Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Six Quirky Things About Me

Carol at I Throw Like A Girl tagged me with a meme, and since I have been very uninspired in the blogging department, I decided to play along. You have to identify six quirky things about yourself. Here is the definition of quirk, because I was interested enough to look it up.

a peculiarity of action, behavior, or personality; mannerism

Since I am very quirky, it should be no problem to think of just SIX things! It is, in fact, quite vulnerable to expose just how quirky I am in front of God (as if He doesn't know, seeing as how He created my quirky self) and everybody! But, it's all in the name of good fun, right? Ok, here goes:

1. I like to, if possible, get even numbered grocery carts.

2. I also like to have even numbered addresses. My husband just learned this about me as we have been looking at houses. He made me recall all our house numbers under the pretense that he wondered if they were all indeed even numbers-- which they were. But I think he just wanted to see if I could remember them all!

3. As a rule, I only listen to male singers and read female writers. When you think about it, it balances out. Of course there are exceptions-- I love Stevie Nicks and Donald Miller.

4. My husband and I stayed up most of the night talking about getting married and having a lot of kids the night we met. No kidding. We really did. Do I believe in love at first sight? You betcha!

5. I can launch spit bubbles off my tongue and wiggle my nose like a bunny. Just try to top that!

6. I go to a quirky church. Attending a leadership meeting last night only confirmed that this is true. The pastor is 27 years old. In under two years of existence, they have grown to over 3000 strong consistently. They were just voted the third fastest growing church in the nation and even more recently were voted the 14th most innovative church in the nation. Being innovative demands a certain amount of quirkiness-- so obviously, I belong there. If you are quirky and need a church home that will help you embrace your inner quirkiness, give it a try!

Ok, I am supposed to tag six people. But I am just quirky enough that I am going to refuse to play that game. Instead, I will ask six of you to take it upon yourselves to do this on your blog, then leave me a comment so I won't feel so "out there" by revealing my quirks.

Thanks to those who play along!
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Monday, January 28, 2008

Top Ten Reasons Why I Have Not Blogged Lately

10. I can't find the time.

9. My nifty new laptop decided to start closing down for no apparent reason. After several days of this, we took it back. And after several days of "deciding" which one to buy next, we got another one. Only to discover that this super-de-duper new computer also has its quirks and likes to go back to the screen saver if you press a link it doesn't like. As in, log you off the internet entirely. And so, now this computer must go back to the store as well. If you are counting, that is the third computer I have burned through in about a month's time. I am starting to take it personal-- and wondering what this will mean to my future as a blogger. And as a writer. Can you do those two things with no computer? I think not.

8. I went out of town with my husband for his business trip. Just the two of us. And that is WAY more fun than blogging. I would have taken my nifty new laptop with me, but alas, it was not cooperating.

7. I had to go shopping today. Had to. It was planned.

6. When I have been around my children, I have tried to spend time with them and not be on the computer so much.

5. I have read two actual books, not blog posts. Books, people.

4. I decided to let other bloggers pick up where I left off for awhile. Apparently, it worked. My friend Shari says she has posted waaaay more than I have recently. Perhaps she felt the need to pick up my slack, which I think was a character-building experience. And I am proud to have done my part in that.

3. With being out of town for a few days, none of our laundry got done. That is at least two loads a day for several days. Which means there was a mountain waiting for me when I got home. And I am still scaling it as I type.

2. My friend Lysa had a horrible thing happen on her property. A husband and father suddenly and unexpectedly lost his life. And it has made me think about how much I take for granted, and how much I want to treasure every moment I have with my family-- particularly my husband. To quote Aerosmith, "I don't wanna miss a thing." While blogging is great for recording these moments, it can also cause you to miss them if you have your head stuck in the computer all the time.

1. I just wanted to see if you all would miss me. The comments and emails wondering where I have been have been just what I needed to hear! You love me! You really love me! It was good to be missed.
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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Scenes From A Birthday Party

Ok, just a few words...

a pile of presents

little brother "helping" lick the icing bowl

two cakes for a crowd

strawberry cake is a family favorite-- my cousin Nancy said she could stick her head in the hole of the Bundt cake and eat her way out of it!

my mom and step-dad, my cousin Nancy (behind me to the left), me and Curt, my step-brother Rohn (behind me) and my step-sister Becky and her husband Chuck

Chuck and the two year old really connected (that's me, Nancy and my mom sitting behind them, talking recipes, btw)

Becky and Bekah!

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Stupid People

Many years ago, I heard a female comedian talk about skinny women. And how skinny women say things like, "I just forget to eat." The comedian went on to say that was a bunch of malarkey-- that only stupid people forget to eat. I have never forgotten that.

Fast forward to today. I ate this morning around 10:30, a bowl of cereal with a banana sliced on top. Then I got busy. Just before I left to get the kids from school this afternoon, I made a big pot of baked potato soup, which we will eat for dinner topped with bacon and cheese. My daughter is making a chocolate chip cake and in a moment (when I finish with this), I am going to help her make a chocolate lovers' frosting. So it's not like I haven't been near the kitchen or around food.

A minute ago, I was suddenly, overwhelmingly hungry. Famished. I thought about it, and I couldn't remember what I had eaten last, or when. I backtracked through a myriad of assorted tasks and landed on that long-ago bowl of cereal. It has been six hours since I ate that, though!

And then I remembered the quote from the comedian-- that only stupid people forget to eat. And I stood there, thinking that something I have long suspected is absolutely true. While being a mom has made me so much smarter in so many ways, it has also made me stupid, too. Many brain cells lost forever through pregnancy, sleepless nights, and dealing with little people who ask mind-boggling questions and have their own brand of thick-headedness. (Ever found yourself arguing with one of them??) Though, I must say that the little people at my house never forget to eat! Confirming something else I have long suspected-- they are actually smarter than me.

And so moms, if from time to time you feel stupid, just remember, it's not your fault. It's part of the job description.
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Dissin' The Purse


If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you might remember this post about my cute purse my mom gave me-- and how happy I was with it, and how handy it was with the ribbons you could change out to match the season, or what you are wearing I suppose, if you have that kind of time, which I so do not. So, anyway, last night we were leaving the movie theater, and Shari spots my purse.

Remember Shari? She is the fashion guru for those of us at P31 who care about those sorts of things. And I do care, to the degree that I have time to care. Which, admittedly at this stage of my life, is not a lot. I am doing good to be fully dressed, with hair that I have attempted to style and some makeup on. While I love Shari to pieces, we do not share a passion for fashion.

Back to the purse. Shari stops, grabs Renee who she is walking beside and practically gropes her heart in mock heart attack position. "Marybeth," she gasps, "Where on earth did you get that purse?" And she is not saying it like "Oh, that is a beautiful purse!" But like, "Why on earth did you ever let that ugly thing see the light of day??"

