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Writing at the Speed of Life

Where do you write?

It’s not as common as asking HOW you write … But it’s relevant.

There are so many things I’m finally allowing myself to enjoy at the ripe old age of 38 … Like stickers all over my planner. Painting my nails on a regular basis. Getting more sleep.

Also … allowing myself to write EVERYWHERE.

Outside on the deck. In the driveway. In the yard. At the park. Inside at my upstairs desk. Kitchen table. Bed. Couch. Floor. At the little table under my son’s bunk bed.

For so many years I’ve been trying to make myself find the perfect writing place. That consistent location and time that I can rely on day after day. But you know what? I absolutely LOVE for things to be new every day. My always-logical, routine-is-the-best-way husband scratches his head at this. It’s funny when we talk about it.

So I’m allowing myself freedom. And I e been writing up a STORM because of it.

I finally stopped trying to find that consistent time of day and place that is perfect for writing. Instead, I write with the speed of life.

It’s so much more fun this way!!

The Hope I Almost Missed

Tiny blooms.

I almost missed them.

Winter, cold weather, chills that quake the marrow of my bones: it all makes me depressed. I can’t fight it. But I can ride through it.

I look for flowers when winter feels deepest … For me that’s right around February, when it feels that winter will last forever. I can usually find daffodils eventually, but so far, not yet.

Instead, I found these little beauties. They were quietly waiting to be noticed, right at my feet. My heart celebrated at the sight of them. I may or may not have wiped away tears.

Spring is coming.

Don’t Hide the Best of You

I’d been droning on for an hour. Kris, my husband, was listening patiently, giving head nods and occasional verbal affirmation that he was still present in the conversation.

I’d been spilling to him everything I thought the Lord was leading me to do, how difficult it was, and the fact that the Lord just will not give up on me. I explained to him how terrifying it all was, and how I was afraid to succeed, because that would create a harder fall if I failed. I was afraid to fail, because I didn’t want to let God or anyone else down.

I was afraid of rejection. Ridicule. I was afraid I would have to sacrifice family time. I was afraid that pursuing these things would mean I would be distracted from my responsibilities at home, leading to failure there, as well. What if I was hearing God wrong? What if it’s not the right time? What if I’m rushing God? What if these aren’t His callings at all, and it’s just desires of my own heart that I’m projecting onto God? What if I disobey Him by moving forward with these pursuits? What if I disobey Him by NOT moving forward with them?

What if people see what I’ve produced, and hate it? Or worse … laugh at it?

I sat there in tears, my heart exhausted from the expulsion of so much raw emotion.

My husband got this little grin on his face and said, “Don’t hide the best of you just because you’re afraid it might be the worst of you.”

Holy cow. Did that really just come out of his mouth? I mean, after an hour of spilling my guts, how can Kris come back with that one statement and floor me like that? I was struck silent by the power God expressed through him.

“You’re tough,” Kris said. “You can do this.”

Funny. Years ago I had accepted the fact that I was soft, and weak. That’s what I believed. “You’re too oversensitive,” I’ve been told a million times, even though I thought myself to be simultaneously thick-skinned and tenderhearted. Why does tenderheartedness have to be shamed? “I’m not sure you can handle this,” I’m usually told in the face of something emotionally difficult or stressful. “You’re too nice.” I mean, really, how is that a bad thing? It didn’t matter what other encouraging words came my way, it didn’t matter how many positive affirmations were spoken to me, my soul took in the poison and proceeded to wilt. 

A lightbulb flickered in my soul, then. I became aware of how these words had been twisted in my ears my entire life to keep me firmly grounded. To keep me firmly under the thumb of a cruel devil who wanted to keep me small.

Having a tender heart doesn’t mean I’m weak. It’s possible to be a warrior with a tender heart.

 

photo by Timothy Eberly

My Heavenly Father knew it was there, because He created every part of me with intention (see Psalm 139:13-14for proof).

My husband sees it. He’s always seen it.

