Thursday, November 8, 2012

What Do We Do Now?

Yesterday's post seemed to strike a chord with quite a few of you.  I'm thankful I'm not alone.

I mentioned yesterday I would address today some ways we could possibly begin to reclaim our way back on the right path.  The path of  responsibility, self-respect, forgiveness, love, patience, self-control, peace, joy, kindness, abundance.

So many thoughts race around my brain whenever I begin to unpack this.  I've read so many books (and blogs); remember, I love to read.  While most of them approach this topic from myriad perspectives, the majority of them have some element of gratitude in common.

Keeping a journal.

Focus on what you have, not what you don't.

Be thankful.

Be thankful in all circumstances.  (That's a doozy.  Still working on that one.)

Appreciate the things and people in your life.

What all these remind me to do is shift my focus.  Away from me.  Back to others.  Back to God.

This doesn't mean I never consider myself or my own needs.  It doesn't mean I simply sit back and allow others' decisions to dictate and control my life.  And it doesn't mean my needs aren't important.

They are.  But so are everyone else's.  Why?  Because God created them.  God loves them just as much as He loves me; just as much as He loves you.  Jesus came, died, and rose again for me.  Jesus came, died, and rose again for you.  Jesus came, died, and rose again for them.

So, in practical, everyday, down-and-dirty do we do this?  What do we do now?

I've told my daughter many times that if everything seems to not be going your way and everyone is getting on your nerves, there's a strong possibility that the problem is with you.  And when we are presented with this, our best course of action is to take a step back.

Keep a journal.  Think of at least 5 things that you are thankful for today.  Write them down.  Read over them throughout the day.  During especially difficult times in the past, I've even written them on an index card and kept it with me.

Do this every day.  Slowly, your heart and focus will shift.  If you're anything like me, you'll forget one day.  Or life will actually be ok, and you won't feel the need to take a few minutes and intentionally shift your focus.  Maybe two days will go by.  Maybe a week.  Maybe even a month.

The beauty of all this is that no matter how long it is between moments of putting pen to paper, God's mercies are new every day.  Every day is a chance to start over.  Clean slate. Fresh start.  Blank page.

And if you're thankful for nothing else, be thankful for that.

God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
    his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
    How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
    He’s all I’ve got left.

~Lamentations 3:22-23 (The Message)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Where Did We Go Wrong?

It seems we've gotten ourselves turned upside down and inside out.

When did it become acceptable for elementary students to have a school-sponsored dance?  They're children.  Young children.  Why would someone even think this would be a good idea?  What's the purpose?

My nine-year-old daughter desperately wants to wear high heels, simply because her foot is almost as big as mine.   She thinks just because she can, she should.

Somewhere along the way we have given in to the thinking that just because something is permissible, it is also profitable.  We couldn't be farther from the truth.

1 Corinthians 10:23 Amplified Bible (AMP)
23 All things are legitimate [permissible—and we are free to do anything we please], but not all things are helpful (expedient, profitable, and wholesome). All things are legitimate, but not all things are constructive [to character] and edifying [to spiritual life].

Somewhere along the way the reason why we did or did not became irrelevant.  We've lost our traditions and meaningful rites of passage.  Why?  Is it because we don't fully understand them?  If we don't understand them ourselves, it becomes difficult to explain to others.  If we can't explain to others, there ceases to become legitimate reasons why something isn't profitable.  Our main concern shifts to only if it is permissible.

We have strayed so far from the path that leads to strength of character and a solid foundation.   We've become so self-absorbed and so consumed with self-gratification.  We've missed the mark and we, and our children, pay the price.

Because we want a "easier" life for our children, we pay them an allowance for daily hygiene, making their bed, keeping their rooms neat; things that were expected of us simply because we lived in a home with others.  Self-respect is no longer being taught in our homes, much less in our schools.  We've lowered our expectations of ourselves and others while increasing our privileges (and theirs) because somehow we feel entitled to them. Because "everyone else can/has/does", we should, too. 

Hold on just a minute.  If we're Christians, Christ commands and expects more from us.

Romans 12:2
Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].

Life is instant.  Life is fast. We live in a world where our smartphones are the first place we turn to for answers.  Why?  Because it's fast, it's fun, it's easy.  My children want their electronic games/smartphones if we will be in the car longer than 5 minutes.  Heaven help us.

Easy.  Why is it that we want an "easy" life?  Why an "easier" life for our children?  When life is easy, we're not learning; we're not growing; we're not becoming better people.  When life is easy, we slip away from depending on God.  And friends, we all desperately need God.  We become blinded to that need when life is easy.  Why would we intentionally put that on our children?  

Why not a "better" life?  A life full of grace and forgiveness and love and self-control. A life of honest, hard work.  A life of privileges earned, not expected.

I saw a friend's post on facebook yesterday that recalled a conversation overhead while waiting in line to vote.  A "girl" (because honestly she was no lady with comments like this) said "Ugh!  I can't even feel my hands!"  In front of her was an elderly lady in a wheelchair who responded with, "Dear, I cannot even feel my legs."*

Please don't misunderstand me.  I'm in no way suggesting that we intentionally make our lives and the lives of our children more difficult to the point of intense suffering.  My point is that what we see as suffering, is in reality, nothing more than inconveniences.  We whine and complain, behaving like three-year-olds. We need to grow up.

Life is hard.  Really hard.  But for the majority of us, it's also ridiculously easy.  We live in so much extravagance and privilege that, at times, it's sickening.

This is not the legacy I want to leave my children.  

I want them to know the satisfaction that comes only from working hard and doing a job well and thoroughly.  
I want them to know the exhaustion, and exhilaration, of working with their hands all day and collapsing into bed at night.
I want them to know the joy of seeking answers and experiences and truly living life; messy, up-to-their-elbows, struggling, persevering.
I want them to know the joy of sacrificing for someone or something they believe in.   
I want them to know the love that comes from putting others first.
I want them to know the peace that passes understanding that only comes when you trust Christ in the midst of this messy and sometimes painful life.
I want them to know the freedom that comes only from true forgiveness.  Forgiveness that comes only as a result of someone hurting you deeply. 

