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Monday, March 2, 2015

Our own small part

"I know that people have been really disappointed with the institution known as 'the church'…and it is a mess at times. But what if all of us stopped thinking that the church is supposed to be something that others fix and we just did our own small part? Committing to love and serve those that love and follow Jesus, without holding judgement, learning to be humble and servant hearted, choosing to walk with those that are a lot different than us, not just choosing those that like what we like and do what we naturally do.

Things just might change.  One thing’s for certain: you would."

Read the full post here: "Learning to Follow Jesus with Others"

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Lent.

We don't currently attend a liturgical church that observes the religious calendar, but in my quiet studies I like to have these seasons of reflection and preparation, particularly during Advent and Lent. I've been struggling with what to do this year. I've been a person to "give up" something but my friends have inspired me over the years, and last year I chose to give up a specific ipad game. It seems silly, but I had  gotten into the bad habit of playing the game first thing in the morning instead of doing my usual Bible reading. So I used the weeks of Lent to get back on track spiritually by intentionally setting  my game aside and re-establishing my regular time in the Word. This year I already feel on track and focused in my walk, so I can't think of a specific tangible thing to give up for this season, or forever, that would better my relationship with God.

Some people choose to add in a new habit, which is great! But for me, I feel like I am already doing that as my goal for the whole year. And I don't want my Lent to be full of Busy and Activity like Advent.  I want it to be a season of stillness.

I browsed for a family devotion we could do but just couldn't find something that wasn't entirely centered around the act of fasting. So this is what I decided. I sat down and wrote up a list of verses to meditate on as a family for this Lent season. We will reflect on:

Repentance
Forgiveness
Salvation
Righteousness
Love and Devotion
(eternal) Hope

(I guess it's real similar to the Color Gospel actually.) For various reasons intentional Bible teaching with the kids has become something I just don't do consistently like I desire. We do talk about faith quite a bit as we go about our day and life and in prayer so I trust that they see and know that faith is a relationship not just a Sunday event. But still, I want to help create opportunity for their spiritual growth by doing study as a family. For them and for me. So here goes Lent 2015.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Birthday Celebration Week!

I started a new tradition for our family last summer with Eli's birthday and for all the kids' birthdays apparently. I was thinking of how during Homecoming Week at school the kids do "spirit week" and they all dress up as something specific each day of the week. I thought we could do a sort of "spirit week" for birthdays too. We don't do much for presents and try to go out for a special outing instead, and I thought we could add on to that idea and celebrate Birthday Child and his/her favorite things all week long by doing a special activity each day.  Now,  just like with Advent activities, I do NOT like things that require prep. Party decorations, themes, fancy games and cakes...I hate all that stuff. But THIS, I can handle. And most importantly, the kids love it. What child doesn't love to be heard and the freedom to CHOOSE??  I hope they truly know how loved and special they are.  






So here are the specifics and ideas of what types of activities you can do each day:

* Read his favorite book (or 5).
* Play his favorite game. Inside or out. Eli has a summer bday so he picked kickball at the baseball field. Carter picked Jenga and Duck-Duck-Goose.
* Watch his favorite movie.
* Everyone in the family wears his favorite color for the whole day. Whether it's the full outfit or just a colored string around your finger, it doesn't matter.
* Eat his favorite snack.
* Go to favorite restaurant.
* Go on a special outing.
* 1st all day.  First in line, first served, first pick, first whateverthekidsalwaysfightabout.
* Party day!

In this house party days don't always land on the actual birthday week. Neither does the outing necessarily. But in the pictures, BOTH happened to land during birthday week which made planning the activity days easier. Had to get creative and work with the calendar and the available time each day, but it's worth it, fun, and memorable!

Hannah's birthday is next week so we'll be gearing up to do this all again! If you have other activity ideas, leave 'em in the comments!  Thanks!


{Kids Song} If You Love God and You Know It

As I was preparing to sub in for Sunday school music last week, this song popped into my head. Thought I'd share it here...

to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It"

If you love God and you know it, praise His name!
If you love God and you know it, praise His name!
If you love God and you know it and you really want to show it,
If you love God and you know it, praise His name!

Now for additional verses, change out the underlined parts with these words or words of your own:

...read His Word...
...give Him thanks...
...pray to Him...
...feed the poor...
...help the sick...
...be a friend... 
...follow Him...