I just couldn’t see it for myself.

Take a look at your own heart. What lies have you believed for far too long? What strengths have been lying dormant because you didn’t allow yourself to believe it was there?

It’s time to rise up. Reach into your soul, into the center where God lives, and find the hilt of that sword. It’s there. Shake off the dirt and get familiar with swinging it. Look at it carefully, and present it to Christ. He gave it to you. It has a design on the blade specifically carved for you by your Maker. 

It’s time to grow. It’s time to refuse to stay small.

It’s time to fling off the chains.

It’s time to boldly step forward, with the armor of God intact.

My sword is ready.

It’s time to move.

My Secret Weapon for Housework Productivity

There’s binge eating. Binge watching. Binge listening.

We live in a binge culture.

We’re three days until Christmas Day, and I’m binge cleaning. The spic-and-span status is successful so far (how’s that for alliteration?). It’s actually enjoyable, thanks to my secret weapon: Podcasts.

I’m just tackling the living room today. A whole day dedicated to getting just one room clean. It’s literally taking me all day.

Why? Because as soon as I started picking up this morning, I paused long enough to play video games with the boys, then made them breakfast.

About the time I got random candy wrappers picked up from their stash they caught at a recent parade, they needed help getting dressed.

I made a couple of phone calls, paid a couple of bills, answered a few urgent emails, and started again.

About the time I got traction on cleaning, it was lunch time. The boys wanted a picnic outside … And who can say no to that?

I spent longer than I intended out there, because I just couldn’t resist these dirty cheeks.

Yesterday I did the same thing, in my bedroom where you had to follow a trail to get from the door to the bed. It’s spotless now, and slightly rearranged. Although I HATE housework, I absolutely enjoyed doing this because it was my time to get caught up on my favorite podcasts.

Listening to podcasts while I work keeps my racing brain preoccupied so that the rest of me can switch to autopilot and get things done. Without podcasts, I overthink the best approach to getting the room cleaned in a way that won’t waste too much time, and I end up wasting too much time overthinking it all.

Podcasts get me moving.

I would love to have the living room presentable for Santa, so I guess I better turn my podcast app back on and get to it!

Here’s a great podcast on decluttering at the speed of light. Just go to your favorite podcast app and type into the search bar “A Slob Comes Clean”, or click here to be taken directly to her website:

Make Ahead Meals … How Hard Can It Be?

I need help, y’all.

With karate 3 nights per week, I’m struggling with dinner. Do we eat at 4:30 before we go? Do we wait until we get home, cook, and eat at 8?

I decided I found the solution with the make-ahead meals concept. (My phone prophetically auto-corrected that to “make-believe meals”, and I’m starting to think it may be right).

Anytime that I’m diving into any sort of new endeavor, it only makes sense to hit up the library and see what kind of light reading I can do on the subject. I inevitably leave the place with about 20 new books, and not all of them are pertaining to the subject.

But whatever.

I thought I lucked up When I found a cookbook that said something along the lines of cooking whenever you can, and eating whenever you want.

Sounded promising.

 

I open the book to the very first menu week, and lo and behold, could not even pronounce the suggested soups. Also, Monday’s suggestion was leg of lamb.

Leg. Of. Lamb.

I’m sorry, but leg of lamb recipes do not at all simplify my life, which is kind of the point of make-ahead meals, right?

Moving on.

In the meantime, if any of you have any suggestions for make-ahead recipes, send them my way! I’m sure there are other moms out there in my same position that could benefit from it as well. In exchange, here’s one of my favorites below.

Recipe swap time!!

P.S.: This recipe came from my amazing sister-in-law who is always up for trying new recipes. She’s an incredible cook!

Santa Fe Soup

  • 1 lb ground beef (we use ground turkey)
  • 1 can of black beans, drained
  • 1 can of white corn, drained
  • 1 can of light red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can of pinto beans, drained
  • 1 can of rotel
  • Water
  • 1 package of ranch dressing mix
  • 1 package of taco seasoning mix
  • Tostitos Scoops for scooping!

