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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Good Intentions

I awoke at 5:15 a.m with all the intention of accomplishing what I did yesterday morning, but alas that has not happened. I keep telling myself that the earlier I rise, the more I'll accomplish. Some mornings, like yesterday, that proved to be true. I didn't feel the "slump" until about 3 p.m. which was actually later than I had anticipated. So, last night I was once again good about going to bed by 10 p.m. with every intention of knocking out a very large to-do list (ok, part of it) in the early morning hours when my house is completely quiet and I have no "mommy guilt".

Can I get an "Amen!"?

The guilt I feel as a mom (and I'm sure there are others who feel it too) can truly inhibit productivity at times. Mostly, the guilt I feel is self-induced, but other times I feel it is the Holy Spirit telling me I should stop staring at the blinking cursor because nothing is being accomplished and I should be doing something much more important.

However, the morning hours are my "sweet spot" and I enjoy them thoroughly, even if I am bleary-eyed some mornings. Coffee makes it all better, right?

So yesterday I wrote 9 articles between 5:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. It felt amazing to get that much done! This morning I have written ONE. Yes, a single article. But, that's ok. There is always this afternoon...and tomorrow...and the next day...The way I look at it is that God is Good and He is providing for us!

I did spend some time looking at a few other blogs this morning and I was encouraged. I laughed.I cried. It's been a worship time in some ways that is different than my devotional time, but just as needed. Can anyone relate?

This post seems more like a ramble...rather than anything else. However, with the amount of writing I do for others, I have given myself permission to write whatever comes to mind here on my blog. This is my "outlet"'s just for me...and I am enjoying it much.I do hope that others may be encouraged too, don't get me wrong. But, for what it is worth, this is the one place I don't worry about keywords or where to place them. I don't worry about what key phrases might generate income. I...just...write.

And it feels...good.

All my best to you this March morning. I must go get my running shoes on and grab that second cup of coffee - it's going to be a very busy day!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Gentle Reminder (I Needed One!)

I cleaned the inside of our van yesterday afternoon.  My was rather scary to see what had gathered in there over the winter months.  Now, I didn't find any bits of food or half-eaten hamburgers (yes, we have two children), but I did find several other "treasures".  I found CD's, toy cars, hair clips and elastics, pencils, pens, crayons, wrappers from candies, orphaned socks, books, umbrellas, pictures my girls had drawn for me (in my catchall folder beside my seat), cards, old mail, and just odds and ends of things that just never made it from the van to the house during those long winter months.

As I cleaned, it seemed to take forever to remove the grit and dirt with the vacuum.  Once everything was vacuumed, I started on the inside windows and interior of the van.  Isn't amazing how wonderful a vehicle looks after it is cleaned?  It's as if you have a brand new van again!

I was also thinking on many things while I worked yesterday.  My to-do list was running through my head like a ticker tape...I just couldn't shut it off.  But, I as I "watched" the ticker tape running through my mind, I heard my husband's words that he said to me earlier.  When I expressed that I really needed to work today (Saturday), he remarked that everyone needs a break.  He reminded me that we needed to spend time together as a family.  He reminded me that my hands need a break (they sometimes hurt with so much work on the computer).  He gently reminded me that our girls need more than just our school time together.  You see, I know all of these things, but I am one of those people who needs to be reminded of them now and then.

Are you like that at all?  Am I alone in this?

So, guess what we did yesterday?  The girls spent the morning with their dad outside in the sunshine while I picked up groceries.  When I returned home, I discovered that our 10 year old had made lunch for everyone and that the plan was to go enjoy some sun.  So, we threw the girls' scooters into the back of the van (I hadn't cleaned it yet, thank goodness) and went to one of our local parks that has a great walking path all around the perimeter.  My husband and I walked together holding hands (wow, that felt great!) and watched our girls scoot along joyfully.  It was so much fun listening to their laughter and shouts of glee!  We sat for a few minutes while the girls played on one of the playsets and then ended up at the bridge on the other side of the park.  The bridge covers a small creek that was running pretty well.  The sound of water running is so soothing, isn't it?

