I read Ecclesiastes 7:10 which states, “Say not, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’ For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.” I’ve wondered why it wouldn’t be wise to consider former days as better and I’ve concluded that it must have something to do with being grateful for what the Lord has for me each day. It isn’t wrong to hold memories dear but it is sinful to idolize them and I believe Solomon’s warning was for this reason. I should long for eternity more than any earthly season as that is where I will be know fullness of joy and pleasure forevermore in the presence of Christ Himself.

Ultimately, I don’t know whether or not we will one day return to our roots but I do know that I can trust God who does.

“For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.”

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0 In Book Review

Book Review // Still Waiting

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I initially learned about author Ann Swindell by reading a post she had written for The Gospel Coalition titled, Don’t Write Just to Get Published. As a blogger, I could relate to the sentiments expressed in her post and was encouraged by her truthful and intelligent writing. I began following Ann on social media as a result of the blog post and when I found out she was writing a book, I knew I would have to read it. I was ecstatic when she announced that she was accepting applications to be on the launch team for her first book, Still Waiting and I was equally excited when I received an email stating my application had been accepted.

In Still Waiting, Ann begins each chapter with a fictional narrative from the perspective of the bleeding woman in Mark 5:25-27. I appreciate that Ann made it clear that these were her thoughts on what life might have been like for the bleeding woman and they were not actual Biblical accounts. Although I learned much about what life would have been like for the bleeding woman from a cultural standpoint, I felt that the book could have been equally as enjoyable without the accounts but as Ann’s story unfolded, I recognized her reasons for placing them there.

Still Waiting, overall, is Ann’s personal account of a struggle she has with trichotillomania (a disorder, which for her, results in obsessively pulling out her eyelashes) and her hope that God would take it away. She shared various lessons she’s learned in the waiting and questions that she’s challenged her own heart with to make sure that Christ is always first in her life. I love that Ann shared her story without deviating from the truth of the Gospel and unlike many books for Christian women, Still Waiting foregoes the fluff.

There is presently a plethora of books for Christian women that are all about being broken, messy, etc. that encourage women to have their focus on themselves rather than Christ. Still Waiting,thankfully, is not such a book. Evidence of this is a few sentences found of page 87 of the book where Ann elaborates on Colossians 2:13-15, “We now have a new identity. We are no longer known by God as broken and sinful. Because Jesus took our shame, our sin, and our brokenness, our true identity is now found in him.”

Still waiting is chock full of Biblical reminders that I found especially encouraging in my own season waiting when my husband went through unemployment twice this year.

Two of my favorite aspects of Still Waiting are Ann’s abundant use of Scripture within its context and her willingness to challenge women to consider whether or not their suffering has become idolatrous. One of my favorite quotes from the book is, “If I couldn’t have healing, I knew I could still have Christ. He would be enough for me,” (p. 112).

Still Waiting is a bit lengthy but nonetheless a pleasure to read. If you are in a season of waiting, I highly recommend Ann’s book knowing it will be a great encouragement to your heart and soul.

Still Waiting is now available from Amazon and all major booksellers.

I received Still Waiting compliments of Tyndale in exchange for my honest review.

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0 In Motherhood

Serving from the Sidelines

On Wednesday my husband departed at the wee hour of 5 am for the high school summer camp our church is hosting. A battle had been brewing in my heart in the weeks leading up to it because 1) It’s in the mountains on houseboats – how fun is that?! 2) It’s ministry to high school students which I love and 3) I didn’t know if I should go. I know those first 2 factors make the decision seem pretty patent but as a mama of a one year old, I really wrestled with forsaking one of my primary ministries – to “do ministry”. When we first began serving with the high schoolers, the youth pastor assigned me the role of supporting my husband rather than leading a group of girls. Since I work part time for our church and am also a wife and mama (and my husband has been unemployed twice since we moved back and we moved again), I was super thankful not to have one more commitment on my plate. In this season I have greatly considered what the term ministry means not only as defined Biblically but practically as well. Many times I have asked my husband if I should just take on discipling a group of girls but have hesitated each time because if I choose to serve in that capacity, I want to do so faithfully and to the best of my ability.

