Friday, February 27, 2015

A Weekend for Us

After being busy the past few weeks, we finally have a weekend devoted just to family and it will be a refreshing change.

Today, I have a few errands to run, along with one of my last chiropractic visits (hopefully).   I'm dragging Collin along with me because the guys have a gig today at one of our favorite facilities.   It's a retirement home, not a nursing home, so the atmosphere is a little more festive than some.   I love getting a chance to sit for an hour and hear some great music and visit with friends.   It's a nice change during the middle of the day.

 The last time they played at this facility, they had double the regular crowd, which was great.   Some of the residents don't come out until they hear the familiar sound of songs they recognize from years ago and then they slowly start venturing out into the gathering room.   It always warms my heart to see their faces and watch them sing along.

On Saturday, we will actually be at home!

One of the things I love about being home on Saturdays is the way it feels to just work around the house.   It's especially great when the weather is cool and sunny and lends itself to opening the front and back doors and letting the fresh air come through the screens.   There truly is nothing like an old house with the windows and doors open and a breeze blowing through the rooms.   It absolutely takes you back to another time.

On Saturdays when David is working outside on the land or a car or whatever he finds that needs some attention around here, I love getting in the kitchen and making sure he has good food to greet him during the day.

In the evening I turn on WSM on my ipad and listen to the Opry Live from Nashville and it just brings that old fashioned feeling to our home, even more.     If you've never been, put it on your bucket list, because it's the heart of country music and it's worth the trip.

Sunday we will go to church and then head over to Baytown to see Ted lead worship at his church.

There is nothing like being in the presence of God, while having your son usher you into worship.     I'm pretty sure David and I will never get tired of hearing Ted sing.   I just wish it could be more often.

As a bonus, we will get to take he and Alex out to lunch and hopefully get to visit with our friends, the Moorings too.   I love their church and the people there and I couldn't have asked for a better family to support our kids.

In other news.......
I had to pick up this book this morning and start reading.    It's been catching my eye the past few days and I was trying to avoid it, since I'm in the middle of two other books right now.   But, it keeps calling me (not really, but I can't seem to stop looking over at it) and so I gave in and read the first chapter and now I'm hooked.

Already, just within the first few pages, it is speaking directly to how I've been feeling lately.

I'm pretty sure this is the time that I'm supposed to be reading it.   I've had it for at least 6 months, but now seems to be it, so I'm diving in and the other books will have to take a little break.

The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands   -     By: Lysa TerKeurst

I had a great visit with a friend yesterday.

I fixed lunch and dessert and we just sat and talked for hours about kids and church and whatever else she and I were each dealing with in our lives.

Spending time with friends is something that every woman needs to do.

I don't care how busy you are......if you are too busy to find time to sit with a friend and renew that part of you, then you are too busy!

Well, it's time to move on with my day.

I hope you have a great weekend and find time to be refreshed and renewed and rested.

And, if you're too busy to slow down, then take something off your plate, rearrange your priorities, ditch the super woman thing and take a break!

Your family will thank you and so will your mind and soul.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Fun With Notebooks

I love to work with paper!  In fact - I'm really a paper fanatic.

I will always choose pen and paper over electronics and a real book over digital.

If I could ever open my own business, it would be a paper store, where I would sell cute, fun and whimsical patterns of paper, gel pens in all colors, tags of all shapes, notebooks, planners and journals of all sorts.

Did I mention that I love paper?

This love affair has been going on as far back as I can remember.    Books, paper, school supplies, scrapbooking and on and on it goes.

I even remember being a little girl and my dad would take me to this local restaurant where he drank coffee every morning.   The waitress there would always hand me one of the little order tablets, where she wrote down customer orders and I would pretend to write things there too.     Then my dad would order me a warm donut and.....well, that's another love story, for another post (sugar!).

Just recently, over the past year, I've been making these cute little notebooks for all sorts of occasions.

They are so much fun to make!

I buy the notebooks when they are on sale, and use paper and supplies that I have on hand.    If I need one with a specific theme, then I will go to the craft store and find the stickers and paper that matches that need.

I use them for taking notes when I'm reading a book, for prayer needs and answers, for writing ideas, for journaling, for organization, and for gifts.

They are so compact that you can really have one for every need and have plenty of room on the shelf to store them.

In fact, I think my next one will be a Menu/Grocery Book.   Hmmmm.......I may have just discovered my latest theme.

I'll let you know......

