Thursday, April 23, 2015

Cross Some Things Off Your List Today!

What would happen today if you crossed everything off your To-Do list that didn't really matter in the big picture of life?

*Things that you've made complicated, that really don't need to be.

*Things that you want, that truthfully, will just add more clutter to your life.

*Things that have nothing to do with the goals God has set before you.

I guarantee there are some things like this on your calendar today!

Now, think about what you would be sacrificing if you kept those things on your list.....

Time with your spouse?
Time with your kids?
Time with your friends or family?
Time to sit and relax and breath?

I often sit back and ask myself, why I continually add things to my list of projects and the answer is, because I like to accomplish things.   I'm task oriented and it shows.

However, if I'm not careful and intentional, I can miss out on spending time with family and friends, all for the sake of getting something done.

So, how do you decide what to mark off the list?

Well, for me, it's a matter of not expecting so much out of myself.

For example - my heart's desire might be to make homemade goodies for a gift, when I could probably save myself time (and stress) if I would just go buy something nice and make a homemade card to add to it.  No, I won't look like Martha Stewart, but in the big picture of life - there can really only be one Martha Stewart, right?  And, what if that extra time I saved by buying a gift instead of making one, allowed me more time to sit and visit with that person?  Now THAT would be the better use of my time, don't you think?

Likewise, what if I quit stressing out over the meal plan each week, and made a simple menu of all of our favorite meals and just stuck with that?   Again - I won't be Betty Crocker or the Pioneer Woman, but....well, you get the picture!  It's not so much that I serve some elaborate meal every night or that I make a menu worthy of a Pinterest entry, but more so, that I feed my guys and we spend a little time enjoying a meal together.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

I'll blame it on the internet!

The more we see the creativity of others, the more we feel that we need to measure up and the more we feel like a failure!

So, here's an idea.....quit trying to measure up!

Quit adding things to your calendar and to-do list, that don't really matter to anyone but you!

Instead, start marking off time to work on your friendships, relationships, marriage and spending real time with your kids.

In the big picture of life, these are the things that are going to yield the biggest blessings!

Now, go get your calendar and start marking off some things!  I'll be right behind you, doing the same thing!

Have a great (non-rushed) day!


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

My Latest Article

Here's what I've been working on lately......writing articles.......and my latest one is in this May issue of the Texas Homeschool Coalition's Review magazine!!

I love working with THSC staff because they are truly trouble free.   No lengthy contracts, no haggle, no nonsense.   Just simple, straightforward and always pleasant.

My article in this issue is titled, 
"Questions Every Home Schooling Mom Wishes You Would Ask."

The basic idea of the story is that homeschooling moms have so much more to say, besides just answering the ridiculous question of socialization.

In the article, I bring out the point that, when working moms are asked questions, they are usually questions like "How do you do it all?" and "Do you ever feel like quitting and staying home?" or "How was your day?"

When society asks a homeschooling mom a question, it usually amounts to something like, "Do your kids have friends?"  or "How will they learn to stand in line?" (serious question, believe it or not!)

For the life of me, I can't figure out how people, in this day and time, don't realize how stupid those types of questions are!  And, they are so insulting!

The gist of the article, is to make the point that homeschooling moms are no different in the ways that they work hard, get tired, want to quit, struggle with balancing life, work, school, dinner and everything else that working moms do, but yet, we get disrespected and asked if we take our kids out in public.

I go on to point out that we would love for someone to ask us a legitimate question or two, about what we do, how we manage, what a day is like at our house, and do we ever feel like throwing in the towel.    Those are questions that would lead to a homeschooling mom being able to share her heart about her work.

Isn't that what we are always advocating for working moms and stay-at-home moms  -  that "mutual respect" thing?

So why leave homeschooling moms out of that circle of  "respect"?

What we need from our fellow mom friends (and society) is to recognize that what we do is legitimate work and it would be nice if someone took the time to get to know us and our passion for our "job".

You might be surprised at the bond that could be created.....if only someone took the time to ask.

And that is what my article is all about!

If you're not a member of the Texas Homeschool Coalition, you probably didn't get this magazine in your mailbox, but the good news is, they will put it on the website in the upcoming months  and you can check it out online when they do.

In the meantime, if you have any homeschooling friends, spend some time getting to know them a little better, by asking them questions that will shine light on what they're passionate about.

They might initially have a shocked look on their face, but it could lead to some true mom-bonding, in the end.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Rested and Ready!

We had a pastor who often said "If you haven't been through a trial lately, hang on, because it's coming!"