And so I proceeded to defend my purse. And my choice of a blue ribbon, which to me symbolizes winter. Why, I couldn't tell you. But to me, winter is blue. Maybe because it makes me feel blue as I hate cold weather. Shari made a few jokes about my purse. Then later apologized as she was probably worried that she was going to make me stay up all night feeling badly about myself because of what she said. On the contrary, I laughed right along with her. Because I love her, and I know she meant nothing by her reaction. She is compelled to make fashion corrections when needed. And she is trained to do so. She's pretty nice to have around... except when she disses my purse. I love my purse. I love the two interior pockets that hold my sunglasses and my cell phone so I can always get to them. I love changing out the ribbons. I love that the straps are the right length for throwing over my shoulder as I am running out the door. And I don't like change, so I don't change purses very often.

So, for those of you who love my purse along with me, I thought I should suggest that you head on over to Shari's blog, leave her a comment, and vote for my purse! Vote for freedom to carry what works for you! Vote for no longer being bound by fashionistas telling you what you should do! Vote for me, and my no fashion self-- just another mom who is doing good to have everything she needs in the purse-- who cares what it looks like?

After the movie, we went to Barnes and Noble to get a coffee and chat for a bit. We closed the place down laughing and talking. And I purposely sat right across from Shari and plopped my ugly purse on the table so she would have to look at it the whole time we were talking. Ah, sweet revenge.

(And a special thank you goes out to Renee, who hosted me and my five children for "lunch" yesterday, which drug out to an all-day affair. I got home at 5 pm, just in time to fix a quick dinner for my family and run out to meet the girls for the movie. Warning: do not invite me and my family over to your house... we might never leave! Thanks Renee for your gracious hospitality. Renee is discussing friendships over at her blog if you want to join in that conversation. But she might be amending some of her thoughts after spending yesterday with me.)
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Monday, January 21, 2008

Eight Years Old!

Yesterday was my daughter's birthday. Serendipitously, we had family in town the same weekend, so we had everyone over to our house for cake and ice cream. She helped me make her strawberry birthday cake first thing yesterday morning, before we went to church, so it would be cool enough to ice by the time we got home. We had a fun afternoon/evening of visiting with family. My cousin Nancy and I have not seen each other in years-- we used to be close as teens, then lost touch as we went to different colleges, married, had kids, and she became a hotshot assistant district attorney! I am very proud of her, but I never did get to hear a funny story about some of the odd cases she has tried. We have planned to do a girls weekend hopefully in February, so I think that will be a good time for me to hear some of those. Nancy, get your thinking cap on! We have planned BIG things for our girls weekend... watching chick flicks and doing nothing but catching up. Good things. Good for the soul.

But this is not about me, Nancy, or our girls' weekend. This is about my daughter's eighth birthday. When my third child was born with a rare birth defect that caused serious eating and breathing problems, it rocked my world, to put it mildly. I had two little children to care for, and a son with a trach and a gtube and multiple hospitalizations that dragged on for two years. He had so many surgeries and infections and scared us so many times. In the midst of that, I wondered if we would ever have another baby. I talked to God a lot about what we were hearing from geneticists (no guarantees that it wouldn't happen again, but nothing saying it would) and from well-meaning friends and family who advised we cut our losses and be happy with what we had. I had had two healthy children I had totally taken for granted, and the promise of a child who would one day get better, but I longed to have another child. I told people I didn't want my last memory of a delivery room to be the emergency scene that his birth was. Right or wrong, that was where my heart was at that time.

One day I went to hear a speaker at my mothers' group who shared about her long wait for her only child. As they struggled with infertility, she held on to the promise that she felt God had given her that she would one day have the child she longed for. At that moment, I felt God whisper to my heart that I would have another child, a daughter. I can't explain it except to say that, in that moment, I received my promise from God. We went through two miscarriages after that-- but I never lost sight of that promise. Even when the miscarriages looked like God's promises would be thwarted, I for some reason could still thank God-- praising Him that He was going to give us a healthy baby girl in His timing. Not ours.

The gap between my third and my fourth is the largest in all the kids. Three and a half years. It divides our family into "the olders" and "the youngers." But it also divides my children into "when I didn't appreciate the gift of a healthy child" to "when I did." I tell people I had three I didn't appreciate, then God redeemed the time and gave me three I did. I am humbled. I am grateful. And on her birthday every year, I remember that promise fulfilled in a little girl who loves Hannah Montana, High School Musical, her family and friends, pizza and is my little prayer warrior. I love you, little girl. I am a blessed mommy.
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Menu Plan Monday

Last night my cousin Nancy and I sat at my kitchen table and discussed easy recipes with my mom for about an hour. And it was fun. Because: a) I am a nerd through and through, b) my cousin and mom are nerds and brought me down to their level or c) menus and cooking are a necessity and if you can make it easier by sharing recipes, then bring it on!
And so, I present to you my meal plan for the next few days. Next weekend we are going out of town blessedly, blissfully ALONE and the grandparents will have the pleasure of feeding my children. So, I get a break in there which will make this menu plan last me a good, long time. Therefore, I am not putting days on my menu. Mostly because I like to wake up and decide what I feel like cooking. If I get up from a bad night, I am going to choose an easier dish. If I am hormonal, I am going to choose an easier dish. If the kids are busy running somewhere, or I have a girls night out or my husband is working late or not at home, I am going to choose an easier dish.... are you seeing where this is going? I am most likely to choose an easy dish-- so they better ALL be pretty easy! (Which brings me back to my conversation with my cousin about easy recipes.)
So, after alllll of that talking, here's the menu.
Tonight) Chicken Fried Rice, pineapple
Tuesday night) Baked Potato Soup topped with cheese and bacon bits
Other options to choose from:
Beef and macaroni (goulash), baby carrots with ranch dressing, rolls
Barbecue beef sandwiches, tater tots, lima beans
Couscous chicken tenders with vegetables
baked chicken, sweet potato wedges, peas
chicken milano served over angel hair pasta, steamed broccoli
slow cooked flank steak served over rice, salad
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Friday, January 18, 2008

What To Do When You Are Bored

With all the cold weather recently, we have been spending lots of time inside. Here's a sample of what life is like at our house when cabin fever gets involved!
Tell your mom you want to paint. Be extra cute about it.

Get bored with painting on paper and paint yourself and the chair instead.

Make your big brother clean it all up because you are simply too little and cute to be expected to do such things.