We are a heavily-medicated nation.  We live in an incredibly stressful time.  We also sit around more than ever.  We have become lazy.  Instead of working through our stresses by doing manual labor, we take pills.  Instead of working together, we "connect" with people in cyberspace.  Instead of  family being our cornerstone and living in true community, we live in planned neighborhoods where we're lucky if we know the neighbors on either side of us.  We have become such a transient and disconnected society.  We've lost our roots.  We've lost our footing.  We search for a strong foundation and find nothing but masqueraders offering little more than a temporary fix.  

I want my children to know the peace, security, self-worth that comes only from a deep, abiding relationship with the God who created them, who loves them more than I can even begin to imagine, who sacrificed His own Son so that we can know Him unlike any other.  I want their lives to be marked by the work of the Holy Spirit active and alive in them.  I want them to have an abundant life, not an easy one.

I want it, too.

John 10:10
The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). 

More tomorrow on how I think we can get this back.  Hope you'll join me.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

 *HT to Angela Sox.  :)

Monday, October 8, 2012

31: Skipping Class Part 2

Now you know...I've skipped a class or two in my day.  Life has a sneaky way of derailing you (and me) when we least expect it if we don't have margins.

My girl needed a skip day a couple of weeks ago.  Life had simply overwhelmed her and she needed a break.  She's only 9 and yet...she needs margins, too.

That got me thinking about the common, and essential, elements to a day devoted to margin.  A day when we need to carve out some space so we can breathe, think, live.

Here are the key pieces should you find you need your own day of margin:
  • rest - sleeping in and naps
  • food - your favorite comfort foods
  • fresh air - it's amazing to me what a little natural vitamin D and deep inhalations of oxygen will do for your soul
  • clothing - only the comfiest, snuggliest will do
  • meditation - take some time to think, read, pray, listen to music
  • hot bath - turns out there's some truth to "Calgon take me away!"
What are your key pieces to a day of margin?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Welcome

Welcome.  The timer is ticking and my mind is racing.  Racing for something to write. 

Ah.  Here we go.  Welcome mats.  I know, random, right? 

I'm a home stager.  A "welcome" mat is one small element that helps prospective home buyers feel, well, welcome.  It doesn't have to say "welcome".  In fact, I personally and professionally prefer them to not say anything.  Subtlety is best.

Just like a mat a the front door welcomes visitors to come in and stay awhile, your smile is your own personal welcome mat.  A smile invites strangers, friends, even enemies.  A smile welcomes.

Are you wearing your welcome mat today?

Company Girl Coffee: Coffee, Tea and Me

It's been a few months since I've been at a CG Coffee.  I've missed them.  Thanks for keeping the door open, the chair available, the coffee hot.

Coffee.  Hmmm...I grew up with parents that drank coffee every day.  I loved the smell of it brewing, couldn't stand the taste of it.  My first husband was a coffee drinker.  I made it for him every morning.  Didn't drink a drop of it.  I tried it plenty of times, I simply didn't like it.  I've even tried making it for my Bible study group on Tuesday mornings.  They say it's pretty good. 

Chocolate.  Now there's something I'll eat without any provocation.  Growing up I was not particular as to what kind of chocolate; beggars can't be choosers.  Although milk chocolate was my go-to choice to satisfy the craving, somewhere along the way I was introduced to dark chocolate.  Oh my.  Where have you been all my life?  Next came dark chocolate covered coffee beans.

Why didn't someone tell me how great coffee tasted? 

This put my feet firmly on the slippery slope.  Suddenly I saw coffee shops everywhere, the same way you miraculously discover that there are thousands of cars just like the one you just purchased, although the day before you would have sworn on your grandmother's grave that you rarely saw any other cars the very same make, model and color as yours.

Cue seasonal coffee.

I'm a goner.  Peppermint Mochas, Pumpkin Spice Lattes, Coconut Mocha Frappuccinos.  Good gracious.  Put an extra shot in there and I'm a woman on a mission.

Turns out, I'm a coffee drinker after all.  Or as my new husband (just celebrated one year!), I'm a high-maintenance coffee drinker.  A coffee snob. No worries, I'm a tea snob, too.  I've even been known to bring my own Irish Breakfast tea bags with me just in case all the restaurant has is Lipton.

Life is too short to spend it drinking bad tea or coffee.  Live abundantly.  Live fully.  And feel free to bring me a pumpkin spice latte.

*For the record, should you ever be in my neck of the woods and want to pop in with a seasonal coffee, I take it with whole milk, whipped cream, the works.  An extra shot wouldn't hurt either.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Are you a fraidy cat?

Carol Anne continues to peer into the deep recesses of her heart and write what she sees.  Thing is, it's my heart, too.  Heartaches and disappointments have a way of punching our card for membership into clubs we all would rather not join.

I've touched on this before, but CA goes even deeper.  I am grateful for her friendship.  (Yep, we're friends IRL; as in meet-for-coffee-and-hash-it-all-out-friends.)

She claims she's a fraidy cat, but she has more courage than I ever did when it comes to her willingness to get the the very essence of her struggles, my struggles.  She inspires me to be a better writer, to step out and do whatever it takes, to seek with all my heart the life God created for me, the authentic life.

She probably has no idea she ministers to me in such a way, especially in the midst of her deepest hurt. She's probably reading this and crying, hopefully even laughing a bit.