I have received conflicting communication on how much I should be serving right now, which has been hard and honestly, a bit hurtful, but as I’ve prayed, talked with my husband and sought counsel, I’ve decided that I will continue to support my husband for now and that is not less valuable than serving in a different capacity. I’ve also had to be reminded that motherhood is a ministry – this doesn’t exempt moms from serving in the local church but it does mean it’s okay for a season if moms, especially with younger children, have less availability to serve in more formal roles. I’ve had to remember that the Gospel is about God’s grace and I’ve had to remind myself that I don’t serve to be saved, I serve because I am saved and I’m so grateful for what God has done for me in Christ!

When I have this mindset, I joyfully seize any opportunity for service seeing that even the smallest action makes much of the beauty of Christ’s bride and even more of Christ Himself (even if that means cleaning up vomit and tee tee all within 5 minutes, not that I’ve done that or anything. . .).

I arrived at this conclusion only after much prayer and many, many tears. When I served with youth students previously, I was able to make it to every event and in a sense, pour my life out for the students I served. Now I get to pour my life out for my own daughter yet my heart so often resents the responsibility because I am quick to believe the lie that it’s not a “real” ministry. Instead of being grateful for what I get to do, I often lament the loss of what I used to do and then I must question whether my service is unto the Lord or unto myself.

Motherhood is the hardest service I’ve ever done because the fruit of my labor doesn’t manifest itself as quickly or easily. Simultaneously, motherhood is the sweetest sanctifier because I have the opportunity to serve in ways that are unique to this role and this season. The Lord has blessed me with the privilege of shepherding a sweet and sinful soul because He loves me and desires that I become more like Him and to be sanctified so sweetly is a blessed thing.

In this season, I’ve felt that much of my service has been from the sidelines and perhaps there is some truth to that.

I’m slowly learning though that the sidelines isn’t so bad after all because it yields unique service opportunities that are equal parts hard and holy and that hold just as much value as service in formal capacities.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.”

John 12:24-26

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0 In Uncategorized

Gospel Grace at Graduation

This week most high school seniors across the nation concluded their four year long academic careers by receiving public recognition for the effort they made to receive their diplomas.

An exception to the public aspect of this celebration is Maddi Runkles, a senior from Maryland who was excluded from participating in the graduation ceremony at the Christian school she’s attended.

Why?

Well, according to her principal, David R. Hobbs, “Maddi is being disciplined, not because she’s pregnant, but because she was immoral.”

If you’ve followed this blog for some time, you are probably well aware that I don’t endorse pregnancy outside of wedlock. However, as a follower of Christ, I believe that situations such as Maddi’s merit a certain type of wisdom and grace that unfortunately seem to be lacking in this instance.

Upon beginning her high school career at the Christian school, Maddi signed an agreement acknowledging that she would do her best to abide by the school code which contains a stipulation stating that the application of Philippians 4:8, “extends to my actions, such as protecting my body by abstaining from sexual immorality and from the use of alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs.”

In a recent podcast in which Maddi herself was interviewed, she acknowledged the stipulation and reported that she in no way promised to perfectly uphold it. It was interesting to listen as Maddi explained her situation to the hosts and detailed the injustice she has been experiencing as there are students at her school who have broken the school code by committing actions both immoral and illegal.

In light of this tension between Maddi and the school, I believe it is imperative that we, as believers, consider how we ought to respond. I have a daughter, mind you, she is one so my husband and I don’t often think about how we would respond were she in these types of situations. However, we also serve with high school students in the youth ministry at our church so sometimes these situations do become fodder for discussion in our home.

After seeing a video regarding Maddi’s situation released by Students for Life, I immediately clicked on the link to sign a letter of support for Maddi. However, as I began typing I realized that it would be unwise to jump up in support of Maddi when I didn’t have all the facts. The one fact I really wanted to know but was unaware of was whether or not Maddi is a Christ follower. I firmly believe it is important to show love and grace in these difficult situations and simultaneously I believe that one of the best ways to do so is by addressing sin and making sure the truth of the Gospel is known as Jesus is our only hope for salvation from sin and being made right with God.

After listening to her responses in the podcast, I learned that Maddi does proclaim to be a Christ follower and I was so thankful to hear her heart regarding all that is happening in her life right now. It made me sad to learn that her father, formerly president of the school board, went before the board to discuss the matter and eventually resigned as a resolution was not reached in Maddi’s favor. I was surprised and encouraged to learn that Maddi knew she needed to repent and rather than letting the school administration alert the student body about her circumstances, she stood up in front of the student body herself, acknowledged her sin and repented. Additionally, and most importantly, Maddi is choosing to give life to the baby boy in her belly even though at one point she admitted abortion was on her mind.