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Mom's Project

My 11 yo had a project due this week. He had to ask and answer a question related to astronomy. His question was "What would happen if the sun blew up?" A very good question indeed. And a very boy question to ask. However, not a good question to build a project around. I persuaded him to think of a different question. We went with the ever-popular, "What would it be like to travel in space?" He wrote a paper and "we" built a rocket ship. Which means, mostly me. And I am quite proud of my creative abilities. We got this project idea from a set of books I bought from one of those cute college kids who sell books door to door. That was years ago, and this was the first time we ever used the books. Now that was $75 well spent, if I do say so myself!
Start with a milk carton (or in our case, a juice carton)

Add a top made from an oatmeal box

Add toilet paper tube exhausts

Put it all together and you have a rudimentary rocket ship

Persuade your husband to go outside in the cold and paint it silver

Ask son whose project it is to write the words, Apollo and USA on it in his own handwriting at least

Glue on tissue paper streamers to look like fire, and the project is done!
Pat self on back for doing such a good job on your fifth grade project.

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What $4000 Will Buy You

First of all, can you tell that we finally got my new laptop loaded with some photos I have been waiting to post??
Here is a before and after view of my master bath. Because I know you all were absolutely holding your breath to get a look at it. I loved what one of my children said as he looked in at the finished product, in complete and utter disappointment, "He didn't make it bigger." Nope. We didn't have that kind of budget. While he didn't make it bigger, he did make it much prettier-- and (we hope) more attractive to buyers. It is much more updated now that we got rid of the lovely gold and blue color combo.
The bathroom tile before it was taken down-- a lovely gold 1970's color

What my bathroom looked like for most of a week

A better view of where my sink was

The "After" ta da! New marbled tile, new potty and new vanity

A better view of my shower with spiffy little ledges for shampoo, razors, and various children's bath toys that make their way there

The vanity with pretty new mirror to replace the old mirror, which was pretty nasty, in retrospect, but which I did not notice until I got a new one.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

In Which I Discover The Danger of Letting Your Toddler Brush Your Hair While Responding To Emails

This morning I had the distinct pleasure of having not one, but two ladies over for lunch at my house. The whole thing was put together at the last minute, and I could not have been more pleased. I had invited Brandi over for a visit several weeks ago, when Shari let me know that she was coming for a visit, like it or not!! That is just the kind of friendship that Shari and I have-- which is sort of funny now when I think back to when we first met... but that's a story for another time. (Ok,I will explain briefly. Shari is an image consultant who does fashion makeovers for women all over the country. She is all about the clothes, the hair, the makeup, the accessories. And I am all about what is fastest and easiest. So I sort of dismissed her as someone I would ever have anything in common with! You never know what God has in store as we have become great friends!)

So, anyway, I didn't know if they would both actually show up seeing as how Brandi's baby had had a bug the day before so I just let whatever happened happen. And they both showed up! We had a great time and great conversation. I made baked potatoes and put out toppings, plus I had cut up watermelon and, per Shari's request (or should I say demand) pumpkin bread. Yum! I also made sure Shari went home with some pumpkin bread of her own.

And here's where the title comes in. I got an email from Shari thanking me for feeding her lunch. As I was checking emails, my 2yo decided she wanted to stand in the chair I was sitting in and brush my hair. This is never a pleasant experience, yet it is one of her favorite things to do. I often suggest other victims for this particular unpleasantness. But not this time. And so, while she brushed my hair, including pulling all the tangles out, ("Ooooh mommy, you got tangles?") I continued doing what I thought was a pretty swell job of reading and replying to emails. All while nearly having my hair ripped out by an overzealous toddler armed with a hairbrush.

A short time after I responded to Shari's email, she called. When I got on the phone, she was laughing hysterically. "Do you know what you just wrote to me?" she sputtered out. I had no idea.

She had thanked me for feeding her, and I had responded, "I'll feed you anytime." But instead I wrote, "I'll feel you anytime." Shari laughed and laughed and laughed some more. And I had to laugh too. Because it was funny, and because I was relieved that I had done that to someone who loves me anyway and not someone I barely know.

And so, from now on when the baby is brushing my hair, I will refrain from typing emails and stick to catching up on blogs--

And finally, an update:
Just to let you know I have made a double batch of blueberry muffins (which we had with eggs and bacon for dinner last night), three loaves of pumpkin bread and 2 loaves of eggnog bread this week!!
Just don't ask me how many words I have written...
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Balancing Motherhood and Writing

My friend Lysa TerKeurst is running a series this week on her blog about writing. As a published author of more than 11 titles, she is a wealth of wisdom for people who are interested in writing for publication. Many women, I find, are content for blogging to be the extent of their writing and their reach-- and that is totally great if that is you! But if you have ever had that glimmer of interest in seeking publication, I would encourage you to head over to her blog and read her last few entries. She is taking questions too, if you want to ask!

One of the biggest questions she got asked this week is how she balances writing and family. I had already answered this question a few months ago with Tricia Goyer for a series she did on her blog on that subject, so I am posting it here. If you are visiting from Lysa's blog, welcome! And for my regular readers, you already know of my love for writing so this post shouldn't surprise you at all.

Marybeth, please tell me a little about yourself:
I have been married for 16 years and have six children ranging in age from teen to toddler. We have homeschooled up until this year and for the first time this year I am experiencing what it is like to have kids in school. It has been an interesting transition. I absolutely love to write-- and have written since I first learned to form the words. I majored in it in college and feel very blessed to be using writing to minister to others.

How do you balance being a mom, writer, AND speaker?
Hmmm, some days are better than others! Ü
I live according to something I call AIM-- which stands for Aware, Intentional, Methods
1. You have to be aware of your limits, your commitments, and your situation as a whole. This means saying no to extras that don't match your priorities-- even when you feel guilty for saying it! With practice, it gets easier to say no.
2. You have to be intentional about making a plan and then working towards it. This is true of every aspect of your life-- from keeping your home to raising your kids, to making your marriage a priority above all else, to your "professional" pursuits. One of the mantras I adopted years ago was from Elizabeth Elliot-- Do the next thing. This simple phrase keeps me from feeling overwhelmed when there is a lot on my plate. I simply do the next thing, then the next, and so on. It is very freeing!
3. Determine some methods that will work for you. I have had to learn to be organized so that I don't drop too many balls. My systems/methods are very unique to me. They are solutions I have stumbled upon through trial and error. Mostly I took the suggestions of others and adapted them for my situation. Reading books on organization is helpful if this is something you struggle with. I have read my share, that is for sure! I am not naturally organized-- but my life requires it! My friend Karen Ehman just released a book on being organized that I highly recommend!