The questions she asked today deeply resonated with me.  I think these are questions we all have, but rarely take the time to root out the answers.  Life has a way of getting in the way of the life to which God created us and calls us.  We all make poor choices, rarely knowing the lasting effects those decisions have in our lives and the lives of others.  Somewhere in the mix, those seemingly small decisions/mistakes/choices end up slowly pulling us away from the path on which God originally put our feet.

7 Things I Miss About Me

Are you willing to not only ask, but to seek out the answers to, the deepest questions?  Are you willing to live the authentic life God has created for you?


11 - early morning mist on a neighborhood lake
12 - warm, squeezy hug from my first-born
13 - sweet smile from my girl
14 - cool mornings
15 - pumpkin spice lattes

31: Skipping Class

I'm a few days behind the ball, but given the recent events of this week, I'm pushing forward with the words and deeds God has laid on my heart.

The Nester is hosting a "31 days" blog-something.  I'm still relatively new to blogging, so I'm sure there is a technical term for whatever it is.  I just don't know it.

My 31 days are 31 days of Margin.  I think I may have made a cute button for the sidebar (one that I copied from Nester).  I'm having technical difficulties getting it to load, though.

Regardless, Nester challenged us to do something and blog about it for 31 days straight.  Given my start to October, the revelation I had yesterday from Rachel Anne, and God continuing to nudge me gently to listen to His plan for my life, I chose 31 days of margin.

I'm totally counting yesterday's post as Day 1.  Today is Day 2.  So far, so good.  I may actually have the hang of this thing.

For the past couple of weeks when I take my children to church on Wednesday nights, I have opted to not attend a class.  I sit in my car and relax, breathe deeply, meditate, listen to music, catch up on Instagram/Twitter/facebook, read, pray.

I've gone to classes in the past.  I've greatly benefited from them.  This time around what I realized I needed was time to be alone with God, time to be alone with my thoughts, time for margin.  I went to a class the first week.  I felt so completely overwhelmed getting everyone to their classes on time, and still have the presence of mind to not be a total zombie in my own class.

Mind you, the first week I did it, my motivation was not very pure.  It was self-preservation.  It was pride.  I had stopped to ask a friend about the health of another friend and that conversation went a little longer than anticipated.  By the time we finished, my class was already under way, by at least 15 minutes.  There was no way I was going to walk in late.  No thanks.  Not my style at all.

I headed to my car to wait it out.  I had a book, so I read.  My entire disposition changed during the next 60 minutes.  My heart rate slowed, my brain slowed.  I could breathe.  I could think.  I could hear God.

I'll skip class any day if it means I get to hear God's voice over me.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

31: Creating Margin

I clicked on Home Sanctuary this morning to find this very appropriate post from Rachel Anne. 

I love margins, in my writing, in my house, in my life.  When those margins get squeezed out, I get squeezed out.  It's not pretty.  Ask my husband, my kids, my friends, my family.

I NEED margins.  Without the; my thoughts, my words, my actions tumble all over the place, with no concern for where they land or who they hurt. 

Margins help us to see clearly, breathe deeply, live fully, focus completely.

This morning I didn't have my much-needed margin before the rest of the house was up and about.  My family felt the aftershocks.  It's wasn't pretty.  In fact, it was downright ugly.  I was the cartoonish cranky mom, complete with disheveled hair and mismatched pj's.  I needed caffeine.  I needed some time to wake up, already.  I needed my margin.

The really sad part in all this is that it was my own doing.  I didn't set my alarm last night (still have no clue why).  So, when my husband popped out of bed and told me the time (about an hour past my usual time), it set my brain spiraling.  I was immediately consumed with getting up and getting the children out the door on time, hopefully with something resembling breakfast before they left.  The never-ending to-do list flooded my mind and began to torment me with thoughts of failure, irresponsibility.  Good times.

This is the third day since Monday that my day has not gone according to plan.  God is trying to tell me something and I'm clearly not listening, not understanding.  For the sake of my family and my own sanity, I need to understand this.

Open my ears, Lord.  Help me hear and understand Your voice.  My life is nothing more than a cranky, ugly mess without You. I want the life You have for me, a life with margin and focus and beauty.  A life that glorifies You.  A life that follows Your plan for me.  Show me that plan and give me the courage to follow You.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Within the next few weeks, I will be slowing moving my blog over to wordpress.  My company blog is over there, as well as a real estate blog that I contribute to as needed.  I'm hopeful it will be easier on my brain to have them all in one spot. 

I'll keep you posted on when the move is complete.  Until then, keep stopping by here.  And leave me a comment.  I'd love to hear from you!

:) Aimee


6 - Bible Study
7 - a doggie who is well
8 - a sweet smile from my girl
9 - kindness and gentleness
10 - encouraging words from the pen of a friend

Confessions of a Fraidy Cat: Living in Limbo Ain't No Dance Party (Pt. 2)

If you haven't clicked over to Carol Anne's blog yet, what are ya waiting on?? 

Confessions of a Fraidy Cat: Living in Limbo Ain't No Dance Party (Pt. 2): From the outside looking in, they were the epitome of perfection. I suspect it takes exhausting effort to craft blemish-free masks. They...

Monday, October 1, 2012

One Thousand Gifts

1 - hot tea on a cold and drizzly morning
2 - doggie companions
3 - a night with no activities at home with just my husband (bliss)
4 - counting down to an important day
5 - remembering that God's plan is bigger and better than mine

Living the Life I Didn't Plan

Life has a way of not following my plan.  I make well-thought-out plans (most of the time).  My ideas are fun, grand, and usually have a way of coming unraveled just when things are beginning to click along.

Today the dog has vomited six nine ten times.  Today the rain hampers the ability of the paint to dry quickly or well on the rockers I am refinishing. Today my husband took microwavable soup for lunch while I was planning to surprise him with a lovely homemade chicken soup for supper.

