Jesus, In Spite of Me.

Jesus and motherhood

There are days when I feel like I am failing miserably. I feel overwhelmed by all of the “stuff”. I have three kids at three different schools, essentially, one of them home schooled and attending a tutorial two days a week. I’m not going to list all of the daily “to-do’s. We all have our lists, don’t we? We feel like driving services, cleaning services, cooks, nurses, launderers, teachers, psychologists, coaches, etc., etc., every day, all day long. It gets to be a lot.

I fear many times that I don’t represent Jesus to my children very well. Jesus wouldn’t raise his voice at them. He wouldn’t threaten to throw away all of their toys because they didn’t pick them up. I’m pretty sure Jesus wouldn’t tell my boys every so often that they were acting like spoiled brats. And he wouldn’t have to apologize to them for losing his temper and then ask their forgiveness. He wouldn’t have to do that, but I do…more than I care to admit.

Praise the Lord my children see Jesus in me despite my mistakes and many failings, and he graciously (oh so graciously) gives me glimpses of how my own children see me, and it humbles me and brings me to my knees. Yesterday Luke brought a paper home from church with him.

One of the questions on the paper was…How do you see Jesus?
And Luke’s answer was… I look in my mom’s heart.

When I read that my heart swelled, not with pride but with gratefulness. I’m so thankful that God works through me and that my children see Jesus in me even though I fall short on a daily basis. I don’t pretend to know how that works except that I know that I love the Lord and my children with all of my heart and I know that God honors that. He looks at the heart too. God can look past my ugly exterior and see my heart, and he has given my sweet seven year old son the ability to do that too. I don’t deserve this, but that’s what makes it so precious.

So I encourage you, keep on loving your kids! When you mess up, let them know that you know you made a mistake and that you treasure them and that you’re sorry, so very sorry. Let them see that mommies are people too, and that people are selfish sometimes and can hurt each other’s feelings, and that it’s not okay to do that. Let them know that’s not how God wants us to treat one another. Continue to seek Him. Continue to lean on Him and draw on his strength, because moms, we cannot do this alone. It’s hard work, but he will equip us and he will even love our children through us! Isn’t that amazing? It amazes me.

DIY Ninja Costumes.

Maybe you’re getting a little bit anxious because Halloween is right around the corner and you don’t have a costume for your little ghoul yet. That’s where I was at this point in the month a couple of years ago, but lucky for me Luke and Levi wanted to be Ninjas! You know I’m all about making things EASY.  The most popular post on my blog is my DIY Superhero cape tutorial which requires no sewing at all.  Apparently there are other moms out there who likes things easy too because it has been pinned thousands of times!  I thought I’d share another super easy costume idea with you all (and it’s no-sew too!)…

My boys love ninjas, so when they asked if we could buy ninja costumes I said what every craft blogger would say, “No…but we can make them!”  So I set out to find the pieces that I would need, black pants and black shirts (because ninjas are stealthy).  You can sew the shirt or pants yourself if you are so inclined, you’ll find a great pants tutorial here and an awesome shirt pattern here.  For the sake of time, I went to Walmart and bought the shirts and pants super cheap.  I spent about $13 on each boy’s costume… not bad compared to store bought ninja costumes that will run you well over $20 each!

All you need to make awesome ninja costumes is a pair of black pants (soft and comfy is the name of the game) and two long sleeved black t-shirts.  What makes the outfit is the “hood”.  It’s created by one of the long-sleeved t-shirts, by tying it around your child’s head like so…

This could not be easier to do.  Your boys will think you are the coolest when you show them how to make a ninja hood out of a t-shirt!  Paired with the black pants and black long-sleeved t-shirt you have the perfect ninja outfit.  I would suggest putting the clothes on first, then the doing the hood.  If you want to you can create a throwing star to accessorize!  I cut two out of cardboard and painted them with a few coats of silver spray paint.

Here’s Levi, my littlest ninja!

DIY Ninja Costume Tutorial at www.thesoutherninstitute.com

DIY Ninja Costume at www.thesoutherninstitute.com
DIY Ninja at www.thesoutherninstitute.com

Levi thinks he is the absolute coolest in this outfit!  I love that it’s an easy dress up play outfit and that he can wear the pieces by themselves any day of the week!  Bonus! One thing to remember is that if this costume is being worn on Halloween, and you trick or treat after dark, you will definitely need to add some reflective tape.  I think it would look cool integrated into the outfit by adding some to the bottom of the shirt and a stripe down each side of the pant legs.  That way your little ninja will be visible while he’s out knocking on doors.