What insight can you offer to moms who think they have to "wait until the kids get older" to follow their dreams?
Wow-- that is a great question! I WAS that mom-- I always told myself I was being a good mom because I was waiting til "someday" to pursue my dreams. The trouble was, I realized, I got to a point where I was hiding behind "someday" because it was safe and I didn't have to step out and DO anything-- I could just wish and dream without taking any risks. I think that moms can pursue their dreams-- more than that I think they should pursue their dreams. However, I am also very quick to say that they should not abdicate their God-given roles as wives and moms. That is where the balance comes in-- and where you have to find your sweet spot. That place will look different for everybody, as we all have such vastly different situations.
For me, my husband is a great accountability person in my life. He is not shy about telling me if he sees me going too far off the deeep end and reigning me back in! But he is also so encouraging and affirming of my dreams. So I trust him to tell me the truth and hold me accountable. We talk about everything I say yes to before I say yes-- looking at both our calendars and taking into account his work, our time limits, our church, and the kids' situations. He has been a great accountability person in that he supports me, but also tells me the truth. I would urge a mom to find that person in her life. I also get advice from other women who have been doing this longer than me and seek to learn from their successes and mistakes. Their wisdom is valuable!

Finish this sentence, "I know it's been a good day when ...."
I spent time with the Lord, got a run in, made something yummy for dinner, the house is neat (notice I didn't say clean), the kids have been loved on and tended to, my husband and I have had a conversation where we finished at least one sentence, I got something written, and there is a great book waiting for me on my nightstand when I fall into bed exhausted! (And yes, these days do happen from time to time!)

What is the biggest challenge you face? How do you overcome it?
Right now, I would say discouragement-- letting my emotions determine my actions. When I get a rejection for something I wrote or another speaker gets chosen for an event, it is so easy to say, "I just wasn't meant to do this!" or "It's no use even trying!" As far as overcoming it-- I have found that it's best to wait til the feelings pass without making any decisions. I have to lay down whatever situation is bothering me, and pray and ask God whether these feelings are just feelings or something He truly wants from me. Time usually helps my perspective, I have found. Usually after taking a break, I come back with fresh wind in my sails ready to charge forward again! But it isn't easy when those times come.

In what ways does God strengthen you on your journey?
Through His word, His presence and His people. With my Abba Father, I am never alone on this journey-- and that strengthens me immensely!
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Monday, January 14, 2008

Goals Update

So, it is Monday afternoon and I have not made yeast bread, nor have I written a word towards my word count goal. So, like, yeah. In the interest of full disclosure, I decided to put this out there. Just so you wouldn't be too impressed with my lofty goals. Cause while they sounded so good, (don't they just sound so good on a Sunday afternoon when the week lies before you and such things seem possible?) they didn't play out so well.

I did, however, have a conversation with my agent in which we 1) discussed how great a time it is for my proposal to be circulating and generally patted ourselves on the back even though we, in fact, have no offer on the table-- that was beside the point 2) skirted the issue of whether he liked the portion of fiction I submitted to him by telling me to read some books on fiction writing (Yes, that is totally what he did. Hence the reason I am no longer pushing myself to write X amount of words on the fiction manuscript. Because, why bother?) and 3) discussed yet another idea that I had that he thinks is, quote, fabulous, unquote. He totally used the oreo effect on me and I didn't see it until the end of the conversation-- start off nice and complimentary, slip in something negative and close with something nice and complimentary. And so, all in all I can't complain. I do love, love, love my agent. He is my most favoritest agent I have ever had. And I have had a few, but don't ask.

Also today I have had the bathroom guy (I am so sure he would not like me calling him that) here finishing up some last minute details on the bathroom. (I will post pictures of the before and after on the blog because I know you are dying to see it.) I have gone to Target to stock up on much needed groceries. Because where else in the world (other than Walmart) can you go and get some new uniform pants for your son who had the nerve of growing out of his AND several days' worth of groceries all in one place?!? Oh, the sheer convenience of it all. I have gone to the bank, the library and through the Wendy's drive through for lunch ($2.92 for lunch for my daughter and me, now that's a bargain). And that's about it.

And so, now I am sitting here blogging when I should be doing something else. But why? I need a break. I am aiming for getting at least a loaf of eggnog bread made today. And blueberry muffins made tomorrow. And pumpkin bread on Wednesday. I might wait to do the yeast bread on Friday, and involve my kids. They might think it is cool. And if they don't, well, there is always tv.
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Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Bread A Day... Not To Be Confused With Our Daily Bread

This week I have grandiose plans to make a bread a day, Monday through Thursday. (My kids have school off on Friday, so no plans for that day other than to try to enjoy each other.) So, here is my plan:

Monday) yeast bread (recipes makes 3 loaves)

Tuesday) eggnog bread (recipe makes just 1 loaf)

Wednesday) pumpkin bread (recipe makes 3 loaves)

Thursday) homemade blueberry muffins (will probably double the recipe)

What we don't eat for breakfast through the week, I will freeze. I *might* give some away, depending on how generous I am feeling! My goal is to freeze enough that we can have some homemade baked goods for breakfast at least once a week instead of living off dry cereal or instant grits or oatmeal. I am not a morning person, so cooking a lot first thing in the morning is out. Pulling something out of the freezer is as close as my family is going to get!

Another goal I have set for myself this week is to write 5000 words in my novel. That shapes up to 1000 words a day, M-F, or 2500 words twice in the week. This is a doable goal for me and not too lofty. If my goals are too lofty, I psyche myself out. This weekend I am sitting at 22,500 words! That is only about 1/4 of the way through, is all though. If I write 5000 words per week for 12 weeks, I will have it finished in early April and can start revising. (I am aiming for an 80,000 word book.) Right now I am just trying to get the story onto the page.

Even though I may never see this puppy published, I am just challenging myself to finish it. I am having fun-- as I told my friend Leanna Ellis (an experienced novelist), I sit down and just see what the characters are going to do next. It is very odd, and they surprise me all the time! Leanna said doing it that way (with no real plan for where you are going) is called a "pantser" meaning you are writing by the seat of your pants. If you know me, you know I am a planner through and through so to write this way has been an exercise in faith. Faith that when I put my hands to the keyboard, these characters are going to jump in and do what they are supposed to be doing. Though I know where I want them to end up (I already have the end scene in mind) I have no idea how they are going to make their way there. I have never written a novel before, so I am on a learning curve for sure.

How about you all? Any ambitious plans or goals for the week? It doesn't have to be cooking or writing! Or, how about do you all have any foods that you go on a spree and make? Would love to hear all about it!
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A Reminder

I am now blogging in two places... here and over at I just posted an interesting list I compiled from my online writers' group about their biggest regrets from 07. This is a fascinating list because it was written by pros looking back over the mistakes they had made. As I said in my post, you can definitely learn from the mistakes of others. I recognized myself in more than one of their lessons!

So, just click on the link in my sidebar entitled, appropriately, "My Writing Blog" under the writing blogs list to take a look!
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Friday, January 11, 2008

Cool Links For Your Kids

I got these great links through an enewsletter I get from Veritas Press. Veritas is a wonderful curriculum company. I have used many of their products in years past. Here is a snippet of their newsletter. Check out these links whether you homeschool or not!