So, I sigh, grumble, whine, complain, curse the dog (and the spider we think bit her).  Hopefully somewhere along the way I remember to be thankful.  Thankful for what has gone according to my plan, and thankful for what hasn't.  Thankful that God is good and kind and loves me in spite of the grand plans I make.  Thankful that He has even grander plans for me.

This weekend a dear, dear friend and mentor took a huge leap of faith and courage.  It is a path I have walked, although not nearly as well or as with much grace as she has.  I'm hopeful that my experiences somehow encouraged her and strengthened her.  It is a path no one plans; a path no one chooses without much prayer, deliberation and struggle; a path God already knew we would traverse. 

The beauty of life not according to our plans is that it forces us to look at the life God has planned for us.  A life beyond our wildest imaginations; beyond our grandest plans; beyond our deepest dreams. 

At the end of the day, that is the life we all crave.  Real life.  Connected-to-our-Creator life. Authentic life.  Messy life.

That kind of  life requires ridiculous faith, insurmountable courage, unbelievable trust.  All impossible tasks unless there is someone or something worth that much faith, courage, trust. 

The Gospel, The Good News is...there is.  God loves you.  God loves me.  God created us so that He could show us His love.  He sent Jesus to prove His love.  "Jesus is too sweet to not trust."

So, even when nothing in your day, your week, your month, or even your year seems to be going according to plan, give your plan to God and let Him show you His perfect plan for you and your life. 

It will be beyond your wildest imagination; beyond your grandest plan; beyond your deepest dream.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."  Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


It's been awhile, I know.  Life went crazy busy there for awhile and I think it is slowing down, at least for the next week or so. 

We've had a full summer.   Camps, baseball, and vacations have kept us on the go.  School starts soon as well as the next round of baseball.  One of my princes will be playing on a travel ball team, another will play fall ball.  My princess will keep honing her gymnastics skills.  My husband will coach them both, all the while going to work, and being an all-around great guy who loves his family immensely.

I am blessed.  Abundantly, magnificently, incredibly blessed. 

I've perused Ann Voskamp's blog for years now, always coming away encouraged and with my soul quieted.  It's time I took heed of her encouragement.  I've kept a journal off and on for years, sometimes just a collection of my rambling thoughts, but mostly it's been my attempt at gratitude.  I want to focus on my gratitude more, make it a daily discipline.  This world is harsh, cold, hard and dark.  Gratitude opens the floodgates of Light in ourselves and our world.  God wants to hear our praises and to acknowledge that His presence can be found everywhere.  We just need to ask for our eyes to be opened.

Today I'm thankful for...

1.  afternoon naps
2. fresh milk for my tea
3. making memories with my daughter, my mom, my sister-in-law, my mother-in-law...all at the same time
4. a son who is wise beyond his years
5. the smell of fresh-cut grass

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sick Day

My princess is sick today.  My husband has taken the three boys to school (three different schools mind you) so that I could stay home with my girl and tend to her.

I'm praying that whatever she has won't last long.  Tomorrow is Field Day.  My girl is competitive and much to the chagrin of many boys her age (and even a few a bit older), she is a lightening fast runner.

I knew she was really sick when she said she would have to miss gymnastics today.  Miss cartwheel-my-way-around-the-house will be laying low today.

Cool rags, naps, lovies and lots of TLC are on the agenda.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

She Loves to Read

Check out my new page on the blog, "She Loves to Read". 

I'm looking forward to hearing about your favorite books, and hopefully we can even have an online book club one day! 

I love book clubs. :)  The snacks, the fun, the friends, and the books! 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Hey y'all

It's been awhile, I know.  It's baseball season and it still knocks me for a loop.  I'm hoping and praying that before all the kids are grown and gone, it won't be this way.

Life is busy.  I'm sure you already know that because yours is busy too.  This is the season of life we're in right now.  The extremely busy season.  The run-around-like-a-chicken-with-your-head-cut-off season.  I know I only have a few more years of this and so I try to remind myself of that when I begin to get overwhelmed with it all.

And that's the thing...I let myself get overwhelmed.  You see, I have this vision in my sweet little head of the kind of person, mom, wife, friend, daughter I WANT to be.  And then there is reality.  I simply don't have the resources or the time to be that person.  At least not all at the SAME time and not in this season.  So I have to choose where to put my resources and my time, knowing that I'm going to disappoint someone every time I make a decision, even if that someone is sometimes myself.

I think the key for me is learning that it is ok.  My goal should be to not disappoint Christ, not anyone else, myself included.  My husband is very gifted at seeing me in the midst of my frantic-ness (is that even a word?), and gently reminding me that no one has put these expectations on me except me.  He is so full of grace that at times it is hard for me to take in just how much he loves me and accepts me for who I am right now.  Not the person I want to be.  Not the person I think I should be.  Just me, with all my neurotic tendencies, quirks, habits, and unique traits.

It is amazing how much a person can flourish when they know they are deeply loved and accepted.  Freedom sets in.  There is no condemnation, no fear.  Just love and grace and mercy.  It is a beautiful thing.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Pray for your sons

I was introduced to this site today and it made my heart smile.

I'm committing to praying for my boys, all three of them, during the 21 Days of Prayer for Sons Challenge.

If you have one or five sons, won't you join me?  Prayer is a powerful tool that God has graciously given us.  These boys are future men.  We owe it to them to cover them in prayer daily.

I'll be giving away a free book that is donated from The Moms of Boys Society.  Just leave me a comment that tells how many boys you have and their ages.

Looking forward to changing the world by praying for our sons.

*updated to add link to sign-up page: 21 days sign up

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Life in the Slow Lane

Some days I feel like a horse and buggy on the Autobahn.

I want life to just slow down already.  It all seems to be speeding by at a dizzying pace that leaves me spent; emotionally, physically, mentally, and sometimes even spiritually.

Why do we do this to ourselves?  Why do we fill our lives with so much activity to the point that our "down time" does nothing to recharge or refuel us?  We're so exhausted, that in order to adequately recover, we would need more than just a token hour or two snatched here and there.