All this having occurred, Maddi has still been denied the opportunity to participate in the graduation ceremony. For a while, I was conflicted in my heart as I wondered if this were the most gracious response.

I  wrestled through the following questions while thinking through what I, as a parent, would have done:

  1. What facts don’t I know?
  2. What is the school’s response to this?
  3. How would I respond as an administrator?
  4. How would I respond as a parent?
  5. Is Maddi proclaiming to be a Christ follower?
  6. Is Maddi repentant?
  7. Was going to Students for Life necessary?
  8. How can the name of Christ be most glorified in this?
  9. How can Christ’s bride, the church, be most accurately represented in this?
  10. Who ultimately is in charge of delivering justice?

I don’t have every single fact of Maddi’s case but from what I do know, when things didn’t work out in Maddi’s favor, her father went to Students for Life to bring light to the injustice she has experienced. I had to ask myself though whether I truly thought Maddi was treated in an unjust manner. From what I know, I don’t believe she has been treated in the most gracious manner, but whether or not she has been treated unjustly I am still wrestling through. I haven’t lived for too long but one thing I do know is that there are always two sides to every story.

According to a letter released by Maddi’s principal, she is being excluded from graduation not because she is pregnant but because she was immoral. I struggle with this a bit because Maddi has already repented and sought the forgiveness of her student body. As a parent I am learning that discipline needs to include a painful consequence which Maddi has already experienced by being denied attendance at the school and the loss of her leadership position on the student council. Furthermore, Maddi will also deal with many natural consequences of her sin for years to come.

Denying Maddi access to participate in her high school graduation seems a bit ungracious and un-Christlike considering the way that God responds to His children when they sin and are repentant – 1 John 1:9 tells us, “If we confess our sinshe is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” There are various Scriptures that reveal God’s character toward His children who sin. One such verse is Isaiah 43:5 in which God Himself said,”II am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sakeand I will not remember your sins.”

Since God Himself chooses to not remember the sins of His children, we as His children should respond in the same manner. The world tells us we don’t have to forgive and forget, but the Word tells us quite the opposite. When Christ followers don’t exemplify the forgiveness and grace they’ve been shown by God through Christ, it has the tendency to make the Gospel message very unappealing to those who most need to hear it. 

In contrast, I don’t know that I fully support Maddi and her family going to Students for Life who unsuccessfully attempted to have the school administration reverse their decision. Since having requested the help of Students for Life, Maddi’s case has been plastered across the press and is now widely familiar due to being picked up by the New York Times.

The issues that arise with this are that a worldly news source with little to no understanding of Scripture and the way the church should function is now left to portray a dispute which, according to  Scripture, should have been resolved privately between Maddi, Mr. Runkles and the school administration with the goal of peace and restoration. Romans 12:14-21 instructs believers to: ‘Bless those who persecute youbless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoiceweep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one anotherDo not be haughtybut associate with the lowlyNever be wise in your own sightRepay no one evil for evilbut give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possibleso far as it depends on youlive peaceably with all. Belovednever avenge yourselvesbut leave it to the wrath of Godfor it is written, “Vengeance is mineI will repaysays the Lord.”  To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungryfeed himif he is thirstygive him something to drinkfor by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evilbut overcome evil with good.’

There is also the additional attention that Maddi is receiving that is affecting her both negatively and positively and it seems she has endured so much already.

Would my husband and I have sought outside help if our daughter was in this situation?

Honestly, I don’t know but my hope is that we wouldn’t.

When it comes to responding to injustice, I know I would want my husband, myself and my daughter to respond in a Christ like manner. I am so thankful for 1 Peter 2:19-23 which shows us how Christ did this: “For this is a gracious thingwhenmindful of Godone endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it ifwhen you sin and are beaten for ityou endureBut if when you do good and suffer for it you endurethis is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been calledbecause Christ also suffered for youleaving you an exampleso that you might follow in his stepsHe committed no sinneither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviledhe did not revile in returnwhen he sufferedhe did not threatenbut continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the treethat we might die to sin and live to righteousnessBy his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheepbut have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”

Of all humans to ever life, Jesus was treated in the most unjust manner as He was sinless yet suffered for the sins of all people.