Even young ones can benefit from the resources available in cyberspace. I recently ran into some web sites that can be used to supplement your schooling. One will help make interesting connections to the past. It lists interesting historic events that happened on today’s date, whatever it is, in the past:

Two others provide free coloring pages—great resources for younger children during the cold winter days:

Another includes fun science experiments:

I just found another one that wasn't in the newsletter, but it looks good. This one has free math worksheets among other things:
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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Caught In The Middle

Last week someone wrote to me to let me know that the post I wrote about my bad day helped her to put me in perspective. She explained that she struggles with reading blogs and putting people on pedestals, and apparently, I had fallen into that category. I laughed as she explained how far I had fallen OFF that pedestal when I posted all about my bad day. I laughed because I have done the very same thing-- looked around me and decided that someone else surely must be handling life better than I am. I am guilty of comparing our finances, my marriage, motherhood and other people's levels of patience with my own... and coming up short. I seem to take my internal failures and compare myself to what other people have let me see.

I think one of the number one comments I get from people is "How do you do it?" That is a question to which, unfortunately, I don't have a great answer for. I usually quip, "Not very well." And they think that I am kidding. I thought about this today as I went flying over to my son's school after I didn't budget my time very well and needed to take him something he could eat, knowing full well he was sitting at school at lunchtime, waiting on his mom to bring him food. (He has had an orthodontic appliance put in his mouth and is in a great deal of pain and can't eat regular food.) What I didn't budget for was the line at the Wendy's drive through. And so, as I came running into his classroom holding his Frosty aloft-- victorious!-- I thought, this is how I do it. Last minute, off schedule, running late, flying by the seat of my pants, forgetfulness dogging my every step, praying for lots of grace all the while. My children's teachers know how I do it. My children know how I do it. My friends know how I do it. My husband knows how I do it. Because they see it all. The dropped balls (from juggling too many) and the chipped plates (from having too many spinning) and the ducks that never seem to stay in line.

And so, I guess that's my answer to how I do it. Do I get a lot accomplished in a day? Most days. But do I lay my head down at night and wonder if I did any of it well? Most nights. My life is a continual balancing act. And as I heard this song today as I left the school, I knew God was speaking too me. And I knew that I had to share this one with you all. Because I think you will all identify with being Somewhere In The Middle. That is where I live. Somewhere between the woman who wants to do it all and the one who, quite simply, can't. And learning to rest in God's love all the while. Because that's a great thing to be in the middle of.
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Running, Again

After a two month break, I am back to running with (I hope) some sort of consistency. I did not intend for the two month break to happen, but somehow one thing led to another and it did. Not to be cheesy, but the new year and fresh start inspired me to stop making excuses and get back to what I know I need to do. Although I will admit that I feel like a cliche when people pass me while I am out running. I know they are thinking, "Awww, isn't that cute? She is trying to keep her new year's resolutions." I want to explain to every car and pedestrian, I was already running long before this. Perhaps I should make a sign to wear? But really, why do I even care if I am a walking (or running, as it were)cliche?

Back to my point: The first day was grueling. But I did it. And I felt positively wonderful after I did. My lungs ached in a fresh, worked-out way for the rest of the afternoon. It was great. I used to hate people who talked like that, by the way.

And so today I ran home to this song. It is a great song to run to, as the beat is a perfect rhythm to match your feet with. But more than that, the lyrics about dreaming are great. As I ran, I thought about my own dreams, and how committing to take care of myself and maybe even to run a 5K this year (or next, no rush) is being accomplished little by little with these daily investments. And then I thought about how most every woman I meet has a dream she fosters in her heart, tucked away in a secret place. How most people she knows don't even know it's there. Some days she doesn't even remember it's there. And then some days, she takes it out, looks at it longingly, pets it like a Persian cat, at once fluffy and finicky-- then tucks it back. And how little by little we can all work towards our dreams-- no matter where we are in life. And then there are those of us who have had dreams we had to exchange for God's dreams. And are learning that, when we do that, with willing hands, He blesses beyond what we can ask or imagine.

What are your dreams? Better yet, what dreams has God planted in your heart? Maybe you want to run a marathon (think running isn't spiritual? Eric Liddell said that, when he ran, he felt God's pleasure), or write a book (remember that conference call is tonight!), or open your own business, or take beautiful photographs, or make beautiful music.... Or maybe you are dreaming of a healed relationship or a deeper walk with God, or the day when your children rise up and call you blessed. (What mom isn't dreaming of that day??) Whatever your dream is, today I encourage you to take one little step towards it. Don't be shy. Don't apologize. Just one little step. That first mile, run with gusto. Knowing that great things are accomplished little by little, step by step. Some famous dude said that "The journey of a thousand miles begins with one little step." Or something like that.

It's true.

A bonus question: leave me a comment and I will mail a prize to the first person who can tell me what movie the song I wrote about was in? Hmmm, tough one.
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The War Inside Us All

I read this today and it made me laugh. I guess we all have a fat girl/skinny girl living inside us. My battles are waged every day. Luckily, I read it right after a run but before I had lunch. So, for this moment, skinny girl had the edge.

We'll see how long it lasts. There is leftover Chef Boyardee pizza in the fridge as I type.
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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

A Series Of Unfortunate Events

Last night at our Momtourage meeting, we were asked to answer several questions according to what color M&M we pulled out of a bowl. I chose to answer the question, "If a movie were made of your life, what would the title be? I answered "A Series of Unfortunate Events," because that is totally what my life has been the past week or so. Remember this post? Well, just because I didn't write any more after that, doesn't mean that I wasn't still having issues. I just ran out of energy to blog about it, and also just didn't have anything encouraging to say. And you know what they say about if you can't say anything nice, don't say it at all.

So I said nothing at all.

So, just to update you. The puppy is still not housetrained. Curt keeps asking me what I expected. I guess I will be revealing my puppy ignorance to say that I thought it would take about two weeks. Curt says try two months. At least. Now he tells me!

The bathroom is nowhere near done. Tomorrow it will be one whole week we have had just one bathroom for all eight of us. I realize people do this and live to tell about it all over the world. But when you had a bathroom and then you are suddenly without it, it is shocking, folks. It is now a regular thing in our house for someone to be standing outside the bathroom, banging on the door and begging the person inside to let them in. I have heard myself say the most ridiculous things in the past week. Things to do with timing bodily functions that do not bear repeating here. I feel like we are camping out in our own house, especially when I am the one doing the long hike upstairs to the children's bathroom, hauling all my stuff and my clothing with me. The children's bathroom, I have decided, is scary. No adult should have to go in there. Children are messy, messy creatures.

Then there was the little matter of my car. It broke down last week. The good news is, the timing was great since I had just left lunch with Curt and could call him and ask him to follow me to the dealership to leave my car. I said, "Ha, ha, you only thought you were going back to work! Not so fast, kemosabe!" So, that was Thursday and I didn't get my vehicle back until Saturday evening. I still don't know what was wrong with it. Something about fuel pumps and other various car parts not working like they should. But, then again, my Suburban is ten years old. It has the right to break down occasionally.

