Horses Come Alive

While downloading some pictures from my camera, I realized that I have a lot of homeschooling fun to catch up on blogging/journaling (hence the silence). So if you’re interested there will be more postings coming up in the near future as I catch up. And for those of you not interested, just pop back in when you are interested. =)  I enjoy blogging not only to share in our fun experiences, but for two other more primary reasons: 1. To have a fun history to reflect on and 2. To celebrate our times together and the fun stories we’ve made.

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One such story we made together came a week after studying farm animals. In our curriculum there was a three-week period of studying farm animals, more specifically the goat, cow and horse. We took the opportunity to go to an 1800′s farm with some dear friends during our cow study week. And while we rained out of our original date, Mat got the opportunity to take the girls on their other farm-related field trip to see our Pastor’s horse, Abijah.

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Pastor took the opportunity to show them Abijah’s barn, talk about horse care and share some fun stories of Abijah’s personality of kicking all the hay to the corners of his pen so Pastor would have to stack it all back up in the middle for his bed. The girls enjoyed the opportunity to see Abijah’s food and water dishes, check out his saddle, pet him and even ride him.

Hannah enjoyed her first horse ride as Pastor led each of the girls around the horse pen on that windy evening.

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And while I didn’t get a chance to go this time, I am thrilled at the pictures and the stories that the girls bring up randomly about Abijah’s world.

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Thanks again, Pastor, for helping our books come to life. =)

 

Sufficiency?

*** This post is written upon the basic Truth that

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17

All Scripture. Not some. Not segments. Not sections are inspired and others no longer apply. ALL Scripture – - even the hard to comprehend parts is inspired by God Himself.. ***

 

Sufficient is defined by good ole Webster as “adequate to accomplish a purpose or meet a need” (c 1995). If you need a more updated definition, dictionary.com defines “sufficient” as “adequate for the purpose; enough”.

Jesus is defined as an All-Sufficient Savior. If you choose to read through Scripture you will see the definition of “All-Sufficient” fleshed out. (And even if you choose not to read through Scripture, it doesn’t make Him any less Sufficient.) So for those of you who enjoy definitions, All-Sufficient would therefore be defined as “All-Adequate” or “Fully-Adequate”.

Now I’m not a theologian or a major in apologetics. I don’t have my masters in anything, actually and while participating in a debate class in High School, I don’t consider myself to be particularly skilled in debating a case and point so as to “hold and persuade the attention of the audience”. BUT that does not mean that the “common man”, like myself, cannot apply their mind to Scripture.

 

I often hear in Christian circles a swirling and “normal” topic of battling sin. I’m talking everyday sins. Anger (rage). Frustration. Being quick-tempered. Selfishness. Pride. Disobedience. Apathy. Laziness. The list could go on and on…. and sadly it does. Paul describes it as a battle between flesh and Spirit. See, the Holy Spirit is a Guide in us, Christians, and we wouldn’t need a guide if the navigation was easy.

But all too often I hear an unanswered grumbling or groaning from the body of Christ. It looks like this: someone in the group admits to struggling with a particular sin. Throw anything in there: pride, apathy, a quick temper… whatever. And the group agrees. “That is really hard to battle” or even “I know, I’ve been there” or “I know, I’m there too”. And that’s the conclusion of the conversation… we return to the Bible lesson, or change the subject, or excuse ourselves to another scheduling demand.

And so what do we leave the other Christian with? An insufficient Savior.

 

Christ takes on the mask of a weak Savior who can save us from our sins’ consequence, “once and for all” according to the Scriptures, but fails to save us from our daily lives. And, therefore, we just have to play this tolerance game for the 2 steps forward, 3 steps back battle with our sin nature.

Why in the world would anyone come to that kind of a Savior and lay down their life?

If I’m struggling with the exact same sin without conquering it in the least, then what did Christ save us for?