That's it! So simple!

God's love is unconditional. Our salvation is through Jesus only, and not by anything we DO, but still, God desires our hearts and our lives. Our actions should pattern after Jesus' life and reflect Him. That's our purpose on this earth. To serve Him wholly.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Monday Meanderings ~ Jan. 26

Bible Study... Finishing up our study on contentment this week. And on my own I am reading thru the Gospels, trying to get re-inspired by the life and teachings of Christ. 

Memory Verse...  Philippians 2:5
"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus."

Husband Encouragement...
♥ Need to work on having a positive attitude, particularly with the kids, so that I'm not an annoying, critical voice in the house.

Train Them Up...
* This is week 2 of piano lessons with Eli and Hannah. The schedule has to be shifted on our Library week (flexibility is a big reason for doing our own lessons), so we'll see when it can get fit in for each of them. They're both excited and off to a great start though!
* Family read-aloud. I'm not very consistent about this.

Personal Goals...
Not only keep track of calories but make sure they're actually healthy choices. I'm finding that even if I stay within my limit, it's a noticeable difference when it's healthy choices or not, not just the scale numbers but the way I feel too.

New Habit of the Month...  {january}
fitting in piano lessons and practice throughout the week.

MUST Do... 
* Order Bible study books for upcoming study. 
* Finish the 30 Day Minimalism Challenge.  It's been awesome cleaning out and minimizing!!
* Mail bday invites for Hannah's party.
* Mail package.

Zone(s)... master bedroom. i want the floor space completely cleared and all laundry put away and dressers dusted!

Menu - 

M - chicken parmesan, salad
T -  crockpot ham and scalloped potatoes
W - chicken salad
Th - pork roast and saurkraut
F - baked chicken thighs, corn, fruit
S - homemade taco pizza

FUN THINGS!
* two friend dates this week  =)
* library day tomorrow, which also means I get to clean out a box of books and puzzles that have been waiting for delivery.
* gorgeous weather for a few days = as much outside time as possible!!
* volleyball Thursday. my very favorite part of the week. we're finally getting enough players so it's been super awesome lately, and it's such a good workout I'm always sore the next day, even though we've been playing for months now!
* going to a varsity basketball game thursday. there haven't been that many home games so I'm excited we finally have a chance to go!
* Kevin will be off for the weekend, it's always nice when the schedule lines up that way. 
* new book coming in the mail. always exciting. hehe

3 things I'm thankful for today...
1.
Amaaaaaazing weather for the middle of winter!  LOVE being able to get outside, and love the sunshine!
2. Productive weekend! We knocked down AND burned the garage all in one weekend and it's cleaned up and nice right now! Feels awesome to tackle some of those long-awaited projects!
3. Being physically active. Life is so much more fun that way! And never something to take for granted!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

2015: {Courage}

What I discovered about myself in 2014 is that I have a lot of dreams and passions and am stuck in a life of frustration because I am depending upon and waiting on other people to help make those dreams become reality.  

No more.

This is my life. I must be proactive.  

God filled me with these dreams and passions, He molded this heart of mine, and He will give me courage to step outside of myself.

I want to live the Gospel boldly.  I want to BE the good in the world.  And I've realized that all my wishing and hoping does nothing. I can't pray for a change in someone ELSE in order for there to be a change in ME. My life starts with my life. I can't let my heart for something be contingent upon someone or something else. 

I am introverted (another big thing I've learned about myself in 2014) and the thought of just going for it and doing something on my own makes me want to CHOKE. I am not a leader and maybe never will be. This is not my comfort zone. But I CAN do something in my style and my way. I CAN stop overthinking it and overstressing and overanalyzing. I CAN take opportunity of the small moments that come with each day. If my passion is to serve others, I CAN live a life of open eyes, open heart, and boldness. I CAN live a life full of quiet kindnesses. I don't have to stop being my introverted self, because it's who I am and there is a gift in that, but I do want to challenge myself to step out in faith. 

This fully describes how I want to live my year and my life:


Because after all, that's how Jesus lived. And my desire is to be more like Him every day, every moment, every breath. To live without agenda, without blinders, but to make the most of every opportunity because these days are fleeting, and there is a hurting and broken world to love on. Jesus himself says, "whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me... Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me." (Matthew 25:40,45) May I never pass on by the person I was meant to serve. May I live with courage and boldness and LOVE EXTRAVAGANTLY. In a world full of hate, bitterness, retaliation, and darkness, may my life shine so that through me others may see HIM. 