Moving on. My computer finally died on Sunday am. For about three weeks or more it had been acting funny. I kept telling Curt that it was not long for the world. It kept locking up numerous times during the day. I would shut it down improperly and then start it all back up again. Finally, on Sunday morning when I tried to turn it on we discovered it had reverted back to Millenium edition, as in 2000. As in when it was bought. (It was given to us for free about two years ago.) We had installed updates all along to keep it current. But those updates were nowhere to be found. Curt said it was like when elderly people get Alzheimers and revert back to their childhoods. My computer just reverted back and decided not to ever come back to the present, no matter how many nifty computer tricks my engineer husband tried. No amount of coaxing or sweet talking helped. SoI did the only thing possible and began researching laptops-- something I have been wanting for the longest time, but could never justify.

So, to catch you up, at this point, I had no car, no master bathroom, and no computer. And then, just to make things interesting, Curt went out of town for a few days. (Though we did get the car back before he left.) And I was alone with six kids, no computer, and one bathroom.

But the good news is, things are looking up. He came home tonight from his trip on a mission. Right after dinner, he announced that we were going to go buy me a laptop. And that is just what we did. And I am sitting here, in my cozy warm bed, typing this blog post. I feel like I have been ushered into the 21st century. No more big desktop for me, no sirree! I am liberated! I can take this show on the road! Woo hoo!

And soon I will be typing from my bed with a working bathroom just a few feet away.

And maybe even a puppy who decides he likes to go outside to use the bathroom.

But for now, this new laptop is quite enough. I am thanking God for this gift tonight, and my husband. Because even though he had to leave me with a broken down computer, he more than made up for it by not only taking me to buy this laptop, but also spending his time getting it all set up. Thanks honey! And welcome home.

ETA: In response to the comments about crate training, yes, we are crate training the puppy. I think I would have gone seriously crazy without that crate. He doesn't go in the crate, it's just when he's out and about that he does. I find he is spending lots of time in his crate for that reason-- then I start to feel bad and let him out, then he goes, then I put him back in, then... It's a vicious cycle. In fact, he's in there as I type. And he's definitely in there when I am gone or when we are all in bed. It is peace of mind to know that he is not making messes and wreaking havoc when we aren't around!
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Monday, January 07, 2008

Don't Forget!

To sign up for the conference call with an impressive list of agents and editors. Go to my previous post to learn more and read an interview with the man who put the call together.

Just to clear up one question that Charlene posted:
if you can't actually be on the call, that is fine. You receive a link for the recorded call that you can access any time, as many times as you want.

I hope this helps anyone out there who thought the time might be a conflict!
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Playing Along

I got this from my friend Kimberly in an email. Usually, I do not do these types of things, but I decided to play along with this one. If you are game, you can play along too! Just post your own list with answers on your blog. A fun little diversion for a Monday morning.

7. DO YOU USE SARCASM? yes-- too much I will admit
9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? no-- am afraid of heights!
10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? honey nut crunch cereal with sliced strawberries on top
11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? no-- who has time for that?
12. DO YOU THINK YOU'RE STRONG? physically, sometimes (like when I can unscrew a lid with my bare hands or heft a toddler in a single bound), emotionally, yes
13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM? mint chocolate chip from Baskin Robbins
15. RED OR PINK? Red
17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? my grandfather Jack
18. DO YOU WANT EVERYONE TO SEND THIS BACK TO YOU? N/A-- but I would love for them to post their answers on their blogs!
20. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE? some Baked Lays last night instead of dinner-- nutritious!
21. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? my toddler saying "Winston" over and over to the puppy and hammering in the bathroom (it's being remodeled)
22. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? blue, like the ocean
23. FAVORITE SMELLS? Christmas trees, fresh gardenia flowers, the ocean
26. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH? ice skating or gymnastics-- I'm such a girl
27. HAIR COLOR? brown with some blonde highlights
28. Eye color? Blue
29. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? used to until the miracle of Lasik
30 FAVORITE FOOD? still pizza (the same answer since childhood)
32. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? Waitress (great flick)
35. HUGS OR KISSES? hugs
36. FAVORITE DESSERT? anything chocolate-- with strawberry shortcake coming a close second
37. MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND? N/A but leave a comment if you put it on your blog
39. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW? Just finished Page After Page last night and am going to start Chapter After Chapter
40. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? the Windstream truck
41. WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON TV.Late LAST NIGHT? I didn't watch tv last night but if I had it would have been Law and Order
42. FAVORITE SOUND? the first pour of wine from a bottle, the ocean
45. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? writing I guess
46. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Charlotte, North Carolina
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Saturday, January 05, 2008

A Great Opportunity For All You Writer Types

The other day I read about something so exciting, I had to share it with you all. I usually read things like this and think, "Scam." But after I checked this one out, I have to say that it will be well worth your time. I know that many of you who read this blog are closet writers, wannabe writers, and full-fledged, throwing-caution-to-the-winds writers. For all of you, there is something worthwhile here.

What is it, you may be asking? It's a teleconference next Wednesday night from 7pm to 8:30, EST. An opportunity for you to eavesdrop on some of the biggest agents and editors in the Christian publishing world discussing what they look for in great writing and in proposals. I got so excited, I emailed Terry Whalin (no relation, trust me, I get asked all the time) the mastermind behind this, and asked him to share a bit more about it with you guys. He graciously agreed to do so. Here is an interview I did with him.

Terry, what led you to offer this as a teleconference?

I've been learning about teleseminars last year and did a couple of them like: I wanted to pull together some editors and literary agents who hardly ever appear at writer's conferences yet are key decisionmakers. In particular I wanted to see what they could tell me about the characteristics of successful book proposals and manuscripts. It's what will be the focus of each one of my conversations with them during the teleseminar. In between the interviews, I'm going to be launching my new product for writers, Proposal Secrets

How does this compare with going to a live writers' conference?

It doesn't involve traveling or the effort for a live writer's conference. Of course, the audience doesn't have the opportunity to directly ask questions. Yet the teleseminar has the convenience of sitting in your home in your casual clothes yet listening to some critical information from these publishing professionals. Every writer needs to understand the importance of making a good first impression and putting the right type of energy and effort into their book proposals.

What makes this call unique?

The people who are participating makes the call unique. If you tried to call most of these speakers, the average person would have a difficult time getting to them. Each of them have agreed to participate for a brief period of time. At a live panel of editors and agents at a writer's conference, all of the participants are present and hear the presentations of the other participants. For this teleseminar, the editor or agent only has to appear during a brief time period. They can choose to hear the rest of the presentation or not. In particular I selected a variety of editors--fiction, nonfiction, Christian and general market. Each person has a different role and unique perspective on the whole issue of what's an attractive pitch from a writer.