I'm sure he wasn't trying to scare us, but rather, was trying to prepare us for this little fact of life - trouble comes and goes.  It's not IF the storm comes, but WHEN it will.

If you read Joshua, Chapter 1, you will find that the Lord wants us to "not be terrified", when the challenges of life come our way.  Why? Because "the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." (v.9)

I don't know about you, but just knowing that God is with me, when the storm hits, brings me great comfort.   I can't think of a better companion to have in the boat, than God!

But, the Lord doesn't just say that he'll do all the work for you; he has an assignment for you and wants you to be READY to ride the waves with him.

In verses 6-9, the Lord explains to Joshua how to be ready, strong and courageous, for the task the Lord is about to give him.   He gives him several directives:

*Be careful to obey the law of Moses (the Ten Commandments)
*Meditate on the Word of God, day and night

In other words - obey what the Lord has taught you and read his word, so you will know him and his promises.

He goes on to say....."Then you will be prosperous and successful."

Does this mean the trial will be no big deal?  That everything will come out perfectly?  

Sometimes, but not necessarily.

Remember, God sees the big picture and we only see a small piece.

Trials are hard and sometimes they rob us of something and we feel like we come out on the bottom.  But, all the more reason to trust God and know his word, so you can know his character and the fact that he loves you abundantly.

The beautiful thing is, that God also gives us a time of rest; a time when we can step out of the battle or the storm and recharge.

He knows we need this.   He knows we need rest and reprieve, if we are to stay strong and ready.

Joshua 1:13 says, "The Lord your God is giving you rest..."

I love this verse!

He goes on to say, in v.15, "until the Lord gives them rest", which again, reiterates the fact that God knows what we need.

He knows that we can't constantly be in battle.  He knows that we will grow weary and tired and need a rest from the trials of life.    He is a good God.

But, even while we are in a period of REST, we can be maintaining a state of being READY.

We can obey him in the good times; living according to his standards and his ways.   We can also read his word and gain the knowledge we need, for the hard times to come.   It's so important to know God's track record!  We want to know his character and the fact that he is faithful and trustworthy. We need to read accounts of his power and his creativity.   We need to know that he loves us in such a way, that he was willing to give his son, as a replacement for our sin's punishment. We need to know this God who gave everything for us!   That's what reading his word does for us.

So, whether you are getting ready for battle or resting in the sweet time of reprieve, know that God is with you.   He's in the boat, on the battle field, and even quietly next to you, as you rest.

"Be strong and courageous.  
Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged,
 for the Lord your God will be with you
 wherever you go." 
Joshua 1:9

Monday, April 20, 2015

How Will You Be Described?

If someone had to use a few words to describe you, what do you think they would say?

Would they say you were humble, organized, frantic, late, calm, focused or gracious?

Or what about reliable, ditzy, present, together, on time, or willing?

Like it or not, someone is using words to describe you and those words are directly tied to the impression you've given and the decisions you've made.

Yikes!  That's a wake-up call!

The good news is, you can have a say-so in the way others see you and therefore, describe you, if you really want to.

In Lysa Terkeurst's book, The Best Yes, she explains it this way.......

"Great descriptions are birthed from great decisions.
The decisions we make, make the lives we live."

As much as we can say that we don't care what people think of us, we really do.

All of us want to leave a good impression with someone, whether at work, socially, at church or in the community.   

Admit it.....we care.

And, if we would realize that our description is directly related to decisions we make, maybe we will start making better or different decisions.

Hey, we are all in the market for improvement!

Here's an example:

If you are always performing that not-so-amazing feat of multi-tasking and it's forever causing you to over schedule yourself and therefore, you're always running've made a name for yourself.    LATE!

On the other hand, if you plan your day, organize your steps, slow down and prioritize, you will be ON TIME and gain a reputation of being so.

It just takes you making better decisions and carrying them out.

Here's another example of how our decisions create our description:

If you are always saying "YES" to anything and everything, yet you never follow through on any of the things you've said "yes"'ve just described yourself, unintentionally, as UNRELIABLE.

Whether it's a people-pleasing disease you have or a need to be included (and you don't want to miss out), if you start but don't finish, then you'll be known as being unreliable and people will realize they can't count on you.   

This is not the legacy you want to leave!

The good news is that these things are FIXABLE!

All you have to do is make better decisions.

Great decisions come from not being pulled too thin, not making hasty decisions, not being rushed and not letting the urgent take over your life.

Great decisions come from knowing what direction you're moving in and always moving in that direction, by saying YES to those things that will get you there.