 

Christian, I’m not saying that there aren’t repetitive themes of sin in our lives. Some of us are certainly more prone to specific sins. Man, my fiery temper needs self-discipline just the same as Moses’ did. But we are forgetting the KEY POINT in this battle with sin: CHRIST.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13

Paul is 100% right. It is a daily, minutely battle with sin. We are still in the flesh and it is completely unnatural to think in the Spirit while still being in the flesh. But that is why we must train our minds to be like Christ. I mean check out the whole New Testament, Christian, it’s jam-packed full of “putting off the old self” and “putting on the new”. If the old self fell off easily we wouldn’t be instructed to PUT it OFF. But furthermore, trying to conquer sin in the nude is not going to do us any good either. We PUT ON the new self. Who is the new self? Christ!

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. – Galatians 2:20

The Scripture doesn’t say that after putting off the old self we now have faith in ourselves because we have a new self. No, it says we can now have faith in CHRIST who is the new self within us.

How are we to overcome sin? We cant! CHRIST in us can. We find ourselves, I find myself, stuck in a pattern of sin, struggling with the same thing over and over again without really making any advancing headway when I look to myself to “fix my sin problem.” There are hundreds (thousands?) of self-help books out there – and so many are stocking the “Christian Reading” sections of libraries and bookstores. But we need to wake up and remember that we couldn’t overcome sin. That’s what lead us to the cross on our hands and knees. We can’t do it! But Christ can… and already has overcome ALL sin. He is ALL-SUFFICIENT. He is more than enough to overcome anything we ever face… even the darkest, hardest stuff. Are we living our lives like we believe that? Does our daily, minutely Christian walk reflect that? Are we teaching our kids that truth (whether they are “in Christ” or, even more importantly, especially if they are not “in Christ”)?

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13

Who is our way of escape?

Christ.

Sure being Christ looks different in different circumstances. Sometimes being Christ looks like showing up for the test. Sometimes being Christ looks like fleeing from the temptation. That’s where we need to pray and be in tune with the Holy Spirit’s guiding and not our own agendas or self-reasoning to try to out-smart our way out of sin.

So next time we struggle, or hear of someone struggling… run, bringing the Word, and searching for Christ. The Holy Spirit will guide you if you are seeking. There IS a way of escape. We are not left on our own to battle our daily, minutely, sin lives. We are not just as entrapped and ensnared in our inability to fight sin as we were before Christ… WE HAVE CHRIST NOW.

It’s time to start harnessing Him, Christian (and I’m talking to myself here too!). We cannot overcome sin.

Christ can.

And. Has.

And He has extended His own Self into our very beings that we can live out sanctification, which is a fancy word for being and looking more like Christ daily.

It’s time to take faith and trust and stake our daily, minutely lives on the Truth that He is, can, will, and has been more than enough.

He is All-Sufficient.

 

Sin life… He is All-Sufficient.

 

- Stand on that FIRM foundation.

Entitled

So I’ve been mulling over some thoughts for a few weeks now.

I had the privilege to meet a Pastor’s Wife who had been in the ministry for many, many years. And while my heart broke a bit that she looked so tired. Some words she spoke have burned into the back of my mind. She spoke of the importance of securing for yourself a retirement outside of the ministry – be it through personal savings or, in her opinion, the addition of a secular job while serving in ministry. While this can sound like good financial wisdom, I began to ponder it’s Biblical principles.

A blogger friend said it well in defining the difference between living frugally and living in good stewardship. And I certainly agree that we Christians should live within our means that we would be able to be free of financial burden dictating the use of our funds, but instead free it up to the Lord to utilize how He sees fit.

I believe God takes care of His children, but that is not a freedom to, therefore, live a life of ease and irresponsibility. It’s the picture of still laboring, saving and giving away your funds with constant prayer and Kindgom work in mind.

So then where does retirement come in?

Well, the average age of death in the Bible settled into 70-80 years old when all the effects of the flood had settled into what we regularly experience today. And with the advancement of medication and technology it has raised the age to nearly 100 years old. That’s an additional 20-30 years beyond the average worker. We do not see retirement laid out for us as a model in Scripture. Some of that may be that the idea of living so long was not fathomable and therefore was not planned for. But we have to evaluate our idea of retirement. There’s a difference in responsibility for the required funding it will take to live and making the presumption that we deserve to retire.