The girls found yet something else to do - find pretty rocks, climb the bigger rocks along the side, and toss rocks into the water to see the splash.  Jeff and I sat on the bridge and enjoyed the sun and watched our girls explore.  Every now and then they would come over and hug us or give us one of those huge smiles that says "all is right with the world right now".

We came home and I cleaned the van while the girls helped their dad get the fire started.  Jeff grilled out burgers and hot dogs for us and then we watched a movie together.  Jeff read aloud from Pilgrim's Progress and then it was time for the girls to go to bed.  Prayer, hugs, kisses, lights out.

Yes, my husband was right.  I needed a break from work.  I am glad to have a husband who is my "voice of reason" when I seem to want to continue pushing myself.  He has this gentle way of reminding me of the most important things.  You see, I am more like a bull in a china shop with its head down...I just keep going...and sometimes I forget that I need to stop and carefully handle (spend time with) the fragile and precious people around me.  

Do you need a gentle reminder?

I am thankful for yesterday and I am looking forward to this new day.

I pray you have a blessed Sunday...thank you for stopping my humble blog.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

"This is as good as it gets..."

Have you ever watched the movie Princess Diaries?  In one scene, she is getting ready for school and once she is ready to leave her room, she stands in front of her mirror for one last inspection.  Her comment is something like, "As usual, this is as good as it's gonna get."  I can completely relate to that comment these days!  Can you?

I hadn't stood in front of a mirror for a long time because it was just not fun anymore.  This is in contrast to those teenage years when I never left the house unless I looked in the mirror to make sure everything was " in place".  Then my mind begins to wander and I wonder...perhaps looking in the mirror once a day wouldn't hurt...and maybe I wouldn't be where I am today if I had.  **sigh**  What in the world happened when I wasn't looking?

Of course, as soon as my thoughts tend to run along the lines of berating myself and saying things that are defeating and unnecessarily harsh, two people come to mind - my friend Tammy and my sister Kim.  They both have a way of putting things into perspective for me and I am glad for their kind and encouraging voices!

 When I am having one of those days when I want to put a burlap sack over my entire self and not leave my house, it's during those times the voices of these wise women come into my mind.  Tammy has said to me more than once, "hey, you are fearfully and wonderfully made!  Repeat it after me!"  Tammy is also the one who is gently training me to stop calling myself an "idiot".  I truly appreciate her friendship in so many ways. When she reminds me of these truths, she is encouraging me in my walk with the Lord.  She is right on both counts.  I know that in my head.  It's my heart that doesn't believe it.

During my recent visit to Georgia, my sister Kim and I were having lunch together.  Out of the blue, she tells me I am pretty!  It was such a wonderful compliment and I know she meant it.  It brought tears to my eyes to hear her say it.  I am so thankful to have her in my life. 

So, what is my point?  I must continue to remind myself that although I have allowed my physical body to get to a place that isn't acceptable to me, that isn't the way the Lord created me.  His work is not to be questioned.  He gave me my body shape, my talents, and my passions for a reason.  It's my flesh that continues to get me in trouble.  I think I just might have to post this verse in a few places around my house. 

"I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well."  Psalm 139:14

'Tis good for me to be reminded that in God's Word there are verses that apply somehow to every area of my life.  I am thankful for loving friends and my Sister.

I hope you'll be able to say today, "I am wonderfully and fearfully made" instead of "this is as good as it gets". 

My best to you,

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring is coming!

Just a little something to encourage those of you living in the Midwest or other areas of the country (or the world) where it seems like winter will never end. We spotted this beauty at the park we were hiking in yesterday (we're in Ohio).

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Travel Tips

I recently had the privilege of flying down to see my sister for her birthday. The flight was only about an hour and a half, so the trip itself was pretty quick. For someone who hadn't flown on an airplane for nearly 20 years, the whole process made me a bit nervous! However, it all went well and I enjoyed my time with family down south.

In an effort to help others who don't travel often, I have put together a hit list of travel tips that I hope you will find useful.