And, that brings you full circle, back to saying YES to the best and NO to the rest!

I mean, let's get real.....

You can't say YES to everything and still be sane.  Or reliable.  Or on time.  Or really present at what you're doing.   

It's just not possible.

So, take your time, think things through, make good decisions, say YES to only the best things that move you in the right direction and be deliberate.

Afterall, you're building your life and your life will be described by words and you want them to bring about a great description from those who knew you and even those who don't.

And most of all....never forget whose representative you are.  

Now that's one reputation you don't want to tarnish!

Think about it.

In The Kitchen - Butterscotch Pound Cake - YUM!

Today I want to share a cake recipe with you, that I've been making for over 20 years.

I got this recipe from a friend when I was a young bride and it's been with me through thick and thin, (and that's all about my weight, not my marriage)!

In fact, some of the best recipes I have, are still the ones I acquired early in my marriage, by my fellow "newly married" friends.   We were all using recipes from our moms, grandmas, aunts or that awesome church cookbook and they were tried and true.

I call this a Butterscotch Pound Cake, but honestly, I'm not even sure if that's correct.  All I know is it's simple and it's amazing!

First, gather your ingredients....

1 boxed cake mix (Yellow, or Butter work best)
Whatever ingredients the cake calls for (on the box) (Butter, eggs, water)
1/2 package Butterscotch chips
Cooking spray (with flour works best)
Bundt pan

Mix the cake, according to directions on the box (without Butterscotch chips).

After the cake is mixed, pour half the bag of chips into the batter and fold gently, mixing the chips in thoroughly.

Spray your bundt pan with cooking spray and pour the batter in the pan.

Next, leave a little bit of mix in the bowl so your husband can lick it, because apparently, his mother never left any for him to lick and this really bothered him.   You're welcome, David.

Bake according to the box directions and check with a toothpick to make sure the center is done.

The next step is VERY IMPORTANT.......put on a wire rack and let cool COMPLETELY before turning out, onto a plate!!

Take my word for will be a disaster, if you turn it while it's still hot or warm!

When the cake is completely cool, I use a rubber spatula to loosen the cake from the sides and then I hold the plate up to the pan and transfer the cake to the plate.

Sometimes bits of the topping (which are the melted Butterscotch chips) crumble and stick and you just have to spoon it back onto the cake.

The final step is to put it on a pretty plate, make a cup of coffee and ENJOY!

I hope you make one of these.......your mouth will thank you!


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Save Your Best Yes for God!

Today, as you head to church, beware of that woman who always seems to corner you on the know.....the one who wants you to do that "thing" next week.

Not that we shouldn't be ready to serve - but serve in the areas where GOD calls you to serve.....not the woman on the sidewalk.

There is a big difference between saying Yes to God and saying Yes to everyone else.

Have a great Sunday!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

My Tools

What do you think of when you hear the word TOOLS?

I think of men and hammers and saws and a ratty old tool belt or a rusty old tool box.   I think of my dad and my husband  - both of them handy with tools - and Saturdays spent working or fixing something.  

That's what I think of, when I hear the word tools.

But, when I think of myself, in regard to tools, I think of a much different set of items; but, nevertheless, things that help me build or fix or create things, in my own way.

So, today I want to introduce you to one of my favorite tools that I use each and every day and really think I'd be lost without planner.

More specifically......

My Passion Planner (that's it's real name).

The Passion Planner is a wonderful little tool I found by complete accident.    A friend posted a video from the Passion Planner website on Facebook and I took two minutes to watch it and literally fell in love (the kind of love you have for paper...or tools).

I knew it was exactly what I wanted, to keep me on track and help me keep up with some goals I had for the new year.

With multiple places to write personal goals, as well as work goals, the Passion Planner helps you keep your lists separate, so you can focus on several areas during the week.

Each two-page monthly calendar, lets you map out the goals for the month and gives you reminders in the margin, of what your big-picture goals were, at the beginning of the year.....also known as your....Passion Roadmap.

Your Passion Roadmap helps you chose goals, dates to meet those goals, and steps to getting to the finish line of each one.

The idea is to take these bigger goals and fill them into your monthly calendars, working on them throughout the year (or years), depending on whether they are long term or short.

The Roadmap is a great exercise to go through because it makes you stop and really think about the direction you're moving in and how you're going to get there.

You know what they say....writing it down has a way of helping put things in perspective and helps you remember what you want to do.

Simply thinking about your goals won't get you anywhere!