A Mild Soap Box Rant

I used to have a category here on the blog titled Soap Box, but I recently took it off and actually deleted all the posts.   However, sometimes you just need to get some things off your mind and your chest and the only way to do that is to either tell someone or write it down (it's what bloggers do), so today I will be stepping up on my box again......just I can move on.

Sometimes things just bug you, you know?  

Maybe you don't say anything because they seem small enough, but then all those small enough things start to pile up and they keep piling until you can't move past them anymore and you're about to explode!

Here are a few of the things in my pile lately:

* People that ask my husband if he's a "real cowboy".  
Seriously?   He wears a hat, boots, drives a truck (and a sports car), has ridden horses all his life, knows how to plant seed and bale hay, so if that makes him a cowboy - then YES - he's a cowboy!   However, we live in TEXAS!  Everyone wears hats and boots and has land and sometimes horses and cows.    It's just what we do!    If you have to ask - then you must be from another planet.....or at least "up North" - because real Texans don't ask each other that dumb question!

*Women that look at you with a look of "Yeah Right" on their face, the entire time you're talking.
If this is your natural, skeptic way of looking, then you need to do a few excercises in the mirror, to train your face to not be so rude!    I mean, I am not good at hiding my feelings, but this is an arrogant look that speaks volumes and the message is loud and clear....."You're an Idiot! I'm Better! I Don't Believe You!"    Tell your face to get some manners!

*People who seem to want to dictate to you how you should spend your time.
This has been really weighing on my heart lately.   I am a housewife.  This IS my job.   I'm a mom. This TOO is my job.   I am not at home watching soaps on the couch.   I am basically the C.O.O. of my home.   I am the planner, the shopper, the maid, the chef, the teacher, the lover, the accountant, the driver, the birthday card buyer, the party planner, the errand runner, the pet carrier, the nutritionist, the dietitian, the decorator and whatever else needs doing that doesn't involve a mower, tractor or tools.     This is what I do ALL day, EVERY day!   Not to mention - I am responsible for my child's education!

This means that when you nonchalantly throw out things that YOU think I should be doing and I get the look of a deer in the headlights in my eyes - it's because you just flipped my switch and all of the above duties are now scrolling across my brain, frantically trying to squeeze in that THING which YOU think I should be able to squeeze in.  

And, you know what?   I'm DONE!

You can invite, you can suggest, you can plead your case as to why - but if I don't feel it's the best decision for me and my family or if that ONE MORE THING is going to send me spiraling over the edge of sanity - then I'm NOT doing it!  

And, if I say NO, then please respect my NO and quit asking!  

I'm a grown woman.   I've successfully raised one child, taught him all the way from kindergarten to graduation, and am successfully raising one more (and two years away from graduation).   I've managed an entire household on one income for 22 years now (I worked outside the home before that) through 3 job losses, 5 moves, 2 c-sections, the loss of two dads and multiple other relatives.  I've watched my brother suffer with cancer for years now, watched my dad wither away to nothing, watched my father-in-law die right across the driveway and my uncle die of Alzheimers.

My point is - I'm grown.   I know what I need, know how to get it, know what works for my family and what doesn't.

I make choices based on my capabilities to continue being the wife, mom, daughter, sister, and friend that I feel God wants ME to be and when someone acts like I NEED to do that thing that THEY feel is all important, then it gets me upset because it's like they don't value what I do or respect the fact that I am the best judge of what works for my home.

And, there you have it......

My soap box rant for this year (so far).

I don't write this to hurt anyone, blame anyone, or point fingers at anyone specific.   These are just things that have been adding up and need to be said - here in my safe place.

And now I will gracefully walk away and wait for the speculation to begin.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Vastness of God

Well, if you read my last post, you know I was heading for a Women's Retreat this weekend.
And, you also know that I had some reservations about a few things such as the beach and the constant crowd thing.   I will say that neither was as bad as I anticipated.    In fact, it all turned out to be a great blessing and I'm so glad I went.

This was the view from the beach house.   I don't dare call it a cabin....there was nothing cabin-ish about it!  In fact, it was modern and trendy and really nice, with more amenities than you would expect from a beach house, where you normally are supposed to be "roughing" it.  (I'm so glad I didn't have to rough it!)

The retreat was great!  Lots of great food, new friends, and some heart wrenching testimonies, mixed in with some great devotional talks and a few craft projects.   Oh, and lots of door prizes and a pajama parade too.   Good stuff!

But, I wanted to hear God on this trip.    Like up close and personal.  Afterall, to RETREAT means to withdraw, step back, seclude yourself for the purpose of prayer or safety or in the case of being a mother - to refuel!  And, I didn't want to leave this place, without having truly spent some time listening for God's voice.