I didn't grow up this way.  And I'm trying to make sure my kids don't get over-involved either.  It's tricky stuff, to be sure.  Each kid is only allowed one activity at a time.  But with four kids, that alone can be daunting at times. 

Baseball season is underway.  Soccer has begun.  Gymnastics never takes a break. 

Spring, with its promise of warm days and blue skies, used to be a wonderful reprieve from the coldness and quietness of Winter.  Now, it is a signal that life is kicking into high gear for the next four months.  And while I welcome the warmer temps, I also long for the days of quiet.

I like the slow lane.  But I drive like a crazy woman sometimes.  Why?  Because I tend to be late.  I hate being late.  I like the luxury of taking my time.  I like time to get settled.

I like the slow life.  I like homemade cooking, grow-your-own-ingredients cooking.  I like to knit and sew, read and sketch, walk and talk.

However, life right now is busy.  BUSY.  With no signs of slowing down for the next few months.

So, how do I keep up?  How do I keep from being "cranky mommy"?  I slow down myself and take some time to focus on God and His care of me.  I rest, drink plenty of water, rest, say "no", rest. 

I've found I have to be intentional about all of this.  Otherwise, it is incredibly easy to get swept up and swept away by the tide of busyness.

It's part of why I like Lent.  It's an intentional time for me to refocus, regroup, reframe my life.

I like to study the habits and lifestyles of bygone eras.  I always find something fascinating about their way of life.  And I've found that while they may not have had the luxury of technological "advances" we have today, they have other things we are slowly losing.

A sense of community.  Of family.  A rhythm to their days that is dependent on their Creator, and not their smartphones.

That is the life I long for, the life I seek.  Life in the slow lane.



Life has been a bit crazy round these parts the past week or so.  We've had a visit to the ER (all is fine now), recovery from a nasty stomach bug, and all four kids were home!

Now, I know there are plenty of families who have four (or even more) kids and handle it all with style and grace. I'm not there.  At least not yet.

I have some posts I'm working on, but a lack of sleep has kept them unfinished. 

Thanks for hanging in there with me and continuing to visit, although I have nothing new to offer just yet.  Your grace is comforting.

My weekly Bible study and our new sermon series, as well as some life stuff right now, have given me plenty of writing material.  I'll be posting again soon. 

Until then, have an amazing week!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Walking with Grief

There are all sorts of clubs, groups, and even cliques.  Membership usually requires some sort of checklist and possibly even dues.  Once membership is attained, certain privileges become yours. You are allowed to eat at the prestigious country club, workout at the "in" gym, have lunch with the "in" crowd.

Sometimes, however, we become members of clubs with which we never wanted to be, or thought we ever would be, associated.  Miscarriage, divorce, death, unemployment.  Who wants a membership in those clubs?  Not me.  I'm betting not you, either.

But loss seeks us out, grabs us when we least expect it.  The baby you prayed for months to conceive, suddenly has no heartbeat.  The marriage you thought would make it, and seemed to for a while, crumbles.  Cancer robs your husband, grandfather, mother, friend of their life, and it robs you of the relationship.  The job that had so much potential is cut, or worse yet, given to someone else.

Life is full of hurts and disappointments.  Memberships in clubs we'd rather not have.  

Twelve years ago, the excitement and anticipation of my first pregnancy came to a screeching halt when the nurse couldn't locate my baby's heartbeat.  She was very calm and suggested that perhaps I wasn't as far along as originally determined.  My heart knew otherwise.  The next ultrasound confirmed my fear.  My baby was gone.

I collapsed.  I weeped.  I wailed.

Grief came.  Grief stayed.

The months that followed were tricky.  Immediately I had to have surgery.  Two days later, I hemorrhaged and had to be readmitted to the hospital for another surgery.  When I finally was home, I didn't want to leave.  I just wanted my baby back.  I was physically unwell, spiritually unwell, and emotionally a wreck.

Eventually, the days got a little easier.  I began to venture out of my house.  I began to think I was going to be ok.  But then, I would see something, hear something, or even smell something; grief flooded back.  Its trigger evasive, sneaky; wrapping its fingers around me, pulling me down, tripping me up.

I eventually became pregnant again and delivered a beautiful baby boy.  I love that boy!  His birth helped me to face my grief more fully and be able to walk with it in peace.  The grief was still there.  Still is.  But it no longer consumes me.  It can still surprise me, but it no longer defines me.

A few years ago, my marriage of almost 13 years ended in divorce.  I fought it for years before I actually made the decision to walk away.  I didn't want to be divorced.   I didn't want to be "that girl".  God hates divorce.  So do I.  It's an ugly, painful, deeply grieving walk.

It's a grief that I thought would eventually be gone.  It doesn't go away, especially when there are children and ex-spouses involved.  I'm learning to walk with that grief.  Learning to help my children walk with their grief.  Learning to lean on God for my strength.

I've since remarried.  My husband is an amazing man who loves God.  I am blessed beyond measure.  He was married before as well, and has two boys from that marriage.  They have their own grief, too.

But we're all learning to walk through our grief together.  Be sensitive to each other, remembering that what we all really want is to be loved and accepted in the midst of a messy life.  Some days we do really well.  Some days not so much.  

But love and grace and mercy live in our house, right alongside our grief.  It mixes with our joy and laughter, becoming a beautiful thing that only God could orchestrate and sustain.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”   Joshua 1:9

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Baby Biscuits

Growing up, we had biscuits on a pretty regular basis.  Not those canned biscuits either.  Real biscuits.  Flour-on-your-hands, knead-the-dough biscuits.

Sometimes my mama would use cookie cutters to make fun shapes, but most often it was her biscuit cutter.  I loved to watch her knead the dough, pat it out, and cut all those circles.  We would talk and laugh and enjoy this little slice of life.