As I have a sister who was a teen mom, I am grateful for Maddi’s heart to shed light on the ungracious treatment shown to teen moms inside and outside of the church, yet I wonder if the way in which she approached it could have been different. As a former school employee, I also understand the concerns of the school administration, yet I hope they will recognize and value the opportunity to demonstrate the grace of the Gospel and recant their decision to exclude Maddi from participating in her graduation.

My biggest desire in all of this is that the good news of God who made a way for sinful man to be made right with Him through the life, death and resurrection of His precious and perfect son Jesus Christ, will shine forth. I hope that both parties will be reconciled and that the humility, wisdom and grace shown will be so attractive that those who don’t know Christ will be reconciled to God through Him and that the beauty of His bride, the church will be radiantly on display.

Despite bits of the truth remaining unknown, I hope that Maddi will be able to hold her head high at the private graduation ceremony held in her honor today, knowing that, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 8:1).

0 In Grace

When the Future is Funny

Well, it should be to no one’s surprise that these past two weeks have marked another crazy chapter for the DuPrez family. If y’all have been followed our story through this blog, you may know that we recently experienced a rough season of unemployment after moving from Texas to California. We were so humbled and grateful that the Lord provided my husband with a job in March and provided us with a home on April 1st. My husband’s job was a blessing in that it paid $3 more per hour than he previously made, the company provided him with a work truck (a huge blessing since we are a 1 car family), and since they didn’t have company phones, his boss offered to give us $80/month toward our cell phone bill (we were really excited about this since our bill is only $60/month!). Through it all, Ihave been wavering between the temptation to fear that my husband would lose his job again and the desire to trust the Lord who gives us everything we need.

About 2 weeks into the new job, my husband was being sent home multiple days a week due to the company not having any work for him. Since this was becoming a pattern, he reached out to a company that had wanted to interview him after he had accepted his most recent job. After a few days passed and he didn’t receive a call back, we figured the opportunity had passed.

Come Monday, April 17th, my husband was a little discouraged as he was home again and I was having a hard time seeing him so. He decided to make the most of the time off by heading to the local library to prepare a message he would be teaching to the high school students at our church. He was gone only a few minutes before my phone rang and he told me he had received a call back from the company and the owner wanted to interview him locally at 1:00. Since the library had not yet opened, he decided to head home and prepare for the interview. He left that afternoon interested to see what the other opportunity might be and we were both a little intrigued as the owner wanted to meet him at a local sports bar.

Once the interview concluded, my husband arrived home and told me it went okay. The company definitely wanted to hire him but the pay would be less and he would be starting his shifts at 2 AM in Los Angeles. Not exactly the time and location he would prefer, but he was willing to accept the job if it meant he could provide.

Y’all, I love my husband. 

A few minutes after he informed me about the interview, he received another phone call on his old cell phone which happened to still be activated AND turned on. There was another company he had applied to and interviewed with while unemployed and they also wanted to hire him.

WHAT?!

Unsure of how to proceed, we decided that we would pray together, my husband would call a few guys to seek counsel and I would call my parents to see if their home would be available for my husband during on call shifts which are a requirement of the second job opportunity (my parents live much closer to the job location than we do). Praying together was bittersweet. We thought it so timely that there were options for my husband but it was hard for him to make a decision because they company he currently worked for had been so good to him. He was conflicted with the desire to be faithful to his company and to be faithful to his family as the provider. In tears, I went in prayer before the Lord on my husband’s behalf, asking Him to give my husband wisdom and to honor his desire to be faithful on both ends.

My husband proceeded to make his phone calls and I made mine. He was outside for about 20 minutes talking then came in to let me know how he was counseled.

Y’all, I am not exaggerating when I tell you that not even two minutes after he concluded his calls, he received another call from his current boss telling him the company would have to lay him off due to a lack of work.

WHAT?!

To say we were shocked would be a major understatement. It took a moment for the proverbial roller coaster to stop and for us to catch our breath. We were so amazed, surprised, humbled and a little fearful about the course of events that had occurred and SO beyond grateful to see God’s provision in our lives so tangibly on display. I literally laughed out loud because really, what else was I to do? I thought of the woman described in Proverbs 31 who is so confident in the Lord that she laughs at the time to come. I figured if the Lord saw us through unemployment once before, He is more than capable of extending His faithfulness to us a second time around.

