Friday, August 29, 2014

Pursuing Dreams and Saying Goodbye....For Now

 
 
 
 
Dreams come in all shapes and sizes and colors and forms.
 
Everyone should have a dream for their life.
 
Dreams give you a reason to get up in the morning and face a new day.
 
They give you goals and motivation to make things happen
 
and not settle for the mundane.
 
 
Dreams give you fuel
when you feel like you've run out of gas.
 
When you have dreams,
you know you have to keep putting one foot in front of the other,
or you won't get where you want to be.
 
And,
sometimes
dreaming
means
leaving
behind
the good
to
pursue
the better.
 
And that's what I'm about to embark on......
a new journey
to my dreams.
 
I have so many things I want to write and create,
but I can't blog and pursue those other areas at the same time.
 
Therefore,
I'm leaving HERE
to pursue THERE.
 
 
 I'm not sure when I will be back to write here,
but I will continue to read all my favorites
and keep up with all my blogging friends.
 
And,
I'm sure there will come a day when I will
be called back to this place
to tell all of what's going on.
 
But for now,
I have to say.......
 
See you soon!
 
And
Be blessed!
 


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Where Has the Time Gone?


In just a few years, we've gone from this guy........


to this guy..........

From learning that a verb is an "action" word, to discovering velocity, force and acceleration.   Quite a long ways we've come together!

Collin is now in the 10th grade and I'm pretty sure this is going to be a pivotal year in his academic career.    He seems motivated.

And, I have to admit, I feel a little more energetic about the year, as well.

Some years you just get caught up in that thing called LIFE and you trudge through the academics, just so you can get to the good stuff.

And then other years, school is the good stuff and you can't wait to get there.

If you homeschool for any length of time, you will eventually experience all of these emotions - excitement, burn out, revelation and determination.     Sometimes.....all in the same year.

But, the good thing is, each new year is like a fresh new morning - it has all the promises of a great experience waiting to happen!

It just depends on the effort  you put in and what you want to get out of it.


So, this year we started off with a new thing called Mom Time.   I got this concept from another homeschooling mom, who calls it Morning Time, but nevertheless, it's basically the same thing.

We start off each morning (except co-op day) with about 30-45 minutes of time with mom.

I read a chapter or two from a chosen book - this year we are reading out of Hero Tales - a book about Christian Heroes.    Next, we discuss any spiritual application about the story and then we move on to praying for our day.    

After prayer, we do Teen Talk.   This is a time where I give Collin the floor and let him talk about whatever he wants, such as concerns, struggles, prayer requests or problems he needs help with.

After Teen Talk, I inform him of any expectations I have for that day, so that we are both on the same page, as far as how the day is ordered.   This eliminates the guess work, which I have found, makes kids feel like school lasts forever.

If they have a general sense of how long, how many assignments, breaks, etc., they actually feel more in control of the events of the day.    This is also the time when I would tell him what chores are expected of him that day, if they differ from the normal routine.

When Mom Time is over, he grabs his books and gets started with his subjects for the day.

Of course, with homeschooling, there is always something that grabs his attention and he needs to come tell me about it.  Or, his dad may be working from home and stops to talk to us, which can lead to a little bit of veering off schedule.  But, that's the beauty of what we do.

Collin is really excited to get back to school, co-op and seeing all his friends on a weekly basis.

He's already looking forward to the Sock Hop scheduled for the winter party and being part of the new praise band at co-op. 

He's also got his mind totally wrapped around getting his driving permit (oh joy!).

I have a feeling it's going to be an exciting year!





Tuesday, August 26, 2014

My Thoughts on Racism

 
It's funny how the mind works, because one minute your thoughts are carefree and the next minute you might feel like the world is spinning out of control.

I hate sounding dramatic, but I guess life is dramatic at times and for those of us who pour out on paper, it needs to be written, in order to purge and move on.

You know......last week my budget seemed important.   I mean, we are between pay checks and a new job.

Last week it seemed fun to share my money ideas with you and encourage those who are struggling in that area.

Last week I was thinking about starting school with Collin and enjoying the planning stage, which I find very satisfying.

And last week, I was so blessed to see Ted and Alex for an hour on Friday.