My favorite part was my baby biscuit.  Yes, MY baby biscuit.  I'm the baby in my family. My mama was never one to waste something, especially biscuit dough.  So, when she had cut out every biscuit she possibly could, she would take the leftover bits of dough and combine them to make a baby biscuit.  Just for me.

This baby biscuit looked nothing like the others lined up neatly on the pan.  It was misshapen, odd, squished together.  But it was my favorite.

Ten minutes later the timer would ding and the blissful aroma of fresh baked bread beckoned me.  Before my mama could get them off the pan and buttered, my fingers were excitedly laying claim to the one made just for me.

The outside lightly browned; the inside fluffy and light.  Steam rising as I cracked it open, butter dripping down my hand as I popped the entire thing into my mouth, savoring this wonderful creation.  Sure, I would eat one or two or five more of the others; but this one was, and still is, far and away my favorite.

I have my own children to make biscuits for now.  My daughter, when she was still the baby of the family, would stand in a kitchen chair while I made biscuits.  We would talk and laugh and enjoy this little slice of life.  And she would get the baby biscuit.  Her sweet eyes would light up every time I told her the story of her grandmother and me doing the very same thing thirty years before. 

Earlier this week I made biscuits as part of our supper.  The baby biscuit was sitting on the pan, hot and ready, just waiting for my daughter to come along and claim it.  We had a full house that night.  The kitchen was loud and busy.
I turned to get the baby biscuit for my daughter's plate.  Something was missing.  Part of the biscuit was gone.  Who would do such a thing?  Doesn't everyone know she's the baby and that biscuit is hers?

Apparently not my husband.  It seems he likes baby biscuits, too.  And so does the now-baby in our family, our seven-year-old son.  Turns out EVERYONE likes, and wants, the baby biscuit. 

This got me thinking about how many times in life we tend to pursue the seemingly perfect things (relationship, job, home, church, etc.); desperately wanting to be like everyone else and fit into what we think is the best place, or what society has convinced us is the ONLY place, to be.  All the while forgetting that if we will just give our bits (the hurt, the questions, the insecurities) to God, He will make something so unique and beautiful in us, that everyone will want what we have.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Check out Crystal's free routine cards.  These go right along with my desire to frame my days better.  I did something similar with my kiddos when they were preschoolers and when we homeschooled.  Time for this mama to make some for herself. :)

Free Routine Cards

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The busy life

I commonly joke when someone asks about my life that I have one husband, four kids, two dogs and a partridge in a pear tree.  It helps to lighten the mood and my perspective on just how busy my life is.  It wasn't always this busy.  In fact, it's never been this busy. I have two biological children and two step-children, at three different schools, and a minimum of three sports at any given time. The schedules are wonky to say the least. While I may complain and grumble about it from time to time and pine for the quiet and unhurried days of long ago, this is the life God has for me right now.  This is my ministry.  I would do well to remember that.

Here's a rundown of a typical week and a gentle reminder of how I can minister to my family each day.

Mondays - soccer practice, gymnastics practice and men's prayer night.  I don't actually have to go to any of these activities, but my family does.  I would be wise to keep them in mind when planning the rest of the week.  *Ministry for today is laundry and something good for supper as well as some special time with my man.  No kids home this night.*

Tuesdays - baseball practice, gymnastics practice, monthly booster club meeting.  My goal on this day is to make sure school clothes are clean, supper is ready and my reports for booster club are in order. Two of our kids are home this day. 

Wednesdays - soccer  practice, baseball lesson.  Today's goal is supper,clean clothes, homework, and social hour.  All the kids are home this day and they haven't seen each other in at least two days, if not five.  Lots of catching up to do. :)

Thursdays - gymnastics practice.  Supper, homework and family time.  This has become our pizza night.  It's quick, easy and relatively healthy.  This is the night that can be the toughest if I'm not at my best.  All four kids are home.

Fridays - every other week we have two kids home.  The other week, it's date night.  Ministry is either family time or something special for my man. I'd like to work into inviting another couple over on the weeks we have no kids home, at least once a month.

Saturdays - for now, it's baseball and soccer games.  Every other week we have the other two kids, or all four.  Family night is on the agenda which usually entails a movie, a rousing game of Mexican train, or just playing outside if the weather allows.  If all four kids are home, it usually ends up being girl time with my princess and the boys do "boy stuff".  I'd like to start incorporating some sort of Sabbath meal.

Sundays - church.  two kids home every other week.  Rest, rest, rest.  I've found that I NEED this.  God is so wise. :) This is the day to minister to myself: a long soak in the tub, quick mani or pedi (or both!), facial, knitting, reading, napping (bliss!)

In the midst of all this, I also work part-time for a friend's construction supply business as well as handle most of the administrative work for our family's web business.  Don't forget about laundry, the dogs, keeping the house relatively straight, more laundry, and a weekly Bible study.  Right now, those things happen as time allows.  Whew!

This has been therapeutic for me.  It is so easy for me to get wrapped up in what I think I need to get done each day, instead of focusing on where my ministry is and allowing the rest to fall into place and allow God to take care of it all. My goal is to create a better framework.

How do you frame  your week?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Going International

Wow.  I'm amazed!  I thought it was a fluke when I saw the stats that said I had a reader from Germany.  Now Canada and Russia have been added to the list.  :)

So, welcome!!  Bienvenue!  Willkommen!  Добро пожаловать! (I hope I said that right.)

I'm thankful you took time out of your busy life to drop by and read my ramblings on life, faith and family. It certainly makes this Southern girl humble and blessed.

I'd love to hear from you.  Drop me an email or leave a comment.  I'd love to know how you got to this little blog from the other side of the globe.

