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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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?
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
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!
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.
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.
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!
Anyone who knows me knows my affinity for coffee. Oh, just give me a good, strong cup of coffee sweetened just right, and I’ll be your best friend! It’s such a warm, comforting drink, and the extra pep of caffeine is exactly what I need sometimes to keep me going.
Slowly, over the course of the last year, I’ve begun to lose my taste for coffee. It’s strange. I’ve bought the expensive gourmet stuff … I’ve brewed the old fashioned Folgers. It’s just not the same. Even more strange … it would taste amazing every now and then, but only when I used a big spoonful of sugar. Unfortunately, if I do that everyday, I end up with blood sugar drops a couple of hours later that have me gobbling up something to compensate, so that my hands will stop trembling and I won’t hit the floor with dizziness. If I don’t have sugar in the mornings, I don’t have blood-sugar drops.
I’ve tried creamers. I’ve used dairy and non-dairy. I got used to stevia to cut back on sugar. I’ve sometimes even dumped enough sugar in there to count it as a dessert. Still, slowly, my love for it progressed into tolerating it out of the sake of habit.
Recently I went through a 10-day detox as part of The Daniel Plan, and it required cutting out all sugars and sweeteners. My first cup of coffee following the detox was tasty (thanks to the added sugar), but the next day I started using stevia again. I just couldn’t handle the bitterness. I cut the decaf/caf measurements to 3/4 decaf and 1/4 caf, and still had outrageous heart reactions.
Today I tried something different. I love tea every now and then, but I have to be in the mood for it. Considering I couldn’t seem to get my coffee “right” anymore (and coffee drinkers will all agree that their cup needs to be “right” to be enjoyable). So I took advantage of the super-fun gift a friend gave me recently. It’s called … wait for it … TEAZE. (No, it’s not the ’80’s Canadian Rock Band).
It diffuses the tea, and then you set the thing over your mug, and it releases the perfect cup of tea from the bottom. It’s SO. MUCH. FUN.
I don’t usually like tea in the mornings because the flavor just isn’t strong enough. Today was totally different. It tasted PERFECT. I added a little almond milk and a dusting of stevia. Oddly, I couldn’t taste the bitterness of the stevia in the tea, and it was absolutely perfect. My heart didn’t go nuts from the caffeine, and honestly, I felt so fancy.
The “favorites” shift doesn’t just extend to coffee, though. It goes to my clothes, too. The stuff that used to be my favorite all of a sudden I’m like, “Why did I ever wear this? I don’t even like it!” Then I started searching online, getting ideas for what I DO like. A devastating reality hit me … I don’ t even KNOW WHAT I LIKE.
Kris has a beautiful coworker with a golden heart who sent some clothes to me through him. At first, I didn’t even allow myself to try them on, then I took a couple out of the bag, fell madly in love with them, then put them back, because they were JUST. SO. PRETTY. and I thought she was interested in selling them. I didn’t feel good about spending money on myself, and plus, I was in a tough place emotionally, and I was so frustrated with my own body. To prevent self-inflicted salt rubbed into an already aching wound, I just sent them back.
Oh, she wouldn’t have that. She sent them right back to me through Kris (poor Kris, he’s such a good sport!) and said I could just HAVE them. My eyes welled up with tears … could she really be serious?? They were all so beautiful, and made my own clothes I’d had for years look like rags! My “favorites shift” was so drastic, walking into my closet almost felt like I’d walked into the closet of a stranger … but it was all MY stuff! It made me feel confused, like I didn’t even know myself. It made me wonder if something were wrong with me! I finally allowed myself to try on the clothes she sent, and everything FIT PERFECTLY. I couldn’t believe it. They made me feel so pretty, and I hadn’t felt pretty like that in quite a while. Then … I couldn’t help it … I cried. I was so overwhelmed by her kindness, and was deeply blessed by her generosity. She had no idea the struggle I’d been having, my clothes, and my personal sense of style. It was such a well-timed gift, from God through her, and I was both humbled and grateful. My favorites now come from the bag she gave to me, and it helped me get an idea of what I DO like.
Here’s another “favorites” shift … I used to thing nonfiction books, particularly religious or self-help ones, were SOOOOO BOOOOOOOORING. I’d open one up, needing to give it a try, because the content seemed to really be something I needed to hear. Then I’d become aware that I’d just read the same paragraph eight times because I was mentally drifting while reading. A good fiction book was something I could finish in just a couple of days. Fiction audiobooks were LIFE. Welp, now I can’t get enough of podcasts, (hello, Crime Junkies!) and nonfiction books are all I want to read! I’m zooming through them by the stacks each week. Christian books by authors such as Nabeel Qureshi, Francis Chan, and John Piper are incredibly energizing and exciting to read.
I guess as the years go by, our tastes change. I just never expected it to be so sudden and drastic.
So what do you do when your favorites suddenly aren’t your favorites anymore?
You roll with it, explore, find your new favorites, and move on! It’s all part of personal growth, and honestly, it’s a super-fun adventure!
Today is the first day following the conclusion of the 10-Day Daniel Detox. All in all, it was a huge success! I was super-nervous when I stepped on the scale because I was so afraid that there wouldn’t be any change, or *gasp* I could have possibly even gained! I was THRILLED with what I saw.
There was a total of 5 pounds lost!! My goal for the whole month of January was 5 pounds. This goal was achieved after just 10 days of the detox. I am SOLD on this plan!
The first thing I did this morning was get up early, and brew a pot of coffee (half decaf and half regular, as I used to do, due to a heart condition aggravated by too much caffeine). I got my spot on the couch settled with my Bible and a library-rented commentary (one of these days I’m going to buy one for myself). I got out my immersion blender and prepared to froth almond milk for my coffee. Y’all, I researched milk frothing for an hour the other night, preparing for this day. I was so excited.
