Thursday, May 30, 2019

Make It To Mid-June Summer Meal Challenge - Update #1

Good afternoon, friends!  Whew!  It's been a hot and busy day here, as we lugged totes and boxes from the attic and sorted through what we are keeping and what is going to the yard sale that we are having this Saturday. Personally, I detest yard sales, but we decided to go ahead and try to turn some of this stuff into a little cash before the move, as well as lessen the load we have to move, so wish us luck!

I wanted to pop in with a little update on my meal challenge and let you know how things are coming along. So, if you saw my original post, then you saw my meal plan, but if not, I'm just going to re-post it here with my notes in green.

Breakfast - Eggs, Toast, Coffee - same as planned
Lunch - Bill - Salad, Kim & Kate - Macaroni and Cheese, Water - same as planned
Dinner - Steak Kabobs, Macoroni Salad, Water - same as planned

Breakfast - Bill - Eggs, Kim - Ham & Cheese Biscuit, Kate - typically doesn't eat breakfast, Coffee
- Kate actually ended up eating a Ham & Cheese Biscuit as well, which was fine since I'd made two.
Lunch - Bill - Salad, Kim & Kate - Macaroni and Cheese, Water - same as planned
Dinner - Jalapeño Poppers, Pinto Beans, Guacamole - on Tuesday I decided that rather than having leftovers on Wednesday that we would finish off the kabobs and leftover macaroni salad, so that was what we did.

Breakfast - Bill / Kim - Ham & Cheese Quiche, Coffee - this changed a little, Bill had cereal and I made Kate and I another Ham & Cheese Biscuit as I had all the ingredients on hand.
Lunch - Bill - Salad, Kim & Kate - Turkey Bacon Sandwich, Chips, Water - Bill did eat a salad, but Kate and I spent the day out running errands and had lunch at Chic Fil A.  That is actually a good thing as I now have the turkey and bacon to make sandwiches another day.
Dinner - Leftovers From Previous Two Days, Water - Since we had leftovers the night before, I made the Jalapeño Poppers, Pinto Beans and Guacamole for dinner last night.

And now, here's the plan for the rest of the week.

Breakfast - Bill/ Kim - Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Toast, Coffee
Lunch - Bill/Kim Veggies w/ Dip, Nuts, Cheese, Water - Kate was at work
Dinner - Bill/Kim - Leftover Jalapeño Poppers, Pinto Beans, Guacamole, Water, Kate - Ate Out

Breakfast - Bill/Kim - Egg in A Hole
Lunch - Bill - Salad, Kim/Kate - Turkey Bacon Sandwiches, Chips, Water
Dinner - Barbacoa Beef Bowls w/ Rice, Pico De Gallo, Cheese, and Avocados OR
Chicken, Bacon, Jalapeño Pizza with Alfredo Sauce. - I can't decide! :)

Breakfast - Yard Sale Day, so probably yogurt!
Lunch - Bill - Salad, Kim/Kate - Chicken Salad Croissants, Pasta Salad, Water
Dinner - Pulled Pork Barbecue Sandwiches (I'm going to cook them in the crock pot), Baked Beans, Potato Salad

Breakfast - We serve at our church, and they serve breakfast to the servers.  Such a blessing!
Lunch - Food Trucks - Our church is having food trucks after the service today, so we'll eat there.
Dinner - Leftover Pulled Pork Barbecue Sandwiches, Baked Beans, Potato Salad

So there you have it, this takes us through Monday, and then I'll share a new update with the menu plan for Monday-Wednesday of next week!  For now, I'm bushed! I think I'll read for a bit and hit the sack a little early tonight.

Until then, friends!


Monday, May 27, 2019

Make It Mid June Summer Meal Challenge - The First Three Days

Good afternoon, friends!  Happy Memorial Day!

I shared some news earlier today on my Facebook page, but for those of you who don't follow me there, and you totally should, I made the announcement that we are . . . MOVING!  Not out of state, just into the next city, but we are SOOOO excited! We've been living in a one room efficiency apartment since last October, that is , the three of us, me, my husband and our twenty year old daughter. And while it worked out better than any of us originally thought it would, it is definitely time for a change! Anyway, I won't spend a lot of time talking about that today, because I'm sure I'll be sharing more over the next few weeks as our move in date gets closer, we move in June 14!

With that in mind, however, I've decided to challenge myself to empty out our freezer, refrigerator and pantry as much as possible between now and then, which means, making meals as much as possible with what we already have on hand. I am sure we will be fine for dinner, but I'm a little less sure about ideas for breakfast and lunch. I'm not concerned about myself, since I never eat much for lunch. But with Bill and Kate both working, they will need meals, and breakfast is another area that has me wondering if I can pull this off. But, I'm determined to give it my best shot! Of course there will still be things like milk, bread, eggs, and the like that we will have to replace a few times, but as far as meat and most other ingredients, I'm going to to see if I can make it for three weeks on what we have.

I should probably sit down and make up a menu, and you know, if I were more organized at the moment, that might be a good idea. But did I mention we're moving?  Yes, so that means things are going to be a little busy and a bit disorganized for the new several weeks. I have to keep things simple, so today I only planned for three days, and here's what I've come up with so far.

