Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

The biggest problem with New Year's Resolutions is that it seems like what you are committing to do or not do is forever!  Well, I've discovered a work-around.  Thirty days.  That's it.  Surely, I can commit to something for 30 days.  This is all based on Jenn Hatmaker's book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.  I've mentioned it before and it really has rocked my world.  In the book, Jenn picks 7 things to give up/do over a 7 month time period.  They were: eat only 7 foods, wear only 7 pieces of clothing, give away 7 things a day, pray 7 times a day, spend money at only 7 places, eliminate 7 media types and adopt 7 green habits.

I wish I could remember where I first heard about this book.  I did not know that she was a Christian when I borrowed the book from the library.  It just sounded interesting.  I figured she was going to be more on the 'earthy/crunchy' side of life.  Nope.  She's pretty normal or main stream.  Well, she was until she wrote this book (along with Interrupted which I have not read).  You really should read this book.  Even, if it's only to open your eyes to the excess that we have in our culture.  She included her family in the challenges although her children did not participate in the 7 foods or clothing months.  I'm picking my challenges wisely.  I want these challenges to, well, challenge us.  I do not, however, want to fail miserably!  For instance, I'm not going to give up media in a month that is cold and rainy and keeps all of us cooped up inside.  Now THAT would be crazy!  

My husband and I are still tweaking our list of things.  Here is what we have so far:
1. Stop eating out
2. Stop watching TV, movies, video games
3. Start entertaining (actually invite people into our home).
4. Give up refined sugar
5. Start recycling and reduce excess purchases.

I need more ideas so bring them on!

The first on the list for the month of January is to stop eating out.  We don't eat out a ton, but we eat out definitely more than we should.  The biggest challenge will be my well know addiction to Sonic Rt 44 Diet Coke with Vanilla.  *sigh*  So long you tall styrofoam cup of deliciousness!  It's just the right amount of sweet with the best ice in the world.  The other challenge will be bringing food with us when we go out.  We have days where we are gone for 4 hours because of back-to-back appointments.  Most of these days I would run through a drive-thru to grab something to drink for me and a snack for the kids.  I'll have to plan more.  I've got the meal plan down for the first week of January.  I've got the groceries purchased.  I am giving my husband a pass for when he gets invited to lunch at work.  We'll see how it goes!

I'll have more to say about all of this, I'm sure!  So make sure that you subscribe to my blog (on the left) so that you don't miss a post.  

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Enjoying criticism

Do you enjoy being criticized. Probably not. No one says, "I just love to be criticized!" You may have seen my facebook post yesterday: "Lest you think I never get mad, today is one of those times when I just want to call someone up and tell them off. But instead I am praying HARD for the restraint I need!" God answered the prayers and I kept my hand off the phone.

Someone had criticized some decisions that my husband and I had made about our life/family. This person has done it before. I'm sure they will do it again. But for some reason it just burns my biscuits! The thing is, we know that we are doing what God has willed for us. We have prayed, sought Godly counsel, and researched till the cows come home. We know we are doing what is right for us!
As I sat in church this morning, I started to question our decisions. Maybe she was right. Maybe we weren't being responsible. I asked God to help me understand. In that still small voice I heard, "If you are being criticized, it means you are doing something right!" Well, there you go!
Romans 12:2 "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."

So I'm enjoying this criticism as a means to showing me that God approves of the decision that we made, because it is his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Finding the Merry

How was your Christmas?  Is it over yet?  Ours will 'officially' be over on New Year's Day.  It has been spread out over days, so that we can spend quality time with each part of our extended family.  In fact, the tiger and turtle are visiting one set of grandparents today while I sit at home with a sick little monkey.  I'm choosing to be blessed in the circumstance because the boys are getting time together and we are having 'just girls' time!

Have the days after Christmas been hard for you?  Do you sit watching friends post on Facebook about the gifts they received?  Maybe you just want to scream if you see one more iphone, ipad, American Girl Doll, wii, or Disney vacation picture!  It can be enough to make you start 'unfriending' people.  Maybe you think "gosh, are all my friends really this rich?" The truth, of course, is that we only see a snap shot.  We don't see the credit card bill that comes in January, the tears shed because a loved one has left (physically, emotionally, or from this earth) or the argument that such item might cause.