Here’s the dilemma: so often I hear retirement in the context of entitlement. We deserve to be done with the workload. We deserve to live in a Florida home and just spend the rest of our days playing Bingo or even volunteering. So we should work very hard for that goal now. It should be our strategic plan. It should be our strategic goal now. It should be our focus.

But then what happens to the Lottie Moons? Or the George Muellers? Or the countless missionaries oversees giving literally the shirt off their backs? They’re not on vacation. Have they lost the vision of investing in their retirement?

Dare we live responsibly with good stewardship and trust that if we are pursuing Christ and doing His Kingdom work He will not forsake us of our needs? Dare we let Him define our needs, separating them from our wants?

We are asked to be good Stewards, not to be the provider. That is God’s job. And God’s promise.

But maybe it’s time, American Christians, to look outside of the blessing and realize how materialism has crept into what we feel we deserve… and how we even define needs.

Deuteronomy 6:5-12 says it like this:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Then it shall come about when the Lord your God brings you into the lands which He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you, great and splendid cities which you did not build, and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you eat and are satisfied, then watch yourself, that you do not forget the Lord who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

This passage is spoken directly to the Israelites through the medium of Moses and while it’s easy to write it off as “spoken to someone else in a particular situation”, the truth still remains. Why did the Israelites need such constant reminders to keep the Lord first in their lives? What was God asking them to remember? What were they to write on the doorposts? Was it the goal of self-sufficiency or the reminders of relying on God?Why do you think God stressed that so diligently, painting out a literal picture of constantly being surrounded by those reminders, from teaching them to your children to literally adorning your house in them? What would be vying for our thoughts? What would be a distraction to the Israelites that would draw their attention away from God, the Provider?

We did not get to decide who bore us. We did not get to decide what country we would be born in or the opportunities we would have before us. Certainly God has graced us with some control over what opportunity our future actions may grant us, but that still lies within the constraints of access to opportunity. But we could have just as easily been born into a poor third world country. And here we are living in a life we have been given. A luxury (shelter, food, clothing, water access, job opportunities, family, etc) we were given. And we have slowly begun to get used to it and even find security in it. And we have forgotten the God who gave it all to us. The real Provider of our Portion and our Sustaining. We have slowly moved Him out, replacing Him with our self-sufficiency and fooling ourselves to believe we somehow created all this for ourselves. Much like the Israelites, we have gotten distracted by the blessing.

 

How do we view retirement?

Are we really entitled to it?

Seeds Planted in the Heart of a Child

It began with our prayer life. We were discontent with our contentment. You know how it is… that comfort we Christians find when we find ourselves in a country free, for the most part, of persecution. Free of excessive judgement. A country that, for the most part, just lets us Christians live our lives. Yep, we’d gotten comfortable. And so we forgot about them.

Sure there was a lot on our plate when the boys came. There was a whole host of new adjustments and likes and dislikes. But still they remained forgotten.

A while into the boys’ stay, the oldest boy motioned to the wall, “Who are they?” That was the first time we had remembered for a while.

They came up in casual dinner conversation. A prayer here and there.

And then it became more regular. We read the Word more. Our prayer life became more disciplined. We were discontent with our contentment. The boys had gone home. Things had slowed down and it was time for life changes. A return to serving outward, since there was less inward need.

And they came up on the prayer board again. Our Wednesday regulars. And we began to pray for more open hearts, more open arms, and more direction in loving them.

Then I found her at the kitchen table. Out of the blue. She had three piles of pictures to color. And she asked for their names: Lidia, Tofic and Valentina. Her Kindergarten script wrote each name awkwardly and lovingly on each of their handful of colored papers. Glued on strips of paper with stamp-like stickers of states they would never know… she doesn’t even know. She thought of the colors she used. What they might like and not like. And she frequented back, verifying name spellings, some times calling out letters from across the house. She was creating her masterpieces. And she was making them individually for our World Vision sponsor kids.