Breakfast - Eggs, Toast, Coffee
Lunch - Bill  - Salad, Kim & Kate - Macaroni and Cheese, Water
Dinner - Steak Kabobs, Macoroni Salad, Water

Breakfast - Bill - Eggs, Kim - Ham & Cheese Biscuit, Kate - typically doesn't eat breakfast, Coffee
Lunch - Bill - Salad, Kim & Kate - Macaroni and Cheese, Water
Dinner - Jalapeño Poppers, Pinto Beans, Guacamole

Breakfast - Bill / Kim - Ham & Cheese Quiche, Coffee
Lunch - Bill - Salad, Kim & Kate - Turkey Bacon Sandwich, Chips, Water
Dinner  - Leftovers From Previous Two Days, Water

I have everything I needed for the meals for the first three days, and was happy to use up two half filled boxes of macaroni noodles! They were two different sizes, but who cares, it keeps things interesting, I guess. Since there are only three of us, I cooked it all up, divided it in half and made macaroni salad with one part and macaroni and cheese with the other.  That's the macaroni salad you see in the picture above with the macaroni and cheese at the top.  I used this recipe for the macaroni salad and it turned out really good. I didn't have pimentos though, and since it was optional, I just diced up some tomatoes and used it for a bit of color. As for the macaroni and cheese, that is a recipe that I've been making for years and actually found in a Strawberry Shortcake cookbook that Kate had when she was little. It's our absolute favorite. I haven't used the actual measurements in years and the cookbook is long gone.  Maybe if I come across one in a thrift store some day, I'll take a picture of the recipe and post it. I use pepper jack cheese in ours to give it a little kick.  It is so good!

Putting these meals together has really inspired me with some ideas for the upcoming days! After this, I'll have sixteen more days to go! My plan is to take an inventory of everything I have in the freezer and pantry and make a preliminary plan. My objective is to not only save us money by not buying more food, but also to have less to pack and move!  I'd like to start out in our new home with a fresh bill of groceries and some new ideas on the menu plan for the rest of the summer.

And with that, I need to get the kabobs on the grill friends!  I'll be checking back in and updating you on the other meals I plan and keep a running total of things if I have to purchase ingredients to round things out, but I'm hoping to keep that to a minimum. Just like today when I substituted tomatoes for pimentos, if an ingredient isn't essential or I can substitute it with something else, I'll do that before I go out and buy anything.

Until then, friends, wish me luck!


Friday, May 24, 2019

The Habit of Happiness

So to begin, my apologies.  No, I am not still "in the mountains", although honestly, as I live in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, you might say I'm ALWAYS there!  Anyway, I had planned to get right back to posting on Monday, but guess what happens when you go camping for three days?  You come home with a lot of stuff to unpack and put back in place, and a TON of laundry. How does that always happen? But just so you'll know, that's the reason for my absence the past few days. I've been a little pre-occupied!

That being said, I wouldn't trade it for the wonderful experience we had at Trail Days.  There is just
nothing like the AT Community.  Such laid back, fun-loving people! I didn't even mind there wild drum dances around the bonfire at night. We didn't participate, just not our thing, but I actually kind of enjoyed being lulled to sleep by the rhythm of the drums. And let me just tell you, if there's are drums, dancing and bonfires in celebration of Jesus' return, you can count me in!

I will admit though, that coming home and settling back into the routine and the "dailiness" of life was a little hard and left me feeling a little down.  I've had a lot on my mind recently, which has left me a bit restless. Which is why I was so thankful to get away for a few days to have the fun of the festival to distract me. But come Monday, and along with all the loads of laundry, I picked up a heavy load of doubt and worry, and topped it off with a big dose of discontent with "life as usual".

But then I was reminded of an article I read back in January, once again from Sarah Ban Breathnach's book, Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy.  I can't even tell you how often I personally reference this book, or how-many-times it has provided the balm for the aches of my soul, and this day was no different.

In the passage I'm referencing, The Underrated Duty, she encourages us with these words;

Picture taken behind the Old Mill in Damascus. I didn't take many pictures this trip,
to be honest, I was too busy having fun!

"Perhaps you think you'll be happy when you get a bigger kitchen, or a new job, or the perfect someone with whom to share your life. But don't you want to start making happiness a habit right now? Every morning when we wake up we've been given a wonderful gift - another-day-of-life - so let's make the most of it. Let's adopt a new state of mind about happiness, and stop thinking that things outside of our control will bring us happiness."

When I read those words I was immediately convicted, as only a few minutes before I was definitely wallowing in a big case of the "if only's".  You know what I mean? "If only we had more of _______", or "less of _____________".  If only I was ______________". I was full and deep into that mindset, wishing I was still back at camp, basking in the fullness of the sun, without a care in the world. But instead, there I was, two loads into five loads of laundry and swishing a dirty toilet.  Then I read this, and I was reminded that's it's all part of the same life, and each element depends upon the other. Without clean clothes and the right gear, we couldn't even plan for special times away. Which naturally means things must be washed, gear must be retrieved from and placed back in storage, and yes, that makes a mess coming and going. And while packing for a trip is always fun, unpacking can be just as enjoyable if I change my perspective. It may not be "fun" to put clothes and gear away, but I'm grateful that we have these things and that it all has a place. It makes it so much easier when our next adventure rolls around, to know it ready and waiting. I'm thankful to have clothes on my back, and to know that my family is covered. We actually have more than we need, and when I consider that I realize how ungrateful I am at times. I have a family to clean, cook and do laundry for, and that is a blessing not afforded to all.