However, this week feels different. 

School has started, the budget is still intact and my heart is still to encourage, but there is this lingering burden that just won't go away........racism.

It's all over the news - what the white cop did to the black kid.   Gee, haven't we been here before?

The media does their inciting, like always; making the kid a hero and the cop the devil.

All the bloggers are writing about it.  

All the white families who have adopted black children are bemoaning the idea that their black son will never be able to walk down a public street without being a target.

Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson are spewing their ignorance once again.

And, of course - the black people are rioting in the streets - again.

Yeah, let's just get real honest about it all.

This seems to be their answer to most things.

And who do I think I am, writing such a thing outloud?

I'll tell you who I am......

I'm a mother of two white boys - afraid that one day they will end up the victim of racism - but in reverse.

That's right - black on white crime that hardly gets reported anymore.

In fact - lest you think I have nothing legitimate to worry about - it's already happened and this mom is hacked off!

My WHITE son, who prayed for months about a place to live, so that he and his wife would be safe and closer to his job, has already been victimized by a black person and no one is rioting in the streets about it, are they?

Three weeks into their marriage, they are having to look over their shoulder because the big black bully has declared that she didn't like the spot they parked in, so she took it upon herself to exercise her right to be seen and heard and she wrote filthy words all over his window with permanent marker.

When that didn't stop him from parking in the ONE AVAILABLE SPOT, she left him a nasty note.

Then, when he finally had to park way down the lot one night, it happened to be next to her car, so she keyed the entire passenger side of his car the next day.

Yeah, that brand new car his dad and I bought him, to replace the one that was totaled in his accident back in March.    The one WE pay for as a gift to him.   The one WE will have to claim on insurance and pay the cost off filing another claim.    US....not her!

And, let's just be honest - if he calls the cops - if he calls her out on her SIN - she'll retaliate and she'll come back with a vengeance, because she "deserves justice" and "it's her right" to act like an idiot.

What she doesn't know is that this white mother is praying that the conviction of the Holy Spirit will bring her to her knees so hard, she won't be able to walk for a week!    Did I mention that I'm hacked?

Yeah, I'm hacked.

I'm hacked that ALL the moms and bloggers and the media didn't admit how wrong they were when it FINALLY  came out that Trayvon Martin really did assault George Zimmerman and that he also had a criminal record.    Turns out he wasn't the poor little black kid they all made him out to be, afterall.

Nope.   He was a thug and Zimmerman was just trying to keep the neighborhood safe.

Funny how things got quiet after that.   The mommy bloggers weren't so vocal then.

And, this time it will be no different.

Oh, one or two might come out and admit that this kid was also a thug and a thief and that the white cop was trying to do the right thing.

But, most will just keep quiet and go on believing the LIE that racism only goes ONE WAY and to that I say......WAKE UP!

There is a race problem because some people won't let it go.

There is a race problem because the thugs have been empowered to do as they please, because they know that all they have to do is yell RACIST and they will be justified in tearing up the place.

If you listen to any of the conservative talk shows, you will hear dignified black people pleading with their fellow black communities, to stop the nonsense.   But, you won't hear that on the national or local news stations.   That doesn't sell as well as drama and violence.

If you listen to the conservative black politicians, they will tell you that black America won't vote for them because they feel betrayed and disappointed that they aren't out rioting for their "rights" like the thugs are.

Yes, there are amazing black leaders all over this country.   But, you might not ever know it, if all you do is listen to the garbage that the media feeds you.

They are in the office next to yours.   They are the doctor, the lawyer, the housewife, the sales girl, the politician, the hairdresser, the regular-every day - person that works hard and wants to reach goals and dreams, just like the next guy.

And they too, are fed up.   And ashamed of the thugs.   And sorry for the mess that racism causes.

Let's get real people.....

Thugs are thugs - whether white, black, or any other nationality or race. 

Being black doesn't make you special - it just means you're human.   Being white doesn't mean anything either.   And, neither do the rest of the skin colors.

Just be a decent HUMAN BEING!

Quit demanding that everyone owes you something and get off your lazy butt and do something good with your life!

Quit taking what isn't yours to take.   Quit rioting in the streets.   Quit bullying others.  