What are the benefits to someone who participates?

If you participate, you will gain the benefit of education about what attracts an editor or a literary agent to a particular project. You can learn those factors and apply them to your own pitch to editors and literary agents. The principles will be transferrable to your project. Also you can listen to the presentation more than once--because each participant will receive the link to the replay. They can download the presentation and listen to it on their computer or their ipod.

Also I'm offering a free Ebook and audio presentation called Straight Talk From The Editor, 18 Keys to a Rejection-Proof Submission to the first 200 people who sign up for the session. I've got some other benefits which will be a surprise during the session.

What are you most excited about with this event?

I'm excited to learn what attracted editors and agents to various projects. I will learn a lot from each session--even though I've been involved in publishing for over 20 years and written more than 60 books for traditional publishers. I'm also excited about the results from such a session--hopefully improved pitches and book proposals from writers. As each of us learn how publishing works, we can be more effective in pursuing our own dreams as writers. I believe education through events like this help move our dreams closer to becoming reality.

Finally I'm excited to introduce a new product, Proposal Secrets to the audience. I'm answering 50 actual questions from writers about book proposals and believe some exciting things will come from this process as well.

Thanks Terry for sharing with us. I hope that many of my readers will invest the small fee to participate and get a large amount of knowledge in return!!

Marybeth, I'm delighted to have this opportunity to share my excitement. I've poured a lot of energy into this event and feel like it will benefit many people.

Y'all, I have to encourage you to sign up for this call. When I went to the link to see what it was all about, I was shocked at the caliber of folks he has got on the call. Trust me, he is not lying when he says these folks are hard to get to. Much less sit and learn from! The call only costs $20-- less than the price of a movie and popcorn these days and you will learn so much. I can guarantee that.

I recently paid for a series of calls on speaking that Randy Ingermanson did with Mary Byers, and I learned so much-- even though I have been speaking for 3 years. There is always room to grow and improve. So, sign up, make the investment, and carve out the time (it's in the evening, so you can get your kids settled, then sit down with a notebook and pen and listen in in your pj's!). Even if you can't listen in on the actual call, you will receive a link to listen in to the recorded call at a time that suits your schedule. I did this with the speaker calls (listened after the fact), and it worked great!

Don't miss this opportunity. Terry is providing a great service. Just go to THIS LINK to sign up. If you hurry, you will get a free bonus gift and I know how much we women love our free bonus gifts!! What are you waiting for?? Ü
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Friday, January 04, 2008

A Day In The Life

Perhaps there is something wrong with me (like nosyness-- I prefer to call it curiosity!) but I love reading about people's days. One of my all-time favorite homeschool books is a book called "A Patchwork of Days" in which homeschoolers share their days-- how they juggle the different needs, how and what they make for dinner, etc. Why this is so fascinating to me, I couldn't say. But, it is. So, when I read about this in a comment at Jess' blog, I decided to participate. She is doing a meme of different bloggers' Day In The Life posts! I am so excited! It is going to be a smorgasbord of Days In The Life!! So check back with me on Monday and let me know in the comments section if you are also going to do it.

And yes, I realize I probably do need to get out more.
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Thursday, January 03, 2008

A Writing Blog

I wanted to take a moment to direct your attention to a new place I am blogging. I have been on Precious Moms for awhile now, but struggled with a direction for it. This blog serves as my "mind dump" for so many subjects, I needed to distinguish the other one.

Sometime around Christmas, I decided (with the advice of some friends) to focus on balancing writing and family. That helps me to be able to separate the two blogs. While I will still talk about writing here, I will write much more on the subject there. That one will be a more "nuts and bolts," how-to blog.

Does that make any sense at all?

Anyway, I hope you all will start checking in with me over there as well. The blogs there are great ones! Be sure to spend some time looking around. The link is under "Writing Blogs" in my sidebar and can be found under, cleverly enough, "My Writing Blog." Can't wait to see you there!
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Telling on Myself

I enjoyed listening to this this morning on my Ipod. Loudly. After the kids went to school (driven by their daddy, bless him) and before the baby woke up. But after my quiet time, lest you think I have completely lost my religion. Ü

You see, I had to do something to psyche myself into this day. Because, remember my post about yesterday, and how I hoped things were going to get better?? Apparently, no. I forgot that the guy is coming to rip out our master bath. And then we will be down to one bathroom for about 6 days. Which means 8 people, one bathroom.

In hindsight, yesterday should have been a good day.

But we are not going to dwell on that. No, no, no. We are going to think about songs that make me happy. (This is also known as living in denial.) So I decided to see if the video was on YouTube. Lo and behold, it was! And so, I will confess that, like the commenter on YouTube said, I wore out the cassette (remember those?) single of this song. Worse, I had my hair cut like her. And, showing my true colors, I still think it's a cute haircut. (Is there something wrong with that?) I also had an outfit very similar to what she is wearing, and was that thin.

Things change.
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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

So Far This Year, Not So Good

I have had a bad day today. The kind of day that helped me put an end to all my super sappy, Christmas lovey dovey feelings about spending time with my children and how much family time means to me. Today was about celebrating-- really rejoicing-- that tomorrow they are going back to school. I am serious. I can't even put into words how awful, awful, awful they were. There was much screaming and running about in shoes that sounded like they were made of lead. There was much tattling. There was much whining and complaining if they were asked to do anything. There was much arguing and did I say screaming?
Oh the noise! Oh the noise, noise, noise, noise!

Tonight I attempted to have a short phone conversation and the 2yo tried to pick the puppy up by his skin. Not under his little puppy legs but literally by his skin. He was yelping and carrying on so loudly that my friend on the phone started asking, "What is going on over there?" I said I had to go, because really, obviously, it is just asking too much to let the mama talk on the phone to another adult. Right? And so I hung up with her rather abruptly-- so much so that as I type this I am questioning if I even said goodbye-- and loved on the poor tortured puppy and lectured the 2yo about how if you handle a puppy too roughly you will make him mean and we won't be able to keep him because he will be mean and he will start biting people. I think most all of my rather eloquent lecture was lost on her. Most of all she just wanted to say sorry to the puppy and give him a hug. And try to pick him up again.

After dinner was over, I escaped to the grocery store. Several children asked if they could go. To which I said, "NO!" I didn't even try to say it nicely. My husband asked sweetly, as only a person who was not with these children all day could do, "Don't you want to wait until after the kids are in bed and we can go together?" To which I said, "NO!" I wanted to go alone. Blissfully alone. I wanted to find some angry song on the radio and crank it up and sing it embarrassingly loud. And I did. And I got everything I wanted at the grocery store. I even stocked up on 4 containers of eggnog coffee creamer. Because they were on sale, and because I can't bear to start my morning without that little treat just yet.