Reading this passage reminded me of my previous post, naturally as they were inspired by the same book. But where before we looked at discovering what makes us happy, in this passage we view happiness as "habit". Susan even references it as a "living emotion". And while knowing what makes you happy is important, you can just as easily grow discontent when you experience things that don't make you happy. One of the things that makes me happy is a clean house, but I can tell you that there are a number of tasks involved in that process that make me anything but, and it is in those cases that the habit of happiness, of being content in the process, plays an important role.

I also want to take a few minutes here to clarify a few things. While I love Sarah's writings and am
often encouraged by them, as a Christian I also realize that God is often less concerned with my happiness and more attentive to my character. And while "the pursuit of happiness" may be guaranteed by the Constitution, I am fully aware that God often uses circumstances that would be deemed as less than ideal to shape and mold us. And this is where I personally believe the "habit of happiness" can fully come into play. I may not be living my dream life right now, but that doesn't mean that there is no beauty or happiness to be found in the here and now. Regardless of my current circumstances, happiness is here for the taking!  It can be found in a cool breeze on a hot summer day. In the birdsong in the early morning, and in the hues of the sunset at the end of the day. This is the "living emotion" of happiness. So there are things in life I may wish I could change. Even if I don't see the fulfillment of that today, there is always one small step that I can take, right here, right now, that will move me closer to reaching that goal. And of course there are things I can't change, like  the shape of my toes (I'm being completely honest here!). So I can either sit around and wish they looked different, pay for plastic surgery (no way), or instead, I can decide to be grateful and happy about the fact that I have feet and I am able to walk, that, or maybe focus on a physical feature that I do like.  It's all in the mindset I choose to take!

Basically it all boils down to this  I can choose to be happy and make happiness a habit. Or not. And while that may sound simple enough, I know that for a chronically worried pessimist like me, it will take intention and effort. With that, I have another idea for an element I am considering for my Journal of Delight and Discovery that I mentioned in my previous post.  It's nothing groundbreaking, and like the journal itself, it's something I've done in the past that made  a big change in my life. I'll share more with you about that in a few days, but for now, guess what's on my agenda again today?  You guessed it, LAUNDRY! Only today, I'm going to do it and be happy about it!

Until then my friends, I choose happy!  How about you?

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Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Mountains Are Calling!

My husband and I are taking a few days of much needed 
rest this weekend and attending Trail Days in Damascus, Virginia!

I'll be back on Monday!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

A Journal of Delight and Discovery - Tools for Living An Authentic Life

In her book, Simple Abundance, author Sarah Ban Breathnach proposes for consideration, that "most women know what makes our parents, partners, or children happy.  But when it comes to an awareness about the little, specific things in life that bring a smile to our face and contentment to our hearts, we often come up short."

I've been reading Simple Abundance annually nearing twenty years now.  With each reading, as I put most of Susan's practices into place, I learned to trust her guidance and began making notes of other books she would recommend.  In the same passage mentioned above, she references a book, A Life of One's Own, written by *Joanna Field (Marion Milner).

Written and published in 1945, the journal was the result of a time in the author's life when she felt her life lacked authenticity, and that she had grown out of touch with the things that made her happy.  She shares,

"It was written in the spirit of a detective who searches through the minutia of the mundane in hopes of finding clues for what was missing in her life."  To counter this, she began noting the things that triggered a feeling of joy and delight in her daily life. And in that effort, she discovered that she delighted in red shoes, good food, golden bursts of sunset, reading in French, answering letters, loitering in a crowd at a fair and, "a new idea when first it is grasped."

In referencing Field's works, Breathnach suggest that "what is missing from many of our days is a true sense that we are enjoying the lives we are living.  It is difficult to experience moments of happiness if we are not aware of what it is we genuinely love. We must learn to savor, small, authentic moments that bring us contentment."

Though I would say that "savoring the small" has been a natural inclination of mine for most of my life, the draw and influence of social media has made that more of a challenge in my adult life. Which is why I so appreciate being reminded again to touch base with my inner self from time to time and insure that I am living and moving from a place of authenticity.

One year, inspired by Fields, I kept a journal of "Delight and Discovery", in which I noted the things throughout the day that brought me joy. And while that original journal was kept in a simple spiral notebook and is clearly nothing to look at, I enjoy looking back and reflecting upon the similarities and differences in my preferences, both then and now.

Back then I listed, "The sweet sound of Kate's voice when she pleads for "one more story" (she was just four years old when I kept my original journal), and "the smell of cinnamon, cloves and apples simmering on the stove", which was around the time I first discovered simmer pots, which have now given way to wax melts and essential oils. But there are things that remain the same, as well.

