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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Advent Activities

I LOVE this time of year! I love the JOY of the season, I love the intentional time we have together as a family, I love reaching out to others, I love traditions, I love switching things up and starting NEW traditions!

What I DON'T love: supplies, messes, and prep work.

So I choose our daily advent activities with that in mind. Each year I come up with a few new ideas and add them in. Some ideas for YOU...

Decorate the Christmas tree.
Make a popcorn garland.
Make an ornament and add to the Christmas tree.
Read about candy canes and then add some to the tree.
Have a candy cane hunt!
Make a craft with Mom.
 List what you are grateful for.

Decorate an ice cream cone Christmas tree. (the kids' favorite!)
Bake Christmas cookies.
Deliver cookies to someone you want to bless.
Cook a big brunch.
Invite friends over for hot cocoa and cookies.

Clean out toys to give away, including a favorite item.
Prepare and mail out Christmas cards. (assembly line style)
Send a sunshine box to someone who has had a hard year.
Mail encouraging cards to families who have lost someone this year.
 Donate items to local collection drive.
As a family buy something for a third world community. 
 Visit nursing home residents.
Candy cane bomb a parking lot.
Prepare a care package for a single mom.
Go shopping for Christmas exchange.
Make a Christmas card for your teachers.
Prepare gifts for teachers.
Bake and deliver something to your neighbors. 
THANK your mail and/or UPS carriers.
Drive around looking at Christmas lights.
 Go on a driving Christmas scavenger hunt around town.
Attend a Christmas program. (aka the kids' school music concert)

Sing Christmas carols around the piano.

Unwrap a new book to read. 
Pick one of your received Christmas cards and pray for that family.
 Learn about how Christmas is celebrated in another part of the world.

 Camp out by the Christmas tree tonight.
Watch a favorite Christmas movie. 
Put on music and have a coloring party.
Fill out a Christmas mad lib
 Play Christmas dice game.
 Play Christmas-themed Pictionary. 
Play "Name That Tune" with Christmas hymns and songs.
Write a Christmas poem together.
 List how many words you can make using the letters in CHRISTMAS.
Have a family spelling bee with Christmas words.

Burn off some holiday treats and do 50 jumping jacks.
Have a living room dance party to fun Christmas music.   

Spend time repenting by reading Psalm 51.
Read and act out nativity story.
Watch The Nativity movie.
Read the story about JESUS. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Saying No to the scale...

Over the past year I have lost 25 lbs via a lot of hard work, hundreds of daily choices, food logging and exercise. It's exciting to see progress and change when you really put your mind to it, and I'm proud of where I am. But even though I don't really have more pounds to lose, I am still struggling with weight. Or at least I sure have CONVINCED myself that I am. My body is fine, but my mind has become obsessed, and I'm no longer able to truly ENJOY food or sitting down without feeling guilt or the need to "make up for it" later.

I am fighting hard to find balance. After reading this article and in an effort for this whole thing to stop consuming me, I made the difficult decision to give up the scale. Out of the house altogether, (although it still sits there right now in the bathroom).  I thought giving up the scale would be freeing--I can FEEL when I'm up and I can FEEL when I'm down, I don't need numbers screaming at me and dictating whether it's  a "fail" or "win" kind of day. Right??? But it turns out it's really hard to let go...

I have no accountability, no goal, no immediate reason NOT to cheat. And I like to cheat. I like sweets which so happen to be the #1 cause of weight gain. So now I'm swinging wildly again, in the upward direction surely. And my body feels like crap, huge and pregnant-looking. And mentally I feel like I'm losing it. I don't have things in control the way I like. I'm eating frivolously and impulsively: gluttony.

"Just stop cheating and eat right until you feel great again," I tell myself. I know this but it's easy to say and hard to do. And I'm starting to feel desperate and about to break, about to take it all back and say Nevermind. The scale is one of those things that can hold you in bondage, but at the same time weirdly provides a security you don't realize until it's gone. You became dependent on it. *I* became dependent on it. So now what?

A new beginning.
A new focus.

JOURNEY is a special word to me. Because that's what all of Life is. We never have it mastered. We never have it figured out. And this thing with weight, making it more important in my life than what it needs to be at all, is just a thing I'm working through right now...