Now I'm not saying if you DID get these things you are wrong.  I love a good Disney trip!  I hope we are blessed with another one in the next few years.  But if you are struggling with what you are seeing or hearing, remember that it is only one piece of the puzzle.  You cannot compare what goes on inside your life with what you see on the outside of someone else's.

If you are struggling, take a minute to list five things that you have been blessed with this Christmas.  Some thing may be physical gifts but most will probably be things that can't be wrapped.  Health, friendship, family, kindness of others.  I hope the one thing that you do have on that list is that God sent a tiny baby to grow into a man to save YOU from eternal separation from Him.  THAT is the real reason to find the Merry!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Thankful for others' blessing

Back in November, lots of people posted something they were thankful for each day.  We do a simliar thing at dinner each night.  I didn't participate in the Facebook thankfulness posts because, for me, it seemed that it would be all about ME!  I've been trying NOT to focus so much on myself.  (If you posted on Facebook, good for you!  It just wasn't for me.)

So today I want to start something where I am thankful for a blessing that someone else gets.  It could be just a small miracle in someone else's life.  It might even be something that you wish would happen to you.  We all spend so much time looking at people who seem to have more and wishing that God would bless us with that.  What if we spent that time focusing on the blessing that God has given others?  Would we start to notice the blessings we have more often?

Here are some of my 'other blessings':
I am so grateful to God for allowing my sweet friends' little medically fragile boy to pull up and stand in his crib just a few weeks after his first birthday.  It is a miracle in so many ways and made my heart swell with love to hear that it happened.

I am so grateful that a friend's husband's job provides a nice car for them to drive.  In an economy where cuts are being made left and right, I'm glad she gets that luxury.  And it is much sweeter because she REALLY likes to drive!

I'm grateful that a friend paid off a lot of debt and saved enough to build a bigger house!

And because I think the blessings can be found even in times of sadness: Several friends lost loved ones in the last few months.  These dear people all loved Jesus.  I'm grateful that in the midst of sadness these friends can rest in the knowledge that they will see their loved ones again in heaven!

What are your 'other blessings'?

Monday, December 10, 2012

In excess

I think there are maybe three people that read my blog that aren't on facebook with me, so this is for you!  Doing some research on 'excess'. What is something you think you should give up, do less, do more, etc.?  Don't necessarily think New Year's resolution or Lent, but that might get you in the right direction. Here are some things people suggested on facebook:
Pop Culture
All extra-curricular activities for kids
More quiet time for prayer/meditation
Less judging
More exercise
Less saying "yes" and more saying "not this time"

Please leave me a comment if you have something to add (actually feel free to comment even if you don't have anything to add-I'm trying to make sure my comments work).  It really can be something you think other people need to give up.  

I'm planning on taking on a project with my family at the beginning of the year.  It's based on two books that I am reading right now.  One is called Radical by David Platt and the other is called 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker.  Although I do not suggest these books if you are happy with the state of your life, completely at ease with your faith, or like living the 'rat race'.  I also don't recommend reading both of these at once like I am.  It's a little intense!  (I have no idea why the formatting looks strange!)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Hey Mr. DJ!

Hey, Mr. DJ, keep playing that song!  Ever have that song that just keeps playing in your head?  (Like the one I just quoted?) Although that can be bad enough, what is worse is when you get the same negative thought running over and over in your head.  Things like:
I'm not good enough!
I don't parent well enough!
I don't clean well!
I don't cook very well! (yes, this one is true though!)
I don't look good enough!

Eventually these 'songs' can take over.  We start to imprint them on our soul.  I believe setting up boundaries can really help with this.  A dear friend texted me one day "You MUST listen to Focus on the Family today!"  Don't you love it when there is a friend who knows you well enough to know what your issues are and can direct you to something that helps!  Of course it took me a week to get the chance to listen to it (on my phone, in the bathroom, while cleaning).