Thanks for reading!  Have a great time with this costume and don’t forget to check out more Halloween projects at The Southern Institute.

Discovering Oxford and searching for Alice.

I was compensated for this review. All opinions are honest and my own, as are all of my reviews. Thank you for visiting!

Just about two weeks ago my husband and I embarked on the trip of a lifetime, of our lifetimes at least. We hopped a plane or two and crossed an ocean to visit Ireland and England! Neither of us had ever been out of the country before, and got our first passports for this trip. In fact, mine arrived only 3 weeks before we were due to leave, which was cutting it a bit too close for my taste! Thankfully, it got to me in time, the kids went to spend a fun-filled week with the grandparents, and Tom and I went on a grand adventure.

One of the cities that we spent time in was Oxford, England, the city of dreaming spires. It is absolutely magnificent! The history, the architecture, and the tradition are awe-inspiring to say the least.

photo 4-9

Oxford maintains a bit of whimsy as well! Did you know that Oxford is the home of Alice? Lewis Carroll (a pen name) was Charles Dodgson, a maths lecturer at Christ Church, Oxford. His famous books, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass were stories that Charles told to the Dean of Christ Church’s daughter, Alice! Many of the locations in her adventures are based on parts of the college itself. So I went looking for Alice in Oxford and imagined where she might have wandered and played.

The first place was Christ Church Cathedral itself, which is just beautiful. Can you imagine a more beautiful setting to base story books on?

Oxford Uncommon Goods Review

The meadows across the way are populated with deer, and if you explore a bit you’ll find Addison’s walk, where C.S. Lewis liked to walk and think.

Some places were not so obviously found. On my adventure I took Alice with me everywhere I went! I wore my Alice In Wonderland literary scarf from Uncommon Goods Gifts under $50 page! It seemed like there wasn’t a place that could be more fitting to wear it. After all, Oxford is where her adventures started. The weather called for a scarf, and this was just the right thing to wear. The entire scarf is covered with text and images from the book-I love it! It was honestly just what I needed, and if my adventures had taken me elsewhere, I could have chosen from a few other literary scarves. In fact, if I were Alice, I might take a drink from that little bottle and shrink myself down so that I could play in the postcard garden found on this page (in Gifts under $25). How cute is that?

Uncommon Goods Review

Uncommon Goods Literary scarf review

There are other more obvious places to find Alice… she’s quite popular around this town. There’s a quaint little shop called Alice’s Shop where you can find just about anything Alice related, from stationary to jewelry, teapots to tea towels, and books to wall clocks. It really is a cute (very small) shop, and I would have taken a photo of the inside except that they were not permitted, so here’s a shot of me and my Alice scarf in front of Alice’s Shop.

Uncommon Goods Review

Alice's Shop Oxford

Oxford is truly an amazing town. It was hard to decide if I felt stupider by comparison or smarter by osmosis just walking through its streets. It seemed as if everyone there must be highly academic and have some grand goals for their lives. They’re in Oxford, after all! I enjoyed soaking in the sites; the bell towers, cathedrals, spires, canals, lovely old buildings, and eager young faces of the students walking or riding their bicycles past us. I wish we had allowed ourselves more time to explore.

Radcliffe Camera Oxford

Our next adventure takes us to New York City, where Uncommon Goods is based, coincidentally! They were founded in 1999 and are headquartered in Brooklyn, which we just so happen to be visiting during our stay. They’re actually based out of the historic Brooklyn Army terminal, which is so cool. They are such a unique, or should I say uncommon (lol) company, supporting and providing a platform for artists and designers to share their creative work. In fact, one of my friends just so happens to have been one of those designers who Uncommon Goods gave a chance to shine, so I know first hand that they do what they say they do. So if you find yourself in Brooklyn you might want to check in and see about touring because they offer studio tours… how fun would that be? Or just check out their website while you’re doing your holiday shopping.

We saw so much more than Oxford on our trip. I hope to get some photos of our adventures in Ireland posted too. I fell in love with Ireland, even more than I did England.

Have you traveled to Oxford or Ireland before? What is your dream vacation?