Aside from the scale, aside from numbers or even sizes, I'm working toward gaining STRENGTH. Not just in my barbell curls but in my mind. Finding balance and being wholly healthy and well-rounded: physically, emotionally, spiritually. And hoping to focus more on the positive like this:

And above all remembering my identity is in HIM, and real beauty "is that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." (1 Peter 3:4)

Thanks to everyone who is journeying with me...

More to come, I'm sure.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

33. {birthday thoughts}

33 today. And almost every year has been painfully hard in various ways. But also full of good, full of memory-making, full of strength-building, full of discovery, full of dear friendships, full of family, full of faith-growing. Just gonna keep living for what I believe in and trust that God is doing something good with me. Cuz I know that He who began a good work in me will continue until the day of completion (Philippians 1:6). Life is hard but God is still good--That can be a difficult concept to wrestle with as we battle on thru the days. But it's Truth, and He is faithful. And in all the things there is a greater glory.

Favorite Bible verse and personal theme song:
"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." (Colossians 2:7)

"Live Like That" 
Sidewalk Prophets

Sometimes I think
What will people say of me
When I'm only just a memory
When I'm home where my soul belongs

Was I love
When no one else would show up
Was I Jesus to the least of us
Was my worship more than just a song

I want to live like that
And give it all I have
So that everything I say and do
Points to You

If love is who I am
Then this is where I'll stand
Recklessly abandoned
Never holding back

I want to live like that
I want to live like that

Am I proof
That You are who you say You are
That grace can really change our heart
Do I live like Your love is true

People pass
And even if they don't know my name
Is there evidence that I've been changed
When they see me, do they see You

I want to live like that
And give it all I have
So that everything I say and do
Points to You

If love is who I am
Then this is where I'll stand
Recklessly abandoned
Never holding back

I want to live like that
I want to live like that

I want to show the world the love You gave for me
I'm longing for the world to know the glory of the King

I want to live like that
And give it all I have
So that everything I say and do
Points to You

If love is who I am
Then this is where I'll stand
Recklessly abandoned
Never holding back

I want to live like that
I want to live like that
I want to live like that

Friday, February 5, 2016

A Tribute to my Facebook People.

A few weeks ago I shared on Facebook my struggle with how impersonal it's become over there.  People just mindlessly scrolling through people's lives, maybe clicking a bunch of "like" buttons (or not), and then moving on. Without any words, without any comments. And it's the words shared that make connection between my story and yours, my heart and yours. And I long for those connections to be made because within Facebook are my actual FRIENDS. For me anyway, it's a personal thing, not just hundreds people I maybe met at random events, or people I've added for business purposes. They're FRIENDS, people I truly care about.  So I encouraged everyone to make time and effort for one another, and instead of just scrolling by, take a few seconds to write something. It matters. People matter. Here's a poem I wrote that describes what the facebook community is like and the importance of precious words...

Ode to the Faces in My Book

It's really so simple,
really so small.
A word of kindness
takes no time at all.
We're friends, you and me.
That's why you are here
Your life and your heart
are so very dear.
Vacations and stories,
A meaningful quote,
The snowman you built,
Your new favorite coat,
An article you loved,
A book you just read,
A song on the radio
that's stuck in your head.
The walls you just painted,
The home you created,
Nostalgia and memories
never outdated.
Celebrations and birthdays,
laughter and tears,
loss and sadness,
worries and fears.
Milestones, victories,
Crummy days too,
It's not always smiles,
Sometimes you're just blue.
It's just a glimpse,
a speck of what's true.
But it's real, this life,
And I'm in it with you.
We're friends, you and me.
That's why you are here.
Your life and your heart
are so very dear.
I'm cheering you on
as you run your next race.
You're never alone,
not in this place.
We're all so different,
our strengths and our needs,
our wants and preferences,
our sacred creeds.
But under it all
when push comes to shove,
we all want a life
full of peace, full of love.
May our words be a gift
of sweetness and grace,
encouragement, truth,
virtual embrace.
We're friends, you and me.
That's why you are here.
Your life and your heart
are so very dear.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Pray the Psalms {download}

It took me over a year to off-and-on complete this "study" but for me it was by far THEE most spiritually fulfilling prayer walk and journey to knowing and truly loving the Lord. I first wrote about Praying Through Psalms HERE, and I still am so passionate about it, I can't wait to share this resource and then start again on my own!  