Thursday, January 8, 2015

What I've learned (so far) from 10 years of marriage.


I'm just a regular girl here, sharing my heart about what I've learned in marriage thus far in our 10 years. It hasn't always been fantastic, struggles can be very real, but I am SO THANKFUL for where we are now and how we are still growing and still learning. There is great reward in perseverance. BUT it always makes me nervous to post things like this because extreme circumstances in marriage or a home can call for a whole different solution. There are no absolutes in this earth. Be wise and discerning, and listen for God's voice. He has a different walk for each of us, but this is what I've learned.  All of these points apply to both spouses but I don't want to mess with constantly say him/her, so that's that. Read on, my friends...


1. God is in control, He is faithful, and His ways are good. Even when times are hard, like really hard, get in the Word, and do the right thing anyway and God will see you through. And when you don't do the right thing, God will see you through that too. Because He is faithful and loving, and that's not just a hope, it's a promise

2. Grace. Love anyway, respect anyway, forgive anyway. No one is perfect, period. 

3. Intimacy means so much more than sex. It also means letting your spouse be THE one you turn to, and sharing things with only him. Not your girlfriends, not social media. Let your moments, experiences, and feelings be private sometimes too. In a culture that is so media-driven and wrapped up in communication and  sharing everything at all moments of the day, this is a biggy. It also means being fully present with those you are with, especially with your spouse and family.

4. People change, it's inevitable. Accept who your spouse is now--the good and the not so good. With the flaws, with the sin, with the brokenness--and walk together through life's ebbs and flows. Sure, you can pray for one another in certain areas, but find a contentment in where he is. Be his supporter, not his adversary. Love and accept the way Christ does: HE's not looking for perfection, so neither should I. HE's looking for my heart, and so is my husband.

5. Protect your marriage, always. Be careful what you watch on TV and movies and read in books--it can create false expectations and ideals that are not reality, leaving you to be continually disappointed with real life. Be careful about who you are friends with and where you go for support and advice. Surround yourself with things that inspire you to be a better person and better wife. Be careful about what you are turning to for happiness. Even GOOD things can start coming before your spouse. 

6. Focus on the positive. There are always negative things about a person or circumstance, but there are ALWAYS good things too, and a lot of them if you choose to look for them. Focus on that, cultivate a heart of gratitude. There's a huge power in positive thinking. Let it transform your attitude and way of life. 

7. Marriage is worth it. It's amazing. Not perfect, but amazing. To have a lifelong companion, supporter, lover, and friend. To grow to know someone so well that you know his habits, his routine, his likes and dislikes, his needs, his wants, his dreams, and working together becomes natural and as easy as breathing. Okay, maybe not always but more often than not. It takes work and intentional effort, not because there's "something wrong" but simply because life is always changing, circumstances are always changing, people are always changing. But the one constant is God. Let Him be your compass, your biggest supporter, and your source of joy and peace that binds all things together.


I believe in marriage. I am in it for the long haul, for all that it is and all that it will be. I am thankful for the good times and sweet memories that no one can steal, and I am thankful for the bumps and valleys that help me grow stronger and wiser. Life itself is not easy, let alone life with another human being. Marriage will refine me and help me to grow more like Jesus through the years. May my heart be always open to His leading. Each day is a fresh start, each moment is a choice. Remember these truths, and press on!


Monday, December 8, 2014

Monday Meanderings - Dec. 8



Bible Study... One study is on contentment. And the other study is on Philippians. 

Memory Verse...  Ephesians 4:29
"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs."