Thankfully, the schedule called for a period of time to spend alone with the Lord.   All 33 women scattered in different directions.   Some sat in the same room - eyes closed and quiet, but some walked on the beach, sat on the pier, and I retreated up to the room I was staying in and sat right in front of the window.

And this was my view.

As beautiful as this is though, I couldn't focus.  I was tired and had the noise of lots of women in my head (that's the introvert in me) and I just couldn't get quiet enough to really hear what God was saying.

I tried to go over the devotional they provided for us, but I kept finding myself drawn to look out the window and stare at the waves.   No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get past the ocean and the enormity of it.

That's when this word came to mind.....VASTNESS.

Ok, is that you, God?   Yes, the ocean is vast, but how does that apply to you and me, right now?

And that's when God met me, right there, in front of that window and he said that this is a small representation of how big he is.   This VASTNESS that I keep being drawn to, is how big God's power, his love, his provision and his goodness are!  

God reminded me that He is without borders, without boundaries, with no end!   He is enormous and his abilities to take care of his children are enormous and what that meant in my life, at that moment, was that I could let go of feeling like the weight of everything rested on my shoulders, because God could handle it.

It took me a minute to really apply what God was saying but then I realized it's what I do in my daily life.   I tend to feel like I need to fix everything for everyone.   I need to pray and carry the burdens and encourage and love and I tend to take it all to a very serious level in my mind.    And, at the end of some days......I'm just worn out.   Mentally, spiritually, and all other kind of ways.

And, God said....."I never asked YOU to carry the weight of everyone else.   I've got this and I am VAST and without end and enormous and full of power and I can handle it!"

And, I sat there, listening and processing and feeling like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders and placed (rightly so) back in the hands of the most capable God.    And, it felt good.

I grabbed my phone and clicked on my music icon and listened to Ted's song, Through It All, and just worshiped to the words that he penned awhile back.   The message is clear - "My Jesus, through it all  - you are with me through it all."

And, the last note I wrote in my notebook before going back downstairs was this:

"Lord, help me to pray,
but teach me to trust."

Then I closed the book and thanked Him for meeting me this weekend.   It's exactly what I needed.

Friday, February 20, 2015

I'm Retreating This Weekend - Into a Crowd of Women!

Some days I wake up and I just feel like I need something.   Well, COFFEE, for sure!  But, something else.....something deeper, that's going to reach the inside.  

It's almost like my heart is hungry for connection.   Not the connection I have with the Lord - that is a constant need and desire.   And, not the connection with my husband or kids - that's a given too.

It's more of a desire to connect with women - but on a deeper level than Facebook or in passing, here and there.  

It's that connection to know someone else's heart and for them to know mine.

Does that really even take place anymore?   I know it does, but it almost feels like you have to schedule it or it won't get done.   You know what I mean?

Even though I'm an introverted person and love my quiet, alone time, I still love to connect with friends on a regular basis.   If I don't, I just feel like I'm missing something.

Introverts don't like small talk, so all the chatter and chit-chat that tends to go on among women in social settings, doesn't feed me at all.    In fact, it's quite unnerving!  (Anyone relate?)

That's why this weekend is going to be interesting.

I'm leaving today for a Women's the BEACH, no less (not a fan) and I'm certain there will be LOTS of chit chat going on!  

I have mixed emotions as I think of meeting new people and having to carry on conversations (please, no one drone on about the weather!!!!!).

I know I'm going to have a good time and I'm actually excited about the event......I'm just a little apprehensive about being "ON" for the next 30 hours straight!   (This may call for a lonely stroll along the beach).

To you social butterflies, this will make no sense and you will read this and think that I'm strange.   But, to're strange too (saying it with total love :)

It's what makes the world go round!  

Seriously, can you imagine a world full of constant talkers?   OH MY STARS - poke my ears out!

The world needs balance and therefore, God made all kinds!

ANYWAY.....back to the retreat.....I'm looking forward to connecting with those I know, and hopefully, those I don't.   Who knows....maybe I'll make some new (introverted) friends who get me. They'll be easy to spot.....they'll be the ones looking like they would rather be anywhere but in a room full of strangers.  

And, I guess if all we do is talk and eat.....well...that's not so bad either!

Oh, and I hope they have coffee.    That seems to make things better too.

(If you're don't have to talk!)