My husband decided that the second opportunity would be the best fit for our family. That company is able to match was he was making and then some. They are also able to provide health insurance for us and a matching 401k. I learned during the first bout of unemployment that the only benefits we truly need, we have in Christ and these little earthly benefits are simply a bonus.

Honestly, I did shed a few tears later that evening. I was discouraged but hopeful at what was to come. It was hard knowing that we wouldn’t have an income for almost two weeks but I was reminded of how God provided for Moses and the Israelite’s when they were in the desert and I know that the same God also provides for me.

The rest of the week was really rough as my husband contracted the stomach flu – bad. I totally gave him a hard time for whining about a man cold (which is what we initially thought it was), but when I took his temperature and the thermometer read 100.2, I knew we were in trouble. His fever went up and down but we eventually got it to stay down consistently. During these times of caring for my husband and my daughter I felt alone but had to remind myself that the lens for truth is not my feelings – the way I feel does not always determine what is true.

I read Psalm 54:4 in my Bible reading plan and it was so sweet to be reminded that I am never alone because it is God who helps me:

Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life. 

So simple and so sweet.

My husband began his new job (I hope I can stop saying that for a while) last Thursday, a few days sooner than we expected – how great is our God?

Moving back here hasn’t been anything near what we expected, not that we really had expectations. But, in the midst of the changes I am thankful that because of Jesus, I know and am reconciled to God who is the same yesterday, today and forever and who will never leave me or forsake me.

I can laugh at the future because I know Who is in control of it.

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen”

Ephesians 3:20-21

0 In Financial Fitness

Budget Basics 101 // Cash Back Apps

This post contains affiliate links

In additional to the cash back websites I shared about two weeks ago, there are also a few cash back apps you need to know about. To date, we haven’t earned a ton of money from these apps but I’m almost at $20 in one app, which is the cash out rate and I’ve already earned a $5 reward with another. I never say no to free money so even though these apps just add a little bit back into our budget, they are worth using to me.

Ibotta

Out of all 3 apps I will be sharing with you, this one is most worth your while. Once you download the app and create an account, you are able to input your zip code and stores local to you will become available. You can search the app by store or category. Once you select an item from a certain store, all you have to do is purchase the item, scan the barcode and snap a picture of your receipt. I love Ibotta because of all the apps, it has the best selection of stores and items for receiving cash back. Ibotta also offers cash back on online purchases at select retailers. For a while, they were running a deal of 5% cash back on Jet.com purchases, so I definitely took advantage of that. If you use Ibotta for online purchases, make sure you check the cash back rate agains, ebates, Swagbucks and Topcashback to see which one offersthe best deal. The payout for Ibotta is $20 so depending on how much of the selected products you buy from the stores that are available, it may or may not take a while to cash out. To reach the payout sooner, you can always refer friends to Ibotta to earn an extra $5 per new user and your friend will receive $10 to their account.

Checkout 51

This app is similar to Ibotta in that it offers cash back on grocery items. However, Checkout 51 has a very limited selection of items so I’ve found that I haven’t made as much as quick when compared with Ibotta. Since downloading the app, I’m only at $1.50 and the payout rate is $20. I’ve seen Checkout 51 offer $.25 back on a dozen eggs and our local Aldi sells them for $.78/dozen so that was an awesome deal! This app may seem like a waste of time to some, but I’m okay with waiting for the cash back to accumulate.

Receipt Hog

Receipt Hog is an app that rewards users for uploading pictures of their receipts. Depending on how much you spend, you will be rewarded an amount of coins. As the coins accumulate, they can be redeemed for rewards ranging from $5-$40 (cash in your PayPal account, Amazon gift cards or magazine subscriptions). Essentially, Receipt Hog is paying users for the data they receive from the receipts. Prior to snapping a photo of each receipt, I’m usually asked one survey type question (typically I’m asked to rate my shopping experience on a scale of 1-5 stars). So far, I’m up  to a $5 reward and am letting the money accumulate until I can max out at $40. Again, not a significant amount of money, but right now it’s enough toward free products on Amazon or a free coffee!