Husband Encouragement...
♥ Just trying to keep the house tidy and need to get our bedroom dressers decluttered and dusted. 
♥ Cookies and coated pretzals. =)

Train Them Up...
* Continue being consistent with my nightly dinner helper routine. This is not only a good opportunity for quality 1x1 time with each child, but they are learning how to cook! AND learning to appreciate all the details involved in preparing a meal!
* Carter-- working on respecting sibling's space and things. 
* Eli--I've been having the kids do our Christmas reading and counting that as his required reading minutes so that he's not spending as much time with homework.  Also working on attitude issues--he's type A child who likes things to be a certain way, or to continue working on a project, or to constantly defend himself/point fingers. Working on obedience and grace-filled attitude with this. 
* Hannah--Started a back-n-forth journal with her since she LOVES writing so much, she's so sweet! Also working on not withholding good from someone (siblings!!) just to make them mad. I've been having her think about whether she wants to continue with gymnastics after Christmas. 
* Started something new, yet AGAIN, with Bible notes. Eli and Hannah both really like looking up verses and copying them down. Last week I made up a study for Eli to discover the features of his Bible (table of contents and the notes at the beginning of each book) but he had it almost all done before church even started! Need to adapt this a little for Hannah's level and her Bible, and then she can do one too. And I can also write up something new this week for Eli.
* Christmas activities--I always plan a variety of suuuuuper easy things that don't require prep or supplies. But even still, the kids have had some fussiness here and there and because of it, have had to miss one of their days. We'll see how this week goes. 

Personal Goals...
I'm "doing" the "1 mile a day from Thanksgiving to New Year's" challenge. >>This really hasn't been happening as consistently as I'd like but doing what I can. 

New Habit of the Month...  {december}
intentional time with the kids. use my time WISELY.

MUST Do... 
* Post office -- Mail a package!! and a surprise! and get stamps
* copy Christmas letters.
* finish music project. Can't get it formatted to print just right so I think I'm going to just manually cut, tape, and copy the pages that are being weird.
* Look into kids piano lessons.
* Take kids shopping for Christmas exchange.
* Bring home any musical items from the church.

Zone(s)... kitchen counters

Menu - 

M - enchilada bake
T -  breakfast for dinner -- pancakes
W - sandwiches
Th - angel hair pasta and shrimp
F - appetizer night--spinach artichoke cups, teriyaki meatballs
S - veggie soup

FUN THINGS!
* Bible study today!
* Music rehearsal tonight--Christmas music! Also having some new people practice with our team, so that's kinda fun!
* I have a service idea in mind for tomorrow, just need to find out if it's really doable! 
* Bible study Wednesday. =)
* Wednesday night is a women's ministry meeting.  We've been brewing up some big changes and I'm really excited to see where we're gonna go with it! 
* Volleyball Thursday--can't wait! now that we have new players, it's awesome!
* Lunch Thursday! (I may need to shower in town at the gym but oh well!)
* Saturday is a little Christmas party with our friends.

3 things I'm thankful for today...
1. 
The kids' musical at church! Incredible message--Even though I've observed nearly every practice and heard the lines a lot of times, I was still almost in tears the whole time. The Gospel will do that to ya, I guess. 
2. Tradition. Memories are so sweet. Tradition helps bond families together. Just love it. 
3. Parents. They are so supportive and come to the kids' events. They spend many hours on the road, but do it without a thought. They were always like that for me growing up and during college. And now they are like that for the grandkids. We are blessed.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Monday Meanderings - Dec. 1




Bible Study... still  praying thru the Psalms with the A.C.T.S. format. Just starting a group study on contentment. And another group study on Colossians.

Memory Verse...  Ephesians 4:29
"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs."

Husband Encouragement...
♥ Just trying to keep the house tidy and need to get our bedroom dressers decluttered and dusted. 
♥ Need to catch up on housework today, and weekend things and Christmas things put away. 

Train Them Up...
* Continue being consistent with my nightly dinner helper routine. This is not only a good opportunity for quality 1x1 time with each child, but they are learning how to cook! AND learning to appreciate all the details involved in preparing a meal!
* Carter--he's our most strong-willed child and that's become very apparent and difficult lately. trying something new in handling these episodes (usually about once a week). >>WE HAD A GOOD WEEK LAST WEEK! No issues!
* Eli--trying to be a little more laid back and flexible with his homework these days. Really just want him to enjoy being home and getting to play as much as possible.
* Hannah--Been intentionally wearing the jewelry she's made for me, NOT just when she wants me to but just because sometimes too. Started a back-n-forth journal with her since she LOVES writing so much, she's so sweet!
* Need to get back to bedtime stories--not sure what happened to that!? Update: 2 chapters left in our chapter book we started in the fall! 
* Christmas traditions and activities start today! So excited and the kids are too!  =)  =)  
* Trying yet another thing with churchtime notes

Personal Goals...
>> I'm gonna be starting the "1 mile a day from Thanksgiving to New Year's" challenge. Feeling so flubby these days... Struggling to get through the busy Thanksgiving weekend but hoping to get on a groove this week. 