Who I Am

Something happened yesterday that sent me down the road of frustration, annoyance, and just plain irritation.  In the grand scheme of life, it's minor.  However, last night when I first got the information, it almost sent me into a tailspin.  Ugh.

Hence why making my thoughts captive to Christ is my focus for Lent 2012. ;)

After a few tears and bugging my husband with my rehashing of my emotions and why I was completely justified to feel the way I did, I began to pray (which is what I should have done to begin with, but I'm still learning.).  God opened my eyes to the real reason I was unhappy with this series of events.

Turns out, I'm still searching for, and expecting to find, my value in others.  So, when I encounter something I think will make me look bad or won't portray the whole story (or at least my side of it), I get all flustered and out of sorts.  I want to look good, or at the very least not as bad as someone else.

You see, this small thing will give people one impression, albeit a false one, regarding my family.  It is one very tiny facet that I would rather just ignore.  However, it is something that is out of my realm of control.  Yet, this minor thing can (and has) become a major issue for me.  I have this sense that if I'm not the one to initially set the scene (and set the record straight), then no one will believe me.  Worse yet, my value to them will be less.  I'll be an outsider to a group in which I want to be a main character. 

What God showed me is that I already am the main character.  He chose me.  Even better, I'm a main character in God's life.  He died for me so that one day I would choose Him.  My value is in how He sees me; and He sees all, including my heart and my hurt.

I've struggled with insecurity my entire life (who hasn't?).  There are days when I am confident in the woman God created me to be, confident in my skills and knowledge, confident that I matter.  There are days when my confidence is gone, utterly wiped out.

What happens to cause this drastic shift?  Has God given up on me?  Have I suddenly lost all my skills and knowledge?  Do I suddenly not matter?  Thankfully, no.

Then what pulls me to completely lose all faith in myself?  My perspective.  My willingness to listen to Satan's lies.  My own self-pity.  My wondering why I'm not prettier, or smarter, or better at ______.  Ugly, nasty stuff.

How do I keep my focus on God?  How do I keep my mind centered on Him?  How do I keep my heart full of HIS value of me?





Remember that I am who God says I am: blessed, chosen, adopted, accepted, redeemed, and completely forgiven.

You are who God says you are.  We are lavished in grace.

" 3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. 4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 6 So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.[b] 7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. 8 He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding." Ephesians 3:3-8

Friday, February 24, 2012

Grit: Vacuuming in Flip Flops

In my previous post I mentioned the need to vacuum today.  Being the ever-so-energetic gal that I am, I whisked the kiddos off to school in my yoga pants, t-shirt and flip-flops and scurried home to tackle the grit that perpetually resides in and on my floors.

I opened the windows for some fresh air and noticed more grit on the windowsills.  Ugh.  Tackle that later.

After successfully vacuuming the entire second floor, including those nasty corners in the bathrooms, I started on the stairs.  More grit.  Really?  Whoever cleans this joint needs to be fired.  Oh wait.  That's me. Nevermind.

I was really on a roll now.  The first floor was all that remained.  Switching out the hard floor attachment for the carpet one, I had only three rooms left; albeit the most gritty rooms in the house.  As I lugged the canister from one room to the next it happened.  The carpet attachment collided with my foot.  Yes, that same foot that was shod in flip-flops.  Heavens to Betsy!

My mind cursed my choice of footwear and suddenly FlyLady and her lace-up shoes mantra came to mind.

This was not the first, nor will it be the last, time that I vacuum in flip-flops.  Sometimes I even do it barefoot.  I know; it's not the wisest choice. It got me thinking about how many times I begin a task simply to cross it off my list, yet I don't prepare for it adequately.

Now that's an ugly, gritty truth.  My emotions, good or bad, get the better of me and I'm off and running without much if any thought to a plan of action, much less the best plan.  Getting my toes, and my heart, hurt along the way.

Company Girl Coffee

Have you noticed the little "Company Girl Coffee" button on the side bar?  (Feel free to click on it now and come on back when you're done.)

Are you back?  Don't you just LOVE Rachel's blog?  I certainly do.  She's been such an inspiration to me over the past few years.  Her daily "Simple Things" are easily done and give such a feeling of accomplishment.  Most days that is all I need; a nudge in the right direction.  Once I have some momentum, not much can stop me.

I've been sick for the past few weeks.  Nothing major, but just enough to suck all my energy and allow me the luxury of saying I was sick.  My house has suffered.  With one husband, four kids, two dogs (and a partridge in a pear tree) the house needs attention.  Every. Day.

My father-in-law will be in town tomorrow to play a round of golf with my husband.  There's a strong chance he will stay the night with us.  While he most likely won't notice or even mind that our house is a little out of sorts, I know it is.  Time to get out the vacuum and bring some semblance of order to our humble abode.

So, thank you Rachel for reminding me that although vacuuming sucks, it does make for a nicer looking and better feeling house.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Loving your Dude

Rachel over at Home Sanctuary posted about not taking our "dudes" for granted.  A very good reminder for this girl with a king and three princes in her midst.  They certainly are mysterious creatures. ;)

Loving the "Dude" in your man

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

More Lenten Ideas and a Giveaway

Ann over at A Holy Experience has some great ideas for ways to experience Lent, including a free devotional book and how to make a Jesus Easter tree.

True confession:  I want a Lenten wreath like Ann's

If you'd like to have one, too, drop me a line in the comments and tell me how you celebrate Lent, even if this year will be your first.  I'll randomly draw a name from the hat to receive your very own Way of Light wreath.  Giveaway will end Monday, February 27, at midnight EST.

More ideas from Noel Piper: Lenten Lights
and Holy Week at the Piper's

Pancakes and Bacon

One of my favorite meals growing up was breakfast for supper.  From about the time I was 10 or 11, I was responsible for supper one night a week (or two if my brother paid me to cook on his night).  At that age, my skills were somewhat limited.  My repertoire included mac 'n cheese, hot dogs, pasta, fried bologna sandwiches, grits, eggs, bacon and pancakes.  Frequently we had breakfast for supper.  It was quick; everyone liked it; I felt accomplished.