    Travel Tips (When Flying
  • Do you really need that laptop? Leave it at home - it's heavy!
  • Wear a thin belt - they didn't make me take mine off.
  • Yes, slip on shoes are convenient for the security checkpoint, but unless you have really supportive shoes for walking miles across an airport, go ahead and wear your comfy running shoes.
  • When your sister tells you to take the tram to baggage claim, do it! (unless you enjoy hiking for what seems like miles)
  • Just because you have a carry on bag doesn't mean they might not check it for you. My bag was checked as I walked onto the plane because there was no more room. Your luggage is not always right there when you walk off the plane, so be sure to ask the stewardess if you'll need to visit baggage claim. Ask for your ticket!
  • Pack snacks in your bag - the food at the airport is either too greasy, too fatty, and/or just plain expensive. You will have to purchase drinks on the other side of security unless you can wait until free beverages (pop, water, juice) are served on the airplane.
  • You're told that you can take 3-oz liquid containers as long as they are contained inside a one-quart size zipped baggie. Just buy the trial sizes to get you to your destination instead of buying a bunch of 3-oz plastic containers. They don't all fit (believe me, I tried).
  • Cell phones must be turned off on the plane during the entire flight. Imagine my surprise when I realized I couldn't listen to my music that's on my cell phone! Take a good book along.
  • Roll your clothes - you can fit a lot more in that suitcase than you ever dreamed!
  • Bath salts may or may not be permitted through security...depends on whether you're lucky like me and get a security guard who thinks bath salts are "the best!".
These may seem simplistic, but perhaps these will be helpful to you if you are thinking of traveling for the first time in a long time. Was the trip worth it? Absolutely! I had a great time with family once I arrived at my destination. I also have a brand new respect for men and women who have to travel on a regular basis for their jobs. That is a rough life...very tiring and physically draining. If your husband or wife travels to provide for you and your family, give him/her a hug and say "thanks!". All my best to you,

Coffee Granules...

Have you ever had your coffee pot literally "spit up" everywhere? I mean, coffee granules all over the counter, covering the coffee pot, and splattered on the adjacent microwave? It was the oddest thing this morning...I came out at 5:55 and turned the coffee pot on to brew. I went about a few other tasks only to return and find coffee granules all over the place with very little coffee in the pot! My first thought in my still-very-groggy state was, "ah, c'mon!" But then I seemed to go into automatic mode and began cleaning it up. It was as if the coffee granules were multiplying before my eyes - there were more and more of them. (Mental note - check under the microwave when everyone gets up - there's probably some lurking under there.)

What happened to make the coffee "explode" or "hiccup" like that? I am sure there is a technical explanation for it, but at this hour of the morning I am not inclined to figure it out. I simply cleaned up the mess and brewed a new pot of coffee. Pretty simple, right?

I began to think about how we go through life sometimes and things are as smooth as silk. We're humming along with nary a thought to adversity or heartache. And then, one day, there is a "hiccup"...and sometimes there is what seems to be an "explosion" of heartache and adversity. It's as though we look around and wonder, what happened? How did I get here? Lord, where are you?

I can recall one time like that in my life when I felt as though things were so bad that all I could do was sob and cry out to my Lord. I had broken my leg after just finding out that we were 5 weeks pregnant with our second daughter. (Thankfully, she was ok!) I was in more pain than I could have imagined, but the Lord was faithful. My mother-in-law was in the hospital at the very same time and barely a week following my fall, she went home to be with the Lord. My husband was so broken and moving through his days on auto pilot I think...but the Lord gave him a strength and resolve that only He can give. I couldn't be there with him at the nursing home to say goodbye to my mother-in-law who was so wonderful to me. It was so sad that I couldn't be there for my husband to comfort him. But I know the Lord was with him.

My parents were so faithful to us by being here and taking care of me and Julie. My Momma stayed for three weeks caring for all of us and my Daddy traveled back and forth several times taking care of their place and animals at home while taking care of us while he was here. I don't know what we would have done without them!

Our church family was faithful to bring us meals and sit and talk with us, pray with us, cry with us, and laugh with us. We had many friends do the same - they were all such a blessing!