Just be decent.

And most of all - quit being a hypocrite.

Because every time you yell RACISM, you are pointing the finger right back at yourself.

God sees it. 

We all see it.

And we are fed up.










Saturday, August 23, 2014

Having Some Fun With Budgeting

 

I know I've said this before, but there is something that feels good about having to get creative with money.  

No, it's not fun when you can't pay for necessities, but that's just it.......we have so many things that AREN'T necessities!  

I think it's good to get back to basics every now and then, and really evaluate where your money is going and how much you waste.    Having to budget and get creative can open your eyes to the abundance you've been given, yet squander, at times. 

So, in light of David and I having to watch our budget this month, we thought we'd have a little bit of fun with it and test out our skills in the EATING OUT arena.

We decided we would take the next four weeks and see what kind of meal we could have on a twenty dollar bill. 


Our first stop was New York Pizza and Pasta.....


We love this place!  You can get great food, good prices, and if you're there on the right night - live music!

Now, normally, David and I don't share food, unless it's fajitas at our favorite Mexican restaurant.  When we eat elsewhere, we rarely have the same tastes and therefore, we each end up getting our own plate of food, and it's normally way too much for either of us to finish.   Such is the way with American cuisine these days!

But, for this challenge, we agreed to be open as we scanned the menu for our options.

THE CHALLENGE WAS TO EAT ON NO MORE THAN $20.00 AND THAT HAD TO INCLUDE TAX AND TIP.   NO EXCEPTIONS AND NO GOING OVER A TWENTY DOLLAR BILL!

So, we read over the menu and discussed different dishes and decided that an entrée that came with salad and a side of pasta would be our best bet.

After going back and forth on the different descriptions of each entrée, we finally decided on:

Chicken Parmesan with a side of Angel Hair pasta


Two salads (one included with the entrée and one was an extra $1.99)

The bread came with the meal, as well.

We split the chicken and the pasta, each had bread and a salad, and needless to say....we were stuffed when it was all said and done!

It's a sobering thought when you think of how much money you would save if you always shared, instead of everyone getting something different and wasting half of what's on your plate.

Our final bill was even less than I expected!


We got out of there for $12.88 plus a $3.00 tip, for a grand total of $15.88!

We were so excited that we passed our first challenge with flying colors and we were stuffed too!

Next time we might even include Collin and see how far that TWENTY will stretch!

So.......the moral of the story is.....even if you're on a budget, you can still eat out if you choose carefully and compromise.  

And, thankfully, it doesn't have to have golden arches to be affordable!

Stay tuned for more fun ways to save (or spend), as we continue our Money Challenge Month.

If you have any great tips, please leave a comment!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Some of my go-to sites for money advice are:

Fun, Cheap or Free

Gail Vaz Oxlade

Mary Hunt's Debt Proof Living

Crystal Paine's Money Saving Mom


All of these ladies offer great money advice, with different methods, but they also offer tips on anything and everything, from how to buy make up (cheap), to dates on a budget, to laundry detergent recipes.   You can literally get just about any kind of advice, concerning saving or spending money, on any one of these sites. 















Friday, August 22, 2014

My Fall Reading List


I'm a book lover.  Or a bookaholic.  Or a bookworm.  Even though I'd rather be a lover or a "holic", than a worm.   But, no matter what you call it.......I love books!

So, I thought I'd share my Fall Reading List and maybe inspire someone to pick up the habit, if you haven't already.

And, being that Collin has been "bored" and "ready for school" lately, I gave him the job of photographing my stack of books, so I would have some pictures to share.

I think he did a great job, don't you?












As he so quickly reminded me...."Mom, I've won awards for my photography, remember?"

Oh yes son, how could I forget?

So, here is my great stack of books for the next several months.   My goal is to read one book, every 3 weeks or so.   This means I'll have to spend more time reading than being on FB or playing Candy Crush or watching TV, but you seriously can't compare any of those to picking up a good book.

These are all books I've had on my shelves for a while.   As I said before, this is kind of an addiction, so I have this tendency of buying and then buying more, so sometimes I get a little backlogged.