It really is a great show about how setting boundaries and saying 'NO' can help get rid of the guilt we feel over all the things we are 'supposed' to be doing.  That are 'good' and 'right' but maybe not good and right for our families.  If you get a spare 20 minutes, take a listen and let me know what you think and how you will use NO to protect your family and your mind!
Healthy Boundaries

Saturday, November 24, 2012

You have two choices

When you have imaginative, creative, and active children, you really only have two choices: get angry, or laugh and take a picture.

This was last year.  The turtle was 8 and the monkey 3.  I was downstairs resting.  A rare moment.  They were being quiet.  I knew this was a mistake.  I went upstairs and this picture shows what I found.  I really could have lost it.  I mean, an 8 year old knows better.  I didn't lose it.  I laughed and took a picture.  Now, I don't always laugh.  I lose it.  More than I care to admit.  It takes great prayer in moments like this to realize that they are safe.  And (praise God!) is was washable marker.  Although, washable marker still takes a few days to completely come off.  My kids are very creative and imaginative.  Together, they are rarely bored.  But with that, really does come testing.  I think he was a pirate and she was a raccoon or tiger.

On weeks where I know we are having 'good pictures' taken, I hide anything that leaves a mark!  Just kidding! (Sort of!)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Learning to be thankful

I've had a recent season of annoyance.  Anything minor has annoyed me.  Other people's minor annoyances have REALLY annoyed me.  You might think that these annoyances come from a shallow place.  They don't.  They come from a much deeper place of thankfulness.  See, God's biggest gift to me is perspective.  Perspective of all of the important things in life.

I have had so many dear friends who have had VERY sick children.  In the last 12 months, these are what my friends' children have dealt with:
-A fight for his life with congenital diaphragmatic hernia (
-A fall from a tree that fractured her skull and that she was not supposed to survive (she did)
-A horrendous and very painful case of shingles with lingering nerve pain (ongoing)
-A undiagnosed case of silent reflux that caused the newborn to stop breathing-three different times
-A horrendous bicycle wreck that ended up revealing a potentially malignant tumor

All but one of these occurred in the last month.  (And honestly, I know there are more that I just don't remember right now).  So, if you are bothered because your brother's uncle's cousin isn't bringing food to Thanksgiving, get over it!  If you are "so upset" because you don't get to see one of your family members on the day of Thanksgiving (even though you see them all the time), get over it.  There are people who have loved ones in the hospital, getting ready for surgery, or are experiencing their first holiday since they lost someone.

I'm sure I will be annoying friends and family in the future, but it's time to realize that people are more important that the 'festivity'.   People are more important than the date.  I pray that my children's memories have more to do with the things they are thankful for than the decorations, the food, or the "Sunday best" that they are expected to wear.

So as you go into this first or many holiday celebrations, take a moment to hug your kids and remind them that THEY are what is important!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

When a blog stands still...

When a blog stands still, does anyone hear it fall?  Haha!  Just kidding.  I've been gone for a year and a half.  Not sure where the time went but life, alas, was still marching on.  And moving.  And changing.  I'm sure God has something amazing in store for this life of a wife, mom, friend and daughter.  I have no idea what it is, but I'm still believing it.

I am now homeschooling my 3rd grade turtle and 4 yo monkey.  Although I'm not sure that the monkey is learning very much.  It's been an adjustment.  There are days that I intensely miss the school that my son went to from K3 to 2nd grade.  I miss the community and the people.  I miss seeing all ages of children learning to love God.  When you step out of a community, the community still continues.

We are learning to build a new community.  One within the local homeschool community, within our church, and within our extra activities.  It takes a lot more intentionality to make it work.  I don't stand around at pick-up time chatting with other moms.  I rarely have a conversation with an adult that isn't interrupted by a child.  By about 3:00 in the afternoon, I've heard enough talking and would just like some quiet.

BUT, there have been some advantages beyond any I could have imagined.  The kids seem more willing to help around the house.  Maybe because they see the effort it takes.  Evenings are more enjoyable without homework.  I have the chance to correct behavior much sooner.  My children are even closer friends now!

I'll try to post more often!  Thanks for stickin' around!