Oddly enough (but no coincidence), that was a time in my life that I remember feeling the closest to my Lord and Saviour. I had to sleep on the couch sitting up with my leg elevated up above my heart for several weeks. Sleep was fleeting at best, so I had a lot of time to think, pray, and cry. It's true - when we are at our lowest point, the Lord is there. When we think we cannot go on anymore, the Lord is there. When we think we'd like to just give it all up, He is there. In the midst of my pain and all that was going on in our family at that time, we had a sense of peace that only the Lord can give.

Philippians 4:6-7 says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." My friends, this is so true. He is with us during the days when we feel as though we can stand on top of a mountain and praise Him! But most importantly, He is with us in the valley when we can barely lift our head to lift our eyes to Him. He is carrying us when we need carried. He comforts us in our darkest hours. Reach out to to Him...cry in front of Him...He already knows your heart, but trust me when I say that you'll feel His peace when you share it with Him.

You're probably wondering...what do coffee granules exploding everywhere have to do with crying out to the Lord? It may be a challenge to clean up coffee granules, but it can be done. However, when things aren't going as we hoped they would in our life, it's not always easy to "clean it up". But the Lord is with us and He is able to clean up our lives and to help us through the process of doing so. That's not to say that everything will turn out exactly as we hope it will, but we can be assured that the Lord will walk right beside us as we go through the "messes" in life.

There are so many people walking through the valley today...and feeling like they're not sure what today will bring. Perhaps it's you...wondering what happened when you weren't looking...wondering where the Lord is in all the heartbreak and chaos...My heartfelt prayer is that the Lord will comfort you and that you will feel the inexplicable peace in your heart and mind that only the Lord can give. Lean on Him...He is strong enough to take it.

My blessings to you,

Thursday, March 11, 2010

New Blog Design

Good Morning,
As promised, here is my new blog design. I have been remiss in writing every day, but will do my best to get back to it once I return from my trip to see my sis for her birthday.

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Great blogs

I've just figured out how to add links to my blog, so I've added two of my favorites: The Cottage Chick and WAHM Confessions. These two ladies are amazing Christian women who are working from home and raising a family too. Please, stop by their blogs and be encouraged. Thank you!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Grocery shopping

How many of you moms take your children with you to the grocery store? Honestly, I usually don't take our girls because we are trying to keep them out of "germs" way, especially during the winter months. However, that means that I am going out at night after my husband returns home from work and typically by the time I return home, it's close to bedtime for the girls. It gets tiring going out at night, so today the three of us ventured out to do a big shop for the month. It was interesting!

We had a great time and I learned that they can be excellent helpers when they put their minds and hearts to doing so. My oldest daughter held the coupons and pulled each one for me once the item was in the cart. My youngest loves loading up the cart, so she pulled stuff from the shelf. Both of them bagged all the groceries for me while I was checking out. We did three stores in 3 1/2 hours, which I thought was pretty good.

They learned today why it takes Mom so long to do the shopping. For that reason and that reason alone it was a good experience (not the only thing of course, but a good reason!). They understand now why I plan meals, clip coupons, and check the sale prices at three or four different stores (ours are all within 5 or so minutes from each other). They understand that just because you have a coupon for an item, it has to be the right brand, size, and type of item in order for the coupon to be valid. I am thankful that they saw a bit more into "my world" and hopefully understand a bit better now why I'm gone for a few evening hours now and then to do grocery shopping.

I learned something new today too. You know the "catalina" coupons that print out as you check out at stores like Meijer and Kroger? Those are technically manufacturer's coupons and should be accepted at any store, not just the store that issues them. However, I learned today that Kroger will not accept these coupons that were printed at Meijer. However, Meijer will accept them from any other store. Guess where I'll be using those? One advantage to Kroger (other than sale items) is that they do give you credit for each reusable bag you bring into the store. I think it's 3 cents or something. Hey, money is money.

Not sure of my exact point for writing this tonight other than to express my thankfulness for my daughters and the productive day we had together learning more about each other. Lots of hugs too!