She sat there contentedly, diligently for over a half hour. The day progressed and she had to move on to other tasks. She stacked her work neatly in piles and hid them wisely from our rambunctious toddler. And later during her free time she chose to get them all back out, coloring in the parts she left off. Spelling their names over and over again. Collecting envelopes and folding each of her gift pages. An awkwardly placed piece of tape held the envelopes together… they were bulging with her love.

So we followed the lead of a child today. A child with a big heart. A child who, unbeknownst to herself, was an answer to our Wednesday prayers. Open hearts. Open arms. More direction on how to love Lidia, Tofic and Valentina better.

We worked on our envelopes together. Assembling our love into a 6×9 package. We tried to think three of four months ahead. That’s when they’d receive our mail. It has a long distance to travel. They live so many worlds apart. Tofic’s birthday would be right around the corner. Eden would be here or close to here. And by the time we’d receive word back Eden would be close to four months old. It’s almost unfathomable how time will change us. And yet we’ll be the same. Praying our same Wednesday prayers.

She asked if she was the reason we were assembling our envelopes tonight. “Not the reason, but the encouragement, dear Rachael. You were a great encouragement to us. And you encouraged us to send something from our hearts too. Thank you. “

I’m thankful that our God works in gentle ways…

Through the seeds planted in the heart of a child.

We Needed Toilet Paper and Sanity

Grumpiness. Pregnancy hormones. Disobedience. A toddler waking up an hour early to torture us. Selfishness. Frustration with interrupted playtime by an intruder, also known as a sister. Distraction. And neediness.

Yes, friends you guessed it right, it was a Monday morning.

And what better crabby crew than to frequent the grocery store.

We were out of toilet paper.

And we needed a distraction.

There was way too much time before lunch. And before naps.

But I found the cure… get out your sticky note and jot this down. I found it at the end of aisle 2 and at the back perimeter of the store:

Swiss Cake Rolls and Chocolate Milk.

That’s right, people… the reformation began. And the sun came out (cue the angelic music.)

- Something had to turn the Titanic around. =)

 

The Rock We Stand On

I had the opportunity to go with my husband to chaperone youth winter camp this year. This really was a treat since with so many little ones in our home currently (and in the past) I am usually the default in running the routine (that I have been privileged to invent). But this time since our crew was old enough, I got to spend the time with the youth girls.

While at camp we heard this worship song from the camp band.

“Your Kingdom Reigns” by Meredith Andrews

And I must tell you, I just love the Truth in this song.

My favorite is verse 2:

“By Your blood You have paid every debt

You are strong to save us

And by Your Word you will light every step

You are ever faithful!

Jesus, You are every faithful!”

Let’s take a moment to think through that. EVERY debt paid. That’s some serious strength! And while He never had to save us and it still utterly floors me that Christ would choose to save me… ME … without first even having a single utterance of commitment. See, He saved everyone that we would even have a chance to choose to receive His gift. And let me tell you what… I don’t think we can look at the depth of that grace in His gift and not be compelled to run to Him.

He could have just given us our consequence. The one we rightfully deserved.

Rachael and I had a conversation yesterday in the car. She was asking me to explain a familiar Scripture memory song playing from our CD. She’d heard it a bunch of times, even reciting the words along with it, that she finally began applying her mind to it. (What a life truth right there in itself – no wonder I need to repeat Scripture until it becomes more natural in my life!). We got to the topic of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross being a gift. “Let’s think about it this way… when Hannah does something wrong she receives a bad consequence, right? Like for example if she’s a bit older and hits another kid in the nursery. She gets a bad consequence. They may hit her back, she may have to go to time out, she may have lost a friend because they don’t want to be around her anymore… or if she was just told not to hit and she did it in defiance, maybe she gets a spanking after having a conversation about her disobedience.”