In a skillet, brown the meat and drain the fat. Toss the meat into a stock pot or Dutch oven. Throw in all the rest of the ingredients, except the Tostitos Scoops, of course. Add as much water as you want, according to your desired soup thickness. Heat on the stove until bubbling, then turn the heat down and let it simmer for at least 10 minutes. Serve in a bowl with Tostitos Scoops, which can totally replace a spoon!

 

(Thanks, Gaelle Marcel, for the featured image)

 

How Morning Lists Help My Day – FREE Download!

I love making morning lists, because it helps my day run more smoothly.

I know it sounds crazy. But seriously, I have so many things jumbled in my head at all times, like, “Did I put the clothes from the washer to the dryer?” and “Crap, I haven’t fed the dog yet!” and “Wow, I really need to cut my kids’ nails.” and “Oooh! Oooh! That would make a GREAT character for a story!”

There’s something so satisfying about emptying my head onto paper so that I can make sense of the constant moving webs that zig-zag throughout my brain. Morning lists definitely helps my daily life go smoothly … and trust me. I need all the help I can get!

Just yesterday I was talking to my husband about this. I’m impressed that his brain is like a computerized, highly consistent machine. I described his brain as being a robot at the center of a massive data center. The robot reaches for any bit of information at any moment, and successfully implements it in a perfectly timed manner. It’s efficient, it never misses a beat, and it never drops anything.

Unlike my brain. My brain is like a canvas onto which a hundred cups of colored paint have been sploshed all at once. It’s colorful and fun … but definitely not the efficient machine that my husband’s is. Hence, the necessity of lists.

Normally, I grab whatever scrap of paper I can find to make lists, but the problem is that I lose the list. A napkin with a list gets mistaken for a mere napkin, and gets thrown away. Lists on the back of receipts get tossed because I mistake it for … well.. trash. I’ve tried collecting small notebooks that are long and narrow, perfect to grab and quickly list things out. The problem is that I misplace the little notebooks. I have four that have somehow disappeared in the last year.

I decided to create my own list that I can print out and have an endless supply of. I don’t know what it is about the little heart at the top, and the neat little lines … I actually look FORWARD to sitting down and making my lists each morning.

I’ve used these little things for weeks now, and I love them. I often use the backs of them for my shopping lists, or for weekly meal planning.

Enjoy!

Fruit of the Spirit – Love. What is the Spirit? Why Does it Have Fruit?

I told you three weeks ago that we would be talking about the Fruit of the Spirit, and I ended up telling you all about Naaman the leper, and Jonah and the Big Fish. Well, here we are, FINALLY talking about the Fruit of the Spirit. 

Our scripture is in Galatians, and just like The Armor of God, the author is Paul. Our scripture today is Galatians 5:22-23.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Now, first of all, I want to tell you what the “fruit of the Spirit” even means. What “spirit”, and why does it have fruit?

The “Spirit” is the Holy Spirit, which is one of the trinity. The Trinity is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. One and the same! We all know that God the Father sent God the Son, Jesus, to reach sinners. To die for them. God the Holy Spirit dwells, or lives, within us, when we accept Jesus as our Savior. The Holy Spirit guides us every day, comforts us, nurtures us, and helps us. The Holy Spirit will allow us to feel conviction when we have sinned. 

Think about this … if someone were to point to a tree and ask you, “What kind of tree is that?” It’s likely you may not be sure … unless you took a closer look and realized the tree is full of apples! “Well, that’s an apple tree, of course!” Or, if you ever came across a tall tree with clusters of bananas hanging down, you would know right away that it’s a banana tree! See, you can know a tree, by its fruit!

There are actually nine fruits of the spirit … But let’s just focus on one today … LOVE.