New Habit of the Month...  {december}
intentional time with the kids. use my time WISELY.

MUST Do... 
* Put Christmas bins away. 
* Put away any remaining fall decor.
* Put weekend bags away and wash laundry.
* Bake cookies for Christmas program dress rehearsal.
* Draw pattern for doll clothes.
* Prep for any of this week's Christmas activities. (thank goodness we just do super simple ones)

Zone(s)... living room.

Menu - 

M - crab stew
T -  chicken, roasted potatoes
W - sandwiches
Th - cream cheese chicken chili
F - cocktail sausages
S - french dip

FUN THINGS!
* The first week of Christmas season! love it so much! the decorations, traditions, quality time together, memory making, and the anticipation of the coming of our Savior and how exciting that was and is!
* Monday's Bible study was cancelled so I have a coffee date instead. Yippee.
* Bible study Wednesday. We finished our book but decided to continue meeting with our own informal read of Colossians. 
* Volleyball Thursday--can't wait! now that we have new players, it's awesome!
* The kids' Christmas musical at church this weekend. It's the first program our church has done since we've been here, and it's going to be great!

3 things I'm thankful for today...
1. 
Our church family! I spent almost 10 straight hours at the church yesterday, with early morning music rehearsal, sunday school, church, christmas decorating, and then musical practice. but it didn't feel long at all because every part was great and surrounded by people I cherish!
2. Good friends. Love them.
3. Music. It lifts any moment. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Monday Meanderings - Nov. 24




Bible Study... just finishing A Woman After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George this week, still  praying thru the Psalms with the A.C.T.S. format on my own mornings and still loving that. Also doing daily Thanksgiving verses. 

Memory Verse...  Ephesians 4:2
"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love."

Husband Encouragement...
♥ Just trying to keep the house tidy and need to get our bedroom dressers decluttered and dusted. 
♥ Will need to stock up some food in the house so he has things to eat while the kids and I are in Iowa this weekend.

Train Them Up...
* Continue being consistent with my nightly dinner helper routine. This is not only a good opportunity for quality 1x1 time with each child, but they are learning how to cook! AND learning to appreciate all the details involved in preparing a meal!
* Carter--he's our most strong-willed child and that's become very apparent and difficult lately. trying something new in handling these episodes (usually about once a week)
* Eli--trying to be a little more laid back and flexible with his homework these days. Really just want him to enjoy being home and getting to play as much as possible.
* Hannah--Been intentionally wearing the jewelry she's made for me, NOT just when she wants me to but just because sometimes too. Also thinking of starting a back-n-forth journal with her since she LOVES writing so much!
* Need to get back to bedtime stories--not sure what happened to that!?

Personal Goals...
>> I'm gonna be starting the "1 mile a day from Thanksgiving to New Year's" challenge. Feeling so flubby these days.

New Habit of the Month...  {november}
chore routine. use my time WISELY.

MUST Do... 
* Mail cards.
* Take clothes bins to basement now that I finally have the seasons swapped over.

Zone(s)... office.

Menu - 

M - turkey and rice soup (using up leftover turkey)
T - ham and cheese sliders (using up leftover rolls)
W - something
Th - THANKSGIVING
F - Iowa
S - something ;)

FUN THINGS!
* excited that we only have a few days of school this week and then we get to see Grandma and Grandpa this weekend!
* I get to hang out with a friend tomorrow, as I help take her around for errands. =)
* The Thanksgiving celebrations have been Re..aaa...lll.......y spread out this year and as much as I love Thanksgiving I'm just getting really excited for Christmas--I love the decorations and I love our family's nightly traditions and it's just such a lovely season full of memory-making.

3 things I'm thankful for today...
1. Afternoon Chai latte. My usual beverage choice around 2pm cuz I get chilly and want a sit-break with something cozy and yummy.
2. Some down time with my hubs today. We had family here this past weekend and it was nice to have a quiet day instead of bustling around with chores. Thankful for this time together.
3. Volleyball. It's one of my FAVORITE parts of the week, especially now that we're finally finding enough players to make it really FUN!! Such great exercise too but mostly it's just a heck of a lot of fun!