“So what if every time Hannah did something wrong instead of spanking her, we spanked you? Hannah hits someone, so you get a spanking. Hannah hits someone again, so you get the spanking again. Think that’s fair?”

“No!!!” Resounded from the back seat with a slight nervous giggle.

“Well Jesus said, ‘I’ll take the spanking!’ He decided to take the bad consequence. She deserved her own punishment. She made the bad choices. But Jesus took the spanking. He chose to. No one told Him to. No one made Him. He volunteered, or chose willingly to be spanked so Hannah wouldn’t have to be spanked. See, someone had to be spanked. The bad was done. The sin was done. The Bible says that the punishment for sin is death. Jesus took the death for us. But it wasn’t just that… Jesus took the death BEFORE Hannah ever even decided she wanted to be like Jesus. He chose the death to allow Hannah to have a choice to live like Jesus or to choose not to.”

“Wow.” There was silence as she pondered.

 Wow, my heart agreed.

Our conversation ended there because we got to our destination and things moved forward. And while I’m sure I butchered explaining the depth of grace in so many ways, I just prayed…. again… for her acceptance of that grace. And I just prayed again for Him to continue to open my eyes to that very same grace.

I mean could you even imagine if we saw that Grace clearly? If we, Christians, took on a lifestyle of boldness from that Grace?

We’ve been praying for laborers to be sent to the Harvest, starting with our own household. We’ve been praying for reaping of the seeds planted by so many missionaries. We’ve been praying to be a part of the Kingdom work. To be open. To be alert. To see the work so we can run to the Harvest. It has changed our prayer life. I feel it changing my heart. Conforming my mind to the Lord. Less of me, more of Christ. That even one more would be added to His number…. that even one more would receive Grace…

Oh how His heart in me has reminded me in this song of the unbriddled power of God falling on His lost people if we would just go with such CONFIDENCE and ASSURANCE in the Truth of the Light. He WILL light our EVERY step. He does not send us alone. He does not send us empty-handed. He went behind us with the cross and goes before us with His Word to light our steps, to guide us.  He will NEVER fail us. He will NEVER forsake us! He will NOT be shaken!  If we would just take up His Word as our flashlight, guiding our steps to the lost, the lonely, the desolate and stand on HIM, not us… HIM, the Rock we stand on!

Take Him at His Word, church. Take Him at His Word, Christian. And non-Christian, see… oh please see how He is beyond Worthy to be taken at His Word.

His Kingdom Reigns. Not a corrupt kingdom. Not a corrupt, selfish king.

THE King who extended such incredible Grace. Such immeasurable Love like we have never seen before. Like we can’t even fully fathom…

HE is Life!

Let’s run and proclaim it to the darkness!

Opening our Hearts

When Hannah said “baby” and pointed to the ultrasound pictures revealing our Eden my Mommy-heart melted. We haven’t taught her that. She wasn’t copying her sisters. It came from her, which made it more special.

Rachael has also, on her own accord, added Eden (who was termed Baby4 before we knew her gender) to her prayer life. Today at lunch she prayed in the most heart-filled little tone, “Thank you, God, for giving us baby Eden to snuggle and love. We’re just so excited she is a girl and we get a new sister soon.”

God is answering our prayers and has begun to open all our hearts as we have prayed over our adjusting to the future newest addition coming in July. Only God creates a bond among sisters that is deep rooted… and just plain beautiful to watch take on a life of its own.

- Eden, baby, our arms are wide open and excited to pray over you as you take the last few months of growing in there.

- The greatest things are worth waiting and praying for.

- Thankful, grateful and blessed.

Continuing Right Along

I took the afternoon to finish Rachael’s Kindergarten lesson plans for the year. Yep, friends, for the YEAR.

I was thrilled to organize the remaining 18 lessons into 6 day bundles per lesson (dividing out each subject’s work and bundling them together by days). So pretty much now if I die someone can pick up my teacher book and teach Rachael the remainder of her Kindergarten year (P.S. No intent on dying, just happy to get this completed).

I also calculated out the days we have completed of school (I wasn’t tracking it before – oops) and have a game-plan for the remaining school year’s required days.