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Navigating the Last Few Years of Homeschooling

I had a few friends over yesterday to talk about homeschooling and a new phase we are all about to enter

First off, to have friends who do what you do and understand the homeschooling lifestyle is a must, if you're going to survive this journey!   You must surround yourself with like-minded people, who respect the struggles, the victories and the differences that each family faces, as we navigate our own roads of teaching our children.    Each journey is unique and every home is different.

That being said, we all eventually get to the season where we have to ask - college or no college - and then make our decisions based on that answer.    There's a lot to consider.

Specifically, our conversation yesterday was focused on Dual Credit.  This has become a popular choice among home educated families, for various reasons.   Most of all, because it just makes sense!

Each year, we have to shop for curriculum, navigate choices of courses, books, schedules, and activities and therefor, it just makes sense to combine whatever courses you can, in order to save money, time and effort.

The homeschooled student can knock out high school and complete college basics, at the same time, not only eliminating high fees and tuition, but avoiding liberal professors and some of the other junk one has to put up with, on a college campus, these days.  

Choosing to do dual credit also helps the homeschooling parent lay out the plans for each school year, based on what actually applies to the goal, instead of wasting time on courses that don't necessarily fit into the graduation/college plan.    It can be a good guide, in other words.

My friend Lorie, whom I invited to come speak to us, shared her experience from this past year, as her 16 year old son worked with Dual Credit at Home, a 49 week course, designed by a fellow homeschooling mom.

I'm not going to lay out all the details of the course here (click the link above), but I will just compare the best part to another program I used with my oldest son, and say that I like this one much better.

With Dual Credit at Home, you actually receive lesson plans each Monday, which guide the student through the day by day process of studying for each exam (CLEP exams).   This is a HUGE benefit to a homeschooling mom!

With a previous program we tried, you had a "coach" guiding you, as far as telling you what tests to prepare for and in what order, but it was left to the parent and student to lay out the actual schedule that would get you there.

I'm sure each mom would make the decision, based on what aspects she feels would benefit her and her child, the best.

Personally, I love the organization of Dual Credit at Home and the fact that every single day is lined out and self-explanatory.   This is essential preparation for the college bound student or just any young person entering into the working world.   They need to be able to look at the schedule for the day and follow the instructions, without an adult standing over them at all times.

I also appreciate that the creator of this program lays it out in a certain number of weeks.   This gives you an absolute guideline and goal, as opposed to an open-ended time frame.   In my experience, kids want to know that there is an actual ending to their misery! When they have the framework and a goal to reach that has a tangible ending, I think they have a better view of where they're going and how to get there.   (This actually works for adults too!)

So, in conclusion, we have definitely decided to use this program over the next few years.

Collin is ready to move toward his future and he actually sees college as a part of that, so we will be jumping in with both feet sometime this year.

It's exciting to see the maturity in your child (who still eats Cheetos and lives for anything Nintendo) and see them get excited over pursuing their dreams.

We still have a few years to go, but I can finally see the light at the end of the homeschool tunnel!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Book Review - For The Right Reasons by Sean Lowe

I finished this book a few days ago and left it sitting on my desk so I wouldn't forget to write the review.   However, every time I see the book, I get excited for about a second, thinking it's still going on, but then reality hits and I remember that I've already finished it!  Sound crazy?

Well, the truth is.....that's how great this book was!   I could have read another couple of chapters and still wanted more!

Let me preface this review by saying that I'm a "reality tv" fan!   I keep up with the shows as much as I have time for and The Bachelor is one of my favorites!

So.....when I saw For The Right Reasons as one of my review choices (Thanks BookLook!), I knew it couldn't get here fast enough!

Bachelor Sean Lowe was a fan favorite.   He was cute and sweet and a Christian who wasn't afraid to let people know about his faith.

But also, he was just a normal guy before going on the show.   To me, this makes him that much more interesting.

In the book, Sean explains his normal life before his sister and brother-in-law decided to submit his name to the application process of the show.     He was floored when they told him what they had done!

This was not an aspiration of his, although he knew that God had to have more for him than just a 9-5 office job, which is why he agreed to go through the interview process when the producers of the Bachelorette called.  He truly was just an ordinary guy, out of college and trying to make his way in the business world.

When he made it through the screening process of the show, he had no idea that he would end up in third place on that season of the Bachelorette.   Of course, he was sent home heartbroken, but that led to the next adventure as The Bachelor.   Now he would be the one picking and choosing!

Sean shares all the behind the scenes aspects, which I thoroughly enjoy, because I love knowing how it all works compared to what the tv audience gets to see.  This is my favorite part of the book (well.....the love story is a plus too).