- the sound of rain as I fall asleep.
- the smell of a freshly cut grass on a warm summer day.
- Peonies, marigolds and chrysanthemums.
- The smell of cookies baking in the oven (although these days that is not nearly as often)
- The feel of a warm, gentle breeze though an open window.

Of course these things may delight others, as well, but they each speak truly to who I am at the center of my soul, and knowing that grounds me. Having kept that journal for a year, the final list of things is quite long. Looking back I don't know that it would need to be a year long project. If I did it over again, rather than trying to come up with something different every day, I might allow for repetition. In this way, specific things would be revealed that could be incorporated into my days with more frequency.

As you might have guessed, I'm considering keeping such a journal again! As I had already purposed to find pockets of slow in my days over the summer, I think a fresh take might be in order, and I'd LOVE for you to join me! My plan at the moment is to begin on June 1 and end on August 31. I haven't decided yet if I will make daily entries, or just jot things down as they occur, though I do have concerns about consistency and falling out of habit. I will most likely try for at least one entry per day. Some days will naturally have more and others may spark nothing, and that is all good and well. I also don't know if I will share my discoveries along the way, or wait until the end after I've had time to reflect upon it and them share my findings in early September. But, I'm fine with not having all the nuts and bolts sorted for the time being. The most important thing is to remember to be mindful and to document my findings. If I think about it to much, things become complicated and I'm less prone to want to do it at all.

So again, if this sparks your interest, then I encourage you to buy a journal, or dig up a simple spiral notebook you already have on hand. Again, don't overcomplicate things! Then, beginning on June 1 (or now, if you'd rather), begin noting the things that bring you joy and embark on a journey of self-discovery! I remember the last time I did this it was very eye-opening and I learned so much about myself. I can't wait to do it again!

Until then, my friends, savor the small!

*Joanna Fields is the pseudonym of Marion Milner

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Saturday, May 11, 2019

Show & Tell - Small Discoveries From Ordinary Life - .02

Here's a half dozen discoveries I came across this week, and felt were worthy to share!  

1. Rocky Hedge Farm
I knew I'd found a kindred spirit the moment Sarah described herself as a "hang laundry from the line, cook from scratch kind of girl".  In perusing her offerings you be surprised to learn that the pictures featured are actually of her double wide manufactured home! I've loved everything I've seen and read here! But this morning I spent some time taking in her seasonal posts, and as you might guess, I think they were my favorite! Pour yourself a cup of coffee, because you will be here for awhile!

2. At The Welcome Table, Breaking Bread Around The World  Part I and Part II
Plough (which is more than worthy of your time itself), asked five friends from five distinctly different places throughout the world to share what hospitality looks like. Interesting reading!

3.When Dreams Wake Up Different
As a 50+ dreamer myself, I found this article inspiring.  I adore her admonishment;

"I can either do nothing at all, or "wake up, little dream!"

Even if you only have one talent, for even the "one-talent servant was expected to somehow expected to invest what the Master had invested in him.", and you have a little dream that's been collecting dust for awhile, maybe this article will inspire you to brush it off and give it a go!

I love this article and couldn't agree more with the suggestions outlined to live a quieter life. And while this article does not reference such, I am often alarmed by the lack of consideration many people hold for the noise they create simply moving through space. Anything that can be done loudly and with great force can likewise be done quietly and with consideration for others. At least, most day to day tasks can be accomplished quietly, and with consideration. I suppose there really is no way to quietly break up concrete with a jackhammer, but these are not the things of which I speak. I am referring to the volume of our voices when speaking, and of the consideration of our steps when walking across a room. Maybe I've just lived too many years in ground floor apartments and believing with certainty that The Wild Things occupied the rooms above. Maybe they find me too quiet and secretive? But given the choice, I'm fine with that!

Maybe the most inspiring article I've read all week.  It has really set me to thinking. Maybe I'll write my own, soon!

"All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone."

~ Blaise Paschal

Screen time is definitely difficult to balance in my life, and I myself, as the article mentions, have established days of "Digital Sabbath" in the past. Being reminded of such, I may do so again. Finding the balance is something I think most people struggle with in the era in which we live. This article makes some interesting points that are worth considering whether you are con to social media, or simply considering the purposes for which you use them. It mentions a few apps that may or may not help you in that quest, as most of them, and I can personally attest, be easily manipulated. 

Friday, May 10, 2019

From Grandma's Kitchen - Lunch Room Lady's Chocolate Cake

It is Mother's Day weekend, and I plan to fully indulge in all the things I love most!  Movies, both old and new, dinner on the grill, and one of my all time favorites . . . .


While it's not my absolute favorite, a recipe I'll share another time, it is one of the easiest and tastiest cakes you can make! And in case you've been following my posts and are wondering if I've forgotten my health goals, that answer is no! But I will say this, for me health is all about balance, so while I am working to reduce my sugar intake, I'm not eliminating it completely. I've done well this week with not eating sweets and limiting sweet drinks, knowing that this weekend is not only Mother's Day, but I am also attending a graduation party for one of Kate's friends tonight, so I've had to be extra good so that I can enjoy both. In moderation of course!

That being said, I will most likely send a good portion of this cake on with Bill for his employees to enjoy, because honestly, I can't trust myself not to eat the entire thing over the course of the next week, and neither Bill or Kate are big on sweets.  It's just that tempting!