I also love the fact that there is plenty of room to write and draw and be creative, all while getting down to business.

I have had great fun decorating with colored tape and using all my favorite pens, while telling myself to scrub the floors on Tuesdays!   It just makes it all go down a little sweeter when you look at your list for the day and see bright colors and pretty flowers staring back at you, even among the words "scrub toilet".   Yeah, it helps.

Each month, the planner has a place for you to look back and analyze the events of the past month, with questions such as.....

"What were the three biggest lessons you learned in this past month?"
"Name three things you can improve on this coming month."
"How are you different this month, compared to last month?"

There are also inspirational quotes on the spread for each week, plus a place to write out the good things that took place (ahhh, the power of positive thinking, count your blessings, and all that good stuff!)

Overall, this is definitely the BEST planner I've ever owned (and boy, have I owned a LOT of them!)!!

If you're looking for a great TOOL (and not the kind you hammer nails with), then you might want to consider this one.

Every woman needs a good set of tools.   Afterall, we can't let the men have all the fun!

Happy Planning!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Biblical Womanhood - Revised

If you've noticed that my previous post titled Biblical Womanhood is gone, you're very observant!

Though I probably should have left parts of it here, because I 100% believe what I wrote to be true, I also let my emotions come across in a manner that might not make the author of the mentioned article, feel very good, if she were to visit this blog.   And, that is never my goal!

After corresponding with her in the comment section of her article, I got the picture that she was trying to focus on other aspects, than what I gleaned from her article.   Fair enough.

It's not my intention to argue over her perception or have her argue over mine, so's just easier to move on to other things.

I still want to reiterate the fact that I wholeheartedly believe that God has placed each of us in these designated places, times, positions, homes, cultures, etc., and that we should never assume that one culture is spiritually superior over another.  

Biblical Womanhood by definition is being the BEST woman you can be....RIGHT WHERE GOD PLACES YOU!  

If that's on the streets of Liberia or the Hollywood hills....WHEREVER....that's where He wants you to live and serve him with all of your might!   He has purpose for you right there!

So, keep working, keep fighting the battle he's allowed in your life and most of all, keep focused on your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

In the end, the only thing that really counts is your love for Him.

Blessings my friends!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

It's A Thing...

There's a new thing going around and though I forgot the official name of it, this new thing has also been called a Brain Dump (aka: worst name ever).

Regardless of the name, the process goes like wake up in the morning, immediately grab your journal and begin writing down every word and thought that comes to your freshly, awakened mind.

Supposedly, the thoughts are to be your purest, most authentic thoughts, because you haven't polluted your mind with everyone else's nonsense yet.

Personally, I think it's rubbish, but what do I know?

But, today......more specifically.... this afternoon, I am sitting here with my second cup of coffee (normally, I only have one in the p.m.) and about to use this method of sharing random thoughts that make no sense, with the hopes and expectations of ridding myself of all the negativity going on in my mind today.

Or, as I lovingly referred to it, to my dearest friend earlier.....a pity party for one.   She said she wished she could come over, so we could have a party for two, but she lives too far away, so add that to the list of "woe is me" today!

So, here are my random thoughts today.......

This picture makes me happy/sad.   I miss Ted.   Oh, I've gotten used to him being gone, but every now and then....I just miss him.   Add to that, seeing Collin grow up is killing me too (on some days), but I'm so proud of both of them, that I can't deny that the Lord has abundantly blessed me with amazing kids.  It's a MOM thing.

This is probably what made me emotional about the out some of their old school books, that we've had on the shelves for years.  

These books represent more than academics......these books represent countless hours with my boys, sitting in the livingroom, teaching and learning, discussing and praying and just enjoying the gift of homeschooling overall.   Now that Collin is moving on to Dual Credit, it's really time to make room for new books (college prep books!  Can you believe it?) and let go of some things.   This is an emotional event - this cleaning out of old school books.   It's a passage thing.  It's a homeschool mom thing too. 

Then there's this book.....MY textbook.    I love and treasure this book.   I will never outgrow this one and never want to be without it.   But, oh! the conviction sometimes!   This morning, my prayer was focused on a specific behavior that I need to bring under control.    Well, of course, when you put it out there, that you need work in a certain area, you somehow get tested in this area, right away.   Yep...that's the way it happened.    I failed.    It's a sin thing.

Today is one of those days when you just long for someone to understand you completely.   Wouldn't it be so nice for someone to listen and agree and truly understand you, without accusation?   Shoot! That would be great on any day!    It's a wishful thinking kind of thing! 