Now, the language we speak is English. And in the English language, there is only one word for love: LOVE! So, you could say, “I just LOVE this kind of cereal!” You could also say, “I just LOVE my brother!” The same word is used to describe your appreciation for your favorite kind of cereal, and to describe your affection for your sibling. In Greek, which is the original language for Galatians 5, there are four different kinds of love. There’s EROS, which is romantic love, like between husband and wife. There’s STORGE (storj), which is family love, like the love of a mother for her children, or the love for a brother or sister. There’s PHILIA, which describes friendship. And then there’s AGAPE. This is the most powerful kind of love … it’s the love God has for us. It’s the love Christ-like love. It’s also a love that is something a person CHOOSES … it’s not a feeling, or emotion. It’s a kind of love that shows respect, devotion, commitment, that results in a willingness to sacrifice for someone. The ultimate sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross is a powerful example of AGAPE. Here in Galatians 5, the word LOVE used, is AGAPE. It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. 

1 John 4:8 says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” That’s an example of AGAPE.

Romans 5:8 says, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This is the ultimate example of AGAPE. 

The last example I have for you is John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my commands.” See? It’s a love of CHOICE, and devotion.

 

Psalm 46 Reminds Us of Who is Really in Control

 

This Psalm is called “God is Our Fortress”. It’s a reminder of God’s power, and who is really in control.

Psalm 46 (ESV)

God is our refuge and strength,
    a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
    though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
    though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
    God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
    he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
    how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
    he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Keeping Your Kids’ Minds Active During Coronavirus Quarantine

All the events in our area have been closed due to coronavirus, along with the schools. Kids are at home, and working parents have made adjustments to ensure someone (or they) are at home with them.

Many parents are enjoying this break as basically an extended spring break. However, many schools have urged parents to educate their kids at home to keep their child’s minds active while they’re at home, ensuring that they don’t fall behind when they return back to school.

Whichever you choose, it’ll be fun! Because we’re a homeschool family, school closures haven’t affected our daily routine.

Here is a list of free, online educational resources (each hyperlinked) to keep kids’ minds active during coronavirus quarantine. I’ll be adding to it as other moms contribute! So check back for any updates.

For a Bible Podcast for Kids, subscribe to The Simple Word on your favorite podcast app, or click here to listen. If you like what you hear, it would mean the world to me if you left a 5-star review!

For younger ones, such as Pre-K or K:

Planes and Balloons

Scratch Garden YouTube Videos

Seussville

Mama’s Learning Corner

Teachers Pay Teachers

K5 Learning

Spelling Words Well (there’s even a COVID-19 Crossword Puzzle!!)

Kindergarden Worksheets

For Kindergarden – Junior High:

Khan Academy – Common Core Math with videos. GREAT resource for continuing public school education!

Brain Pop – educational videos about history, holdays, and current events. Offering a free month for those impacted by coronavirus.

Teach Your Monster to Read – oh my goodness, both my boys love this. It’s a fun and effective way to reinforce/teach reading skills.

Cool Math 4 Kids

Scholastic Learn at Home

Primary Games

Spelling Words Well (there’s even a COVID-19 Crossword Puzzle!!)

Teachers Pay Teachers

ABC Mouse (we have a paid subscription, but a free trial is likely offered)

ABCYa

Cool Math Games

Math Playground

Multiplication.com

Education.com

XtraMath (my 3rd grader HATES this one, but hey … it’s good practice)

Vooks (an online book reading website with a free month! Also, it’s currently offering a free 1-year subscription to home-educators and teachers using this link!)

For High School:

Teachers Pay Teachers

Learn 4 Good

For All Grades:

Explore.org – livecams of animals!

For PE:

Zumba with Dovydas (plenty for both kids and high schoolers. My kids love these!)

Fitness Blender – Free workouts for High Schoolers and adults

Bear Hunt Song (preschool and lower elementary)

For Science videos on YouTube, CLICK HERE for a massive list of channels!

For Sketch Art videos on YouTube, CLICK HERE! (my kids are obsessed with these!)

Let me know if there are any more you’d like me to add!