Tonight as I was going back to my room to turn in early and end this terrible, horrible, no good very bad day, I stepped in a puddle of puppy pee. With socks on. And that, my friends, was the icing on the cake of my day.

Here's hoping for a better one tomorrow!
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Focused Time

One of the things my husband has been challenging me on (read: calling me on the carpet about) lately is the concept of not being so scattered in my daily life. He has noticed the way I dash about from one task to the next, often leaving one thing undone as I get sidetracked with another. This practice leaves me spinning my wheels, constantly running and always frustrated. He has been asking me some pretty directed questions about my priorities and the amount of time I spend doing "work stuff" (writing, blogging, speaking business stuff) as opposed to the amount of time I spend focused on my kids. He is a good accountability partner in my life, even if I don't always like what he says!

Reading this post helped me a lot with this whole concept. (See honey, blogging is good!) It was a lightbulb moment for me as I realized that I need to get back to a more scheduled day with more focused timeframes-- a time for cooking, a time for cleaning, a time for schooling, a time for errands, a time for the computer. And so, I began to work through what this all would mean. I also own Holly Pierlot's book A Mother's Rule Of Life that she mentioned, and recommend it highly. While it is definitely a Catholic book (and I am not Catholic), there is still much to glean from her advice. I found the book at a time in my life when I was at the end of my rope, and the book ministered to me from the first paragraph-- so that's saying a lot! Since then, it stays in a place where I can get to it at any point as a refresher/reminder. But what this blog post pointed out had never jumped out at me before, especially not the way she words it:

My goal when sitting down to create routines and schedules was always to "get things done," so I'd aim to squeeze in as much as possible. I would drastically underestimate how much time was needed for each task in an attempt to fit more in (I realize now that nothing takes "just five minutes" around here). When my goal changed to "bring peace to my household," it became glaringly obvious that obtaining peace was going to involve sacrificing a huge chunk of my to-do list; that I would have to give up not only on the idea of being able to do it all, but the idea that I can do much of anything other than just keep diapers changed and kids fed and the toys and dirty dishes put away and have some quality time with the kids and free time for myself.

I loved that she weighed her commitments against her goal: a peaceful home versus getting "just one more thing" done. I knew this would be key in setting my new schedule. And so, with that in mind, I have spent the last several days working through a schedule and goals that reflect my focus. I hope to stick to this focused schedule in the new year, and not forget about it and get sidetracked as I am prone to do. Being "all there" wherever I am is a good goal to have for this new year. It will be a new thing and a welcome change.
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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

A Verse For The Year

I found this post that I wrote for Faith Lifts last year, and thought it would be fitting to post it here for this year. I will add that I had a verse that I felt like God had given me for this year, but I have forgotten it! I can either say that it really wasn't God's verse for me or blame it on mommy brain! I am praying for God to bring it to mind, and I will let you know if He does. In the meantime, know that this was written for 07.
I like what Valarie wrote in her blog-- instead of having a theme verse for the year, she has a motto: God is great in 08! I think we need to all let that be our battle cry. Do you have a verse for the year this year? Please post it in the comments section if you do, and let's inspire each other with His words.

A Verse For The Year

II Peter 1:4, “Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”

Every year I claim a verse for the year. This verse is usually something that has been a recurring theme in my life, or a verse that keeps popping up inexplicably. After prayer and consideration, I determine that this verse is mine for the year and claim it as my theme or promise for the next 365 days. I try to post it somewhere prominent, write it in my journal and meditate on it often. This verse is between me and God. It is His word for me, personally, based on what I am facing or dealing with in my life.

One year my verse was “And Mary treasured up all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19) That year I knew God was challenging me to treasure all these things—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Another year my verse was “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” (I John 4:18) That year I knew we were in for a rocky road, but I was not to be afraid. That year I had to learn to lean into God’s perfect love for me.

This year I want to share my verse with you. Actually, it is two verses. The first is John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” And the second ties into this verse: “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him?” (Matthew 7:11) Two phrases have been recurring in my life: “to the full” and “how much more.” These two verses testify to the abundant life and victory God desires to give us if we will only open ourselves up to it and stop living in defeat.

I want to learn to live a life of expectation and abundance this year—and I am depending on God to teach me how to do that. I want to receive His blessings, while being mindful that He does not give as the world gives (John 14:27). And so this will be a year of finding Him in unexpected ways. I am not talking about a new car or a big new house, but in finding peace and compassion and hope and joy… the things of Heaven that aren’t necessarily embraced here on earth.

As we head into a new year, perhaps some of you will want to prayerfully consider claiming a verse for the year. Maybe it will be one of the verses I mentioned, or maybe God has a special one just for you. Pray specifically that God would lead you to the verse He has for you this year. Write the verse down and journal whatever God brings to mind. Put this somewhere you can come back to. Add to your journal throughout the year, then return to what you have written on December 31st. Reflect on how this verse has been an encouragement to you and helped you grow closer to God all through the year.
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New Year's Day

The new calendar is up. I had the children bid our 2007 calendar by Mary Engelbreit goodbye as I replaced it with our 2008 Gooseberry Patch calendar. The January page is a beautiful picture of a gigantic cozy bed. Fitting for a cold weather month. Of course, it will cause me to fight off the urge to go climb into my own bed! Each month of the calendar features a recipe. I can't wait to try a few!

I broke in my new devotion for the year. After spending a year with the Daily Message Bible, I am excited to change things up and begin reading Streams In The Desert. Today's reading was about mountains and valleys, and how we don't know whether our new year will be composed of mountains or valleys-- but that both are necessary, as a life of just flat boring sameness would not be very exciting. I also like how she says that the mountains hold the water that feeds the valleys. Isn't that so true of our spiritual walk-- we stockpile "water" in those mountaintop experiences with God that we can then draw from as we walk through the valleys. And yet, in both mountain and valley, He is there. A comforting thought for this new year.

Tonight we will have our New Year's Day meal, a southern tradition. I included a recipe for my pork roast in the Christmas JOY book. We have pork roast, cornbread, black-eyed peas, broccoli (you are supposed to have greens, but no one in our family will eat those!), and we add mashed potatoes or rice to put the gravy from the pork roast on. I also usually make a nice dessert. Tonight we will have warm brownies with ice cream on top. Yum! I say this helps make our new year sweet!

The rest of this day will be comprised of listening to people cough (a cold has hit the family), urging my daughters to clean their room, housebreaking a puppy, and trying to work on devotions I have to get done for P31. All in all, a nice way to start the year.

As you ponder the changes or commitments you want to make this year-- savoring the new year with its freshness and possibilities-- here is a verse I found this morning that we can all ponder:

Psalm 25:12, "Who then, is the man that fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way chosen for him."
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