Just trying to get more organized here so I can

a). Not have to lesson plan each week.

b). make it a habit to track school days so…

c). I can have a written record should I need to prove the days we have homeschooled [With no idea where God will take us in the years after Matt graduates, I wanted to be prepared to meet other states' stricter homeschooling requirements should we end up moving there.]

and d). Be more pro-active in planning fun things during our school year based upon future weeks’ themes.

It feels good to finally get a grasp on advanced forward panning for Rachael’s school year after just struggling to get into a regular school groove post-boys.

And it’s also been really exciting to make some changes in organization of educating multiple children in multiple grades, while balancing a baby on my hip (Hannah’s no longer taking morning naps).

I really like our new groove. And I’m excited and less stressed about the remaining school year.

Abi’s coming along quite well in her first year of preschool. She;s picking up things quite quickly thanks to being a byproduct of a homeschool listener. The alphabet and numbers are coming much more naturally to her and I’m excited at the increased fine motor skills in tracing and writing her own name.

And Rachael is really coming into her own in her Kindergarten schooling. It’s fun to watch her take confidence in developing the skills that began a looong (relatively) time ago when she first learned the alphabet. It’s also really neat to watch her manipulate her knowledge to apply it in different settings. And it’s downright fun to encourage her as she is beginning to read. Very…. very… slowly… she has begun sounding out words… one…. at…. a… time. And then her memory kicks in and she puts the words together into a sentence. It’s also fun to see her reading comprehension growing through a really fun workbook I picked up for a buck (Yay dollar store find!). She has enjoyed hearing the princess fairy tales and then learning to write sentences to answer the questions following the story.

I must say, I really enjoy homeschooling. And now that I’m more practically organized, I am enjoying it all the more.

I look forward to the wonder and excitement of the remainder of the school year. =)

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All Trimmed Up

Yesterday I decided to trim Ms. Squirmy’s hair for the first time. She was starting to have a mullet of separation between the sides and the back (the greatest challenge for little girls growing in hair) so I figured a little trim could help even it out more. Then lay the challenge before me of how to get Ms. Busy semi-still. A buckle-in booster seat provided the perfect opportunity as well as a few highly loved toys, pacifier, and a little PBS.

Here’s a look at how long the back was prior to her cut.

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Within 15 minutes, I put in some layers (since hair grows in layered anyway) and trimmed a total of an inch and a half off the back. But since she’s a squirmer, I trimmed it off in quarter of an inch segments so as not to make a drastic change that couldn’t be evened.

She was super squirmy post-cut so the pictures are the best I could do while letting her free.

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Here’s her new cut, right at shoulder level.

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Despite some being tucked behind her ear, this is the best pic I got of her newly evened out hair.

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And since I’m still wanting the top to grow out instead of bangs, she’ll continue to sport her clips and pigtails.

And of course I saved some clippings for the baby book. ;)

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I trimmed the older girls’ hair too. Rachael’s is unnoticeably different, but healthy. She continues to announce that she’s growing her hair out like Rapunzel.

Abi, on the other hand, was a celebration day. With this last trim, her sides are finally the same length as the back. Bravo little girl, it only took 3 years and no scary haircuts to even them out. ;) She’s my “more bald” hair starter in life.

Here after an over-all trim, you can still see that the back is longer than the sides.

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I decided to go back in and take an additional inch off the back to even it with the sides. So I cut a total of 2-2.5 inches off the back and just a tiny bit off the sides.

unnamed7Here she’s looking down so it doesn’t quite touch her shoulders.

And with a section of her hair growing in wavy, I trimmed that section a little shorter to allow her under layer of curls to come through.

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I’ll add a picture of the dry finished product a little later since she was napping directly after her trim and I forgot to get one before bedtime last night.

But I’m really happy with how all three of the girls’ trims turned out. Rachael’s – unnoticeable but healthy. Abi’s – Yay for even! And Hannah’s – more bobbed and less mullet. SCORE!