I put the milk in a tall cup, and hoped like crazy it wouldn’t be too loud for the sleeping members of my family. I put the blender in, turned it on, and … immediately unplugged it and took it into the laundry room, shutting the door behind me. It was so loud in the silent house! But I was determined to have my frothed milk. Crouching on the floor, I plugged in the blender and got to work. When the milk was about double its size, the coffee was done, and ready for the perfect cup. I added stevia, instead of sugar, and thought it would compensate well for the Almond Joy I had prepared.
I didn’t really see these treats as “undoing” what I had accomplished during the detox. I had already decided to allow two sweet treats per week – Mondays and Fridays. This would be my Monday treat. That first sip of coffee was pretty glorious. I’d made it a little too strong (maybe a little over-zealous in the preparation), and the Almond Joy was great. Not magical … just, mediocre. Meh. I was very strongly tasting the bitterness of the stevia, however, so I added a half-teaspoon of sugar to my coffee (again, it’s part of the treat for the day), and that made it better.
When my husband woke up thirty minutes later, he asked me how I felt about the Reese’s Cups. I told him I’d only had the Almond Joy, so he asked me to try one of the mini cups. So I did. Again … mediocre. I tried a Reese’s Christmas Tree. It was good, but just generally unimpressive. I was caught between bored with my treats, and kind of astounded. Normally, I’d gobble up all three Christmas Trees without hesitation and would savor every bite. I told Kris I could just have easily gone without it.
And then, I was wishing pretty badly I’d gone without it. Deep nausea suddenly hit me. It felt like my stomach had pitched upside down. I quickly reheated the leftover baby potatoes from the night before, hoping a “proper” breakfast would help settle the yuck. It did help, but the a second problem began after another thirty minutes.
My heart began racing out of my chest, pumping so hard I could hear my own pulse in my ears, and my hands began to tremble. I mean, this is the amount of coffee that I’d previously determined was fine, and didn’t seem bothersome to my heart. Today, however, it had an adverse effect. I t made me feel extremely dizzy, and I did’t like it at all. Every few minutes, I felt equivalent to an adrenaline rush, followed by an uncomfortably racing, pounding heart.
Nope, I’m done. And to top it off, I’d gotten a brand new bag of coffee yesterday at Aldi, and had opened it fresh today. Looks like I’ll be giving it to a neighbor or tossing it.
Now, over three hours later, my heart is still racing, I’m still shaky, still dizzy, and my stomach is still feeling very nasty.
I’m 100% positive that even a little caffeine contributes to a sense of anxiety, so … as I stated in my last post, I’m being conscious of what contributes to anxiety. It looks like I’ll be avoiding caffeine. I can’t wait to see how much that will help anxiety. Thank you, God, for showing me all of this!
Ultimately, here’s what I attribute to success for this plan:
God. I mean, this on is obvious. Taking care of the vessel God gave me is my primary motive, and I prayed over this endeavor throughout the whole thing. Jesus is the answer to everything.
“Secret Sauce”. This is something I’ve always underestimated when it came to weight loss. The Daniel Plan says that doing this with friends is the “secret sauce” of success. It’s totally true. I thought maybe it required gathering a group of women to do this with me … and where would I find that? All my friends have their own lives, their own plans, their own goals and ways of doing things. How would I convince anyone to do this with me? So … I asked my husband. Without hesitation, he jumped right on board with me (likely regretting it by day 3). He stuck with it, we encouraged each other, and I’m pretty sure we both would have quit by day 8, declaring that we “get the picture” and there was no reason to continue on such a stringent plan for two more days. We stuck it out, and we’re both so proud.
Staying on-plan.We didn’t cheat. We went all the way, completely through. It’s been a very, very long time since I’ve followed through with any kind of eating plan (for reasons I’ve stated before). This one just plain worked. Which brings me to my last attribution …
It was the best fit.The Daniel Plan is, without a doubt, the plan that just plain works for us. The Detox-stage of the plan challenged my thinking about cooking and about food in general. It challenged my attitude about cooking and food, as well. It also challenged me spiritually, all in good ways. Every diet claims to be a “lifestyle” change sustainable for life, but I’ve found not a single one of them to be true. For me, anyway. The Daniel Plan, however, is most certainly one I can sustain for life. Now that the Detox is over, we can incorporate the foods we abstained from back into our diet, but with HUGE changes. Believe me, it will be definitely be within moderation. Also, the foods added back in will be on a “trial” basis … if it has negative effects, I’ll stay away from it completely.
Now, it’s time to begin the Daniel Plan, which is the plan that continues for life. The majority of the time, we will simply eat wholesome, fresh foods the way we’ve done on the Detox. I haven’t even been tracking calories. The plan calls for the “Daniel Plate” for each meal, a smartly-portioned method for viewing each meal:
Now, I’ll be honest … I really don’t see how this could be feasible for every single meal. I can be very black-and-white with this kind of thing. I wanted to shake the book and say, “So what exactly are the rules? Tell me the exact plan!” Maybe that’s the beauty of this plan, though … its flexibility. I mean, if I want an omelet for breakfast, I don’t see how vegetables can make up half of that meal. It makes sense, however, if you think about it in terms of how your food looks for the entire day. It especially makes sense when I’m making a dinner plate.
The book has a great 40-day meal plan that allows you to adhere to this perfectly. Following a pre-made meal plan is too complicated for me. However, reading over it did give me a good idea for how to plan my own days, however. It helped me “get it”.
The Daniel Plan is definitely my plan going forward … not as a temporary diet, but as a positive habit.