It's incredible starting the day 
1. Being reminded of who God is
2. Laying my flaws and sin before Him and thanking God for my Savior
3. Praising God for all He's done in my life (big and small)
4. Reflecting on my daily walk, surrendering my burdens and requests to Him. 

I am weak, but He is Strong. He is faithful, loving, and true. Less of me, more of You, God. Fill me. 
Another component to this is writing out these scriptures. I love keeping a prayer journal. It documents my spiritual journey and I frequently use it as a resource and go back to find various verses and ideas.  And taking the time to write scripture helps it soak in, and I can meditate on and highlight key words as I go along. 
 This is NOT a schedule. It does not have to be done every day. Reading God's Word should never be something that you stress over or just mark off a list.  Like I said, I did this off and on over the course of more than a year. But it was something I always loved and needed to come back to. At times when I was lost or hurting or just spiritually unmotivated, this is what recentered me. Prayer. The Psalms are so real and so raw. A book of wailing, desperation, pleas, and also a book praising, dancing, and singing, and everything in between. It is rich in the truths of God's faithfulness, love, and salvation.

Comment below:
* What is your favorite book of the Bible and why?
* What do you turn to when you are feeling spiritually unmotivated and walking through difficult times?
* What do your prayer habits look like?

Sunday, January 3, 2016

2016: {Breathe}

I have a love-hate relationship.
With myself.
(Don't we all.) 
I know that I have God-given talents and gifts.
I know that I am loved and occasionally appreciated.
I know that I have purpose and mission.
But sometimes, I really hate how I am....

I am driven and motivated.
I am goal-oriented and organized.
I am determined, fully committed, focused, and intense.
But because of all those very qualities I am also very anxious and tightly wound.
I freak out over little things, I stress, I snap and explode.
I frequently over-react, because to me everything is extremely important, even when it's not.
And it unfortunately affects everyone around me.

I have a very difficult time just letting loose and enjoying a moment, and not being critical or gripped by fear.

It hit me when our family went sledding this past weekend. Sledding is an activity that can end badly in a flash and I was overwhelmed by fear....
Of someone sliding down at a diagonal and crashing into the brick bathroom building at the bottom of the hill.
Or wiping out and then getting slammed by the next sledder.
Or flying off a sled and busting your head or face in a tumble.
To me they were valid fears because I stood at the bottom of the snow hill watching many of these events happen repeatedly.  My chest was in knots, as I continually shouted for the kids to Be careful, Watch out, Wait.
When all I really wanted was to laugh and enjoy making memories sledding together as a family.

Oh how I want this.

SO, I want to spend some time this 2016 to learn some strategies for overcoming anxious situations, to trust in God's provision, and to {BREATHE} before reacting. I want to feel a constant stream of renewing and peace, to let a wave of calmness wash over me instead of exploding on my precious loves. Slowly, continuously, BREATHE.... ...... .....

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Keep Making Me

God is refining me,
shaping me,
molding me.
To be more like Him,
To turn to Him, 
To know Him more fully.
So if it takes
and hurt,
and emptiness,
Then bring it, Lord,
Til you are my
one desire,
one true love,
my breath,
my everything. 

Just really heard this song for the first time yesterday while mowing and it really speaks to where I'm at right now and the growth that is happening in my life. "Keep Making Me" by Sidewalk Prophets.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

{Freebie} Church Notes

I encourage my kids to participate and listen during church, so I like to have a little worksheet for them to fill out as the service goes along. I tinker and adapt it from time to time, and here is the current format, for writing age and upward. Actually, I like to fill it in as well, I listen better and my mind doesn't wander if I'm writing at the same time. Anyhoo, thought I'd share:

Click HERE to download the PDF. 
{instructions: print page 1 first and then put the paper back in the printer and print page 2 on the backside. Then fold in half like a booklet}

And here's a simpler version for early writers
{instructions: it's also double-sided, but makes two copies per paper. So just cut down the middle)

And another that's a combo of the two versions:

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


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:

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.