So, if you're looking for a quick and simple recipe that tastes like you've spent hours in the kitchen baking, this is your new go-to! 

For the cake;
1 cup of butter
½ cup of cocoa
2 cups of flour
2 cups of sugar
4 eggs
4 tsps of vanilla

For the icing;
¼ cup of softened butter
¼ cup of milk
¼ cup of cocoa
3 cups of powdered sugar
A dash of salt.

Preheat oven to 350° Mix all ingredients together and pour the batter in a 9×13 pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Prepare icing while you let the cake cool. Once cool frost as desired.

Like I said, this cake is so easy, and tastes amazing!  Every time I've made it everyone goes crazy for it!

So what are your plans for celebrating this weekend?  Do you have a quick, simple go-to recipe for such occasions?  If you do, leave a comment and share it with me!

Until then friends, celebrate the ones you love!


Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Think About What You Think About -
Conquering Fear and Anxiety With The Truth Of God's Word

I am relishing these longer days, with the sun rising early and lingering late into the evening. The mornings are still cool, but not so much that I can't open the door and allow for the fresh air to fill the room. The bird praise just after sunrise each morning is glorious.

I welcome this peaceful start, as for the past several days I've sensed a restlessness in my spirit that I've struggled to pinpoint. My sleep has been fitful, filled with wild dreams, and two nights in a row now I've awakened, first at 2:00 a.m. and then this morning at 3:00, unable to quiet my mind and drift back to sleep. I've moved to the couch both times, prayed, spent some time on my laptop and prayed again. And then this morning when I looked at the date on my calendar, I realized that it was two years ago this coming Sunday that my mom passed away. She was in the hospital on life support for four days prior to that, and I think that these days will forever be marked now by those memories. It was a grueling and agonizing week, and memories of it linger with me still.

But I sense that there is more, some of which I am aware of but not ready to talk about, at least not here in this space. But one of the things that I will share that is troubling me, is that we need to move again, and to say that I am tired of moving would be an understatement. I have known since Bill moved back home last October, that where we are living now wouldn't work for long. But there was apparently a misunderstanding, and now circumstances have arisen that necessitate that we move sooner than I had expected, and I'm struggling to move forward in peace. But this is what I know, that change will inevitably come, and if my peace, our peace, is built upon our bank account, our address, the number of friends we have on Facebook, or the number of likes our latest post merited on Instagram, upon anything outside of Jesus Christ alone, peace will elude us.  Our circumstances do not determine our peace, only Jesus.

I started a new bible study during my sacred start this week.  If you haven't read my previous post, sacred start is what many refer to as their quiet time.  If you want to know more about why I refer to it as such, you can read that post, here. The study I am doing, Change Your Thoughts, Change Your World (link may require that you sign up for a free account), speaks to how our thoughts shapes our actions, and why it is important, as the author admonishes, "to think about what you think about". I will be the first to freely admit, that when it comes to my thought life, well, let's just say it's in stereo and color! Being an introvert, I've spent an incredible amount of time throughout my life, as my mother referred to as, "in my head".  Observant and analytical, if I'm not careful I can analyze myself and the world around me right down into a deep dark hole. I've made efforts over the years, with varying success, to "take every thought captive", but to be honest when you consider my thought life, that in itself is a full time job.

In recent years I've combatted my negative thoughts (I am prone to being a bit of a pessimist), by being more thoughtful with what I allow to enter my mind. I've eliminated certain genres of reading and especially movies and television, when I realized they produced an unrest in my spirit. And then this week I read a verse that built upon this even further. about the analogy of what happens when we try to rid ourselves of negative or dark thoughts, without replacing them with new, life giving thoughts. The author used the example found in Matthew 12:43, about leaving a clean, empty space (our minds) open for more dark negative thoughts to inhabit it again. When we rid our minds of dark, anxious or sinful thoughts but do not replace those thoughts with the truth of God's word, the enemy returns with seven other spirits more wicked than before to torment us. I was encouraged when I read, "There is a better way to control our thoughts, and it's not "try harder". Instead we fill our minds with the truth and promises that Christ has given to us. Truths such as;

"We have the mind of Christ." 
- 1 Corinthians 2:16

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is, His good pleasing and perfect will." 
- Romans 12:2

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 
- 2 Corinthians 10:5

"Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, 
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, 
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things." 
- Philippians 4:8

It was this last verse that first made me become more aware of what I allowed to enter my mind, and I've been amazed at the difference I've felt in my spirit. But my biggest, continuing battle when it comes to taking my thoughts captive, is fear and worry. I realized recently that in my pessimism, I've grown cynical.  Because I've experienced pain and disappointment before, I just naturally assume that history will repeat itself.  Since our thoughts control our actions, I believe that some of the struggles I've encountered over the years were a direct result of that thought pattern. A self fulfilling prophecy.