Likewise, it would be great to be RECOGNIZED for something you do, instead of always feeling like you're being judged for what you don't do!    Yeah, that would be great.    It's an appreciation thing. 

Ok, this is not a "thing", but it was so darn cute that I had to put it in here.   It could be a LOVE thing or a MOM thing or a MELT ME thing.    Or all three.  Oh my gosh.

So, there you have it!   My brain "release" for the day (I really despise that other word!).

When it's all said and done, I guess I do feel some relief now that I've gotten all of those thoughts onto "paper".    Now, it's time to get back to work and do something productive with all of this caffeine energy I have!

But, I leave you with one last thought......

It's a sugar thing!  It just makes everything else seem bearable!

If you get up tomorrow and release your thoughts, I'd love to hear all about it!  (It's a curious thing)!

What Are You Neglecting Today?

So obviously, this is the area of our back yard, where things go to die or at the very least....get totally neglected.

I looked out the window one day and this table had gone from standing - to horribly leaning and I'm sure the next step is all-out collapsing.   Then it will be dead.   Just like the plants sitting on top of it.

Did we intend to let this happen?  Well, no.

When we bought this table, I had great intentions for it.  

I envisioned picnics in the yard.   The kids and I sitting here, waiting on David to grill something tasty and the family eating on cute, summer plates and a red checked table cloth.  (I often dream about Walton's moments, but they never happen!)

Let me just say......this NEVER happened....not even once!

In fact, the only time I remember anyone actually sitting at this table, was years ago when I actually commanded strongly persuaded one of the kids to do their reading there.     Then a wasp came and that was the end of that.   In fact - I'm pretty sure the underside of this table has been the "wasp headquarters" for years now.    Just another sign of us neglecting things out there.

So, what went so drastically wrong with this cute, little table that I had such great expectations for?

Well, it started out being neglected by the man who built it.  

Whoever built this table, did not use the proper materials and therefore, he compromised it's value and future, right away.   He used untreated wood and though he stained it, he didn't take steps to protect it properly.

Then, we brought it home and instead of placing it underneath a shady tree, we placed it right in the center of the backyard, where no tree lives and the sun comes shining fully, scorching hot, daily, all afternoon.


Yep, that's right!  And, by the time I thought to move it to the shade, it was too far gone and David had to break the news to me that it wasn't going to be around much longer.

Why didn't we do something sooner?   We knew it was bound to happen.   We could even feel the neglect taking a toil, but we just kept walking by and not doing anything about it.

This reminds me of marriage.

Or friendships.

Or our health.

Or relationships with our children or other family members.

Or even our calling - the use of our gifts, for God's purpose.

We can neglect so many things - things we started out valuing and treasuring and having high hopes for.   They can all fall, at the neglectful hand of the ones who chose to keep walking by, but not doing anything.

Each act of neglect starts small.   Maybe there are intentions of fixing something, confronting something, getting help or talking it out.   But, there's always that excuse of  "I'll do it later" and moving on to something else.

The problem is, every day that you leave something unattended, is one step closer to watching that something fall and fail.

If it's your marriage - every time you ignore an issue, you are basically neglecting your marriage and stacking up those stones of discontent, which will eventually lead to a big, fat wall that separates the two of you.

If it's any relationship - you are risking the loss of never connecting with that person again.   Years of neglect leave a big hole that's hard to fill and some choose moving on over second chances.

Neglecting your health is something that many of us do, because we're young and feel fine.   But, as we were all told, at one time or another, by our elders....."it will creep up on you!"  and boy, were they right!   It's much harder to maintain good health in your 50's, if you've neglected your body for decades before!

And, if you're neglecting the calling God has placed on your life, then you are missing the blessing of living in God's purpose.  There are seasons of work and seasons of rest and God is either training us or using us, but He is never neglecting our purpose.  But, we can neglect it, by tucking it away and choosing to do other things, or sometimes, nothing at all.

Whatever it is, there is some area of life that is begging for your attention!  

There is some area that you have placed on the back burner, way too many times.

What is it?

Look around and take notice of that area in your life that is leaning a little (or about to collapse) and start there.

Chance are, you've been walking by it with good intentions (or maybe not), but you just haven't wanted to exert the energy it's going to take, to set it back up and make it strong again.

But, believe me.....if you don't, you're going to look out the window one day and wonder why life has finally collapsed in this area and then you will have to come to the realization that all the great intentions were just empty promises.

Don't neglect that which is valuable to you.

Start today and change the future of that thing that you once neglected.  

Your future self will be thankful.