Breakfast for supper is still one of my favorites.  It's fun.  It's different.  It's unexpected.  It's what we had for supper last night, after the cookies and ice cream from the Upwards party.  We indulged. We celebrated Mardi Gras inasmuch as Southern Baptists observe the liturgical calendar.

Today marks the end of that indulging.  Today is Ash Wednesday; the first day of Lent.  Lent is a time to reflect on the sacrifice that Christ made for us on the cross and prepare for the celebration of his resurrection at Easter.  In turn, many Christians make some sort of sacrifice for the 40 days of the Lenten season.  Although I grew up thinking these traditions were only for the people who went to the fancy churches and cathedrals, I've learned their significance and have come to embrace them.

Sweet tea was my first sacrifice.  For this Southern born and bred girl, that was huge!  There were two drinks in my house growing up: whole milk and my mama's sweet tea. What I found was that I didn't NEED sweet tea like I had always thought. Please don't mistake me.  I love a good glass of sweet tea.  I just don't NEED it any more.  It is now my choice and not my default.

There have been other things I have given up over the years: chocolate (that was a doozy), sleeping in, and yes, even facebook.  What I have discovered is that there will always be something that can get in the way of my relationship with Christ.  They may not be full-fledged idols.  Yet.  I don't want idols.  I've had too many.  They always disappoint.  They always fall short.  They always fail to deliver what I really need...true communion and relationship with my God, my Savior.

Lent has become my time to reflect on what is encroaching on my relationship with Christ.  My time to give whatever it is to Christ, confess my sin, receive forgiveness, and reclaim that time for Christ alone.  This year it's my thoughts.  Not nearly as quantifiable as sweet tea or chocolate, but at risk to become an idol nonetheless.  2 Corinthians 10:4-6 tell us:

4For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds,
    5[Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One),
    6Being in readiness to punish every [insubordinate for his] disobedience, when your own submission and obedience [as a church] are fully secured and complete.

Taking every thought captive to Christ is something I don't do well.  I'm apt to let my thoughts turn into emotions; emotions into words; words into actions I usually regret.  In order to prevent this, I must go to the source, my thoughts.  I need to surround myself with Truth so that my thoughts are true; flood my mind with God's Word.  I want to walk empowered by the Holy Spirit.  I want to walk in victory, knowing Christ has already won, already defeated the enemy, already conquered death.

Do you celebrate Lent?  What is keeping you from walking in the power of the Holy Spirit?  What are you turning over to Christ for the next 40 days?

*for more information on Lent check out The Season of Lent.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Habakkuk?  Really?  I think I know where that is.  Old Testament, right?  I didn't pay much attention, if any, to the focus verse for the women's retreat.  I just knew I wanted to go.  A night away with friends, old and new, in the mountains.  Someone else cooking; someone else cleaning; someone else planning.  Who wouldn't want to go?

The first speaker was engaging and funny and hit home truths I had known for some time.  Pride and fear separate us from our joy in Christ.  Did you know Satan's name means "one who separates"?  Interesting since the theme for the retreat was Inseparable. Sin is most often rooted in fear or pride, and sometimes both.  Even if we understand this truth, we may not be able to avoid stepping off the path into sin.  Perhaps we may only dip a toe in the waters to test them. Still, we sin.

The second speaker opened wide my eyes and my heart to what God wants from me - and you.  Praise in the midst of all the mess.  You see, her life has been turned upside down by someone else's actions.  Her family has been ripped apart.  Her world shattered.  Just like you and I, she went through the list of "what ifs".  You know them.  "What if I had told someone what my life was really like?"  "What if I had said this or done that?"  What if?  What if?  

So, what do we do? How do we stay on track? How do we become inseparable from Christ even in the midst of our own sin or the results of someone else's? He tells us that nothing can separate us from His love. He still chooses to love. So we change our "what if" to "even when".  Even when we lie.  Even when we murder.  Even when we steal.  Even when we have idols.  Even when we don't speak up.  Even when ________.  He loves us, even when.  So, if Christ loves us and died  for us even while we were still sinners, then why choose to not sin?  We still get His love, right?  Yes, thankfully we do.  But when we sin, we step outside of His protection and blessing.  We miss out on all the glorious things He has in store for us.  We miss out on the fruit of the Spirit.  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control that come only from having an intimate  relationship with the God who created you, the Savior who died for you, and the Spirit who longs to empower you.

I want that power.  I want to have a quiet and gentle spirit.  I want to have self-control.  If the only way to get there is through the Holy Spirit, then how do I accomplish my goal?  Do I need special skills?  A degree in theology?  A big notebook and 27 sharpened no.2 pencils?  A special Bible in a language I don't understand?


All that God requires of me is a willing heart.  A heart for Him.  A heart hungry and thirsty for Truth.  A heart completely devoted to Him.  A heart open to all the blessings.  A heart willing to walk the narrow path. That's where it gets hard.  The narrow path.  Life is hard.  I mean really hard.  Children die, bank accounts overdraw, families splinter, crops wither,  rains fall.  We find ourselves bombarded daily with  news of killings, floods, earthquakes, lost children.  How do we keep a quiet and gentle spirit in the midst of so much tragedy?

We cling to God.  We immerse ourselves in His Word.  We flood our minds with His Truth.  We surround ourselves with fellow believers.  So that we too can be like Habakkuk and be able to say,

"Though the fig tree does not blossom and there is no fruit on the vines, [though] the product of the olive fails and the fields yield no food, though the flock is cut off from the fold and there are no cattle in the stalls,
    Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the [victorious] God of my salvation!
    The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds' feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]!"  ~Habakkuk 3:17-19 The Amplified Bible