Armed with this new found knowledge, in those moments when I feel fear and anxiety arise, especially with regards to our need to move again, I will fill my mind with these truths from scripture.  Promises such as;

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, 
or what you will wear. . . . But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, 
and all these things will be given to you as well." 
- Matthew 6: 25, 34


"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, 
with thanksgiving, present your requests to God, which transcends 
all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." 
- Philippians 4:6-7

and finally,

"Consider the ravens, they do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; 
yet God feeds them. . Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?  
Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?" 
- Luke 12:24-26

I cut my teeth on these truths. These are the same messages I heard in my youth, but even now in my adult life, the enemy still seeks to pluck the rooted seeds of His word.  In giving thought to my worries, I realize that while I've known in my heart that I "should not" worry, I was guilty of thinking that if I just "tried harder"not to, that things would get better. Every time I would think of moving, of the hardship of packing up once again, of the hours of looking for a place that we can afford, and worrying that with our limited budget what that might be, and being fearful (this is where my heart has been for weeks now), as much as I knew that I shouldn't worry, I didn't combat  those negative thoughts with the truth and promises of God's word. But that ends today.

I don't know what tomorrow, even this afternoon holds for me. But one thing I do know is that I am 57 years old and I've survived every day of my life so far. That may sound silly, but when you think about it, it's true. There has never been a day of my life so far that I went hungry or did not have a place to rest my head. My Father, who loves me, knows my needs (your needs). He created me and instilled His purpose within me, and He will see it through until it's completion. These are promises, from His word that as His child we can all claim!  He knows my needs, and He will provide for me and for my family, just as he does every day for the birds of the air, and just as He had done every single day of my life thus far, and as He has promised that He will continue to do.

Give me a ravenous faith, Lord.  One that hungers for you more than for what I will eat, or wear, or where I will lay my head.  Quicken your truth in my heart and fill my mind, which is the mind of Christ, with your word!

And may it be so, my friends, for you!

Until then, rest in His peace!


Monday, May 6, 2019

My Morning Routine - An Update!

I thought I would pop in quickly this afternoon and let you know how my morning routine is going, and to start things off, I want to confess that today was the first day I actually followed my plan.

In my previous post I had mentioned that I was going to try to implement this while my husband was away for a few days hiking, and sense last Wednesday was May 1, I decided that would be perfect.  Except, my husband ending up coming home a day early because the temperatures were much colder than he planned for, and he didn't want to spend another uncomfortable night in the cold.  Who could blame him? So while I was happy to have him back early, it did throw a little wrench in my plans.

At first I considered just bumping everything to Thursday, but I'm weird about things like that, I don't like starting things at the end of the week, so that was when I made the decision to just wait until today, which is also the first full week of May.

To help me to remember all-the-things and because every day is a different and I do some things M-W-F and others T-TH-S, I decided to make myself a chart, which you can see a little  in the image on the left.  And, wouldn't you know, the minute I upload this I realized that I left off "Eat Breakfast", and if you will remember in my previous post, that is something that I struggle to do on a consistent basis.  So, after I finish this post, I'll be adding that in and re-printing a fresh copy.

The plan is to print one of these off every Saturday for the upcoming week and then keep it in a place where I will see it regularly throughout the day to remind me what I need to do. As far as my morning routine goes, what I've included is

- Oil Pulling (M, W, F) If you are not familiar with oil pulling, just google it, there's LOADS of information out there!

- Lemon Tea - my recipe is 1 cup of hot water, 1/2 of an organic lemon, juiced, 1 T. honey and a dash of cayenne.  I want to get back into the habit of drinking this EVERY morning, and again, if this isn't something you are familiar with, just google it.  But for the sake of this post, I'll discuss and oil pulling another time.

- Sacred Start - This is what some people refer to as their "Quiet Time", but I'm going to be honest here.  That word triggers me a little, and reminds of a time in my life when my faith was very much about checking things off a list and heavily works based.  Now that I've developed a relationship with the Lord, this is time I can't wait to spend with Him, and it sets me up for the rest of my day!  When I made this chart I knew that I DID NOT want to call it my "Quiet Time" and that was when I came up with "Sacred Start", which essentially means, starting my day with my Savior!  The only reason it is third on the list is because I am doing my oil pulling and drinking my lemon tea while I am in the word and praying, so that actually all happens kind of simultaneously.  There is also a cup of coffee that gets thrown in that mix!

- Eat Breakfast - and this is what I left off of my chart.

After this, there are a number of things I do depending on the day of the week, but on this chart in particular they are all related to my health, both spiritual, physical, emotional and financial. I am sure as a result of this that it will constantly be evolving, because there are a number of goals that I want to add into the mix, but I didn't want to overwhelm myself with too much in the beginning.  One of the goals I am focusing on now is, getting myself back into the habit of walking and hiking and working out with weights. So, on M-W-F I have a goal to walk 4 miles, and then on T-TH-S, I will work out with weights. I am also trying to increase my water intake, while at the same time,  reducing my sugar intake.  You will notice I did not say eliminating sugar, and that **may** come in time, but right now I'm more interested in balance. That is why you might have noticed that I schedule a "cheat day" on Sundays, when I give myself some grace to indulge. I am also flexible with that day, because this week, for example, I am going to a graduation party Friday night, and so I might want to eat a piece of cake, in which case, Friday will be a my cheat day.