I've already got my eye on a new one that just hit the stands, but I guess I'd better work my way through this pile first.   Unless the new one goes on sale......then I would have to grab it at the sale price, right?



What's in your stack this time around?  

Feel free to share your titles in the comments.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Life on the Farm and A Little Money Challenge Going On


Well, it's been 2 1/2 weeks since the wedding and it still feels lonely around here.  There's something about having even just one person gone, that makes the house feel empty.    I know I'll get used to it eventually, but for now, I still miss my son.

I have been keeping busy though, which is good.   Our house has been very active the past few weeks - either with people coming over or projects we're working on.

I've spent a few days this week getting ready for school.   Collin starts next Monday - the 10th grade!  I can't believe my baby is a sophomore in highschool!   That just doesn't seem right!

David started his new job on Monday, with a trip to Dallas to fill out all the paperwork and get the ball rolling.    He's looking at quite a challenging job over the next few years, but challenges are good, so we're thinking positive.   I know he can do it!  This isn't his first rodeo! Although it will be the first time he's opened an office with no staff.  No office space.  No patients.  But hey, if anyone can do it, he can!

And, with starting a new job and ending the previous one, comes a little snag in the paycheck department (yikes!), so I've been concentrating on getting our budget up to date and trying to figure out how to make his last (partial) check stretch over the next month.  
 
I've always loved numbers and I've always loved organizing, so it makes perfect sense that I would love organizing our money, right?

I've already thought of some great and fun ways to challenge our money habits over the next month.  I think they will be worth sharing, so be on the look out for that in the near future. 

In the meantime, I hope to see Ted and Alex this weekend.  I'm looking forward to making them some food for their freezer and seeing what they've done with their apartment so far.

I'm thinking a road trip is in our near future!


And, that's what's going on around here.  

Anything exciting and new with you?


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Come In Out of the Storm


Yesterday we had quite a storm around here.   Lightening was flashing, the thunder sounded like it was directly above us and my poor dog was trembling and panting.

However, as you can see, the horses were not bothered in the least bit.

Oh, there was one flash of lightening that came a little too close for comfort and they took off running, but it wasn't a minute before they trotted right back into the pasture.

The silly thing is, they have a barn......a shelter from the storm.....if they chose to use it.

Isn't that kind of like us?

God has given us a shelter to run to.....HIM......  

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty."
Psalm 91:1
 
.....but, we have to make that choice to run to Him.
 
Some of us like storms.   In fact, some of us love to dwell under the black clouds and the drama of life.  It's what fuels us; what keeps us going.
 
As crazy as that sounds, some enjoy standing in the midst of the wind and rain.  It keeps the focus on them; keeps them in the center, where others are trying to help them, but they don't really want it.   They like their storms and they love to dwell there.
 
Have you ever met this person?
 
They are those who always have some kind of drama going on in their lives. 
 
No matter what day, what month, what year, they are focused on their troubles, which seem to be abundant.
 
You never get a sense of peace from these people.  There is always the proverbial "black cloud" hanging over them, threatening to take away their joy, at any moment.
 
In fact, their joy is always short lived.   They don't linger there, like they do the storm.
 
No, because to linger in the joy would mean they might have to minister to someone else.   They might have to give of themselves; put forth the effort, therefore, turning the attention away from themselves and onto someone else.
 
And then what?
 
They might not have anyone doting on them.  They might have to actually give instead of take.  They might actually have to care for someone, rather than be cared for.
 
 
 

 
 
The truth is, if they would just run to Him, He would shelter them, comfort them, restore them, and give them purpose and strength. 
 
There would still be storms - life is full of them - but there would be shelter too. 
 
There would be love and strength and restoration and hope and joy and peace - all in the arms of God.   
 
If only they would choose to come in out of the storm. 
 


Monday, August 18, 2014

Serving Others With Your Gifts

Do you ever wonder if what you do is enough for God?  

I think it's a question most Christians find themselves asking, every now and then.   Especially in this time and age, where being busy is the sign of a "good Christian life".

I mean, how many times from the pulpit have you heard that you need to be doing more?  You need to serve more, give more, "go" more?

And how many times have you walked out of church feeling defeated, like you can't even imagine adding one more thing to your plate of things to do?