This book will answer any curiosity you've had about how this particular show works and will lead you through the process of Sean finding his (now) wife, Catherine AND how she became a Christian as a result of their story.

It's a great love story as well as a great testimony to how God uses many avenues to get us to where he wants us and to the people we are meant to have in our lives.

And, if reality tv can lead you, not only to the one meant for you, but lead them to their Lord and Savior, Jesus - then it was all worth the effort.

I'm sure Sean would agree!

This is a great read and one I highly recommend.

**This book was provided by BookLook in exchange for my honest opinion and review.**
If you're interested in reviewing books for BookLook, click on their box on the right side of this blog and sign up!

Monday, February 16, 2015

True Love

Love was in the air this weekend, with Valentine's Day going strong.

There were flowers, cards and candy popping up in pictures everywhere.   People sharing what their sweethearts gave them and how blessed they were to have one another and it made me stop and think about some things pertaining LOVE.

LOVE is wonderful.

LOVE makes you happy.

LOVE changes your life.

But LOVE is more than being giddy and sappy and seeing the best side of someone.

True LOVE is different than what we see in movies.

It's not glamorous.  In fact, at times, it can get downright dirty.

It's not always fun.  Sometimes it is not fun at all.

It's hard work and selfless.   There is no room for ego when it comes to LOVE.

TRUE LOVE is standing by someone when the going gets tough, you know....the whole "for better or for worse" thing.

TRUE LOVE is tending to someone when they're sick.

TRUE LOVE is staying to talk, when you really want to walk out.

TRUE LOVE is looking past the weight gain and the hair loss and saying "You're more beautiful every day."

TRUE LOVE is knowing the imperfections of a person and loving them anyway.

TRUE LOVE is walking through death and sickness and chemo and nursing homes and hospitals and being so tired you can't think straight and then doing it all over again the next day.

TRUE LOVE is taking turns with a screaming baby, even though you have to work the next day.

TRUE LOVE is clinging to one another when a child goes astray.

These are the things TRUE LOVE is made of......experiencing the scars and wounds of life and yet, still breathing, still loving and still present.

If you see a couple who look a little beat up......but they still have a spark in their eye and a smile for one've seen a couple with TRUE LOVE.

Blessings today,

Friday, February 13, 2015

A Holy Makeover

Have you ever felt like you needed a makeover?   I know I have!

In fact, there was a time when I thought I would be the perfect candidate for What Not To Wear and I was willing to nominate myself!   Afterall, I'm not sure David would have been brave enough to do it for me.

I think every woman has contemplated getting made over; changing something about herself that she just doesn't feel comfortable with or just to see what the "new me" would look like.

In a recent conversation, a lady was mentioning that she just needed a change in her life.  She wanted time away, time to think, time to figure things out.   I had to ask if she was spending any time with the Lord and though she somewhat answered me by agreeing that she needed to, she quickly moved on to another topic, leaving me to believe that she wasn't really up for what I was trying to say.

And that's ok.   The Lord can work on her better than I can.

But, it left me thinking about the emptiness of trying to fill a hole with something other than a relationship with Christ.    It just doesn't work.

Nothing is going to change your life, your circumstances, your outlook or your attitude, like spending time with God.   Nothing!

There is no destination, no fancy make-up, no hair color, no designer clothing, no pair of shoes - not one thing is going to make you more attractive than the glow you are going to get from spending time in God's word and living out that word, in your daily life.

You can search, you can run, you can change things and rearrange things, but you will never achieve the best YOU until you are filled with HIM.  

In Exodus 34:29-35, Moses met with the Lord, face to face, and when he came away from that meeting, the Bible says "his face was radiant because he had spoken to the Lord."

How awesome is that?!!

Ladies, there is nothing more beautiful than a woman living for the Lord!

Being in God's presence can change your attitude toward others (your husband will appreciate this).
It can change the way you see yourself (which makes you healthier).
It can change the way you deal with trials (it gives you hope).
It can feed that empty part of you (and keep you from searching in wrong places).

Being in the presence of the Lord can make you GLOW!

Now THAT's a makeover worth investing in!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Potential of Junk!

 Remember this fence piece that David and I picked up a few weeks ago?

Well, I finally got around to decorating it.

I picked up a few things from Hobby Lobby......

and gathered a few things from around the back porch.

I just kind of played with what I had, to see how it would all work....

(I will be planting some things in these little holders!)

And, the finished product.......

I'm sure this will evolve over time, but I think once I get some flowers in all the buckets and some grass starts to grow, it will look fuller and really cute.

Ahh.....the potential of junk!