So there you have it!  Today I made a strong start, and I am especially happy about getting in my four miles, but I am still struggling to get drink more water.  I am not drinking soda, but what typically happens is that I just stop drinking all together and end up dehydrated, and that's never a good thing.  Since I'm walking again, hydration is important!  I am going to leave you with a picture from the gardens that are at the beginning of the trail where I walk.  It's a memorial garden for people who have died from cancer, very solemn but very beautiful.  Everything is blooming right now, and I was so taken in that I just had to take a few pictures.

And with that, I hope your week is off to a great start!  I'll be back with a new post on Wednesday, and I'll be updating you on my progress with my morning routine and fitness plan again next Monday!

Until then, savor every moment!


Friday, May 3, 2019

From My Reading - Simply Tuesday, by Emily P. Freeman

Last month I purchased The Next Right Thing, by Emily P. Freeman, and could hardly wait to dive into it. I bought the Kindle version, because the amount of books that are taking up space in our house right now really is astounding, even after having downsized a number of times.  If buying books is an illness, I hope they never find a cure! Though in the interest of space, and after lugging far too many heavy boxes of books with each move, I have learned to appreciate maintaining a digital library.

As is often the case when I purchase a book, I will inquire on other titles the author has written, which was when I discovered that I had previously purchased her book, Simply Tuesday. In typical fashion, that was also the moment I realized that I had never read it. In light of this discovery, I quickly concluded that the next right thing for me to do was to read the first book, not that one depends upon the other. I think this probably has more to do with my OCD, in which case there is no argument for the order in which should be read, at least, not in my mind. :)

Often when I read a book I'll take notes, noting passages that resonate with me and that I don't want to forget. And almost as often, my thoughts concerning them will find their way into my posts, as is the case today. I'm in the second part of the book, which is grouped into five parts with three chapters in each, so I still have a way to go. But I'm taking my time, and because there is so much that I relate to, I'm taking lots of notes. This morning I finished Chapter 4, which speaks to Efforts and Outcomes, and the words just spoke to my soul. The message she shares aligned completely with where my heart is and has been for some time, but especially in light of my recent desire to pare down my social media numbers and return to what I refer to as "old fashioned blogging"

Without giving too much away, because if you haven't already, you really should just read the book, one of the ideas she speaks to is embracing your smallness. Like the kind of small you might feel when you stand on the shore of the ocean, or look up into a big starlit sky. Remembering, essentially, that God is God, and we are not. Because it's easy to get so caught up in the busyness of life and take on the mindset that somehow all of this, especially our success, is completely dependent upon and because of us. My daddy used to refer to that as, "getting too big for your britches", and I think God would concur.  One of the headlines in this chapter is titled, "Being Able to Build It, But Not Being Able To Fill It", which speaks primarily to the way numbers have taken on so much significance in our lives. How many friends do I have on FB, how many followers on Instagram?  How many people liked my post, commented or left a message, or re-pinned my pin? How much money is in my bank account, how much did I make last month, last year? It's pretty staggering, if you really think about it. Especially when you consider that if your numbers are low, it can make you feel small, and not in the standing on the shore of the ocean kind of way, small as in, unimportant, unpopular, undesired. Even if we claim that numbers don't define us, I know that for me personally, I've still taken it too much to heart.

As it relates to blogging, it's honestly one of the reasons why I gave up the idea of trying to grow my blog and social media accounts into a business. I took several classes in the beginning, and all the focus on numbers and growing your followers, and things like algorithms, and the best time of day to post on each social media platform to get more likes quickly overwhelmed me. And please know that I'm not negating the experts, because they are all successful bloggers supporting themselves and their families solely upon the income they generate from their own blogs. It is a proven science and it does work, I just discovered that it wasn't going to work for me, at least not any time soon. After several months of trying to write posts, take blog-worthy pictures, keep up with all the times I needed to post on social media, and assuring that I even had anything remotely interesting to share, I gave up. In spite of the fact that I've been told for more than half of my life that I should write, it all felt very heavy and I realized that it was quickly becoming about me. My God-breathed gift for writing was now hard, because somewhere along the way I had bought into the lie that the outcome was on me.

Now don't get me wrong, I firmly believe that we are responsible to grow and put to use the talents and gifts that God has entrusted to us. I wouldn't want to be the one who buried my talents in the dirt. But I believe that if God has called met to something, while I am responsible for making the effort, the outcome rests solely with Him. I could follow every algorithm, post on social media at all the right times, and write a post for my blog every day, and I still have no control over how many people actually read, like, share or comment on my posts, and if those numbers are small, especially in the beginning, I need to be ok with that. Because my growth rate is not determined by the world, but by God. Who gets to say if I only get five likes on an Instagram post that I'm not making progress?  No one. Because what God has gifted in me, He will grow in me, and in you! It was His gift and purpose from the beginning, and we are the ones who make it about us when we lament over our posts not going viral. Personally, for me, I hope that never happens.

I don't know that I will ever generate a dollar from blogging, much less an income that would support me. But I do know that if God is in this, as I believe He is, there is nothing I can do to stop it, so long as I continue to make much of Him, and little of me. For now I'm content with where I'm at and with being what the world may deem as "small" in the big world of blogging and social media. Progress is progress, even when it's slow. The author reminds us of David, who was anointed by Samuel twenty-one years before he became king over all of Israel. In the mean time, he was a shepherd and a musician, which to the world may have seemed less, or small. For David the number was 21, and I am certain that there were times when he counted those years, and questioned. But the truth is, David was already a king, even in the fields watching over his flock, because God had said he would be. Just as I am already successful, to whatever degree He has already established, and it will come in His time.