And, is filling your time with organized "work" really what God expects you to do?

If you look at Jesus' ministry on Earth, it was spent meeting people along the way.   Occasionally he sat and taught to a crowd, but most of his encounters were on the road, as he went from town to town, encountering different folks and addressing their needs on the spot.

In reading my Bible this morning, I was reminded in 1 Peter 4:9-10, that God gives us a few instructions on how to serve His people (therefore, serving Him):

"Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling." (v. 9)

And, in v. 10......"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in it's various forms."

Hospitality - a word that scares some people!   But, apparently, God wants us to do this and do it without complaining about it!  

Are you hospitable?  Do you open your home to people or are you one that only accepts invitations, but never extends them?   Do you think this is right?  When was the last time you invited someone over for dinner or coffee or just to sit and visit?   If you never do this, why not?  

I think many things dictate whether a person is hospitable or not, but most of them would center around pride.

You think your house is too small, not pretty, too messy, or you have nothing to offer.  But, these things are centered around pride!

Or, is it that you are more of one who likes to be served, rather than serving?

Are you too lazy to clean, prepare a meal, fix a dessert?

These sound like harsh accusations, but if it's important enough for God to mention it in his word, don't you think it's worth thinking about?

If you aren't hospitable, ask yourself what's keeping you from sharing your home with others?

Whatever it is that causes you to hesitate, ask God to help you get over this obstacle.

The next verse says that each person should use whatever gift he has received.....meaning that EACH of us has a God-given gift and we are supposed to use that gift to serve others!   By doing this, you are administering God's grace in various forms.   How cool is that?!!

So, let's get this straight.....whatever gift God gave to you....when you use it, you are handing out God's grace to someone.   This is great news people!  This means that, when done in love, your gifts are showing God's grace to someone in need!   Hallelujah!

Did I just hear someone say they don't have any gifts?   Well, let's look at some of the ways God's people hand out GRACE without even realizing it.......


Ministering to someone when they're sick.......


Calling someone and listening to their struggles and offering to pray for them........





Taking someone a basket of food after surgery........


Doing what you can to help out.....even when your body is tired and worn out.......


Using your talent to bless someone and make them smile, even when their heart is breaking......


Visiting with someone, even though your schedule is full......


Being the dad you need to be.......


Using your resources to help out.......




Giving gifts........



Preaching God's word to those who are without a church family......



Sharing the spotlight with someone who looks up to you....


Using your talents to bring joy to those whose world looks a little different in their latter years......


and giving them a chance to dance again........


Putting your dreams on hold, to give your kids the education they need......


Loving on someone who needs it.......



Sharing what God's blessed you with.......



Leaving your family for a month to share the Gospel through music.......



Going around the world to share God's love......


Or doing it right on your own front porch......



Whatever gift God has given you, when you use it, you are serving God and serving others.

Don't let anyone tell you that you aren't doing enough.

When you are busy loving on God's people, offering your talent, your gifts, your resources and your time, you are living out your faith just the way the Lord asked you to in 1 Peter 4:9-10.

Are you using your gifts?   If not, it's never too late to start.

Get started today and bring God's blessing upon yourself, as you serve others.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Why Every Woman Should Have Her Own Space


I've always wanted my own space - to read, to write, to create and sometime, just to get away.

Not that I don't love being with my boys, but sometimes a girl just needs a soft place to land......without car shows, football, news and guitars.

So, after a long week of very hard work, I finally have an entire room, all to myself!   I'm thankful, appreciative, excited and feeling a little bit guilty for the privilege of having a space to just do my thing.   I guess it would be the equivalent of David having a shop outside.   And, I know he wouldn't feel one bit of guilt about that, so I need to get over it!

The room is not finished yet.  There is still trim to be painted, curtains to buy, a new ceiling fan to find, and the most important element - the walls need their decorations.  

If you've ever been to my house, you know that I cover my walls with pictures, signs, sayings and other things I love to look at, and so far, not one pleasing thing hangs in this room.   Therefore, I'm not showing the walls, if I don't have to :)


 THE READING AREA



 THE CRAFT TABLE


 TOOLS OF THE TRADE


 THE EXERCISE CORNER


 THE BOOKS AND MAGAZINE PLACE



 SOME OF MY FAVORITES



 THE DESK AREA



WHERE I WORK

The desk faces the window that looks out on the barn and the area where the horses eat.  This ensures that at least twice a day, I will see their happy faces as they wait for their daily meals.  

The room still needs some tweaking, as I'm not exactly 100% happy with the arrangement, but I expected that to happen.   Sometimes you have to sit in the room for a few days to get the feel of where everything needs to go.   I suspect there will be some moving around taking place this week, as well as some decorating.

However, the fact that I have some place quiet to read and pray and just let my mind focus on important matters, is such a stress reliever for me.  

I'm looking forward to putting this space to good use in the days to come.

So, although I know it's not possible for every woman to take up an entire room to herself (afterall, I had to lose a son to marriage, in order to get mine!), I do recommend creating a quiet space - something private - where you can go and just spend some time thinking and praying and being creative.   

Even Jesus took the time to get away by himself, when he really needed to fellowship with God.  

We are no different.

It's so important to find a quiet space and turn off the noise of the world (even screaming toddlers) and just recharge your mind and heart.

We can't always hire a babysitter or leave the house and really, where would you go?  A crowded coffee shop?

No.   Why not just create something beautiful in your own home and make it work?  

Set up boundaries with the kids, so they respect your time there.   

Clean out a big closet and make it your space.   Look on Pinterest or in magazines and get creative. 

You deserve it.   

I don't do "mom's night out" or "weekends away", but I will claim my own sweet space, in my own home.

And, now that I think about it, I really don't feel guilty at all.

Because, having a little space and a little time away gives me the energy I need to come back and be the best I can be, at this job I love........taking care of them.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Stop The Madness! I Want Off This Crazy Ride!


I'm losing it!

The world and all it's problems are being constantly fought out in the social media world and it's taking all the fun out of keeping up with people in those circles.

Even when I go to Facebook, just to check in, I end up getting sucked in to some kind of controversial news topic or someone posting about the latest moral issue gone bad.

Facebook has become all about who's wrong and who's right and not so much about the real life of my friends anymore.

Whatever happened to the good old days when you could see what people were really up to in their day to day lives?    Now, it's become the place to prove that your social issue is more important than the next guy's, that your candidate has more to offer, that someone didn't do their job correctly so now they will be bashed, that my meme is funnier than your meme, and so on and so forth, and poke my eyes out now so I don't have to read anymore!

I've contemplated getting off Facebook.   I've prayed about it, questioned it, debated it, and just about driven myself crazy trying to make a decision, but still.....I linger.

There are many people that I genuinely care about keeping in touch with.   However, let's be honest.....there are also people on my friend's list that I barely know and it's a little creepy.   Some have "friended" me due to homeschooling or blogging or because they know my husband or kids.   Sometimes I'm good with this voyeurism, and sometimes it gets me a little freaked out when I think about it.

I'm usually a very private person (yes, the irony of a blogger), so I like my world a bit more contained than the next guy.

Every day for the past few weeks, I have literally battled this in my mind - the shutting down of my FB account.   The problem is, it can be a good platform for blogging and for family that I never see and wouldn't talk to, if not for seeing them on there.     What to do....what to do?

David says "Just don't get on."   But, my mind doesn't work like that!  I'm not that disciplined!  If it's there and accessible, I will probably check it!   I'm a "black and white" kind of thinker, so it's all or nothing and there is no middle ground.   If you're not a black and white thinker, you will find this utterly ridiculous :)

I really wish I could just go back to the days when bloggers supported one another and were loyal readers to their blogging friends.   Then we wouldn't feel the need to post on Facebook and Twitter, just to get some outrageous number of readers.    We would be satisfied with our circle and other bloggers that find us through their favorite blogging buddies and the world would be peaceful again (wink wink).

Well, I guess I'll just keep thinking on this decision and wait for a clear answer.   Until then, I'm sure I'll be tempted and give in to checking up on everyone.    I mean, if it's there, I must read it, right?

I tell ya......I miss the old days - you know - the 80's!   When music and graduating were the big things on my mind.   Man, those were the days!