So in whatever way you feel small today, my friends. Claim the promises, embrace your calling, and believe that because God has willed it so, that you already are! Regardless of the numbers, in spite of how little progress the world reminds you that you have made. We are the instruments though which His purpose and plan are carried out, but the outcome has been established since the dawn of creation. Rest in that, and live at peace.

Embracing small,

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Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Celebrate the Ordinary in May!

National Barbecue Month


National Barbecue Month
National Hamburger Month
National Salad Month


Ah, May!  One of the loveliest months of the years, with so many opportunities for sweet celebrations!  This month we remember those who gave their lives in service to our country, we honor our mother's, and celebrate Spring as the days lengthen and slowly stretch into summer!  The added sunlit hours and warmer temperatures beckons us outdoors. So why not choose one or two ideas from the list below, invite one a few friends and celebrate!  May is truly a month of beauty, be sure to make time to notice!

May 1
May Day
You can learn about the history of May Day, and how it became the Spring celebration it is today, here. To celebrate, I am loving these Mini May Pole Bundt Cakes!And on short notice, you do put the same together using ready made cup cakes from your local bakery in place of the bundt cakes! These ribbon wands are sweet, as well, and could easily take the place of the more traditional May pole, with the children dancing in a circle! Or perhaps something a bit more elaborate like the hoop shown in this post!

May 4
Bird Day
Did you pick a bird for the year?  This is a fun tradition I picked up from my sweet friend, Dawn, a couple of years ago.  My bird this year is the The Black Capped Chickadee! And while my original plan was to document how many times I observed it over the course of the year, I've found the living in a basement efficiency apartment with no windows isn't very conducive to achieving that goal.  But if you haven't chosen  a bird for the year, maybe today would a good day to do so!

May 5
Cinco de Mayo
Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army's unlikely victory over the French forces of Napoleon III on May 5, 1862, at the Battle of Puebla. But everyone seems to like to get in on this celebration and enjoy some Mexican food! Growing up in Texas, Tex-Mex is probably hands down my favorite, and I have a wealth of recipes saved on my Mexican Pinterest board! You're sure to find one you will like!

May 12
Mother's Day
This day needs no explanation, so treat your Mama good! This year I've requested "experiences" over gifts, and our plan is to see the new movie on the life of Tolkien, though that may happen in the days before.  Then on Mother's Day, I've requested that we go hiking together as a family, and I think since Kate and I hiked Sharp Top last year, this year we are going to tackle Flat Top. Afterwards I hope to celebrate with dinner on the grill at one of the lovely picnic areas at the foot of the mountain, so hopefully the weather will cooperate! What are your plans?

May 15
National Chocolate Chip Day
For me, no other recipe tops the Original Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie, it is simply the best! And so in honor of the Chocolate Chip, I think I'll bake up a batch and send some on to the employees my family works with!

May 16
Love a Tree Day 
I've been a tree lover from way back!  And when the girls were little we would often pick a special tree and observe and document the changes throughout the year, which was always fun! But now that they are grown, I love for other ways to support reforestation and tree preservation, and bring awareness to organizations like One Tree Planted.  You can learn more about them at their website and find out how you can get involved!

May 20
Pick Strawberries Day
The strawberry fields around where I live are plentiful, and picking fresh strawberries is always so much fun! If you've never been do, take the time to do a little search and see if there is a patch near you and take the whole family!

May 23
Lucky Penny Day
My dad always loved finding pennies in obscure places and  picking them up, and it delighted me as a child, as well. And while I've never actually take the time to do it, I've always thought it would be fun to clean up some  pennies until they shined and then leave them in various places for others to find! 

May 25
National Brown Bag It Day
It's been a number of years since I was in school and actually packed my lunch in a brown bag! But wouldn't it be fun to do just that and meet up with a few friends at a park close by for lunch? It's cheaper, and healthier than fast food, with the added benefit of being in nature and soaking in some vitamin D!

May 27
Memorial Day
Memorial Day is the day we honor and remember those who gave their lives in the service of our country, and for many (including me), it marks the unofficial launch of Summer! In my mind summer stretches from one patriotic holiday to the next, bookended by Memorial Day and Labor Day with Independence Day about mid-way through!We tend to celebrate each of these  days in much the same way,with a cookout! Most years its' hot dogs with potato salad  and baked beans!How does your family celebrate this day?

May 28
National Hamburger Day
While I don't really need to set aside a special day in indulge in my love for hamburgers, I certainly won't pass it up! And with 25 Epic choices, I'm sure there is one that will hit the mark! I've actually got my eye on that Blue Cheese Burger on a Brioche roll, and Onion Chutney! But the Guacamole Burger with Jalapeño Mayo, may beat it out! I wonder what that one would taste like if I added the onion chutney? And if beef is not your thing, the Bacon Cheddar Chicken Burger looks tempting!